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Old 09-22-2021, 03:31 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Silmaril Tolkien's final First Age timeline

Tolkien didn't have a final First Age timeline. Or rather, he had several: the Annals of Aman and associated Tale of Years (HoME X: Morgoth's Ring) seem to be his latest thoughts on the period before the Awakening of the Elves and the period after their arrival in Aman, but with the publication of The Nature of Middle-earth, we now have his later thoughts on the Great March (NoME 1.VII "The March of the Quendi"), and his even later thoughts on the period between the Awakening and the March (NoME 1.XIII "Key Dates", text 1). Throw in a smattering of later notes, such as a birthdate for Galadriel (NoME 1.XVIII "Elvish Ages & Numenorean") and a mention of the March crossing Caradhras (NoME 3.XVII "Silvan Elves & Silvan Elvish"), and what we have is a complex picture that Tolkien never put together.

But the pieces are there. It's taken a lot of calculating, cross-referencing, and tearing my hair out over Tolkien's entirely unreasonable habit of, um, not taking his 1960s thoughts into account in the 1950s (that monster), but I've pulled together what I think is a fair rendering of what Tolkien's "Final Timeline" would have looked like.*

The First Age of Middle-earth

*It wouldn't have. If he'd written it, he would have come up with a whole new set of dates, added several characters, and accidentally made Finwe the son of Maglor somehow. But I can dream.

I've not bothered to include the Beleriand years, because there's no change to them: they span about 600 years at the end of the very long First Age, just as they always have.

Notes on what in the world I was thinking at every stage are at the end, along with the parts where my common sense got the better of me. I'm happy to explain, discuss, or defend any points people want to pull out, though if it involves too much of Tolkien's inability to count in 144s I won't have any hair left to tear out.

Anyway so that's what I've been up to since NoME appeared.

hS
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Old 09-22-2021, 06:37 AM   #2
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*It wouldn't have. If he'd written it, he would have come up with a whole new set of dates, added several characters, and accidentally made Finwe the son of Maglor somehow. But I can dream.



This is fascinating stuff, and a lot of dedication. Many kudos to you Hui!


I read through the timeline, and one thing that kinda baffled me is the insistence on counting generations from Cuivienen. To me, this makes no sense in the context of an immortal society. This sort of counting is possible for us, humans, when each generation has a finite time span, and an even more finite fertility span; while there may be overlap with two - three - even four generations with a stretch, there's a limit to how much overlap you can get. When you are immortal, there is nothing stopping a person from the 24th generation marrying a person from the 3rd generation, making their child a member of... which generation exactly? Is he the 25th generation, on the premise of accounting for the highest number of "degrees of separation"? But simultaneously he is a belated member of the 4th generation - which sort of invalidates any comment along the line of "Generation N complete", because what's to stop Elves from just having more children? It's not like they die or become infertile after a certain age. They can always hypothetically have more.

Counting Elf generations makes sense when there is a "baby boom", and there is a wave of children that comes at a predictable period of time related to some reproductive cycle physiology. It makes sense for the first few generations. It makes sense in Aman, because apparently all the Elves there went "We made it! The future is bright! Let's make babies!", and proceeded to do so at the shortest intervals within reason. That is what maintains the chronological structure of the family tree, where each generation is older than the next (something that is also confirmed by the various hints scattered in the text). Technically speaking, there is nothing preventing a nephew to be ages older than his uncle, if the uncle's parents decide to have a "late child"... and again right back to it: there are no "late children" when there is no limitation to your period of fertility! When (hypothetically) one sibling can be born in the FA and one in the TA, with anything you want happening in between, how can you still count generations by the number of degrees removed from Cuivienen? How does this system even hold up, except during those periods when generations flow smoothly from one to the next, or when there is a time point acting as reference (e.g. arrival in Aman, or departure from Aman, or other significant "generational" event)?

Would it not make more sense to name generations by the other definition, a cohort of people who are born around the same period of time and go through the same set of shared experiences? That would put the child of the 24th and 3rd generation Elves into the generation of whichever children are born around the same time, whether sired by the 3rd or 50th generation (because again, what's to stop the 3rd from having more children later in life?). And generations would be defined along the lines of "Those who remember Cuivienen", "Those who were born after Orome's coming", "Those who were born after crossing Landmark X" - just the same way as defined as "Those who were born in Aman" are naturally considered a new and separate generation from their parents who made the March and remembered Middle-earth.


On another note, I think I spotted a math error, or possibly I'm just not doing it right. When trying to see how long it took the Elves to build Tirion, I get 50 years by FA count, but 72 years by the VY count. Either way, that's impressively little time. I don't believe they've really built any cities before on their previous stops on the road, so it's a remarkable amount of time to get into architecture and perfect the skill and build Tirion, and then decide that it's perfect and finished and not keep tinkering with it till the end of days.

Other things I noticed... Galadriel was still a teen at the Death of the Trees. That goes against everything I imagined about her being a mature woman making a mature decision... And also makes me look sideways at Feanor, who apparently creeped a kid for a piece of hair.

...And more math questions. There is a discrepancy between Death of Trees and Doom of Mandos timelines. But either way - I sort of imagined that the entire Flight of the Noldor happened on one breath, in a matter of weeks. What did they do for 2+ years???
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:04 AM   #3
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I read through the timeline, and one thing that kinda baffled me is the insistence on counting generations from Cuivienen. To me, this makes no sense in the context of an immortal society. This sort of counting is possible for us, humans, when each generation has a finite time span, and an even more finite fertility span; while there may be overlap with two - three - even four generations with a stretch, there's a limit to how much overlap you can get. When you are immortal, there is nothing stopping a person from the 24th generation marrying a person from the 3rd generation, making their child a member of... which generation exactly? Is he the 25th generation, on the premise of accounting for the highest number of "degrees of separation"? But simultaneously he is a belated member of the 4th generation - which sort of invalidates any comment along the line of "Generation N complete", because what's to stop Elves from just having more children? It's not like they die or become infertile after a certain age. They can always hypothetically have more.
Tolkien's final view of the generations of the Quendi borders on ritualistic. He decided that (at Cuivienen at least) they had a very specific pattern to their lives. To take the 24th generation as an example (Ingwe, the parents of Finwe and Elwe, and the last to be complete before the March): each member would marry at age 108, have their first child a year later, and then have other children - typically just the two, though Elwe's family shows that three was possible - at 48 year intervals. Obviously this means each new generation is more spread out, because the first child of the eldest members is further ahead of the last child of the youngest; those figures mark the start and end dates of the generation. Tolkien specifically gives the dates of the first and last births, and first and last marriages. He also cheerfully talks about the "number of births" in a generation: "At the Great March... of gen. 25, probably 16 births would have occured from 1488 to 2223". That's not individual children born - that's rounds of births, with elvish women giving birth in groups (and always in the spring).

