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Thread: Middle Earth or Undying Lands?

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I was just wondering, if you could choose, would you rather be an elf and live peacefully in the undying lands or would you rather live a mortal life in middle earth? The pros and cons could be debated, though personally, I'd choose to be immortal. Being myself an artist, I see it like this: a mortal can paint her picture, as long as she is there to paint it, whereas an elf can perfect her art through the ages.

Arwen Happy Elf Smilie
A mortal in Middle-Earth would suit me better. I mean if you get bored of living, I can always die! But in the undying lands, I would be stuck till Eru knows when!
Given the choice, most mortals in Middle Earth would choose to be immortal in the Undying Lands, hence the sinking of Numenor. However, elves have a different perception on this choice. Because they are tied to Ea, and their fate is likely to end when the End occurs, they are not actually immortal. Man, however, though he withers and dies quickly within the confines of Ea, then gets to go and spend eternity with Eru. The Elves, therefore see Men, not themselves as being the truely immortal spirits.

So what would I do? Heaven on Earth for a long time, or Heaven forever? I'm not sure. If I was actually given the choice right now, I'd say give me my cake now, and go to the Undying Lands until the End.
just a question. do the elves in middle earth know that they go the halls of mandos and there fate after death? in the silm it seems the narrator is more of an observer, is there any evidence to support that they actually know wot we know about there fate?
That's a good question, Fingolfin. Since I don't know the answer, I know want to find out! And I'd choose a mortal life on until the end of time could be boring after a while, and where's the thrill in that?
do the elves in middle earth know that they go the halls of mandos and there fate after death?

Yes they do. The elves are reborn after they die. So I believe that on their rebirth they do remember their entire past lives and the time theyspent in the halls of Mandos brooding on their mistakes and the time spent in living.
hmm, good points there. But I can't imagine ever getting bored of living. Though if an elf simply didn't want to live for whatever reason, they could always kill themselves right? I mean, they have good medicines and they don't have to worry about old age, but they can still be taken by blade if they wish it. They aren't exactly invincible. Am I right there? That's just what I heard.

Arwen Happy Elf Smilie
Another good point! Elves also can die of grief, as in the tale of Aragorn and Arwen.
The mortal envy the `immortal' and the `immortal' envy the mortal.
It's a very difficult question. Were I elf, I definately would grow weary of the passing of time. But if I were man I would die for certain. That sounds tempting, but eternal life sounds so too.

Killing yourself as an elf isn't helping either. You go to the halls of Mandos, and return after a long time. So you are again in the same position.

I think I would go for the dwarf option. Mortal, but granted a bit longer life span. Or just the elves. I would start the first Elvish metal band :-D
That depend on who I share my life with... if that is an elf, well yes Undying lands, if it is a man, well Middle Earth. Wink Smilie
I say be mortal. You get to go to heaven!!!
Another good point! Elves also can die of grief, as in the tale of Aragorn and Arwen.

Arwen was not an Elf; she was Half-Elven like Elrond, her father. He had had a special dispensation to chose whether to be mortal or immortal and he had chosen immortality. She also had this choice and she chose be mortal and thus was able to pine away after the death of Aragorn.

Only a few Half-Elven in history were given this choice. Elrond's also Half-Elven brother, Elros chose to be mortal and became the first Numenorian King. As Elros had become mortal, his descendants were Men rather than Half-Elven and they had no choice. This also applied to Arwen and Aragorn's descendants who were also Men.

The remaing two Half-Elven who had this choice, were Arwen's bothers, the twins Elladan and Elrohir; and Tolkien never got around to telling us which choice they made. They did stay on in Middle-earth when their father left; however, they may later have chosen to follow their father to the undying lands, we just don't know. They could have even sailed with Legolas and Gimli, but that is another story, which doesn't belong in this thread.
This makes me wonder of the knowledge that could be gained if one was immortal. For example, look at Tolkien: I heard (I'm not exactly sure where at the moment) that only about 40% of Tolkien's creation is available to the public. The other 60% (and ever expanding) of his universe died with him. Wouldn't it be wonderful if he had all the time in the world to write down his mythology? Amazing. Some of these threads make me think twice about an immortal life (if you can call it that), but I still think it is better then mortal man's. Eventually, the elves will have the same fate as men; live eternally with Eru after Ea is ended.

