Elves have children when they are young?


New Member
As far as I understood, Tolkien wrote the 'Laws and Customs among the Eldar' after the publishing of the LotR, in order to explain some of his protagonists' backgrounds. The only 'Elf-children born in the Third Age that we know of, however, are Elrond's children - and neither he nor his wife were "young" anymore (even for elves).
Does that mean, the birth of Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen was very special (as Arwen had a special role to play), or did Tolkien rather think about the elves of the First Age, when he wrote it?


Staff member
Laws and Customs Among the Eldar is definitely the type of text where you have to keep the sources in mind. After all, this isn't word-of-God stuff. This is someone like Pengolodh talking about his own people in a way that he would want them to be understood by outsiders (Aelfwine, or in a post-LotR world, Bilbo with his Translations from the Elvish). There's a lot of generalizations and idealizations in that text.

If someone were to ask you, 'What age do people typically get married and have kids?' you would likely tell them that getting married and having kids is something that is typically done when people are in their 20's. Now, in reality, do people also get married much later in life? Of course! But you'd give the answer based on what often happens, not based on all the outliers.

But for the part you are talking about, it's not a matter of only having children when you're young - it's more a matter of doing so when you and your spouse are ready. So...peacetime, not youth, is the main criteria.

Scott Hodgman

New Member
Maybe another way to think about the question: "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" was written in period where the Myth itself was reconsidered over and against the scientific observations of JRRT's Primary World. You might say it comes from a period of rupture between his Primary World, a world providing ever more disruptive pronouncements on the cosmos, society, family, industry, economics, the value and place of The Machine, and his Secondary World that he loved and cherished. It may not fit into his Secondary World per se even as it became part of the body myth–The History of Middle-earth.

Another point of view, then, JRRT was think about both, and the new challenges that faced him as he continued sub-creating in the latter part of his life.