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Westerners on Tolkien's Age System
« В: 09/04/04 в 12:03:29 »
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Chris Seeman
 
  In a letter to Rhona Beare on 14 October, 1958, Tolkien remarked that he imagined the gap between the War of the Ring and our own present  
 
to be about 6000 years: that is we are now at the end of the Fifth Age, if the Ages were of about the same length as S.A. and T.A. But they have, I think, quickened; and I imagine we are actually at the end of the Sixth Age, or in the Seventh.  
Letters #283
 
Some years later, Tolkien made an offhanded remark to an interviewer that 7000 or 8000 years ago would be an appropriate timeframe for imagining the events depicted in The Lord of the Rings (January 1971; BBC Radio 4 'Now Read On ...' with Dennis Gerrolt).  
 
Six, seven or eight thousand years? The exact quantity is perhaps less important than the "ballpark" within which Tolkien seems to have been working. But more interesting still is Tolkien's periodization of time subsequent to the War of the Ring. We know when the Fourth Age began, but when did it end? More to the point: what event or chain of events marked its end? Similarly, what world-historical markers might Tolkien have attached to the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ages?  
 
Martin Baker laid out his own periodization in the essay that christened this smial [Reunion 1], but the specific accents of that scheme are clearly governed to a large degree by Martin's personal vision and interests. This is perfectly legitimate, but what I would like to ponder here is the scheme Tolkien might have in mind, given the vision and interests that shaped him. Naturally, my reconstruction is just as subjective as anyone else's, but here it goes.  
 
I imagine that, being a devout Christian, Tolkien would have envisioned some kind of bridge between his private mythology and the Judeo-Christian mythology to which he adhered. My guess is that the Fourth Age would have fed into the biblical myth of the antediluvian epoch in which Mankind grew more and more wicked, resulting in the biblical Deluge. (Consider, for instance, how already Tolkien conceived of things going bad in Gondor soon after Aragorn's reign in "The New Shadow"). One advantage to this periodization would be its convenience as a device for explaining the very different geography of the later ages.  
 
On this hypothesis, the Fifth Age would have been the post-flood epoch, no doubt focusing in Tolkien's mind on God's covenant with Abraham.  
 
The Sixth Age then falls right into place as that initiated by God's incarnation in Christ. (The centrality of this event as Tolkien's pivot of history is obvious, and is moreover alluded to in this capacity in the "Athrabeth" of Finrod and Andreth.)  
 
What, then, of the "Seventh Age?" In my view, the most likely candidate is the "Machine Age," an expression which Tolkien used in his essay "On Fairy-stories." A survey of his published letters confirms the significance with which Tolkien viewed "the tragedy and despair of all machinery laid bare."  
 
In a letter of 30 January, 1945, he writes to his son Christopher:  
 
Well the War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter ... leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed, and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines. As the servants of the Machines are becoming a privileged class, the Machines are going to be enormously more powerful. What's their next move?  
Letters #111
 
If this reconstruction is accepted, it may serve as a basis for adjudicating among Tolkien's various alternatives in dating the War of the Ring. Because if the Deluge (with its traditional Judeo-Christian dating of 2348 BC) is taken to mark the end of the Fourth Age, and if the Fourth Age was, as Tolkien intimated in his letter to Rhona Beare, about the same length as the preceding two Ages (ca. 3000 years each), that would set the end of the Third Age at around 5000 BC, so that the War of the Ring would have taken place about 7000 years BP. This would also allow for Tolkien's idea that the Fifth and Sixth Ages were quicker (ca. 2000 years each).  
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Re: Westerners on Tolkien's Age System
« Ответить #1 В: 09/04/04 в 12:04:27 »
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Eomer
I've always wondered exactly how long ago The Lord of the Rings took place, and exactly how long the Fourth Age was. So using the timeline in the first post, I did a little math work and came up with this:
 
Adding the 57 years that the Seventh Age has seen so far, the world would actually be about 61,952 years old by my calculations.
 
Now, I figured the length of the Fourth Age out by adding together the total lengths of the First through the Third Ages (7,045 years), then adding together the total lengths of the Fifth through the Seventh Ages (4,350 years), then subtracted that number from the first, and I got 2,695. This matches perfectly with Tolkien's words, where he said he believed that the ages keep getting shorter and shorter.
 
Finally, I figured out exactly how long ago The Lord of the Rings occurred by adding the length of the Fourth Age (2,695) to the total length of the Fifth through Seventh Ages (4,350), resulting in the number 7,045. And adding that total to the total of years between the beginning of the First Age and the end of the Third, the Sun and the Moon have been rising and setting for 14,090 years.
 
So, what do you guys think? Unless I made a mistake somewhere, the exact timeline of the world should be this:
 
Spring of Arda = 33,537 years
 
Years of the Trees = 14,325 years
 
Years of the Sun and the Moon = 14,090 years so far
First Age = 583 years
Second Age = 3,441 years
Third Age = 3,021 years
Fourth Age = 2,695 years
Fifth Age = 2,348 years
Sixth Age = 1,945 years
Seventh Age = 57 years so far
 
Age of the world = 61,952 years
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Re: Westerners on Tolkien's Age System
« Ответить #2 В: 09/04/04 в 12:07:13 »
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There is an article in the August 2004 issue of The Jouirnal of the Tolkien Society on this topic, by one Tony Steele. Here's a brief excerpt:  
quote:
------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------
According to Theosophical doctrine, the last vestige of the once mighty continent of Atlantis sank beneath the waves in 9564 BC. Much later, the Kali Yuga (or Fourth Age of the present World Cycle) began in 3012 BC. These two events, therefore, are separated by 6462 years. Now it turns out that the sinking of Beleriand (not Numenor) is separated from the beginning of the Fourth Age of Middle Earth by precisely the same time-span, 6462 years. The math is simple – Beleriand was destroyed in the final year of the First Age, the Second Age lasted 3441 years, and the Third Age lasted 3020 years (plus a couple months or so). 1 + 3441 + 3020 = 6462 . . .  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------
 
Steele therefore theorizes that the ME ages began as follows:
 
Second Age: 9563 BC*
Third Age: 6122 BC
Fourth Age: 3102 BC
 
Steele then notes that in LotR, there was a full moon on the night of 8/9 Narvinyë (when the Fellowship left Hollin), and so calculates that this date must have been Monday, December 31, 3105 BC
 
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Re: Westerners on Tolkien's Age System
« Ответить #3 В: 09/04/04 в 12:08:36 »
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With that said, I want to present to you my opinion about the complete periodization which Tolkien had in mind for his mythology, and how to "link" it with our real history, based on an article written by Chris Seeman at Middle-earth Reunion:  
 
The meaning of the small numbers (1-9):
 
1 The Creation of Arda
2 Melkor destroys the Lamps
3 First rising of the Moon and the Sun
4 Melkor is cast out from Arda into the Void
5 Sauron overthrown, Isildur takes the Ring
6 The Grey Havens
7 The Great Deluge
8 Birth of Jesus Christ
9 End of World War II
 
This means that we are now 57 years into the Seventh Age, the Age of the Machines, as Tolkien thought about it, and about 62257 years have passed since the Creation of Arda. I say "about" because the length of the Fourth Age is not exactly 3000 years.
 
The Great Deluge is a convenient way to explain why the form of the continents today is different than in the earlier ages. But according to the map I put in the Does Middle Earth Exist? thread, not very different in the Third Age anymore.
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