A host of Elves in armour of the Elder Days?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Rachel and Longtimer,

Both of you are astute to recognize the capitalization of Elder Days, as significant. But you differ as to whether it should clue in the first-time reader on whether the Battle of the Last Alliance could be considered 'Elder Days' when Elrond comments on the host of Elves.

As Longtimer points out, capitalizing 'Elder Days' could indicate that it signifies the proper name for a defined time period.

However, JRRT does not use capitalization just to indicate that something is a proper name. He also uses capitalization to indicate mythic or legendary significance. An example is Gandalf saying, "A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo." A 'Ring of Power' is different from a 'ring of power' in that the capitalization confers mythic or legendary significance. When Sam says of Elves, "They are sailing, sailing, sailing over the Sea, they are going into the West and leaving us." The 'Sea' is not the sea. It is a mythic and legendary sea. It is in fact, the 'Old Straight Path' and not the oceans of Middle-earth at all. The 'West' is not the west. It is the mythic and legendary West, home of the Valar.

That is why the first-time reader might not have taken the capitalization of 'Elder Days' as a proper name, denoting a specific time period, but as "Long Long Ago' or 'Once Upon a Time', as in the start of most good fairy tales. Indicating ancient but mythic and legendary times.
 
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Longtimer

Member
Flammifer in a sense "A Ring of Power" is a proper name as it denotes a defined subset of rings of power. That though seems like another discussion.

In context though the use of recalled the Elder Days and the rest makes Elder Days feel like a time period perhaps a mythic time period that the Last Alliance is not a part of..

One added thought, a first time reader is far more likely to assume capitalization means proper name than to assume proper name equals mythic thing. The later sounds more like something a Tolkien scholar might understand.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I don't remember how I thought about this on a first reading, but I know I was aware in that reading of the mythic and epic language, especially in The Return of the King, and I loved that about the book. I don't think it took many readings to realize the mythic significance of some capitalized words and phrases - the difference between the Wise and the wise, the West and the west, the Old Kings, and of course the Ring. And there is plenty of that before the Council of Elrond. I think we just can't assume one thing or the other.
 

Longtimer

Member
Flammifer and Rachel not sure we can take this much farther. I appreciate and understand your reading of the passage and as with many wonderful Tolkien conversations there can be no certain answer, although I would not want to argue Balrogs having wings or Eagles flying to Mordor. This one, I fear goes under the heading of I believe my reading is accurate but cannot prove that your reading is not accurate.
 

Odola

Active Member
Flammifer and Rachel not sure we can take this much farther. I appreciate and understand your reading of the passage and as with many wonderful Tolkien conversations there can be no certain answer, although I would not want to argue Balrogs having wings or Eagles flying to Mordor. This one, I fear goes under the heading of I believe my reading is accurate but cannot prove that your reading is not accurate.
I am of your opinion, Tolkien is generally very carefull with his words and his grammar. The constuction is intended, whether the reader recognises it as such at first glance or not.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Odola,

You are right that JRRT is very careful with his words and grammar, and that his capitalization is intended.

If we have read the whole of TLOTR, we know that Longtimer is correct, and 'The Elder Days' is intended to describe a specific time period.

However, if we are first-time readers, we don't know that (because we have not reached Appendix B). We have seen JRRT use capitalization not to denote a proper name, but to confer mythic and legendary status. We have seen this many times so far. And, because it is an unusual use of capitalization, it has probably registered upon the first-time reader. (As Rachel recalls.)

So, the combination of 'The Elder Days' never being defined thus far as a specific time period, together with the ambiguous use of capitalization by JRRT, could easily lead the first-time reader to not being confused by Elrond's comment on 'clad in the armour of the Elder Days'.
 
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Odola

Active Member
Hi Odola,

You are right that JRRT is very careful with his words and grammar, and that his capitalization is intended.

If we have read the whole of TLOTR, we know that Longtimer is correct, and 'The Elder Days' is intended to describe a specific time period.

However, if we are first-time readers, we don't know that (because we have not reached Appendix B). We have seen JRRT use capitalization not to denote a proper name, but to confer mythic and legendary status. We have seen this many times so far. And, because it is an unusual use of capitalization, it has probably registered upon the first-time reader. (As Rachel recalls.)

