- "In the dawn of years Elves and Men were allies and held themselves akin [...] and in the glory and beauty of the Elves, and in their fate, full share had the offspring of elf and mortal..."
- ― Quenta Silmarillion, "Of Men"
Half-elven (Sindarin singular Peredhel, plural Peredhil), are the children of the Union of Elves and Men. Half-elven are not a distinct race per se; rather, they were fertile offspring as the result of a union between Elves and Men. There are four recorded unions of the Eldar with the Edain.
In the First Age, Lúthien married Beren and Idril married Tuor. These two lines of Peredhil were then joined by the marriage of Eärendil and Elwing. Eärendil and Elwing were the first to receive the choice of fates which passed to their line. Their sons, Elros and Elrond, chose different fates and the line was sundered until the end of the Third Age.
In the end of the Third Age, when Arwen Undómiel wed Aragorn II Elessar, a distant descendant of Elros Tar-Minyatur, it united the long-sundered lines of those descended from both Elves and Men. There is also mention of an Elven bloodline in Prince Imrahil via the old tale of Mithrellas and Imrazôr.:220-2
The first bond between Elves and Men was the marriage of Beren Erchamion and Lúthien Tinúviel, from which a single son, Dior Eluchíl, was born. Dior wed Nimloth of Doriath, and they had three children: twins Eluréd and Elurín, and Elwing the White. Dior wore the Nauglamir with the Silmaril, passed to him from his mother, thus awakening the oath of the Fëanorians and the Second Kinslaying.
The next bond came about through the union of Tuor son of Huor and Idril Celebrindal, from which another son, Eärendil, was born. While Eärendil was truly half-elven, his Adan father, Tuor, had been granted the fate of the elder race. Eärendil and Elwing begat another pair of twin sons: Elrond and Elros. Of the half-elves, Eärendil and Elwing were specifically given a choice in their fates when they journeyed to Valinor with the Silmaril to beg pardon for the Noldor and plead the plight of Elves and Men to the Valar. Only after that event was the choice passed to their children, to be counted as one of the Eldar (Elves), thus being immortal, or one of the Edain (Men), thus being mortal. Elrond Half-elven chose the fate of Elven-kind, but Elros chose the Gift of Men, and none of his descendants bore the title of "Half-Elven".
Elrond wed Celebrían, daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, and bore three children: twin sons Elladan and Elrohir, and daughter Arwen Undómiel. Aragorn and Arwen were parents to a son, Eldarion, as well as at least two daughters, thus leaving a remnant of the proud Elven lineage even after the Firstborn had long passed over the sea and out of time and memory. Though these children were long-lived, like Númenóreans had been and Eldarion ruled for at least 100 years, they were mortal.
There is no evidence that any other mixed bloodline shared in the choice of fate as Earendil's and Elwing's. The children of Mithrellas, Galador and Gilmith, were enobled but mortal like their father, as were their descendants.
The half-elven lines
Those sharing a divine heritage and didn't make a choice are bold faced; those who chose to be counted as an Elda rather than an Adan are italicized; those who were counted among the Edain (or who had not made the choice either way) are not. Their actual mathematical descent from elves is in a fraction in parentheses.
The important members of the half-elven lines were:
- Dior and his descendants were not only half-elven, but also descendants of the divine bloodline of Melian; Dior was slain in his 30s, far below the lifespan of a mortal, therefore his intended nature, longevity and mortality are not known.
- Eärendil would rather have chosen the kindred of Men, but he chose the Elves for his wife Elwing's sake (she also chose the Elves). His fate was special; although he was not allowed to stay in Valinor with the Elves, he had to sail the heavens in his ship Vingilótë, wearing the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien on his brow, shining brightly as a sign of hope for Middle-earth.
- Elwing's family was slain or lost, with only Elwing surviving, given her choice of kindred and choosing the Eldar. As Eärendil sailed the heavens, Elwing resided in a white tower built northward on the borders of the Sundering Seas and met him upon his return.
- While Dior was slain, Eluréd and Elurín were abandoned in the woods outside Doriath by the vengeful Noldor and were never found again, disappearing from history in a very young age. As with their father, their eventual nature remains unknown.
- Elrond, son of Eärendil and Elwing. (9/16)
- His heirs would also have the free choice of kindred.
- Elros, also son of Eärendil and Elwing. (9/16)
- The heirs of Elros were not given the choice of the children of Elrond; but their lifespan was multiple of that of normal Men. In later times, the Kings of Númenor regretted their forefather's choice, and this led to the downfall of Númenor.
- She could choose her kindred like her father; however unlike him, after living for millennia as an Elf, she ultimately chose the fate of Men and married Aragorn, distant heir of Elros. Their son Eldarion and their daughters were not counted as Half-elven, but rather as Dúnedain restored, as the two Half-elven lines of Earendil were merged in the Fourth Age.
- Like their sister they "shall live with the youth of the Eldar" as immortals; until they made their choice, which they were bound to make only after their father took the White Ship out from Middle-earth. Their choice(s) and fate(s) is unknown.
Other versions of the legendarium
In an older version of the Quenta Silmarillion, Manwë spoke this judgment to Eärendil:
- "To Eärendel I remit the ban, and the peril that he took upon himself out of love for the Two Kindreds shall not fall on him; neither shall it fall upon Elwing who entered into peril for love of Eärendel: save only in this: they shall not ever walk again among Elves or Men in the Outer Lands. Now all those who have the blood of mortal Men, in whatever part, great or small, are mortal, unless other doom be granted to them; but in this matter the power of doom is given to me."
- ― The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, Quenta Silmarillion
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Steward and the King"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
- J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 338, (dated 6 June 1972)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", The Conclusion Of The Quenta Silmarillion, §9