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Thinking about the idea of Elves having low numbers overall, got me to wondering: as far as Tolkien's writing, could elves ever have twins?

As a "yes" answer, I need an example of twins (any of JRRT work). They must be full on Elves, not half-Men. As a "no" answer, has to be an explicit statement in his work stating Elves ALWAYS had one child at a time. Anything else is a "maybe, we don't know".

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Elrond and Elros weren't twins, were they? Or who else do you want to count out as "half-Men"... –  leftaroundabout Dec 16 '13 at 1:02
@leftaroundabout: Elrond and Elros were twins (though you have to look in the History of Middle-Earth to find this out; it's not made clear in the Silmarillion). My girlfriend has a theory that Elros and Elrond a younger sister in Valinor; there's an otherwise-consistent pattern that half-Elven fathers all have twin sons, followed by a daughter... –  Micah Dec 16 '13 at 2:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

In the Silmarillion, Fëanor's youngest two sons, Amrod and Amras, are twins. Both of their parents are as Elvish as you could want. Fëanor had seven children — a number that was said to be utterly unprecedented for an Elf (before or since) — and this may be a part of that unprecedentedness. (Tolkien never portrayed any other Elf as having more than four children. In the published Silmarillion, Finarfin and his wife had five, but that's the result of Christopher Tolkien simplifying the family tree in a way he later regretted.)

There are a few other sets of Elvish twins, but all the ones I can think of have Men somewhere in their family tree. Beren and Luthien had twin sons (Eluréd and Elurín) as did Elrond and Celebrían (Elladan and Elrohir).

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Quendi and Eldar (HoME 11) provides Quenya and Sindarin words for "twins", "twin-born", "one of a pair of twins", "a pair of twins" and notes that the Sindarin words were "mostly of ancient formation", thus providing evidence (even if not specifically naming anyone) that twins did exist among the ancient Sindar too. –  user8719 Jan 13 '14 at 18:29

According to the LotR wiki, there were at least 4 sets of Elf twins.

  • Amrod and Amras
  • Elladan and Elrohir
  • Elros and Elrond
  • Eluréd and Elurín

For more information, see this link to the "Ask Middle-earth" blog. Essentially, it confirms what Micah says in her excellent answer: most of the elf twins we know of are actually half-Elven. In fact, of the 12 known half-elves, 6 are twins! It is therefore likely that there is a correlation between being half-Elven and being/having twins.

There are actually a lot of twins in Middle Earth. More than seem statistically likely, but Tolkien never said if there was a specific reason for this. We meet four pairs of twins among the elves (all related), and two sets of twins among men.

Folcred and Fastred, one of the sets of twins among men, were the oldest sons of Folcwine, king of Rohan. In 2885 of the Third Age, Folcwine helped Gondor in their war with Harad. During a battle along the river Poros both Folcred and Fastred were killed, and buried on site. Their burial mound was later known as the Mound of the Twins. One of the elvish sets of twins also died together. Elured and Elurin, sons of Dior (and grandsons of Luthien) were abandoned in the forest to starve during the Kinslaying at Doriath, and were never seen again (they were only 6 years old at the time.)

In some accounts Amrod and Amras (sons of Feanor) also died together in battle, during the Kinslaying at the Havens of Sirion. However, other versions of the story give the pair a sadder fate. The two were very close, and called each other Ambarussa (“top-russet”, referring to their red hair). After Feanor and his people stole the ships from the Teleri and landed in Middle Earth, Amras slept on one of the ships. However, Feanor didn’t know this and didn’t wake him before setting fire to the ships later that night. Amrod only realized the next morning that his twin had died in the fire. Amrod was then killed towards the end of the age in the Kinslaying and the Havens...

Finally, it bears mentioning that, of the 12 peredhil (“half elves”), 6 of them are twins. Elured and Elurin, as descendants of Beren and Luthien, were half-elven. Their nephews, Elrond and Elros, were also half-elven, and Elrond’s sons Elladan and Elrohir were also half-elven. Whether this was intentional on Tolkien’s part or not is unknown, but I think it probably was, as a reflection of the duel-nature of a peredhel. Especially in the case of Elrond and Elros, where each twin literally represents one of the races of their ancestry. Elured and Elurin didn’t have a chance to make a choice about their nature, and we don’t know what Elladan and Elrohir chose. But maybe each set of twins ended up divided by fate?

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Wikia is a crap source. Elladan And Ellrohir are never described as twins in any published work.. –  Carl Sixsmith Oct 3 at 18:31

As with many things in Tolkien, the exact number depends on which drafts you consider to be canon. This answer is mostly in supplement to Wad Cheber's, but with canon sources added. However, the case of Eluréd and Elurin is more nuanced than Ask Middle-earth makes it seem.

But, easy ones first:

Elladan and Elrohir

The canon is covered in my answer to a similar question.

Amrod and Amras

The seven sons of Fëanor were Maidros [> Maedhros] the tall; Maglor a musician and mighty singer, whose voice was heard far over land and sea; Celegorn [> Celegorm] the fair, and Cranthir [> Caranthir} the dark; and Curufin the crafty, who inherited most of his father's skill of hand; and the youngest Damrod and Diriel [> Amrod and Amras], who were twin brothers alike in mood and face.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 3: "The Later Quenta Silmarillion" Chapter 1 "The First Phase" V "Of Eldanor and the Princes of the Eldalie"

Eluréd and Elurin

This is something Tolkien changed his mind on, repeatedly.

Initially, the sons of Dior were not twins; in The Genealogies, Tolkien writes:

Elboron son of Dior born 192; Elbereth his brother born 195

History of Middle-earth V The Lost Road and Other Writings Part 3 Appendix: "The Genealogies, The List of Names and the Second 'Silmarillion' Map"

"Elboron" and "Elbereth" would later be replaces with "Elrun" and "Eldun", and eventually "Eluréd" and "Elurin."

Later on, in a plot synopsis written while writing Narn i Chîn Húrin, he changed this:

500 Elrun and Eldun twin sons of Dior are born.

History of Middle-earth XI The War of the Jewels Part 3: "The Wanderings of Húrin and other Writings not Forming Part of the *Quenta Silmarillion" Chapter I: "The Wanderings of Húrin"

However, he changed his mind at least one more time, writing very late in his life:

Dior [Beren and Luthien's] son, it is said, spoke both tongues: his father's, and his mother's, the Sindarin of Doriath. For he said: 'I am the first of the Peredil (Half-elven), but I am also the heir of King Elwe, the Eluchil.' He gave to his elder son the name Eluréd, that is said to have the same significance, but ended in the Beorian word reda 'heir'; to his second son he gave the name Elurin. (the problem of ros)

History of Middle-earth XII The Peoples of Middle-earth Chapter 12: "The Problem of Ros"

Elrond and Elros

Unlike Eluréd and Elurin, Elrond and Elros seem to have been twins for their entire textual history; the last mention of this is in a note added to The Tale of Years:

528 Elros and Elrond twin sons of Eärendil born.

History of Middle-earth XI The War of the Jewels Part 3: "The Wanderings of Húrin and other Writings not Forming Part of the *Quenta Silmarillion" Chapter V: "The Tale of Years"

The year was later changed to 532, but otherwise remains unchanged. This isn't entirely surprising, since Elros was a late addition to the narrative.

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