This website contains archives of the Tolkien Discussion Group from 2009 to early 2013.

The discussion group continues to meet
in Second Life in Alqualonde the Swanhaven. Contact AelKennyr Rhiano in Second Life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Númenor, continued


Rhûn Darkmoon
Lihan Taifun           
AelKennyr Rhiano 
Hojo Warf               

We know very little about life in Númenor during its 2000 years of peace and glory.   What we know about them is mostly from their influence on Middle Earth.   The Númenoreans were great sailors and explorers.   Since the Valar forbade them to sail west, either to Aman or to their friends in Tol Ererssëa, they sailed east, and established colonies on the coasts of Middle Earth.  Elendil and his sons may have used some of these colonies as the starting points for building the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

By the time of the Fall of Númenor, the “Faithful” {to the Valar} faction had been gradually moving to Middle Earth.   Some of the “King's Men” faction had also established themselves as tyrants in Middle Earth, especially in the South such as Umbar.

Tolkien modeled Middle Earth, and especially the Shire, after the rural Britain of his day.   Thus he isn't too strict about excluding “New World” crops like tomatoes, potatoes, and tobacco.   The hobbits “pipeweed” may not have been tobacco; it may have been some other “tobacco substitute” plant.

At least some of the plants in Númenor were brought from Aman by the Teleri.   The Teleri brought the White Tree, a descendant of the Noldor's own tree in Tirion.   (By this time, there were a good many Noldor returned from Middle Earth living in Tol Eressëa.) The Humans may have brought seeds with them from Middle Earth, as well.

How would contact with the Elves of Aman have affected Númenorean technology? Eönwë taught them combat skills, and the elves taught them healing (remember Aragorn and the kingsfoil) and brought the palantiri.

Meanwhile, back in Middle Earth, Elrond lived with Gil Galad for a while, until he settled in Rivendell.   Galadriel and Celeborn lived with the Elf kingdom west of Moria, where the Elven jewelers were practicing making Rings of Power.

The Valar rewarded the Humans who had fought for the good side in the War of Wrath, by giving them the island of Númenor, and long life, free of sickness.   The royal line of Númenor was also descended from Lúthien, and had extra long life from the Elvish (and Maia) ancestry.   Elros, the first king, lived to about 500 years.   Even Aragorn, after the bloodline was diluted, lived to about 200.  

It was Sauron who incited the Númenoreans to want more than their idyllic life.

Lihan Taifun:            Where were we discussing Numenor?
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'So where did we get up to last week?'
Lihan Taifun:            we were surprised that they had such vague ideas of an afterlife. we wished we knew more about everyday life in Numenor
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'That is right.'
Lihan Taifun:            we know hardly anything about the 2000 years when things were going well
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'That would easily fit in another three books all by themselves, I imagine.'
Hojo Warf:                Strife, wars, evil times, suffering, thats what makes for great stories and tales of heroic deeds. Numenor was glorious and strife free until the end and thus too boring to write stories about.
Lihan Taifun:            apparently. just like there are no stories about the Vanyar
Rhûn Darkmoon grins at Hojo, 'What is it in our nature that we seem only to hear of those things and find them exciting, I wonder.'
Lihan Taifun:            well, how can you heroically overcome obstacles, unless there are obstacles?
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Ahh, that is quite true, my Lady.'
Lihan Taifun:            and what kind of story does it make, to say "I put up 24 quarts of peaches this year."?
Rhûn Darkmoon grins, 'True again, but surely they would have lived and loved greatly as well as made peaches. Some of the greatest stories have been love stories, you know.'
Lihan Taifun:            and they were sailors and explorers
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Indeed. One would think more adventures would have befallen them. Perhaps Mr Tolkien had plans to elaborate on their lives at some later date.'
Lihan Taifun:            that would have been fun
Hojo Warf:                Tolkien tells us of them not by stories of them but by showing their influence. You see it in the great works left behind. The kingdoms, the cities, Aragorn himself.
Lihan Taifun:            oh, good point
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Before the discussion I was reading in the Tolkien Gateway that they established remote colonies in Middle Earth.'
Hojo Warf:                Their mighty ships returned to Middle-earth in II 600, and there they founded havens and cities. so thats fairly early on in Numenor.
Lihan Taifun:            that would be
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'So he referred to Numenor in his other stories but did not tell of it directly?'
Hojo Warf:                He describes the history of it but there is no narrative of anyone there doing anything in a story form.
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Thank you Hojo.'
Lihan Taifun:            There is a story somewhere about "the Mariner's Wife", which is kinda a soap opera of the royals
Lihan Taifun:            but it still doesn't tell a lot about ordinary life
Rhûn Darkmoon grins a little, 'As opposed to the soap opera of the Valar, which we seem to be creating with our role play.'
Lihan Taifun:            heh heh, yes, a soap opera; and not much like their ordinary life
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Soap operas rarely are.'
Lihan Taifun:            so we still don't know a lot about life in Numenor. we know they had annual festivals honoring Eru, because in the later bad days those festivals were neglected. but we don't know much about what happened at the festivals
Rhûn Darkmoon thinks a moment, 'Is there anything we can learn from their colonies in Middle Earth? Are they spoken of?'
Lihan Taifun:            would it be fair to say that the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor -- the north and south kingdoms -- were descended from those colonies?
Hojo Warf:                Well they founded the "havens" I assume they grey havens?
Lihan Taifun:            the grey havens were already built, by Cirdan and the elves, though the Nunenoreans visited there
Hojo Warf:                but arnor and gondor were founded after the fall by Elendil and his sons
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'The website I was reading said, "They landed in Middle-earth, where the followers of Elendil established two kingdoms which came to be known as as the realms of Exile: Gondor in the south, and Arnor in the north." .. so perhaps it is indeed fair to say that?'
Lihan Taifun:            founded by Elendil and his sons, but not in a vacuum. would they not have gone where Numenoreans had a presence already?
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'One would think so, especially as the Numenorians had been colonising for some time.' 'Only rather than colonies they became Kingdoms.'
Lihan Taifun:            and the Numenoreans who were faithful to the Valar had been slowly moving out of Numenor, to Middle Earth. I can picture Elendil and his sons taking over the leadership of the colonies, and leveraging that into two kingdoms