He does acknowledge that this maths is kind of weird, on a previous scheme: "the last of the 3rd gen. is born in 800, while the 5th gen. was in progress, so that [?] generations would not keep intact. Plainly a child could be born in practically any year..." But he kept on doing it! And I have a suspicion Ingwe is only one generation above Finwe so that Indis can be the same generation as her husband...

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Would it not make more sense to name generations by the other definition, a cohort of people who are born around the same period of time and go through the same set of shared experiences? That would put the child of the 24th and 3rd generation Elves into the generation of whichever children are born around the same time, whether sired by the 3rd or 50th generation (because again, what's to stop the 3rd from having more children later in life?). And generations would be defined along the lines of "Those who remember Cuivienen", "Those who were born after Orome's coming", "Those who were born after crossing Landmark X" - just the same way as defined as "Those who were born in Aman" are naturally considered a new and separate generation from their parents who made the March and remembered Middle-earth.
You'd think, right? The final seven generations of Tolkien's scheme are all going on at the same time, so... yeah. And realistically, they probably did - this is probably just a maths exercise.

To "what's to stop them having more children" - they just didn't, apparently. The Quendi married, had a set of children, and then washed their hands of the whole affair. Tolkien spent a lot of time thinking about 'relative aging' and the like, partly in an effort to justify this, but it's really difficult to know where he ended up on that front.

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On another note, I think I spotted a math error, or possibly I'm just not doing it right. When trying to see how long it took the Elves to build Tirion, I get 50 years by FA count, but 72 years by the VY count. Either way, that's impressively little time. I don't believe they've really built any cities before on their previous stops on the road, so it's a remarkable amount of time to get into architecture and perfect the skill and build Tirion, and then decide that it's perfect and finished and not keep tinkering with it till the end of days.
That's a maths (or maybe incomplete correction) error, yeah. The Annals of Aman make it 7 "VY", which should be just about 50 years; I suspect I wanted it to be half a VY and so tweaked one of the figures. Nothing else depends on it, so I'll just switch it back to Tolkien.

They didn't build cities beforehand - we actually know what they did build, from NoME 3.VI "Dwellings in Middle-earth". The word mbara meaning 'dwelling' "was probably a development during the period of the Great Journey to the Western Shores, during which many halls of varying duration were made by the Eldar at the choice of their leaders, as a while, or for separate groups". He goes on to say that "permanent buildings or dwelling-houses" were developed in Aman, and that "the Sindar lived in primitive conditions, mostly in groves or forest-land; permanent built dwellings were rare, especially those of a smaller kind corresponding more or less to our 'a house'." Cirdan was the first in Beleriand to use masonry, in his harbours and towers; and even after the return of Morgoth the Sindar mostly build for defense, "undomestic". In fact, even the Noldor mostly focussed on towers and fortresses: "only in Gondolin... was the art of the Exiles fully employed in building fair houses as dwellings. But the Noldor generally built family houses in their territories, and often established communities within encircling walls in the manner of 'towns'. The Men who later entered Beleriand and became their allies adopted the same customs."

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Other things I noticed... Galadriel was still a teen at the Death of the Trees. That goes against everything I imagined about her being a mature woman making a mature decision... And also makes me look sideways at Feanor, who apparently creeped a kid for a piece of hair.
Galadriel is meant to be 20 in "relative years" at the beginning of the Exile, which I take to mean the death of the Trees. Those relative years are at a 3:1 rate, so she ought to be 60. Okay, phew, she is. (Through various mathsy loops, Tolkien establishes that her "mortal equivalent" age when she eventually sailed back to Aman was 54, having just passed her 'youth'. Midlife crisis, anyone?) Yeeeeeah... assuming Feanor creeped on her before he was banished to Formenos, she would have been "relatively" 7-10 years at the oldest. I hope she kicked him on the ankle.*

*Actually, "The Shibboleth of Feanor" [HoME XII] kind of agrees with this! "From her earliest years she had a marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her good will from none save only Feanor. In him she percieved a darkness that she hated and feared..." Yeah, Uncle Feanaro was Galadriel's personal childhood nightmare, and then he came over and started trying to steal her hair - little "Man-maid" definitely kicked him on the ankle.

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...And more math questions. There is a discrepancy between Death of Trees and Doom of Mandos timelines. But either way - I sort of imagined that the entire Flight of the Noldor happened on one breath, in a matter of weeks. What did they do for 2+ years???
I'm not immune to these off-by-one errors myself; different calculations give me +- 1 to various numbers. I've corrected the last few dates now.

And yes: you'd think! But Tolkien consistently tried to make it take flippin' ages. He considered having Fingolfin basically settle down in "Arvalin" (= Araman; he seems to have pulled in an earlier name for what we usually call Avathar and used it for Araman) to let him tweak the timing of the coming of Men, saying "Fleeing Aman, crossing the Ice, sojourn in Arvalin could take a [great while?]." The Annals of Aman (HoME X) have 50 sun-years between the death of the Trees and the launch of the Moon, and at one point (NoME 1.X) Tolkien declared that this was "insufficient"! (He did at least acknowledge that 720 years was a bit much.) He actually seems to have wanted a full VY for the Exile to unfold; but luckily the same late text that discusses Galadriel's birthdate says that the elves each aged by one life-year during the journey back. Galadriel's life-year at that time would be 3 years, so unless we assume her aging dramatically slowed to match her elders' 144-year span, the trip should be relatively short. (I've set it at 10 years for the sole reason that it lets me keep the 888 date for the death of the Trees while maintaining the length of the traditional "First Age" at the 600 years set by Tolkien in the Galadriel text.)

