The Elves were the first inhabitants of Middle-earth and the Lands of Arda.
Creation and Awakening
The Firstborn, the Elder Children of Ilúvatar, conceived by Eru alone in the third theme of Ainulindalë, the eldest and noblest of the speaking races of Middle-earth. They awoke by Cuiviénen in the starlight of the Sleep of Yavanna, as the Sun and Moon have yet to be created. The first elves to awake are three pairs: Imin ("First") and his wife Iminyë, Tata ("Second") and Tatië, and Enel ("Third") and Enelyë.Imin, Tata, and Enel and their wives join up and walk through the forests. They come across six, nine, and twelve pairs of elves, and each "patriarch" claims the pairs as his folk in order. The now sixty elves dwell by the rivers, and they invent poetry and music in Middle-earth (the continent). Journeying further, they come across a band of Elves watching the stars, which Tata claims as his. These are tall and dark-haired, the fathers of most of the Ñoldor. The ninety-six elves now invented many new words. Continuing their journey, they find twenty-four pairs of elves, singing without language, and Enel adds them to his people. These are the ancestors of most of the Lindar or "singers", later called Teleri. They find no more Elves; Imin's people, the smallest group, are the ancestors of the Vanyar. All in all they number 144. Because all elves had been found in groups of twelve, twelve becomes their base number and 144 their highest number (for a long time), and none of the later Elvish languages have a common name for a greater number.
At first the elves sang with grace and merriment without speech but soon they developed a speech and spoke with words so their first name was Quendi (The Ones Who Speak With Voices). Later, the name Eldar was used only for those who were part of the Great Journey to Aman.
Discovery and Sundering
The elves were content and dwelt long under the stars of the forest Cuiviénen. However, Melkor, the Dark Lord was aware of them and their location before the Valar, and during this time he sent evil spirits to spy on them and do harm to them and some of these early elves ran away from home in blind fear and were taken by Melkor or one of his agents. These elves were never seen again and were taken to Utumno and twisted and mutilated until they became the Orcs. So when they were discovered by the Vala Oromë during his travels throughout Middle-earth, some elves were afraid and hid but the faithful ones that stayed soon found out that he was nothing to fear and met with him. Oromë loved them and gave them the name Eldar (People of the Stars).
Oromë spent some time with them and then returned to Valinor to tell Manwë of the finding of the Firstborn of Eru Ilúvatar. He then returned to live with elves for a time learning about them. It was after this that the Valar decided to protect the elves by ridding Middle-earth of Melkor and his evils. The Valar made war upon Melkor and set a guard on Cuiviénen. The elves knew nothing of the war save that the earth shook and thunderous lightening was seen in the north. After the removal of Melkor, Oromë returned with a summons of the Valar to Aman. Some elves were afraid as they felt the tumults of the Valar’s war on Melkor and relented. Knowing this, the elves chose ambassadors one from each kindred and they were Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë and they went to Valinor as representatives of their people.
When the three returned, they spoke to their people of the beauty and bliss of what they had seen and urged them to travel to Valinor and abide there, thus began the Great Journey, also known as the Sundering of the Elves. All of the elves agreed save for the Avari who chose to remain in Middle-earth. Led by Oromë, the elven kindreds marched out of Cuiviénen but as they moved out of the forest area and saw the black clouds surrounding the north where Melkor had once lived, some grew afraid and turned back to Cuiviénen. The rest continued albeit slowly often stopping until Oromë returned but were curious by what they saw.
The Vanyar and the Ñoldor, who were most eager to reach Valinor pressed on with the greatest speed and were the first to reach the coasts and to be taken to Valinor on an island that the Vala Ulmo guided across the Belegaer (Great Sea). The Teleri were the slowest of the group as they were drawn to what they had seen and encountered in the western and southern parts of Middle-earth. This caused them to separate into several different groups such as the Nandor who became Wood-elves of the Wilderland and later the Beleriand. Some of the Teleri who did not like the seas and partly due to the disappearance of Elwë in Nan Elmoth for a time, drew back and settled in the wooded areas of Region and Neldoreth that later became Doriath. The Teleri that were drawn to the sea settled along the western shores later becoming the Falathrim ruled by Círdan, who founded the coastal cities of Eglarest and Brithombar. Eventually, most of the Teleri went into the west.
