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Yes, i think elves are immortal. Tolkien said they only died by being killed, and never got sick.
Still, Elves can die of broken hearts - Luthien, or Arwen, for example.
Hope this helps,
Tasari Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
They are 'immortal' and they are tied to the world but only while the world lasts .

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For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief...

The Silmarillion - Of the Begining of Days

We don't know what happens to them after that. Does that mean that once the world ends so do the Elves? Or is there something else for them after the end of the world? It sounds as though they were granted long life, tied in with the fate of Arda, and after the end of Arda they cease to exist whereas Men join Eru in the second music of the Ainur. However, the Silmarillion says

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whereas Illuvatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World's end, and Melkor has not discovered it.


This almost suggests that there is something else for the Elves but what?

Maybe the elves feed the Eternal flame? (not in a bad way or anything, just with life force)
Or become Ainur?
Throw another Elf on the barbie!

Eternal flame... strange that the Bangles seem to pop up everywhere these days.
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Still, Elves can die of broken hearts - Luthien, or Arwen, for example.
Luthien died of a broken heart? And when Arwen died she was no longer considered Elven, but of Mankind, she had made her choice.

Okay, I went back and read the end of 'Of Beren and Luthien' in The Silmarillion and she did die as an Elf by pining away after the death of Beren. Then after she and Beren were brought back to life, both as mortals this time, they later died having lived out the span of their mortal years.

But Arwen never died as an Elf.
I thought Arwen was still an elf, only she had a part of human heratige in her too. I would have thought marriage couldn't change her race.
-Tasari
I think that elves should not be classed as immortal, as the dictionary definition is - not subject to death - and that means not subject to being killed in battle or anything like that. I know that generally they can be called immortal but I dont think that they should be called that by dictionary standards.

Hope it helps.
Arwen was an elf when she died but her death was not that of an elf as she did not pass to the Halls of Mandos as elves do but 'suffered the Doom of Men'. IMO anyway. Having said that, it does say that she 'became as a mortal woman' so it is a little confusing. I don't think she could change her physiology though she was an elf who died like a mortal woman. Or is there more to this?
Becoming a human wouldn't mean she would go trough a reversed 'Extreme make-over'. She would still look like the same beautiful Arwen she did when she was an elf. The body is just a place for the soul to live in, it is the soul that changes. I don't think the soul changes much either. Just a new bording pass and an earlier flight. Arwen is still Arwen, only now she will age and die and get a new view on life.
That is what I think anyway. Wink Smilie
Arwen was neither Elf or Human. She was Peredhil, or half-elven. Because she had some human blood, she was able to accept the Gift of Man even though her father had chosen not to do so. This means she was able to determine her own fate, either being immortal as an Elf or mortal as a Human. Unlike her Uncle Elros, who chose mortality early in life, Arwen delayed the decision for a couple of thousand years. Once the decision to accept the Gift of Man was taken, however, her fate was sealed and she became mortal. This did not mean her body metamorphesised from Elf to Human, though. She was born Peredhil and died Peredhil.

Regarding the original question of Elven immortality, Vee was correct to say they were immortal within the life of Arda. The effect of Melkor's Ring upon the world, however, tainted every atom of Middle Earth making immortality a problem for elves in Middle Earth. Their bodies were immune to ageing and disease, but over time they tended to become devoured by their own bright spirits. This was particularly so in the case of the Elves that had returned from the Undying Lands, having seen the light of the Two Trees. Their Fea (spirits) tended to "burn out" their Hroar (physical body). In extreme cases they can fade away. This is why many Elves tire of Middle Earth. It is not just the wars they have tired of, but life in general.

Rather than saying Elves are immortal, it would be more accurate to say their bodies age very slowly. If they do die, their spirits go to the Halls of Mandos, where after a period of contemplation they are able to be reborn in a new body.
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Rather than saying Elves are immortal, it would be more accurate to say their bodies age very slowly. If they do die, their spirits go to the Halls of Mandos, where after a period of contemplation they are able to be reborn in a new body.


