Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#1 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:39 pm

Hello Malickfan, and welcome! You've done some nice work in both part 1 and 2 concerning Cirdan. Deep delving!

But have you posted the whole version of Tolkien's Awakening of the Quendi? If so this might violate copyright law -- I'm no lawyer, but I'm aware of at least one website owner who had been asked (by the Tolkien Estate lawyers) to take down entire versions of Osanwe-kenta, for example.

Anyway, I have some questions or niggles with things noted in both parts, starting with:


In the 1930-40’s Tolkien used a figure of 9.582 ‘solar years’ (our years) to equate to one year of the trees. However in The Lord of The Rings he switches to a figure of 144, furthermore he stated that time ‘flowed more slowly in Valinor’...


Can you point more specifically to where Tolkien noted that time actually flowed more slowly in Valinor? I don't think that was his ultimate conception, but in any case at the moment I can't recall the text you're referring to here.

And although Tolkien did muse about altering the number of Sun Years in one Valian Year, with respect to The Lord of the Rings the figure 144 concerns the Elvish Long Year in Middle-earth, the Elvish yén, ),, not the Valian Year -- or that is, it does not necessarily also represent the amount of Sun Years in one Valian Year, even though the numbers match.


And I think I know where you got the 100 years figure for the growth of Elvish bodies to maturity (technically 50 years, or 100 for some, according to Laws And Customs Among The Eldar), but this is one of those issues where multiple versions can be raised, and the whole question can get a bit complicated.


I have a few more comments, or might have. But again in general, great work!

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#2 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:11 pm

Hi Malickfan, interesting post.  I love Cirdan, he's one of my favorite Elves simply because he is so mysterious.  We know so little about him, but then again, we know so little about most of the greatest Elves of ME.

Re casting, sorry to say I dont like, or at least cant imagine any of the suggestions so far.....

Daniel Day Lewis is a possibility in my mind.  Tall, willowy and a good actor. 

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#3 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:27 pm

At the moment I cannot get into this, so I am going to get in touch with Taz and ask him to deal with this.


BUT BE INFORMED please that this is very serious. It of course will not be you who gets into trouble but it will be Taz and if you infringe upon the rights the Tolkien Estate has at this time, even if you remove or Taz removes what you did, he STILL could get into trouble because the fact that the material was posted, EVER IF REMOVED DOES NOTHING to delete the fact the action against Taz, should it be taken is already a done deal.


Hopefully we will hear from Taz as quickly as possible. He is very attentive to these things.

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#4 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:59 am

I deleted the legend of the awakening from the post, and as for Time flowing slower in valinor I can't find an exact reference but I believe it was from HOME X.

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#5 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:34 am

OK but it's in Morgoth's Ring where we find...

'Time in Aman was actual time, not merely a mode of perception. As, say, 100 years went by in Middle-earth as part of Arda, so 100 years passed in Aman, which was also a part of Arda. It was, however, the fact that the Elvish speed of 'growth' accorded with the unit of Valian time that made it possible for the Valar to bring the Eldar to dwell in Aman.'

 JRRT, Aman      

So it is speed of growth and change, not actual time; similar to Lorien when Nenya was employed.

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#6 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:28 am

Cirdan the Old

I have some more questions or quibbles concerning comments surrounding the aged look of Cirdan (mostly from part 1).

I'll also question my own comments at the end! so you won't feel lonely Malickfan

I have yet to be easily swayed by attempts to explain Cirdan's appearance. Age difference doesn't really explain things for me. Unless of course Tolkien himself actually went over this -- but so far I know of no evidence to explain, for example, why a 6,000 year old Elf should look notably older than a Elf who is 'only' 1,000 years old. 


By the close of The Lord Of The Rings he was noticeably greatly aged (even the older Elves aged very slowly, except during times of great stress or torment- both of which Cirdan had seen in abundance…although several millennia of exhausting boat building …and the corrosive effects of salty sea air may have been contributing factors as well)...


Salty sea air and exhausting boat building? these are actually new to me, but I can't buy either one.

And with respect to great stress and torment, I have seen this explanation before, but as far as I recall Tolkien never seems to single out Cirdan as being especially stressed or tormented compared to other Elves. He lived through a lot, including wars and 'general' stress, but so did other Elves.


