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juicytomatoes
01-03-2011, 14:15
So I have 2 questions...

I've been trying to find out which House Legolas comes from...
Would it be right to assume he is Teleri and belongs to the group that has not seen the light of Aman? If so, why is he so powerful?

The other question I have is about Glorfindel and the Noldor in general. It comes in 2 parts.

1.) Tolkien says that the elves who went to the Blessed Realm saw the light of Aman and thus grew in stature/strength etc. One of the benefits seems to be the ability to live in both the physical world and the spirit world (Gandalf explains this to Frodo about Glorfindel while he was recovering in Rivendell). I presume this does not extend to the elves who decided not to go to the land of Aman?

2.) If the Noldor have children in Middle Earth, does it mean that their children inherit the benefits of having been there or does is it not get passed down?

Whitwort Stormbringer
01-03-2011, 17:50
So I have 2 questions...

I've been trying to find out which House Legolas comes from...
Would it be right to assume he is Teleri and belongs to the group that has not seen the light of Aman? If so, why is he so powerful?
I think Legolas is Sindarin by blood, but counts himself among the Silvan elves because his bloodline established themselves within a Silvan community. Either way, he is Teleri.

Legolas is not powerful in the same sense as the Noldor - he does not have the same innate mystical presence or whatever you want to call it, as he never saw the light of the trees. His "power" is entirely derived from his skill as an archer and the general superiority of the elves (athletic, agile, quick, better eyesight, walking on snow, etc. etc.). Essentially, though, he's just a highly skilled bowman, in the same way that Boromir is a highly skilled swordsman.


1.) Tolkien says that the elves who went to the Blessed Realm saw the light of Aman and thus grew in stature/strength etc. One of the benefits seems to be the ability to live in both the physical world and the spirit world (Gandalf explains this to Frodo about Glorfindel while he was recovering in Rivendell). I presume this does not extend to the elves who decided not to go to the land of Aman?
Erm, that's kinda hard to say. The spirits of all elves, Noldor or otherwise, to go to the halls of Mandos when they die. So in that sense yes, elves who never went to Aman will still continue to exist in a sort of spirit form, but are restricted to dwelling with Mandos. Glorfindel was in Mandos' halls and Mandos released him, essentially resurrecting him.


2.) If the Noldor have children in Middle Earth, does it mean that their children inherit the benefits of having been there or does is it not get passed down?
I don't think it gets passed down, or at the very least the effects are diluted. The exact mechanics of most magic in Tolkien is not really very well described - children of the Noldor born in Middle Earth are probably still very powerful because they are born to powerful parents, but I think they don't necessarily enjoy the same benefits as those who were directly in the presence of the two great trees. Inherited power or strength is a somewhat common theme in Tolkien, so I think powerful elves begetting more powerful elves has more to do with that than passing on their power from Valinor.

juicytomatoes
02-03-2011, 00:43
I don't think it gets passed down, or at the very least the effects are diluted. The exact mechanics of most magic in Tolkien is not really very well described - children of the Noldor born in Middle Earth are probably still very powerful because they are born to powerful parents, but I think they don't necessarily enjoy the same benefits as those who were directly in the presence of the two great trees. Inherited power or strength is a somewhat common theme in Tolkien, so I think powerful elves begetting more powerful elves has more to do with that than passing on their power from Valinor.

Ah I see! So that's probably why Elrond is considered such a powerful elf despite the fact that he's never seen the light of the two trees?

Whitwort Stormbringer
02-03-2011, 02:19
Ah I see! So that's probably why Elrond is considered such a powerful elf despite the fact that he's never seen the light of the two trees?
That and age, I suppose. I think he's one of few elves in Middle Earth during the War of the Ring that has survived since the first age (even if he was only born at the very end of the first age). Off the top of my head, Galadriel, Celeborn, Cirdan, and Glorfindel are the only others we know that are definitively First Age elves (Cirdan being of the firstborn).

With the exception of Arwen, I don't think we ever get definitive birth dates for most elves mentioned in Lord of the Rings, so some of them may be very old as well. The fact that the first mention of Legolas's grandfather is in the second age, though, and that Legolas doesn't get any mention there (and also that before LotR he had never left Mirkwood) would indicate that at the very least he's from a time after the First Age.

enyoss
02-03-2011, 19:52
Another example of a Sindarin Elf with immense inherent power despite not having seen Aman would be Elwe. Admittedly, he was partnered with a Maia, but I'm guessing he was no slouch himself.

canucklhead
03-03-2011, 23:48
Legolas is mentioned at one point as being 3000 years old, but don't ask me where.

