Thursday, March 21, 2013

Passing of Ages

In the various works that make up Tolkien's legendarium, we are told at various times when a new age ends or begins. Why are historical epochs separated by large scale events such an important facet of Tolkien's conceptions of Middle-earth?


Ashley Cauley said...

The idea of using important events to signal transitions in ages is important in Tolkien's work because he is largely concerned with things passing away. The end of the Third Age signals the passing of the Elves and the rising of Men. It makes sense for important events to allow these transitions because the events usually result in shifts of power/leadership. Middle-earth changes drastically after the destruction of the Ring. Also, the passing of ages deepens the sense of "real history" behind the stories. Tolkien doesn't give us "Once upon a time." He tells us exactly when, what happened before, and what happened after. I think this is a really special aspect of Tolkien's works.

Troy Wells said...

Maybe Tolkien was influenced by the Gregorian Calender that most people use today. The Gregorian Calender separates time into BC and AD referring to the Birth of Christ. This event was obviously a large scale event in human history that (if you believe in Christianity)marked a transition from one way of thought and living (Old Testament and the 10 commandments) to a new way of thought and living (New Testament and the Beatitudes). As Ashley stated above, Tolkien is trying to give a sense of "real history," so maybe he just followed the example of those who went before him.