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PotbellyHairyfoot
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Post Quenta Silmarillion 1 (QS1) Of the Beginning of Days - Questions
on: March 14, 2016 09:14
1) The Pelori; were they raised for protection from Melkor or so that the majority could ignore the damage wrought by Melkor and go on about their business as though it hadn't happened? After all, only a few of the Valar bothered to venture beyond the Pelori once they had built Valinor.

2 The gift of men; is it truly a gift to men, or was it more of a gift to everyone else, so they could be entertained, by these short lived wanderers? As no-one knew where the 'souls' of men go after death, could they be a way of accumulating a large army for the Second Music or the final battle?

[Edited on 03/15/2016 by PotbellyHairyfoot]
Ringilswrath
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on: March 16, 2016 10:10
1) I actually had the impression when I first read the Silmarillion that the Pelori were raised so the Valar could ignore, for a time at least, the damage Melkor had wrought, as if it were a sight to terrible for them to behold and they needed to rest their eyes from the destruction.

2) I think it could be a gift when compared to immortality. We think of elves living for thousands of years, but what about millions? Billions? Living until the heat-death of the universe in a few hundred billion trillion trillion trillion years? What's the limit on immortality? What being wouldn't chose to just give up and willingly let themselves die long before that? And how different is the psychology of the Firstborn to endure even thousands of years without going bonkers from boredom? I might want to live for a few centuries, even a millennium or three, but I'm afraid boredom might set in after the first 100,000 years.
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BelleBayard
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on: March 17, 2016 10:31
Immortality is most likely why the Elves' birth rate was so very low. They COULD be killed, but just didn't die from disease or organ failure (sorry, nurse here). Have to reread about the Pelori as don't remember them well (been a few years). But the gift of mortality WAS a gift as immortality isn't all some would think. Boredom would set in and actually, mortals would be a welcome change for them, watching Man and their struggles in their short lives. I agree with Ringilswrath on that point.
tarcolan
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on: March 18, 2016 05:46
1) The reason given for the Valar's removal to a more peaceful place is that there was nowhere left in Middle Earth that they could live, and they were also too busy to conquer Melkor at that time. I have learned not to look for logic in Tolkien's world. If Tulkas could defeat Melkor why wait? We could say it was all the will of Iluvatar, or just accept that it creates a bit of jeopardy early on.

2) There is no reason to think that the spirits of men will take part in the final battle, so I don't agree with the idea that Eru is building up troops for the battle. This sounds suspiciously like Ragnarok. More likely they are all practising the Second Music.
Gandolorin
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on: March 19, 2016 07:20
I must say that on re-reading "Of the Beginning of Days", I once again get this feeling of "what a bunch of pathetic wimps!" Reading HoME certainly didn't improve my opinion of the Valar retreating behind the Pelóri, an opinion which might puzzle some who have only the chapter itself to go on - or not, or even to the contrary. What is established here, as I see it, is the extreme asymmetry in the bodily presence of the evil Ainur, compared to the supposedly good Pelóri refugees, in Middle-earth, which continues up to and including the destruction of Sauron at the end of LoTR. But then, here I should probably concede tarcolan's point above: " I have learned not to look for logic in Tolkien's world."

As to "The gift of men", I posted something in the "Chapter quote QS1" thread about that.
And again, tarcolan put it quite nicely: "This sounds suspiciously like Ragnarök. More likely they are all practicing the Second Music." Exceptions: Turin, if I remember correctly, is going to get into the melee of the Last Battle directly because Melkor is going catch it bad from him and his black sword, and Tuor, unlike his descendants a "purebred" man, is still numbered among the Eldar, so may take part in this Last Battle as one of them. Both this Last Battle and the Second Music are very vague, naturally so in the sense that they are still even in our future. So how are they connected? Perhaps the Last Battle is the first part of the Second Music, live, as it were, instead of the time lag between the First Music and the physical creation of Arda by the Valar and Maiar?

[Edited on 03/19/2016 by Gandolorin]
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The Lady Idril
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on: March 21, 2016 05:02
I think the short lives of men drive them forward and one of their primary purposes is to spur the other races (Elves, Ents, and Dwarves) who live a long time into actually doing stuff. Otherwise, as immortals, I feel like many of them would procrastinate fighting evil, such as (SPOILER) the Sons of Fëanor do early on in the Seige of Angband. Men and their actions are often the catalyst to things actually getting done. They understand that they need to use their time wisely because it's not unlimited. For that reason, I think Men are extremely helpful to the other races.

As for the Last Battle, I don't think Eru is just stocking up on soldiers. Honestly, there is no way that Melkor could actually win the Battle (seeing as he is beneath Eru in pretty much every way) so I don't see why Eru would be concerned. Personally, I hold to the opinion that Eru had some other reasons for giving Men short lives.
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Gandolorin
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on: March 21, 2016 05:33
The Lady Idril said:... Personally, I hold to the opinion that Eru had some other reasons for giving Men short lives.

Very good points made, Lady_Idril!

And as to your last statement above, I think the following passage on about the last page of the chapter probably says it:

"Therefore [Ilúvatar] willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else {including, my guess, the Ainur in Arda themselves!}; and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest."

