Reader deep thought: So essentially the Valar adopted a change of chaperone style with the Atani. Can the Quendi be blamed for suspecting favourtism, and lacking fair interest disclosure? The Powers seemed to have swung too much the other way from interactive upbringing though, because what use are messages if the receiver can’t understand them? Still, no wonder the Atani felt such camaraderie with the Moriquendi.
“…. To Hildórien there came no Vala to guide Men, or to summon them to dwell in Valinor; and Men have feared the Valar, rather than loved them, and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being at variance with them, and at strife with the world. Ulmo nonetheless took thought for them, aiding the counsel and will of Manwë; and his messages came often to them by stream and flood. But they have not skill in such matters, and still less had they in those days before they had mingled with the Elves. Therefore they loved the waters, and their hearts were stirred, but they understood not the messages. Yet it is told that ere long they met Dark Elves in many places, and were befriended by them; and Men became the companions and disciples in their childhood of these ancient folk, wanderers of the Elven-race who never set out upon the paths to Valinor, and knew of the Valar only as a rumour and a distant name.”
After making the Sun and the Moon (and kickstarting the Second Spring of Arda, aka the years of things growing), and doing some serious home remodelling, the Valar essentially sat out the game, with the awareness that Morgoth was running roughshod all over Middle-earth. Way to leave the fate of the world to the wayward kids. How can anyone not be rooting for the Noldor now?
The Valar sat now behind their mountains at peace; and having given light to Middle-earth they left it for long untended, and the lordship of Morgoth was uncontested save by the valour of the Noldor. Most in mind Ulmo kept the exiles, who gathered news of the Earth through all the waters.
Thankfully, Ulmo continued to keep his clams about him. It’s just too bad that he could not establish a clear channel through to the Secondborn.
So, as the first stars heralded the Awakening of the Elves, the first rising of the Sun marked the Awakening of Men, in Hildórien, south-east of Cuiviénen. And “the first Sun arose in the West, and the opening eyes of Men were turned towards it, and their feet as they wandered over the Earth for the most part strayed that way.” Westward-ho is the prime directive.
As usual, there were many names the Quendi attached to these newcomers:
- Atani, the Second People
- Hildor, the Followers
- Apanónar, the After-born
- Engwar, the Sickly
- Fírimar, the Mortals
- the Usurpers
- the Strangers
- the Inscrutable
- the Self-cursed
- the Heavy-handed
- the Night-fearers
- the Children of the Sun.
Except for the Mannish forefathers, the Atanatári, who in the first years of the Sun and the Moon went exploring Northwards, Men were not much for headlining in the world. And things were peaceful, and safe – as safe as safe could be in those times – because Morgoth, newly back to Middle-earth, mostly hid from the Sun during this time too.
Peace has a short shelf-life however, and catalysed by the Fëanor effect, great and fell deeds were to be, among which stood Men, both alongside and against the Noldor and the Sindar in their wars upon Morgoth.
The results were the estrangement of the Children of Ilúvatar. Not least because Men envied the seeming immortality, grace, beauty, wisdom and skills of the Elves (and that open ticket to the West), while Elves envied the freedom of the Younger Children to choose and make their own way, even outside the confines of the Themes of Ilúvatar, dominion of the World, and their mortality.
But back in that beginning, “Elves and Men were of like stature and strength of body, but the Elves had greater wisdom, and skill, and beauty; and those who had dwelt in Valinor and looked upon the Powers as much surpassed the Dark Elves in these things as they in turn surpassed the people of mortal race. Only in the realm of Doriath, whose queen Melian was of the kindred of Valar, did the Sindar come near to match the Calaquendi of the Blessed Realm.”
So there we have the pecking order of physicality in the world.
In after days, when because of the triumph of Morgoth Elves and Men became estranged, as he most wished, those of the Elven-race that lived still in Middle-earth waned and faded, and Men usurped the sunlight. Then the Quendi wandered in the lonely places of the great lands and the isles, and took to the moonlight and the starlight, and to the woods and caves, becoming as shadows and memories, save those who ever and anon set sail into the West and vanished from Middle-earth. But in the dawn of years Elves and Men were allies and held themselves akin, and there were some among Men that learned the wisdom of the Eldar, and became great and valiant among the captains of the Noldor. And in the glory and beauty of the Elves, and in their fate, full share had the offspring of elf and mortal, Eärendil, and Elwing, and Elrond their child.
But thanks to the ever enterprising Morgoth, relations had nowhere to go but get strained between the Two Races, and things went downhill for everyone: Elves either leaving Middle-earth or waning, and Men, well, they got progressively shorter, and short-lived. Still, there were great highlights in their common history, and even separately. Ultimately, in the veins of the greatest of Men flowed some measure of Elvishness, and even the Maiar, thanks to the original power couple.
Looked at crabwise, some tangential nods to Morgoth might be in order: for facilitating some of these unions, and doing his level best to spice things up in the mythology collective.
(Relevance: read-along schedule)