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Old 07-21-2002, 10:39 PM   #1
Yerniel Vénea
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Silmaril Elf years to Human years ratio

maybe i'm having a brunette's worst moment by having a blonde spell but what exactly is the ratio for Elvish years compared to Humans? Thengise Greenleaf of Mirkwood has suggested that it is 144 Elf years to 1 Human year. Is that correct? Ithaeliel countered with the idea that Elves come of age when they are 50 which would put them under 1 year.....? Help! My curiosity needs to be satisfied!
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Old 07-21-2002, 10:55 PM   #2
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Ummmmmm....elves are immortal, so there can be no ratio. Elves live forever, and men die. so I guess the ration would be 1:infinity. Does that answer your question?

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Old 07-21-2002, 10:58 PM   #3
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The elves used the term 'yeni' to refer to a period of 144 years. This doesn't mean that a yeni is one Elven year...just a unit of measurement like 1 foot = 12 inches, etc.
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Old 07-21-2002, 11:25 PM   #4
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144 Elf years to 1 Human year. Is that correct?
No, it isn't. There really isn't any such thing as an "Elf Year." There is a different amount of time that is called a "yén" which is 144 years long. a yén, though, is no more an "Elf Year" than a regular year is an "Elf Month."

Elves used yéni (the plural for yén) to tell time because when you live for ever the year becomes inconvenient.

To give you an idea of exactly how inconvenient I've just created an imaginary unit of time that I'm going to call the "woop." The woop is about two and a half days long, which is just about 1/144th of a year. I am 2644 woops old. It took me at least 5 minutes to figure that out. If I wanted to remember that number I'd have to keep it written on my hand. I'd much rather use the year, thanks. An elf would rather use the yén for the same reason, though after a while even the yén would become inconvenient.

Finally, the elves also had two seperate units of time that are about the same length as out year, one astronomical and the other biological. The solar year is called a coranar, which means "sun-round," and the bological year is a loa, which is "growth."

I hope this helps you (and everyone else) understand.

[ July 22, 2002: Message edited by: burrahobbit ]
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Old 07-22-2002, 07:19 AM   #5
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I bow to your wondrous knowledge.

(That was a great explanation!)
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Old 07-22-2002, 09:22 AM   #6
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Just to offer in:

OF THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS AMONG THE ELDAR
PERTAINING TO MARRIAGE AND OTHER MATTERS
RELATED THERETO: TOGETHER WITH THE
STATUTE OF FINWE AND MIRIEL AND THE DEBATE
OF THE VALAR AT ITS MAKING.

AElfwine's Preamble.

[The Eldar grew in bodily form slower than Men, but in mind
more swiftly. They learned to speak before they were one year
old; and in the same time they learned to walk and to dance, for
their wills came soon to the mastery of their bodies. Nonetheless
there was less difference between the two Kindreds, Elves and
Men, in early youth; and a man who watched elf-children at

play might well have believed that they were the children of
Men, of some fair and happy people. For in their early days
elf-children delighted still in the world about them, and the fire
of their spirit had not consumed them, and the burden of
memory was still light upon them.(1)
This same watcher might indeed have wondered at the small
limbs and stature of these children, judging their age by their
skill in words and grace in motion. For at the end of the third
year mortal children began to outstrip the Elves, hastening on to
a full stature while the Elves lingered in the first spring of
childhood. Children of Men might reach their full height while
Eldar of the same age were still in body like to mortals of no
more than seven years.(2) Not until the fiftieth year did the Eldar
attain the stature and shape in which their lives would after-
wards endure, and for some a hundred years would pass before
they were full-grown.]
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Old 07-22-2002, 09:26 AM   #7
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Also....


I prefer to use the older ratio of 9.58 Years of the Sun to 1 Year of the Trees because the later ratio of 144 Years of the Sun to 1 Year of the Trees is very inconsistent with many texts. The fact that it coincides with the Yen described in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings probably means only that Tolkien wasn't considering the other texts, then unpublished, because he was in the process of revising the entire (unpublished) mythology.

-from an article by Michael Martinez entitled "Elves by the numbers" http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/tolkien/54681


I won't go to the trouble of quoting the texts refering to the 144 and 9.58 years. It's all very unresolved.
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Old 07-22-2002, 10:55 AM   #8
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Mhoram, what book is that quote (Aelfwine's preamble) from? I'd like to read up on it. It sounds quite interesting.
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Old 07-23-2002, 12:45 AM   #9
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History Of Middle-Earth, Volume X

HoME X is one of the best volumes of HoME and anyone interested in the Silmarilion and the First Age should get it.
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Old 07-24-2002, 04:00 PM   #10
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Silmaril

Wow! Thank you Mhoram, I shall have to read that!

