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Prior to this post, Valedhelgwath posted the following introduction

Quote:
Assignment 11
Akallabeth – The Downfall of Numenor.


After reading about the great battles of the First Age, I often find this section, the Akallabeth, a little dry. The tale of the rise and fall of Numenor, the island given to the Edain by the Valar as a reward for their deeds in the First Age, it is written almost as a historic document rather than a novel. Although it gives many insights into the ways and customs of the people of Numenor, and how they came into greatness, twice defeating Sauron, it also fails to tell the reader so much more.

Numenor was created for the Edain, and in addition, they were granted longer lives than other Men (particularly the Line of Kings, descended from Elros). They were wise, and great mariners, often viewed as gods when first encountered by those who had remained in Middle Earth. To begin with they flourished and became great, but from the beginning a shadow was cast upon them. Forbidden to sail into the West, into the Undying Lands, it was not long before they began to envy the immortality granted to the Elves, while at the same time fearing the Gift of Death that Eru had given to them.

As time passed this fear and envy grew strong, and under the shadow, they eventually began to revolt against the Valar. So mighty were they, that they twice defeated Sauron. On the second occasion he surrendered to them without even giving battle, and they took him as prisoner to Numenor. As Melkor had initially done with the Elves, however, Sauron feigned subservience and friendship until he gained the ear of the King. Playing on their fear of death and their envy of Elven immortality, he poisoned their minds, eventually encouraging them to invade Valinor.

Under their King, Ar-Pharazon, they built the greatest fleet ever seen and set sail for the West. By encouraging them to commit this act, Sauron succeeded in doing what he could not manage with his own armies. The Valar called to Eru who then destroyed their army, their ships and their island. The only survivers were the Faithful, those who had remained friendly with the Elves, and who had fled to Middle Earth rather than assaulting Aman. In just nine ships, these folk were led by Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anarion. It was from these Faithful that the Kingdoms of Arnor in the North and Gondor in the south were founded.

To ensure Aman would never again be invaded, Eru then changed the entire world. Until then flat, he removed Aman and curved the rest of Arda into a sphere. Only those who could follow the “Straight Road” could thereafter reach the Undying Lands.


Questions for Discussion

1) Why do you suppose the lifespan of the Numenorian kings gradually decreased over time?

2) Eru gave his Children freewill and told the Valar the world which had been created was for them, even though they would often commit acts against the land that the Valar would not like. Why, then, did he destroy the Numenorians when they invaded Aman?

3) Why did Men fear the Gift of death so much? Elves were often unsympathetic to this. Why do you suppose this is, and can you guess as to what the Elves fear instead? (This is not mentioned in this chapter specifically, but from what you have read so far, you may be able to deduce the answer).

4) Why was Nimloth, the White Tree, so revered, and later also the White Tree of Gondor?

5) Do you suppose Tolkien has drawn from the Biblical flood and/or Atlantis with his tale of Numenor?


Madwannabe replied
Actually, I was typing my answer yesterday till my comp went crazy on me...
Firstly, I wanted to thank Val, the rest of the council members, the people in P-T and once again, Val for creating the reading discussion group. I loved it a lot and I don't want it to end before I state my sentiments. I will kieep it short...This is the one of the best things I enjoy doing on P-T, and very related to Tolkien's work, thanks to all who made it possible! Big Smile Smilie

Ok...back to the questions....don't wanna be accuse of posting stuff out of topic here Tongue Smilie
1)The kings were corrupted both in mind and body by power and wealth. The corruption may have lead to the desire of obtaining more power and wealth and may have neglected their minds and bodies in the process. If I am not wrong, they also abandoned their practices of worship to Eru and the Valar and rarely went to the holy places any more.
2) It is because it was open defiance to Eru's wishes on the part of the numenorians and it might mean that stife may arise from the invasion into Aman, as the elves will have to protect themselves.
3)Men does not want to leave all that they have achieved behind. Well I guess what we desire most is what we never get, therefore, as elves already have the gift of immortality, they do not find it a joy to have it.
4) If I am not wrong, NImloth is one of the descendents of the two trees, Telparion, right?
5) Wow...you might be right, I did not think of that before. Smile Smilie It seems highly plausible though...
Thanks for the vote of confidence MadWannabe. I'm pleased you are enjoying what we are doing here.

I'll wait a while to see what anyone else has to say before I add my own views to these topics.
In regards to question #1, the lifespan of the Numenorien Kings gradually decreased over time due to their rebellion against the Valar. As Mad also stated in his post, some had started to become corrupt in their desire for power, and riches. Instead of being the helpers, and teachers that Eru had intended, they (because of the corruption) became more like lords, and masters. After the days of Tar-Ancalimon, the offering of the first fruits to Eru was neglected, and they stopped going to the Hallow upon the heights of Meneltarma, this was definitely the beginning of the end for Numenor.

