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(Fourth Age)
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==Unanswerable questions that keep me up nights==
 
==Unanswerable questions that keep me up nights==
 
===Fourth Age===
 
===Fourth Age===
*What happened to Elladan and Elrohir?
 
 
*When exactly did Celeborn leave Middle-earth?
 
*When exactly did Celeborn leave Middle-earth?
**Did Círdan (and literally all other remaining Elves of the First Age) actually take ship with Celeborn, or is that an overly literal interpretation of "the last living memory of the Elder Days?" Bombadil and Treebeard are still around, after all.
 
 
{| style="margin:0 auto;" class="collapsible collapsed toccolours" width="100%"
 
{| style="margin:0 auto;" class="collapsible collapsed toccolours" width="100%"
 
|-
 
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! align=left | My speculation on the subject
 
! align=left | My speculation on the subject
 
|-
 
|-
| • [[The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen]]: "[Arwen] went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lórien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came. Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn also was gone, and the land was silent."
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|'''<big>Evidence</big>'''
 
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| • Celeborn left East Lórien no later than FoA 120, since he was gone by that time. Notably, Galadriel is explicitly described as having "passed away" while Celeborn is "gone," suggesting the possibility that he had not yet passed into the West.  
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| • [[Appendix B]], ''The Third Age'': "I [Círdan] will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails."  
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|-
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| • [[Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age]]: "I [Círdan] will dwell by the grey shores, guarding the Havens until the last ship sails."
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|-
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|''Around TA 1000, Círdan stated his intent to remain in Mithlond until no remaining Elves wished to depart Middle-earth.''
 
|-
 
|-
 
| • [[Appendix B]], ''The Great Years'': "But after the passing of Galadriel in a few years Celeborn grew weary of his realm [East Lórien] and went to Imladris to dwell with the sons of Elrond."
 
| • [[Appendix B]], ''The Great Years'': "But after the passing of Galadriel in a few years Celeborn grew weary of his realm [East Lórien] and went to Imladris to dwell with the sons of Elrond."
 
|-
 
|-
| • Between leaving East Lórien and arriving in Mithlond, Celeborn stayed in Rivendell with Elladan and Elrohir.
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|''"A few years" after FoA 1, Celeborn left East Lórien for Rivendell to live with Elladan and Elrohir.''
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|-
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| • [[Appendix A]], ''(iii) Eriador, Arnor, and the heirs of Isildur'': "At the Grey Havens dwelt Círdan the Shipwright, and some say he dwells there still, until the Last Ship sets sail into the West. In the days of the Kings most of the High Elves that still lingered in Middle-earth dwelt with Círdan or in the seaward lands of Lindon. If any now remain they are few."
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|-
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|''We can tell this passage was written by a Hobbit, owing to a reference to "years before '''we''' came to the Shire" earlier in the paragraph. It is likely that this passage would have been part of the Thain's Book composed in FoA 63, because there is no reason for later additions made in Gondor and first included in Findegil's copy of FoA 171 to have been written in the authorial voice of a Hobbit. "Now" must refer to FoA 63, meaning that at that time, the Hobbits were unsure if any High Elves remained in Lindon at all, but they did believe Círdan remained in Middle-earth.''
 
|-
 
|-
 
| • [[The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen]]: "We [Aragorn and Arwen] met under the white birches in the garden of Elrond where none now walk. [...] The uttermost choice is before you [Arwen]: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men."
 
| • [[The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen]]: "We [Aragorn and Arwen] met under the white birches in the garden of Elrond where none now walk. [...] The uttermost choice is before you [Arwen]: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men."
 
|-
 
|-
| As of FoA 120, Aragorn believed that either Rivendell generally or the garden of Elrond specifically were abandoned. Considering that Rivendell is often described as the "house of Elrond" I think "garden of Elrond" is meant as a metonymy for Rivendell. If not, I don't know why the sons (and father-in-law) of Elrond and the folk of Rivendell would decline to walk in his garden after his departure. Aragorn also believes that there are still ships in the Grey Havens, so Círdan must not yet have left Middle-earth.
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|''As of 1 March FoA 120, Aragorn believed that either Rivendell generally or the garden of Elrond specifically were abandoned. Rivendell is often described as the "house of Elrond," so it is likely that "the garden of Elrond" is a metonymy for Rivendell; there is no reason for the sons (and father-in-law) of Elrond, and the Elves in general, to decline to walk in Elrond's garden if they still dwelt in Rivendell. Aragorn also believed that there was at least one ship in the Grey Havens, meaning Círdan must not yet have left Middle-earth.''
 +
|-
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| • [[Appendix B]], ''Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring'': "[After the Passing of King Elessar] Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over Sea."
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|-
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|''Before the end of FoA 120, Legolas left Middle-earth. He departed from Ithilien, not Mithlond.''
 