So elves don't exactly "come of age" at 50, but they grow to their full stature, so in a sense my guess was correct.
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Old 07-24-2002, 07:14 PM   #11
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well what i meant about 144=1 is that after 144 normal years they appear to be only 1 year older.
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Old 07-24-2002, 07:44 PM   #12
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i thought that by about 100 they would be roughly the equivalent of teenagers. I guess its easy to get mixed up in all this.
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Old 07-24-2002, 07:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
well what i meant about 144=1 is that after 144 normal years they appear to be only 1 year older.
Elves don't grow old, they are "neither old nor young." After a few years they just stop, and then they look the same forever.
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Old 07-25-2002, 02:57 PM   #14
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That's exactly what i thought but that's what Tolkien wrote in the appendixes and i can't say anything against it.
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Old 07-25-2002, 06:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Elves don't grow old, they are "neither old nor young." After a few years they just stop, and then they look the same forever.
I do not entirely agree(though I totally agrwee in regard to 'yen'). Yes that does seem to be the case especially initially given what is said as to their 'growing up' in the Laws and Customs of the Eldar but Tolkien does actually state in his letters that Elves indeed grow and age but they age 'with Arda' further there is reference to 'cycles'/stages in life in TOlkien's "Etymological Notes on the Ósanwe-kenta" published in Vinyar Tengwar no 41 and associated with the Shibboleth of Fëanor:

Quote:
The following etymological note pertains to the name Russandol in the discussion of the name Maitimo in the numbered list of the names of the seven sons of Fëanor (XII:352-53). A marginal note against that discussion provides the detail that Nerdanel "herself had brown hair and a ruddy complexion". A note elsewhere in the papers associated with this essay reads: "Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of life. Nerdanel's father [cf. XII:365-66 n.61] was exceptional, being only early in his second."
[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Fingolfin of the Noldor ]
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Old 08-11-2002, 06:13 PM   #16
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I don't think that an elven yen would affect their ageing like one year to us. The appendix of RotK says that elves just like multiples of 12 (who knows?)

And they aren't entirely immortal. Elves can die by being slain or by dying of sorrow. They just don't age
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Old 08-11-2002, 06:15 PM   #17
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Plus, you need to say which kind of man you are referring to. Noble men such as kings and those of the blood of Numenor live much longer than "regular" men (who knows again)
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Old 08-11-2002, 06:18 PM   #18
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Uh, Elves=live forever...
Humans=Live for about 80 years in M.E.
what ratio can be made of this, Gwindor had the answer...
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Old 08-13-2002, 06:45 PM   #19
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Actually though, i think the average life-span of a man is around a 100. I mean, Aragorn (yes, he is Numenorian)lived to be over 200 (according to the Appendixes). Yeah, the blood was being tainted with lesser humans, but I bet people lived to be 100 years old. Denethor got to be 88! And then he killed himself....
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:55 AM   #20
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Silmaril

I can't remember if it's Aragorn or Legolas, but someone says in LOTR that the passing of time is different to the Elves than to Men. Both faster and slower at the same time. Also, I don't think the Elves invented the Yen/144 solar year unit so that they could compare their ageing to that of Men. People try to invent "dog years" or "cat years" because they like to think of their animal in terms of their own lifespan, for example your 1 year old labrador is actually 7 - a way of humanising it, comparing it to a 7 year old child. I don't think the Elves would have really cared about comparing themselves to Men, and so there can really be no comparison between "Elf years" and "human years".
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:21 PM   #21
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Silmaril

I didn't think the elves used the yén to compare their years to human years either. It seems they invented it to use as a unit like a year. As Burrahobbit said, it was a way of making it easier to keep track of their years. Really, how would it be to have to remember that you were 3876 years old? I would have lost myself on about 112, knowing me [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]. Plus, it makes one feel younger to have longer units of time, because there are fewer. Legolas is 20 yéni old; that's going to make him feel a lot younger than saying he's 2,993 years old.
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Old 01-01-2003, 04:41 PM   #22
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How long will the world last? Divide that by about 90 and you will get the number of elf years to a human year. An Elf's life is the life of Arda, when Arda dies the elves die. Then again they age by being consumed by their spirits, so the ageing of Man is different to the ageing of elves.

I have a good question: Elves' bodies age because of corruption and the like caused by Melkor (Morgoth's Ring and all). Do Men's bodies age because of this too? A Man's Fea is destined to leave Arda, but is the ageing of his body caused by this or is it caused by the same corruption as the Ageing of the Elves.

I have muddled two ideas together here I know (the lifespan of the elves and the ageing of the elves). But you get the point.
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:57 PM   #23
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Quote:
Divide that by about 90 and you will get the number of elf years to a human year.
NO. An elf year is ONE YEAR.

Quote:
An Elf's life is the life of Arda, when Arda dies the elves die. Then again they age by being consumed by their spirits, so the ageing of Man is different to the ageing of elves.
Sort of and also sort of not. I think that aging and lifespan are both determined by being consumed by the spirit. This part probably belongs in a different topic.