It is worth noting that Elves counted their ‘fading’ from the first rising of the Sun, Cirdan was probably already several (or possibly much, much more- again see below) millennia old when the sun and moon first arose- and unlike Galadriel, Elrond or Celeborn was in Middle Earth when it happened, time flowed ‘faster’ there than in Valinor, so Cirdan was probably more exposed to its effects. 


I don't agree that time actually flowed faster in Middle-earth. I would agree that with the rising of the Sun growth and change became swifter in Middle-earth (if we accept the notion of the Sun as arising after the Elves awoke, which is not the case according to the Elvish counting legend or fairy tale). But what would this necessarily mean with respect to any outward signs of ageing in Elves?

And why wasn't Celeborn in Middle-earth when the Sun arose?

In several essays and letters Tolkien stated that the 3 Elven rings of power were created to delay the effects of Decay and Time on the Elven bearers, in a ratio of about 1: 100 (For every 100 years that passed in Middle Earth the Elves would only feel the effects of 1 year), Cirdan of course was already pretty old for an Elve when the rings were created (He was probably older when he inherited his, than Elrond was when he departed Middle Earth and lost the power of his) and had endured the whole strife of the first age in the wild lands of Middle Earth, and he had his ring for a shorter period of time.


The Three were potent in resisting the effects of time, yes, and not simply with respect to their bearers, but I don't remember any ratio stated. Is this from (possibly) draft texts for The Lord of the Rings?

It is my theory (I have never come across definite conformation) that the surrender of such a ring contributed to his aged appearance- the sudden loss of such a power quickly exposed him to the effects of his great lifespan and all that he had seen... ...


If memory serves this general idea was present in draft text for The Lord of the Rings (concerning Galadriel I think), which to my mind raises the question of rejection, and right now I don't recall any description elsewhere.

Granted you said this was your theory in any event, but I've read the theory that Cirdan didn't ever use Narya, for instance. I rather think he did, but for all we know the Three helped the Elves stave off weariness and 'inner' ageing.

Elves sometimes appeared to age under great stress or torment (as told Cirdan had seen both in abundance) linking with the above extracts-Cirdan himself is characterised as ‘grey and old’ whilst Gwindor was unrecognisable to the people of Nargothrond after his escape from the dungeons of Morgoth: “At first his people did not know Gwindor, who went out young and strong, and returned now seeming as one of the aged among mortal Men…” 

I've seen the Gwindor argument a lot, but I do not find thraldom in the dungeons of Morgoth to be necessarily equivalent to anything Cirdan experienced.


Here's where I question my own argument (well, a bit)

Did Cirdan really look old in the first place? Now I have to admit that in this case I would rather take an admittedly strained reading over an arguably easier reading -- and I wouldn't mind so much but I am tinkering with author-published text here as well!

It wounds me to do so

So here is where you say to me: sorry Galin, I don't buy it! but here goes anyway! Even I can't look!



Technically the text of The Grey Havens says Ciryatan was grey and old, which I (purposely) take to mean he had grey hair and 'was' old -- just like other Elves were old, even if he was older than others. Again I realize I am ignoring the implication of the context for an arguably more strained reading... but... well... [cough]. Anyway elsewhere Tolkien noted that Cirdan had silver hair...

Elwe himself had indeed long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally, especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Círdan).

JRRT Quendi And Eldar, The War of the Jewels


... which could explain the 'grey' part in The Lord of the Rings. He was old, he maybe had silvery 'grey' hair. Shave the beard, maybe dye the hair, he would still be old, but would he look old?

Why 'fight' Tolkien-published text (which in my opinion belongs on the top shelf with respect to canon)?

It's not that I have a problem with old or older looking Elves (and there was at least one in The Book of Lost Tales if I recall correctly, for an early example), but I do get the feeling that Tolkien ultimately intended his Elves to visibly 'fade' (in Middle-earth) after a given time, which seems a different kind of ageing to me -- the fea consuming the hroa over time.

Cirdan might be 'faded' in my opinion, although the text implies aged looking; but if we were to accept Tolkien's idea of physically fading Elves (see below), I can't think of a good reason why an Elf would go through a phase (of an undetermined length of time) of physically looking old -- before fading in any case!

