Did married Elves enjoy sex outside of procreation?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
In the last class, Corey was uncertain, and thought there was no evidence on either side of this question.

I offer this, from chapter V of ‘The Nature of Middle-earth’: “Their hroar were in great vigour, and dominant; and the delights of the body of all kinds were their chief concern.”

I consider this suggestive that Elvish couples did indeed delight in sex outside of procreation.

However, this is in the 1959 material, which JRRT seemed to be discarding later, so, who knows?

Can anyone else find any evidence on this subject?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
In the last class, Corey was uncertain, and thought there was no evidence on either side of this question.

I offer this, from chapter V of ‘The Nature of Middle-earth’: “Their hroar were in great vigour, and dominant; and the delights of the body of all kinds were their chief concern.”

I consider this suggestive that Elvish couples did indeed delight in sex outside of procreation.

However, this is in the 1959 material, which JRRT seemed to be discarding later, so, who knows?

Can anyone else find any evidence on this subject?
Difficult. We have too little data on this. Maeglin's lust for Idril seems bereft of any conscious procreative purposes. But he is a bad data point.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Enjoying the unitive nature of sex rather than solely the reproductive purpose seems to be compatible with Laws and Customs among the Eldar. Also, it is compatible with a Catholic theological understanding of the role of sex in marriage, for what that is worth (ie, a free, total, faithful, fruitful gift of self).
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
My first impression came from the passage Odola quotes, but that is balanced with what he writes about the two kinds of love, that elven couples begin with the love of friendship, which is joined with the romantic/sexual love that makes them mates as well. He says they don't separate after the time of the children because of that other love that binds them.

It's hard to conclude anything from such notes as are in this book, which show different hypotheses. But he very much ties sex to procreation - that is clearest in all the tables when the main function was to populate the world. From outside - I am not Catholic - it seems a very Catholic idea of marriage, only without the idea that celibacy is higher.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Enjoying the unitive nature of sex rather than solely the reproductive purpose seems to be compatible with Laws and Customs among the Eldar. Also, it is compatible with a Catholic theological understanding of the role of sex in marriage, for what that is worth (ie, a free, total, faithful, fruitful gift of self).
Comparable yes, but necessary? I am not sure. Elves do not experience lack as human do so have less need for "completion" or "complementation". Their maritial passion might be more driven by the cosmic joy in (pro-)creation itself than a fullfilling of their own carnal needs (if they even experience any if not corrupted). As such sterile intercourse might be actually a frustrating experience for an elf, similar to shooting out random arrows without actuallly hitting the target. I do not think elves use intercourse to get drunk/high of their own hormones and neuronal stimulation. But intercourse during an ongoing pregnancy might be a thing given that an elvish father invests his powers into his offsping during gestation. I cannot imagine any other mechanism by which this could be achieved.
My first impression came from the passage Odola quotes,
Actually I did quote Flammifer OP with this quote already included by him.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Without much exploration in the text, I will say I rather like, from a story perspective, the idea of elves having only an urge for procreation as opposed to sexual drives. I find it interesting in that it separates them from humans and would be rather…surprising to many humans to say the least. Where sexual lust does rise up in elves, it is anomalous and perhaps more about power and domination, but equally would be seen as not just reprehensible or taboo, but a fundamental break from elvishness. The quote out of context implies that they do to some degree take pleasure in sex as a bodily delight but, thinking of an older thread, I suppose this could be more of a seasonal pleasure, tying into procreation. The idea that elves have a mating season I find a lovely bit of worldbuilding; it helps make them other in a way that isn’t a negative but is enough to differentiate them. I’m thinking of Star Trek’s Vulcans and their Pon Farr. Without much for or against I think that’s going to become my headcanon unless proven otherwise. My elves are seasonally demisexual
 
Last edited:

