Elves

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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:51 am

If memory serve TB came before LoTR was even conceived and Tolkien only included the character out of a personnal fondness for him and the loss of the wilds that he represented. Which is why TB doesn't fit the cosmology of ME. So whilst I include TB as canon where he is mentioned in the books I treat the poems from within the conceit as a hobbit collection. So still more in the myth, folktale category. I have never read the Road goes ever on- l have thoughread the intorduction. But again as a collection of songs I see it more in the added universe (even though the songs are from the books its more about the music, and even although Tolkien sanctioned it, it is for me still a musical interpretation so not canon).

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:12 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote: (...) So whilst I include TB as canon where he is mentioned in the books I treat the poems from within the conceit as a hobbit collection. So still more in the myth, folktale category.

For myself (and not that you said otherwise here), I don't think true and 'canon' are mutually exclusive. If there is a poem about a troll that bakes bread for Perry-the-Winkle written in the Red Book of Westmarch, or a copy, it is certainly part of Frodo's world simply because it's part of the Red Book. It's part of the same conceit as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo's earlier version of how he got the One was untrue in parts, but Tolkien preserves the first edition of The Hobbit as Bilbo's version of things -- rather than an externally rejected thing.


I have never read the Road goes ever on- l have thoughread the intorduction. But again as a collection of songs I see it more in the added universe (even though the songs are from the books its more about the music, and even although Tolkien sanctioned it, it is for me still a musical interpretation so not canon).

Hmm, I don't see why the Tolkien-published explanation of Elvish songs or chants from The Lord of the Rings should not be taken as canon. Tolkien wrote the songs and the interpretations, adding linguistic information and history into the mix, as he often does; in fact, a quite important bit of history dealing with a major character: Nerwende Artanis as a leader of the Rebel Noldor!

Otherwise known as Galadriel of course Very Happy
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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:41 am

Galadriels' past is a can of worms even taking the info in RGEO into account which is why I don't include it as canon.
You are right about TB- lets say I take them as part of the world frodo inhabits- but not on the same plain of truth as other things in that world.

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:12 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Galadriels' past is a can of worms even taking the info in RGEO into account which is why I don't include it as canon.

Hmm, I would rather say that Galadriel's past is less problematic when one takes into account only what Tolkien himself published. With this approach, including RGEO arguably makes things clearer, not less so; at least in general, as a few issues arise within the Tolkien-published corpus itself, admittedly.

What has greatly muddled Galadriel's picture (and Celeborn's picture) is not what Tolkien published, but the posthumous publication of his unfinished work in Unfinished Tales, especially the History of Galadriel And Celeborn, which I think is a problematic draft text (despite being quoted all over the web, often enough without external context), and a very late text on Galadriel which was so unfinished that Christopher Tolkien paraphrased it instead of reproducing it as it was. There are other bits here, but to my mind these are notable examples.


I doubt Christopher Tolkien published these private texts to muddle the history of Galadriel as readers already knew it, but unfortunately, that's what seems to be happening now and again, because (I think) there's too little distinction about what Tolkien chose to reveal to his readership versus what he simply wrote at one point or another.


And in my opinion RGEO is all the stronger with respect to Galadriel because we know, for certain, that when Tolkien wrote it he was truly considering what he had already published in The Lord of the Rings. The songs were right before him, looked at in detail even. Why did Galadriel sing this or that line? In consideration of her words her history was revealed. With other late statements, I'm not so sure JRRT had truly considered all the relevant material already in print, or always remembered what he had published.
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Re: Elves

Post by chris63 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:18 am

Do Elves grow quickly when they are young, or do they stay in a 7yr old body for 100yrs or so then in an 8tr old body
for another 100yrs or so and so on Question
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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:38 pm

chris63 wrote:Do Elves grow quickly when they are young, or do they stay in a 7yr old body for 100yrs or so then in an 8tr old body
for another 100yrs or so and so on Question

The answer to this depends upon how one approaches Tolkien's private writings (that is, texts never published by JRRT himself). I think Tolkien ended up imagining that the Elves grow at about the same rate as other Men, based on...

'nette meant 'girl approaching the adult' (in her 'teens': the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if at all slower than that of the children of Men). The Common Eldarin stem (wen-ed) wendé 'maiden' applied to all stages up to the fully adult (until marriage).'

