|Dominions||Most prominently Doriath, Nargothrond, Gondolin, Hithlum, Lindon, Eregion, Lothlórien, and Rivendell.|
|Languages||Quenya and Sindarin, with various other dialects.|
|Average height||Taller than Men.|
|Skin color||Pale to tan.|
|Hair color||Blonde, black, brown, red, and ocassionally silver.|
|Distinctions||Nearly immortal, inventors of writing and other arts.|
|Members||Ingwë, Thingol, Finwë, Fëanor, Galadriel, etc.|
The Elves (Eldar) were the first of the races of the Children of Ilúvatar, known also as the Firstborn for that reason. The Elves are distinguished from the other two races, the Men and the Dwarves, especially by the fact of their near immortality.
(Main article: Awakening of the Elves)Varda, Queen of the Valier, ended her labors in creating the Stars, the Elves awoke beside the lake Cuiviénen. The first thing they saw were the stars, and henceforth adored them. The first sound they heard was the flowing of water, and henceforth they loved water as well.
They made speech then, and called themselves the Quendi. Melkor was the first to be aware of them, and he caused evil spirits to go about among them. When one or a small group wandered abroad, they would often vanish. It is believed that Melkor may have created orcs with the elves he captured.
(Main article: Sundering of the Elves)Aman in his eyes and face, and they were drawn to him.
After spending a while among the Quendi, Oromë returned to Valinor and took council with the other Valar and Valier. At the counsel of Ilúvatar, Manwë, King of the Valar, decided that they must go to war against Melkor to protect the Quendi from him. After a great battle and Siege of Utumno, which reshaped the earth itself, Melkor was bound and cast into the prison of Mandos. Then the Valar, pleased with the outcome, summoned the Elves to Valinor, seeking fellowship with them.
At Oromë’s urging, many of the Elves (especially the kindreds of Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë) agreed. But others, henceforth called the Avari, declared that they preferred starlight and the wide spaces of Middle-earth. So the Elves were first sundered. During the journey to Belegaer, gradually the number of the Elves began to lessen as various groups dropped away. Some of the Teleri (kindred of Elwë) refused to cross the Misty Mountains, and settled in Anduin under the leadership of Lenwë, to be called later the Nandor. Elwë then went missing, and in dismay the rest of the Teleri remained behind, while the Noldor (kindred of Finwë) and Vanyar (kindred of Ingwë) used an island as a ship, and found at last Aman and Valinor.
After several years, Oromë returned to search for the Teleri. Some, under Olwë, relented and followed. Others remained to continue to search for Elwë. Still others, under Círdan, remained because in that time they had become devoted to Ossë and the Sea. Those Teleri that chose to remain were called the Sindar. Elwë, who had fallen asleep due to his enchantment with Melian, returned to claim lordship and establish them in Doriath. The Noldor and some of the Teleri, however, built the great cities of Tirion and Alqualondë (respectively) in Aman. The Vanyar dwelt in Valmar, for they were closest to the Valar of the kindreds.
Exile of the Noldor
(Main article: Exile of the Noldor)Fëanor, the eldest son of Finwë and one of the greatest Elves to have ever lived, hated Melkor more than all the other Noldor, but was paradoxically one of the most influenced by his lies. He forged weapons, and his greatest works, the Silmarils, captured the light of the Two Trees – and his own heart. After Melkor stole the Silmarils and killed Finwë, Fëanor stirred the Noldor to open disobedience to the Valar. In an epic journey filled with treachery, death, and deceit, the Noldor entered in to Exile, crossing over into Beleriand.
Wars of Beleriand
(Main article: Wars of Beleriand)There were five great battles fought in Beleriand. The First Battle was the result of an attack by Melkor on Círdan and Elwë (now known as Thingol). Though the Elves managed to resist the attack successfully, this left Melkor essentially with full reign of Beleriand. Upon the sudden and unanticipated Return of the Noldor, the tables were reversed in the Dagor-nuin-Giliath. The third battle (“Dagor Aglareb”) occurred when Melkor tried unsuccessfully to destroy the Elves, breaking forth from Angband. This only resulted in the vigilant Siege of Angband. Morgoth was more successful in the next battle, Dagor Bragollach, which ended in the deaths of many Elven princes, among them Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor. The siege was broken. Several decades later, Maedhros, eldest son of Fëanor, counterattacked in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Although at first very successful, the tide turned against the Elves, and ended in the destruction of Hithlum. It was not half a century later that Gondolin, the last real stronghold of the Noldor, was destroyed. Doriath, the center of the Sindarin realm, was sacked by Dwarves.
Salvation of the Elves
(Main article: War of Wrath)
With the near destruction of the Elves, the last survivors were at the Mouths of the Sirion and Balar. Their lord was Eärendil, the son of Tuor and Idril. Eärendil made a miraculous voyage to Valinor to beg the pardon of the Valar. His request was granted. The Valar came across the Sea to Middle-earth, and in the War of Wrath thrust Morgoth into the Void and purged Beleriand. They offered to let the Elves return with them to Valinor; many accepted, but others, under Gil-galad, chose to remain.
Decline of the ElvesSauron, his greatest servant, was still there, and he made war on the remaining Elves who chose not to depart Middle-earth. Throughout the Second and Third Ages he fought them. During this time the Elves realized how Men were rising to take their place, but Celebrimbor, the grandson of Fëanor, wrought the Rings of Power, especially the Three Rings to preserve the Elves. But Sauron under the guise of Annatar also forged a ring – the One Ring. It was not until the end of the Third Age that this last ring was destroyed, marring the Three Rings at the same time. In the years that followed the last of the Elves departed across the Sea to Valinor, their mission against Sauron complete, never to return.
Life and Customs of the Elves
Besides being considered more beautiful than men, Elves were also generally shorter. Their hair color varied; but the basic rules were that the Noldor generally had dark hair (brown or black), the Vanyar golden, and the Teleri silver or dark. Their eyes are usually described as gray. Their most distinguishing characteristic from the Mortal races was the fact that they were invulnerable to age or disease; unless they were killed by sword or sorrow they would live to the end of the world.
Their lives were counted to begin at conception rather than birth, and though their minds sharpened much earlier in life than in the race of Men, their bodies grew more slowly. They were considered fully-grown at about a century. They married usually only once in their lives, and their children were often few and far-between.
(Main article:Elvish)Tolkien developed the Elves almost for his languages, those he developed are of special interest to many Tolkien scholars. His primary languages are Quenya and Sindarin, but these have many variants and dialects as is seen in the table below. They were generally written in the Cirth and Tengwar scripts.
- Primitive Quendian
- Various Avarin languages (some later merged with Nandorin)
- Common Eldarin (the early language of all the Eldar)
- Quenya (the language of the Noldor and the Vanyar)
- Quendya (also Vanyarin Quenya) (daily tongue of the Vanyar: closest to archaic Quenya)
- Noldorin Quenya (also Exilic Quenya) (the "Elven Latin" of Middle-earth)
- Common Telerin (the early language of all the Lindar)
- Telerin (the language of the Teleri who reached the Undying Lands)
- Nandorin (languages of the Nandor — some were influenced by Avarin)
- Sindarin (language of the Sindar)
- Quenya (the language of the Noldor and the Vanyar)