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Old 08-23-2003, 04:09 AM   #1
Fat middle
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The Silmarillion Ch 12: Of Men

This is a very short chapter. Its like a stop in the story: it doesnt narrate too much things, but the general tone is very poetical so lots of ideas are suggested in it. Ill proceed by quoting paragraphs and commenting what I have thought about, and sometimes proposing questions for debating. Any corrections, additions or oppositions will be very, very welcomed.

Readings:
- The Silmarillion. XII Of Men.
- BOLT? (I havent read those two)
- Quenta Silmarillion (HOME, 5): it has slight differences with the final text that may result interesting.
- Later Quenta Silmallion (HOME, 11): I dont think this add anything at all.
- Myths Transformed (HOME, 10) : I havent commented anything about it, but the cosmic change that JRRT had in mind at this point would altered the date of the awakening of Men, and other things as the relation between the Sun and the Men.

The Sun, the Chicken and the Egg.
Quote:
From this time forth were reckoned the Years of the Sun. Swifter and briefer are they than the long Years of the Trees in Valinor. In that time the air of Middle-earth became heavy with the breath of growth and mortality, and the changing and ageing of all things was hastened exceedingly; life teemed upon the soil and in the waters in the Second Spring of Arda, and the Eldar increased, and beneath the new Sun Beleriand grew green and fair.
Beautiful introduction, doesnt it? Its curious how with the Sun come both the breath of growth and mortality. It makes me the impression of a sudden acceleration of things that runs out of control. When the Valar came out of their blessed refuge theyd find that things had changed a lot.

Also this poetical paragraph have made me noticed that Men share their mortality (Im not speaking of their Doom ) with the nature: animals and plants, with all the creatures that waked up and grew with the Sun; while Elves share their immortality (or long, long life but confined to this world ) with the stars, they are the People of the Stars.
Quote:
At the first rising of the Sun the Younger Children of Ilvatar awoke in the land of Hildrien in the eastward regions of Middle-earth; but the first Sun arose in the West, and the opening eyes of Men were turned towards it, and their feet as they wandered over the Earth for the most part strayed that way.
As elves followed the light of Valinor in their marching to the West, Men follow the light of the Sun. We have always this westward spun mythology. We have already discussed this in previous chapters, but I think that here we can find again the light as a metaphor of wisdom or blessedness.

But, what was before, the myth or the metaphor? On the one hand, the metaphor of the light is quite unoriginal, and its relation with the travelling of the Sun could be a good basis to build a mythology, since many myths have been related to the attraction that Men have to the Sun.

In the other hand, the original will of Tolkien of building a British mythology and the nuclear importance of his dream about the ship riding the great waves from the west may be two points to argue the primacy of the myth.

Anyway, perhaps those ideas has little to do with this chapter and may result quite obscure and unimportant, but Ive given some thought to them and wanted to throw it somewhere

Another thing Ive noticed is that its only in this chapter where we are spoken about this tradition that makes Men wander following the course of the Sun. In other chapters were told that the Dark Elves spoke to the Atani about the Light in the West and so they began their wandering trying to escape from the Shadow. This is the tradition that we find in the chapter about The Coming of Men into the West and in the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth. Why two different traditions? The first one (the Sun) shows the Atani as a new beginning in Arda (the second theme of the Music), a new people with a new destiny. The second one (the Light of the Valar) would present Men as guests in a world made for the Elves (words of Andreth): the seek a Light as Elves, but no Valar have come to guide them, nobody has invited them to follow, and in the end theyll discover that they cannot reach that Light. They are fooled by his Doom. Any comments?

