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Old 09-22-2021, 03:31 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Silmaril Tolkien's final First Age timeline

Tolkien didn't have a final First Age timeline. Or rather, he had several: the Annals of Aman and associated Tale of Years (HoME X: Morgoth's Ring) seem to be his latest thoughts on the period before the Awakening of the Elves and the period after their arrival in Aman, but with the publication of The Nature of Middle-earth, we now have his later thoughts on the Great March (NoME 1.VII "The March of the Quendi"), and his even later thoughts on the period between the Awakening and the March (NoME 1.XIII "Key Dates", text 1). Throw in a smattering of later notes, such as a birthdate for Galadriel (NoME 1.XVIII "Elvish Ages & Numenorean") and a mention of the March crossing Caradhras (NoME 3.XVII "Silvan Elves & Silvan Elvish"), and what we have is a complex picture that Tolkien never put together.

But the pieces are there. It's taken a lot of calculating, cross-referencing, and tearing my hair out over Tolkien's entirely unreasonable habit of, um, not taking his 1960s thoughts into account in the 1950s (that monster), but I've pulled together what I think is a fair rendering of what Tolkien's "Final Timeline" would have looked like.*

The First Age of Middle-earth

*It wouldn't have. If he'd written it, he would have come up with a whole new set of dates, added several characters, and accidentally made Finwe the son of Maglor somehow. But I can dream.

I've not bothered to include the Beleriand years, because there's no change to them: they span about 600 years at the end of the very long First Age, just as they always have.

Notes on what in the world I was thinking at every stage are at the end, along with the parts where my common sense got the better of me. I'm happy to explain, discuss, or defend any points people want to pull out, though if it involves too much of Tolkien's inability to count in 144s I won't have any hair left to tear out.

Anyway so that's what I've been up to since NoME appeared.

hS
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Old 09-22-2021, 06:37 AM   #2
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*It wouldn't have. If he'd written it, he would have come up with a whole new set of dates, added several characters, and accidentally made Finwe the son of Maglor somehow. But I can dream.



This is fascinating stuff, and a lot of dedication. Many kudos to you Hui!


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.

Counting Elf generations makes sense when there is a "baby boom", and there is a wave of children that comes at a predictable period of time related to some reproductive cycle physiology. It makes sense for the first few generations. It makes sense in Aman, because apparently all the Elves there went "We made it! The future is bright! Let's make babies!", and proceeded to do so at the shortest intervals within reason. That is what maintains the chronological structure of the family tree, where each generation is older than the next (something that is also confirmed by the various hints scattered in the text). Technically speaking, there is nothing preventing a nephew to be ages older than his uncle, if the uncle's parents decide to have a "late child"... and again right back to it: there are no "late children" when there is no limitation to your period of fertility! When (hypothetically) one sibling can be born in the FA and one in the TA, with anything you want happening in between, how can you still count generations by the number of degrees removed from Cuivienen? How does this system even hold up, except during those periods when generations flow smoothly from one to the next, or when there is a time point acting as reference (e.g. arrival in Aman, or departure from Aman, or other significant "generational" event)?

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.


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.

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.

...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???
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:04 AM   #3
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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...

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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.

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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."

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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.

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...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.

hS
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:17 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:46 AM   #5
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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.

hS
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:16 PM   #6
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I believe that the fact that he counted generations was due more to his eagerness to make the Tale of Years very reliable and realistic according to the nature of the Quendi and in the context of a world with sun and moon from the beginning.
I was not doing accounts, but I am trying to adapt the "old" Tale of Years to the new duodecimal system and I find it very difficult to adjust it without a "new narrative". I think that a lot (not all) of the new information can be inserted but keeping the old decimal system. I can be wrong and it would be necessary to give it more lapses but ...
On the other hand I think Tolkien always thought and wanted the three ambassadors to be First Born hence the "option" for Imin Tata and Enel to go to Valinor and join them Ingw Finw and Elw, their "young descendants", and that also contributed to the calculations to make it more credible.

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Old 10-07-2021, 03:10 PM   #7
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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. ( . . .) 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.*
I think the idea that Feanor asked Galadriel for her hair only shows up in The Shibboleth of Feanor however, which is later than any 1959 text (in GNOME), or even Elvish Ages and Numenorean, dated to 1965.

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*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.
In your chart linked above you've got Feanor making the Silmarils before Galadriel was even born -- okay, based on NOME texts . . .

. . . but in The Shibboleth (1968 or later), Galadriel was born in the Bliss of Valinor (which includes the vague addition: "it was not long in the reckoning of the Blessed Realm, before that was dimmed") and the Eldar said that her hair had snared the light of the two trees, and many thought that this this saying gave Feanor the idea of blending the light of the Silmarils that later took shape as the Silmarils: "For Feanor begged three times . . ."

