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Old 06-14-2015, 06:07 PM   #1
Mithadan
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Pipe The Longetivity of Hobbits.

Hobbits do not reach "adulthood" until age 33. Age 50 is considered comfortable adulthood. They routinely live to 100 years of age. As of the Third Age, this longevity among Men (and for the purposes of this thread assume Hobbits are Men) is comparable only to the descendants of the kings of Numenor. What is the significance of this?
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:58 PM   #2
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Perhaps it's connected with something innate in the Hobbit makeup: their ability to get along with one another and lack of greed or ambition. That is to say, a lack of stress?
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:47 PM   #3
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Perhaps it's connected with something innate in the Hobbit makeup: their ability to get along with one another and lack of greed or ambition. That is to say, a lack of stress?
No war and attendant famines caused by scorched earth methods of depriving the enemy supplies would obviously be a reason for Hobbitish longevity, and yes, they had far less stress than Gondorions or Rohirrim, who were under constant threat of attack over large periods of their history. It could be that Hobbits ate far more vegetables and grains as well than their carnivorous Mannish counterparts.

In addition, being far smaller than Men, Hobbits could maximize crop yields and rely less on bad tillage and stony land even as their population grew. Also, a head of cabbage is a head of cabbage and size-wise could feed a larger contingent of Hobbits than a family of Men.

There is a genetic standpoint as well. The Southern Dunedain washed out their blood over a period of time, whereas the Hobbits remained insular.
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Old 06-14-2015, 08:59 PM   #4
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It does seem like, scientifically, we could attribute it to a combination of their size and good nutrition. After all, "Growing food and eating it occupied most of their time."

We also know from The Hobbit that even in his pre-adventure days as a conventional non-Took stay-at-home Hobbit type Bilbo liked walking. So maybe decent regular exercise contributed as well, although evidently some Hobbits like the long-lived but nonetheless corpulent Lalia Took were definitely an exception to that.

It's interesting that smaller size, comparative longevity and a resistance to evil are traits which the Hobbits share with the Dwarves, but Hobbits are effectively "true" Eruhíni and Dwarves aren't. Maybe Eru always meant for such a creature to come along, and Aulë just came up with a kind of "souped up" version from his particular nature: like Hobbits but even longer-lived, larger and warlike.
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Old 06-14-2015, 09:29 PM   #5
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The first thing that jumped to my mind was how smaller dogs live longer than big ones, and I found a pretty interesting explanation for that here. So regardless of the literary symbolism, it also seems scientifically valid for hobbits to live longer. Though I guess that might get into a discussion of whether Men and Hobbits biologically belong to the same species...
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Old 06-15-2015, 02:42 AM   #6
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Hobbits may be part of the human race, but they're not exactly *standard* humans- I would have said a slower biological clock is just one of the differences. Certainly a healthy lifestyle would help- but it wouldn't, in itself, extend adolescence past the age of thirty.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:30 AM   #7
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I was thinking more in terms of why, in terms of the mythos, Hobbits might be longer lived than average humans. I do not disagree with any of the "clean living" comments above, other than to note that the Hobbits lived in a primarily agrarian culture which sometimes is less conducive to longevity.

The Dunedain were longer lived in part as a reward for their loyalty and service during the First Age. Could there have been some merit inherent in the Hobbits that justified their longer lives? Or perhaps their role in events could have somehow been foreseen, or even planned by Eru? There is, to my knowledge, no direct textual evidence of this, so I am speculating.

Letters provides some very slight insight. Hobbits are described as a branch of the human race that had gone entirely unnoticed by the "great" until the Third Age. Letter no. 131. So it could not be said that they were involved in any of the great events of the First Age (a certain RPG to the contrary). However, Bilbo is later described as having been "selected by the authority and Gandalf" (because he was abnormal) and they were "ordained individuals inspired and guided by an Emissary." Letter no. 281.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:54 AM   #8
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Hobbits are described as a branch of the human race that had gone entirely unnoticed by the "great" until the Third Age. Letter no. 131. So it could not be said that they were involved in any of the great events of the First Age (a certain RPG to the contrary). However, Bilbo is later described as having been "selected by the authority and Gandalf" (because he was abnormal) and they were "ordained individuals inspired and guided by an Emissary." Letter no. 281.
As you say, it can only be speculation, but maybe Hobbits were allotted a greater span to afford them a decent sized population, in order to provide for a greater selection from which a "suitable" individual could be chosen as Ring-bearer.
If so, that seems a bit calculating on behalf on the race's "maker", though it certainly does not seem to have caused any distress to them.