So this was what happened to Glorfindel. When elves are reborn, do they retain all their original memories immediately or grow into them with age?
And can an elf reincarnate multiple times? If they can, their knowledge would far surpass any existing elves, having experiences lasting for not just one, but many lifetimes. My feeling is that these elves would take places of authority. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
Ahhhh!! I just spent an hour answering this, and my PC crashed just before I was about to post....

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So this was what happened to Glorfindel.


Although Tolkien did not specifically say so, it is thought that the Glorfindel who chased away the Nazgul in LotR is the same Glorfindel who was slain by a Balrog during the retreat from Gondolin. If this is the case Glorfindel's spirit will have gone to the Halls of Mandos where it will have spent a time of Waiting, contemplating its past life and mistakes. In the case of Glorfindel and Finrod Felegund, this period appears to have been reletively short, compared to say Feanor, who will not be released until the End. The Halls are not a prison for spirits, but a place they go for contemplation and healing. If mistakes in life are few, the healing might be quick.... Early release for good behaviour.

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When elves are reborn, do they retain all their original memories immediately or grow into them with age?


Elven rebirth created a few problems for Tolkien. In HOME book 10, Morgoth's Ring, he mentions it in detail, but he ran into a few stumbling blocks as he tried to develop the idea. I think this is why rebirth gets only the slightest of mentions in the Silmarillion. In HOME, JRR mentioned two possibilities for rebirth.

1) The "houseless" fea enters its previous body. The difficulty here is that the body must be whole, and able to sustain life. Elves can die of injury and grief, but in the case of the former, the body is unlikely to be able to sustain life after rebirth. Also, during the period of Waiting, decomposition is likely to have occured. If the body was in Middle Earth, this would have been rapid. Decomposition was not a problem in Valinor, so an elf that died of grief could potentially be reborn in their own body. A problem again arises, however. Few Elves that have died of grief will wish to return from Mandos after their time of Waiting. An example of this is the case of Finwe's first wife, Miriel. After the birth of Feanor her fea left her body and went to Mandos. Although her body was preserved in Lorien, she refused the summons of rebirth, choosing instead to remain in Mandos for all time. Interestingly, this example also posed a dilemna to the Valar about when an Elven marriage could be deemed to have ended.


2) The second way JRR offered as an explaination for rebirth was for a houseless fea to enter the body of a new born child. This seems logical, but as JRR tried to dot the i's and cross the t's, he ran into more problems. Eru had given his Children the power to, "beget children in all ways like to themselves, body and indwelling spirit; and that therefore the fea of a child came from its parents as did its hrondo (body)". Basically, Eru had given the right for Elves to procreate, and the expectation for their children to be a blend of themselves, both physically and spiritually. The problem rebirth presented was that if houseless fea were allowed to enter the bodies of newborn children, this would deprive the new parents of their basic right to share their own fea with their child. In essence, their child would be an "alien" spirit.

Having encountered this problem, JRR attempted to find a way around it. If rebirth did happen in this way, he suggested the reborn fea would recieve nourishment from the parents during the time of bearing, thus still sharing their qualities. In this case, the reborn fea would lie partly submerged during childhood, only coming to the fore as its previous memories awoke.

Tolkien wrote

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As for this rebirth, it is not an opinion but known and certain. For the fea reborn became a child indeed, enjoying once more all the wonder and newness of childhood; but slowly, and only after it had acquired a knowledge of the world and mastery of itself, its memory would awake; until, when the reborn elf was full-grown, it recalled all its former life, and then the old life, and the "waiting", and the new life became one ordered history and identity. This memory would thus hold a double joy of childhood, and also an experience and knowledge greater than the years of its body. In this way the violence or grief that the reborn had suffered was redressed and its being was enriched. For the reborn were twice nourished, and twice parented, and have tow memories of the joy of awaking and discovering the world of living and the slendour of Arda. Their life is, therefore, as if a year had two springs and though an untimely frost followed after the first, the second spring and all the summer after were fairer and more blessed.


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And can an elf reincarnate multiple times? If they can, their knowledge would far surpass any existing elves, having experiences lasting for not just one, but many lifetimes. My feeling is that these elves would take places of authority.