I suppose they were walking from the equator to the north pole with tens of thousands of people. It might take a little while.

hS
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:17 AM   #4
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To what extent was JRRT's use of generations in his timeline not linked to "tradition" or mortality but rather a device to assist in calculation of population, to which he clearly assigned a great degree of importance? He seems to have felt that, for his work to be logical and internally consistent, there needed to be some critical mass of Elves ultimately transported to Valinor in order to explain how large the Beleriandic hosts were.
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:46 AM   #5
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To what extent was JRRT's use of generations in his timeline not linked to "tradition" or mortality but rather a device to assist in calculation of population, to which he clearly assigned a great degree of importance? He seems to have felt that, for his work to be logical and internally consistent, there needed to be some critical mass of Elves ultimately transported to Valinor in order to explain how large the Beleriandic hosts were.
He definitely did, though his idea of how many that needed to be seems to have changed constantly, and there is a definite argument that the generations were just a mathematical exercise. In talking of calculations based on schemes 1 and 2, he says "this is a purely abstract calculation", and then proceeds to discuss how the generations spread out.

But he does seem to have viewed them as a physical reality, as well: he assigns generations to the three Ambassadors, for example, even though they're so deep in the tree that it should be impossible to calculate these. He talks about how many birth intervals were complete at various times across multiple schemes, and goes out of his way to explain (in scheme 1) that the reason the 6th-generation Ambassadors have diverging birth-dates, despite being direct eldest-son descendents of the first three, is "due to intrusion of earlier-born daughters".

So I guess the answer is in that very Tolkienian space, where he creates something which he acknowledges is a simplification - like the 144 original elves - and then treats it as absolute fact in the rest of his workings. Imin, Tata, and Enel have speaking roles in the Great Debate before the March, the populations of the three tribes are directly based on the division of the 144 in the Cuivienyarna, and the elves had ritualistically-delineated reproductive habits.

hS
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:16 PM   #6
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I believe that the fact that he counted generations was due more to his eagerness to make the Tale of Years very reliable and realistic according to the nature of the Quendi and in the context of a world with sun and moon from the beginning.
I was not doing accounts, but I am trying to adapt the "old" Tale of Years to the new duodecimal system and I find it very difficult to adjust it without a "new narrative". I think that a lot (not all) of the new information can be inserted but keeping the old decimal system. I can be wrong and it would be necessary to give it more lapses but ...
On the other hand I think Tolkien always thought and wanted the three ambassadors to be First Born hence the "option" for Imin Tata and Enel to go to Valinor and join them Ingwë Finwë and Elwë, their "young descendants", and that also contributed to the calculations to make it more credible.

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Old 09-23-2021, 01:43 AM   #7
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I believe that the fact that he counted generations was due more to his eagerness to make the Tale of Years very reliable and realistic according to the nature of the Quendi and in the context of a world with sun and moon from the beginning.
He certainly was very preoccupied with "realism", hence his boosting of the number of generations from 6 to 25 almost off the cuff. Whether even immortal elves could create a language from scratch in 2000 years doesn't seem to have bothered him, though.

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I was not doing accounts, but I am trying to adapt the "old" Tale of Years to the new duodecimal system and I find it very difficult to adjust it without a "new narrative". I think that a lot (not all) of the new information can be inserted but keeping the old decimal system. I can be wrong and it would be necessary to give it more lapses but ...
It is difficult, which is why I basically gave up and just kept the precise spacing. If Tolkien had written it, he would probably have kept 'blocks' of events spaced the same as before - eg the gap between the Noldor and Teleri arriving in Valinor - and shuffled those blocks relative to each other. He would certainly have pinned precise birth and marriage dates on the House of Finwe, given his preoccupation with the same in the generation schemes.

But... all we can do is all we can do. There are several approaches to take, one of which is to literally keep the Annals timeline and just change the numbering scheme to duodecimal, taking the "3100 years is probably an elvish underestimate" as the latest authority (heck, at one point 14,000 years was too short for him!) My timeline would maybe better be described as pseudo-Christopher Tolkien: it's how I imagine Christopher would have reconstructed a consistent timeline for a hypothetical New Silmarillion, not what Tolkien would have produced with his own hands.

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On the other hand I think Tolkien always thought and wanted the three ambassadors to be First Born hence the "option" for Imin Tata and Enel to go to Valinor and join them Ingwë Finwë and Elwë, their "young descendants", and that also contributed to the calculations to make it more credible.
Now that was a weird little interlude. His whole reason for introducing the generation schemes was to make Finwe et al young enough that Finwe could reasonably not be married before Valinor, and he wrote all his generational schemes and two(?) accounts of the Debate with just the Three Ambassadors. But then he seems to have decided - or realised - that the Three Fathers ought to have been there too, and so Tolkien's final position is that there were six Ambassadors.

It gives some lovely interactions, but it's really hard to know what to do with it. That's why my timeline just says "Ambassadors" - it's a problem for someone else to sort out!

hS
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Old 09-23-2021, 03:50 AM   #8
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I don't think Tolkien's final position was that there were six ambassadors. Rather I think he put it as an option. Because, as you say, he logically thought that the Three Fathers should be ambassadors (as I think he had always thought since the Lost Tales).
Of course this also brings up some problems such as that then "the light of Aman" was also "in the eyes" of the Three Fathers and perhaps that would have to be developed narratively.
In my case and in my reconstruction of the story, before knowing the information contained in NoME and the reasons why the Professor decided to write it, I had taken Cuivienyarna as a non-real Fairy Tale (related to numerals), at least that it was what I understood. From what I thought (I wanted, as I think Tolkien wanted) that Ingwë, etc were First Born and preserve the beautiful story of the Awakening that they told Manwë in the Lost Tales. I can only keep that if there are all six of the Ambassadors. But it is a difficult decision, you have said it.

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Old 09-23-2021, 07:44 AM   #9
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I think that in general Tolkien's late writings became much too concrete and literal for his own good. The "Dome of Varda" is a gimcrack replacement for the original flat-earth cosmology.
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Old 09-24-2021, 04:55 PM   #10
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I dunno, for myself, I find the Dome of Varda quite magical with its Star-imagines. I wonder how it would have been received if it had been presented to readers first, or in a published tale without being accompanied by draft texts?
And I agree it was seen as part of a replacement in around 1959, or the MT "phase" in general, but not later --
at least in my current, pre-NOME opinion (!) . . .