Life in Aman
The elves that came to Aman were enriched by the knowledge of the Valar and the blissfulness of their lands and the elven clans developed their own cultures. The former ambassadors Ingwë of the Vanyar and Finwë of the Ñoldor became kings of their people and as Elwë never returned to Valinor, Olwë became Lord of the Teleri. The Vanyar were drawn to the Valar and the full light of the Two Trees and settled at the foot of Taniquetil with their king Ingwë, who became High King of the Elves revered by all elves living in the mountain below Manwë. The Ñoldor beloved by Aulë the Smith for their love of arts and crafts built the great city of Tirion on Túna where Finwë, the High King of the Ñoldor lived. The Teleri were drawn to sea and some never left the island ferry of Tol Eressëa until Olwë their lord who later built Alqualondë, with the help of the Ñoldor. They developed writing and the arts of building, metallurgy, arts and crafts, and shipbuilding. Things like high culture, poetry, and many of the more subtle things were valued as well. For three ages, the elves lived in total peace and bliss wandering the lands and beautifying its glory. After three ages of imprisonment, Melkor completed his sentence and was released but his evil was not cured and he soon sought to poison the peace of Valinor. Taking a fair form, he sought to sow discontent between the elven clans. He offered his services to the elves but only the Ñoldor, desiring more knowledge were willing to listen to him. Wanting to possess their creations, he spread many lies amongst the House of Finwë making them suspect each other. This resulted in Fëanor threatening his half-brother Fingolfin. The Valar intervened and banished Fëanor from Valinor. The peace of the elves of Valinor was poisoned and as soon as Melkor was suspected he fled.
Twelve years later, Manwë. sought to heal the wounds between the Ñoldor at a festival held in Valmar, but Melkor and the giant spider Ungoliant destroyed the Two Trees, darkening Valinor, killing Finwë, stealing the three Silmarils of Fëanor, and fleeing to Middle-earth.
Revolt of Ñoldor and Return to Middle-earth
When the tragic death of his father became known, the wrath of Fëanor could no longer be contained. He gathered all the Ñoldor in Tirion and beneath the Tower of Mindon he urged the Ñoldor to return to Middle-earth in pursuit of Melkor and the Silmarils swearing an oath to war with Melkor now known as Morgoth. After being banned by the Valar for the rebellion and the violent deeds of the House of Fëanor, the Ñoldor elves returned to Middle-earth as exiles to face Morgoth and to establish and rule realms of their own.
The War of the Great Jewels
The crimes of Melkor in Aman and the subsequent rebellion of the Ñoldor started a centuries long war that would come to involve all the Elven kindreds of Middle-earth, and other races as well directly or indirectly. During this time, five great battles were fought against Morgoth and although many were victorious for the elves and their allies, the ultimate result was disastrous. Also, the doom that followed the Ñoldor as a result of the Kinslaying of Alqualondë first discovered by Thingol, King of Doriath and High King of the Sindar all but destroyed the relationship between the Sindar and the Ñoldor. There were also Middle-earth elves and other races such as the Petty-dwarves, that resented the exiled Ñoldor for usurping their rightful place in Middle-earth.
Though for hundreds of years, the Ñoldor elves fought and endured the forces of Morgoth with little military aid from the other Elven kindreds, a common fear and a common foe allowed for the elves (mostly the Ñoldor) to mingle with mortal Men and who recently came into the Beleriand from the east. The first were the faithful Three Houses of Men and the faithless Easterlings who mostly served Morgoth. At first only the Ñoldor had dealings with them as the other elves feared them, but over the generations men served the Ñoldor and gained their respect. After the Quest for the Silmaril, the blood of men entered into the Eldar first through the marriage of Beren and Lúthien and then through Tuor and Idril. This union would create a bond that would enrich and ennoble both kindreds from then to later ages.
The terrible Oath of Fëanor created strife between the Elven kindreds as even those not bound to it were drawn into it over the a Silmaril recovered by the man Beren and Thingol’s daughter Lúthien. The two brothers Celegorm and Curufin attempted to usurp the throne of Nargothrond after loss of Finrod in the Quest for the Silmaril, but were thwarted by the hound Huan and Orodreth and expelled. It was because of this deed that the Ñoldor of Nargothrond lent no aid to the Union of Maedhros during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears). Twice in the latter half of the First Age, the Sons tried to take the Silmaril from those who inherited it. These acts of cruelty and violence against their Elven kin caused great loss of life and the cost the brothers dearly.
