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  • Updated 31 October 2009
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Half-elven

A title for the children of Elves and Men

Beren
Lúthien
Tuor
Idril
Dior
Nimloth
Eärendil
Elwing
Elrond
Elros

The descent of the Half-elven. Names shown in red in this chart belong to Men, while names shown in blue refer to Elves. Those with mixed descent are named in purple text, and those who were actually given the title 'Half-elven' are highlighted in bold.

A title used especially of Elrond and Elros, the English translation of the Elvish peredhil. Their father Eärendil and mother Elwing both had Men and Elves in their ancestry.

Eärendil Though the title Half-elven is most commonly given to Eärendil's sons, it is occasionally also applied to Eärendil himself. He was the son of the Man Tuor and the Elf-maid Idril, and through this dual ancestry he was able to speak for both races before the Valar. He and his descendants were given the choice to be counted among Elves or Men, and Eärendil chose the life of the Elder Children.
Elrond Eärendil's son Elrond took the same choice as his father, and was granted the life of the Firstborn. After the end of the First Age he remained in Middle-earth in the court of High King Gil-galad. In the middle of the Second Age he founded the refuge of Rivendell, and from there he continued the fight against Sauron through that Age and the next. As the Third Age ended, he left Middle-earth at last and took ship along the Straight Road into the West, perhaps to be reunited with his father at last.
Elros Unlike his father and brother, Elros choose to be counted among Men. Even as a mortal, he was granted an exceptionally long lifespan: he lived for no less than five hundred years. Elros had four children1, of whom the eldest, Vardamir, succeeded his father and continued the line of the Kings of Númenor.

Notes

1

It is curious to note that Half-elven status seems to have descended differently through the lines of Elrond and Elros. Elrond's children shared the same choice as their father (and thus Arwen was able to choose mortality, though her father had chosen to be counted an Elf). Elros' children did not have the same privilege: his descendants all shared his mortality, though many craved the immortal life of the Firstborn.

Tolkien himself mentions this distinction in passing, but doesn't offer a definitive explanation: 'Elros chose to be a King and 'longaevus' but mortal, so all his descendants are mortal ... Elrond chose to be among the Elves. His children ... have to make their choices.' (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, No 153, dated 1954).

The reasoning behind this is uncertain, but the explanation probably lies in the fact that the children of Elrond in Middle-earth had to make a choice eventually: either to depart across the Sea as an Elf, or to remain and die as a Man. There was no comparable choice facing the children of Elros and so, it seems, no need for them to inherit the power to choose.

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