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Old 12-22-2001, 05:44 AM   #1
Phil The Balrog
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Shield Elfin Anatomy

Is it elfin or elvish or what? who cares, on to my query...

I just started reading the Shaping of Middle Earth (it reads alot like the Bible, I noted) and we have the Elves created or whatever. Now there are four kinds: Light Elf, Sea Elf, Deep Elf, and Dark Elf. My question is, are these elves any different from each other in form, physiology, or functionality (nice use of alliteration, no?)? I'm new to Tolkeinology so I have many probably basic questions. But I picure a Light Elf as blonde and air skinned, Gnomes as more squat, Sea Elves as thin and kind of mermaid-ish, and Dark Elves seem kind of... i dunno, more devious-looking. Or are they just different distinctions of elf in the same way that German-, Polish-, French-, and British-descended people are all pretty similar looking but of different blood?

Also, is there any explanation as to the origin of the soul? Elfin souls go to hall of Mandos for awhile and come back. Man souls go there and only Mandos knows whats next for men souls. Does Tolkein give any explanation as to the origin of these souls and are they the same souls as what we modern day humans possess?

I'm glad finals are over because Tolkeinology is really making me think. Thank goodness for 6 weeks of no college!


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Old 12-22-2001, 05:06 PM   #2
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The Elves named themselves the Quendi.

Originally, after the Elves' awakening in Cuivienen, Orome brought three ambassadors of the Elves to Aman. They were Ingwe, Finwe, and Elwe. They became the fathers and kings of three different races of Elves. The Quendi were invited to live in Aman with the Valar.

The "Light Elves", or "Fair Elves" were the Vanyar. They descended from Ingwe and never left Aman. Yes, they were golden-haired and fair.

The "Gnomes" were the Noldor, who were dark-haired (with the exception of Finarfin and his line, which includes Galadriel) and mighty. They descended from Finwe.

The "Sea Elves", or Falmari, were the Teleri, who became enamored of the sea. They descended from Elwe and his brother Olwe. Olwe's people travelled to Aman and built a coastal city called Alqualonde, where they built beautiful ships.

Elwe was lost before returning to Aman, and many remained in Beleriand seeking him. He fell in love with Melian the Maia, and they wed and created a kingdom in Beleriand that was protected by Melian's powers. Those who stayed with Elwe and never saw the light of the Trees (in Aman) were called the Umanyar, a division of the Moriquendi, or "Dark Elves". Elwe's folk, although being primarily of the Moriquendi, came to be enlightened and as knowledgeable in lore and arts as those of the Eldar because of the origin of their King and Queen. The people of King Elwe and Queen Melian later became the Sindar, of which people Celeborn is descended.

The Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri are the races called the Eldar, or Calaquendi.

The Moriquendi: These Elves are "dark", not because of any persuasion to evil, but simply because they never saw the light of Aman. Any group of Elves who didn't see the Trees are Moriquendi. The "Green Elves" you hear of are a division of the Moriquendi, called the Nandor. They are those who turned aside from the journey to Aman, but did not follow King Elwe.

The Avari is another group of Elves, a division of the Moriquendi. These refused even to start the journey to Aman and were scattered thoroughout Middle-earth.

Phew. It's all really quite confusing. I hope I laid it out simply enough. In fact, anyone else may feel free to correct me.
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Old 12-22-2001, 08:10 PM   #3
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Tolkien

I have another question to add to this. Does it say anywhere that elves have pointy ears? I imagine that they do, and apparently almost every depiction of them I've seen appears to show that, but does it ever say they do? (I'm doubting)
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Old 12-22-2001, 11:42 PM   #4
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Nope, it never says that elves have pointy ears once, anywhere. In fact, there is a better argument on them having ears just like men. Since elves and men were in form the same, except for elves normally being taller and they heal from their hurts easier than men.

And to Phil, you would probably be better off if you read the Silmarillion first and then maybe UT. Jumping right into HoME can be pretty confusing. The transformation that Tolkien's mythos takes is amazing, but you may want to get the basic story down first.
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Old 12-23-2001, 12:43 AM   #5
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I don't remember exactly where, but I think in Letters it says that elves had 'slightly pointed' ears. Otherwise, they were very similar in appearance to men.
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Old 12-23-2001, 01:53 AM   #6
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Are you sure you are not thinking of Hobbits? They have slightly pointed ears.
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Old 12-23-2001, 04:22 AM   #7
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I don't know, it's possible. I still can't find the quote.
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Old 12-23-2001, 11:05 AM   #8
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Letter 27, on the looks of Bilbo in The Hobbit:
Quote:
I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown).
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Old 12-23-2001, 02:27 PM   #9
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Tolkien