|-  
 
|-  
| • [[Appendix A]], ''(iii) Eriador, Arnor, and the heirs of Isildur'': "At the Grey Havens dwelt Círdan the Shipwright, and some say he dwells there still, until the Last Ship sets sail into the West. In the days of the Kings most of the High Elves that still lingered in Middle-earth dwelt with Círdan or in the seaward lands of Lindon. If any now remain they are few."
+
| • [[The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen]]: "[Arwen] went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lórien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came. Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn also was gone, and the land was silent."
 
|-
 
|-
| • We can tell this passage is written by a Hobbit, owing to a reference to "years before '''we''' came to the Shire" earlier in the paragraph, so it is likely that this passage would have been part of the Thain's Book composed in FoA 63. Later additions made in Gondor and included in Findegil's copy of FoA 171 are unlikely to have adopted the voice of a Hobbit in this context, so "now" must refer to some time before FoA 63. Even at this time, the Hobbits are unsure if any High Elves remain in Lindon at all.
+
|''Galadriel had "passed away" while Celeborn was "gone," suggesting the possibility that he had not yet left Middle-earth as of the first months of FoA 121.''
 
|-
 
|-
 
| • [[Note on the Shire Records]]: "There [in Rivendell], though Elrond had departed, his sons long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk. It is said that Celeborn went to dwell there after the departure of Galadriel; but there is no record of the day when at last he sought the Grey Havens, and with him went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth."
 
| • [[Note on the Shire Records]]: "There [in Rivendell], though Elrond had departed, his sons long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk. It is said that Celeborn went to dwell there after the departure of Galadriel; but there is no record of the day when at last he sought the Grey Havens, and with him went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth."
 
|-
 
|-
| • As of FoA 171, either Celeborn had not yet left Middle-earth, he had done so but there were no witnesses, or there were witnesses but their account never reached Findegil. Since Celeborn took "the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth" with him, implicitly all other Elves who remembered the First Age also were on the same ship, particularly  Círdan. It's possible that there were no witnesses to the departure because all the remaining residents of Mithlond were aboard the ship.
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|''This section is about Findegil's copy of FoA 171, so as of that year, either Celeborn had not yet left Middle-earth, he had done so but there were no witnesses, or he had done so and there were witnesses but their account never reached Findegil. The past tense of the last clauses - "he sought," "with him went" - suggests that the departure may have already taken place.''
 
|-
 
|-
| Tolkien's choice of language in this passage is reminiscent of a passage from the tale of Amroth and Nimrodel in Unfinished Tales: "The light Elven-ship was torn from its moorings and driven into the wild waters towards the coasts of Umbar. No tidings of it were ever heard in Middle-earth; but the Elven-ships made for this journey did not founder, and doubtless it left the Circles of the World and came at last to Eressëa."
+
|''Tolkien's language here regarding the untold journeys of Elven ships is reminiscent of a passage from the tale of Amroth and Nimrodel in Unfinished Tales:'' "The light Elven-ship was torn from its moorings and driven into the wild waters towards the coasts of Umbar. '''No tidings of it were ever heard in Middle-earth'''; but the Elven-ships made for this journey did not founder, and doubtless it left the Circles of the World and came at last to Eressëa."
 
|-
 
|-
| • [[Appendix B]], ''The Third Age'': "I [Círdan] will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails."
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|'''<big>Analysis</big>'''
 
|-
 
|-
| • For it to be literally true that Celeborn took "the last living memory [etc.]" and that Círdan left on the "last ship," Legolas and Gimli would have had to first depart Middle-earth on their own ship, placing the earliest possible departure for Celeborn et al after FoA 120. Notably, Legolas built his own ship in Ithilien rather than depart for the Grey Havens in the usual manner of the High-elven folk. This offers the interpretation that Círdan departed on the last ship to sail ''from Mithlond'', not the last ship ever to depart Middle-earth. If it is literally true that Círdan left on the very last ship, any Elves who chose to remain in Middle-earth at the time of his departure must have already resigned themselves to fade there; otherwise they may have later departed from other ports on ships of their own.
+
|If Celeborn took "the last living memory of the Elder Days" with him and Círdan departed on the "last ship," the two would necessarily have left on the same ship, the last to leave Mithlond. This much is beyond any reasonable doubt. However, there are ambiguities that allow for the possibility that this was not the last ship to leave Middle-earth.
 