. . . and not that anyone said otherwise.

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Old 09-24-2021, 05:44 PM   #11
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I dunno, for myself, I find the Dome of Varda quite magical with its Star-imagines. I wonder how it would have been received if it had been presented to readers first, or in a published tale without being accompanied by draft texts?
As a brief aside, could there possibly be any connection between that and the Dome of Stars in Osgiliath?
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Old 09-25-2021, 05:30 AM   #12
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I don't think Tolkien's final position was that there were six ambassadors. Rather I think he put it as an option. Because, as you say, he logically thought that the Three Fathers should be ambassadors (as I think he had always thought since the Lost Tales).
Of course this also brings up some problems such as that then "the light of Aman" was also "in the eyes" of the Three Fathers and perhaps that would have to be developed narratively.
You're quite right - I meant 'final' as in it's the last thing he wrote down. Whether he then rejected the "Alternative" is unknowable - he was just thinking on paper, and never wrote a "final decision" piece.

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In my case and in my reconstruction of the story, before knowing the information contained in NoME and the reasons why the Professor decided to write it, I had taken Cuivienyarna as a non-real Fairy Tale (related to numerals), at least that it was what I understood. From what I thought (I wanted, as I think Tolkien wanted) that Ingwë, etc were First Born and preserve the beautiful story of the Awakening that they told Manwë in the Lost Tales. I can only keep that if there are all six of the Ambassadors. But it is a difficult decision, you have said it.
I think everyone is slightly taken aback by how literally Tolkien treats the fairy-tale of the Awakening. Like, he literally calls it a "legend"! But then he goes and treats every single aspect of it as essential to the later course of Quendian history. He's an odd one, is Tolkien.

I don't know how he would have come down on the 3/6 ambassadors question. The fact that none of the Seniors joined the March shows that having the Three Fathers being stubborn and refusing to even visit Aman (or perhaps, too connected to their land, if we take the view that the March was a bad idea) was a very plausible idea. I'd forgotten the lovely account the Ambassadors gave to Manwe, but that could be kept by having it given to Orome at the Finding. (Later Manwe probably wouldn't even have asked!)

(From a fan-writer perspective, I'd probably be cheeky and give it to the Three Elderwomen at the Finding, while their husbands refused to come near Orome. But that's me.)

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I think that in general Tolkien's late writings became much too concrete and literal for his own good. The "Dome of Varda" is a gimcrack replacement for the original flat-earth cosmology.
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I dunno, for myself, I find the Dome of Varda quite magical with its Star-imagines. I wonder how it would have been received if it had been presented to readers first, or in a published tale without being accompanied by draft texts?
And I agree it was seen as part of a replacement in around 1959, or the MT "phase" in general, but not later --
at least in my current, pre-NOME opinion (!) . . .

. . . and not that anyone said otherwise.
NoME doesn't really add anything on the Domes of Varda, except to consistently refer to them in the plural and to say that their presence lengthened elven growth cycles (though this may have been rejected). My view is that they are a bit too much of a replacement, because... why would the Valar set up a fake "starry sky without sun and moon" if the sun and moon predated the world? It isn't something they should be calling back to, because it never existed; and as Varda created the actual stars (which I believe NoME somewhere says are... y'know, actual stars), why would she be satisfied with cheap replicas.

If it was the first story I'd heard, I think it would still have felt like a justification for some old legend of the Trees being the only lights in the world. And since that's not something from Primary World mythology, that would have felt a little strange.

hS
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Old 09-25-2021, 11:20 AM   #13
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My view is that they are a bit too much of a replacement, because... why would the Valar set up a fake "starry sky without sun and moon" if the sun and moon predated the world? It isn't something they should be calling back to, because it never existed;
My answer is: in the Two Trees they have the golden (sun) and silver (moon) lights, and still wanted stars.

With respect to domes, plural, I wonder if this is not a slip -- but if so, admittedly twice! I checked the NOME index here: the first reference isn't plural, but merely states: "since Valinor was domed over" Of course there are two plural references in NOME however, one from Difficulties in Chronology (page 71) c. 1959, and another from Ageing of Elves (page 77) 1959.

But in Morgoth's Ring there are no dome-s that I could find (unless I missed something of course).


The Later Quenta Silmarillion II chapter 6

Ungoliante sees "the dome of Varda"

MT text III

"What happened in Valinor after the Death of the Trees? Aman was "unveiled" -- it had been covered with a dome (made by Varda)" ( . . . ) it was removed and Aman was lit by the Sun"

Aman was unveiled. Christopher Tolkien: "and Aman was lit beneath the Dome by the Two Trees"

MT Text IV

"it was Varda who made the great dome above Valinor"


The Problem of Ros

[concerning the Great Hall of the Throne of Elwe and the Menelrond] " . . . because by the arts and aid of Melian its high arched roof had been adorned with silver and gems set in the order and figures of the stars in the great Dome
of Valmar in Aman, whence Melian came."


Again the Dome of Varda "above Valinor" is referenced [note 21]. Admittedly the "Dome of Valmar" might suggest other domes, but generally speaking, names can be tricky!


In an earlier version of QS, Ungoliant saw the "silver domes of Valmar" > so maybe Tolkien confused this and slipped
a couple times, or maybe remembered the "domed halls of Varda" from another passage?

If there were to be domes, it would seem that only one would have the light of the trees! Although that said, if these two references are not mere slips, perhaps that was the point? Places for any who wanted only a starry night sky.

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Old 10-07-2021, 03:10 PM   #14
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Galadriel is meant to be 20 in "relative years" at the beginning of the Exile, which I take to mean the death of the Trees. ( . . .) Yeeeeeah... assuming Feanor creeped on her before he was banished to Formenos, she would have been "relatively" 7-10 years at the oldest. I hope she kicked him on the ankle.*
I think the idea that Feanor asked Galadriel for her hair only shows up in The Shibboleth of Feanor however, which is later than any 1959 text (in GNOME), or even Elvish Ages and Numenorean, dated to 1965.