Sorry, that was all a bit random, and perhaps contratictory.
Arwen Happy Elf Smilie
Eventually, the elves will have the same fate as men; live eternally with Eru after Ea is ended.
Almost correct, but not quite! When Ea goes out in a burst of flame as its sun becomes a red giant, that's the end of both Ea and the Elves. Only Men get to bask eternally in the light of Eru's glory; though because Eru is an equal opportunity employer, having to attended her yearly EEO training sessions, women are also included under that banner along with the men folk. Teacher Smilie
You're confusing E’ with Arda. E’'s vastness is immense and infinite. Arda will come to an end, E’ never. E’ is kinda the universe.

And besides, Arda won't come to an end in a boring, scientific way, but in a mythological way, by the Dagor Dagorath, Tolkien's version of Ragnarok, after which the second music of the ainur will be instated.

The fact that Elves are not mentioned in the second music of the ainur, doesn't mean they won't be there; anyway i'm sure there spirits are eternal so perhaps they will be granted a place among the Ainur. Who knows.
Oops, my bad!
The fact that Elves are not mentioned in the second music of the ainur, doesn't mean they won't be there; anyway i'm sure there spirits are eternal so perhaps they will be granted a place among the Ainur. Who knows.

It is this uncertainty, however, which causes the Elves as much grief as the unknown fate of Men when they die causes Men. Even though they live a very long time, the thought that one day it will be all for naught, and they will be erased, fills them with dread. This aspect does not really come across in the Silmarillion, but there is quite a long piece about it in Morgoth's Ring.

Also, although I agree that just because they were not mentioned in the Second Music it doesn't mean they were not there, but I do believe that was Tolkien's intention. My reason for this is because he called that privelage "The Gift of Man". They die and get to join him in the Second Music. If the Elves get to live long, disease free lives, and still get to join Eru after the End, it kind of devalues the whole part of it being a Gift.

Religion is based on faith, and by being deliberately vague, Tolkien is providing the reader with that similar feel in his work. The reader knows Men get to join him in the Second Music, but the Men in the story have to take this on faith. That he specifically tells the reader this, but then just gives us hints that Elves are tied to the fate of the world and End with it, makes me feel this was his intention. It is the great paradox..... Heaven on Earth, or Heaven eternal.... I don't think they got both.
But... there is no heaven on earth. Unless this is Valinor before Arda was made round.

but I still think it is better then mortal man's.

Spoken like a true mortal man. But no... the Elves know better, I say. Death is a gift. You get to go to heaven. Can't wait.
But... there is no heaven on earth.

Yes, there's only a hell on earth.
Posted Tuesday 15th March 2005 (02:05pm)

Well being an elf I would love to live Rivendell (if that was full then Lothlorien) but I wonder what Valinor looks like - it sounds really good. Must be good or why else would all the elves go there!

Do you think it may be our equivalent of Heaven - perhaps I don't want to go there just yet!!!

This is a reply thread from myself on 15/3/05 on a different thread in 'Places'.

Still can't make up my mind - do I want to live forever??? Elf Confused Smilie

Maydmarian posted
Still can't make up my mind - do I want to live forever???

Well, if you were an elf you probably wouldn't mind because you love the world as it is, resist change, go slowly through the ages absorbing and learning but ultimately enjoying things as they are. You would be happy to have things stay the same for ever and ever...

However, Men like to change the world and endless ages of rushing around changing everything might prove to be exhausting. The desire to change that which resists change would cause dissatisfaction in your life leading to sadness, anger, depression. You might even 'take over the world' in order to enforce your will, either as an individual or as a nation. But beware, there will be others of the race of Men trying to do the same - so prepare for war, distrust your neighbours, do unto others before they do it to you.

I can see why Men have such a short life span. Immortality for them would be disastrous to the rest of the world. Likewise, if elves were as mortal as Men they would probably achieve little in their lifetime.
However, Men like to change the world and endless ages of rushing around changing everything might prove to be exhausting.

Of course, we men have so little time on our hands and have so much to do. We wouldn't be expected of just sitting there with one hand over the other dreaming of what should be and what could have beens and what should have beens. Dreams will remain dreams until we work. And with just about 90 years with us to fulfil our dreams, we gotta rush. And as for the ensuing exhaustion, there is Death which takes care of it.
And with just about 90 years with us to fulfil our dreams, we gotta rush.

90 years? How very optimistic. I'd already be happy if i'd get to 50.
And with just about 90 years with us to fulfil our dreams, we gotta rush.