Tolkien wrote

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The Eldar say that more than one rebirth is seldom recorded. But the reasons for this they do not fully know. Maybe it is so ordered by the will of Eru; while the Reborn (they say) are stronger, having greater mastery of their bodies and being more patient of griefs. But many, doubtless, that have twice died do not wish to return.


Although reborn elves benefit from this double nourishment, I would disagree with your suggestion that, "their knowledge would far surpass any existing elves, having experiences lasting for not just one, but many lifetimes". I agree their experiences would surpass that of other elves of the same (body) age, but not necessarily of other older elves. In human terms you are possibly correct because humans are short lived and multiple rebirths would enable greater learning over time. Remember elves are effectively immortal, however. Even a reborn Glorfindel, with two lots of memories, is unlikely to have the knowledge of an older elf who has not died. He wll have an experience of Mandos the older elf does not have, but the older elf will still have a long, long life's worth of memories and knowledge, uninterrupted by an untimely death.

Phewww! Almost lost it all a second time, but I'd made the point of saving it into Word before trying to post. Hope that answers your question.
The idea of an Elf being literally reborn seems a bit hare-brained to me. Like with Finrod for instance. It's mentioned in the Sil that "Finrod walks again with his father" (hence : resurrection) but would this mean that suddenly Eärwen would "magically" become pregnant again with Finrod, without copulation even ? That's a bit unrealistic.

I always saw it as the soul of the Elf just entering a new body alike to the body in which they died. Much simpler.

For instance, when Lúthien and Beren returned to Middle-Earth, it wasn't so that they were born again, was it? I see it as Lúthien's soul just entering her body again, and the same with Beren : he didn't get a new body with two hands.

It's again the case with ideas of JRRT which don't seem to fit in the Sil. Happens all the time.
Until I read Morgoth's Ring, that is how I had always imagined it to be too, Vir. I think the problems he ran across with the various methods, however, is why the ideas did not get more than the slightest of mentions in the Silmarillion. Some things are best left to the readers imagination.

In the case of Luthien and Beren, Luthien would have been able to re-enter her own body, using JRR's first solution as she had died of grief and her body was stil intact. Beren, however, must have had the "wax on, wax off" treatment applied as he had died of injuries.

At the end of the day, Tolkien wrote fantasy but he went into so much detail it feels real and historic. Fantasy, however, shouldn't always be held under such scrutiny because the physics and biology of fantasy settings begin to fall apart. Because one rule/law applies to one character, maybe it doesn't have to with another. Eru was quite active in the affairs of Ea. Maybe even he had his favourites and changed the rules as he went along.... A new body for Finrod, rebirth for the masses, and Feanor can rot in Mandos until the End Smile Smilie
As elves are part of the World and are subject to it and bound to it and their 'magic' is all to do with the world etc etc.... couldn't they 'rebuild' their body from the resources of the earth and then pour their fea into it?
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As elves are part of the World and are subject to it and bound to it and their 'magic' is all to do with the world etc etc.... couldn't they 'rebuild' their body from the resources of the earth and then pour their fea into it?

I'm sure the mighty elf Frankenstein could do that..

I think Aulë could build them a new body and Mandos could pour their soul into it.
The dificulty with our, and before that, Tolkien's imagining the working mechanism for this ressurrection or rebirth is probably why there are so few recorded incidents in history.
He does seem to have concentrated his efforts on explaining the rebirth into a newborn, too. The mention of Finrod walking with his father beneath the trees seems to imply rebirth into a grown body, but this does not need to be the case. The Silmarillion puts no time scale on how soon Finrod was returned, only that he had. Elven children grow to maturity only slightly slower than humans, so in Elven terms, his return might have been fairly quick.
Didn't it say in the Silmarillion that the elves and men were the Children of Lluvatar that had come to earth? maybe im seeing it wrong or somethin, but its on page 18 middle paragraph.
Yes he does say the Children of Illuvatar are Elves and Men.. but he goes on to say the firstborn and the followers. This makes the division of Elves and Men with the implication that Elves came first followed shortly by men. Can be compared with God making man before woman.
You mean he was trying to get it right - Elves were the practice, Men the perfection?
Perhaps so!
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Didn't it say in the Silmarillion that the elves and men were the Children of Lluvatar that had come to earth? maybe im seeing it wrong or somethin, but its on page 18 middle paragraph.