(1/3)
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Old 08-23-2003, 04:13 AM   #2
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Meeting other Peoples... or wanting to!
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The Atani they were named by the Eldar, the Second People
An obvious reference to Adam, the first of men. A philologists joke perhaps, or one important point of that philological background that Tolkien said it was behind the story.
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The Atani they were named by the Eldar, the Second People; but they called them also Hildor, the Followers, and many other names: Apannar, the After-born, Engwar, the Sickly, and Frimar, the Mortals; and they named them the Usurpers, the Strangers, and the Inscrutable, the Self-cursed, the Heavy-handed, the Night-fearers, the Children of the Sun.
Hey, stop calling us names sorry, bad joke Im particularly intrigued by the Self-cursed. Any thoughts?
Quote:
To Hildrien there came no Vala to guide Men, or to summon them to dwell in Valinor; and Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them, and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being at variance with them, and at strife with the world. Ulmo nonetheless took thought for them aiding the counsel and will of Manw; and his messages came often to them by stream and flood. But they have not skill in such matters, and still less had they in those days before they had mingled with the Elves. Therefore they loved the waters, and their hearts were stirred, but they understood not the messages.
At the beginning of the chapter were told that
Quote:
The Valar sat now behind their mountains at peace [feasting, according to QS ]; and having given light to Middle-earth they left it for long untended, and the lordship of Morgoth was uncontested save by the valour of the Noldor.
And from the Quenta Silmarillion (HOME 5) we can read this version:
Quote:
and Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them, and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being at variance with them, and at strife with the world.
The Valar are the Powers of the World. I tend to see them as personifications of physical powers (as the first Greek myths). Could this fear be related with the weakness of the human body and with his fear to death? It may also be due to Melkors influence, but it is not clearly suggested here. Any thoughts? Why do men naturally feared the Valar?
Quote:
Yet it is told that ere long they met Dark Elves in many places, and were befriended by them; and Men became the companions and disciples in their childhood of these ancient folk(...)
Michael Martinez suggests in Parma Endorion that Men could learn elements of the tongues of that people that passed to human languages, and also they could learn how to play simple musical instruments such as harps and flutes. I dont know where did he get that idea. Has anybody heard that before?
Quote:
There was little peril in the lands and hills; and there new things, devised long ages before in the thought of Yavanna and sown as seed in the dark, came at last to their budding and their bloom. West, North, and South the children of Men spread and wandered, and their joy was the joy of the morning before the dew is dry, when every leaf is green.
I love it when the Professor turns lyrical Reading this paragraph Ive realized that in this moment the Ents wake up too. Ive always thought that they were older than men, but it seems that we waked up together.
Quote:
But the dawn is brief and the day full often belies its promise.
I love that quote too From this point on Tolkien seems to be going forward and rearward in the story, and much of what it is said could be commented later, so Im only pointing one topic though it may be developed in further chapters: the Doom of Men.

(2/3)
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Old 08-23-2003, 04:13 AM   #3
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The Doom of Men.
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But Men were more frail, more easily slain by weapon or mischance, and less easily healed; subject to sickness and many ills; and they grew old and died. What may befall their spirits after death the Elves know not. Some say that they too go to the halls of Mandos; but their place of waiting there is not that of the Elves, and Mandos under Ilvatar alone save Manw knows whither they go after the time of recollection in those silent halls beside the Outer Sea. None have ever come back from the mansions of the dead, save only Beren son of Barahir, whose hand had touched a Silmaril; but he never spoke afterward to mortal Men. The fate of Men after death, maybe, is not in the hands of the Valar, nor was all foretold in the Music of the Ainur.
The obliged reading here is of course the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth. Im quite tired now, so I only want to put one comment and one desire.

The comment: Here and in Andreths words in the Athrabeth we see that Valar doesnt seem much concerned with men. In Myths Transformed, Tolkien says something about the estrangement and resentment that Men felt towards the Valar passing to the traditions on the Silmarillion in Nmenor. But, actually, should Men feel any religious link towards the Valar as the Eldar seem to have?

The desire: that the Athrabeth may not be a pretext for SGH to turn this thread into another Finrods thread

(3/3)
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Old 08-23-2003, 09:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
The desire: that the Athrabeth may not be a pretext for SGH to turn this thread into another Finrods thread
Beautiful introduction, until the end, Mr. Smart Guy.
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Michael Martinez suggests in Parma Endorion that Men could learn elements of the tongues of that people that passed to human languages, and also they could learn how to play simple musical instruments such as harps and flutes. I dont know where did he get that idea. Has anybody heard that before?
I would think that Michael Martinez may have drawn his conclusion, if that be what it is, from the remarks of Tolkien in the chapter of: "The Coming Of Men Into The West" In the very beginning of this chapter, it says that, when Finrod went into the camp and sat beside the dying fire, he picked up a rude harp, which Beor had layed aside. The term rude, implies: of premitive making, or simple.