Lihan Taifun:            ((either we are all dead tonight, or all badly lagged))
Rhûn Darkmoon whispers, 'Or all badly distracted.'
Hojo Warf:                yes I had to run afk a couple of times
Lihan Taifun:            oh, ok
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'From what I was reading though, it was not just the Faithful who settled in Middle Earth, but some of the King's Men also. "Some of the King's Men, enemies of Elendil, who were in Middle-earth at the time of the Downfall established other realms in exile to the south; of these the Haven of Umbar was the chief."
Lihan Taifun:            true. So not every colony would have welcomed the refugees
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Apparently not. Would other local cultures have had the same suspicion of strangers that was common in say, villages in dark ages Briton, where strangers were viewed with suspicion?'
Lihan Taifun:            with Sauron's minions running around, you would think so
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'The setting for the stories of Tolkien, was it supposed to be similar to medieval britain or elsewhere?'
Hojo Warf:                It has many aspects of his current rural britain. Hence potatoes
Lihan Taifun:            the hobbits certainly were. heh heh, yes, the potatoes and tobacco were not well explained
Rhûn Darkmoon chuckles
AelKennyr Rhiano:  but to the Brits of his time it would have been very familiar
Hojo Warf:                ah but the tobacco was "pipeweed". we're still not sure exactly what kind of weed...
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I had a teacher who suggested it was what we call rabbit tobacco
Rhûn Darkmoon grins, 'Rabbit tobacco?'
Lihan Taifun:            and what is that?
AelKennyr Rhiano:
Lihan Taifun:            and that grows in England?
Hojo Warf:                Yes if it's a new world plant we are still left with the mystery
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Well, that I don't know, but I think the point he was making was that many people would find a plant such as that as a substitute for tobacco during the 1930s, and before that during WWI. While he favored rabbit tobacco, and I can't prove it would be found in Britain, it could be that pipeweed was a similar substitution for factory processed tobacco
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'As there are many substitutes for tea and coffee during times of shortages. I myself have seen 'herbal' cigarettes for sale that are made from a variety of legal herbs and plants. They stink to high heaven but apparently are smokeable.'
AelKennyr Rhiano nods. rabbit tobacco is not all that fragrant
Lihan Taifun:            ok, so there might be alternative plants for "pipeweed"
AelKennyr Rhiano:  nod nod nod
Lihan Taifun:            we know the Teleri visited Numenor, and brought them plants from Aman
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Rhûn Darkmoon grins, 'Those Teleri get around a lot.'
AelKennyr Rhiano:  heh heh heh
Lihan Taifun:            I'm not sure, but I think athelas was brought from Numenor to Middle Earth
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Athelas?'
Lihan Taifun:            well, all the plants in Numenor must have come from Aman ... unless Yavanna made up a whole new set for Numenor. kingsfoil, the healing plant that is Aragorn's favorite
AelKennyr Rhiano:  why all? Could they not have brought seed from middle earth?
Lihan Taifun:            oh, right, the Humans moving there could have brought plants. *slaps her forehead*
AelKennyr Rhiano:  or at least seeds. Those would be easy to transport.
Lihan Taifun:            people used to take fruit tree seedlings across the Altantic, it can be done. and seeds would be easy
AelKennyr Rhiano:  That was what I was thinking of.
Lihan Taifun:            you would think the first people would have taken some livestock with them, and that would be a lot harder to transport
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Do we know that they didn't?
Rhûn Darkmoon thinks of having to scrub the decks of a livestock transport and shudders
Lihan Taifun:            they might have taken some
AelKennyr Rhiano thinks of Rhun having to scrub the decks of a livestock transport and gives Rhun a toothsome smile.
Lihan Taifun:            what do you suppose the Teleri brought?
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'What did the Teleri trade in?'
Lihan Taifun:            good question, what did the Teleri trade in?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  According to Tolkien...of course the bounty of the sea...but also pearls and rare jewels..
Rhûn Darkmoon sighs, 'Alas the sites I have been reading say little about the day to day life of Teleri also, only their general histories.'
AelKennyr Rhiano:  and there is also the knowledge of sailing and navigation. The teleri were beloved of Ulmo and were taught by Osse the ways of the sea and the construction of the swanships.
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'They would have had that common interest with the numenorians, no doubt.'
Lihan Taifun:            they taught the numenoreans sailing
Rhûn Darkmoon thinks a moment, 'So before the Teleri came, they did not know about sailing and being mariners?'