90 years? How very optimistic. I'd already be happy if i'd get to 50.
90 years? How very optimistic. I'd already be happy if i'd get to 50.

Seems so doesn't it? But I thought the older members here might get the fright of their lives if I had put a figure like 50. They might start thinking they have too less a time to live. Hence, I used my diplomatic skills and put in a good 90 years. (And then, you didn't have to post twice to make your point, Vir. I ain't that stupid, you know!)
I would choose Tirion as my dwelling place and I'd stay there 'til the End of Time... That kinda reveals my choice, I guess... Wink Smilie

I would love to dwell on the Undying Lands, and feel the eternal peace and sacredness of that place where there is always a light, beyond the circles of the world.
You could be close to Eru anywhere, but on the Undying Lands you would have the possibility of meeting him directly.
You could be close to Eru anywhere, but on the Undying Lands you would have the possibility of meeting him directly.

No, you wouldn't. You'd only get the possibility of meeting the Valar.
Yes, that was the whole Gift of mortality, that you got to sit with Eru once you had died.
I think I'd choose the 'immortality' of the Elves.

Although at the end you would probably die with the world, the idea of peace and happiness with the world as it is now is the pull for me. To enjoy the time we have, however long, and not worry about what tomorrow may bring is very attractive.

Besides, even though the Elves are not mentioned in the music does not mean that Eru does not have a plan for them. I can't imagine he'd let either one of his children just die like that! (This is obviously entirely supposition on my behalf!)

Happy Elf Smilie
But this supposition is not entirely without foundation. Tolkien's underlying foundation and philosophy/theology back this up. The men are rewarded for the good they do in life by finally realizing immortality with Eru. The elves have immortality in ME, but to them it is not a comfort, for all they care for and many people they grow to love die. Thus immortality is not a total blessing, but very much a penance. So yes, I do agree that they probably go to be with Eru after the ending of all things created.
It's a tough call, because the Elf friend has another attraction in Valinor: the Eldar who leave Middle-earth. I dunno.

As yet another side note, the distinction between Ea and Arda is a valid one, but while Sols nova won't destroy Ea, the Big Crunch will. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable, so the only true immortality possible is with Eru, and beyond both Arda and Ea.

And I'm still not convinced Arwen wasn't an Eldi who died of grief. Elros' choice was irrevocable, and I don't think that was exclusive to those who chose the Atani. The choice, once made, is for all ones descendants, in my mind. Arwen, after all, didn't get all gray and wrinkly; she remained Arwen as she was in her youth, and when her husband was gone so was she. IMHO.
Firstly if you were to be an Elf in the Undying lands, you would not simply get 'Bored'. You would be contented for the entire time you existed here, but only after long would that content wane, but certainly not to the extent of bordom.
Valinor is meant to be heaven on earth, whilst Udun/Utumno hell.

Just touching on an earlier point about the second great theme.

When Eru gave the Valar a vision in the Halls of Eru about Ea, I think I am right in saying that the vision they beheld was the second Great theme, not the first with Melkor in it. Also I think that they saw Elves as well as men in that theme but not utterly sure.

The Dagor Dagorth/Last Battle and the Day of Doom is meant to take place when finally the Valar and Elves are wearied of the World and are beginning to envy men as they leave it. Thus is when, during the Valar's slack attention, Morgoth would brake through the door to the night and summun all those who have served him, and rage the mightiest battle ever known and it took place on the plains of Valinor.

During this battle, Sauron is slayed by Olorin, whilst Morgoth wrestles with Tulkas, but is not defeated and then is dealt the death blow by Turin Turumbar, thus Turin is avenged after the curse Morgoth placed on him and his kin.

According to Tolkien we are in the seventh age, the sixth ended with the Second world war. So by that reckoning the Dagor Dagorath is yet to come. I say this becuase its meant to be the last of all wars, as Melkor is reduced to an impotent spirit who goes back to Eru.
Well, I have to bow to your knowledge Lord of it All! Read Smilie

I think you are right about the Second Theme, and I am glad you reminded me of that. I was sure there was a plan for them in the end and that they weren't just going to be 'left out in the cold'. Pary Smilie

Good Morning Smilie

I would like to also reply about Elves immortality.

