Can Elves Have Babies And How Do They Reproduce In The Lord Of The Rings?


Can Elves Have Babies And How Do They Reproduce In The Lord Of The Rings

If you have read books, or even more if you have only watched The Lord of the Rings movies, you may be wondering, why is there such a small number of Elves, when they are immortal, and as well, where are their children? Well, don’t worry, because in this article we will give you an answer to the questions can Elves have babies, and how do they reproduce.

Elves can have children and they reproduce the same way as men in The Lord of the Rings.

So, if this is the case, why are they almost gone, while other species grow without problem? We will adress these problems below with some clues from original writings.

Can Elves Have Babies in The Lord of the Rings?

Yes, Elves can have babies!

Tolkien himself addresses this in an essay called “Laws and Customs Among the Eldar”. And, even thou Elves can have babies, here are essentially two problems:

  1. Elvish libido diminishes over time – contrary to popular belief (and outward appearance, from a human perspective), Elves do age; and as they get older, they get less interested in procreation.
  2. Having children is exhausting – the Elves believe that their child-bearing process draws a heavier physical and spiritual toll on them, compared to what it does to humans. They’re understandably reluctant to have a lot of kids because what’s the point in having a dozen kids if doing so might literally kill you?

From “Laws and Customs”:

It might be thought that, since the Eldar do not (as Men deem) grow old in body, they may bring forth children at any time in the ages of their lives. But this is not so. For the Eldar do indeed grow older, even if slowly: the limit of their lives is the life of Arda, which though long beyond the reckoning of Men is not endless, and ages also. Moreover their body and spirit are not separated but coherent. As the weight of the years, with all their changes of desire and thought, gathers upon the spirit of the Eldar, so do the impulses and moods of their bodies change. […]

Also the Eldar say that in the begetting [conceiving], and still more in the bearing of children, greater share and strength of their being, in mind and in body, goes forth than in the making of mortal children. For these reasons it came to pass that the Eldar brought forth few children; and also that their time of generation was in their youth or earlier life, unless strange and hard fates befell them.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth’s Ring Part 3: “The Later Quenta Silmarillion” Chapter 2: “The Second Phase” Laws and Customs Among the Eldar

That last point about the toll on their mind and body is worth expanding on, and fortunately Tolkien does this later in the essay:

[A]ll the Eldar, being aware of it in themselves, spoke of the passing of much strength, both of mind and of body, into their children, in bearing and begetting. Therefore they hold that the fëa [soul], though unbegotten, draws nourishment directly from the fëa of the mother while she bears and nourishes the hrondo [body; later changed to the word hroä], and mediately but equally from the father, whose fëa is bound in union with the mother’s and supports it.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth’s Ring Part 3: “The Later Quenta Silmarillion” Chapter 2: “The Second Phase” Laws and Customs Among the Eldar

Elves only have a small number of children in a small amount of time

Elves only procreate for a certain period of their lives, as Tolkien said (in quotes):

The bad news is that elves tend to lose interest in sex after they’ve had kids. “With the exercise of the power (of generation), the desire soon ceases, and the mind turns to other things…they have many other urges of body and of mind which their nature urges them to fulfil.” They do look back happily on the sexually-active time in their lives, though, a period of one to several hundred years.
What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf SexOpens in a new tab.; quote inside from “Laws and Customs of the Eldar”, one of Tolkien’s essays.

When they do have children, there aren’t many:

Seven children was the usual upper limit in ancient times, but in future ages, partly due to varying levels of corruption in various elven societies, these norms were often exceeded rarely, even when corrupted do they ever succumb to deeds of Lust.
Elf childrenOpens in a new tab.

So it’s once and done, while Elves are young, and then things slow down. For most of their lives, Elves do not have young (even relatively young) children.

How Do Elves Reproduce In The Lord Of The Rings?

Elves have sexual intercourse, just as we do. This, by the way, is why Elves and Men can reproduce and have fertile Half-Elven offspring. Tolkien wrote about Elves and sex (among other things) in an essay entitled “Laws and Customs Among the Eldar,” usually referred to as LaCE, published in History of Middle-earth, Volume X, Morgoth’s Ring. From LaCE and other sources, we learn that:

  • Marriage is normally celebrated with a ceremony, but this is a formality. For Elves, marriage only requires the “act of bodily union” and the invocation of the name of Eru.
  • Marriage often occurs early in life, and frequently between childhood sweethearts. This is the case in Aman, at least. Elves avoid the conception of children in times of war, or when parents face a long separation. For this reason, reproductive patterns in Middle-earth are rather different.
  • Since intercourse = marriage for Elves, there’s no premarital whoopee, by definition. Also, Elves bond spiritually with their spouses in a way that Men do not, so they can’t and don’t cheat.
  • Elves enjoy sex, but its primary purpose is procreation. Once their families are complete, their libido wanes and they turn their energies to other things. However, they look back with nostalgia on “the time of the children.”
  • Pregnancy lasts a year and is very draining on the mother, who contributes much of her spirit and energy to her child.
  • Elves celebrate their begetting days rather than their birthdays.
  • Elven children grow at about the same rate physically as the children of Men, until about age 3. Their growth then slows such that an Elf-child of 20 would appear to be about 7. In Aman at least they come of age at 50, though they may continue to grow up to age 100. However, in mental faculties and command of their bodies, Elf-children mature more quickly than Men. They can talk, sing, and dance at age 1 (and I bet they’re toilet trained by then as well).
  • Tolkien says that twins are rare, even though there are three, maybe four, pairs mentioned in The Silmarillion and LotR (the texts vary as to whether Elured and Elurin were twins).

Conclusion – Can Elves Have Babies And How Do They Reproduce In The Lord Of The Rings?

As you can see from above, Elves can have babies, and they reproduce the same way as Men do, but they usually do it when they are young, Elvish libido diminishes over time, and having children is exhausting for Elves.

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