JRRT, from Vinyar Tengwar 47, texts generally dated 1967-70

And...

[They are the Númenóreans] 'Thus (as the Eldar) they grew at much the same rate as other Men, but when they had achieved 'full growth' then they aged, or 'wore out', very much more slowly.'

Note 1, The Line of Elros, Unfinished Tales


______________________________________
But also from posthumously published material...

'(...) Whereas on Earth to them all things in comparison with themselves were fleeting, swift to change and die or pass away, in Aman they endured and did not so soon cheat love with their mortality. On Earth while an Elf-child did but grow to be a man or woman, in some 3000 years, forests would rise and fall, and all the face of the land would change, while birds and flowers innumerable would be born and die in loar upon loar under the wheeling Sun.'

Text XI, Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed

Three thousand years! yet this might reflect an earlier (internally earlier) maturity rate for Elves, with the rate becoming swifter in Middle-earth. In the same text, it is also said: 'Nonetheless the Eldar 'aged' at the same speed in Aman as they had done in their beginning upon Middle-earth' And Christopher Tolkien noted in his commentary on Text XI: 'I realized that it stands in fact in very close relationship to the manuscript of Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth,...' and in that text Finrod notes:

'This I can well believe,' said Finrod: 'That your bodies suffer in some measure the malice of Melkor. 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* [*the word change was an emendation to the typescript B (only); the manuscript has growth -- footnote by CJRT] 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.'

Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (and see Author's note 7 on the Commentary)

This work is generally dated to about the same time (late 1950s) as Laws And Customs too -- noting that the manuscript of the debate is said to be: 'very similar in style and appearance to that of Laws and Customs among the Eldar.'

I wonder then, despite the rather notable (!) change from a general 3000 years to 50 or 100 from Laws and Customs (see below), if these texts were not actually supposed to meld together on this point, and that the Elvish growth to maturity was, at least according to these examples, supposed to have become swifter over time, due to Arda Marred. In any case Laws and Customs reads...




The Eldar grew in bodily form slower than Men, but in mind more swiftly. They learned to speak before they were one year old; and in the same time they learned to walk and dance, for their wills came soon to the mastery of their bodies. Nonetheless there was less difference between the two Kindreds, Elves and Men, in early youth; and a man who watched elf-children at play might well have believed that they were the children of Men, of some fair and happy people. For in their early days elf-children delighted still in the world about them, and the fire of their spirit had not consumed them, and the burden of memory was still light upon them.

The same watcher might indeed have wondered at the small limbs and stature of these children, judging their ages by their skill in words and grace in motion/ For at the end of the third year mortal children began to outstrip the Elves, hastening on to a full stature while the Elves lingered in the first spring of childhood. Children of Men might reach their full height while Eldar of the same age were still in body like to mortals of no more than seven years. Not until the fiftieth year did the Eldar attain the stature and shape in which their lives would afterwards endure, and for some a hundred years would pass before they were full-grown.


JRRT, Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar, Ælfwine's Preamble


This last quote seems to be the most popular in threads and on the interweb in general. Partially because it is more well known than other texts, I guess, but maybe because it appears more 'fleshed out' too.

Again I'm not certain if this citation is meant to go hand in hand with text XI (3000 years), and with a description from the Narn as well, with a much reduced rate in Middle-earth (Aman is a different story) explaining the difference; but in any case, noting the late date of the first citation above, it seems Tolkien later altered this to have Elves grow at about the same rate as Men.

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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:07 pm

For the sake of clarity Elthir -and becasue I'm way to lazy to put in the work- what happens if we narrow it down to only waht Tolkien said on the subject within works published in his life time and excluding letters? Do we get a more clear idea of elvish aging or a more vague one?

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:58 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:For the sake of clarity Elthir -and becasue I'm way to lazy to put in the work- what happens if we narrow it down to only waht Tolkien said on the subject within works published in his life time and excluding letters? Do we get a more clear idea of elvish aging or a more vague one?

I don't recall any evidence in the Tolkien-published corpus that would give us a way to figure out how fast pure-blooded Elves reach maturity. What we have is very ancient Elves with 'no sign of age' upon them; except if we count Cirdan as 'looking old' outside of silver-grey hair and a beard, instead of being old.