Well, even though the question continues to be shrowded in mystery, I'll keep visualizing them with pointy ears. They look good that way anyhow.
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Old 12-23-2001, 05:04 PM   #10
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Sting

I guess that was the quote I was thinking of, which is good. I prefer the picture of 'normal eared' elves.
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Old 12-25-2001, 08:47 PM   #11
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Silmaril

But pointed ears or not, do elves have belly buttons?
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Old 12-25-2001, 10:35 PM   #12
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Silmaril

I fancy that depends on how they're born.
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Old 12-26-2001, 11:41 AM   #13
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Sting

But that letter isn't refering to the elves of Tolkien's works is it? I think I remember reading that one, he was writing to a publisher or something so they would know how to draw hobbits. If you think about it, how would the publisher know what Tolkien's elves looked like unless he told them? There would probably have been another letter to clear that one up and seeing as there is not, my argument doesn't hold up very well.
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Old 12-26-2001, 12:11 PM   #14
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Sting

My lack of knowledge of Tolkien is showing through here, but why wouldn't elves have belly buttons? Do they have a completely different way of reproducing, or something? I'm still curious about how two elves can be married for millennia and stlil only produce a couple of kids.

as for the pointy ears thing, it always sounds so trivial, the kind of way people imagine elves when they're busy looking down their noses at this genre. and who wants to see Legolas as looking like Dr Spock?

does anyone, preferably with a better knowledge of biology than me, care to speculate on the evolutionary process that landed hobbits with hairy feet? thinking about it, aren't the palms and soles about the only bits on the body hat never have hair?
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Old 12-26-2001, 01:14 PM   #15
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The "belly buttons" reference has been something of an "in joke" of these boards since our estimable Red, following up on a conversation in the chat room about the first elves awakening full-grown at Cuivienen, rushed over to the boards to start a "Did the first Elves have belly buttons" thread. I'm surprised the newer posters are aware of this bit of Downs history (or maybe the comment arose independently).
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Old 12-26-2001, 01:36 PM   #16
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*takes a bow*

Quote:
I'm still curious about how two elves can be married for millennia and stlil only produce a couple of kids.
Well, they're Elves. They have more control over their own bodies than we do. If they don't wanna get pregnant, they can probably prevent it!

-réd (not Red) [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 12-27-2001, 02:10 PM   #17
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Eye

As one of my dear friends once said, "It's either killer birth-control, or serious abstinence!" I would certainly hope it wasn't the latter! :P
I used to think Tolkien's works to be totally sexless, but after reading into a few key passages, I think that's not entirely true. I think the reasons why the elves didn't have many kids was because they probably didn't need to, with the loooong lives they led. A couple of kids would last an eternity, there wasn't that big of a need to safeguard the race in that way, like it is with humans, for example.
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Old 12-27-2001, 11:08 PM   #18
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There could have been more in some families that were not written about, maybe they didn't do anything interesting, stayed in Valinor, whatever. That is just a theory though.
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Old 01-01-2002, 11:28 PM   #19
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While we're on the subject of elves...what about Silvan elves? The Encyclopedia of Arda is very vague in the description...that they are mainly of the Telerin kindred, but there are a few of the Noldor among them. Legolas was one [apparently]...could someone point me to where the Silvan are covered in the book(s)?
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Old 01-02-2002, 01:01 AM   #20
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There isn't much said about the Silvan Elves. I would think it's because they don't play a very big part in the books overall.
They play a small part in the Silmarillion, specifically the sub-group Green-Elves of Ossiriand. It doesn't go into much detail about them though.
In The Hobbit of course, the elves of Mirkwood play a significant role. I wouldn't consider their behaviour depicted there to be accurate though. At least I hope not. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
Also, The Fellowship of the Ring gives us the
glimpse of Lórien, and the Lórien elves are Silvan.
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Old 01-02-2002, 11:02 PM   #21
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Legolas is not really a Silvan elf, but one of the Sindar, they are slightly different because they never truly left the journey into the West but were, I guess, side tracted. Anyway Legolas's grnadfather Oropher and his father Thranduil lived in Doriath in the First Age.

I agree with Inziladun on the fact that the Elves of Mirkwood were not portrayed correctly. I think it easy to say that Bilbo was a little biased towards them when he wrote about them, seeing as they locked him up.
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Old 01-03-2002, 11:14 AM   #22
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Ohhh. Nothing I had read indicated he was Silvan, but I saw the Encyclopedia of Arda classified him as one, so I inferred that it was in something I had not yet read.
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Old 01-03-2002, 11:44 AM   #23
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So Grey Elves (Sindar) and Wood Elves (Silvan) are basically the same? If not, how can Thranduil be a Sindar and Legolas be a Silvan??
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Old 01-03-2002, 03:05 PM   #24
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No, the Sindar and Silvan Elves are not the same. The Elves of Mirkwood are mostly Silvan though there is a smattering of Sindar among them including the rulers, Thranduil, Legolas and the rest (if any) of his family.

