Canonically, Arwen elects for a mortal life, linking her fate to the Doom of Man. In doing so, she's the second elf to do so, after Luthien Tinuviel. My question is this: Why couldn't Aragorn have been granted immortality, and have his fate tied to the Firstborn? There is precedent for this as well--Luthien and Beren were not the only inter-species marriage in history: Luthien's parents were an Elf and a Maia (both immortal, and therefore irrelevant), and Luthien and Beren's granddaughter, Idril Celebrindal ("half-elven" in the same was as Elrond but counted among the Eldar) married a human (Tuor, son of Huor). Interestingly, both Aragorn and Arwen are directly descended from all three of these couples. The important note is that Tuor was able to become counted among the Eldar, due to his marriage to Idril, and his abiding love of Elvenkind. Couldn't the same have happened for Aragorn?

Other Notes:

I understand that thematically Aragorn represents the coming of the Dominion of Men, so his Fate is sealed, so to speak. And he may well have felt more kinship for Man than for Elves. But in-universe, would he have had a choice? Could Arwen and Aragorn have talked things through and decided that either mortality or immortality was right for them and their descendants? Or was Arwen choosing mortality really the only way their fates could have been linked? Could he have ruled as king for a reasonable span of years and then taken a ship into the West with Arwen?

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    Aragorn isn't half-elven, he's a man.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 13, 2018 at 8:48
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    @Edlothiad Aragorn is largely but not entirely human. His ancestors include the elves Idril, Nimloth and Elu Thingol, and the Maia Melian.
    – Mike Scott
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:15
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    @MikeScott His ancestors do, almost 46 odd generations back, that makes the "elvish blood" infinitesimally small. Effectively insignificant. I also disagree with the duping. This question brings up different issues than "Why didn't Elros' descendants have the choice", it goes on to explore Tuor and his acceptance to being Elven.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:18
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    Re: Aragorn taking ship into the West -- keep in mind that Tolkien (who waited many years to marry his bride, because of the strict requirements of her father...sound familiar?) probably considered Aragorn's marriage as the reward for his hardships and labors and he was in no need of "healing" the way Frodo was. Mar 13, 2018 at 17:59
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    Also, the fleeting nature of life and love is an important theme in Tolkien's writings on the 2nd Age, all about Aragorn's ancestors who craved the immortality of their ancestors. A reading of the Akallabeth and The Mariner's Wife would explain a lot of the history of the descendants of Elros. Mar 13, 2018 at 18:04

2 Answers 2


Aragorn did not have a choice, his fate was tied to that of Men.

One thing you seem to be misunderstanding is that because Arwen and her siblings were granted the choice, all the descendants of Elros must have been as well. This is however incorrect. The choice given to the children of Elrond was a special condition bestowed by the Valar. After Elros' decision, his children and descendants were tied to the fate of Man, although they were given a longer life than most.

But to the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed: to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they remained, to become mortal and die in Middle-earth. For Elrond, therefore, all chances of the War of the Ring were fraught with sorrow.
Elros chose to be of Man-kind and remain with the Edain; but a great life-span was granted to him many times that of lesser men.
The Return of the King - Book 7, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I - The Numenorean Kings, (i) - Numenor

Tuor's acceptance in the Eldar and his immortality

It must be remembered that Tuor is a very special case. Tuor was a troubled youth raised by the Elves of Mithrim, after spending a few years as an outlaw and a thrall, Tuor was chosen by the Vala Ulmo as his instrument. The Vala Ulmo guided Tuor to the shores of Belegaer, the first of the race of Men to do so, and from there on to Vinyamar and Gondolin. Tuor was sent by Ulmo to warn Turgon of the fate of Gondolin, that the Doom of Mandos was nearing fulfilment, and that he should flee. Although Turgon ignored the warning, Tuor remained in Gondolin and married Idril, Turgon's daughter. After the fall of Gondolin, Tuor and Idril fled to the Mouths of Sirion for a time before leaving for the west. Tuor's immortality was granted to him by divine intervention, given by Eru Iluvatar himself.

Immortality and Mortality being the special gifts of God to the Eruhini (in whose conception and creation the Valar had no part at all) it must be assumed that no alteration of their fundamental kind could be effected by the Valar even in one case: the cases of Lúthien (and Túor) and the position of their descendants was a direct act of God.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien - Letter 153: To Peter Hastings

In the same letter, Tolkien makes clear that such a choice was not granted to the descendants of Elros, and Aragorn therefore had no choice.

