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Old 12-06-2021, 10:01 AM   #28
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
So, somehow, this piece of information entered my sleep-deprived thoughts as I was returning home from a night call, and perhaps I was still under the influence of work, but I started wondering if this somewhat prolonged reproductive cycle might be the reason that half-Elven children tend to be single children - I was obviously thinking of Dior and Earendil; I thought, perhaps the couples can't have more children because the Elf's physiology prevents them from having more kids within a reasonable mortal timespan. However, I immediately thought of some counter examples. Nimloth had at least 2 pregnancies (are Elured and Elurin twins? Make it 3 if not), and Arwen, aside from Eldarion, had some number of unnamed daughters. I don't remember the timelines exactly, but I have a feeling that they did not wait the standard 48 years. You could argue that Arwen had already chosen to become mortal and was already subject to mortal physiology, but Nimloth did no such thing. Two possible conclusions that I draw from this: the 48 year gap is not a physiological limitation but more of a social norm or custom; or else Tolkien might not have thought about his latter generations when he was planning the former.
The latest text on aging in NoME, 1.XVIII, actually discusses both Elrond and Arwen, but also cuts down the 'resting period' dramatically: he gives the usual length as 6 years for full elves. This is a post-Valinorean text, though, so it's still possible they did things differently at Cuivienen; I've had to assume they did for the timeline, because otherwise all of Tolkien's details go out of the window.

Those 6 years translate to 2 "Growth-years", and Tolkien states that Elros had a 1:1 growth-year rate, so we can assume that a half-elven woman would want 2 years between pregnancies. Arwen was, indeed, "mortal" before she had any kids (specifically matching Aragorn's rate of aging, about 1:2), so she probably wanted a 2-year gap as well.

Tolkien's first two children were born 3 years apart, which is 2 years + a pregnancy. ^_~

The same text gives Earendil's age at marriage in 525 as 23, which would make him born in 502, seven years before the Second Kinslaying. If Elwing is the same age, there's just about room for Nimloth to have a 6-year gap between Elwing's birth and the twins. (Tolkien may have been considering this when he said it was 'never less than 1 GY, more usually 2'.) So it does all hang together.

Honestly, I think you're right about the whole concept being a social taboo more than anything. Tolkien talks repeatedly about the fact that elves put a lot more effort into their children than mortals do - hence Miriel's death - but given how happy he was to change the numbers around by factors of ten or more, it was probably just considered unsavory.


"You have how many siblings?"

Barahir combined a shrug with an adjustment of his sodden cape. "Only the four," he said. "Did I muck up the pronunciation again? I can say it in Quenya if you need."

"But that's-" Finrod held up a hand and stared at it, counting on his fingers. "Bregor your father had only ninety summers when he died!"

"Eighty-nine," Barahir corrected. "Maybe you need to work on your pronunciation, Sire."

"It was enunciation," Finrod said, giving the mortal a quelling look. "But whether it was eighty-nine or nine twelves, I cannot see how he found the time."

Barahir blinked, and not from the rain. "There's a good three years between each of us," he pointed out. "I'd probably have a younger sister or two, had Mother not... well, you know."

Finrod nodded, remembering the previous Lord of Dorthonion's sorrow, but refused to be diverted. "It still seems unreasonable," he said. "With so little time between them, how did your parents recover their energy?"

Barahir raised one mud-smeared eyebrow. "If there's one problem Father never had, it was lack of energy."

Finrod chuckled, the sound muffled by the falling rain. "Granted, granted. But even so..." He gestured with one hand, which happened to be his sword-hand. "I know you age swifter than we, but to devote only two years to raising one child before begetting the next..."

Barahir coloured slightly at the king's indelicacy, but then rallied. "What I think you're asking, Sire, is 'why are mortals different from the Eldar?'."

"That isn't-" Finrod hesitated. "It rather is, at that."

Barahir nodded, and had to push his ragged hair away from his face yet again. "I happen to be acquainted with the foremost authority on that question; so perhaps next time you're in Nargothrond-"

"All right, yes."

"- you could look up one Finrod Felagund, who is of some renown in that place-"

"I said all right, Bor; you've made your point." Finrod sighed and swept his own hair back, mirroring his vassal's gesture. "I almost preferred being hunted by Orcs to debating philosophy with Men."

Barahir grinned, his teeth white in his grubby face. "Better to be hunter than hunted, Sire."

"On that, we agree." Finrod leant forward, peering around the mouldy bush at the party of Orc raiders pushing into the mires of Serech. "Shall we, my friend?"

Barahir drew his dark iron sword and crawled forward to his king's side. "Gladly."

(It was this, or Luthien quizzing Beren about his many uncles and aunts.)

Have you burned the ships that could bear you back again? ~Finrod: The Rock Opera
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