According to that chapter, Men had only known the Dark Elves in the wild lands. Since all the languages of the Quendi were of one origin, and Men learned the language of the Dark Elves, then the language of Beor and his folk resembled the Elven-tongue.
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Old 08-25-2003, 12:45 PM   #5
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All these chapter intros are so great, and this one is no exception. Go Gordy!
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Originally posted by Fat middle
Also this poetical paragraph have made me noticed that Men share their mortality (Im not speaking of their Doom ) with the nature: animals and plants, with all the creatures that waked up and grew with the Sun; while Elves share their immortality (or long, long life but confined to this world ) with the stars, they are the People of the Stars.
Can you really separate the Doom of Men and their mortality? Or the fate of the Elves and their immortality?

Quote:
Another thing Ive noticed is that its only in this chapter where we are spoken about this tradition that makes Men wander following the course of the Sun. In other chapters were told that the Dark Elves spoke to the Atani about the Light in the West and so they began their wandering trying to escape from the Shadow. This is the tradition that we find in the chapter about The Coming of Men into the West and in the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth. Why two different traditions? The first one (the Sun) shows the Atani as a new beginning in Arda (the second theme of the Music), a new people with a new destiny. The second one (the Light of the Valar) would present Men as guests in a world made for the Elves (words of Andreth): the seek a Light as Elves, but no Valar have come to guide them, nobody has invited them to follow, and in the end theyll discover that they cannot reach that Light. They are fooled by his Doom. Any comments?
The Athrabeth is by CRT presented as JRRT's exploration of the nature of the Marring of Men, and the relation between Men and Elves. Since JRRT continuously worked his myths through his life it is not to wonder that more than one version has found its way into the Sil, and should be found in HoME.

From another point of view I think it is natural to have several traditions among Men about their early history and their purpose. It is not easy to maintain the myths consistent with each other, when people are spread widely and stories are told through many generations. It should not be like the Elves, who will have among themselves living memories of the Valar and other things that were long ages ago.

I do not think that Men are fooled by the Doom. They cannot reach the Light in Valinor, that's true, but they may reach another Light after death, when they leave the world and presumably go to stay with Iluvatar. Therefore, as Finrod says, they're the greater people of the Children. When Men think otherwise, it is because they, and all of Middle Earth, is influenced by Morgoth. I think Andreth is to some extent fooled by her bitterness and sorrow. She lacks Estel (Finrod again ).

I've got more to say - but later
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Old 08-25-2003, 01:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sister Golden Hair
[b]I would think that Michael Martinez may have drawn his conclusion, if that be what it is, from the remarks of Tolkien in the chapter of: "The Coming Of Men Into The West" In the very beginning of this chapter, it says that, when Finrod went into the camp and sat beside the dying fire, he picked up a rude harp, which Beor had layed aside. The term rude, implies: of premitive making, or simple.
You're possibly right there SGH, and if what MM says it's true it would add a higher worth to the music of your beloved Felagund since Men would already heard some elvish music before.
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Old 08-25-2003, 01:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
Can you really separate the Doom of Men and their mortality? Or the fate of the Elves and their immortality?
I see no problem in it. The Doom includes whatever happen to them after death (be it that they go to Mandos or that they escape from Arda or whatever), but mortality is just the end of this life and that's the same for Men and for animals and plants.

Quote:
The Athrabeth is by CRT presented as JRRT's exploration of the nature of the Marring of Men, and the relation between Men and Elves. Since JRRT continuously worked his myths through his life it is not to wonder that more than one version has found its way into the Sil, and should be found in HoME.
Very true. Perhaps I should have clarified my point of view. When I analyze ME stories I like to stick to the idea that Tolkien is a mere transcriber. I think that's how he wanted us to read them. Therefore I try to search for other reasons to the existence of different traditions (wherever the only explanation is what you've said, it should be marked as a fault of the final version).

Quote:
From another point of view I think it is natural to have several traditions among Men about their early history and their purpose. It is not easy to maintain the myths consistent with each other, when people are spread widely and stories are told through many generations. It should not be like the Elves, who will have among themselves living memories of the Valar and other things that were long ages ago.
Right! this is the kind of explanation I was looking for. So you're saying that the difference must be due to men's hand.