Elros chose to be a King and 'longaevus' but mortal, so all his descendants are mortal, and of a specially noble race, but with dwindling longevity: so Aragorn (who, however, has a greater life-span than his contemporaries, double, though not the original Númenórean treble, that of Men).

This, however, does not mean that it was certain that Aragorn's fate would be tied to the fate of Men, although it was certainly very likely, the case for Tuor was only supposed to be unique, never having been confirmed to being unique:

...and 'it is supposed' (not stated) that he as an unique exception receives the Elvish limited 'immortality'...

  • My question wasn't so much because of Aragorn's Elvish descent; the note that Aragorn and Arwen are both descended from Luthien/Beren and Tuor/Idril was just an interesting aside. My question was more of a hypothetical of whether or not Aragorn and Arwen could have had the option of both choosing fate of the Undying, as did Tuor and Idril. From a narrative point-of-view, I understand why Aragorn was always going to be tied to the fate of Men, but I was more asking about the the rules (such as we can know) that would allow Aragorn/Arwen to follow Luthien/Beren, but not Tuor/Idril. Mar 20, 2018 at 8:19
  • +1 for a good, thorough answer, but I'm hoping that you can address the rules a bit more. In response to the last quote about a unique exception, I think it is actually stated in the Silmarillion that "Luthien alone" of the Elven kindred passed beyond the Halls of Mandos. So either (likely) Tolkien's position on the matter changed repeatedly, or (less likely) there is something very confusing about Arwen dying. The point being: since the Aragorn/Arwen pairing contradicts others of Tolkien's writings whether they chose mortality or immortality, could they have chosen to live Elvish lives? Mar 20, 2018 at 8:26
  • @DeseretRose Your final question The point being: since the Aragorn/Arwen pairing contradicts others of Tolkien's writings whether they chose mortality or immortality, could they have chosen to live Elvish lives? is addressed in the bit under Tuor's acceptance. This was an entirely unique case (for the purposes of Tolkien's writings) and would therefore not have been possible for Aragorn. While Eru could have taken the gift away from Aragorn, his limited presence in the Third Age would suggest it to have been very unlikely. I will address your other points when I can.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 20, 2018 at 8:47
  • That makes sense, especially about Eru's distance after the Second Age. So is the general idea that Arwen had a choice of fates as a child of Elrond, but Aragorn would have required a new judgement? So Tuor and Luthien both received special dispensations, but because of the timing at the end of the Third Age, it would have been unlikely for Aragorn to receive that choice, were he even inclined to seek it. That actually feels like a reasonably satisfying answer! Luthien, Tuor, Eärendil, and his children + grandchildren got a choice from Eru, but nothing new after the Akallabêth. Mar 28, 2018 at 8:19
  • This leads to another related question, but I think it's separate: why didn't the children of Elros have a choice of fates like the children of Elrond did? Is there another place where this has been asked, or should I start a new thread? Mar 28, 2018 at 8:22

In the Silmarillion, Eru speaks of death as "a new gift" he has chosen to bestow upon men.

Given that Eru sees it as a gift, it's probably whole lot more acceptable to grant that gift to a few who didn't originally receive it, than it is to withdraw it from others who received it as their birthright (regardless of how much or little they might want to receive this particular gift).

  • Based on this argument, aren't all part-elves are supposed to die and have no choice in the matter?
    – einpoklum
    Mar 14, 2018 at 1:11
  • @einpoklum: I don't think that necessarily follows at all. A cross-breed hasn't necessarily been granted the gift as a birthright, so if they turn it down, nothing's being taken away from them. But when they make their choice, it's made so they (in essence) become either human or elf, and that's what's passed to their children. Mar 14, 2018 at 3:02
  • I'd point out that according to Christian belief, the "gift" of mortality comes with the taint of sin, so it is indeed a gift to eventually leave the sin behind. And while Tolkien did not write allegory, he certainly brought a lot of his belief system into his stories. I see denying the gift of removal of sin (through death) as anathema. Tuor being the only mortal to lose the gift is most likely because he was Tolkien's original messianic character, and thus was never tainted by sin. I tend to think if Tolkien had finished the Silmarillion, he would have changed Tuor's fate. Mar 14, 2018 at 20:14

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