Lihan Taifun:            I was just thinking ... did they get a ride out to their island?
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Yes, how did they come to be there in the first place?'
Hojo Warf:                just reading here... are you sure it was the Teleri that head dealings with the numenoreans?
Lihan Taifun:            Elros's father was Earendil, but he was adopted as a boy, so he wouldn't have learned from his father
Hojo Warf:       Oh the elves gave them the white tree
Rhûn Darkmoon reads about the white tree
Hojo Warf:                In the early days of Númenor, its people still had the friendship of the Elves of Eressëa. Among the gifts the Eldar gave to the early Númenóreans, one of the greatest was a white seedling of the tree Celeborn that stood in the middle of their island. Planted in the King's Court in Armenelos, the seedling grew into a fine White Tree that came to be known as Nimloth. Its blossoms appeared as the Sun set, and their perfume filled the night in Númenor's royal city.
Lihan Taifun:            good point, by that time there were a lot of returned Noldor living in Tol Eressea
Lihan Taifun:            a seedling of the tree from Tirion -- that sound like something the Noldor would think of
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'So we know that for some time at least the Numenorians had the friendship of the elves?'
Lihan Taifun:            yes! and Elendil's faction was knows as "elf friends"
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Would this have affected their culture? Their knowledge of technology?'
Lihan Taifun:            it was the elves who gave them the palantiri. it would make sense if they learned some technology, besides ship building
AelKennyr Rhiano:  or at least how to employ the technology.
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Yes I think so. And with this friendship, would they have travelled to the elven lands also?'
Lihan Taifun:            that was forbidden
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'So they could only travel to Middle Earth?'
Hojo Warf:                Forbidden to go to Aman but Tol Eressea?
Lihan Taifun:            Manwe wouldn't let Humans into the Undying Lands, not even Tol Eressea. the elves had to go to numenor, but the humans couldn't go to Tol Eressea
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Tol Eressea...was it, strictly speak ing in Aman?
Lihan Taifun:            weeeeeell, Manwe told the Numenoreans they weren't allowed to sail west out of sight of Numenor
Hojo Warf:                ah okay
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Yes, I recall reading that.'
Lihan Taifun:            so Tol Eressea was off limits, even if it wasn't strictly IN Aman
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'They had to sail to the east, and hence to Middle Earth.'
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ok...yes, I remember that but I thought Tol wasn't actually in Aman.
Rhûn Darkmoon blinks and thinks. So.. where were the elves we see in the story of the Ring? Where they held the Council of Eldrond?
Lihan Taifun:            Rivendell?
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Yes, Rivendell.'
AelKennyr Rhiano:  They were in ...yes.
Lihan Taifun:            the elves in Middle Earth ... Galadriel and Celborn were in the lands west of Moria, where the elven jewelers were practicing making rings ;) Elrond was with Gil Galad for a while, until he settled in Rivendell
Rhûn Darkmoon nods in understanding, 'Ahh,so the elves had freedom to go just about anywhere, but the humans could not. Was there a reason for this?'
Lihan Taifun:            there was that messy bit with Sauron handing out rings of power, and the elves went to war with Sauron, though they had hard going for several centuries
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'It is hard to imagine a war lasting that long. If battles were fought often one wonders where the resupply of troops came from.'
Lihan Taifun:            I think it rather reduced the elf population in Middle Earth
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Well, if humans could come to the undyling lands....would that affect their live spans, living so close to the Ainur? not regard the elves with jealous eyes for their longevity?
Lihan Taifun:            Manwe claimed it would not lengthen human lifespans
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Why were humans not given longevity of their own?'
Lihan Taifun:            the Numenoreans were given long life. the first king lived like 500 years
AelKennyr Rhiano:  and Aragon had a long, long life.
Lihan Taifun:            even Aragorn lived to ... what, about 200? ... I don't remember exactly
AelKennyr Rhiano:  something like that. he was in his late 80s at the time of the second book of the LOTR.
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Why were they given long life and not others? Or were the others also?'.. stops and blushes, 'Forgive me, my Lady, I am bombarding you with questions.'
Lihan Taifun:            the numenoreans were the ones who had helped the good guys, in the war with morgoth, so the valar were rewarding them. gave them a nice island all to themselves, and long life