I highlighted hearts above because my feeling is that few, if any, of men felt this urge consciously, never mind had the foggiest notion of their exceptional status (perhaps even vis-a-vis the Valar and Maiar, being the Ainur who had entered Arda).
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Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: March 26, 2016 01:52
1. I think the Valar were completely justified in raising the mountains. They had been taken by surprise once, and had lost a major battle to Melkor as a result. They needed a fortification to prevent a repeat of that disaster. The primary mission of the Valar was to prepare the dwelling for the coming of the Children of Iluvatar; to make their vision of the world become reality. They could not achieve this goal by wholing up in Aman, but they risked losing all if they did not create a refuge for what they had wrought and hoped still to make. Protected by the Pelori, they were able to preserve many of their most precious creations and develope new fair things that they hoped to introduce to Middle Earth when the land was made safe for them. Aman served as an ark of sorts, a “seedbank” and a workshop. However, the withdrawal to Aman certainly represented a withdrawal, and their was a risk that the Valar would become absorbed in their pleasant work, and the time to retake the earth would be indefinetely postponed.

Realistically, the Valar could not protect all of Arda from Melkor. Perhaps some of the Valar were pretty discouraged by the repeated distruction of their work, but not all the Valar could stop yearning to bring forth the beauty they dreamed of and kept planning for the struggle with Melkor that must come before the Children awoke. Far seeing Manwë could not forget, that as viceregent of Iluvatar, he was responsible for all of Arda, and that watching over one haven was not enough. Yavanna, longing to repair the damage of war and cover the earth with growing life, often urged the Valar to cease delaying battle with Melkor. Oromë sometimes roamed the darkened earth, slaying the worst of Melkor’s beasts, but he could not turn the tide alone. Ulmo’s realm encompassed and flowed through Arda, and so he spent less time in beautiful Aman. Never did he forsake Middle Earth, and even if he could do nothing else, he kept healing water flowing through the land.

2. Although it is hard to understand, the “strange gifts” Iluvatar gave to Men are gifts indeed.
That immortality can be a terrible burden is the easiest part to understand of why mortality might be considered a gift. Humans must deal with age, while the bodies of Elves do not age. Yet the Elves must witness the very world aging. Tolkien says that in time even the Powers may come to envy Men the gift of death. The Elves can appreciate this, for they titled the Lay of Leithian, which deals with mortal death, “Release from Bondage.”

Iluvatar gave to Men a power over fate that no other being in Arda shared, not even the Valar. This is often overlooked in discussions of the mortality of Men. Mortality is integral to this gift. The freedom of Men extends to not being bound to the earth. Whereas the Elves must share in whatever fate befalls the Earth because even when they die thay are returned to it, Men leave the Earth at death. Should Melkor triumph and the world fall into darkness, Hurin tells the evil Vala in The Children of Hurin, Men will still escape Melkor’s dominion through death.

Freedom is another side of the gift that is not as easy to appreciate, but it is vital so that the vision of the world be “fulfilled unto the least and smallest.” (30) Being free of fate is inseparable from being free of to the Earth. The Elves are immortal because they are bound to the Earth - and fate.

The Valar know that Iluvatar intends Men to join in the Second Music, and I assumed (maybe based on other sources?) that Iluvatar was including Men that had passed from Arda through death, but the last sentence of the chapter is a little unclear on that. However, I do think that is what it meant. An interesting note, Christopher Tolkien says (in Lost Tales I?) that sometimes JRRT would say that Men would join in the Second Music, and sometime he said the Children of Iluvatar - which would include Elves. So CT wasn’t sure if his father was changing his mind on the issue or not. But our last sentence of this chapter says the Valar do not know what Iluvatar intends for the Elves after the World’s end.

References
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Silmarillion. Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1977.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Gandolorin
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on: March 27, 2016 03:30
I have a nagging hunch that the retreat of the Valar and their supporting Maiar behind the Pelóri in Aman, and raising these so high as a means of defense, results from an early concept of the Valar (to be found in HoME,as I would guess) of Melkor being very much more powerful than Manwë to the point of being able to daunt him "face-to-face", rather than Melkor and Manwë being equal "brethren". I mean, Melkor was the sole baddie Valar, and had 14 opponents facing him, with (late-arriving) Tulkas being the one Melkor knew he could never challenge with any hope of victory. I have some very vague Norse-sounding memories about detailed descriptions how the Valar managed to finally capture Melkor to get him out of Middle-earth prior to the awakening of the Elves, this again from somewhere in HoME.
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Neenime
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on: April 12, 2016 10:16
Lady Idril and Elfawen- good points about the drive of Men to accomplish things because they understood that their time is short. You describe Elves as having an almost fatalistic approach to existence. I hadn't really thought about his aspect in past readings of Silmarillion, but this discussion is bringing the point home for me.

Raising the Pelori is interesting. How exactly would a mountain range stop a spirit so powerful that it took part in the very creation of the world ? At a literal level, it doesn't make a lot of sense, and tarcolan and Gandolorin rightly observe that this is common enough in JRRT's work. It may be a matter of losing track of all the threads in his complex world.

Apart from that, perhaps the Pelori can be seen in a figurative sense as some sort of "energy"barrier or obstacle, like a force field. On the other hand, Perhaps the Valar foresaw that Melkor would create creatures for his campaigns of domination and destruction. Was
the mountain range intended to stop such creatures, which would have had mortal bodies and physical limitations?
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. " Gandalf
zslane
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on: June 25, 2018 04:29
I always assumed that upon taking physical form on Arda, each Ainu's power became scaled down to less cosmic levels, even Melkor's. They could modify and shape Arda's geography, but couldn't harness the full extent of the cosmic power they shared with Iluvatar during the Song of Creation.
tarcolan
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on: July 13, 2018 02:23
But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs. And therefore they are named the Valar, the Powers of the World.

- AINULINDALË
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