Later Days and Decline
After the destruction of Beleriand in the War of Wrath, the remaining Ñoldor repented their rebellion and returned to Eldamar as well as many the Sindar elves. The few elves that chose to remain in Middle-earth founded peaceful realms. The Ñoldor lived in Lindon with Gil-galad, the new High King of the Ñoldor, in Forlindon and hundreds of years later Celebrimbor, the last of the House of Fëanor founded Eregion (Hollin). The Sindar joined with Círdan in Harlindon or went beyond the Misty Mountains into Wilderland, joining with the Silvan Elves in places such as Lothlórien and Greenwood the Great.
The Elven realms flourished for over one-thousand years until SA 1200 when Sauron under the guise of Annatar appeared out of the East, offering knowledge to the elves. The elves of Lindon mistrusted him and barred him from there. Sauron then approached the Elves of Eregion and Celebrimbor, looking for a way to preserve the elves in Middle-earth as if they lived in Valinor accepted his knowledge. With Annatar's help, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain forged the Rings of Power and Celebrimbor forged the Three Rings alone. Then, Sauron forged the One-Ring which was made to control the others but the elves were not fooled and took off their rings and hid them.
Furious that the elves had foiled his plans for domination, Sauron demanded the return of the rings and when they refused he prepared for war. For eight years Sauron laid waste to Middle-earth in his war against the elves but with help of the Númenóreans, the elves under Gil-galad defeated him but the realm of Eregion was destroyed and Celebrimbor and his folk killed. Lindon survived still a great kingdom of elves and the new refugee city of Rivendell (Imladris) was formed at the foothills of the Misty Mountains in eastern Eriador where many elves gathered and lived for many ages. The rest of the Middle-earth elves survived and lived presumably under caution due to the continued threat from Sauron.
By the latter-half of the Second Age, Men continued to spread and grow in Middle-earth whether for good or ill. The faithful Dúnedain from the Downfall of Númenór founded the great mannish kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Though Men were set to supplant them in Middle-earth, the elves were powerful and numinous enough to join with Men one last time to defeat Sauron. Elves from all over Middle-earth fought with Men in the Last Alliance and vanquished Sauron in SA 3441.
With the Dominion of Men at hand, the elves became less numerous and more secluded with many becoming wearier of the now mortal lands. Only the realms such as Lothlórien and Rivendell survived as havens of elven bliss. High Elves continued in Lindon under Círdan but most were building ships for their journey into West after the final defeat of Sauron in the War of the Ring.
Being immortal, Elves will continue to live in the world until its completion. Elves living in Aman live in a state of blissful happiness as they did before the Revolt of the Ñoldor. Elves that never chose to sail into Utter West instead choosing to remain in Middle-earth in places such as the Woodland Realm in the former Mirkwood, would probably become more and more secretive, less numerous, and hidden. It possible that due to their isolation and world weariness their bodies would eventually fade away into spirits roaming the forests until the end of time.
Division of the Elves
Early in the First Age the elves were divided into two groups - the Eldar (Quenya Tengwar: full spelling `VmE6 or vowel-abbreviated spelling `Vm6; IPA: [ˈeldar]; singular Elda; `VmE; adjectival Eldarin; `VmE7T5 or `Vm7T5; [ˈeldarin]), who accepted the summons of the Valar, undertook the Great Journey, and were ennobled by their life in Aman; and the Avari, who refused the summons and became the lesser Silvan Elves. The elves flourished in the First Age, but the Eldarin realms of Beleriand were destroyed by Morgoth, and in later ages their power waned. In the Second and Third Ages some elves still lived in Wandering Companies, traveling through the broad lands they loved, but many were gathered in Elven-realms and refuges such as Lindon, Rivendell (Imladris), the Woodland Realm, and Lorien, were Eldarian lords ruled over Silvan populations. By the end of the Third Age the Dominion of Men was at hand, and the elves who remained in Middle-earth dwindled and became a secret people. Yet in Eldamar the Eldar live nigh to the Valar until the End of the World.
Elves were the fairest of all earthly creatures and resembled the Ainur in spirit. They had leaf-shaped ears, pointed relative to men. They were about six feet tall and somewhat slender, graceful but strong and resistant to the extremes of nature. Their senses, especially of hearing and sight, were much keener than those of men. Elves apparently did not sleep, but rested their minds in waking dreams or by looking at beautiful things, and they could communicate mentally with each other. Their archery skills were unsurpassed.
