The Female Orc Problem

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
If we take literally the words "Orcs multiply in the manner of the Children of Illuvatar", then we have to eliminate all the wildest schemes: they can't be marsupials, or egg-laying monotremes, or r-strategy reproducers.

But note that the only Orcs we ever encounter are soldiers. We have no information whatever from the books on Orc home-life other than Bilbo's reports of Gollum's observations on hunting their young. Which he might have made up for dramatic effect.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
But it still means seven sons like feanor or... if we take men into account, seventeen sons like Hazad Longbeard...
Is not unrealistic for a wild tribal culture or a highly organized military culture.

I think it might be totally possible for orcs, even if they are biologically human, to have many children and to grow up very fast, i also don't think they would have any moral problems with leading child-soldiers to battle.
 
D

Deleted member 207

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What if orcs, left to themselves, live a fairly benevolent anarchic lifestyle. Provincial and secluded. Maybe mothers and fathers alike are fairly homely.

What I’m saying is, what if orcs are hobbit-like?
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I doubt it.Their corruption must not only come from domination only but Morgoth/Sauron did something to them.He made them agressive, always hungry and in pain...
He definitely set the rules for them not biologically being able to become "good people".That does include wife and children.
 
D

Deleted member 207

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Yeah....

but What If? Lol

EDIT: I’ll leave following up on the point of whether they are morally and emotionally corrupted as well as physically restructured for the other existing threads
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
If we take literally the words "Orcs multiply in the manner of the Children of Illuvatar", then we have to eliminate all the wildest schemes: they can't be marsupials, or egg-laying monotremes, or r-strategy reproducers.

But note that the only Orcs we ever encounter are soldiers. We have no information whatever from the books on Orc home-life other than Bilbo's reports of Gollum's observations on hunting their young. Which he might have made up for dramatic effect.
If we take literally the words "Orcs multiply in the manner of the Children of Illuvatar", then we have to eliminate all the wildest schemes: they can't be marsupials, or egg-laying monotremes, or r-strategy reproducers.
Agree 100%
But note that the only Orcs we ever encounter are soldiers. We have no information whatever from the books on Orc home-life other than Bilbo's reports of Gollum's observations on hunting their young. Which he might have made up for dramatic effect.
Not sure. In Bilbo's narrative the fact that orclings are mentioned at all is surprising. But it is interesting that Gollum expects no retribution. If we take it at face value, tells us a lot about orcish childcare or lack of it.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Yeah....

but What If? Lol

EDIT: I’ll leave following up on the point of whether they are morally and emotionally corrupted as well as physically restructured for the other existing threads
Disabling of Oxytocin-Receptors and similar would probably do the trick. ;-) If you wanna be technical ;-).
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
certain females exist solely to sire offspring
Nit-picking, but females don't sire offspring.

You know, animals that are bred too often die young - their bodies can't follow natural cycles of birthing and nursing and healing between pregnancies - their babies are taken away right after being born, which would fit with raising fighters. (I assume we are assuming orcs are mammals.)
 
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D

Deleted member 207

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Nit-picking, but females don't sire offsp

You know, animals that are bred too often die young - their bodies can't follow natural cycles of birthing and nursing and healing between pregnancies - their babies are taken away right after being born, which would fit with raising fighters. (I assume we are assuming orcs are mammals.)
Yes, good point on the ‘sure’ note.

I think a lot of these issues can be sidestepped when we consider that the orcs existence is down to Sauron wrecking the physiology and psychology of already inhuman beings. Is it possible elves have natural capacities humans don’t? And isn’t it also possible Sauron, possible able to trap Maiar souls in physical bodies, can manipulate bodies enough to push them to do things they are not naturally capable of? Even the question of whether orcs are mammals I think could be flexible. Sauron after all was likely totally breaking things down to see how they work. Without wanting to map too much real world science onto a fantasy world, we could see that breaking being done at a genetic level (for lack of in-world concept).
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Yes, good point on the ‘sure’ note.

I think a lot of these issues can be sidestepped when we consider that the orcs existence is down to Sauron wrecking the physiology and psychology of already inhuman beings. Is it possible elves have natural capacities humans don’t? And isn’t it also possible Sauron, possible able to trap Maiar souls in physical bodies, can manipulate bodies enough to push them to do things they are not naturally capable of? Even the question of whether orcs are mammals I think could be flexible. Sauron after all was likely totally breaking things down to see how they work. Without wanting to map too much real world science onto a fantasy world, we could see that breaking being done at a genetic level (for lack of in-world concept).
Orcs have to be mammals, as otherwise they cannot be bred with humans as Saruman does. If their nature as primates or even as far as hominids were to be broken to far, breeding with humans would stop to be possible. Actuallly in the real world we do not have any confirmed hybridisations as yet that work(ed) beyond the homo level.
So both elves and orcs must be so kind of "homo xxx" biologically.
The interesting case is of course Melian, bur she is an one off case and an explicit exception.
EDIT:
(This is interesting, as I am personally convinced, that the mythological elves, faires, trolls and jinns are actually prehistoric memories of an ancient time, when there were several distinct homo species living and interacting with each other.)
 
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D

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Orcs have to be mammals, as otherwise they cannot be bred with humans as Saruman does. If their nature as primates or even as far as hominids were to be broken to far, breeding with humans would stop to be possible. Actuallly in the real world we do not have any confirmed hybridisations as yet that work(ed) beyond the homo level.
So both elves and orcs must be so kind of "homo xxx" biologically.
The interesting case is of course Melian, bur she is an one off case and an explicit exception.
She's also not a Maiar and the ins and outs of how they work is pretty vague.

