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?
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!
Ok...back to the questions....don't wanna be accuse of posting stuff out of topic here
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. It seems highly plausible though...