The elves possessed skills and knowledge that appeared as if 'magical' to men, thanks in part to their immortality and bond with Middle Earth. The proper term persay is "enchanting", working with nature to improve something that's already there, not alter it. They were able to create artifacts of great power from the palantir to hithlain, and of course; the rings of power and the Silmarils. By default their craftsmanship is a blend of form and function, and can last for ages.
Although they could be slain or die of grief, elves were not subject to age or disease. Elves could recover from wounds which would normally kill a mortal man. However this also made the elves less flexible in terms of adjusting to an otherwise fallen, ever-changing world.
An elf who lost his life went to the Halls of Mandos, whence he could go elsewhere in Valinor but not return to Middle-earth. The date of an elf's death is the death of the physical body. The fate of Elves is bound to Eä, and they cannot leave the Circles of the World until the End, when they will join with the Ainur in the Second Music before the throne of Ilúvatar.
An exception to this was Glorfindel who was forgiven, re-embodied and eventually went back to Middle-earth.
Elves love all beautiful things, but especially the wonders of nature, above all the waters of Ulmo and the stars of Elbereth that shone on them at their awakening. Their curiosity and desire for knowledge is insatiable; one of their great achievements is to teach the Ents to talk. As their own name for themselves (Quendi, 'the speakers'), apparently in honor of the fact that when they were created they were the only living things able to speak. Oromë was the first who called them the Eldar, ('Star People') because they were born under the stars, but the name is generally considered to exclude the Avari. They are by nature good and abhorred all works of evil, although they could be seduced by evil that seemed fair.
At first the elves of Middle-earth welcomed men, but after the treachery of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad the two races were estranged, except for the Edain and their descendants. There were three marriages between the Edain and the Eldar, and apparently others between the Edain (especially the Dunedain of Dol Amroth) and lesser elves. The elves (except for the Noldor) never had much to do with the Dwarves (whom they call the Naugrim); the hunting of the Noegyth Nibin by elves of Beleriand and the murder of Thingol and sack of Doriath by dwarves of Nogrod were perhaps the earliest of the many events that alienated the two races.
Kindreds of the Elves
- Eldar (High Elves)
- Vanyar - Fair Elves (golden-blond hair)
- Noldor - Deep-Elves (knowledge)
- Teleri - Sea-Elves (Those who came last); Lindar (The singers)
- Falmari - People of the Waves
Best Known Elves
- Imin, Tata, and Enel - the first Elves that awoke in Cuiviénen
- Iminyë, Tatië, and Enelyë - the wives of Imin, Tata, and Enel respectively
- Ingwë (King of the Vanyar and High King of all the Elves)
- Elwë (called Elu Thingol, King of Doriath and High King of the Sindar)
- Olwë (Brother of Thingol, King of Alqualondë and High King of the Falmari)
- Finwë (First High King of the Ñoldor)
- Fëanor (Crafter of the Silmarils, second High King of the Ñoldor, greatest of the Elves)
- Finrod Felagund (Lord of Nargothrond, elder brother of Galadriel, Anrod, and Aegnor)
- Galadriel (Lady of Lórien, greatest Lady of the Ñoldor)
- Celeborn (Lord of Lórien, wisest Elf at the end of The Third Age)
- Celebrimbor (forger of the Rings of Power)
- Gil-galad (High King of the Ñoldor during the Last Alliance of Elves and Men)
- Círdan (wisest of the Sindar)
- Glorfindel (elf of Gondolin that after his death returned to Middle-earth
- Haldir, (Marchwarden of Lorien) and his brothers, Rumil and Orophin.
- Legolas (also called Greenleaf, one of the Nine Walkers)
- Lúthien Tinúviel (daughter of Thingol, wife of the Man Beren, fairest of all Children of Ilúvatar)
- Thranduil (also called 'The Elvenking', king of the Elves in Mirkwood, father of Legolas)
- Fingolfin (Fourth High King of the Noldor, second son of Finwë)
- Finarfin (Father of *Finrod Felagund, *Angrod, *Aegnor and *Galadriel, grandfather of *Orodreth and *Celebrian)
- Turgon (King of Gondolin)
- Orodreth (Lordof Nargothrond, son of Angrod)
- Angrod (son of Finarfin, father of Orodreth, grandfather of Gil-galad)
- Dior Eluchil (son of Beren and Lúthien, Thingol's heir)
- Elros (first King of Númenor)
- Elrond (Lord of Rivendell)
- Arwen Undómiel (Queen to King Elessar)
- Elladan and Elrohir (The sons of Elrond and brothers of Arwen)
Races of the Creatures of Arda
Servants of the Shadow: