When Elves awoke, the Valar wanted to protect the Elves and therefore summoned them to Aman:

Then again the Valar were gathered in council, and they were divided in debate. For some, and of those Ulmo was the chief, held that the Quendi should be left free to walk as they would in Middle-earth, and with their gifts of skill to order all the lands and heal their hurts. But the most part feared for the Quendi in the dangerous world amid the deceits of the starlit dusk; and they were filled moreover with the love of the beauty of the Elves and desired their fellowship. At the last, therefore, the Valar summoned the Quendi to Valinor, there to be gathered at the knees of the Powers in the light of the Trees for ever; and Mandos broke his silence, saying: 'So it is doomed.' From this summons came many woes that afterwards befell.

Later, after the departure of Noldor and the dying of the Two Tress, we know that the Valar hid Valinor to protect it from Morgoth, and of course Men had no part in this:

And in that time also, which songs call Nurtalë Valinóreva, the Hiding of Valinor, the Enchanted Isles were set, and ail the seas about them were filled with shadows and bewilderment. And these isles were strung as a net in the Shadowy Seas from the north to the south, before Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle, is reached by one sailing west. Hardly might any vessel pass between them, for in the dangerous sounds the waves sighed for ever upon dark rocks shrouded in mist. And in the twilight a great weariness came upon mariners and a loathing of the sea; but all that ever set foot upon the islands were there entrapped, and slept until the Change of the World. Thus it was that as Mandos foretold to them in Araman the Blessed Realm was shut against the Noldor; and of the many messengers that in after days sailed into the West none came ever to Valinor - save one only: the mightiest mariner of song.

Then Men awoke:

To Hildórien there came no Vala to guide Men, or to summon them to dwell in Valinor; and Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them, and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being at variance with them, and at strife with the world.

It seems to me that the Valar held different attitudes towards Elves and Men. Is this true? And if so, why?

I think it was a plot device Tolkien used so that Elves could live in Aman and Men could live in Middle Earth separately. And as Aman and Elves were hidden from the world, only Middle-earth remained and there were only Men in it. Tolkien tried to explain how this world was shaped.

5 Answers 5


Elves were awoken before Men; it's easy to draw parallels with spoiling a first-born child, especially since elves were closer to the Valar as both were immortal. More significantly, when Men awoke Valinor was already hidden; opening it to bring men (of unknown virtue and loyalty) would probably lead to an infiltration by Morgoth.

However, even after Morgoth is defeated, we see that the Valar don't invite the Men to Valinor but create a island between Valinor and Middle-earth. This indicates that, perhaps, Valinor is not a suitable place for mortals, especially since they are instructed to never sail to Valinor. When Numenorians question that, they are told that:

And were you so to voyage that escaping all deceits and snares you came indeed to Aman, the Blessed Realm, little would it profit you. For it is not the land of Manwë that makes its people deathless, but the Deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land; and there you would but wither and grow weary the sooner, as moths in a light too strong and steadfast.

Additionally, I found this quote here, which supposedly comes from a short essay ("Aman and Mortal Men") by Tolkien:

But in Aman such a creature would be a fleeting thing, he most swift-passing of all beasts. For his whole life would last little more than one half-year, and while all other living creatures would seem to him hardly to change, but to remain steadfast in life and joy with hope of endless years undimmed, he would rise and pass - even as upon Earth the grass may rise in spring and wither ere winter.

which further supports the idea that Valinor wouldn't be suitable for mortals. Perhaps it's not a physical exertion but just mental; after all, Numenor fell when people started envying the immortality of Elves/Valar. It wouldn't be unimaginable to think that the Valar foresaw that allowing Men to come to Valinor would rapidly lead to their fall.

On the other hand, this raises the question of why Bilbo and Frodo were invited to Aman; my interpretation would be that they were already "stretched thin" by the Ring so the negative effects of Aman wouldn't be so significant compared to the relief. And if the effects are purely psychological, they've already be proven to be exceptionally virtuous and also at the end of their days so it seems safe that they won't suffer from envy.

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    That Men would appear to die quickly doesn't seem like something the Ainur would particularly care about. It isn't like they are killing them and Men get to decide their own destiny. It might be a bad idea on the mortals' part but people do stupid stuff all the time and the Ainur don't stop them. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 19:02

The other answers make some good points, especially falsedot's, but I think you need to add that by the time of the arising of Men (the time of which they could not foresee) they had come to realize that their bringing of the Elves to Valinor was a mistake. (The revolt of the Noldor was one example.) Bringing Men to Valinor would have been an even greater mistake as @falsedot has noted.