-réd

[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: red ]
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Old 01-03-2002, 03:47 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by red:
<STRONG>No, the Sindar and Silvan Elves are not the same. The Elves of Mirkwood are mostly Silvan though there is a smattering of Sindar among them including the rulers, Thranduil, Legolas and the rest (if any) of his family.

-réd

[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: red ]</STRONG>
O Ok, so Legolas is a Sindar Elf then.

Man, Elves sure are a confusing lot.

Thanks [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: Ulmo ]
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Old 01-03-2002, 04:33 PM   #26
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Do Elvish women have menopause?
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Old 01-03-2002, 04:40 PM   #27
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And, in the discussion of birthcontrol, how often do they menstruate?
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Old 01-03-2002, 04:47 PM   #28
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"ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'"

by stating that the ears are slightly pointed and elvish...doesn't it imply that Elves have pointy ears? Just pondering...
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Old 01-03-2002, 05:42 PM   #29
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Sooo...the Encyclopedia editors need be alerted?!

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Old 01-04-2002, 07:36 AM   #30
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Sting

I don't see any problem with Legolas being both a Sindarin Elf and a Silvan Elf. His father was a Sinda, so Legolas can be counted among the Sindar. On the other hand, he lived in a forest and his culture was a Silvan one, so he can be called a Silvan Elf as well. I think that being a Sinda, Noldo, Vanya etc. is a 'genetic' difference, while the difference between a Wood-Elf and for example a High-Elf and is a cultural one and not dependent on who your parents were, but (in this case) where you live, or have lived.
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Old 01-05-2002, 09:56 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally posted by Elenhin:
<STRONG>I don't see any problem with Legolas being both a Sindarin Elf and a Silvan Elf. His father was a Sinda, so Legolas can be counted among the Sindar. On the other hand, he lived in a forest and his culture was a Silvan one, so he can be called a Silvan Elf as well. I think that being a Sinda, Noldo, Vanya etc. is a 'genetic' difference, while the difference between a Wood-Elf and for example a High-Elf and is a cultural one and not dependent on who your parents were, but (in this case) where you live, or have lived.</STRONG>
That makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 05-09-2002, 04:52 AM   #32
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Sting

just curious.. has anyone come up with the solution about the elvin ears? and it should be fun to hear more about the other theories as well..
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Old 05-09-2002, 09:43 PM   #33
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Sting

It's said in the Appendix to LOTR that many sindar who stayed in middle earth after the great battle went to the East, and because they were greated, they become kings or chiefs of the more rustic Silvan Elves.

The confusion with the elves comes because they are many divisions.

Originally there were the three kindreds, the Vanyar, the Noldor and the Teleri.

When Orome guided the elves to Aman, some didn't hear his call because they were away, or feared Orome, or simply didn't want to go, those are called the "avari".

All the elves that started the trip to Aman whether they got there or not are called "eldar". The avari were mostly teleri but some noldor as well.

Now, many eldar never reached Beleriand, a large group, headed by Lenwe, didn't dear to cross the Misty Mountains and they dwelt in the Anduin Valley, they are called the Nandor.

Of those who arrived to Beleriand, some went to Aman, the Vanyar and the Noldor, and part of the Teleri, conducted by Olwe, Elwe's brother.

But many stayed, some in the shores of Beleriand because Osse convinced them to stay and their chief was Cirdan.

But also, many others didn't want to leave without their king Elwe who was lost in Nam Elmoth (when he met Melian) and they were left behind.

The elves that reached Aman and saw the light of the trees are called the Calaquendi, The elves of the light, the high elves and they are much more powerful than those that stayed in Middle Earth (that explains why Morgoth understimated the Noldor, he had fought to the Sindar and didn't realize the Noldor were much stronger).

Those who never saw the light of the trees are called the Moriquendi, the dark elves, the term dark doesn't mean they were dark of spirit but that they never saw the light of Aman.

But the group that stayed with Elwe was like in between. Because Elwe had seen the lights of the trees, and because of the power of Melian, they were wiser and more powerful than the rest of the Moriquendi, they were called the Sindar, or the grey elves, the term grey has a double meaning, because they were the followers or Elwe, that in Sindarin was known as Elu Thingol, King gremantle because he used to wear one. but also because the Sindar were less powerful than the Calaquendi but more than the Moriquendi.

Finally, the Silvan elves are believed to be Nandor and Avari, they were way less skilled than the Sindar or the Calaquendi, less strong, less wise.

There is a table at the end of the Silmarillion that more or less explain the divisions.
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