Quote:
I do not think that Men are fooled by the Doom. They cannot reach the Light in Valinor, that's true, but they may reach another Light after death, when they leave the world and presumably go to stay with Iluvatar. Therefore, as Finrod says, they're the greater people of the Children. When Men think otherwise, it is because they, and all of Middle Earth, is influenced by Morgoth. I think Andreth is to some extent fooled by her bitterness and sorrow. She lacks Estel (Finrod again ).
True again. But my point here was that one of the two traditions was forged by men that believed that they were fooled by their Doom. Possibly the "wise men" that Andreth mentions.

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I've got more to say - but later
And it'd be very welcomed
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Old 08-26-2003, 01:54 AM   #8
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Athrabeth? Did someone say Athrabeth?

*gets misty-eyed*

"North away ....."
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Old 08-26-2003, 07:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fat middle
Hey, stop calling us names sorry, bad joke Im particularly intrigued by the Self-cursed. Any thoughts?
Those names do tell about rather mixed feeling towards Men, don't they. Usurpers, Strangers, Inscrutable. I wonder who of the Atani the Eldar had in mind when they found each of the names, and who of the Eldar named them. I can see no sensible reason why Men should be called Self-cursed, especially not by the oldor!
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The Valar are the Powers of the World. I tend to see them as personifications of physical powers (as the first Greek myths). Could this fear be related with the weakness of the human body and with his fear to death? It may also be due to Melkors influence, but it is not clearly suggested here. Any thoughts? Why do men naturally feared the Valar?
I think it is natural to fear that what you do not understand in a harsh world. Eldar and Atani are all Iluvatar's Children, still the Eldar yet have more in common with the Valar, they're 'spiritual', immortal and bound to Arda, but even they were frightened by their first meeting with the Powers, due to Melkor's deeds. The Atani were radically different. What Melkor did to the Atani was merely to enhance their original fear. It is interesting to see that the fear and wonder also goes the other way: Melkor has always feared Men, and the Valar are not sure how to deal with them, the exceptions being Ulmo and Manwe perhaps, who were the two Valar with most knowledge of the Great Music and Iluvatar's mind.

This passage from the Athrabeth, where Finrod speaks to Andreth about the Valar, comes into mind:
Quote:
'Has it never entered into your thought, Andreth, that out there in ages long past ye may have put yourselves out of their care, and beyond the reach of their help? Or even that ye, the Children of Men, were not a matter that they could govern? For ye were too great. Yea, I mean this, and do not only flatter your pride: too great. Sole masters of yourselves within Arda, under the hand of the One.
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Old 08-26-2003, 03:43 PM   #10
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Re: The Silmarillion Ch 12: Of Men

Quote:
Originally posted by Fat middle
Also this poetical paragraph have made me noticed that Men share their mortality (Im not speaking of their Doom ) with the nature: animals and plants, with all the creatures that waked up and grew with the Sun; while Elves share their immortality (or long, long life but confined to this world ) with the stars, they are the People of the Stars.
That's a good point, FM - I hadn't thought of that.
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Old 08-26-2003, 03:49 PM   #11
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Yes, the "self-cursed" in the list of names of Men is pretty harsh...

I can think of 2 reasons why - one is of course the part in Athrabeth about their choice to listen to the Second Voice - this was a choice they made themselves, so they are self-cursed, but how would the Eldar know this?

Perhaps it's just a reference to how Men are less bound by fate than the Elves, and seem to be all too often rather good at making bad choices
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Old 08-26-2003, 03:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
This passage from the Athrabeth, where Finrod speaks to Andreth about the Valar, comes into mind: ...
Yes, that's a very interesting quote, isn't it? Those that seem weakest are actually mightiest. And originally, humans were thought to have had unlimited lifespans, or at least much, much longer than their current ones, and there is bitterness over the loss.