As for question #3, Men began to fear the gift of death so much because they had developed a great love for Arda, and did not want to lose it. As their power, glory, and wealth increased, so to did their desire for everlasting life, and to escape from the ending of delight. They simply wanted their reign to last forever, and they grew envious of the firstborn. Plus the Numenoriens (with the exception of the faithful) didn’t understand that death was a gift given to them by Eru, they began to view it as more of a punishment. In addition, they felt like Eru required them to have a blind trust, and a hope without assurance of what laid ahead after death. The Numenoriens didn’t want to wait upon hope, and this made them fear death, and also all the more envious of the Valar, and the firstborn.
Elf Smilie
3) Men feared and still do fear the unknown. They were also a bit jealous and envious of the elves for knowning their fate. They were also fed many lies by Sauron.

I believe the Elves were a bit jealous and envious of men because they were not tied to the earth and was given the opportunity to move forward whether for good or ill.

4) I believe the trees were revered because of what they represented. They were reminders of the Blessed Realm, Numenor and what once was. Glory, honour, and valiour.

5) I remember reading somewhere that Tolkien was actually working on the Atlantis myth. So this could be a basis for it. I don't think it was the Biblical flood, due to the fact that it didn't cover the whole or Middle-earth.

Just my thoughts
Sorry, you've had to wait for my reply... I had almost completed my post just now when my PC crashed and took the post I had spent the last half hour working on with it. Sad Smilie

I'll try again on Monday.
Okay, let me try again...

1) Why do you suppose the lifespan of the Numenorian kings gradually decreased over time?


This has been well answered by MadWannabe and Elfstone. Over time they became proud, corrupt, fearful of the Gift Eru had given to them, and eventually turned their back on Eru by no longer worshipping him. I believe their longevity was a gift itself, because their lifespans far exceeded that of their forefathers, the Edain (who lived to about 90). If this were the case, turning their back on Eru could well have resulted in the taking back of those extra gifted years.

Also, do not forget in the case of the Numenorian royal line, the longevity was further increased by the elven blood of Elros. With each successive generation, however, this blood would become thinner, resulting in shorter lifespans for his descendants.

2) Eru gave his Children freewill and told the Valar the world which had been created was for them, even though they would often commit acts against the land that the Valar would not like. Why, then, did he destroy the Numenorians when they invaded Aman?

MadWannabe's answer is most likely correct, in that Eru was preventing strife by preventing the invasion of Valinor. I don't think (although I might be wrong), that Eru had forbidden them from going to Aman. That had been down to the Valar when they had raised Numenor for them.

What the Numenorians were doing was wrong, but Eru had given them freewill to commit such acts. I always thought it was a bit heavy handed of him, therefore, when he came down and destroyed not only their fleet but their island too. Okay, they had turned their backs on him, and feared the great Gift he had granted them, but so too had the vast majority of Men who still lived in Middle Earth at this time. Eru did not go and destroy them.

The best reason I can think of, is that the Numenorians had been gifted with long life and wisdom so that they could become the teachers and Lords of the other Men. When that plan had gone so badly wrong, Eru needed to wipe out the bad seeds so that the faithful could still complete this task unhindered.

3) Why did Men fear the Gift of death so much? Elves were often unsympathetic to this. Why do you suppose this is, and can you guess as to what the Elves fear instead? (This is not mentioned in this chapter specifically, but from what you have read so far, you may be able to deduce the answer).


The first part of this question has been answered. The second part, on why the elves were unsympathetic, and also to what they feared themselves has only been touched upon.

The elves had been told by the Valar of the Gift of Man, and how they would depart Arda and take part in the Second Great Music. The elves knew this, and believed it. They, therefore, had little sympathy for Men when they began fearing this Gift. They grieved for Men when they died, but knew they would take part in something greater.

What the elves feared, however, was their own fate come the End. It was said that "Men had a shadow behind them, but the Elves had a shadow before them," (From Morgoth's Ring). Although they were "immortal" for the duration of Arda, they knew not their own fate beyond the End. The Elves were very tied to Arda, and should Arda cease to be after the End, they feared it would be the total end of themselves too. The thought of their fea (spirits) existing without their Hroa (bodies) also abhorred them, so they could not imagine their fea being able to continue beyond Arda.

From the elvish point of view, therefore, it was they who were ultimately the mortal ones, while Men were ultimately immortal. Hence their lack of sympathy to the fears of Men who lost faith.

4) Why was Nimloth, the White Tree, so revered, and later also the White Tree of Gondor?

