10

Earendil and Elwing were given the choice of kindreds after their journey to Valinor, This choice was extended to their sons (specifically sons, not daughters or grandchildren)

Elrond chose the race of the Eldar and his brother Elros chose to be counted amongst the Edain. Thus far Manwë's proclamation has been fulfilled.

There are some inconsistencies here:

  • Arwen was given the choice, but Elladan and Elrohir remained as Eldar in Imladris
  • Tar-Vardamir was not given the choice
  • The offspring of Imrazor and Mithrelas in Dol Amroth dont seem to have been given a choice

I can think of only one explanation, that the Mannish blood is dominant over the blood of the Eldar, thus, As Vardamir was the offspring of two mortals he did not fall under Manwë's proclamation despite being the son of a half elven.

However this does not seem to explain the other inconsistencies, Is it possible that Elladan and Elrohir and also the princes of Dol Amroth weren't considered important enough by Manwë or Eru to give them the choice.

Also as a side note Tolkien states there were only three unions between man and elf, but this seems to ignore Turin/Finduilas and Imrazor/Mithrelas

My question is, Why was Arwen given the choice and not the sons of Elros?

  • 1
    What leads you to believe that they were not given a choice, and simply chose to remain human? – Matt Gutting Dec 21 '14 at 14:16
  • And, what proclamation? Are you looking in the History of Middle-Earth? Remember that's a different continuity (if you like) than anything published during Tolkien's lifetime. – Matt Gutting Dec 21 '14 at 14:19
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    Vardamir wasnt given the choice because his father Elros had already chosen to be counted among men so all of Elros's descendants were counted as men and not elves. It was only Elros, Elrond, Elwing and Earendil who had the choice given them. Elwing and Earendil chose elves, as did Elrond so that meant Elronds 3 children also had the choice, though they seem to have been able to put off the decision as to be men or elves almost indefinitely. No others were gven the choice of Manwe – Dai Dec 21 '14 at 14:53
  • I suspect that this is a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/48678 but since I have a dupe-hammer on LotR questions I'm not going to VTC. – user8719 Dec 21 '14 at 15:16
  • @MattGutting - the Silmarillion is also a different continuity to anything published during Tolkien's lifetime, and this is explicit from CT's foreword: "A complete consistency (either within the compass of The Silmarillion itself or between The Silmarillion and other published writings of my fathers) is not to be looked for, and could only be achieved, if at all at heavy and needless cost". I'm more inclined to accept HoME material that (1) is JRRT's latest statement on the matter, and (2) hasn't been editorially altered. – user8719 Dec 21 '14 at 15:47
13

The key passage that explains this is given in the 1937 Silmarillion (published in History of Middle-earth 5), in a proclamation of Manwe regarding the fate of Earendil and Elwing:

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...

What's important about this passage is that it survived through all of the post-Lord of the Rings revisions (and can be traced through the commentary in History of Middle-earth 11), but was editorially removed (for unknown reasons) from the published Silmarillion.

The passage goes on to state (with the older variant spelling of Earendil):

...but in this matter the power of doom is given to me. This is my decree: to Earendel and to Elwing and to their sons shall be given leave each to choose freely under which kindred they shall be judged.

The important things to take from this passage are:

  • The offspring of an Elf and a Man is always a Man, unless a special exception is made, and,
  • That special exception was only made for Earendil and Elwing (and their sons), and they were allowed choose, so therefore,
  • Other half-Elves from other unions do not have this choice - they are Men (so therefore the seemingly common assumption that all half-Elves get the choice is actually quite false).

From the description of others there are a few more things that are not explicitly stated but which we may reasonably infer:

  • If one or both of your parents choose to be a Man, you're stuck with their choice; you don't get a similar choice yourself.
  • If you choose to be an Elf and marry an Elf, your own offspring will also have a choice but until they make it they are accounted as Elves.
  • If you choose to be an Elf and marry a Man, your own offspring are Men (this is somewhat more tenatative than the first two).
4

You're confusing Elves and Eldar. They are not the same. There were only three marriages between Eldar and Men, but apparently more among non-Eldarin Elves, such as Mithrellas.

We're not told what the choice of Elladan and Elrohir was. Robert Foster in the Complete Guide to Middle-earth states that all three of Elrond's children chose to become mortal, although he doesn't give evidence for that.

  • 2
    What's the difference between Elves and Eldar? I thought the latter was how Oromë named the elves – Max Dec 21 '14 at 16:32
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    Originally, yes. But Eldar came to refer only to the Elves that followed him on the Great Journey. – Daniel Roseman Dec 21 '14 at 17:15
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Elrond chose immortality, therefore, he and his children became immortal by default. Elros chose mortality which ultimately affects his children as well. They simply could not choose.The decision is irrevocable once made.

“. . . 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; but in this matter the power of doom is given to me . . . ”

All those with mortal blood are mortal by default unless they are given a special exception.

Tolkien Letter 153 1954: “. . . The view is that the Half-elven have a power of (irrevocable) choice, which may be delayed but not permanently, which kin's fate they will share . . .”

It is clear the decision cannot be unmade.It has to be one or the other, elves or men, and once made that is it.

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