I have a quote here which sounds to me that Elves were not Utterly immortal even if the World could last forever:

"For the Elves die not till tile world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may in time return. But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Il’vatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy. But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope. Yet of old the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second Music of the Ainur; whereas Il’vatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World's end, and Melkor has not discovered it."
The silmarillion

Firstly it does appear that the Elves could become wearied after thousands of years. And it says that Elves can die of grief and depressed emotions, so perhaps they were not immortal in the true sense of the word.

Also look at the third part I highlighted. It says that Eru has not revealed what will happen to the Elves after the World's end, so clearly something does happen. What no one but Tolkien or Eru can say.
Also on the subject of the immortality of Elves. Although, Tolkien does not specifically state the fate of the Elves he does hint at it in another passage of The Silmarillion:

The Thingol was filled with fear and wonder; and because he would not deprive Luthien of the lights of heaven, lest she fail and fade...

Although, it could be argued that this refers not to heaven but to Valinor, it is possible that this also refers to what will happen after the End.

Also, on the subject of immortality: as Arwen was half-elven she got the choice of being mortal or immortal. This is unlike Luthien who, before her 'death', had to share in the mortality of Beren. If any other Elf who was not half-elven would have had to have done this:

...Luthien was caught, and being immortal she shared in his mortality...

It means that they do not become mortal and therefore change but that they share the mortality of those they bind their lives with.

Happy Elf Smilie
Very good, LoA! Your quote of the Professor is to the point: "whereas Il’vatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World's end, and Melkor has not discovered it." He could not have any purpose at all for the Elves if they were not to have any life at all after the End. This therefore must mean that Tolkien intended that they would also join in the "Second Theme," after the end of time. Apparently this was Tolkien's version of the "new heavens and new earth" as taught by his faith.

As I said, the immortality of the Elves in ME was a two-edged sword. They seemed to have the best part of things in being able to live forever. But on looking more closely, we find they were weary of a world that was always changing and unfamiliar to them, always losing mortal friends they came to love, always pining for a time and place that was as unchanging as themselves. This would make living in ME a huge pain after centuries and they would have to return to the Undying Lands for that very reason. But as we noted, even the Undying Lands will have their end with the rest of Arda/Ea. So Eru must then have a plan for all his children after that.
Two things: death happens, and if that is the fate of the Eldar at the end, a permanent death, it is the fate Eru has prepared for them but not revealed.

Additionally, Arwen was at least three quarter Elven (well, just about; I don't feel like reconstructing Virs math on Earendil, Elwing and Dior, particularly since the status of the last hinges on 1) what choice he made despite being born before Manwe decreed a choice and 2) the debated status of his mother at his birth. ) Her FATHER was Half-Elven (it was his title) and he DID receive the choice Manwe gave his father and mother and independent of it since he was already living at the time. Neither of his parents could retroactively choose to be among either race when he was born, and this is clear from the fact that even had Earendil chosen as he desired Elros and Elrond could have chosen to be counted among the Eldar. However, once their choice was made it was binding on all their FUTURE descendants, and there is nothing in canon that states this was any less binding for the children of Elrond than those of Elros; there is no mention of Arwens choice to die, much less any alternative one by her brothers, only of her parting from Aragorn, which, if she received the Gift of Men, would be temporary and not worthy of comment.

And a final note on Luthien:

"This doom she chose, forsaking the Blessed Realm [where are the Halls of Mandos, ] and putting aside all claim to kinship with those that dwell there; that thus whatever grief might lie in wait, the fates of Beren and Luthien might be joined, and their paths lead together beyond the confines of the world. So it was that alone of the Eldalie she has died indeed, and left the world long ago. Yet in her choice the Two Kindreds have been joined; and she is the forerunner of many in whom the Eldar see yet, though all the world is changed, the likeness of Luthien the beloved, whom they have lost. " Which also means (for any wondering) that comparisons to Arwen, in whom it was said Luthien was returned to the Eldar, are based on genetics rather than reincarnation, and the statement purely figurative.
Or as the paragraph preceding this last from Of Beren and Luthien states, "she [became] mortal, and subject to a second death, even as he; and ere long she would leave the world for ever, and her beauty become only a memory in song. " Incidentally, the "second death" clears up an earlier discussion of whether Luthien was in fact dead or merely unconscious and her fea elsewhere following Berens death. Elf Winking Smilie
The third part LoA highlighted in his very enlightening post has always been one of those parts that has mystified me yet also gave me endless scopes for wild imagination. Nobody knows what is to happen after the world ends, because the world cannot last forever, and Ea is not immortal itself. That's why the Elves aren't really immortal, they just happen to have a longer life in this world, but in the ultimate end, they must die with it. The humans, on the other hand, are merely Guests and their spirits may leave Ea to go to other worlds (this part is all my speculation, Tolkien never said this). That's what I always thought it was like.