The initial debate of the Valar on bringing the Elves to Valinor in The Silmarillion:

Then again the Valar were gathered in council, and they were divided in debate. For some, and of those Ulmo was the chief, held that the Quendi should be left free to walk as they would in Middle-earth, and with their gifts of skill to order all the lands and heal their hurts. But the most part feared for the Quendi in the dangerous world amid the deceits of the starlit dusk; and they were filled moreover with the love of the beauty of the Elves and desired their fellowship. At the last, therefore, the Valar summoned the Quendi to Valinor, there to be gathered at the knees of the Powers in the light of the Trees for ever; and Mandos broke his silence, saying 'So it is doomed.' From this summons came many woes that afterwards befell.


The Valar cared for men but in an economical way.

The first men lived relatively safer compared with the Elves in the presence of Morgoth since he viewed men as physically and mentally weaker than the Elves and thus he considered it unprofitable corrupting their bodies and turning them to orcs for his war. They were also relatively few at first, so Morgoth left them and concentrated on his war with the Elves. He also found out that men were so easy to deceive (unlike the Elves) and he desired them to become his allies against the Elves. So his tactical approach was simply to make men hate the Elves and promised them ownership of lands occupied by the Elves rather than corrupt their bodies which is a mockery of Eru. Had Morgoth done so the Valar would definitely come and make war with him for the sake of men just like they did for the sake of the Elves before the ages. This Morgoth knew too well and he may have learned his bitter lesson.

The Valar would not have considered it grave for Morgoth to deceive men since they knew that men were given by Eru the gift of mortality and to determine their own destiny while living in Arda. It does not make any difference if men live as Morgoth's enemies or allies. It's men's choice as they have that gift of freedom side by side with their mortality.

We know that the Valar finally intervened despite the curse of Mandos against the Elves because Morgoth was annihilating both men and Elves - the children of Eru. Morgoth's aim is total destruction of Eru's children rather than their mere subjugation. It was the half-elven Earendil who persuaded them to pity and intervene on behalf of both men and Elves, not just Elves.

During the third age the Valar sent the Istari to guide the free people of middle earth in their fight against Sauron.

Now on the matter of forbidding men to go to Aman while commanding the Elves to enter. The Elves were given the gift of immortality and they are bound to remain in Arda for as long as Arda endures.The Valar accepted a condition in entering EA which is that they will not be able to get out of it until the end of Arda. So they share the same fate as the Elves.

They forbid the men to enter Aman because it is the land of the immortals and men are mortals. It would not profit mortal men to go to Valar. Living in Valinor would not make them immortals as the land will not change the nature that Eru has bestowed on them. The Valar does not want men to have the best of both worlds. When they die men's souls leave Arda permanently never to come back with their human bodies unlike the Elves and Maiar. Their souls go to Eru's timeless halls where they would participate in the second music of the Ainur which means men would become like the Ainur. This participation of men in the second music of the Ainur the Valar already declared to the Elves. Or, men would live in another world known only to him which is presumably of the same blessedness enjoyed by the Immortals, otherwise, it would not have been called the gift of mortality. In a sense even the Valar envied men and thus would not allow them to enjoy the things they are enjoying together with the Maiar and the Elves in Valinor. The men would not be allowed to come to Valinor and then go back to Middle Earth as they wish enjoying the best of both worlds.

Consider the case of the half-elves. For the Valar the matter is a case of either black and white with nothing in between. They will have to choose their nature. Eros chose to be mortal while Elrond chose to be an Elf. Both have chosen well.

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    How exactly does this answer the question? It is hard to find the point amongst the prose.
    – amflare
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 15:19

The Valar have different attitudes towards Elves and Men because:

  1. They have jurisdiction over the Elves (immortals like themselves who are tied up to the fate of Arda) whereas they don't have jurisdiction over Mortal Men. Thus, they did not summon Men to come to Aman to live with them. Men are too much for them to handle. They could not handle them since Men were given the gift of freedom to chart their destiny. That being the case Men can challenge the authority of the Valar in their own realm and they could not punish them by keeping their spirits in the Halls of Mandos just like they did to Feanor and his sons. Finrod in his discussion with Andreth observed this well and concluded that Men are greater than Elves. The Valar know that only Eru has jurisdiction over Men. Observe the reaction of the Valar when the Numenorians invaded their land. They gave up their governance and called Eru for help. Eru resolved the situation himself. He buried the invaders, sunk Numenor, made the earth round and removed Aman from the surface of the earth. These are actions only Eru has the authority and power to accomplish.