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*Actually, "The Shibboleth of Feanor" [HoME XII] kind of agrees with this! "From her earliest years she had a marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her good will from none save only Feanor. In him she percieved a darkness that she hated and feared..." Yeah, Uncle Feanaro was Galadriel's personal childhood nightmare, and then he came over and started trying to steal her hair - little "Man-maid" definitely kicked him on the ankle.
In your chart linked above you've got Feanor making the Silmarils before Galadriel was even born -- okay, based on NOME texts . . .

. . . but in The Shibboleth (1968 or later), Galadriel was born in the Bliss of Valinor (which includes the vague addition: "it was not long in the reckoning of the Blessed Realm, before that was dimmed") and the Eldar said that her hair had snared the light of the two trees, and many thought that this this saying gave Feanor the idea of blending the light of the Silmarils that later took shape as the Silmarils: "For Feanor begged three times . . ."

My interpretation is that Feanor begged for her hair before making the Silmarils. And if so, thus, in what "mode of thinking" was Tolkien involved with here, in 1968 or later? Noting too, that in another late text, Eldarin Hands and Fingers:

Quote:
"nette meant "girl approaching the adult" (in her "teens": the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if at all slower than that of the children of Men). The Common Eldarin stem (wen-ed) wendé "maiden" applied to all stages up to the fully adult (until marriage)."

JRRT, from Vinyar Tengwar 47, texts generally dated 1967-70 (reproduced in NOME as well)
Carl Hostetter then refers the reader to XVI where Tolkien notes that the Elvish growth rate from conception to maturity should be comparable to Humans, with Elves reaching maturity at 24 loar (Sun Years), and in which, with respect to later weddings in the "Early Years" before the March, the Elves were usually 24/21-24 [granted CFH also refers to Elvish Ages and Numenorean too, but this text still pre-dates the "nette remark"].

In other words, I don't think we necessarily have a text in which Feanor begs a notably young Galadriel for her hair, as by the time the idea arises, we don't know where Tolkien was with respect to certain earlier notions or dates.
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Old 10-08-2021, 02:45 AM   #15
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I think the idea that Feanor asked Galadriel for her hair only shows up in The Shibboleth of Feanor however, which is later than any 1959 text (in GNOME), or even Elvish Ages and Numenorean, dated to 1965.

In your chart linked above you've got Feanor making the Silmarils before Galadriel was even born -- okay, based on NOME texts . . .

. . . but in The Shibboleth (1968 or later), Galadriel was born in the Bliss of Valinor (which includes the vague addition: "it was not long in the reckoning of the Blessed Realm, before that was dimmed") and the Eldar said that her hair had snared the light of the two trees, and many thought that this this saying gave Feanor the idea of blending the light of the Silmarils that later took shape as the Silmarils: "For Feanor begged three times . . ."

My interpretation is that Feanor begged for her hair before making the Silmarils. And if so, thus, in what "mode of thinking" was Tolkien involved with here, in 1968 or later? Noting too, that in another late text, Eldarin Hands and Fingers:

Carl Hostetter then refers the reader to XVI where Tolkien notes that the Elvish growth rate from conception to maturity should be comparable to Humans, with Elves reaching maturity at 24 loar (Sun Years), and in which, with respect to later weddings in the "Early Years" before the March, the Elves were usually 24/21-24 [granted CFH also refers to Elvish Ages and Numenorean too, but this text still pre-dates the "nette remark"].

In other words, I don't think we necessarily have a text in which Feanor begs a notably young Galadriel for her hair, as by the time the idea arises, we don't know where Tolkien was with respect to certain earlier notions or dates.
This is some good detective work. I think you're right that the "nette remark" probably indicates that Tolkien returned to the 1:1 Elvish growth rate - "little slower" could still mean 3:1 (by contrast with the 144:1 he occasionally wandered into), but "if at all" precludes that. And it does seem to be the latest text on aging. It probably doesn't mean they married at 24, though - that would undo all the work on getting the Ambassadors to be unmarried adults, which doesn't rely on growth rates anyway. (One caveat: the "nette remark" is undated except in that it preceeds a 1968 text; it could concievably by pre-"Elvish Ages".)

It's a great catch that the story of Galadriel's hair only shows up in the Shibboleth (as quoted in Unfinished Tales): that really surprises me! I'd always assumed that her gift to Gimli was written to be a mirror of her rejection of Feanor, but it looks like the Feanor story may actually have been written to explain the Gimli one!

I think the only way to reconcile "teen Galadriel" with "inspired the Silmarils" is to shift the date the Silmarils were made right down to just before Feanor drew his sword on Fingolfin. The Annals of Aman say the making of them took 10 sun-years, so there's just enough room in my timeline for Feanor to pester Galadriel at about age 10 and still make them before he breaks the peace. ... except that Melkor's work to sow discord in Valinor was because of the Silmarils, so he would have to have corrupted Feanor in under 10 years, which seems unlikely.

Hmm...

Okay. The published Silmarillion makes Feanor's exile 12 years. The Annals of Aman has 40 years [of the Trees] between the forging of the Silmarils and the breaking of the Peace, and one year [of the Trees] for Feanor to make the Silmarils.. If we take both those figures to be sun-years, we get this:

- 5413: Birth of Galadriel.
- 5420: Feanor begins work on the Silmarils.
- 5421: Completion of the Silmarils.
- 5461: Breaking of the Peace of Aman, banishing of Feanor.
- 5473: Death of the Trees.

So Feanor saw 7-year-old Galadriel, was wowed by her hair, and when she kicked him on the ankle he went off in a sulk to make some jewellery. That kind of hangs together.

It means neglecting the "nette remark", but in various places in NoME Tolkien considered that aging should run slower in Aman under the Trees. It's not perfect, but at least it hangs together.

EDIT: Actually, the "nette remark" is specifically talking about the Common Eldarin period, and uses the past tense to describe Elvish aging. I don't think it conflicts with "Elvish Ages" at all.

hS
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Old 10-08-2021, 12:40 PM   #16
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Admittedly, I'm making a broader statement here about Tolkien's possible mindset in the later phases of his writing. We can't know, but what I'm suggesting is that by the time this idea (Feanor asking for Galadriel's hair) rolled into JRRT's mind, much of what he'd written nearly 10 years earlier could have been forgotten . . .