I remember reading something interesting once about how so much of the human brain seems to be unused. It was theorized that in our unfallen, pre-sin state the entire capacity of the brain was used - Adam and Eve were really incredibly mighty beings, IOW. But after the fall, God, in His mercy, greatly limited our brain power to limit the damage we could do and the suffering we could inflict on others. An interesting thought - for after all, an intelligent grown-up can inflict much more suffering and damage on those around him/her than a very young child. Of course we also lost a large capacity for developing good and helpful things, but these would have been far overshadowed by the bad things we could have done. So I think that Iluvatar made the shorter lifespans Andreth talks about for merciful reasons, not for "I'll show THEM!" reasons.
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Old 08-26-2003, 04:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ran
Of course we also lost a large capacity for developing good and helpful things, but these would have been far overshadowed by the bad things we could have done.
I think that's a depressing view on mankind, which I do not agree with. I have more faith in people's ability to do good. But that discussion belongs to another thread, perhaps.
Quote:
So I think that Iluvatar made the shorter lifespans Andreth talks about for merciful reasons, not for "I'll show THEM!" reasons.
Are you saying that Iluvatar did this as a deliberate action, after the Fall of Men? Or is it rather in Men's nature to get shorter lives when they turn to the dark forces and away from the light? Isn't this also what happened to the Numenoreans?
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Old 08-26-2003, 05:05 PM   #14
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Originally posted by Fat middle
I see no problem in it. The Doom includes whatever happen to them after death (be it that they go to Mandos or that they escape from Arda or whatever), but mortality is just the end of this life and that's the same for Men and for animals and plants.
It's just that I've always seen them as closely tied together, because of this from the published Sil:
Quote:
But to the Atani I will give a new gift.' Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; .... It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not.
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Old 08-26-2003, 05:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Artanis
I think that's a depressing view on mankind, which I do not agree with. I have more faith in people's ability to do good. But that discussion belongs to another thread, perhaps.
Yes, there is much good in many people, but it's always easier to destroy than to build, and a few really bad people can cause a lot more harm than many good people could easily fix. That's more what I mean. And ME is a great example of this.

Quote:
Are you saying that Iluvatar did this as a deliberate action, after the Fall of Men? Or is it rather in Men's nature to get shorter lives when they turn to the dark forces and away from the light? Isn't this also what happened to the Numenoreans?
I think that it is very possible that Iluvatar did this deliberately, and for merciful reasons. I would agree with Finrod when he said "None could have done this [change the doom of Men] save the One."

I think that also Men will have shorter lives when they turn to the dark forces, like what we see in the Numenoreans, but the main change came about by a special action of Iluvatar.

I think Finrod is probably right - "...could the Morgoth do this? No, I say."
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Old 08-26-2003, 05:47 PM   #16
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Does it not say that because Men listened to the wrong voice, that Iluvatar decided that he would bring them to the Timeless Halls, so they would know who he was?
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Old 08-26-2003, 07:57 PM   #17
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I don't remember that; I'll have to look it up.
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"How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! ... For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside." (from Psalm 84) * * * God rocks!

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Old 08-26-2003, 08:11 PM   #18
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Originally posted by Ran
I don't remember that; I'll have to look it up.
From Morgoth's Ring, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, The Tale of Adanel, The Histories of Middle-earth series, Volume 10
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The first voice we never heard again, save once. In the stillness of the night it spoke, saying: "Ye have abjured Me, but ye remain Mine. I gave you life. Now it shall be shortened, and each of you in a little while shall come to Me, to learn who is your Lord: the one ye worship, or I who made him."
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"North away." he said: "to the swords, and the siege, and the walls of defence - that yet for a while in Beleriand rivers may run clean, leaves spring, and birds build their nests, ere Night comes."

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Old 08-26-2003, 08:20 PM   #19
Ran
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Whew! That's pretty clear, then, that Iluvatar shortened the life of men!
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I should be doing the laundry, but this is MUCH more fun!

"How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! ... For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside." (from Psalm 84) * * * God rocks!

Entmoot : Veni, vidi, velcro - I came, I saw, I got hooked!

Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus!
Run the earth and watch the sky ... Auta i lm! Aur entuluva!
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Old 08-26-2003, 08:27 PM   #20
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Whew! That's pretty clear, then, that Iluvatar shortened the life of men!
Of course how much of it is just a tale spun by Men to explain their mortality. Andreth says that they do not remember when there was not death. Beor tells Finrod a similiar account as well, in the Silmarillion.
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"Whither go you?" she said.

"North away." he said: "to the swords, and the siege, and the walls of defence - that yet for a while in Beleriand rivers may run clean, leaves spring, and birds build their nests, ere Night comes."

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