|-
 
|-
| • Taking all available evidence into account, and assuming literal truth where convenient, it seems to me the likeliest chain of events is as follows:
+
|The phrasing of the description of Lórien in FoA 120-121 ("Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn also was gone") may lend credence to Aragorn's belief that Mithlond was not abandoned as of FoA 120. Tolkien chose specifically to describe Galadriel and Celeborn's absences from the land differently, implying that they were qualitatively different in some way. Galadriel had gone into the West, so the most obvious possible difference would be that Celeborn had not yet done so. If it is taken as true that Celeborn had not yet left Middle-earth as of the death of Arwen, he must have lingered at least until the coming of Spring in FoA 121.
 
|-
 
|-
| • Celeborn wearied of East Lórien and removed to Rivendell well before FoA 120. Since Celeborn's reign in East Lórien is described as "a few years" while the sons of Elrond's tenure in Rivendell is "long," I would guess some time after FoA 10, no later than FoA 40.  
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|Setting an upper bound for the date of departure requires only that Findegil was not ignorant in his use of the past tense in FoA 171 to describe Celeborn's departure.  
 
|-
 
|-
| • Before 1 March FoA 120, the last remaining residents of Rivendell abandoned the refuge (even those who did not intend to take ship). Celeborn and the sons of Elrond may have been among the last to depart, and may have departed together. I think this is likely, since the sons of Elrond would have inherited their father's responsibility to the people of Rivendell, while Celeborn was only there to see the twins in the first place.  
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|Thus, assuming minimal ignorance on the part of every character and that Tolkien's choice of language was deliberate in his description of the absences of Galadriel and Celeborn from Lórien, the lower and upper bounds of the date of Celeborn and Círdan's departure from Middle-earth are late Winter/early Spring of FoA 121 and FoA 171 respectively.
 
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| • I don't believe Rivendell would have been abandoned earlier than FoA 118 or so, since there doesn't seem to be precedent for Elves to linger for long at the Grey Havens between their arrival and departure, but there was enough time for news to reach Minas Tirith that Rivendell was emptied. For this same reason, though it's possible that Celeborn could have left Rivendell long before the general abandonment of the refuge, I don't think it's likely - we know he could not have left Middle-earth before FoA 120, so why would he want to spend any considerable length of time in Mithlond by himself rather than Rivendell with his family?
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|If Aragorn was correct in his belief that Círdan had not yet left as of 1 March FoA 120, it is odd that Legolas would choose to build his own ship rather than depart from Mithlond. Perhaps Legolas' decision was influenced by his long life among the Elves east of the Misty Mountains, who maintained their own haven in Edhellond until TA 1981 and may have had their own traditions regarding departures.
 
|-
 
|-
| • After a delay to allow Legolas to build his own ship in Ithilien - perhaps as much as a year - the Last Ship departed. This ship bore Celeborn, Círdan, every Elf of the First Age (including Glorfindel, if he had not already departed), and the last residents of Mithlond. '''If''' any of the Elves of Rivendell and Mithlond chose to remain in Middle-earth, they dispersed into wild places far from the eyes of Men. No Man or Hobbit ever learned of the day on which the Last Ship departed.  
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|Implicitly, if Legolas could build his own ship, other Elves could do the same. One possibility is that Legolas' grey ship on the Anduin was the only one of its kind in the Fourth Age, and all the Elves who dwelled near the Anduin (in Ithilien, the Woodland Realm, East Lórien, and Lórien) who were of a mind to depart rather than fade in Middle-earth were aboard.
 
