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Old 09-22-2021, 08:46 AM   #5
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
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.

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