When it comes to The Lord of the Rings, it was often the case that the elves were the greatest of all of the non-god beings that exist in Middle-Earth because of all of the different things that they were able to contribute throughout the history of the world. Of course, this is also due to the fact that, unlike dwarves and men, elves are able to live for a very long time. So, how long do elves live in The Lord of the Rings?
Elves are immortal in the sense that they will never die due to old age. That means that they will continue to live for as long as they possibly can. The only way for an elf to die is for them to get killed through wounds and injuries or through illnesses. Other than that, Elves will continue to live.
The fact that the elves of LOTR are immortal is the reason why some of the most prominent elves we’ve seen have been around for thousands of years already. This is also the reason why the elves are the most special beings in Middle-Earth, considering that they will never die due to old age and will only become wiser and stronger as they grow older. Now, let’s look at how long elves live.
How Long Do Elves Live In The Lord Of The Rings?
When it comes to the world created by JRR Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, there are plenty of different creatures that were created by Eru Ilúvatar, the creator god of this fictional world. Of course, the Valar and the Maiar are two of the most powerful entities created by Eru, but these entities are also godlike in terms of their capabilities because they are simply spirits. In that regard, the beings that Eru created that have specific physical forms include elves, men, and dwarves.
While men ended up becoming the dominant beings during the Third Age onward, the creations of Eru Ilúvatar considered to be the finest are the elves. That’s because they are the wisest and fairest of all of the races on Middle-Earth. This also explains why the strongest and most powerful characters throughout the history of LOTR include the elves.
Of course, we’ve seen a lot of different elves in The Lord of the Rings trilogy movies by Peter Jackson. We know for a fact that they get to live very long lives, as Elrond was there in the battle against Sauron during the end of the Second Age, which was 3,000 years before the end of the Third Age. Meanwhile, in The Hobbit, King Thranduil tells the dwarves that a hundred years is a mere blink of an eye for the elves. So, how long do elves get to live in The Lord of the Rings?
Elves in The Lord of the Rings are immortal beings. That means that, no matter how long they live, they will never die of old age. As such, their lifespan is indefinite as they will never die due to the passage of time. The only way for an elf to die is through injuries or illnesses.
In that regard, elves are often considered the best creations of Eru Ilúvatar because of the fact that they can live very long lives without aging or dying. This explains why some of the wisest and strongest characters in the history of LTOR are elves that fought in wars against the dark forces of Sauron or even Morgoth thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. And this is also why elves are allowed to live in the Undying Lands, as they are basically incapable of dying, just like the Valar and the Maiar that inhabit Valinor.
Who Are The Oldest Elves In The Lord Of The Rings?
Now that we know that elves are immortal and are capable of living for as long as they possibly can as long as they do not die due to injuries or illnesses, let’s look at the oldest elves in the history of JRR Tolkien’s writings.
Thranduil is the king of the Silvan Elves and is the father of our favorite movie elf, Legolas. Although Legolas hasn’t been around for a very long time, his father has seen it all throughout his entire lifetime, as there is a possibility that he has been around for at least 4,000 years.
We don’t know for certain when Thranduil was born because he wasn’t featured much during the events of the First and Second Ages. However, we do know that he was already around probably sometime during the late stages of the First Age or probably during the earlier part of the Second Age. That means that he might be older than 6,500 years.
Celeborn was the Lord of Lothlórien as he ruled that elven realm together with his wife, Galadriel. In the LOTR movies, he wasn’t given enough screen time because of the fact that Galadriel was the greater elf between them. However, he was also around the First Age when the elves went to war against Morgoth and his forces.
By the time of The Lord of the Rings, Celeborn was at least 6,500 years old because he was already around during the First Age. Meanwhile, the Second Age lasted nearly 3,500 years. The Third Age, of course, lasted more than 3,000 years. Considering that we don’t know when exactly he was born during the First Age, he would be at least 6,500 years old by virtue of the fact that he lived through the events of the Second and Third Ages, which are nearly 6,500 years when combined.
While Galadriel is often regarded as one of the greatest elves in the history of Middle-Earth due to her accomplishments, wisdom, beauty, and strength, she isn’t the oldest elf in recorded history. Of course, Galadriel is quite old because she was born and raised in Valinor before she came with the Noldor to Middle-Earth to wage war against Morgoth. As such, she was there through all of the three ages of Middle-Earth before she returned to Valinor after Sauron’s defeat.
Considering that Galadriel lived through all of the three ages of Middle-Earth and was already an adult before she left Valinor, she was right around 8,372 when she left for the Undying Lands. As such, Galadriel is not only incredibly old and wise but is also one of the most experienced characters in the entire storyline.
Of course, we are only looking at her age based on when she left Middle-Earth to sail to Valinor. She would have lived indefinitely in Valinor, and that’s why she probably went on to become the second-oldest living elf in history if we only knew how long she spent in the Undying Lands after the defeat of Sauron.
Objectively speaking, Fëanor was the worst of all of the elves because he was the one who did most of the horrible acts that the Noldor did, and that’s why they were banned from ever returning to the Undying Lands. Nevertheless, for some reason, JRR Tolkien described him as the greatest of the elves because he was the smartest and most skilled. And his skills were quite apparent when he created the Silmarils, which were the gems that sparked an entire war between the elves and Morgoth during the First Age.
As a Noldor that lived in Valinor, Fëanor spent thousands of years in the Undying Lands before he went to Middle-Earth to chase after Morgoth, who stole the Silmarils because he coveted their beauty. This selfish elf ultimately died in the middle portion of the First Age, as he never got to see the end of the war against Morgoth. Nevertheless, he actually lived for about 10,000 years before he saw his death at the blade of Gothmog, the mightiest of all of the Balrog.
1. Cirdan the Shipwright
Cirdan the Shipwright wasn’t featured a lot in the writings of JRR Tolkien or even in the movies (where he was noticeably absent), but he is actually the oldest elf to have ever lived in the history of the world. That’s because he was already quite old when he went to Middle-Earth during the First Age. By the time of the Second Age, he was already the oldest elf in the history of the world.
Out of all of the elves, Cirdan was the one who got to live through certain parts of all of the ages because he left during the Fourth Age. In fact, he was one of the final elves that left Middle Earth, as he only did so 120 years after Sauron’s defeat. As such, he is right around 10,000 years old. Of course, because he continued to live a long life in Valinor, he is obviously more than 10,000 years old, considering that he never died upon leaving Middle-Earth.