Yes, Iluvatar created the first Elves and Men. The Elves were the Firstborn and Men the Secondborn. These original creations awoke rather than being born. Iluvatar had given his Children the ability to procreate, however, so he only created the first groups. In Morgoth's Ring, it mentions that the early elves believed the spirits of all newborn elves were the creation of Iluvatar. This gave them hope that as they were created from outside of Ea, their fate would not be tied to Ea at the End. As rebirths began to appear, however, their philosophy gradually changed.
Tasari asked the following question in another thread today, but as it is more relevant to this thread I have moved it here.

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When elves resurrect, what happens to the original spirit of the elven baby? Does it join with the reincarnated elf or does it disappear?


Tolkien suggests that the fea of the reborn elf actually becomes the fea of the newborn. This will mean that the baby has just the one spirit; that of the Reborn. To get around the fact that this leads to problems concerning the parental right to procreate fea in their own likeness, he suggested the reborn fea would recieve nourishment from the new parents during the time of bearing, thus still sharing their qualities. In this case, the reborn fea would lie partly submerged during childhood, only coming to the fore as its previous memories awoke.

Tolkien wrote

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As for this rebirth, it is not an opinion but known and certain. For the fea reborn became a child indeed, enjoying once more all the wonder and newness of childhood; but slowly, and only after it had acquired a knowledge of the world and mastery of itself, its memory would awake; until, when the reborn elf was full-grown, it recalled all its former life, and then the old life, and the "waiting", and the new life became one ordered history and identity. This memory would thus hold a double joy of childhood, and also an experience and knowledge greater than the years of its body. In this way the violence or grief that the reborn had suffered was redressed and its being was enriched. For the reborn were twice nourished, and twice parented, and have tow memories of the joy of awaking and discovering the world of living and the slendour of Arda. Their life is, therefore, as if a year had two springs and though an untimely frost followed after the first, the second spring and all the summer after were fairer and more blessed.
Aw, he makes it sound so NICE. I guess Elvish families would almost always be a happy affair. I was just thinking "What if the Elf lived in a bad family situation in the previous life?" but I suppose most Elvish families are good situations.

And, may I ask, where did he write this? Because I only found out about Elvish reincarnation reading this thread, and I"ve NEVEr come across it in published material.
They come from a couple of unfinished essays JRR wrote, called Laws and Customs among the Eldar. In these are sections, Of Death and the Severance of Fea and Hrondo and Of Re-birth and other Dooms of those that go to Mandos. These can be found in HOME book 10, Morgoth's Ring.
I should've bought THAT book when I had $120 to spent on HOME. I bought Volumes 1, 2, and 6. They were the only ones in the shop. But I should've waited. If I had known this...
To answer this, one must be clear as to what is the meaning of "death" - In Tolkiens' world elves are immortal in fea (spirit) only - the hroa (body) can be killed or die. If a hroa can no longer sustain life then the fea becomes "houseless" and goes to Mandos. Once a fea is healed in Mandos Halls and is released by Namo, it is rehoused in a hroa. If the fea is rehoused it retains the memories and persona for the first life. Even if the hroa "fades" the fea does not .
Tolkin clearly states that men" die".
Elves are immortal, except by weapons and a marrage to a mortal man, which causes grief, which is the only other fatality for elvenkind. Pen iaur, The body is immortal unless it is slaughtered. Notice that Elrond is one of the oldest characters in The Lord of The Rings, he was there when The great Battle between Mordor and the Last Alliance was going on, I believe. As long as the soul lives within the body, the body remains alive.
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Valedhelgwath wrote: Although Tolkien did not specifically say so, it is thought that the Glorfindel who chased away the Nazgul in LotR is the same Glorfindel who was slain by a Balrog during the retreat from Gondolin.


Perhaps you have read the Glorfindel essays by now, but anyway, for those who might not have, Tolkien ultimately did conclude that Glorfindel of Gondolin was Glorfindel of Imladris.