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|-
| • Totally unsupported theory warning: I believe that at most one of the sons of Elrond was aboard the ship when it left, possibly neither. I don't think Celeborn would make such a point of spending his last century in Middle-earth with them if he expected to spend the rest of time with them in Eressëa. Also, there's precedent for Half-Elven twins to choose different fates. Even the twins' names, Elladan ("Elf-Man") and Elrohir ("Elf-Knight"), suggest that at least one is destined to choose the fate of Men - though to be fair, these names also reflect their Half-Elven heritage, so this is far from definitive.
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|Another possibility is that Legolas' grey ship was ''not'' the only one of its kind, and Círdan's "last ship" was meant as the "last ship ''from Mithlond''." His phrasing in the ''The Silmarillion'' gives credence to this interpetation, though the account of the end of the Third Age in the ''The Silmarillion'' contradicts that of ''The Lord of the Rings''.*
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|-
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|If it is necessary that Círdan did indeed leave on the literal last ship, and also taken as true that other Elves chose to build their own ships in the manner of Legolas, it is also necessary that the last of these other Elves departed prior to Celeborn.
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|-
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|Perhaps Aragorn was incorrect and Mithlond was already abandoned at the time of his death. This is unlikely, because there are few who would have better reason to be informed of goings-on in Mithlond than the King of Arnor in the midst of an attempt to repopulate the nearby cities of Annúminas and Fornost. (Mithlond, once abandoned by the Elves, could become an incredibly valuable port for commerce between Gondor and a renascent Arnor.) However, if Mithlond ''were'' abandoned at that time, Círdan could not possibly have departed on the literal "last ship," because Legolas had yet to depart.
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|-
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|We know that it is not literally true that Celeborn took "the last living memory of the Elder Days" with him; Treebeard still lived, as did Bombadil. It is possible that what was meant was merely "the last living memory of the Elder Days ''among the Children of Ilúvatar''." Similar figurative language may also apply regarding Círdan's "last ship."
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|-
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|If it is not necessary that Círdan left on the literal last ship (and undue emphasis is not placed on Tolkien's phrasing as earlier), Celeborn may well have left Middle-earth at any time following the departure of the White Ship, allowing at a minimum "a few years" for him to grow weary of his realm in East Lórien and make a brief stop in Rivendell to bid farewell to his grandsons. Depending on whose ignorance is assumed, the earliest possible date of Círdan's departure can be reckoned at several points. If ignorance on Aragorn's part but not Pippin's is assumed, Círdan could not have left before FoA 63. If there is no assumption of ignorance on Aragorn's part, Círdan could not have left before FoA 120. If ignorance on Findegil's part is assumed, Círdan may not have left even as of FoA 171.
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|-
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|*  ''The Silmarillion'' implies that Círdan's "last ship" was identical with the White Ship and states that when the bearers of the Three Rings departed on it, "an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song." In ''The Lord of the Rings'', Círdan did not take the White Ship. For both accounts to be true, either Círdan is not counted among "the Eldar of story and of song" (unlikely) or Tolkien changed his mind.
 
|}
 
|}
 +
*What happened to Elladan and Elrohir?
 
*Did any Noldor remain in Middle-earth after the White Ship left? The Silmarillion suggests not, Appendix A hedges.  
 
*Did any Noldor remain in Middle-earth after the White Ship left? The Silmarillion suggests not, Appendix A hedges.  
 
**If so, what about after the Last Ship?
 
**If so, what about after the Last Ship?

Revision as of 07:02, 7 June 2021

I used to be the anonymous editor 75.118.149.152 (contribs) (talk), but I grew a name of my own.

Contents

Unanswerable questions that keep me up nights

Fourth Age

  • When exactly did Celeborn leave Middle-earth?
  • What happened to Elladan and Elrohir?
  • Did any Noldor remain in Middle-earth after the White Ship left? The Silmarillion suggests not, Appendix A hedges.
    • If so, what about after the Last Ship?
      • Who counts as a Noldo for this purpose (e.g. the sons of Elrond, Noldor-blooded Galadhrim of Lórien)?
    • Did any Eldar choose to fade in Middle-earth rather than leave bodily (e.g. Thranduil)?
    • Did any Elves build their own ships (cf. Legolas) after the "Last" Ship?
    • Did any Silvans or Avari choose to go West?
      • Did Avari have the grace to go West?
      • If not, do Silvans count as Eldar or Avari?

Third Age

  • Which four of the Seven Rings were consumed by dragonfire? The only one we know for sure survived is the Ring of the Longbeards.
  • Who were the Nine Nazgûl?
    • Was the Witch-king truly of Númenórean descent? Tolkien's final word on the subject, which is buried pretty much as obscurely as anything LotR-related could possibly be while still being known to the public, was literally "probably."
    • Was Khamûl a nom de guerre that described only the Ringwraith, or was it in some way derived from his original "mortal" identity?
    • Were the Nine the same nine Men to whom Sauron initially gifted the Rings, or was there some turnover between the initial recipients and the Nazgûl who served Sauron during the War of the Ring?

Second Age

  • Who slew Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance?

First Age

  • Why didn't Orodreth send Finduilas to Círdan for safekeeping at the same time as Gil-galad?
    • Related: what years were Finduilas and Gil-galad born?
  • Who is the elder: Elros or Elrond?

Things I like

  • FAQ of the Rings – Mostly great information and some interesting speculation about the Rings of Power.
  • The Last Ringbearer – The very best fan fiction ever written, and possibly the only work of fan fiction with genuine literary merit.
  • My favorite characters in the Legendarium: Círdan, Celeborn, Elmo. I like the ones who don't get a lot of attention but whose efforts in the background were nonetheless essential.
  • Reference templates