Zogash
04-03-2011, 20:34
Another example of a Sindarin Elf with immense inherent power despite not having seen Aman would be Elwe. Admittedly, he was partnered with a Maia, but I'm guessing he was no slouch himself.

Erm, Elwe was one of the first Elves to go to Aman as an ambassador (along with Ingwe and Finwe). He had seen the trees, he just didn't go back to Aman after he met Melian because he saw their beauty reflected in her's and that was enough for him.


Bear in mind that Legolas in lore isn't nearly as powerful as he is portrayed in the movies! He's a good shot, but otherwise it's never stated that his other fighting skills are in any way extraordinary (for an Elf, that is).

Regarding the Elves' immortality I've always wondered how long it takes for an Elf who died in Middle-earth to be allowed to leave the Halls of Mandos and 'return to life' in Valinor. As far as I know, the only one who is specifically stated to never return is Feanor, but what about the others? Would Galadriel return to Aman and find her brothers returned to life and walking around? What about Finwe? He was killed by Morgoth in Aman, but wouldn't he just go to Mandos and return to life after a while, able to resume his kingship? It is stated in the Silmarillion that Finrod (who died in Beleriand) "walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees of Valinor." So Finrod returned to life at some point, but how about Turgon? Fingon? Fingolfin? Gil-galad? That's quite a few Elven kings there. :P

Whitwort Stormbringer
04-03-2011, 21:50
Regarding the Elves' immortality I've always wondered how long it takes for an Elf who died in Middle-earth to be allowed to leave the Halls of Mandos and 'return to life' in Valinor. As far as I know, the only one who is specifically stated to never return is Feanor, but what about the others? Would Galadriel return to Aman and find her brothers returned to life and walking around? What about Finwe? He was killed by Morgoth in Aman, but wouldn't he just go to Mandos and return to life after a while, able to resume his kingship? It is stated in the Silmarillion that Finrod (who died in Beleriand) "walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees of Valinor." So Finrod returned to life at some point, but how about Turgon? Fingon? Fingolfin? Gil-galad? That's quite a few Elven kings there. :P
I don't think it has anything to do with the amount of time they spend in the halls of Mandos - if that were the case nearly every elf from the Silmarillion would be "alive" again (I use quotes because in a sense they were never really dead).

The impression I've always gotten from Glorfindel's background is that Mandos can pardon them, if he wishes. Finrod, generally being a good guy all around, having helped Beren in his quest (and nobly sacrificing himself to protect Beren) would probably serve a relatively short sentence. Nothing concrete to back this up, just my perception.

Of course, it is possible that there's a time release or something, and maybe it varies by individual based on his or her actions during their first life. I would suspect that most elves, after being released from Mandos' halls, would choose to remain in Aman anyways, rather than return to Middle Earth.

juicytomatoes
06-03-2011, 15:33
@Whitwort Stormbringer:
So is this to say that being in the Halls of Mandos is a place of punishment? You mentioned that they have to receive pardon and that their stay in there is a sentence.

I was just thinking that there are quite a few elves who were rather blameless (e.g. the Teleri who got slaughtered by the Noldor at the Kinslaying) so the idea of punishment never really entered my head.

I understand and accept that it's your interpretation, so I'm just carrying the discussion further to explore ideas.


He had seen the trees
Oh yeah! The text focused so much on him as King Thingol of Doriath that I had forgotten he actually went to Aman with Olwe.


So Finrod returned to life at some point, but how about Turgon? Fingon? Fingolfin? Gil-galad? That's quite a few Elven kings there.

I do wonder about this and the concept of the Halls of Mandos a lot too... :p


but I'm guessing he was no slouch himself
I felt that way too, but I began to have my doubts when he got hacked down by a bunch of thuggish dwarfs...

It was a fitting end, but it did not show his true might, unlike Fingolfin or Gil-galad. Still, not everyone should meet their end fighting Dark Lords or there wouldn't be enough Dark Lords to go around! And it would make for a more monotonous story. Falling into greed and paying the price for it is a good storyline too. So I'm with you in guessing that he's no slouch :)

Whitwort Stormbringer
06-03-2011, 19:15
@Whitwort Stormbringer:
So is this to say that being in the Halls of Mandos is a place of punishment? You mentioned that they have to receive pardon and that their stay in there is a sentence.