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In HOME, JRR mentioned two possibilities for rebirth.

1) The "houseless" fea enters its previous body. The difficulty here is that the body must be whole, and able to sustain life. Elves can die of injury and grief, but in the case of the former, the body is unlikely to be able to sustain life after rebirth. Also, during the period of Waiting, decomposition is likely to have occured. If the body was in Middle Earth, this would have been rapid. Decomposition was not a problem in Valinor, so an elf that died of grief could potentially be reborn in their own body. A problem again arises, however. Few Elves that have died of grief will wish to return from Mandos after their time of Waiting. An example of this is the case of Finwe's first wife, Miriel. After the birth of Feanor her fea left her body and went to Mandos. Although her body was preserved in Lorien, she refused the summons of rebirth, choosing instead to remain in Mandos for all time. Interestingly, this example also posed a dilemna to the Valar about when an Elven marriage could be deemed to have ended.


2) The second way JRR offered as an explaination for rebirth was for a houseless fea to enter the body of a new born child. (...)


These ideas are gleaned from Morgoth's Ring but JRRT rejected that Elves were reborn as children. In Morgoth's Ring there is an Appendix in the section dealing with the Athrabeth: 'The Converse of Manwe and Eru' and later conceptions of Elvish reincarnation.

In the Converse re-birth is still possible as a unique mode, but it is not in the power of the Valar; that is, Eru will consider a given case. But in any event, in the later conceptions of Elvish reincarnation ('he' is JRRT of course):

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'He was here abandoning, and for good, the long-rooted conception of rebirth as the mode by which the Elves might return to incarnate life.' Christopher Tolkien


The conception Tolkien landed on was that the fea retains a memory or imprint of its hroa, its 'former house', so powerful and precise that the reconstruction (by the Valar) of an identical body can proceed from it. In the last volume of The History of Middle-Earth, in note 17 to Last Writings, Christopher Tolkien notes again:

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'My father here discussed again the idea that Elvish reincarnation might be achieved by 'rebirth' as a child, and rejected it as emphatically as he had done in the discussion called 'Reincarnation of Elves', X 363 - 4; here as there the physical and psychological difficulties were addressed. He wrote here that the idea 'must be abandoned, or at least noted as a false notion, e.g. probably of Mannish origin,...' Christopher Tolkien, Last Writings


The idea of Elvish reincarnation was around well before the name Glorfindel made it into The Lord of the Rings, it's just that Tolkien was not done tinkering with how Elves could be 're-housed'.
To further Galin's point about the Houseless Fea returning to life in a re-made, rather than revorn body is a simple quote from The Silmarillion:

"They buried the body of Felagund upon the hill-top of his own isle, and it was clean again; and the green grave of Finrod Finarfin's son, fairest of all the princes of the Elves, remained inviolate, until the land was changed and broken, and foundered under destroying seas. But Finrod walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees in Eldamar."

Although this can be interpreted in different ways its apparent to me that the Finrod that walks in Eldamar is both the same in Hroar as well as Fea as the one that took part in the Rebellion of the Noldor.

Back to the original discussion...

Yes the Elves are immortal, so long as the World shall last. As we know Arda has a definitive ending at the End of Days so this is when we could say that the Elves would 'die' or fade - that is they probably will not enter the newly made Arda. Their Fate Eru has not revealed and even Manwe and Mandos do not know.

However in Ea, apart from being killed, an Elf may die, that is its fea seperates from its hroar, becuase its spirit consumes its own body. The Spirit then has no content therein and may leave the body at will. We see this demonstrated by Curufinwe's mother, who's spent her spirit in Feanor more than what is usual when An Elf gives birth. Also we see this by the phrase 'Unless one becomes weary with ten thousand centuries'.

This is also why, I think, Elves do not have many children becuase (with some exceptions such as the seven sons of Feanor) with each child there own spirit fades the more and comsumes there hroar.

The Houseless fea can only aquire another body by the will of the Valar. That is why the spirits that refuse the summons to Mandos and fall under the Shadow of Morgoth may seek to commune with the Living and, if the Living allow it, inhabit there own bodies as hosts.