Rhûn Darkmoon nods in understanding, 'Ahh, yes, that is quite right.'
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Combat compensation :)
Rhûn Darkmoon grins
Hojo Warf:                Was the long life a gift?
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'What else would it be Hojo?'
Hojo Warf:                I had always assumed it was the mingling of elven blood from Elros. Just an assumption though. I haven't researched it.
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'But he was not the father of all the future Numenorians was he? Only of the royal house?'
Lihan Taifun:            right, there were a lot of other numenoreans
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Did they all live longish lives?'
Lihan Taifun:            just looking that up. apparently all the Numenoreans were long lived, and didn't get sick ... but the royal house, the decendants of Elros, were especially long lived. so, some of both reasons
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'So then it was a gift. Would that have continued then after they went to Middle Earth after the downfall of Numenor, do you think?'
Lihan Taifun:            There is Aragorn
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Yes, but 200 years old is not that old for a royal numenorian. Perhaps it was like after the fall of Eden when men started to live less and less long?'
Lihan Taifun:            that would make sense. and fit the way Tolkien writes
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'Yes, it was what I was thinking also.'
Lihan Taifun:            "Eonwe came among them and taught them;and they were given wisdom and power and life more enduring than any others of mortal race have possessed." I'm not sure what "power" he is referring to
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Go, Eonwe!
Rhûn Darkmoon smiles, 'Clearly this was a long time ago, before Aule's bad influence.'
AelKennyr Rhiano nods.
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'I wonder what the power was'
Lihan Taifun:            "It was raised by Osse out of the depths of the Geat Water, and it was established by Aule and enriched by Yavanna; and the Eldar brought thither flowers and fountains out of Tol Eressea"
Hojo Warf:                Some little examples of power would be using palantirs or skill with healing, Aragorn and the athelas plant.
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'This is Numenor of which you speak, my Lady?'
Lihan Taifun:            that quote was about Numenor
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Well, since it was Eonwe...skill at combat?
Lihan Taifun:            oh, AFTER the war he teaches them combat! there is a question: why would people who didn't get sick study medicine?
Hojo Warf:                Hmm maybe that is why they didn't get sick
Rhûn Darkmoon thinks a moment, 'While they might not get sick, still they would be able to be injured, yes? Falling off a roof while repairing it? Cutting their finger with a broken plate?'
Lihan Taifun:            true
AelKennyr Rhiano:  "Cutting a finger could be a very serious injury."
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'It would make you wonder why they ever sought more than such a life.' Rhûn Darkmoon arches an eyebrow and grins at Ael, 'So I have heard. It can be quite incapacitating.'
Lihan Taifun:            why they sought what?
Hojo Warf:                That was Sauron's doing.
Hojo Warf:                Why with such a life as they had in Numenor did they want the life of the undying lands.
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Sought more. Sought power.'.. nods at Hojo, 'Yes, that is right. For a moment I forgot his influence.'.. sighs
Lihan Taifun:            Sauron really hated the Numenoreans
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'why?'
Lihan Taifun:            either because they were free and happy and a force that could challenge his power, or because their ancestors helped bring down Morgoth
Rhûn Darkmoon nods, 'That makes sense. Revenge.'
Lihan Taifun:            (and cleared the way for Sauron to take his place ... wait, that doesn't make a good reason)
Rhûn Darkmoon blinks, 'But wasn't Sauron a liegeman to Morgoth?'
Lihan Taifun:            yes, but, where was he during the War of Wrath? and, he sure was doing well for himself in the Second Age, on is own
Rhûn Darkmoon sighs, 'Ahh, the questions we would ask him, if only Mr Tolkien were still alive.'
Lihan Taifun:            so I wonder how heartbroken he really was about Morgoth's defeat. not that it would make him grateful to the Numenoreans
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Was he ever grateful to anyone, really?'
Lihan Taifun:            that would be an unselfish emotion, so it would be hard to imagine in Sauron
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I don't think he was acquainted with the emotion of gratitude.
Rhûn Darkmoon blinks and thinks a moment, 'Was he always so bad though? Did he lose all softer emotion, have none he held in trust or held dear?'
{People have to leave. Farewells.}
Lihan Taifun:            it really is hard to imagine Sauron ever had a soft side
Rhûn Darkmoon:     'Yet he was not always bad, was he? Perhaps.. perhaps we could discuss him next week?'