So, the combination of 'The Elder Days' never being defined thus far as a specific time period, together with the ambiguous us of capitalization by JRRT, could easily lead the first-time reader to not being confused by Elrond's comment on 'clad in the armour of the Elder Days'.
Longtimer bases his argument on the grammatical construction with the word "recalled". A grammar-aware first-time reader has no choice but to read the passage Longtimer's way. The fact that most first-time readers will miss the significance of this grammatical construction does not invalidate its existence in the text.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Longtimer bases his argument on the grammatical construction with the word "recalled". A grammar-aware first-time reader has no choice but to read the passage Longtimer's way. The fact that most first-time readers will miss the significance of this grammatical construction does not invalidate its existence in the text.
Not sure I understand Odola,

If once upon a time I recalled mythic and legendary long long ago, and then much later recalled that very 'once upon a time' as mythic and legendary long long ago, I don't think that would violate any grammar rules?
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
The construction of the sentence is such that Elrond reports now, that long ago he witnessed something that reminded him of something in the long distant past.
For this to make proper sense the reported events must recall something from further distant in the past.

Events within living memory are usually not conflated in the same way as things beyond living memory, which is why we can talk about ‘the ‘90s’ without having to specify the century if it is the 1990s.

So, for the mortal audience ‘the Elder Days’, especially being spoken, might not carry a real distinction between the early Ages of Arda, but to the speaker (Elrond) and the Elves in the audience these are as distinct as Ancient Egypt and the Colonial periods.

Addition: Given the somewhat Medieval sense in Arda, that is the sense of decline throughout the Ages, Elves clad in armour of the Elder Days would be considered better armed than the same Elves in newly made armour.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
The construction of the sentence is such that Elrond reports now, that long ago he witnessed something that reminded him of something in the long distant past.
For this to make proper sense the reported events must recall something from further distant in the past.

Events within living memory are usually not conflated in the same way as things beyond living memory, which is why we can talk about ‘the ‘90s’ without having to specify the century if it is the 1990s.

So, for the mortal audience ‘the Elder Days’, especially being spoken, might not carry a real distinction between the early Ages of Arda, but to the speaker (Elrond) and the Elves in the audience these are as distinct as Ancient Egypt and the Colonial periods.

Addition: Given the somewhat Medieval sense in Arda, that is the sense of decline throughout the Ages, Elves clad in armour of the Elder Days would be considered better armed than the same Elves in newly made armour.
In this case, both things (the hosts of Beleriand and the hosts of the Last Alliance) are within the living memory of Elrond.

Yes, to Elrond, 'The Elder Days' presumably refers to the First Age. He has not read Appendix B, but he knows its contents.

However, this definition of 'The Elder Days' is unknown to the first-time reader (and probably to the Hobbits).
 

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
I had the experience about a year ago of hearing someone discussing "classic" literature (not in the Greco-Roman sense), except that they meant books I had read soon after they were first published. It was a little disorienting - anything published in my lifetime is modern to me. I still disagree with young people who call them classics. But time is a matter of perspective.
When I was young, in the early 70's, Casablanca was a "classic" movie, though it was only 30 years old. Pretty much any black and white movie was considered classic by then. But you're right: it really jars my brain these days when I see a movie from the 90's referred to as "classic"!
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
Classic doesn’t need to mean old (or Ancient), while classical does.

‘Classics’ are classics and classical. Casablanca is a classic, unlike other movies of its period, but it certainly isn’t classical, yet.


 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Classical music doesn't have to be old.

Aside from that, I have only seen classical used to describe Greco-Roman language, culture, and arts. Would you call Shakespeare's plays classical? I've never seen that done. And I can't think of a single classical film.

It used to be that you couldn't call an object antique unless it was at least 100 years old. Is the term classical like that? There are movies from 100 years ago that are classics, but none that I would call classical. I think classic as we use it for culture is used as a noun as much as an adjective, while classical is always an adjective. If anything, I think (outside of music) classical is like Elder Days, referring to a specific period.
 
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