Most of this can be gleaned from Morgoth's Ring as already mentioned.

One thing I have a query on...

If all the descendants of the Line of Earendiil were permitted to choose which fate they be judged by, Elven or Mankind, (such as we see Arwen choosing her fate), how then could not the King's of Numenor each decide their own fate in the line of Elros?
Well, as the passage about Felagund (basically) reaches all the way back to the original Lay of Leithian (1925-31) it seems that the notion of 'reborn' was actually present. Though worded a bit differently due to its age (and obviously being poetry), first the grave is mentioned, and...

... unless that land is changed and gone,
or foundered in unfathomed seas,
while Felagund laughs beneath the trees
in Valinor, and comes no more
to this grey world of tears and war.


Of course once Tolkien rejects the notion of rebirth the idea behind this changes. Anyway, by the time JRRT wrote Reincarnation of Elves he notes that since hroar have a physical descent, the body of rebirth, having different parents, must be different -- and that this must be a condition of pain to the reborn fea is part of why Tolkien eventually rejects Elvish rebirth as a mode of reincarnation.
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One thing I have a query on...

If all the descendants of the Line of Earendiil were permitted to choose which fate they be judged by, Elven or Mankind, (such as we see Arwen choosing her fate), how then could not the King's of Numenor each decide their own fate in the line of Elros?

IMHO As long as the descendants of Earendil remained Elven or Half-elven, they retained the right of choice. When Elros chose to be of Mankind he and his descendants were no longer Half-elven and he had forfeited their right of choice.
How then can Elrond be called Half-elven if he chose to remain with the Firstborn, whilst Elros is named a 'complete' Man (even though he should be called 'Half-man'), and thus his decsendants have no right to choose their fate?
He would be called half-elven as both of Elrond's parents were half-elven, so both brothers (Elros and Elrond) had the choice (as they were 'half' elves)... Elrond chose to be 'counted' among the elves, though still being half-elven, whereas Elros chose to be 'counted' among men... So it seems that because Elros chose to be of mankind he gave up his 'birthright' of choice for his decendants... As you don't see men becoming elves by simply being in love and wedding an elf-lady. Like in the case of Arwen (decendant of Elrond) and Aragorn (decendant of Elros), it was the elf who had to change... Maybe it's because elves are 'higher' children than men, so they get their 'birthright' (from being the Firstborn) and maybe that would explain how Elrond could remain half-elven even though he chose to be of elf-kind... I see it as the default option for men is men whereas the default option for elves is elf but, they can choose later if the obvious circumstances arrive... Would that make anything clear?
It is not possible for a mortal to rebuke mortality, because it is the Gift of Eru. Only Tuor managed to get rid of it, to be able to remain with his haughty hottie for all posterity and this most probably involved the decision of Eru Himself.

"Half-elven" is just a name to denote the descendants of Eärendil & Elwing.

Arwen did not become 'mortal' by wedding Aragorn. Even after Aragorn's death she could still have gone to the Havens and Beyond, and she could've lived in Valinor until the Sundering. She just lay herself down in Lóthlorien and died of 'grief', as Lúthien did before her. There was never a moment where she was dragged in front of the Valar and forced to make a choice, unlike Eärendil & Elwing (and their sons, although those would've been dragged before Eönwë).

Returning to the matter at hand, Elves are not immortal; they can be killed, or die by grief or accident; if they live in the tainted lands outside of Valinor, they simply burn themselves up and die automatically after a couple of millennia. Only the ones with nifty tools to slow down this process (Galadriel, Elrond) could delay this process - but not indefinitely.
Providing an Elf is not slain, or dies of grief, or if its Spirit does not consume its Body, An Elf can last as long as Arda lasts even if they don't go to Valinor. They last alot longer than a couple of millenium. Cirdan the Shipwright is one of the very few Elves who awoke by the Waters of Cuivienen (spelling), thus making him older than Galadriel and probably the Oldest known Elf in Middle-earth. He was so old he even had a beard.
I would say 'Half-elven' is a term denoting mixed ancestry. Dior refers to himself as the first of the Pereðil (Half-elven). Elros could be called Elros Half-elven, and is referred to in this way in the Index of Names in the Silmarillion anyway. After he chose a mortal fate his ancestry remained the same, just like Elrond's, but he was probably more well known in the tales as Elros Tar-Minyatur in any case.

