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Friday, April 8, 2011

Elvish Childhood (Reading Material)

from Tolkien's Laws and Customs Among the Eldar, published in History of Middle Earth, volume 10, Morgoth's Ring 

“A year passes between the begetting and the birth of an elf-child, so that the days of both are the same or nearly so, and it is the day of begetting that is remembered year by year. For the most part these days come in the Spring.”

“It might be thought that, since the Eldar do not (as Men deem) grow old in body, they may bring forth children at any time in the ages of their lives. But this is not so. For the Eldar do indeed grow older, even if slowly: the limit of their lives is the life of Arda, which though long beyond the reckoning of Men is not endless, and ages also. Moreover their body and spirit are not separated but coherent. As the weight of the years, with all their changes of desire and thought, gathers upon the spirit of the Eldar, so do the impulses and moods of their bodies change. This the Eldar mean when the speak of their spirits consuming them; and they say that ere Arda ends all the Eldalië on earth will have become as spirits invisible to mortal eyes, unless they will to be seen by some among Men into whose minds they may enter directly.

“Also the Eldar say that in the begetting, and still more in the bearing of children, greater share and strength of their being, in mind and in body, goes forth than in the making of mortal children. For these reasons it came to pass that the Eldar brought forth few children; and also that their time of generation was in their youth or earlier life, unless strange and hard fates befell them. But at whatever age they married, their children were born within a short space of years after their wedding. [footnote: Short as the Eldar reckoned time....]”

{After their children are grown, a husband and wife may be separated for long stretches, pursuing their own interests.} “Yet it would seem to any of the Eldar a grievous thing if a wedded pair were sundered during the bearing of a child, or while the first years of its childhood lasted. For which reason the Eldar would beget children only in days of happiness and peace.”

“The Eldar ... spoke of the passing of much strength, both of mind and of body, into their children, in bearing and begetting. Therefore they hold that the fëa {spirit}, though unbegotten, draws nourishment from the parents before the birth of the child: directly from the fëa of the mother while she bears and nourishes the [body], and mediately but equally from the father, whose fëa is bound in union with the mother's and supports it.”

“The Eldar grew in bodily form slower than Men, but in mind more swiftly. They learned to speak before they were one year old; and in the same time they learned to walk and to dance, for their wills come soon to the mastery of their bodies. Nonetheless there was less difference between the two Kindreds, Elves and Men, in early youth; and a man who watched elf-children at play might well have believed that they were the children of Men, of some fair and happy people. For in their early days elf-children delighted still in the world about them, and the fire of their spirit has not consumed them, and the burden of memory was still light upon them.

This same watcher might indeed have wondered at the small limbs and stature of these children, judging their age by their skill in words and grace in motion. For at the end of the third year mortal children begin to outstrip the Elves, hastening on to a full stature while the Elves lingered in the first spring of childhood. Children of Men might reach their full height while Eldar of the same age were still in body like to mortals of no more than seven years. Not until the fiftieth year did the Eldar attain the stature and shape in which their lives would afterwards endure, and for some a hundred years would pass before they were full-grown.

The Eldar wedded for the most part in their youth and soon after their fiftieth year. They had few children, but these were very dear to them. Their families, or houses, were held together by love and a deep feeling of kinship in mind and body; and the children needed little governing or teaching. There were seldom more than four children in any house, and the number grew less as ages passed.” {Fëanor, with seven sons, held the all-time record.}

1 comment:

  1. This is so incredible. I need to get a copy of this book for myself! So many mysteries answered!