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Old 03-28-2006, 02:25 PM   #1
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Downfall of Númenor -> Culpable are the Valar?

The island of Númenor was given to the Edain as a gift for the help in the long battle against the Dark Lord Morgoth. The Númenóreans were granted with a long long life and at the same time with special abilities and wisdom beyond that of normal men living in Middle-Earth. They became great, but in the beginning not Men of War. The loved the peace ans were great mariners. The only thing, which they were not allowed to do was to sail west, searching for the Blessed Realm.

But later in time their hearts became dark and they longed for a longer life, if not for the immortality. They cursed the, that it is forbidden to sail west into the Undying Lands. It was nearly the only thing, which they hadn't yet achieved: to see Valinor or the Lonely Island. This ends in the Coming of the fleet of the Númenóreans into the west and the Downfall.

We all know these happenings. But why happened this? Who was culpable of these tragic events in the Second Age? Were this only the Men of Númenor, which can't get enough of power? Or should we search the guilt by another group?

Wasn't the creation of Númenor the point of the beginning of the Downfall of Númenor? Or was it just the connection of Númenor with the ban not to sail west?

Wasn't it just inevitably, that the Númenóreans revolted against the ban?
I think, that in the Downfall of Númenor was a direct consequence of the creation of it together with the ban of the Valar not to sail west. As long as the Númenóreans have much to do and to explore in Middle-Earth, they were content. But after they explored so much things, they desired more, but they were not allowed to.
Isn't it just the same, when you put the sweetest fruit of all in front of a child and saying, "you are allowed to do all things, that you want, but NOT to try this fruit, you will see it all the time." At any time the child will check it out..... especially when this child is a little prince.

Didn't the Valar understand the nature or the character of Mortals. The reason, that the Mortals are not allowed to live in Valinor was probably, that they feared, that Mortals would find it mean, that they see them living and living and they themselves must die. But is it different not see them living, but to know, that there are 'a paradise' in sight, where all are immortal? Isn't it easier to understand, that they are inevitably mortal, when they live themselves there, instead within the Sight?

Maybe Manwë and the Valar judged Men wrongly. Maybe they thought from their point of view, the point of being immortal? In their view, there were no other generations, who could think differently. The Elder are always there and could hold the right way, where as under the mortals, things could change easily, because of the changing of the generations.

What are your thoughts?
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Old 03-28-2006, 02:43 PM   #2
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Hmm. Well, can we blame the Valar? Sauron corrupted the Numenoreans, yes, but if they are men, is that a feasable excuse? Who made Men weaker willed?

However Men do share some blame, for with great power comes great responsibility. Ar-Pharazon taking Sauron to the home front, not a good idea. He should have seen past his pride. But he was raised that way. So following backwards to Ar-Adunakor, he was the first big "oo un uhnnn i do what I want" guy, but that was a feeling that pestered all Numenoreans deep down. So that leads back to their creator. But it was going to happen, right? Things worked out at the Dagorath afterall.
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:12 PM   #3
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So that leads back to their creator.
Not necessarily. In the Silmarillion, Tolkien tells us that, just as the Kinslaying corrupted the elves in their very cores, so did Men listening to the lies of Melkor.

Could this is his interpretation of the 'sin nature' in Christian theology? If so, then I think that would put the blame once more back on the Numenorians themselves. After all, nobody is forceing anyone to do anything. Free will and all...
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Old 03-29-2006, 08:48 AM   #4
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Interesting topic...

I don't see the Valar as culpable for Númenor's downfall.

Being near the Blessed Realm wasn't the reason for the change in the Númenoreans. It was Morgoth's schemes at work again. Inevitable perhaps, but not because of the Valar or the temptation of being close to Valinor, but rather because, as Eonwe said, Men listened to Morgoth. The source of the problem was the Númenorean fear of death. And that fear was implanted by Morgoth.

It is said by the Eldar that Men came into the world in the time of the Shadow of Morgoth, and they fell swiftly under his dominion; for he sent his emissaries among them, and they listened to his evil and cunning words, and they worshipped the Darkness and yet feared it.