My interpretation is that Feanor begged for her hair before making the Silmarils. And if so, thus, in what "mode of thinking" was Tolkien involved with here, in 1968 or later? Noting too, that in another late text, Eldarin Hands and Fingers:

Quote:
"nette meant "girl approaching the adult" (in her "teens": the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if at all slower than that of the children of Men). The Common Eldarin stem (wen-ed) wend "maiden" applied to all stages up to the fully adult (until marriage)."

JRRT, from Vinyar Tengwar 47, texts generally dated 1967-70 (reproduced in NOME as well)
Carl Hostetter then refers the reader to XVI where Tolkien notes that the Elvish growth rate from conception to maturity should be comparable to Humans, with Elves reaching maturity at 24 loar (Sun Years), and in which, with respect to later weddings in the "Early Years" before the March, the Elves were usually 24/21-24 [granted CFH also refers to Elvish Ages and Numenorean too, but this text still pre-dates the "nette remark"].

In other words, I don't think we necessarily have a text in which Feanor begs a notably young Galadriel for her hair, as by the time the idea arises, we don't know where Tolkien was with respect to certain earlier notions or dates.
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Old 10-08-2021, 02:45 AM   #8
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I think the idea that Feanor asked Galadriel for her hair only shows up in The Shibboleth of Feanor however, which is later than any 1959 text (in GNOME), or even Elvish Ages and Numenorean, dated to 1965.

In your chart linked above you've got Feanor making the Silmarils before Galadriel was even born -- okay, based on NOME texts . . .

. . . but in The Shibboleth (1968 or later), Galadriel was born in the Bliss of Valinor (which includes the vague addition: "it was not long in the reckoning of the Blessed Realm, before that was dimmed") and the Eldar said that her hair had snared the light of the two trees, and many thought that this this saying gave Feanor the idea of blending the light of the Silmarils that later took shape as the Silmarils: "For Feanor begged three times . . ."

My interpretation is that Feanor begged for her hair before making the Silmarils. And if so, thus, in what "mode of thinking" was Tolkien involved with here, in 1968 or later? Noting too, that in another late text, Eldarin Hands and Fingers:

Carl Hostetter then refers the reader to XVI where Tolkien notes that the Elvish growth rate from conception to maturity should be comparable to Humans, with Elves reaching maturity at 24 loar (Sun Years), and in which, with respect to later weddings in the "Early Years" before the March, the Elves were usually 24/21-24 [granted CFH also refers to Elvish Ages and Numenorean too, but this text still pre-dates the "nette remark"].

In other words, I don't think we necessarily have a text in which Feanor begs a notably young Galadriel for her hair, as by the time the idea arises, we don't know where Tolkien was with respect to certain earlier notions or dates.
This is some good detective work. I think you're right that the "nette remark" probably indicates that Tolkien returned to the 1:1 Elvish growth rate - "little slower" could still mean 3:1 (by contrast with the 144:1 he occasionally wandered into), but "if at all" precludes that. And it does seem to be the latest text on aging. It probably doesn't mean they married at 24, though - that would undo all the work on getting the Ambassadors to be unmarried adults, which doesn't rely on growth rates anyway. (One caveat: the "nette remark" is undated except in that it preceeds a 1968 text; it could concievably by pre-"Elvish Ages".)

It's a great catch that the story of Galadriel's hair only shows up in the Shibboleth (as quoted in Unfinished Tales): that really surprises me! I'd always assumed that her gift to Gimli was written to be a mirror of her rejection of Feanor, but it looks like the Feanor story may actually have been written to explain the Gimli one!

I think the only way to reconcile "teen Galadriel" with "inspired the Silmarils" is to shift the date the Silmarils were made right down to just before Feanor drew his sword on Fingolfin. The Annals of Aman say the making of them took 10 sun-years, so there's just enough room in my timeline for Feanor to pester Galadriel at about age 10 and still make them before he breaks the peace. ... except that Melkor's work to sow discord in Valinor was because of the Silmarils, so he would have to have corrupted Feanor in under 10 years, which seems unlikely.

Hmm...

Okay. The published Silmarillion makes Feanor's exile 12 years. The Annals of Aman has 40 years [of the Trees] between the forging of the Silmarils and the breaking of the Peace, and one year [of the Trees] for Feanor to make the Silmarils.. If we take both those figures to be sun-years, we get this:

- 5413: Birth of Galadriel.
- 5420: Feanor begins work on the Silmarils.
- 5421: Completion of the Silmarils.
- 5461: Breaking of the Peace of Aman, banishing of Feanor.
- 5473: Death of the Trees.

So Feanor saw 7-year-old Galadriel, was wowed by her hair, and when she kicked him on the ankle he went off in a sulk to make some jewellery. That kind of hangs together.

It means neglecting the "nette remark", but in various places in NoME Tolkien considered that aging should run slower in Aman under the Trees. It's not perfect, but at least it hangs together.

