I am sure Elrond is half-elven, so Arwen is too. I recall something saying Argorn was half-elven as well. Shouldn't half-elves not have to become mortal to marry each other?

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    Check out previous questions like Of Half-elven and mortal life or Why can Arwen decide her mortality, which deal with the issues of half-elves and mortality. Jun 5, 2014 at 13:49
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    I also would like to add that Aragorn is not Half-elven, but a descendent of Elros an Half-Elven that choose to be a included in the race of Men. Note that Elros was Elrond brother. Jun 5, 2014 at 14:05
  • If we assume that each step in Aragorn's family tree from Elros represents a generation of Aragorn's ancestors, and that Elros was the last ancestor who had a significant amount of Elven blood in him, and that Elros was exactly 50% Elf, then Aragorn is 99 generations removed from a half-Elven ancestor. Elros' great, great, great grandchild would have been less than 1% elf. By Aragorn's time, he would be like 1/1,000,000,000,000th elf.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 30, 2015 at 1:21
  • I found a claim that Aragorn is 64 generations removed from Elros; the point remains the same. He isn't half-Elf, he is the great, great, great... [pretend I said "great" 59 more times] grandson of a half-Elf.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 30, 2015 at 1:29
  • If Elrond is half elven then Arwen would actually be three-quarters elven (assuming her mother is a full elf) Not half-elven like her father.
    – TylerH
    May 30, 2015 at 19:58

3 Answers 3


Saying that someone is "half-elf" is a way of saying that they have an elven parent and a mortal one. Elrond fits into this category (his mother, Elwing, was an elf; his father Earendil was a human). But one is not thereby "half-human, half-elf" - one has to choose between being an elf and being a human:

"... Elrond Half-elven, who chose, as was granted to him, to be numbered among the Eldar; but Elros his brother chose to abide with Men." (Silmarillion chapter 34; page 254 in my edition)

Thus, at the time of the War of the Ring, Elrond is quite definitely an elf. Arwen gets that same choice.

But Aragorn is quite definitely a human; he's a descendant of Elros. Thus, he is going to die; and Arwen makes the choice to die as well, that is, to be under the Doom of Men, in order to be with him. It is only at the very end of her life that she sees what's involved with this and regrets it:

"If this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." (Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1038 in my edition)

She doesn't seem to ever reconcile herself to it.

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    This is mostly correct, but Earendil as the son of Tuor and Idril was definitely Half-elven himself too, and the choice is restricted to the offspring of Earendil and Elwing and only to their offspring; note Manwe's words in the 1937 Silmarillion: "Now all those who have the blood of mortal Men, in whatever part, great or small, are mortal, unless other doom be granted to them...". So the offspring of Imrazôr and Mithrellas didn't have the choice: they were human and mortal by default.
    – user8719
    Jun 5, 2014 at 14:23
  • Thanks; I was going only by LotR and the 1978 published Silmarillion, which are the only books I have and have read closely - I haven't read all of the History of Middle-earth. Jun 5, 2014 at 14:29
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    So why did Arwen get to choose also instead of being bound by Elrond's choice, while the descendants of Elros did not? (Maybe that should be a separate question) Jun 5, 2014 at 14:50
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    @TravisChristian - I don't believe that Tolkien ever said so explicitly, but from the evidence it seems that the choice to be mortal is irrevocable for you and and your descendents, whereas the choice to be an Elf can always be changed.
    – user8719
    Jun 5, 2014 at 15:18
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    The only comment I can see about this is in the Akallabeth: "The Valar indeed may not withdraw the gift of death, which comes to men from Iluvatar, but in the matter of the Half-elven Iluvatar gave to them the judgement; and they judged that to the sons of Earendil should be given choice of their own destiny." Jun 5, 2014 at 15:31

I doubt she had to; rather she decided to.

There's precedent for a full-blooded (immortal) Elf marrying a mortal, where the Elf retains (or seems to retain) their immortality:

There doesn't appear to be any requirement that an immortal must become mortal in order to marry a mortal; in fact, they can't. Lúthien is the only full-blooded Elf who did this, and she had to die and be reborn. Only half-Elves of the line of Eärendil were given the mortal choice.

