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

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Advent of Men into Middle Earth (Part I)

AelKennyr Rhiano
Belenos (BelenosStormchaser Magic)
Rhun Darkmoon
Shawn Daysleeper


Ael began the discussion by confirming that tonight the topic is The advent of men into Middle Earth - their initial role/knowledge etc of their world and what their role/knowledge might be by the 4th age.  For the purposes of this discussion he also clarified that we have to remember the time period in which Tolkien wrote and understand that "men" does not refer only to the male humans, but all of humanity.

The Elves call the race of Men Atani in Quenya, literally meaning "Second People" (the Elves being the First), but also Hildor (Followers), Apanónar (After-born), and Fírimar or Firyar (Mortals). Less charitably they were called Engwar (The Sickly), owing to their susceptibility to disease and old age, and their generally unlovely appearance in the Elves' eyes. The name Atani becomes Edain in Sindarin, but this term is later only applied to those Men who are friendly to the Elves. Other names appear in Sindarin as Aphadrim, Eboennin, and Firebrim or Firiath. Being the second born race of Middle-earth, Men are generally weaker than Elves, and have poorer coordination and reflexes.

The point was raised that often in our rp, humanity is called the "secondborn." They awoke at the the beginning of the Years of the Sun, while the elves were born during the Years of the Trees. So often the children of men are also called "the Afterborn."

Belenos raised the question of why men were weaker than elves.  Ael remarked that it was considered that humans bear the "Gift of Men," mortality.  Rhun commented that would bring its own set of experiences and wisdom, different from the elves. Also, although humans were physically "weaker" than elves, they were quick to perpetuate their race.

There were many different groups of humans in Tolkien. The most important group in the tales of the First Age were the Edain. Although the word Edain refers to all Men, the Elves use it to distinguish those Men who fought with them in the First Age against Morgoth in Beleriand. Those Men who fought against Morgoth in the First Age were divided into three Houses.

Bëor, the first house was granted the fief of Ladros in Dorthonion by Finrod Felagund.

The Second House of the Edain was led by one Haldad and later by his daughter Haleth and settled in the Forest of Brethil. The House called itself the House of Haleth after their matriarch.

The Third House of the Edain, which became the greatest, was led by Marach and later his descendant Hador, and they settled in Dor-lómin. This house was known both as the House of Marach and the House of Hador.

The Dúnedain, were the ones who were rewarded with the land of Númenor, an island in the form of a five-pointed star far away from the evil of Middle-earth.  The kingdom of Númenor grew steadily in power, and the Dúnedain became the noblest and highest of all Men on Arda. Allied to the Elves, Númenor fought against Morgoth's lieutenant Sauron.

The Dunedain were called the Men of the West. Dunedain is Sindarin and translates to that. In time, they came to resent the Gift of Men, death. They wanted to become immortal like the Elves and enjoy their accumulated power for all time. The Númenóreans turned away from the Valar, began to call the Gift of Men the Doom of Men and cursed the Ban of the Valar which forbade them to sail west beyond sight of Númenor or to enter Valinor. They split into two groups, the king's men and the Faithful. Sauron, who by the second millennium of the Second Age was nearly defeated by the Elves, took advantage of the division. He surrendered to the last Númenórean King, Ar-Pharazôn, and worked his way into the King's counsels. Ultimately, Sauron advised him to attack Valinor and under the ruse that doing so would allow the king to claim immortality. This he foolishly did, and as punishment Númenor was swallowed by the sea. However, some of the Faithful escaped and founded the twin kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.  The Men of Gondor gradually mingled with other groups, such as the Northmen.

The Faithful were not the only Númenóreans left on Middle-earth when Númenor sank. When Númenor grew in naval power, many Númenóreans founded colonies in Middle-earth. In the second millennium of the Second Age, there was an exodus of Men from an overcrowded Númenor: the King's Men, who wanted to conquer more lands, and the Faithful who were persecuted by the Kings. The Faithful settled in Pelargir and the King's Men settled in Umbar. When Númenor was destroyed, the remaining King's Men became known as the Black Númenóreans and remained hostile against the Faithful of Gondor.
From their ranks, Sauron recruited Men who would become some of the nine Ringwraiths in the second millennium of the Second Age.

Thus we have Tolkien painting a picture of a rather diverse population throughout various places in Middle Earth and that by the time of the events of the Lord of the Rings, the elves were leaving Middle Earth and heading West.  At this point in the discussion there was speculation as to why the elves began leaving Middle Earth to go to the West, with some interesting points raised as to the possible reasons.  These were interesting speculations ranging from the postulated influence of Tolkien's Catholicism through to a purely ecological need - elves being stronger and longer lived could easily push out human in competition for resources, through to it being a matter of one immortal race (the elves) being drawn to another (the Ainur) and thereby leaving Middle Earth to the mortals. 

At this point in the discussion the hour was getting late and it has been decided to continue this topic for the next meeting of the group.