Elven military

Discussion in 'Season 3' started by Haerangil, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. Ange1e4e5

    Ange1e4e5 Well-Known Member

    Well, what will the Elves have access to, since that will affect what the Edain have access to? Everything up to the development of gunpowder?
  2. Kathrin

    Kathrin New Member

    I think there we get to the problem that we either ascribe the development different historic peoples at specific times in Earth-history to each of our groups in middle-earth, or we just give them certain achievements and try to build a consistent pattern why and how their societies progressed that way. Gunpowder is a very good example for this dilemma: It was invented in China for example in 200 AC, but a lot later in Europe. Are our elves distinctly modeled after different historic european tribes/nations? I'm not really sure, has something been decided on the general point "where and when" this part of the storyline is set?
  3. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    I prefer not to model them on specific cultures. Taking historical elements of many different real cultures as inspiration, where they fit within the context of the development particular to a fictional culture, can make sense. But I never cared for fiction in which a fictional group is just "The Romans with the names changed" or "The Vikings with the names changed." Unless they are literally alternate-history Romans or Vikings. I don't even like the Rohirrim or Shire to be depicted as 100% copies.

    The Elves don't necessarily have everything before gunpowder. I think they won't have naval warfare (nobody to fight who has ships!), plate armor, water mills, clocks, universities, banks, stained glass, flamethrowers, glasses, accordions, mummification... some of that stuff is invented later by other peoples, but probably in the Second or Third Age.

    On the other hand the Elves probably were taught germ theory by the Ainur, and will teach that to the Edain. The Calaquendi have received a great deal of accurate scientific teachings from the Ainur, but the Sindar also learned quite a lot of "the lore of living things" from Melian.

    But when we think of crafts, or lore, being taught to the Edain, was it only the chiefs and other elites, or did the average farmer learn all that advanced stuff? How much did the Elves even interact with the average Adan? Aside from having social classes with differing amounts of wealth, the Edain presumably didn't have public schools. It's hard to find time for academics when you need your kids to help out on the farm, fight Orcs, make babies, and cope with the periodic diseases and infirmity of being Mortal. And even the chiefs only lived 80-95 years at most. Did the average Edain even have time to learn to read?

    To some extent the Edain likely made their own war gear, but to some extent I think they were supplied by Elven and Dwarven crafters. If the average Adan couldn't afford to buy maille and lacked the skill to make it, a good hauberk and helm may have been part of the pay of a soldier in an Elvenking's service.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  4. Kathrin

    Kathrin New Member

    That's my inclination too. But then we really have to pay a lot of attention while growing these cultures side by side as "organically" as possible that we don't make a huge mess of what they already have achieved, because we won't have a historic context to guide us more or less.

    Exactly, what kind of things will spring forth from "advanced biology" knowledge? If we compare the ancient greeks and egyptians knew a lot about math and astronomy and stuff which ties into complicated construction for example, people who lived near easily mineable ores and coal reserves discovered metallurgy earlier, etc. so what do our respective peoples discover organically?

    Yes, sure, not every piece of knowledge the Elves openly shared got to every last farmer, but if there was even a modest amount of trade, you would just get the realisation that there even is a more advanced way, and that accelerates the process of trying to master that way by yourself. The Elves and the Edain aren't as far apart as prehistoric europe and China, Egypt or Babylon, the latter of which then were already very advanced but there wasn't any cultural exchange. It's probably more like the medieval relationship between the ottoman empire and europe or the persians and the greeks, not collaboration but definitely influencing each other.

    The question of literacy I think often depends on if it is encouraged. For example Charlemagne tried to bring back literacy in his later years und started to build up a very written-word based bureaucracy in his realm, which just had disappeared due to neglect and chaos since the Romans. But I don't think the Edain are at a point like that, they maybe have some single groups of people who have made an effort to learn...

    Yes, but for example do they learn the basics of metallurgy? Or do they only have leather and sticks. Then again maybe in independent groups only a few people of prestige have these new fancy weapons, tools clothing etc. they're developing and it very sloowly spreads to the whole population. Is there anything the Edain are especially good at themselves? Because it would be a bit lame if for millennia they only copied everyone elses stuff.

    I'm sorry for just asking a lot of questions here, I'm very intrigued by it but it now also gets very complicated...
  5. Faelivrin

    Faelivrin Well-Known Member

    It's hard! Which is probably one reason why lots of writers short-cut.

    They'd have germ theory of disease, along with accurate knowledge of physiology and blood circulation and the functions of all the organs, 0f cells, and advanced understanding of ecology. They surely have incredibly efficient and perfectly sustainable farming, and as Samwise commented their produce is delicious. (Yavanna also gave the blessed lembas-wheat to all the Eldar, and maybe to Avari as well.) The Sindar would have excellent medicine for injured Elves and for sick or injured livestock, which the Noldor would learn. Their naturally winning ways with animals and plants would make it easy for them to domesticate whatever they wanted. Some of them learn to talk to animals.

    I think some of that knowledge was learned by the Edain and more by the Numenoreans. Scientific medicine with knowledge of germ theory, or just a good understanding of hygiene, could help explain their long lifespans in Beleriand.

    That's the way with a lot of technology, isn't it? What the Men want to learn, they will learn -- from Elves, Dwarves, even Orcs. Some things they will imitate if they can't find willing teachers. For example I think they do learn metalworking in the First Age, and skip right from stone to iron because the Elves and Dwarves already had iron.

    I don't know if there are. Tolkien seemed to feel that humans are worse at everything than Dwarves and especially Elves, and that the only thing we're good at inventing are new ways to kill each other and destroy the land and wildlife. It feels rather dreary to see things that way, though. :( The Numenoreans invented mummification, but Tolkien seemed to consider that a bad thing, too. He did think smoking was a great invention, though (it shouldn't even be dangerous, if the pipeweed is from Numenor).

    Mortals surely must be able to invent positive things of their own, though -- if Middle-earth is the 'mythic prehistory' of the real world there are quite a lot of Human cultures who invented art, music, poetry, farming, domestication, writing, astronomy, and other cool stuff without any Elven or Dwarven contact.

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