Having said that, by all accounts Arwen decided to give up immortality; bear in mind the words she uses when professing her love to Aragorn:

I will cleave to you, Dúnadan, and turn from the Twilight.

Return of the King Appendix A: "Annals of the Kings and Rulers"

And what Tolkien writes in Letter 153:

When she weds Aragorn (whose love-story elsewhere recounted is not here central and only occasionally referred to) she 'makes the choice of Lúthien'

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 153: To Peter Hastings (draft). September 1954

Notably, he frames her choice in terms of Lúthien, not in terms of mortality/immortality. I'll get to why I think this is important in a moment.

The question then becomes: why did she make the choice?

Tolkien's remark above gives one clue; "the choice of Lúthien" is described thus in The Silmarillion:

Because of her labours and her sorrow, she should be released from Mandos, and go to Valimar, there to dwell until the world's end among the Valar, forgetting all griefs that her life had known. Thither Beren could not come. For it was not permitted to the Valar to withhold Death from him, which is the gift of Ilúvatar to Men. But the other choice was this: that she might return to Middle-earth, and take with her Beren, there to dwell again, but without certitude of life or joy. Then she would become mortal, land subject to a second death, even as he; and ere long she would leave the world for ever, and her beauty become only a memory in song.

The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 19: "Of Beren and Lúthien"

If we take the Professor at his word, then one of Arwen's motives is revealed: she's so in love that she would rather die than spend the rest of eternity without him.

As well, though there's no evidence she was thinking along these lines, I've commented before that the nature of the Eldar is such that there are practical benefits to not marrying beneath your mortality:

[T]he life and love of the Eldar dwells much in memory; and we (if not ye) would rather have a memory that is fair but unfinished than one that goes on to a grievous end.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 4: "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth"

But that's perhaps reaching for explanations; I tend to agree with Matt Gutting that she wasn't thinking that far ahead.

1 There's actually in-universe speculation that Tuor was granted immortality, though personally I find it doubtful; I'm particularly intrigued by Tolkien's statement in Letter 153 that "'it is supposed' (not stated) that he as an unique exception receives the Elvish limited 'immortality'"

  • See the Appendix A quote in Wad Cheber's answer. That does seem to imply that the mere fact of her staying after Elrond left "meant", for some reason and in some way, that she had to become mortal. How does that work with your answer? May 6, 2016 at 3:02
  • @MattGutting I'm not as confident in that interpretation; I think there's a distinction to be made between "remaining" and "lingering." We're told that Elladan and Elrohir remained "for a while," but we're not told which choice they made, which to me implies that they still had a choice. It seems...odd to me that simply remaining in Middle-earth would make Arwen's choice for her May 6, 2016 at 5:36
  • That is an interesting distinction, which I hadn't thought of. I'll have to ponder some more. May 6, 2016 at 10:26
  • Regarding Elladan and Elrohir, also note that both Imladris and Lothlorien appear to be abandoned not too far into the Fourth Age. If Elrond's sons became mortal, one would think that there would be some population remaining at those places. The absence of such would seem to imply that they did indeed take ship later.
    – Jelsema
    May 6, 2016 at 15:17

As half Elves, Elrond and his brother Elros had to choose between being mortal men or being immortal Elves. Elros became a man, Elrond became an Elf.

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 the chances of the War of the Ring were fraught with sorrow.
-The Return of the King, Appendix A, "The Numenorean Kings"

So it isn't that loving Aragorn itself requires Arwen to become a mortal; staying in Middle-earth after Elrond departs will make her become a mortal.

As for Aragorn being a half-Elf, he isn't. See the answer to this question to see just how little Elven blood ran through Aragorn's veins. He was something like 0.00000000000000000677% Elf.

  • It is most likely that this quote doesn't mean that Elrond's children had to leave at the same time as Elrond. Elladan and Elrohir were able to delay their choice even after Elrond left (referenced, I believe, in Letters of JRRT, #153).
    – Jelsema
    May 6, 2016 at 15:04

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