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After the one ring was destroyed and Aragorn was crowned King of Gondor and Arnor, he and Arwen were married. Though he looks older than his bride, I'm learning that Arwen is actually older than Aragorn by at least 2,600 years. She's obviously robbing the cradle, but I can't get an exact fix on exactly how old they were when married.

2 Answers 2

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Both Aragorn and Arwen's births, and their marriage, are listed in the Third Age section of The Tale of Years (Appendix B, at the back of Return of the King). Arwen was born in the year 241. Aragorn was born on March 1 of 2931. Since they were married at the end of June in 3019, this means Aragorn was 88 years old when they were married, and Arwen was either 2778 or 2777 (depending on whether she was born in the first or second half of the year).

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    Elves are immortal (they've only ever died by trauma, physical or emotional), so Arwen was 0% of her expected lifespan.
    – Plutor
    Apr 7, 2013 at 15:49
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    Thanks for breaking the 'log jam' Mica. Uncle Brad, from what I can find out; at the time of their marriage, Aragorn was 88 and Arwen was either 2778 or 2777 years old. Thanks Micah. Gandalf 8000+, Galadriel 8000+, Celeborn 7500+, Elrond 6520, Legolas 3000+, Haldir ?, Gollum 590? Gimli 140, Bilbo was 129, Frodo 51, Boromir 41, Sam 40, Merry 37, Faramir 36 and Pippin 29. For the mortals I haven't had time to get their expected normal lifespans. Maybe a new question?
    – Morgan
    Apr 7, 2013 at 18:05
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    @Plutor but Arwen chose mortality so had a finite lifespan. She'd actually lived 95%-96% of her eventual life. Apr 8, 2013 at 8:58
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    @Morgan: The important humans to look at are the descendants of the Numenorians, since they had elvish blood (via Elros). The Chieftains of the Dunedain seemed to live to about 100, on average. Aragorn himself lived to the age of 210.
    – Plutor
    Apr 8, 2013 at 11:53
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    @unclebrad: The closest thing to a "fair" comparison for lifespan is Elros, Arwen's uncle, and the first of the Half-elven to chose mortality. However, as he chose at about the end of the First Age (when he was at the tender age of 70), he "only" lived to 500. In comparison, Arwen enjoyed Elven immortality for well over 2000 years before "making her choice", which seems like cheating the system to me... ;) Anyway, that makes her roughly 550% of her expected lifespan by the Elros-standard, so no. Jan 26, 2015 at 4:14
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Aragorn was 88 (having aged 45 years) and Arwen 2778 (having aged 33 years)

As far as I can tell, Tolkien's last known writings about Arwen's growth is the work "Elvish Ages & Númenórean" written in 1965 and published in The Nature of Middle-earth.

Tolkien begins by describing the nature of elvish growth in Middle-earth in the Third Age, before giving examples of how it applies for different characters.

Elves' ages must be counted in two different stages: growth-years (GY) and life-years (LY). The GYs were relatively swift and in Middle-earth= 3 Löar. The LYs were very slow and in Middle-earth = 144 löar. ... They reached "full growth" of body in 24 GY. ... They then had 48 LY of youth, and then 48 LY of "full age" or "steadfast body", by which time their knowledge ceased to increase. ... If we neglect the difference of speed and call each unit a "year", we then see that an elf reached maturity at 24, end of "youth" at 72, and "old age" at 120. In mortal equivalents the age in physical and other characteristics indicated can be found approximately by multiplying by ¾.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Elvish Ages & Númenórean"

Basically, for the first 72 years of an elf's life they age one elf year every 3 normal years, until they turn "24" (72). After that they only age one elf year every 144 normal years. However, each of these aforementioned elf years is really the equivalent of what a mortal grows in 3/4 of a year.

So to get an understanding of how old an elf is you need to figure out how many total Growth-Years and Life-Years they've lived, and then multiply that number by 3/4.

The case of Arwen. Taking her birth as T[hird]A[ge] 241, she will then be "full-grown" in TA 313 (241 + 72). In 2951, when she first meets Aragorn, she will be (in Elven Growth- and Life-years) 24 + 18⅓ (nearly); (2951-313)/144 = 42⅓ = mortal equivalent 31¾. Aragorn was only 20.

In 3019, when they were married, she would have aged very little and would be nearly Elvish 43 (24 + (3019-313)/144) = mortal equivalent 32-3. But Aragorn would have lived 88 years and 4 months. His "age" would however be about "45". ...

The Númenórean scale fixed by the Valar (for other than Elros) was for a life in full (if not "resigned" earlier) of thrice that of ordinary men. This was reckoned so: A "Númenórean" reached "full-growth" at 24 (as with Elves; but this was for them reckoned in Sun-years); after that, 70 x 3 = 210 years were "permitted" = total 234. But decline set in (at first slow) at the 210th year (from birth); so that a Númenórean had an expectation of 186 fully active years after reaching physical maturity.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Elvish Ages & Númenórean"

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    You need to explain what a "life-year" is, and how it's calculated, and how it's related to age. Or at least explain some of the assumptions made by the author of the quote. The quote itself seems incomplete - "If Arwen had the same growth rate" as what? Or whom? Aug 8, 2021 at 10:11
  • @MattGutting - Is the answer better now? A full explanation of how to calculate life-years seems beyond the scope of this answer, seeing how it's pretty much different for every character. I've provided some additional context though.
    – ibid
    Aug 8, 2021 at 11:04
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    Definitely better, tthanks. Aug 8, 2021 at 14:37
  • @MattGutting - I've since found an even later Tolkien text on this and so have rewritten the answer.
    – ibid
    Aug 13, 2021 at 19:57

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