Of course simply because I can't think of a good reason hardly means that Tolkien wouldn't think this holds true for his world! but so far I think he needed a way to suggest very great age for an Elf, and considering that other Elves in the tale were old, how was he going to suggest Cirdan was even older than Galadriel for instance? A beard helps, even grey hair (Celeborn had silver hair)...

... enter the 'ancient mariner' image?

That said, the author-published description 'says what it says' about Cirdan. In the end I must bow to canon and the implication behind Cirdan being described as 'grey and old', despite:


'For the Eldar do indeed grow older, even if slowly: (...) As the weight of the years, with all their changes of desire and thought, gathers upon the spirit of the Eldar, so do the impulses and moods of their bodies change. This the Eldar mean when they speak of their spirits consuming them; and they say that ere Arda ends all the Eldalie on earth will have become as spirits invisible to mortal eyes, unless they will to be seen by some among Men into whose minds they may enter directly.'  

JRRT, Morgoth's Ring






By the way I didn't mean to cause a stir or get anyone in trouble about copyright, it's just somewhat rare to quote an entire essay from JRRT (if it is! I didn't read the whole thing so I only asked). I think one is allowed a certain percentage of a given text; but again what do I know about it? Not much if anything. The above from Morgoth's Ring is only three sentences out of a fairly substantial essay, so I think it's safe enough.

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#7 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:46 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, because unfortunately it is a long time since I have read the books, but doesn't Morgoth's Ring itself also have a "corrosive" effect on the hroa of all elves living in Middle Earth? I thought that was why elves eventually needed to go into the West if they did not wish to "fade" away into invisible spirits.

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#8 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:54 pm

Taz answered me and he said "

If the extract is short it may be reproduced, however, the source and author must be cited."

Also , when she can manage it, Rednell, council member will come online to explain copyright issues in more depth.

Please , in the meantime do what Taz says and nothing more. Thank you everyone.

Also Malikfan, perhaps you could just have one thread please on Cirdan, just one and we can discuss all that is in your heart in the one thread. You have a lot of great things to say and it is better if we can do them all on the one thread, it is neater and more convenient for all your soon to be adoring fans. :)


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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#9 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:48 pm

Welcome Malikfan!

Thank-you for removing The Legend of the Awakening essay.  Reproducing it in the thread is a violation of copyright law. Each country has different legislation for copyright and since this website originates in the UK then those are the laws that we are bound by.

You can quote text from Tolkien’s works provided it is for educational/academic discussion, no more than 10% of the essay, poem, etc and is properly cited.  I believe we can consider this thread as an academic discussion of Cirdan.

For more information about copyright go to http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law

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Why Cirdan is so amazing pt 2

Post#10 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:11 pm

'... doesn't Morgoth's Ring itself also have a "corrosive" effect on the hroa of all elves living in Middle Earth? (...)'


You might be thinking of this for example: Finrod notes that he believes Men's bodies suffer in some measure the malice of Morgoth...


'For you live in Arda Marred, as do we, and all the matter of Arda is tainted by him, before ye or we came forth and drew our hroar and their sustenance therefrom: all save only Aman before he came there. For know it is not otherwise with the Quendi themselves: their health and stature is diminished. Already those of us who dwell in Middle-earth, and even we who have returned to it, find that the change* of their bodies is swifter than in the beginning. And that, I judge, must forebode that they will prove less strong to last than they were designed to be, though this may not be clearly revealed for many long years.'

  JRRT Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (and see Author's note 7 on the Commentary) [*the word change was an emendation to the typescript B (only); the manuscript has 'growth' -- footnote by CJRT] 



The underlined part was because I was noting (in another thread) that Finrod appears to say that the growth or change of Elvish bodies is swifter than it once was -- in Middle-earth. This conception possibly links to another text in which the time it took for an Elf-child to grow to be a Man or Woman was originally...


... around 3,000 Sun Years! And here I mean 'originally' in a story-internal sense (and this rate seems to have held in Aman). This is one of those texts where 144 Sun Years equaled one Valian Year.


Of course a very late text seems to state that Elves grew to maturity at a rate little, if at all slower, than Men. But anyway.


And thanks for the information Rednell!

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