Odola

Well-Known Member
Without much exploration in the text, I will say I rather like, from a story perspective, the idea of elves having only an urge for procreation as opposed to sexual drives. I find it interesting in that it separates them from humans and would be rather…surprising to many humans to say the least. Where sexual lust does rise up in elves, it is anomalous and perhaps more about power and domination, but equally would be seen as not just reprehensible or taboo, but a fundamental break from elvishness. The quote out of context implies that they do to some degree take pleasure in sex as a bodily delight but, thinking of an older thread, I suppose this could be more of a seasonal pleasure, tying into procreation. The idea that elves have a mating season I find a lovely bit of worldbuilding; it helps make them other in a way that isn’t a negative but is enough to differentiate them. I’m thinking of Star Trek’s Vulcans and their Pon Farr. Without much for or against I think that’s going to become my headcanon unless proven otherwise. My elves are seasonally demisexual
It makes us realise how much we ourselves are an auto-domesticated species. Domestication often results in a gradually progressing decoupling of procreational activity from the seasons. Also in humans the fact that conception is "automated biologically" and as such removed completely from the will of the involved parents shifts the attention of humanity from conception to the process sometimes leading to it. This even results in situations when conception itself is regarded as a (sometimes even unwanted) side-effect of lust. This shift of attention is not present in uncorrupted elves at all. As such mortal man could be interesting for ellith as they could easily mistake the fervent male sexual interest in them as attractive mating partners for genuine interest in themselves.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
I mean, plenty of species don’t have mating seasons but are opportunistic or continual breeders, notably apes. It’s an entirely natural part of ape physiology
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I mean, plenty of species don’t have mating seasons but are opportunistic or continual breeders, notably apes. It’s an entirely natural part of ape physiology
But today's apes tend to live in areas with little seasonal variation.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
But today's apes tend to live in areas with little seasonal variation.
My point was that a species being a seasonal breeder is no more ‘natural’ than another kind. Regardless, I think anything that makes elves a tad more distant and fascinating is a plus in my books.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
My point was that a species being a seasonal breeder is no more ‘natural’ than another kind. Regardless, I think anything that makes elves a tad more distant and fascinating is a plus in my books.
And elves are more "northern" than humans in Tolkien. So we would expect more seasonality. We do not hear pf any desert or jungle elves. Especially desert elves I do not think actually to be possible.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
The union of love is indeed to them great delight and joy.
With the exercise of the power (of generation), the desire soon ceases, and the mind turns to other things…they have many other urges of body and of mind which their nature urges them to fulfil.
Marriage is chiefly of the body, for it is achieved by bodily union, and its first operation is the begetting of the bodies of children, even though it endures beyond this and has other operations. And the union of bodies in marriage is unique, and no other union resembles it.

It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage...it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus of free consent one to the other without ceremony or witness…in flight and exile and wandering, such marriages were often made.

Eöl found...the sister of King Turgon astray in the wild near his dwelling, and he took her to wife by force: a very wicked deed in the eyes of the Eldar.
Seldom is any tale told of deeds of lust among them.

Among all these evils there is no record of any among the Elves that took another's spouse by force; for this was wholly against their nature, and one so forced would have rejected bodily life and passed to Mandos. Guile or trickery in this matter was scarcely possible…for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed.

question answered.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
The union of love is indeed to them great delight and joy.
With the exercise of the power (of generation), the desire soon ceases, and the mind turns to other things…they have many other urges of body and of mind which their nature urges them to fulfil.
Marriage is chiefly of the body, for it is achieved by bodily union, and its first operation is the begetting of the bodies of children, even though it endures beyond this and has other operations. And the union of bodies in marriage is unique, and no other union resembles it.

It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage...it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus of free consent one to the other without ceremony or witness…in flight and exile and wandering, such marriages were often made.

Eöl found...the sister of King Turgon astray in the wild near his dwelling, and he took her to wife by force: a very wicked deed in the eyes of the Eldar.
Seldom is any tale told of deeds of lust among them.

Among all these evils there is no record of any among the Elves that took another's spouse by force; for this was wholly against their nature, and one so forced would have rejected bodily life and passed to Mandos. Guile or trickery in this matter was scarcely possible…for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed.

question answered.
You mean as there are marriages recorded with are not followed by birth one gestation period immidiately afterwards, and if "It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage" then this initial marital encounter could have been indeed assumed sterile in certain cases? Given that Tolkien was not certain how long an elvish gestation took, that is a little unsure imho, but a valid approach.
 
Last edited:

Rob Harding

Active Member
The union of love is indeed to them great delight and joy.
With the exercise of the power (of generation), the desire soon ceases, and the mind turns to other things…they have many other urges of body and of mind which their nature urges them to fulfil.
Marriage is chiefly of the body, for it is achieved by bodily union, and its first operation is the begetting of the bodies of children, even though it endures beyond this and has other operations. And the union of bodies in marriage is unique, and no other union resembles it.

It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage...it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus of free consent one to the other without ceremony or witness…in flight and exile and wandering, such marriages were often made.

Eöl found...the sister of King Turgon astray in the wild near his dwelling, and he took her to wife by force: a very wicked deed in the eyes of the Eldar.
Seldom is any tale told of deeds of lust among them.

Among all these evils there is no record of any among the Elves that took another's spouse by force; for this was wholly against their nature, and one so forced would have rejected bodily life and passed to Mandos. Guile or trickery in this matter was scarcely possible…for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed.

question answered.
Where is this quote from?
 
Top