But I don't think elves are 'homo' anything. Elves are elves. They may look similar to humans but I'm not sure they are biologically connected. They are related in so much as that they are 'Children of Illuvatar' but I think this is the problem of mapping current science onto a mythological world of magic. Things start to break down.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
But I don't think elves are 'homo' anything. Elves are elves. They may look similar to humans but I'm not sure they are biologically connected. They are related in so much as that they are 'Children of Illuvatar' but I think this is the problem of mapping current science onto a mythological world of magic. Things start to break down.
I thing is one of his letters Tolkien stated that they are? Have no access to it now.
Found it:

Letter 153 - To Peter Hastings

Elves and Men are evidently in Biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring - even as a rare event: there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Eärendil. But since some have held that the rate of longevity is a biological characteristic, within limits of variation, you could not have Elves in a sense 'immortal' - not eternal, but not dying by 'old age' - and Men mortal, more or less as they now seem to be in the Primary World - and yet sufficiently akin. I might answer that this 'biology' is only a theory, that modern 'gerontology', or whatever they call it, finds 'aging' rather more mysterious, and less clearly inevitable in bodies of human structure. But I should actually answer: I do not care. This is a biological dictum in my imaginary world. It is only (as yet) an incompletely imagined world, a rudimentary 'secondary'; but if it pleased the Creator to give it (in corrected form) Reality on any plane, then you would just have to enter it and begin studying its different biology, that is all.


So elve are "homo xxx" - by the mouth of the author himself. ;-)
Their cell death meter is just set differently.
 
D

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I'm frankly not super interested in Tolkien's thoughts on the world when it comes to looking at the work. I don't think authors are the best people to speak to their created worlds. If it isn't in the text, for me, it is a bit irrelevant. Which makes the larger Legendarium problematic for me as it isn't really a finalised story so much as a collection of drafts, but I take it for what it is
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I'm frankly not super interested in Tolkien's thoughts on the world when it comes to looking at the work. I don't think authors are the best people to speak to their created worlds. If it isn't in the text, for me, it is a bit irrelevant. Which makes the larger Legendarium problematic for me as it isn't really a finalised story so much as a collection of drafts, but I take it for what it is
Still it is as much clear for the author as it is for me as a reader from the texts themselves that elves are meant to be "homo something", so you are imho at a disadvantage here when you want to prove the opposite. So how would you go about wanting to prove that elves are not "homo ---"?
 
D

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I don't want to prove they are not. I just don't think the concept is even particularly useful in this world. There is no evolutionary chain. There is no real taxonomy. Humanity is just made. Technically, they aren't humans. They are Men. That is undefined but it implies they are as like us as possible to be in this world. I'm not sure we even have examples of any other hominids. I just don't think there is anything to suggest that humans in Tolkiens world are evolutionary/biologically/whatever required to be classified in ways we use for our own species. It's a fantasy world that doesn't obey the same rules as ours. I'm not sure labelling them as 'homo' anything is useful in this context and I think it creates rules and laws that might not need to exist. What classification are trolls? Dragons? We don't really have equivalents and accept these as 'fantasy creatures'. Same goes for elves, orcs and even this fictional race that resemble us and are named Men IMO. Tolkien's original intention for these stories to be a history of our world seemed to be largely abandoned pretty early on even by him and I don't think there is anything in the text to make us believe this fictional world is intended to be our own. So I don't think we need to assume certain laws. We know the physical laws of reality are different. Other 'truths' may not be so in Arda. We have to use the text as our guide and where there are gaps, can't assume our world as the foundation.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I don't think there is anything in the text to make us believe this fictional world is intended to be our own.
O yes, the need for redemption is.
And evil is too. That evil is not there in the text just to be fought against for the pure entertainement of the reader.
But to be recognised as the same enemy that we still face today.
 
D

Deleted member 207

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Similarities in a fictional world and lessons to be learnt don't mean this is meant to be our world. I'm fairly certain you don't believe dragons and hobbits used to exist lol

EDIT: What I mean is, metaphysical philosophy and emotional depths don't mean we need to strip-mine the text of its own physical reality and supplant it with our own. One must let it be what it is and enjoy the emotional response one has and apply that where it works for you. But if you poke fantasy too much, some of the philosophy can break down. Hence why pure allegory is always ropey at best. Thankfully, we have more nuance than straight-up allegory so we can have these discussions about individual take-aways.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Similarities in a fictional world and lessons to be learnt don't mean this is meant to be our world. I'm fairly certain you don't believe dragons and hobbits used to exist lol
Dragons are part of this world's mythology, whether they are based on crocodiles or whatever, they are part of our world in the human memory and reception of it. Hobbits are just diminutive humans, so no less believable then Sherlock Holmes.

And by the way, the term "homo sapiens" (1802, in William Turton's translation of Linnæus, after https://www.etymonline.com/word/homo sapiens) predates the birth of Darwin (1809). It is not dependant on the theory of evolution but is just a clasification name.
 
D

Deleted member 207

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But my whole point is that none of that is relevant to this fictional universe. We have no shared history or classifications at all. Maybe it's a fundamental difference we have of literary theory.
 
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