. . . or replaced with something simpler. And if so, when Tolkien wrote The Shibboleth of Feanor, can we even be certain he had not reverted to the old date of Galadriel's birth in the Annals of Aman and injected the new ratio. I agree it would undo much of what he thought 10 years before (if he even remembered it) and even 3 years before (if he remembered that), but for all we know, an older Tolkien might have undone certain things for simplicity, or undone certain things because he no longer had his old texts to hand in any case, and was "creating anew" so to speak.

That said, I can certainly understand the approach that Tolkien was thinking X in 1959, and even Y in 1965, so why should we assume he simply dropped so much of it in 1968 or later. I agree it makes sense to approach things this way too -- but I keep in mind that Tolkien, just for one often-used example, actually chose to publish Celeborn as one of the Sindar in 1967 RGEO . . .

. . . then in 1968 "or later" seemingly forgets this, and writes at least two different Celeborn histories! And I'll admit that "maybe Tolkien changed his mind" due to a lack of evidence -- the Shibboleth providing no dates nor any trace of how fast Galadriel became a mature woman -- is not the most compelling of arguments, but there that is.

Before NOME was published, for example, some folks on the web have compared the "young" Galadriel who takes part in the rebellion to the more mature Galadriel who ultimately rejects the One. Perhaps an older Tolkien came to believe that the reader needed no more than this?

Perhaps not

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EDIT: Actually, the "nette remark" is specifically talking about the Common Eldarin period, and uses the past tense to describe Elvish aging. I don't think it conflicts with "Elvish Ages" at all. hS
Can you expand on this?

So far, in my head anyway, Tolkien's "final" thought here is based on the "nette remark" (I had thunk so before NOME actually, given that this was published in VT) -- and now in combination with XVI (from NOME), but if you think the two are internally consistent I'd like to see more of your argument as to why.
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Old 10-08-2021, 04:11 PM   #17
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However, in trying to assign weight to various things Tolkien wrote down, one can't go exclusively by chronology, because it's certainly the case that T had in his mind, and committed to paper, everything from considered ideas worked out in great detail with full commitment, to on the other hand passing notions he jotted somewhere and soon rejected or forgot. To me the "nette remark" smacks more of the latter than the former.
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Old 10-08-2021, 04:23 PM   #18
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Second post because utterly unconnected to the first:

While Tolkien wavered as to precisely the rates at which Elves (and Numenoreans) matured, the consistent thread in all of these writings is that these longeval races nonetheless grew from birth to first maturity (~20 years in human terms) at a much faster rate than the rate of their aging, compared to humans. Roughly speaking, we spend a quarter of our lives (0-20) growing up, and then the remaining 3/4 (20-80) decaying. For both Elves and Dunedain, though, while Tolkien vacillated on what the ratio was it was much, much greater than 1:3. Aragorn's was about 1:10, and Elves naturally way, way more.

This reflects back to a position I have long held, which was a minority position even before PJ cast a teenager to play Frodo and carved it in pop-culture stone: Frodo was not physically a teenager at 33 (and thereafter, because Ring). He was 33 in our regular human terms.* Hobbits, like Dunedain and Elves would fit the pattern: growth to adulthood at our rate, but slower decline thereafter. In ratio terms 1:4, since the average Hobbit life expectancy ("as often as not") was 100.

I have always thought that Hobbits coming of age at 33, (besides the maths of one gross), was the university don's droll little joke-- No society as sensible as the Shire would ever consider young people in their twenties to be "adults!"

*Mentally and emotionally, of course, he was 50, a middle-aged bachelor, not an ingenue. PJ never understood that.
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Old 10-09-2021, 04:52 PM   #19
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Admittedly, I'm making a broader statement here about Tolkien's possible mindset in the later phases of his writing. We can't know, but what I'm suggesting is that by the time this idea (Feanor asking for Galadriel's hair) rolled into JRRT's mind, much of what he'd written nearly 10 years earlier could have been forgotten . . .

. . . or replaced with something simpler. And if so, when Tolkien wrote The Shibboleth of Feanor, can we even be certain he had not reverted to the old date of Galadriel's birth in the Annals of Aman and injected the new ratio. I agree it would undo much of what he thought 10 years before (if he even remembered it) and even 3 years before (if he remembered that), but for all we know, an older Tolkien might have undone certain things for simplicity, or undone certain things because he no longer had his old texts to hand in any case, and was "creating anew" so to speak.
In fact, we know that by about the time of the writing of "The Shibboleth of Feanor", Tolkien had either rejected or forgotten* much of what he had developed over the course of the many "Time and Ageing" texts of c. 1959, since in the two texts given in ch. XIX, "Elvish Life-Cycles", he presents a completely different approach to Elvish longevity in the form of cycles of renewal. On its own, this doesn't specifically invalidate the date he had arrived at for Galadriel's birth, but taken together with the new element of Galadriel's hair as inspiration for the Silmarils, it certainly suggests very strongly that Tolkien did not consider the final form of the c. 1959 chronology to be fixed or correct.

*It is fairly clear that in the writings from this time period, Tolkien had occasional lapses of memory. Nonetheless, I think it unlikely, given the amount of time he had evidently devoted ten years earlier to working out the details of Elvish growth and ageing, that this can be attributed simply to forgetfulness.
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Old 10-09-2021, 11:21 PM   #20
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In fact, we know that by about the time of the writing of "The Shibboleth of Feanor", Tolkien had either rejected or forgotten* much of what he had developed over the course of the many "Time and Ageing" texts of c. 1959, since in the two texts given in ch. XIX, "Elvish Life-Cycles", he presents a completely different approach to Elvish longevity in the form of cycles of renewal.
Well, that's what I get for skipping around! Hadn't read XIX yet (still haven't read XX) even though I've jumped to much later sections of the book. As I say, I'd been aware of the nette remark since Vinyar Tengwar, and indeed, looking at text II in XIX for example -- erm, now that you point it out --

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Elves lived in life-cycles? sc. birth, childhood to bodily and mental maturity (as swift as that of Men) . . ."
So, so far, for me, still going with the external chronology and the nette description.
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Old 10-12-2021, 05:39 AM   #21
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So far, in my head anyway, Tolkien's "final" thought here is based on the "nette remark" (I had thunk so before NOME actually, given that this was published in VT) -- and now in combination with XVI (from NOME), but if you think the two are internally consistent I'd like to see more of your argument as to why.
Unfortunately my claim is weakened (though not destroyed) by a misreading of the text. Most of "Eldarin hands..." is spent discussing Common Eldarin, and so the meanings and details it gives can be attributed only to that period when the elves spoke CE. So, for instance, "No distinction was felt between right and left by the Eldar" could be treated as referring only to the eldest days, if one were really concerned by the conflict with Maedhros' "learned to wield his sword with his left hand".