One way to go about it would be to check the birth year of a given Elf against another year in which the same Elf did something that arguably only a mature Elf would do! but I don't think The Tale of Years (Appendix B) is helpful there -- the children of Elrond are not pure Elves in any event, and I'm not sure it's even noted when Celebrian, for instance, was born -- to possibly compare when she was married (arguably a mature thing for an Elf).


If there is some evidence published by JRRT, then I've missed it so far (anyone else recall anything here). There is a mention of the Elvish Long Year or yén in the Appendices, being equal to 144 years -- this happens to agree with Tolkien's later reckoning of the Valian Year: 1 Valian Year = 144 Sun Years, found in the text Aman -- and this is the text that noted: 'On Earth while an Elf-child did but grow to be a man or woman, in some 3000 years, forests would rise and fall, and all the face of the land would change, while birds and flowers innumerable would be born and die in loar upon loar under the wheeling Sun.'


Still, that need mean nothing. The Elvish Long Year in Middle-earth has to do with reckoning the years, not with the growth of Elvish children to Elf-men and Women; although it might be said that within this reckoning, if Elves grew at the same rate as other Men, they would obviously become Men and Woman easily within 'one' Elvish year -- but the same would be true of the idea from Laws and Customs, if they took 'only' 50 or 100 Sun Years.

Arwen Halfeleven 'works', in a sense, with respect to the Elvish Long Year, as she was married when she reached an age, in comparative yéni, when mortals might wed -- interestingly, at one point Tolkien even changed how old Arwen was when she married Aragorn, so possibly he 'intended' this to work out as it did?

But this is very speculative; and goes nowhere really. I think Tolkien would have had a somewhat difficult time of things, especially concerning the chronology of the First Age of course, if every Elf took about 3,000 years to reach maturity (even if he altered the existing chronology); and then again, as I say, according to the posthumously published text this may have only held true for the earliest Elves of Middle-earth, and those who remained in Aman.


In the end the fact that the Elvish yén = 144 happens to agree with the later ratio of Valian Years to Sun Years (the earlier ratio was closer to 10 Sun Years), need mean nothing really. In my opinion there's nothing necessarily wrong with an Elf physically maturing in 20 years or so, even if the Eldar of Middle-earth reckoned in Long Years, or used this reckoning for some things at least.


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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:13 pm

Ok 'grey-haired' Cirdan- is that the description of him in published works or from postumous? If so it could be taken as proof that although elves might reach a maturity then slow so much as to appear not to age, that the cut off point- how old they look when it happens might vary. No?

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:18 pm

"As they came to the gates Círdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and said 'All is now ready.'"

Yes that's the description from The Lord of the Rings itself... whatever it implies; and I tend to equate 'grey' here with silver-grey hair incidentally, but others might not.
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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:22 pm

"he was grew and old" does sound suspicously like the indication of someone who 'looks' old- especially given the immediate caveat which follows. Thats how I interpret that description anyway. If he was silver-grey Tolkien would have said so- does he not in fact describe either Elrond or Celeborn in such a fashion after all?

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Re: Elves

Post by Orwell on Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:06 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:"he was grew and old" does sound suspicously like the indication of someone who 'looks' old- especially given the immediate caveat which follows. Thats how I interpret that description anyway. If he was silver-grey Tolkien would have said so- does he not in fact describe either Elrond or Celeborn in such a fashion after all?

Light grey or dark grey, possibly almost black (charcoal grey)?

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:44 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:"he was grew and old" does sound suspicously like the indication of someone who 'looks' old- especially given the immediate caveat which follows.


I agree. I only 'wriggle' here because I don't think it fits for even Cirdan to have looked old. He 'should' rather be starting to fade in the body if anything, although that might be a bit harder to nicely get across in brief description, even if Tolkien agreed with me.

Thats how I interpret that description anyway. If he was silver-grey Tolkien would have said so- does he not in fact describe either Elrond or Celeborn in such a fashion after all?

Not Elrond, who was dark-haired if I remember correctly, but: 'and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright;'

Elsewhere Tolkien did describe Cirdan as Silver-haired too, which is also why I try to attach 'grey' to his 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 Cirdan.'