On a tangential note, it's really amazing that Gollum the Stoor was able to live to such an advanced age with the help of the Ring. Was that too a product of his innate longevity?
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:45 PM   #9
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That was the Ring itself. Otherwise he was still some remnant of himself after possessing it for so long. He did not always wear it when under the mountain so that may have helped in his not being totally bound to the Ring.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:50 AM   #10
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Ring Gollum's longevity

I was interested to read what you had to say here, Inziladun, then Belegorn:

On a tangential note, it's really amazing that Gollum the Stoor was able to live to such an advanced age with the help of the Ring. Was that too a product of his innate longevity?

That was the Ring itself. Otherwise he was still some remnant of himself after possessing it for so long. He did not always wear it when under the mountain so that may have helped in his not being totally bound to the Ring.

I agree that Gollum's longevity was due to his hobbit nature plus the Ring. While I don't have LotR to hand, I recall Gandalf telling Frodo, after recounting the story of Gollum, how he got the Ring, and how he had it for so long, that hobbits seemed as soft as butter, but as tough as old tree roots. He was honestly admitting that while he was interested in hobbits, and had known them for a long time, there was a lot about them he did not know.

Gandalf said that while he was always suspicious about the Ring, because of Bilbo lying about how he got it, he let things pass, even though that hobbit continued to look youthful for his age, by saying to himself that he was from a long-lived (for hobbits) family on his mother's side. This was a reference to the Old Took, his maternal grandfather, who lived to 130.

What I've always liked about Tolkien is that he never explicitly called Gollum a hobbit. All he was prepared to say was once that Gollum looked like a very ancient hobbit. This was to ask the question that if something like the Ring makes a mortal being from a particular race live far longer than his or her normal time span, is that person still a member of that race?
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:55 AM   #11
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This was to ask the question that if something like the Ring makes a mortal being from a particular race live far longer than his or her normal time span, is that person still a member of that race?
The keeper of the Ring is not fundamentally altered in what they are. A Man remains a Man, a Hobbit (or quasi-Hobbit), a Hobbit. He "borrows" Sauron's natural immortality while he bears it, and when that influence is removed, nature takes its course.
Witness how Bilbo was affected. At the time of the Council of Elrond, Bilbo was old, but still sound in mind and body. After the Ring was destroyed, he very quickly showed his age by sleeping a great deal and becoming very forgetful.
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Old 06-17-2015, 09:48 AM   #12
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Ring Bilbo and Gollum

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The keeper of the Ring is not fundamentally altered in what they are. A Man remains a Man, a Hobbit (or quasi-Hobbit), a Hobbit. He "borrows" Sauron's natural immortality while he bears it, and when that influence is removed, nature takes its course.
Witness how Bilbo was affected. At the time of the Council of Elrond, Bilbo was old, but still sound in mind and body. After the Ring was destroyed, he very quickly showed his age by sleeping a great deal and becoming very forgetful.
Is there any reference to a wearer of the Ring '"borrowing" Sauron's natural immortality while he wears it' in LotR? I might be mistaken, but I only recall Gandalf saying that a wearer did not die.

I'm also a little confused. You say that 'when that influence is removed, nature takes its course'. Are you referring to the person ceasing to wear the Ring, or the Ring's destruction? While Bilbo, as you say, 17 years after giving up the Ring, was still old but able, he rapidly aged once the Ring was destroyed.

However, Bilbo was at least just within a hobbit's life span, being 131 when he went over Sea. Gollum, by comparison, was the best part of 600 when he died. Despite the Ring having left him after he wore it for centuries, he was still able to leave the Misty Mountains looking for it, while feeding himself and avoiding most of his enemies. Bilbo at 111 would not have been capable of such feats.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:00 AM   #13
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Yes, I always got the impression that the "counterfeit immortality" conveyed on mortals by the Great Rings was a side-effect of their intended ability to resist and stay the progression of time in mortal lands.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:01 AM   #14
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Is there any reference to a wearer of the Ring '"borrowing" Sauron's natural immortality while he wears it' in LotR? I might be mistaken, but I only recall Gandalf saying that a wearer did not die.
The "borrowing" is nowhere explicitly stated in the books, I don't think; that's just my theory of how the life-extension would work.
The Ring's power derives from Sauron, after all. By itself, it is only an object.

