arrowpoint: (➹ Elbereth)
arrowpoint ([personal profile] arrowpoint) wrote in [community profile] nolondili2014-03-21 09:10 pm
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Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 5

Of The Severance of Marriage

Much has now been said concerning death and re-birth among the Elves. It may be asked: of what effect were these upon their marriage?

Since death and the sundering of spirit and body was one of the griefs of Arda Marred, it came inevitably to pass that death at times came between two that were wedded. Then the Eldar were in doubt, since this was an evil unnatural. Permanent marriage was in accordance with elvish nature, and they never had need of any law to teach this or to enforce it; but if a 'permanent' marriage was in fact broken, as when one of the partners was slain, then they did not know what should he done or thought.

In this matter they turned to Manwe for counsel, and, as is recorded in the case of Finwe, Lord of the Noldor, Manwe delivered his ruling through the mouth of Namo Mandos, the Judge.

'Marriage of the Eldar,' he said, 'is by and for the Living, and for the duration of life. Since the Elves are by nature permanent in life within Arda, so also is their unmarred marriage. But if their life is interrupted or ended, then their marriage must be likewise. Now marriage is chiefly of the body, hut it is nonethe less not of the body only but of the spirit and body together, for it begins and endures in the will of the fea. Therefore when one of the partners of a marriage dies the marriage is not yet ended, but is in abeyance. For those that were joined are now sundered; but their union remains still a union of will.

'How then can a marriage be ended and the union be dissolved? For unless this be done, there can be no second marriage. By the law of the nature of the Elves, the neri and the nissi being equal, there can be union only of one with one. Plainly an end can be made only by the ending of the will; and this must proceed from the Dead, or be by doom. By the ending of the will, when the Dead are not willing ever to return to life in the body; by doom, when they are not permitted to return. For a union that is for the life of Arda is ended, if it cannot be resumed within the life of Arda.

'We say that the ending of will must proceed from the Dead, for the Living may not for their own purposes compel the Dead to remain thus, nor deny to them re-birth, if they desire it. And it must be clearly understood that this will of the Dead not to return, when it has been solemnly declared and is ratified by Mandos, shall then become a doom: the Dead will not be permitted ever to return to the life of the body.'

The Eldar then asked: 'How shall the will or doom be known?' It was answered: 'Only by recourse to Manwe and by the pronouncement of Namo. In this matter it shall not be lawful for any of the Eldar to judge his own case. For who among the Living can discern the thoughts of the Dead, or presume the dooms of Mandos?'

Upon this pronouncement of Mandos, which is called the 'Doom of Finwe and Miriel'(43) for reasons to be told, there are many commentaries that record the explanation of points arising from its consideration, some given by the Valar, some later reasoned by the Eldar. Of these the more important are here added

1. It was asked: 'What is meant by the saying that marriage is chiefly of the body, and yet is both of spirit and body?'

It was answered: 'Marriage is chiefly of the body, for it is achieved by bodily union, and its first operation is the begetting of the bodies of children, even though it endures beyond this and has other operations. And the union of bodies in marriage is unique, and no other union resembles it. Whereas the union of fear in marriage differs from other unions of love and friendship not so much in kind as in its closeness and permanence, which are derived partly from the bodies in their union and in their dwelling together. 'Nonetheless marriage concerns also the fear.

For the fear of the Elves are of their nature male and female, and not their hrondor only. And the beginning of marriage is in the affinity of the fear, and in the love arising therefrom. And this love includes in it, from its first awakening, the desire for marriage, and is therefore like to but not in all ways the same as other motions of love and friendship, even those between Elves of male and female nature who do not have this inclination. It is therefore true to say that, though achieved by and in the body, marriage proceeds from the fea and resides ultimately in its will. For which reason it cannot be ended, as has been declared, while that will remains.'

2. It was asked: 'If the Dead return to the Living, are the sundered spouses still wedded? And how may that be, if marriage is chiefly of the body, whereas the body of one part of the union is destroyed? Must the sundered be again married, if they wish? Or whether they wish it or no?'

It was answered: 'It has been said that marriage resides ultimately in the will of the fear. Also the identity of person resides wholly in the fea, and the re-born is the same person as the one who died. It is the purpose of the grace of re-birth that the unnatural breach in the continuity of life should be re dressed; and none of the Dead will be permitted to be re-born until and unless they desire to take up their former life and continue it. Indeed they cannot escape it, for the re-born soon recover full memory of all their past.

'If then marriage is not ended while the Dead are in the Halls of Waiting, in hope or purpose to return, but is only in abeyance, how then shall it be ended, when the fea is again in the land of the living? 'But herein there is indeed a difficulty, that reveals to us that death is a thing unnatural. It may be amended, but it cannot, while Arda lasts, be wholly undone or made as if it had not been. What shall come to pass as the Eldar grow older cannot be wholly foreseen. But perceiving their nature, as we now do, we hold that the love of the


Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 1 :: Pertaining to Marriage.
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 2 :: On Naming
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 3 :: Of Death
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 4 :: Of Rebirth
Laws and Customs among the Eldar :: Part 5 :: Of The Severance of Marriage