Then the Men of Middle-earth were comforted, and here and there upon the western shores the houseless woods drew back, and Men shook off the yoke of the offspring of Morgoth and unlearned their terror of the dark.
Not written about the Númenoreans, but I think it applies to Men in general.
For though the Valar had rewarded the Dunedain with long life, they could not take from them the weariness of the world that comes at last, and they died, even their kings of the seed of Earendil; and the span of their lives was brief in the eyes of the Eldar. Thus it was that a shadow fell on them: in which maybe the will of Morgoth was at work that still moved in the world.
So the beginnings of the fall were in the reappearance of this fear. Something that would, I think, ultimately have resurfaced whether the Númenoreans were in Middle-earth or in sight of Elvenhome. They would still have been in contact with the Elves in Middle-earth and still reminded of their mortality. Maybe their fall would have been even faster there (if not so dramatic), being more removed from the influence of the Valar and closer to Sauron. After all, Sauron did trap Númenoreans with Rings. And I think his arrival in Númenor was the the final blow to their civilization. He was the one who brought Pharazon back to the "worship of the Dark."

Granted, none of Sauron's plots would have worked without Pharazon's cooperation. So the pride and similar failings of the Númenoreans play into this as well, but that can't be blamed on the Valar either.

Actually, the gift of Númenor seems very similar to the call to bring the Elves to the West. A well-intentioned effort to protect the Children of Iluvatar from Morgoth's machinations that ultimately failed. The reason for the failure both times seems to have been that a malevolant character worked on a proud member of the society. Morgoth:Feanor as Sauron/Morgoth's original plotting against humanity:Ar-Pharazon, anyone?
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Old 03-29-2006, 09:41 AM   #5
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I think both ELU and Eönwe are right in this idea, i mean yes, Sauron corrupted numenoreans and yes
the temptation was always present, being that "near" of aman but basically, Numenoreans, as JRR says, forgot about the misterious gift and special fate that ERU has for the race of men, a gift that even the valar will envy in time wich is death and went for all the marbles and failed. We cant blame the Valar for the fate of the numenoreans, (even tough i think Eru over reacted in sinking the whole island!!! ), they had it coming for rising up and making war against the valar wich makes me exactly did Ar-pharazon managed to get to the blessed realm?? would any other numenorean good or bad would have succeded in such a quest? this was not "Luck". if the Valar would have wanted to, they could have Ulmo or better yet Ossë because of his violent temper, sink all of the fleet in a blink of an eye, so why exactly did they let Ar-pharazón pass?? to set an example? to whom if they intended to destroy the island? i dont know
but i wonder what you think and sorry for deviating a little bit from the main thread line...
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Old 03-29-2006, 09:55 AM   #6
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I would not say that the Valar envy mortality. Does Eru envy mortality too? Why? Just because they're immortal? The Valar have been around longer than Arda itself, and will continue to be forever.

The reason elves struggled with their immortality because they were unable to keep the world (Middle-earth) around them from changing (the way they do). In fact, I'm not even sure we're given any hints about an elf in the Undying Lands complaining about immortality - I see no reason for one to, aside from scars from his/her Middle-earth past.
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Old 03-29-2006, 04:18 PM   #7
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Oh but they do envy the gift Iluvatar gave to men Legolas, Tolkien himself says so at the end of the first chapter of the Quenta when he states (apologies if the translation is not correct, but my SILM is in spanish ) "One and the same is the gift of freedom from Ilúvatar to men: that they dont linger in the world, different from elves, who are attached to it as long as it exists, and cannot die other than by murder or by sorrow (and they are condemned to this two deaths apparently) and their spirits gather in the halls of mandos after they pass away, age doesnt weak them in any way, unless someone gets tired of ten thousand centuries and that way the love for all the things that are in this world grows deeper in their hearts and thus the burden of the eras grows heavier for them, but men really depart from this world and where do they go, the elves do not know. such is the gift from iluvatar to men, a gift that even the powers will envy with the time. Long ago it was revealed to the Valar that the men would play an important part in the second song among the children of iluvatar at the end of the days, but what will happen to the elves in the days after the world, Iluvatar has not revealed, and Melkor has not discovered yet.".... so the Ainur, who are often referred as the "powers" of Arda will envy the gift from iluvatar to men in time.
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Old 03-29-2006, 09:54 PM   #8
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Keen observation.

Envying 'at times' I could accept. It shouldn't be likened to the elves' constant day-to-day struggle with the ever-changing world.

The envy of the Valar would be of a different kind - they know 'the end' that men experience (what happens to their souls after death); it seems to me that an afterlife outside of the world in which some sort of 'fellowship' or contact with Eru is implied, and the Valar would undoubtedly miss this (which they experienced before the Music, before entering Ea) and wish to get away from their position as supervisors of the children.
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