The Line of Elros

A discussion of Tolkien's Unfinshed Tales
Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:45 pm

Yes, quite a good summary of their fall from grace, Iolanthe. The line about Ar-G, that he 'revered nothing', I find chilling. It's kind of a wonder that the decendents of Elendil in Middle-earth still revered Numenor and bowed to the west, as did Faramir, when things ended so badly with such a cast of characters.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:05 pm

I suppose it's a lesson learned as all the descendents of Elendil lived with the consequences of the downfall of Numenor and could see Sauron for what he truly was.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:39 pm

You know, Iolanthe, your list of transgressions reminded me of the Seven Deadly Sins. Now, I should know what the Seven are but, of course, I can't remember them, but I'm sure JRRT knew them. I wonder if he had them in mind when he was thinking through this part of Numenorean history. And, of course, they were literally deadly.

I could look up the Seven, I guess, but I wonder if anyone else knows them. :?:
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:15 pm

In all of these unfinished tales (as in many other of the Professor's stories) there seems to be a strong thread concerning the manner in which the beings of middle earth can slip from humility, through self-esteem and pride in their own achievements, to arrogance, to complete hubris - in the old-fashioned sense used by the Greeks in their literature. Not that all of the characters Professor Tolkein is writing about take that path; but there are such strong contrasts between those that do, and what occurs as a result, and their peers and fellows that remain self-aware and resist the temptation. The Professor must have considered overweening pride and hubris to be amongst the worst possible faults a man could have.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:04 am

I think he did - and the Numenorean kings were the prime example.

The Seven Deadly Sins are:

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride.

And I had the same thought about them when I was compiling the post about the kingly transgressions as you did reading it, Merry. You can even lay 'sloth' on Queen Tar-Vanimelde (who I didn't list) who 'gave little heed to ruling' and left everything to her husband.

And I think refusing to yield the sceptre, but holding on to it into dotage counts as a sort of gluttony. But I think Pride is the final nail in the Numenorean coffin.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:47 pm

Good for you, Iolanthe! Did you know them from memory? I have to admit that I have never learned the 7 in a formal setting, but have just learned about them sort of tangentially. That's a shame!

But one of my colleagues taught a course on them, and I seem to remember him saying that the 7 can be ranked in order of seriousness (although since they are all 'Deadly', this is not to say that any one of them can be laughed off!). I remember in particular that he said that lust is the most forgivable. So I'm thinking that your list, Iolanthe, might be understood as some kind of ranking, with pride the most deadly of the Deadly? This would fit in with Chrissiejane's insights into hubris although, I think, hubris is a special kind of pride reserved for affronts against the gods, which the Numenoreans certainly had.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:21 pm

Merry wrote:....hubris is a special kind of pride reserved for affronts against the gods, which the Numenoreans certainly had.

Yes, indeed! I know this is off-topic from Unfinished Tales, but in many ways they replayed the errors of the Noldor led by Fëanor, who also paid a terrible price for their forefather's sin and for heeding his words. In his construction of the terrors which those Noldorin followers of Fëanor had to face, just as he was with the Númenórians, the Professor was unrelenting: the price for hubris had to be paid, and it was so very final.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:31 pm

Yes! I was thinking about that, too. And in this, Tolkien was following the form of Greek mythology, I suppose.

One would think if people could see their gods and talk with them--in other words, they knew their gods and faith was not required--that it would all be easier and sins like hubris could be avoided. But I guess these tendencies are deeply rooted in human nature.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:32 pm

Merry wrote:Good for you, Iolanthe! Did you know them from memory? I have to admit that I have never learned the 7 in a formal setting, but have just learned about them sort of tangentially. That's a shame!

I knew 6 out of the 7 and had to look one up (wrath).

Fëanor and his brothers are certainly examples of pride and hubris - at least I suppose rebelling against the Valar counts as hubris...

Going back to the Numenorean kings, what about poor old Tar -Palantir (the Far-sighted) who tried to go back to the old ways and do everything right and gazed yearningly to the West 'But no ship ever came again out of the West, because of the insolence of the Kings and because the hearts of the most part of the Numenoreans were still hardened.'

I wonder what would have happened if the Valar had relented a little and given him a smidgen of support and encouragement? Tolkien often portrays them as too hard - even more so in the early versions of his stories before he re-edited them all.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:09 pm

The Valar are kind of damned if they do and damned if they don't. I thought that they had decided that their interference created the whole Feanor fiasco, so they were going to leave things alone for a while. (Although I wouldn't exactly call drowning Numenor a policy of non-interference!)
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:01 pm

No - exactly! But encouraging some Elven ships to make the journey again and re-establish that old trust might have helped. Not exactly interference, but an acknowledgement that he was trying to reverse the trend.

That lack means Tolkien can introduce a small element of tragedy - a missed opportunity - which gives it all an edge.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:17 pm

Are we ready to move on to the next chapter?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:01 pm

:lol: I'm still ploughing through 'A Hero with a Thousand Faces'!

Can we take a rain check for a couple of weeks? This is one of the most interesting chapters of all and I want time to read it again properly.
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serinde
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Postby serinde » Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:18 am

Merry wrote:So here's something I never realized before:

The fourth king of Numenor was Tar-Elendil. His oldest child was a daughter, Silmarien, but only males could take the throne at the time, so her younger brother, Tar-Meneldur, was the fifth ruler. Tar-Meneldur's son was Aldarion, and he changed the laws so that his only child, a daughter, Ancalime, could be queen. Her descendents ruled, with a couple of twists and turns, until the Downfall.

If Silmarien could have become queen, then her line would have been the ruling line. Her son was Valandil, and the line eventually produced Elendil, Isildur, and Aragorn! So it's sort of like if the laws were as they should have been, allowing women to rule, Aragorn would have been the true king anyway. And Silmarien's line produced the Lords of Andunie, who were the Faithful, and maybe if they had ruled, Numenor would not have been destroyed.


whew, Just in the nickel of time!

Remember the essay contest about THE momentous moment in LOTR? I posited a 'what-if' situation about the rest at Parth Galen. This is my biggest 'what-if' moment in The Silmarion

What if Silmarien had been allowed to rule as the eldest child? Would the Faithful maintained contact with the Valar; would the Numenoreans have settled in Middle-Earth; would Numenor have fallen?

Don't forget that the kingdom of Gondor suffered from some of the same weaknesses as the Numenoreans -- they built great houses for the dead, considering their anscestors more important than their descendants, and their line did fail; the kingdom of Arnor, though split by war & disease, was squabbled over by three sons at one point and only the line of Valandil remained pure.

The Valar? they did eventually send the Istari, but maybe they would have stepped in when Sauron first reappeared as the 'bringer of gifts'.

Serinde!
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:43 pm

I remember your essay very well, Serinde!

This is a great example of those tiny moments on which history turns, in the real world and in Tolkien. What if, indeed! Who would have saved Middle-earth from Sauron? Would the Valar have stepped in?
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