I was just thinking that there are quite a few elves who were rather blameless (e.g. the Teleri who got slaughtered by the Noldor at the Kinslaying) so the idea of punishment never really entered my head.

I don't view Mandos' halls as punishment, per se, rather it's simply where the spirits of the dead are confined to dwell until the end of Arda. This is just Illuvatar's mandate to all men and elves.

So when I say that to exit the halls of Mandos one needs a "pardon" I'm more envisioning extenuating circumstances - for one reason or another Mandos or Illuvatar has decided that this individual can return to the world of the living. I guess I'd say you have to be more than just blameless, in my mind it's a reward reserved for the especially heroic or noble individuals.

Again, though, I really don't have anything concrete to back this notion up, it's just the general impression I get from the bit of background reading I've done, especially on Glorfindel. It is entirely possible that all elves are released after a period of time, and most elves from the first age are now dwelling in Valinor.

Verm1s
06-03-2011, 21:56
I dunno if elves are 'restricted' to the Halls of Mandos. They have to remain there for a time, and obviously Mandos would have the main say in it, but it's my impression that they themselves can decide to leave or stay afterwards, without any special circumstances like high birth or a destiny to fulfil. They're fated to remain within Arda until the end, but not necessarily in Mandos' Halls. They just... generate a new body, AFAIK. Like Sauron or Gandalf. Whether it's instantly formed when they show up in the Halls, or slowly reconstituted, I don't know.

Men don't go to the Halls of Mandos. They leave the circles of Arda to an unknown place, and don't return. It's both their curse and - from the elves' point of view - their blessing.

juicytomatoes
15-03-2011, 05:37
I dunno if elves are 'restricted' to the Halls of Mandos.

I have this impression too, though, that makes me wonder why would they not want to return, if not to Middle Earth, then at least to the Blessed Realm?

canucklhead
15-03-2011, 17:34
Remember that Elves might leave the halls of Mandos, and still never be seen again in Middle Earth. It is doubtful that any but a handful would choose to leave Valinor, and so it is entirely possible that all the great Elves of old, excepting Feanor, would be living among the Valar happy in valinor.

Whitwort Stormbringer
15-03-2011, 20:59
If the spirits of "deceased" elves aren't restricted to Mandos, at least for a time, then what is the point of the halls of Mandos, and why are they called the "Halls of Waiting" if no one must wait there?

The impression I have always had is that, upon losing their physical bodies, the elves must spend at least a period of time in Mandos' halls before taking physical form again. Although I have to say, before I had always thought of it as a permanent abode for the dead until the end of Arda (with certain exceptions), and this discussion has helped to change my mind on that point.

canucklhead
15-03-2011, 22:59
There is another way of looking at it, but this is purely in the realm of speculation.

elves were the primary movers of events until the 3rd age, when they began to recede from the mortal realm. This puts them in a position where they are quite likely to be slain, or come to some other end. Being obliged to 'wait' a time in the halls of Mandos could be a simple tool to prevent them from treating the whole thing like a video game. Death would have no meaning, and neither would their physical form, since they could just re-spawn as it were and jump back into the fight.

so a time of waiting could be meant to allow events in middle earth to pass bywithout them, until things no longer are the same, or to allow the Elf himself to come to accept that his part in that event is over, and to then be allowed to return to valinor, and perhaps to MIddle Earth if that was his doom.

enyoss
16-03-2011, 00:14
Erm, Elwe was one of the first Elves to go to Aman as an ambassador (along with Ingwe and Finwe). He had seen the trees, he just didn't go back to Aman after he met Melian because he saw their beauty reflected in her's and that was enough for him.


Erm... that would be right. How embarrassing. That kind of scuttles my whole argument really. Oh well :).

Verm1s
16-03-2011, 19:25
If the spirits of "deceased" elves aren't restricted to Mandos, at least for a time, then what is the point of the halls of Mandos, and why are they called the "Halls of Waiting" if no one must wait there?


They have to remain there for a time, and obviously Mandos would have the main say in it, but it's my impression that they themselves can decide to leave or stay afterwards

;)

I don't think anyone's saying what you're arguing against.