But the "nette remark" isn't one of these: it's referencing the Quenya word nette, a descendent of the CE neter. So I was wrong.

The reason I wasn't completely wrong is that the main text goes on to highlight how old a word "nette" is - appearing very closely in Sindarin and Telerin. So it could still be a word from the period of the March, which means that "the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if any slower" could still mean "in the period when this word was formed" - ie, the March.

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However, in trying to assign weight to various things Tolkien wrote down, one can't go exclusively by chronology, because it's certainly the case that T had in his mind, and committed to paper, everything from considered ideas worked out in great detail with full commitment, to on the other hand passing notions he jotted somewhere and soon rejected or forgot. To me the "nette remark" smacks more of the latter than the former.
This is an important point to remember when trying to mind-read Tolkien. And ultimately, despite all the work he put into them, I think all his First Age timelines fall into the "transient" category: he was perfectly happy to change the dates, and indeed the entire dating system, repeatedly. (Heck, at one point in NoME he even considered changing the published, LotR Tale of Years!) So the 'definitive timeline' concept is one Tolkien never really had in his later years.

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In fact, we know that by about the time of the writing of "The Shibboleth of Feanor", Tolkien had either rejected or forgotten* much of what he had developed over the course of the many "Time and Ageing" texts of c. 1959, since in the two texts given in ch. XIX, "Elvish Life-Cycles", he presents a completely different approach to Elvish longevity in the form of cycles of renewal. On its own, this doesn't specifically invalidate the date he had arrived at for Galadriel's birth, but taken together with the new element of Galadriel's hair as inspiration for the Silmarils, it certainly suggests very strongly that Tolkien did not consider the final form of the c. 1959 chronology to be fixed or correct.

*It is fairly clear that in the writings from this time period, Tolkien had occasional lapses of memory. Nonetheless, I think it unlikely, given the amount of time he had evidently devoted ten years earlier to working out the details of Elvish growth and ageing, that this can be attributed simply to forgetfulness.
Okay, yeah, I totally misread the date on 1.XIX and had it down as yet another 1959 piece... Okay, quick timeline on Elvish aging:

- 1959a: NoME 1.IX,X. Growth from birth was 1:144 in Aman, 1:100 outside; Galadriel is said to be 20 at the exile, or "in years about 20 x 144 = 2880". Pregnancy was briefly calculated to be 900 months (75 years). At another point, growth-years were 1:10 in Middle-earth, 1:100 in Aman, and 1:50 for Aman-born elves in Middle-earth.
- 1959b: NoME 1, most text before 1.XV. 9-12 year pregnancy, maturity at 1:12 rate, and then 1:144 (sometimes 1:100 in Middle-earth). In some texts, in later Ages the mature rate quickened even more: 1:48 "in these latter days" (1.IX). At a later date, Tolkien specifically noted that the increased rate should not happen.
- 1959c: NoME 1.XVI,XVII. 1 year pregnancy, to maturity at 1:1 rate, then at 1:144. Tolkien states that slower growth is "unlikely".
- 1965: NoME 1.XVIII. In Middle-earth, "the Growth Years were relatively swift". 3 year pregnancy, grow to 24 at 1:3 rate, then 1:144 after that. The return to Middle-earth was at these rates.
- 1967-8: NoME 2.III, the "nette remark". Growth after birth is "little if at all slower than that of the children of Men". If referring to a specific time-period, it's probably the Great March, but could be Third Age (the "writer" seems to be Gondorian).
- 1969: NoME 1.XIX, Text 1. Elves age in cycles, and none had actually entered a new cycle before the end of the Third Age.
- 1970: NoME 1.XIX, Text 2. "birth, childhood to bodily and mental maturity (as swift as that of Men)". Cycles, with the first being the bearing and raising of first set of children, followed by a "youth-renewing" and then a second set of children. This renewal weakened over time, until by the end of the Second Age such renewals were rare.

It's clear that elves in Middle-earth, probably both before and after the sojourn in Aman, should be viewed as having a 1-year gestation, 24 years to full-grown, and then a 1:144 rate thereafter. The outstanding question is whether Tolkien intended this to apply in Aman, under the Trees. Every time he wrote separately about that period, he gave it a longer growth rate; but the specific note in 1.IX saying "No quickening" would seem to negate this. On the other hand, the 1965 1.XVIII seems to imply a quickening took place: "The [Growth-Years] were relatively swift, and in Middle-earth = 3 loar". And the 1970s 1.XIX indicates that elves were reaching "old age" sooner as time passed, implying some form of quickening still existed.

The view that Galadriel was "young and eager" at the exile was long-held; her specific age of 20 is mentioned in multiple texts from 1959, as well as the 1965 text. I think it's dangerous to assume Tolkien tossed this out when he came up with the hair story, especially since the Shibboleth itself discusses her ill-will towards Feanor in conjunction with "from her earliest years".

Given that the 1:3 rate is from a text mostly discussing Middle-earth, I think we have to assume that it was forgotten entirely. That makes the only options for growth in Aman either 1:1, or 1:12. At 1:12, Galadriel would be born around 5233, giving 240 years for Feanor to be inspired, harass her, make some jewels, make a sword, get kicked out, and come back. That's... feasible.

It would mean that the Silmarils took ca. 1 growth-year to make, which is nicely poetic; and that Feanor was exiled for 1 growth-year, ie, "go away for as long as it took Miriel to bear you".