But this part, which says that Eru has not revealed the fate of Elves after Arda, gives a hint that maybe the Elves are not really destroyed with Arda. Sure they're bound to it, but only until the end. Maybe, after Arda's destruction, and the Elves' destruction, the Eldar will be reborn or something? Or maybe they will ascend to a new haven or sanctuary, where they can really live forever, as in heaven? Or maybe it'll all just be BOOM and that would be it. It's really hard to say, but it's one of the things I like about Tolkien. He leaves you so much room to imagine for yourself, and here, we get to imagine the grand ending of everything. It's a bit like Narnia, where CS Lewis leads the reader on a sort of trail to "happily ever after" in the last chapter, and concludes that it is merely the "first chapter" in all that is still to come. Perhaps the known fate of Elves (that they are to die with Arda) is only the "first chapter" to all that still to come.
I'm with you, Cloveress! That quote of LoA's together with what I know of Tolkien's background tells me that the Elves and Men will eventually be together with Eru forever.
It's so nice to see you again, Gandalf! As I said, that was what I've always took the fate of Elves to be. Ever since I read that passage, that sentence, particularly. i've always had lots of imaginings on what would happen after everything ended, and I've looked on many fanfiction sites to see if anyone had dwelt on the afterwards part of Arda as well, but it seems that people like to write more about the times in the Silmarillion and the LOTR. Oh well...
Actually I'd rather live in Middle Earth. As my character Erestor once said "Dancing in the grass and going to feasts all the time gets rather boring." Though Aman does sound like a great place to get a tan.
And someone mention that the sun will swell up into a red giant and swallow Ea and the Elves.Well that's true. I don't care for it will happen in four billion years time. Before the Ea gets swallowe it will literelly bake Middle-Earth and Valinor into a dried husk with no water an with huge dustorms and as the Sun swells up it will at first distort the Earth into crazy shapes(most of the Elves will die of grief before Ea gets swallowed and probably the Moon will gets swallowed by the Sun(poor Tillion) before the Earth and not to meantion Orion wouldn't be there any more (because allthe stars in there will die of old age and become Black Holes(not pretty)and that the Earth will get swallowed up and kill the remaining elves(talk about Arien in a rampage) and that probably the Last Battle will nevercome about.
The Sun swelling? Won't happen if Varda puts Arien on a perennial diet of water & bread.
Don't forget that the sun is a fruit. If Arien gets too hungry from being on the bread and water diet, she might eat the sun...
If Arien would burp after swallowing that huge flaming orange, I guess that would be what misinformed scientists call a "supernova"; her sneezing, on the other hand, gives rise to the solar wind.
I would rather be mortal and live in Middle Earth. It just seems more romantic to live in a world where you are not sure what will happen next. That way, you are forced to make each day wonderful because you know that you could die at any time.
I would like to be mortal too but I will like to have the life span of the Half-elven (about 500 years(like Elros) or more). So then I will still have a long life without the weariness of the world, but I can do all my life ambitions and have a nice long life.So then I will die before Arien gets too hot and boils the oceans away and swells up when she inhales too much air in Ea into Red Giant and swallows away the Earth(by accident).
There are no many true immortal. And none of the races on Middle Earth is abiding. Some age faster, others- slower. All could be killed, and most will one day end their existence as we know them.
Elves are eternal, as they do not age as fast as men. I would like to be eternal. There is so much to be learned and so much to be done. One lifetime just is not enough. I have a small rhyme of it:

One lifetime does not fit
For all my heart's desires.
Like single candle lit
When what you need is fire.
("Quenta Ollosiva", by Ammornil (Mornasanwir)

The gift granted to the men is heavier than eternal life. For they pay the afterlife's immortality (if one has deserved it) with much pain.
I would choose to remain an Elf and share the faith of their kin at Ambar-metta.

Nai i estel maar na!
if i was born in Middle Earth(Third age) then i will spend my time in there,to fight against evil Big Smile Smilie then in fourth age i could sail over the sea, after i am weary of Middle Earth Big Smile Smilie. i do like to stay in peace so i choose Undying Lands..... Big Smile Smilie
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