The Valar would never be at peace if they live with Men who could desire and try to wrest from them their governance and authority in Aman. Whereas the Elves would not have conceived of wresting from the Valar their governance or authority. When they rebelled against them they sought to be freed from their governance and not to get it from them.

The difference between Men and Elves is that Men desire power and authority since they are "guests" and not permanent residents of Arda and not under the jurisdiction of the Valar but of Eru only who wants them to learn things by themselves even if it means they err or veer away from the right path. Eru knows this and this is the reason why his purpose is for Men to eventually have dominion over all of Arda. Whereas the Elves desire independence to express their creativity since they are under the jurisdiction of the Valar since both are permanent residents of Arda. The Elves desire to have their own realm or kingdom under the tutelage of no one.

  1. Since Elves are stronger physically and mentally than Men Morgoth would be greatly motivated to corrupt them for his purpose and to mock Eru. Elves are therefore at great risk. To protect them the Valar summoned them to live in Aman. Had there been no grave threat from Morgoth the Valar would not have invited them. The original intent is for the Valar to live in the island of ALMAREN while the Elves and Men will live together in the flat land separate from the Valar. The point is that the Valar have to be separate from the children of Eru. However, this plan was changed due to the danger posed by Morgoth against the Elves. This appears to be favoritism on the part of the Valar in favor of the Elves but it's not.

The first Men were not summoned to live in Aman since they are not in grave danger of being corrupted and changed to Orcs or other corrupted creatures like the throlls. They are physically weaker than the Elves and therefore would be of no use to Morgoth changing their nature as the change would make them even weaker. Men are also easy to deceive because they have the gift of freedom to chart their own destiny in Arda. They are free to choose whether to be on the side of Morgoth or the Valar. This freedom of Men the Valar cannot ignore or gainsay by protecting them against the deception of Morgoth. In contrast the Elves do not have this freedom as shown by their instinctive and undying hatred and fear of Morgoth. None of the Elves served or worshiped Morgoth, unlike the first men. So, there is no choice for Morgoth except to corrupt the nature of the Elves since he could not deceive them.

These reasons explain the different attitude or approach of the Valar towards Elves and Men.

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    Is there any reason you chose to answer this again rather than editing your original answer?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 13:10

In addition to pragmatic concerns, it is because the Ainur envy Men. The Ainur and elves are basically similar beings as both are immortal and bound to Arda. Insofar as they are different, elves are generally clearly inferior. Thus it is easy for the Ainur to see them as younger siblings to protect and guide.

Men, however, are obviously beloved of Eru Iluvatar. They were given a special Gift that no one else has and many of them don't even want it! Meanwhile the Ainur can barely even get Eru Iluvatar to acknowledge them and, even then, it is mostly Him telling them what to do. When He does give them His favor, it is generally only for truly exceptional service and still only when it suits His purposes.

That said, the Ainur are mostly (with some very prominent exceptions) not bad people and they still do love Men. They likely just don't to be constantly reminded that they are, at most, second best in His eyes. The most probable reason why the Ainur accept Frodo et al. into Valinor is that they did such a great service for them and there was such fanfare about them being accepted that rejecting them would be a shameful thing.

  • Elves and Men were described by Tolkien as being of the same "species". As for the rest of your answer, you make a lot of claims, none of which are backed by quotes, most of which I would strongly disagree with. Can you provide any evidence that your points are in fact valid interpretations from the texts?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 18:15
  • Ainur and Elves being bound to Arda and immortal is common knowledge, as is the fact that the Gift of Men is, well, only for Men. Most of the instances of Eru Iluvatar's communication to the Ainur in Arda are through Manwe and are part of his judgments, with some exceptions like Gandalf's return as Gandalf the White. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't remember any pleasantries being ascribed to Eru Iluvatar in those discussions and he definitely seems like a distant character in the books. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 18:40
  • As for being free from the Music of the Ainur being desirable, the elves are always talking about how much it is and, when this overwhelms them, they go to Valinor, where the Ainur broadly already are. The reasons given for the elves' weariness (among other things, their immortality) would also apply just as much to them as well, though Ainur obviously don't need to worry about their bodies fading compared to their souls. This element of refuge from the changing world would obviously be diminished if any Man could pop over to Valinor whenever they felt like it. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 18:47
  • The only Ainur whose opinions of Men we know are Gandalf (a particular fan of hobbits), Radagast (who appears to stay away from them), Saruman (who seems to prefer dealing with elven stuff, especially ringlore), Sauron (second best tools to manipulate, but easier to get than elves. There also appears to be an element of spite mixed into his interactions with Numenor, maybe), and Morgoth (who wants to kill everything). The motivations of the vast majority of them isn't explicit in the text. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 18:51

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