Galathilion, the White Tree of Tirion, which grew in the courtyard of Ingwe's tower, was a descendant of Telperion, the Silver Tree of the Valar. In turn, Celeborn, the White Tree of Eressea, was a seedling of Galathilion. Nimloth was likewise, a descendant of Celeborn.

The heritage of Nimloth, and its later descendants, the White Trees of Gondor, are therefore important. Unlike Telperion, however, none of these other trees shone with their own light, or had other powers. The importance is, therefore, in their heritage, and like McDLT pointed out, what they came to represent; glory, honour, and valour (and I believe, purity too).

5) Do you suppose Tolkien has drawn from the Biblical flood and/or Atlantas with his tale of Numenor?

I think this one is down to the individual to interpret. There are similarities to the Atlantas myths, more so than the Biblical flood perhaps, but the reason for the destruction of Numenor reminds me of the reason for the Biblical flood. In the latter case, God sent the flood to erase Man who at that time had become corrupt and lost the way. He had Noah build his Ark, in which the future of Mankind would survive this cleansing, in a similar fashion to how the Faithful also survived the catastrophe in their own ships.

Does anyone have any other questions concerning this chapter of the book?
I just wanted to add a few thoughts to questions #4 and 5. Everything that Val stated about the importance of Nimloth the White Tree, and later the White Tree of Gondor is obviously true and correct. However (just my own pondering here), in the case of Nimloth, wasn’t that Tree also critically important to the Numenorians to insure that the line of Kings would remain unbroken? I Remember Tar Palantir saying to the Numenorians that if the Tree perished, then the line of Kings would come to an end as well. It just seems to me that Nimloth was also significantly important not only for all it came to represent, but also due to the fact that it’s fate was directly correlated with the ultimate survival of the line of Kings.

In regards to question #5, I personally didn’t want to say anything about this question because the answer just seems way to obvious to me, and kind of goes without saying. Throughout the Akallabeth there are many, many Biblical type references, for example, the faithful being persecuted, and sacrificed, just as Christians were during the Roman Empire. Like Val said it might just come down to the individual for interpretation, but in regards to the ‘Atlantis’ comparison, Tolkien himself used this to describe Numenor. Here is a short quote from Tolkien’s letter to Milton Waldman in 1951;
Quote:
The Men of the Three Houses were rewarded for their valour and faithful alliance, by being allowed to dwell ‘westernmost of all mortals’, in the great ‘Atlantis’ isle of Numenore.
Here's something else Tolkien says a few more lines down in the letter;
Quote:
The three main themes are thus The Delaying Elves that lingered in Middle-Earth; Sauron's growth to a new Dark Lord, master and god of Men; and Numenor-Atlantis.
Again, it just seems clear to me that there was an obvious intent on Tolkien’s behalf to draw from the Biblical flood and from the ‘Atlantis’ myth in regards to the Down-fall of Numenor.
Elf Smilie


[Edited on 5/5/2003 by Elfstone]
Quote:
However (just my own pondering here), in the case of Nimloth, wasn’t that Tree also critically important to the Numenorians to insure that the line of Kings would remain unbroken? I Remember Tar Palantir saying to the Numenorians that if the Tree perished, then the line of Kings would come to an end as well.
That is true Elfstone. In UT, Tar-Palantir prophesised that when the Tree died then the line of the Kings would also perish.

As Tar-Palantir was the penultimate king, however, and could see how corrupt Numenor had become, I think he could see the doom of of his realm rapidly approaching. One of the signs of his people's corruption had been the neglect of Nimroth, so it was a logical assumption to say that when things became so bad that the tree died, the death of his realm must shortly follow.
i would like to add to a couple of the question too plz!

1)Corruption, greed, ect... probably had some part in their decline, but i thought the majority of it was the fact that the royal blood was mingled over time, it losts it's purity. Elros lived to be 500 years old, where as Aragorn only lived to be 210 years. Everything i just stated was basically what other people have already said...

3) If i can recall correctly (which i probably can't) Eru never did reveal the fate of men, even to the Valar. They knew that they would depart from Arda and never return, but beyond that they could only guess. Men did have a shadow behind them, but did they not also have a shadow before them? Not one of the Edain knew what were to become of them when they died, (for all they knew they were oblivion) but yet they knew the Eldar were to go to the Halls of Mandos, and there they would dwell and continue to "live." Meanwhile the Edain knew that wasn't their fate, and they felt the whole situation unfair.

4) Just wanted to add that the White Tree of Gondor has a prophecy that disturbed them. I can't remember the exact quote. When the white tree whithers away so would the kings of Gondor... well that's the gist of it.

5) I've read else where about the fall of numenor being a parody of Atlantis, they do have their similarities, but i think Valedhelgwath idea of the Biblical Flood sounds more accurate.