Tolkien Encyclopedia > Man > Purpose and Fate of Man

Purpose and Fate of Man

by Varda-(Valar)
January 28, 2011

Fate of Men:

    In The Silmarillion, ""Akallabeth", Manwë hears the report of the Eldar that the Númenórean Men are not happy with their gift of death. Manwë, grieved at seeing this distubance at a time that should be great in Númenor, sent messagers to the Númenóreans who spoke earnestly to the thirteenth King Tar-Atanamir and all who would listen concerning the fate and fashion of the world.
    "The Valar cannot take away the gifts of Ilúvatar." The Eldar do not die and it has nothing to do with reward or punishment but of their nature. "'They [Elves] cannot escape, and are bound to this world, never to leave it so long as it lasts, for its life is theirs."  "' it is that you die. But that was not at first appointed for a punishment. Thus you escape, and leave the world, and are not bound to it, in hope or in weariness. Which of us therefore should envy the others?"  "...your home is not here, neither in the Land of Aman nor anywhere within the Circles of the World." "Hope...that in the end even the least of your desires shall have fruit. The love of Arda was set in your hearts by Ilúvatar, and he does not plant to no purpose. Nonetheless, many ages of Men unborn may pass ere that purpose is made known; and to you it will be revealed and not to the Valar."

Purpose of Men:

    In The Book of Lost Tales I, "The Music of the Ainur", Rumil tells the tale of Eru Ilúvatar's action after many of the Valar left to inhabit the World. Ilúvatar knows that when the Eldar come, they will be the fairest and most lovely, deeper in the knowledge of beauty and happier than Men. Then Ilúvatar tells of the gift to Men defining their purpose:

    "'But to Men I will give a new gift, and a greater.' Therefore he devised that Men should have a free virtue whereby within the limits of the powers and substances and chances of the world they might fashion and design their life beyond even the original Music of the Ainur that is as fate to all things else. This he did that of their operations everything should in shape and deed be completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest."

    Since this gift is so drastic and far-reaching, Ilúvatar bounds the time of use:

    "Now Ilúvatar knew that Men set amid the turmoils of the Ainur would not be ever of a mind to use that gift in harmony with his intent, but thereto he said: 'These too in their time shall find that all they have done, even the ugliest of deeds or works, rebounds at the end only to my glory, and is tributary to the beauty of the world.' Yet the Ainur say that the thought of Men is at times a grief even to Ilúvatar..." "It is however of one with this gift of power that the Children of Men dwell only a short time in the world alive, yet do not perish utterly for ever, whereas the Eldar dwell til the Great End unless they be slain or waste in grief..."

"Akallabeth", The Silmarillion. pp. 326, 327, 328 Ballantine Books, division of Random House. Paperback, 1981.
"The Music of the Ainur", The Book of Lost Tales I. p. 57 Del Rey of Ballantine Publishing Group, division of Random House. First Ballantine Books edition. Paperback, copyright 1992.