Although unfortunately for my case, that's an admittedly 'convenient' mix and match. As you note, the easy implication of the description in The Lord of the Rings is that Cirdan 'looked' old, despite that technically it says he was old, exactly because it includes grey -- that is, not simply 'was old' but 'was grey and old'


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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:48 pm

Right to cut to the chase then- Elves can 'look' old and Tolkien says so in LotR's. Yes?

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:12 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Right to cut to the chase then- Elves can 'look' old and Tolkien says so in LotR's. Yes?

If one wants to claim this based on Cirdan, I would say it's not an unreasonable conclusion -- even if I think it makes more sense that Elves would fade in the body.

But even if so (to address what I think was your earlier statement), I don't think this necessarily means that Elves reached physical maturity at different stages of physical ageing. I think it need only mean, or could only mean, that after physically maturing after a given amount of time for all Elves, they also reach a much later point, after so many years in Middle-earth, where they begin to show age as humans do.

There's another posthumously published text that notes that Elves did not normally have beards until their third cycle of life -- which is not explained in detail incidentally; but for all we know there is a certain age in Sun Years where an Elf of Middle-earth will begin to 'look' old even though, long ago, he or she physically matured after the same amount of time as other Elves.


But again this makes little sense to me really: while I admit the 'easier interpretation' with respect to Cirdan is that he looked old, what is the purpose of Elves looking old before fading in the body in any case? And when the Lingerers (physically faded Elves) reveal their forms to Men's minds, are they revealing 'ancient looking' bodies?!? Perhaps not, even if they did look really old before fading; but I'm wondering why this should occur, even in Middle-earth.
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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:30 pm

Oooh you academic Lore Masters! Always with the wiggle room never can be pinned down to a simple straight answer.
I'm sticking with the obviously correct explanation I am just about to make up- Elves can look old or young, when they stop physically ageing can be any time after they reach maturity. And parents of elves always look slightly older than their children because of the twin Natural Laws of Embarressment and Common Sense. Simple and straight forward thinking see- that's what you Lore Mastes lack with all your unnecessary facts.

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:23 pm

LOL... well you've got to ask an easy question to get an easy, simple answer Wink


To blather on, if Elves in Aman do not fade, I tend to doubt they ever look old too, no matter how long the World lasts. Compared to the great amount of time it will take until the Great End -- still embiggening as we speak, day by day -- what purpose to have the 'immortals' of Middle-earth look like aged humans in some relatively limited space of time between 'youth' and fading?


Fading makes sense. Tolkien always had some sort of Elvish fading in Middle-earth, because he needed a way (in addition to death) to have the Elves 'depart' Middle-earth -- even those Elves who might refuse to leave, and were not slain, had to leave Middle-earth in some way, because we live in Middle-earth nowadays, and only some of us are still permitted to 'see' the Quendi, the Lingerers.
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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:45 pm

"and only some of us are still permitted to 'see' the Quendi, the Lingerers."

Ah the magic of buckie! drunken

But surely the reason Elves can look old is because Tolkien describes Cirdan as such therefore they can?

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Re: Elves

Post by Lorient Avandi on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:57 pm

Ive heard that cirdan was just an exception. Elves do not normally have beards or grow old. The only reason Tolkien did that with cirdan is because he wanted to make it seem like he was a worn seaman.
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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:04 pm

does it say "he was grey and old, but he was just an exception"? No it does not!

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:30 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote: But surely the reason Elves can look old is because Tolkien describes Cirdan as such therefore they can?

But again I wonder why, if Elves live for thousands of years looking young -- and will someday fade in the body and remain so for arguably more thousands of years, should there be an interim period of aged looking... 'immortals'! and only in Middle-earth? What purpose would this interim period serve?
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Re: Elves

Post by chris63 on Sat Jun 23, 2012 4:43 am

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Re: Elves

Post by Elthir on Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:05 am

While the linked article within the link -- concerning pointed ears and Elves -- is dated September 2011, if I recall correctly, the word 'Human' has been confirmed in an issue of Vinyar Tengwar published much earlier ('Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies', part one and two were published in 2003 and 2004, issues 45 and 46).

