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Old 09-22-2021, 08:04 AM   #3
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
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...

Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
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.

Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
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."

Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
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.

Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
...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.

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