EDIT: Actually, the "nette remark" is specifically talking about the Common Eldarin period, and uses the past tense to describe Elvish aging. I don't think it conflicts with "Elvish Ages" at all.

hS
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Old 10-08-2021, 12:40 PM   #9
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Admittedly, I'm making a broader statement here about Tolkien's possible mindset in the later phases of his writing. We can't know, but what I'm suggesting is that by the time this idea (Feanor asking for Galadriel's hair) rolled into JRRT's mind, much of what he'd written nearly 10 years earlier could have been forgotten . . .

. . . or replaced with something simpler. And if so, when Tolkien wrote The Shibboleth of Feanor, can we even be certain he had not reverted to the old date of Galadriel's birth in the Annals of Aman and injected the new ratio. I agree it would undo much of what he thought 10 years before (if he even remembered it) and even 3 years before (if he remembered that), but for all we know, an older Tolkien might have undone certain things for simplicity, or undone certain things because he no longer had his old texts to hand in any case, and was "creating anew" so to speak.

That said, I can certainly understand the approach that Tolkien was thinking X in 1959, and even Y in 1965, so why should we assume he simply dropped so much of it in 1968 or later. I agree it makes sense to approach things this way too -- but I keep in mind that Tolkien, just for one often-used example, actually chose to publish Celeborn as one of the Sindar in 1967 RGEO . . .

. . . then in 1968 "or later" seemingly forgets this, and writes at least two different Celeborn histories! And I'll admit that "maybe Tolkien changed his mind" due to a lack of evidence -- the Shibboleth providing no dates nor any trace of how fast Galadriel became a mature woman -- is not the most compelling of arguments, but there that is.

Before NOME was published, for example, some folks on the web have compared the "young" Galadriel who takes part in the rebellion to the more mature Galadriel who ultimately rejects the One. Perhaps an older Tolkien came to believe that the reader needed no more than this?

Perhaps not

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EDIT: Actually, the "nette remark" is specifically talking about the Common Eldarin period, and uses the past tense to describe Elvish aging. I don't think it conflicts with "Elvish Ages" at all. hS
Can you expand on this?

So far, in my head anyway, Tolkien's "final" thought here is based on the "nette remark" (I had thunk so before NOME actually, given that this was published in VT) -- and now in combination with XVI (from NOME), but if you think the two are internally consistent I'd like to see more of your argument as to why.
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Old 12-04-2021, 09:08 PM   #10
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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.
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.

(I still find the idea of timed generations absurd. It belongs to the group of concepts that I choose to ignore when daydreaming Tolkien. But maybe the absurdity is what makes me keep thinking about it, trying to find a way to comprehend it.)
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Old 12-06-2021, 10:01 AM   #11
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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.)

hS
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Old 05-18-2022, 03:15 PM   #12
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but I've pulled together what I think is a fair rendering of what Tolkien's "Final Timeline" would have looked like.*

The First Age of Middle-earth
No access.
If possible I would like to look at what you came up with.
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Old 05-18-2022, 03:31 PM   #13
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Tolkien didn't have a final First Age timeline. Or rather, he had several: the Annals of Aman and associated Tale of Years (HoME X: Morgoth's Ring) seem to be his latest thoughts on the period before the Awakening of the Elves and the period after their arrival in Aman, but with the publication of The Nature of Middle-earth, we now have his later thoughts on the Great March (NoME 1.VII "The March of the Quendi"), and his even later thoughts on the period between the Awakening and the March (NoME 1.XIII "Key Dates", text 1). Throw in a smattering of later notes, such as a birthdate for Galadriel (NoME 1.XVIII "Elvish Ages & Numenorean") and a mention of the March crossing Caradhras (NoME 3.XVII "Silvan Elves & Silvan Elvish"), and what we have is a complex picture that Tolkien never put together.

But the pieces are there. It's taken a lot of calculating, cross-referencing, and tearing my hair out over Tolkien's entirely unreasonable habit of, um, not taking his 1960s thoughts into account in the 1950s (that monster), but I've pulled together what I think is a fair rendering of what Tolkien's "Final Timeline" would have looked like.*

The First Age of Middle-earth

*It wouldn't have. If he'd written it, he would have come up with a whole new set of dates, added several characters, and accidentally made Finwe the son of Maglor somehow. But I can dream.

I've not bothered to include the Beleriand years, because there's no change to them: they span about 600 years at the end of the very long First Age, just as they always have.

Notes on what in the world I was thinking at every stage are at the end, along with the parts where my common sense got the better of me. I'm happy to explain, discuss, or defend any points people want to pull out, though if it involves too much of Tolkien's inability to count in 144s I won't have any hair left to tear out.

Anyway so that's what I've been up to since NoME appeared.

hS

I can't access it.
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Old 05-19-2022, 12:14 AM   #14
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I can't access it.
Bother. I'll see if I have a backup copy when I get a chance.

EDIT: Yeah, this has been eaten by Google. I have an early draft, and with that + the notes in this thread I may be able to reconstruct it, but it'll be a bit of work. I'll post when I've assembled it again.

hS
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Old 05-19-2022, 07:36 AM   #15
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If you can, then many thanks,
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