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I'm also a little confused. You say that 'when that influence is removed, nature takes its course'. Are you referring to the person ceasing to wear the Ring, or the Ring's destruction? While Bilbo, as you say, 17 years after giving up the Ring, was still old but able, he rapidly aged once the Ring was destroyed.
The Ring's destruction. As you note, Gollum too continued to live as long as the Ring survived. He told Sam on Mount Doom:

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'And when Precious goes we'll die, yes, die into the dust'.
ROTK Mount Doom

I think Gollum knew that the Ring's loss would result in his physical death.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:20 AM   #15
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Ring About the Ring

You raise an interesting point, Inziladun. It appears, however, to be the case that Sauron, when making the One Ring, permanently transferred much of his power into it, to be able to bind the wearers of the other Rings of Power. For this reason, the Ring's destruction would be such that Sauron would be incapable of taking physical form again, which turned out to be the case.

This is what marked the One Ring out from being just an 'object'. If this was the case, why didn't Sauron just make a replacement 'object', instead of spending so much time looking for the original?

I agree that Gollum, due to his great age, would die very quickly if he was still alive once the Ring was destroyed.

This great age does raise an interesting issue. How was Gollum still so capable of both looking after himself and travelling despite being over 500 years old?
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:25 PM   #16
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This is what marked the One Ring out from being just an 'object'. If this was the case, why didn't Sauron just make a replacement 'object', instead of spending so much time looking for the original?
For one thing, Sauron had already put a great deal of his original power into the One Ring. Making something else and transferring more of his spiritual essence to it would have resulted in his further weakening.
Also, after losing the One (something he had never seriously considered likely when he made it) he would have been that much more wary of doing something like that again.

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This great age does raise an interesting issue. How was Gollum still so capable of both looking after himself and travelling despite being over 500 years old?
Two things kept him going. The Ring was still in existence, and he had his lust for it and his hate for whomever had it to sustain him.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:50 PM   #17
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In like manner the creations of the Ring and the Three that they built and maintained eventually went to waste. In Mordor the foundations were broken for good where they remained after Sauron's first overthrow since the Ring was not destroyed, and also the realms of the other 2 bearers of the Three.

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Do you see wherefore your coming is to us as the footstep of Doom? For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the enemy. Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away.
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:17 PM   #18
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Hobbits may be part of the human race, but they're not exactly *standard* humans- I would have said a slower biological clock is just one of the differences. Certainly a healthy lifestyle would help- but it wouldn't, in itself, extend adolescence past the age of thirty.
I'm not sure however that that's the case. I have always thought (with partial support from CRT, although he doesn't "know" the correct answer), that the Shire-Hobbit coming of age at 33 had nothing to do with physical maturity, but rather the university professor's droll observation that no sensible society would consider young people in their tweens to be "adults."

Heck, even for us 21, or 18, are not really tied to physical (sexual) maturity, which hits at about 13-14 years, but rather represent the minimum age at which we think kids might have a lick of sense.

Bilbo and Frodo just before they set out each at the age of 50 were described as "middle-aged bachelors."

Note that despite the long lifespan of the Dunedain, they matured no more slowly than ordinary men: they came of age at 21 (that was when Elrond revealed "Estel's" true identity to him and gave him the Sword and the Ring.)
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:54 PM   #19
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Numenorean and Hobbit

Seems to me that the longevity implies something about sinew, will and resistance to evil (of greed). The longevity of Numenorean seems somehow not accidental.

I don't think the longevity to be attributable to environment (nurture). 31 is the age of maturity of hobbit.

It seems also unsurprising suddenly that Hobbit and Dunedain were the two races most implicated in resistance to the Nazgul/Sauronic purpose. The presence of Hobbits seemed 'ordained', 'fated', or that wildcard that Sauron had not anticipated and of the mysterious will of Eru.
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