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Old 08-15-2008, 11:42 AM   #1
Blokdog
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Question Inhabitants of the undying lands: immortal?

First let me apologise for my poor English. I’m a fifteen-year-old dutch boy, so I haven’t had too much time to practise, but please try to understand it.

I came to write this essay/question/topic, when I was reading a book on lotr I had bought a few weeks before, “the lord of the rings: weapons and warfare”. I don’t know if this book is generally know ( I heard about it only a few months before ), but it’s a book in which the weapons and fighting styles of the different peoples of middle-earth are shown, and also those of the most important hero’s of the film. The book is based on the films, so many things do not match with the books, but when I was reading the entry “gimli”, I found there the following thing: ( speaking about his friendship with legolas )”this remarkable bond was unique among elves and dwarves during the whole of the third age, and it earned gimli, at the end of his days, the previously unheard-of gift of being allowed to sail west across the sea to the undying lands, to dwell in eternal peace with his friend” ( for the people who own the book: page 55 ) had always assumed that this ( immortality in aman ) was so, because I thought of the undying lands as a place where nobody died. But the funny thing is, that the same book made me think about it once more. When I read the entry “legolas”, I found there the following sentence:”…, and eventually he took ship from the grey havens, taking with him the now frail dwarf who had been his bravest comrade and his truest friend” ( page 113 ). When I saw the word frail I began to think. Of course it’s logical that gimli was frail now, after his long life. But I wondered what would become of this frail body in the undying lands ( and of course this is the same with Bilbo. Still I think that the opinions about Bilbo and Frodo are more made up, and most believe that they’re there still), and then I changed my opinion: it isn’t at all sure that they lived forever. in the silmarillion to king tar-atanamir is said:”for it is not the land of manwė that makes its peoples deathless, but the deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land”( page 264 ). Also I remembered the discussion of the valar about Eärendil ( page 249 ), where this, in other words, is repeated. So it isn’t really probable that they still live there…. Any mortals who, reported, ever came to aman where or sent back, or became elves ( at least, before the war of the ring ). Also it would be a little strange if every elf could take a mortal friend with him, who would then not die. Also they would then get the doom of the elves ( not being able to leave the circles of the world, see page 264 of the sil again ). I know that I don’t have everything I should have ( I don’t have the HoMe edition, for example ), and I just don’t know what to think, so please comment.
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:20 PM   #2
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Welcome to the 'Downs, Blokdog!

Just being in the undying lands does not grant immortality. Even the Valar cannot undo the Gift of Iluvatar. I always got the impression that mortals in Valinor were granted the right to choose the time of their own death, like the kings of Numenor could. There is a quote, which I cannot find right now, that seems to imply that Frodo would have plenty of time to find healing and peace before passing beyond the circles of the world.

Quote:
in the silmarillion to king tar-atanamir is said:”for it is not the land of manwė that makes its peoples deathless, but the deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land”
The answer is in your own post.

Again, welcome to the Barrow Downs!
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radagastly View Post
Welcome to the 'Downs, Blokdog!

There is a quote, which I cannot find right now, that seems to imply that Frodo would have plenty of time to find healing and peace before passing beyond the circles of the world.
ok, but in some cases the valar cįn change the doom of mortality ( think of Eärendil, Tuor. ( and beren and Luthien, but they only got another lifespan )), and if you read all those books in which is said that they're still alive, even sam, I wonder how they know... but of course even when frodo's and sam's doom wįs changed, being ringbearers, we do not yet know that of gimli. he had not really accomplished something above the accomplishments of the other, not sailing, members of the fellowship. so, if I could understand if mandos would have changed the doom of frodo ( and eventually sam, I still think that he actually accomplished the most. only he was able to give the ring back to frodo of free will, after he had freed him for cirith ungol ), I wonder what happened to gimli.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:28 PM   #4
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I think its universally agreed among scholars that Frodo, Sam and Gimli would have died while in Aman. For Frodo, sailing to the West was not a promise of immortality but a respite to heal his wounds and find peace. In Sam and Gimli's case, even Tolkien is dubious as to whether or not they arrived in Aman (at least, he does not say they did without a sly uncertainty, as if he got the news second-hand).
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:31 PM   #5
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Tolkien

oke, thank you very much!
still, I've read a few books to find info on this, and in at least two was said that they still lived. in the tolkien companion by j.e.a. tyler was said "in that far green country they still live", and in another book already mentioned in my first post is said about gimli that he lived eternal with his friend.
also, talking about gimli, there are, I think, three possibillities:
* one: legolas took gimli with him and he lived forever in aman
* two: he took gimli, who died in aman
* three: he didn't at all take him to aman, in which case he anyway died.
the third reason seems unlikely, seeing the strange, but very great friendship between them, but I think that if you know that someone you really like will die in a country where nobody else dies, will make you think twice over such a decision. so, if he, for that reason, didn't take him with him, I think we can say that he would have died there.
about frodo: I can see a link between Eärendil and Frodo. Eärendil was granted ( the choice for ) immortality because he tried to save the world. frodo, of course did the same ( and sam for a part too ), so if mandos changed the gift for Eärendil, it seems logical to me that he did the same to frodo ( and eventually sam ).
do you btw understand my english?