Nice idea, Canucklhead.

juicytomatoes
17-03-2011, 00:51
My thinking is that it's called the 'Halls of Waiting' because the elves who go there had suffered grievous hurt (physical. emotional or even both) and did not wish to suffer the pain of the living, either for a while or for all time (i.e. feel the passing of the ages, to be bound to the world "in hope or in weariness"). When they feel they can take on the 'burden' of being alive again, then they can choose to return.

Since they are immortal, they have no respite. I think that the temporary 'death' they experience is to allow their pain to end, and for them to recover from it if possible, and then return in hope to the the world. In the Valaquenta, it appears that Nienna often goes to comfort those in the Halls of Mandos and the elves there cry out to her, which gives me the impression that they are in quite a bit of pain.

I think when they are 'alive', they are called to participate in the world, whether it be to make a thing of beauty (e.g. Feanor) or to do something heroic in dark times (e.g. Glorfindel, Fingolfin or Gil-Galad) or to shape the world (like Galadriel in Lothlorien), so it's like a part of their destiny, to be the Firstborn, to be tied to the world, to feel the pain of not being able to shape it into a thing of beauty, which comes naturally to them. So if they're unhappy or experiencing distress, they want to give up, but they can't. For example, if they were being tortured and twisted in Morgoth's grip, they would be unable to escape and would thus suffer pain forever. Their 'death' is a way of escape when none other presents itself and the Halls of Mandos is the place where they can recover from their equivalent to post traumatic stress disorder.

For mortal Man, that is quite easy, for their hold on the world is short, transient and they are fragile and thus can pass from this world. Thus, elves would need a place to recover and are given into Mandos and Nienna's care.

I think it's quite amazing that Tolkien could imagine how an immortal's mindset could be like in that context. It's like Arda is all they have, they are tied to it, they must take care of it because they will be there for all time. Taking it from that viewpoint would be vastly different from the view of Men (which we are), and thus transient and like a visitor. Thus Men are more careless, more destructive.

Just some of my thoughts though. Feel free to critique. ;)

DeadInTheHead
18-03-2011, 08:45
I always had the impression that it was the elves that hadn't died that were free to wonder into the halls of Mandos for a chat and a cup of tea, possibly with biscuits. That's why Finrod and his father were able to walk under the trees together.

I like the more cheerful "resurrection" theory though.

Whitwort Stormbringer
22-03-2011, 16:48
;)
haha, totally missed that part of your post (somehow, my bad).

Yeah, I had gotten the impression that people were saying elves just show up there after they "die" and then leave whenever they feel like it - makes more sense now.

Also, bit of an aside - the reason I had included men amongst those who go to Mandos is that it seems to me that after dying mens' spirits dwell there briefly before departing Arda. This is based on Beren and Luthien's fate - she convinces Mandos to grant her mortality so that she and Beren can live out the remainder of their lives together, all after both of them had "died" in Beleriand. The fact that Mandos had the power to bring Beren back from death and to allow Luthien to share his mortality indicated to me that even though he had died, Beren's spirit had not yet departed Arda.

It's just the impression that the Lay of Luthien gave me. Of course, that was an incomplete story, so maybe Tolkien hadn't made up his mind just how he wanted it all to work out.

Spider
25-03-2011, 22:43
If the spirits of "deceased" elves aren't restricted to Mandos, at least for a time, then what is the point of the halls of Mandos, and why are they called the "Halls of Waiting" if no one must wait there?

The impression I have always had is that, upon losing their physical bodies, the elves must spend at least a period of time in Mandos' halls before taking physical form again. Although I have to say, before I had always thought of it as a permanent abode for the dead until the end of Arda (with certain exceptions), and this discussion has helped to change my mind on that point.

I was always of the opinion that the Halls of Mandos where in effect some form of Purgatory (but not necessarily in the negative Christian/Catholic sense).

Someone dies and then goes to Mandos (Purgatory). After a given period of time, possibly when they have come to terms with their life/death they are ready to move on to their afterlife.

For the Elves the afterlife is a very literal thing, they leave the Halls and by some means or another become re-enbodied and they go about their buisiness in Valinor.

For men (doesn't Beren loiter around Mandos for a while, waiting for Luthien?) the wait is probably shorter and Mandos has less/no power over them.

Hobbits are probably employed on the catering staff.

Demi-Gods still have to eat?