Anyway the article quotes Etymologies, which includes Tolkien's: (Some think this is related to the next and *lasse 'ear'. The Quendian ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than [?human].) and then states...

Well, this seems pretty convincing, doesn't it? The expression 'more pointed and leaf-shaped than [...]' clearly implies some measure of pointiness. However, Christopher was not sure that his father had written 'human' at the end of the sentence. It's hard to imagine what else could go there but there is no need to quibble over Christopher's guess. Human ears can indeed seem very pointed. Tolkien surely had opportunity to notice as much.

[edit picture of human ears]

Many human ears are naturally pointed and leaf-like in shape.

OK but to me that seems beside the point (pun intended) of Tolkien's statement in Etymologies, as no matter the shape of human ears in general, in my opinion the notable word here is more in: 'more pointed and leaf-shaped than human'.

So yes, it does seem pretty convincing.

But there's still one problem: Not one of Tolkien's stories mentions Elvish ears. So if you're looking for proof that Tolkien elves have pointed ears, you won't find any.

Or to put it another way: if you're looking for proof that Tolkien's Elves have pointed ears, you might find pretty convincing proof, just not in his stories.


To my mind one problem with Etymologies (and the letter noted in the essay as well) is the date. While not very early like something from The Book of Lost Tales, or the Quenta of 1930, Etymologies is still much earlier than JRRT's Words, Phrases and Passages. To quote Etymologies again for comparison, with my emphasis on one part...

Las (1)
*lasse 'leaf': Q lasse, N lhass; Q lasselanta 'leaf-fall, autumn, N lhasbelin (*lassekwelene), cf. Q Narquelion [KWEL]. Lhasgalen 'Greenleaf' (Gnome name of Laurelin). (Some think this is related to the next and *lasse 'ear'. The Quendian ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than [human])

Las (2)
'listen'. N lhaw 'ears' (of one person), old dual *lasu – whence singular lhewig. Q lar, lasta- 'listen'; lasta 'listening, hearing' – Lastalaika 'sharp-ears', a name, cf. N Lhathleg. N lhathron 'hearer, listener, eavesdropper' (*la(n)sro-ndo); lhathro or lhathrando 'listen in, eavesdrop'.

... again, seems pretty convincing, I would agree; but much later, after The Lord of the Rings was published, Tolkien basically looked again at the updated scenario of Elvish words for leaf and listen (or ear), and writes...

Q lasse 'leaf' (S las); pl. lassi (S lais). It is only applied to certain kinds of leaves, especially those of trees, and would not e.g. be used of leaf of a hyacinth (linque). It is thus possibly related to LAS 'listen', and S-LAS stem of Elvish words for 'ear'; Q hlas, dual hlaru. Sindarin dual lhaw, singular lhewig.

lasse 'leaf'.

And while a 'possible' relationship is noted (similar to the statement in the now old and abandoned Etymologies), here there is no direct statement describing the shape of Quendian ears as compared to Humans however. Of course there could be various reasons why this statement seems to have vanished by comparison, but in any case, in my opinion, this section of Words, Phrases, and Passages is essentially a revision of that in Etymologies...

... meaning that I think whatever might be gleaned about Elvish ears from any linguistic evidence (admittedly not published by Tolkien himself in any event, although there's a lot of stuff he never published), should be gleaned from the later text rather than Etymologies.


I know that wasn't the main reason to link to this article, but it gave me something to do. And I probably already posted all this somewhere in these forums too, but sometimes I'm not sure where I posted what.
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Re: Elves

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:02 pm

Glad you mentioned the bit associating the leaf shape to ears Elthir- I was sure there was somehting about tha somewhere but bukcie memory was playing up.

I agree- the line implies strongly pointy ears, or at least on average more pointy than a humans.

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Re: Elves

Post by Eldorion on Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:52 pm

I have to admit that the subtleties of the Elf ears debate have always gone over my head and I've never been terribly interested in following it more closely, but I've always pictured them with pointy ears. That's likely because my first copy of LOTR had a movie tie-in cover (not to mention the more general cultural association of elves and pointed ears). However, it's long seemed to me that the situation is not clear enough to make a definitive statement one way or another, though I think Elthir argues very well for the pro-pointy side of the debate.
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