Last edited by Blokdog : 08-16-2008 at 01:29 AM. Reason: uncomplete
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:57 AM   #6
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The Valar cannot take away the "Gift of Men"; only Eru can, and as far as we know for certain, He may have done so for Tuor, and whether or not He did is never made clear. Earendil was literally half-Elven, and thus became the first person subject to the choice of the half-Elven, to be either of the mortal Men or immortal Elves; Elwing's blood was somewhat more mixed, having that of Elves, Men, and a Maia, but again, she was offered the choice. In his letters, Tolkien makes it very clear that Frodo would not have become immortal by going to Aman; he was being allowed what he called a "purgatorial" grace to spend the remainder of his life in the bliss of what was left of Arda Unmarred, so that he could find healing and peace before his death. At the moment, I don't remember precisely where he said it (I believe it was either in the Letters or in the HoME books), but it was believed that because of the presence of the Powers, a mortal in Aman would wither and die even more quickly, like a moth near a flame. So the erroneous belief that Sauron planted in the minds of the Numenoreans, that they could become immortal by seizing Aman, was a lie, designed to bring about their destruction, not grant them immortality. Which, I think, is very much in keeping with Sauron's personality.
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Old 08-16-2008, 04:57 PM   #7
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Here is the exact quote from Tolkien's letters, that Ibri was referring to:

from letter # 325:
Quote:
-As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time - whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer "immortality" upon them. Their sojorn was a "purgatory", but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.
even more detailed, concerning Frodo is letter # 246:
Quote:
Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to "pass away": no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and in greatness, spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of "Arda Unmarred", the Earth unspoiled by evil.
In letter #154 Sam and Gimli are also mentioned:
Quote:
But in this story it is supposed that there may be certain rare exceptions or accommodations (legitimately supposed? there always seem to be exceptions); and so certain 'mortals', who have played some great part in Elvish affairs, may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus Frodo (by the express gift of Arwen) and Bilbo, and eventually Sam (as adumbrated by Frodo); and as a unique exception Gimli the Dwarf, as friend of Legolas and 'servant' of Galadriel.
ConcerningTuor, nobody knows for certain what really happened to him:
Quote:
...and with Idril Celebrindal he set sail into the sunset and the West, and came no more into any tale or song. But in after days it was sung that Tuor alone of mortal Men was numbered among the elder race, and was joined with the Noldor, whom he loved; and his fate is sundered from the fate of Men.
As Tolkien wrote in letter #153:
Quote:
Tuor weds Idril the daughter of Turgon King of Gondolin; and "it is supposed" (not stated) that he as a unique exception receives the Elvish limited"immortality": an exception either way.
Tolkien left this deliberatly open!
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Last edited by Guinevere : 08-16-2008 at 06:16 PM. Reason: found yet another quote
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrīnišilpathānezel
(...) At the moment, I don't remember precisely where he said it (I believe it was either in the Letters or in the HoME books), but it was believed that because of the presence of the Powers, a mortal in Aman would wither and die even more quickly, like a moth near a flame. (...)
I don't think they would die more quickly, as JRRT seems to expand upon this in Myths Transformed. From Tolkien's essay Aman (and Aman and Mortal Men) published in Morgoth's Ring:


Quote:
'If it is thus in Aman, or was ere the Change of the World, and therein the Eldar had health and lasting joy, what shall we say of Men? No Man has ever set foot in Aman, or at least none has ever returned thence; for the Valar forbade it. Why so? To the Nśmenóreans they said they did so because Eru had forbidden them to admit Men to the Blessed Realm; and they declared also that Men would not there be blessed (as they imagined) but accursed, and would 'wither even as a moth in a flame too bright.'

'Beyond these words we can but go in guess. Yet we may consider the matter so. The Valar were not only by Eru forbidden the attempt, they could not alter the nature, or 'doom' of Eru, of any of the Children, in which was included the speed of their growth (relative to the whole life of Arda) and the length of their life-span. Even the Eldar in that respect remained unchanged. Let us suppose then that the Valar had also admitted to Aman some of the Atani, and (so that we may consider a whole life of a Man in such a state) that 'mortal' children were there born, as were children of the Eldar. Then, even though in Aman, a mortal child would still grow to maturity in some twenty years of the Sun, and the natural span of its life, the period of cohesion of hroa and fea, would be no more than, say, 100 years. Not much more, even though (...)

'But in Aman such a creature would be a fleeting thing, the most swift passing of all beasts. For his whole life would last little more than one half-year, and while other living creatures would seem to him hardly to change, but to remain steadfast in life and joy...' JRRT, Aman and Mortal Men
As I read this, the 'guess' would seem to indicate that Mortals do not actually age more swiftly, but that they would seem to wither more quickly, by comparison to the world around them.
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:54 PM   #9
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thank you all very much. I see I have indeed not considered many things, and think that the matter is clear now. can anyone please tell me where I can find these letters?
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Old 08-17-2008, 10:09 PM   #10
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Originally posted by Blokdog:
Quote:
thank you all very much. I see I have indeed not considered many things, and think that the matter is clear now. can anyone please tell me where I can find these letters?
There are numerous listings of the Letters on the U.S.A. ebay, some of them new. The same for Amazon.com in the U.S. I'm sure they would be the same where you are. The U. S. copies seem to average between $10.00 and $12.00 (U.S. dollars) each. Considering our economy, they're possibly cheaper where you are. Not sure, about that, though. I've never been over the pond myself. If nothing else, you could possibly find it at your local bookstore, or at least order it through there.
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Old 08-17-2008, 10:14 PM   #11
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They're published in a book– called, unsurprisingly, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.
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