[ January 01, 2003: Message edited by: burrahobbit ]
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Old 01-01-2003, 08:33 PM   #24
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Since the measuring of years is based on the rotation of the Earth around the Sun, it shouldn't matter what species you are. I know, I know...Captain Obvious strikes again...but no one had mentioned that, and I think it's important to remember in order to avoid confusion.
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Old 01-01-2003, 09:12 PM   #25
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I thought that it was too basic to mention. I was so wrong, though.
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Old 01-02-2003, 06:04 AM   #26
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Quote:
NO. An elf year is ONE YEAR.[
I mean like an Elf Year in the same way you would say a Cat Year or a Dog Year, being the amount of time it would take to travel through a fraction of their life the same as that that a human would travel through in a year. Erm thats a very bad sentance, but it may get my point across.

[ January 02, 2003: Message edited by: Galorme ]
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Old 01-02-2003, 08:16 AM   #27
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This whole discussion raises another question with me. If elves are immortal and reach a particular state of maturity and stop, can they reproduce from adulthood on? How many children, on average, do elves have? If this immortal population continues to procreate won't there be a population problem at some point?
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Old 01-02-2003, 09:26 AM   #28
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The elves had very few children in general, and most of the children were born not long after the marriage. When an elf child were born the mother had to give up a part of her fëa (she could even die of it).
There is more to be said about it, but I will leave it to those who know better than I do.
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Old 01-02-2003, 12:42 PM   #29
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The Professor's last conception was that Elves become adults at the age of 3000:
Quote:
HoMe X, 'Myths Transformed'
On Earth while an elf-child did but grow to be a man or a woman, in some 3000 years, forests would rise and fall, and all the face of the land would change, while birds and flowers innumerable would be born and die in löar upon löar under the wheeling Sun.
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Old 01-02-2003, 07:19 PM   #30
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Earendil, that's interesting info, thanks. You can probably answer this then: I know from reading LOTR that Elrond had at least two sons and a daughter. Was he especially prolific then? Did he have more than one wife?
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Old 01-03-2003, 05:06 AM   #31
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Mind if I answer that? He wasn't especially, three wouldn't be a huge number for elves anymore than it would be for humans in this day and age. The largest litter, if you will, was Feanor who had 7 children. And only one Elf is specifically noted as having two wives, that's Finwe first High King of the Nolder, who's wife died of grief after child birth. Elrond did not, but it is possible that others did, since the laws stood in place to allow it to happen (under certain circumstances).
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Old 01-03-2003, 06:32 AM   #32
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Quote:
The Professor's last conception was that Elves become adults at the age of 3000.
Interesting quote, Maerbenn, as long as I keep coming here I may never have to read all of HOME! Do you take this to mean that Elves can't have children until they are 3000? Does this fit in with what is already published in LOTR, etc.? Idril daughter of Turgon can't have been 3000, can she?
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Old 01-03-2003, 07:02 AM   #33
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I think that this merely meant that while an Elf could only grow to an adult in 3000 years (as in would become and adult, probably in 50 years, and then remain so for many millennia) Middle Earth would be in a constant state of change, with the earth morphing before their eyes.
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Old 01-03-2003, 12:43 PM   #34
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Also, Elrond wasn't exactly an elf.
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Old 01-03-2003, 09:09 PM   #35
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Tolkien

Well remember we are trying to make a ratio between Mortal and Emortal, whic is basically trying to make a ratio between Finte and Infinite.

I Dont have any hard evidence on this but, i would like to think there is no certain rate at which they age, perhaps it is all knowledge or Wisedom based, for example when an Elvenchild is first learning to count, it achives an adolessence apearance, when they begin to learn responsabilities they achieve a teen apearance, of course it would begin to slow down a bit becouse the more you know the less there is to learn, but they would eventualy reach an Elderly apearance like our friend Cirdan.

[ January 03, 2003: Message edited by: Guildo ]
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Old 01-03-2003, 09:21 PM   #36
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Quote:
I mean like an Elf Year in the same way you would say a Cat Year or a Dog Year
I wouldn't say that, either.
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Old 01-03-2003, 09:28 PM   #37
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So although Legolas was around thousands of years before I was born, it would be ok socially if I married him? [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 01-03-2003, 09:41 PM   #38
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Tolkien

no less or more ok than it was for Aragorn to marry Arwen, or for Celeborn to marry Galadriel, because if not im not mistaken She is MUCH older than he is.

[ January 03, 2003: Message edited by: Guildo ]
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Old 01-03-2003, 10:05 PM   #39
burrahobbit
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So although Legolas was around thousands of years before I was born, it would be ok socially if I married him?
No it wouldn't be, as it is not socially acceptable to marry something that doesn't exist. Is it ok if we try to be serious in this part of the Downs?

P.S. It isn't funny when you keep saying the same joke for a year. It also isn't funny to repeat the same joke that other people have said a lot.
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Old 01-04-2003, 10:44 AM   #40
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Ok, I have a question.

Elves can die from grief/sorrow.
So as they are immortal, does the passing of the years not grieve them? Doesn't seeing destruction and the rise of fall and birth and death of so many things, and the burden of so many memories bring grief to their hearts?
I know Legolas was known to be compassionate, and most certainly if Elves were a compassionate race, wouldn't the surroundings, and all of the events that occured, bring enough grief for them to, well, die?
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