Basically, an Elf who remains long enough in Middle-earth will not die but will fade in the body (and so become invisible to Men in general). Although Círdan did not necessarily awake -- in the sense of the Eru-begotten -- he was indeed very old.
Naturally they are immortal but they could be slain by a weapon.

Welllll. they are immortal, yeah, in the sense that they dont age or anything. But you can stab em and they'd die, like Haldir........

They do age, just differently from "mortals."
Even if slain by misfortune or sword, the Elves spirit returns to Mandos for judgement and perhaps rest and the judgement if of The Valar then released, embodied back into Valinor to live again. So indeed imortal while the Earth remains whole and present.
Yes, they are immortal. No, not invincible. They can die in battle, of grief, or they could be wounded and die from that or poison, but not of age or natural sickness.

Since their fea lasts until the world is destroyed at the great end and they could still get a new body from the valar at any point they are definatly immortal.

Tolkien used 'immortality' in a number of letters, but he often puts the word in quotation marks, or notes the technicality of a 'limited' immortality, or even that the Elvish longevity, with their ability to return to incarnate life, is not true immortality.

 

I do not see that 'reincarnation' affects the resulting problems at all. But 'immortality' (in my world only within the limited longevity of the Earth) does, of course. As many fairy-stories perceive.

(...)

Túor weds Idril the daughter of Turgon King of Gondolin; and 'it is supposed' (not stated) that he as an unique exception receives the Elvish limited 'immortality': an exception either way. (...)

They are therefore 'immortal'. Not 'eternally', but to endure with and within the created world, while its story lasts. When 'killed', by the injury or destruction of their incarnate form, they do not escape from time, but remain in the world, either discarnate, or being re-born. This becomes a great burden as the ages lengthen, especially in a world in which there is malice and destruction (...).

(...)

immortality, strictly longevity co-extensive with the life of Arda, [...] Mortality, that is a short life-span having no relation to the life of Arda,

(...)
Longevity or counterfeit 'immortality' (true immortality is beyond Ea) is the chief bait of Sauron – it leads the small to a Gollum, and the great to a Ringwraith.

(...)
 

The Elves were sufficiently longeval to be called by Man 'immortal'. But they were not unageing or unwearying. Their own tradition was that they were confined to the limits of this world (in space and time), even if they died, and would continue in some form to exist in it until 'the end of the world'.


(...) I said, or meant to say, that the 'message' was the hideous peril of confusing true 'immortality' with limitless serial longevity. Freedom from Time, and clinging to Time. The confusion is the work of the Enemy, and one of the chief causes of human disaster.

Sorry I don't have the letter numbers here, but these are all JRRT from various letters.
 

I agree with you. Tolkien speaks of elves diminishing as they wandered middle earth unable to reach the undying lands where they would behold the trees of the valar and never grow old under the light of arien the sun. Hope this helps.

Indeed.  I guess that the unusual way in which Feanor's body, burned up, somewhat like a vampire in the sun would be one of the only examples in which Tolkien perhaps explains a physical description of what will happen to all Elves bodies in the advent of time.

Tolkien did note [Last Writings note 24] that: 'The flesh of Dwarves is reported to have been far slower to decay or become corrupted than that of Men (Elvish bodies robbed of their spirits quickly disintegrated and vanished.)'

That said I think Feanor might be a case of unusual quickness as he was even named 'Spirit of Fire' and it was noted that: '... he had neither burial nor tomb, for so fiery was his spirit that as it sped his body fell to ash...'

... while Felagund on the other hand, was buried [seemingly] after day arose, after the battles of Huan, and after Luthien unloosed the stones and so on; and Glorfindel's body was brought up from the chasm and buried in a mound of stones.

Didn't feanor's mother's body stayed the same even after her death?
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