Mortality was given to the Atani as a gift "which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy." (S.48) The evidence for this comes from the following: the words of Ilúvatar, the Númenorean customs relating to death, the Elves warning to Númenor, Gandalf's words about the One Ring, the choice of Lúthien, and the choice given to the Peredhil.
Mortality was given as a gift as proven by the following quotes of the words of Ilúvatar and the Valar referring to his decisions. " 'But to the Atani I will give a new gift.' Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein" (S.47). This is the gift of Mortality, which has also been seen as a grief by Men who fell under the dominion of Morgoth and those who envied the life of the Eldar. "For it was not permitted to the Valar to withhold Death from him, which was the gift of Ilúvatar to Men." (S.225) At death, the Atani leave the Circles of the World forever. Where they go, only Mandos and Manwë, even of the Valar know. "Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy." (S.48)
The customs relating to death for the Atani uncorrupted by Morgoth
were for the Man in question to lay down his or her life when he or
she felt it was time. "But Bëor at the last had relinquished
his life willingly and passed into peace." (S.179) This custom held
true for the Númenoreans until the middle of the Second Age of the Sun,
when they began to envy the Eldar and the Valar, longing for unending
life. For the Númenorean Kings, this time was usually around their fourth
century, until the waning of their wisdom and the increase of their
pride. The first of the Númenorean Kings to break this custom was Tar
Atanamir, "for he was the first of the Kings to refuse
to lay down his life, or to renounce the sceptre; and he lived until
death took him perforce in dotage." (UT.221) It seems that in the
time of the Exiles, meaning the realms of Arnor and Gondor, this tradition
was no longer followed, and in fact, no longer something the Atani could
do except as a special gift.
As the Númenoreans grew more proud and became envious of the life of the Eldar,
they began to talk against the Ban and to long for everlasting life,
like that of the Eldar. "For the Elves die not till
the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both
these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their
strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying
they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may
in time return." (S.48) The twenty-fifth King of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn,
sent a fleet to Middle-Earth, to conquer the armies of Sauron. In fact,
the might of the Númenorean armies were so great that the hosts of Sauron
fled, and Sauron had to use guile to effect the downfall of Númenor.
So he humbled himself to the King and was taken back to Númenor as a
prisoner. However, Sauron soon became the chief councilor and Ar-Pharazôn
began to persecute the Faithful even more than before, including sacrificing
them to Morgoth in hopes of eternal life.
As this pride grew and the Númenoreans became more prideful and envious of the Eldar and the Valar, they were sent warnings of what might be to come. These messages were first sent in the time of Tar-Atanamir.
Each of the Eruhíni is given a span of years, which it cannot naturally go over. For Hobbits, this is around a century. For the Dúnedain near the end of the Third Age of the Sun, between a hundred and a hundred and fifty years, (Aragorn was an exception to this, living until he was a hundred and ninety and giving up his life freely) and for the rest of the Atani, around a century. The Quendi live as long as the Earth shall exist, unless slain by weapons or by grief. The life-span for one of the Khazâd was around two and a half centuries, but they were made to have a long life. The Great Rings could stretch this time, but they had many negative effects, most of which were caused by Sauron and the One Ring.
The choice of Lúthien Tinúviel was a special exception, made only because of the high doom of her descendants. Lúthien had followed Beren in death, when he had died from wounds incurred in the quest of the Silmaril.
Arwen Undómiel made the same choice, which for her was the one of the
choices given to the Half-Elven, as she said to Frodo at their parting.
"I shall not go with him now when he departs to the
Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen,
both the sweet and the bitter." (RK.306) The sweet, because she
loved Aragorn and was now wed to him, and the bitter, because she would
never see her father or her mother again for they had gone to the Havens
before, and also because as one of the Peredhil, she had long life,
even with this choice. Elros Tar-Minyatur lived for five centuries four-hundred
and ten of which he was the first King of Númenor, before laying down
his life. Arwen laid down her life the year after Aragorn died, though
of his own free will, in the Fourth Age, year 121. In their parting
she gained more understanding of the Gift of Ilúvatar. Even with her
knowledge, she pled with him to wait before making this choice for "she
was not yet weary of her days, and thus she tasted the bitterness of
the mortality that she had taken upon her" (RK.424).
The Gift of Men was also called the Doom of Men, for as Arwen said in her final parting from Aragorn:
Given the choice of the Peredhil who chose Mortality, sometimes called "the choice of Lúthien", the words of Ilúvatar, the evidence of the Rings of Power, and of the warnings given to the Númenoreans, Mortality was given to the Atani as a gift. As proved above, Mortality was given as a gift "that even the Powers shall envy" (S.48) Death is the fate of the Atani, to leave the Circles of the World forever.
| What's New & Site Updates | The
Lord of the Rings | The Silmarillion
| The Hobbit | The
History of the Lord of the Rings | Numenor
Essay | The Fates of the Eruhini |
Things about the Characters | Miscelaneous
Odds & Ends | Middle-Earth
| Calendar of Events | Timeline
For Middle-Earth | Races of Middle-Earth
| Places of Middle-Earth | People
in Middle-Earth | Things in Middle-Earth
| Events in Middle-Earth | Characters
from the History of Middle-Earth | Places
from the History of Middle-Earth | Other
Things from the History of Middle-Earth | Other
| Links | Glossary
| Artist Credits | Bibliography
| Index of Quotes | Site
Map | Layers Version