(Unless there's a later source for how long either of those things took; I think both those dates come from the Annals of Aman.)

hS
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Old 10-12-2021, 07:38 AM   #22
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Okay, yeah, I totally misread the date on 1.XIX and had it down as yet another 1959 piece..
An easy mistake to make! Though Hostetter did a fine job for the most part in putting this book together, I do miss Christopher Tolkien's way of very clearly laying out the relations of the texts, and noting the appearance of important new ideas.
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Old 10-12-2021, 10:01 AM   #23
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An easy mistake to make! Though Hostetter did a fine job for the most part in putting this book together, I do miss Christopher Tolkien's way of very clearly laying out the relations of the texts, and noting the appearance of important new ideas.
Agreed. Hostetter did an amazing job, and I'm incredibly glad to have the book; but I'm always being caught out by the handful of Part 1 texts which are conceptually later than chapters which follow them! I think he was following Tolkien's numbering, or at least ordering, but 1.XIII consists of four texts, numbered 1, 2A, 2B, and 3; 1 is the latest of the set, 2B seems to include Tolkien making decisions adopted in 2A, and 3 is dated with reference to the following chapter, but not to either of the other texts! This is why I keep making potted timelines - I'm trying to get my head round it all!

(Actually, that would be a more useful timeline than the one I started this thread with: a chronology of when the NoME texts were all written, and how they fall into HoME. Hmm...)

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Old 10-12-2021, 01:01 PM   #24
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(Actually, that would be a more useful timeline than the one I started this thread with: a chronology of when the NoME texts were all written, and how they fall into HoME. Hmm...)
A while back, I put together an incomplete document summarizing the dates of all the HoMe texts, and I've started to add the NoMe texts to it as well. If I finish, I'll let you know.
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Old 10-12-2021, 02:57 PM   #25
Galin
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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Unfortunately my claim is weakened (though not destroyed) by a misreading of the text. Most of "Eldarin hands..." is spent discussing Common Eldarin, and so the meanings and details it gives can be attributed only to that period when the elves spoke CE. So, for instance, "No distinction was felt between right and left by the Eldar" could be treated as referring only to the eldest days, if one were really concerned by the conflict with Maedhros' "learned to wield his sword with his left hand".
On this point, GA simply notes: "Thereafter Maedros wielded his sword with his left hand." while QS note that he: "lived to wield his sword with left hand more deadly than his right had been."

Okay, after a very brief bit of research on the web, with nothing answering my question specifically, I'll just toss it out here: if one is truly ambidextrous, but chooses a specific hand to learn a skill -- such as sword fighting -- won't the person be better at this with the chosen hand? And if so, wouldn't Maedros, despite being ambidextrous, have to do some amount of training to get just as good, or better, at swordplay, as he had been with his right hand.

I guess one might wonder why he didn't initially train equally with both hands, but that's avoiding the question


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The reason I wasn't completely wrong is that the main text goes on to highlight how old a word "nette" is - appearing very closely in Sindarin and Telerin. So it could still be a word from the period of the March, which means that "the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if any slower" could still mean "in the period when this word was formed" - ie, the March
If we take this as so, if the nette remark refers to an early period of the March, what time period does Elvish Ages and Numenorean refer to? In EA&N the GYs were said to be: "relatively swift and in Middle-earth = 3 loar. The LYs were very slow and in Middle-earth = 144 loar."

So while the word swift here appears to refer to/contrast to the 1:144 Life Years, the March of the Quendi was in Middle-earth in any case.

Or have you changed your mind that the "nette remark" and EA&N can be pressed into one internal narrative, considering this . . .

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It's clear that elves in Middle-earth, probably both before and after the sojourn in Aman, should be viewed as having a 1-year gestation, 24 years to full-grown, and then a 1:144 rate thereafter.
I'm not arguing. I'm just wondering what to do with EA&N here. I lean toward tossing it out (for my "final" mindset on the matter) -- even if EA&N can be stitched in without contradiction -- I'm not sure it needs to be, and the "as swift as that of Men" from XIX is steering me toward that end.

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Old 10-13-2021, 03:09 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Aiwendil View Post
A while back, I put together an incomplete document summarizing the dates of all the HoMe texts, and I've started to add the NoMe texts to it as well. If I finish, I'll let you know.
That would be excellent.

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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
If we take this as so, if the nette remark refers to an early period of the March, what time period does Elvish Ages and Numenorean refer to? In EA&N the GYs were said to be: "relatively swift and in Middle-earth = 3 loar. The LYs were very slow and in Middle-earth = 144 loar."

So while the word swift here appears to refer to/contrast to the 1:144 Life Years, the March of the Quendi was in Middle-earth in any case.
"Elvish Ages and Numenorean" is... actually a bit of a pain. It seems to cover everything: Galadriel's return to Middle-earth, the death of Arwen, but also Celeborn's aging between the March and the fall of Morgoth.

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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Or have you changed your mind that the "nette remark" and EA&N can be pressed into one internal narrative, considering this . . .

I'm not arguing. I'm just wondering what to do with EA&N here. I lean toward tossing it out (for my "final" mindset on the matter) -- even if EA&N can be stitched in without contradiction -- I'm not sure it needs to be, and the "as swift as that of Men" from XIX is steering me toward that end.
I still think it's possible to reconcile "Elvish Ages" as the post-March data, with the "nette remark" as pre-March. So those two can be reconciled with each other. The trouble, as you rightly note, is NoME 1.XIX, which is explicitly discussing the post-March period (it mentions the Second Age), and so directly contradicts "Elvish Ages".

So - despite the birth-dates in Galadriel's line being the original cause of Tolkien's messing about with aging rates, and "Elvish Ages" being his final word on the subject - I think we reluctantly have to accept that "Elvish Ages" was forgotten or rejected. That leaves us with the very simple picture that elves in Middle-earth have always reached full growth in about 24 solar years (per "Generational Schemes", the "nette remark", and "Elvish Life-Cycles").

So in the wide view: yes, my mind has changed.

Elvish aging in Aman is... unresolved, and basically hinges on whether one chooses to accept that Tolkien's repeated citing of Galadriel as effective-age 20 at the exile (NoME 1.IX, X, XI, & XVIII) still holds true when she's also the inspiration for the Silmarils. I think it does; and the last explicit "slower aging in Aman" text appears to be NoME 1.XI, "Ageing of Elves", which sets a 1:12 growth rate.

(It's worth noting that the 1:1 rate was introduced in NoME 1.XVI, which states that "All the elaborate calculations based on... 12:1... are both cumbrous, and in early narrative (Awakening, and Finding, March, etc.) quite unworkable. Also unlikely." That puts aging in Aman into a grey area, after the "early narrative"; and I don't believe it is ever explicitly brought out of this uncertainty.)

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