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In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fiction, such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the terms Man and Men refer to humankind – in contrast to Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and other humanoid races – and does not denote gender. Hobbits were a branch of the lineage of Men.
The Elves call the race of Men Atani in Quenya (one of the languages invented by Tolkien), literally meaning "Second People" (the Elves being the First), but also Hildor (Followers), Apanónar (After-born), and Fírimar or Firyar (Mortals). Less charitably they were called Engwar (The Sickly), owing to their susceptibility to disease and old age, and their generally unlovely appearance in the Elves' eyes. The name Atani becomes Edain in Sindarin (another of Tolkien's invented languages) but this term is later applied only to those tribes of Men who are friendly to the Elves. Other names appear in Sindarin as Aphadrim, Eboennin, and Firebrim or Firiath.
The race of Men is the second race of beings created by the One God, Ilúvatar. Because they awoke at the start of the Years of the Sun, while the Elves awoke at the start of the First Age during the Years of the Trees, they are called the Afterborn by the Elves.
Men bear the Gift of Men, mortality. Elves are immortal, in the sense that they do not perceivably age, and even if their bodies are slain, their spirits remain bound to the world, going to the Halls of Mandos, where they are later re-embodied; a cycle that will perpetuate for them until the world ends. Elves are thus tied to the world for as long as it lasts. When Men die, they are released from Arda and its bounds and depart to a world unknown even to the Valar.
Groups and alignments
Although all Men are related to one another, there are many different groups with different cultures.
The most important group in the tales of the First Age were the Edain. Although the word Edain refers to all Men, the Elves use it to distinguish those Men who fought with them in the First Age against Morgoth in Beleriand. Those Men who fought against Morgoth in the First Age were divided into three Houses.
The Third House of the Edain, which became the greatest, was led by Marach and later his descendant Hador, and they settled in Dor-lómin. This house was known both as the House of Marach and the House of Hador.
Atanatári is a Quenya term which means "Fathers of Men" and is used to describe the forefathers of the Edain. Its use is not exactly clear: sometimes it is used to refer to the Edain of the First Age, other times it is only applied to Bëor, Marach and contemporaries, and in yet other places it is used to refer to those peoples from whom the Edain are descended.
If the third meaning is adopted, it can be said that the so-called Middle Men of Middle-earth (the Rohirrim, Men of Dale, etc.) are also descendants from the Atanatári, like the Edain (or later Dúnedain).
Through their services and assistance rendered to the Elves and the Valar in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, the Edain were rewarded with a new land of their own between Middle-earth and the Undying Lands. This was the land of Númenor, an island in the form of a five-pointed star far away from the evil of Middle-earth.
They were led to this island by Elros with the help of his father Eärendil, who sailed the heavens as the bright star of the same name. Once there Elros became the first king of Númenor as Tar-Minyatur and the Edain became known as the Dúnedain (Sindarin for Men of the West). The kingdom of Númenor grew steadily in power, and the Dúnedain became the noblest and highest of all Men on Arda. Allied to the Elves, Númenor fought against Morgoth's lieutenant Sauron.
Now that the Men of the West had become powerful, they came to resent the Gift of Men, death. They wanted to become immortal like the Elves and enjoy their accumulated power for all time. The Númenóreans turned away from the Valar, began to call the Gift of Men the Doom of Men and cursed the Ban of the Valar which forbade them to sail west beyond sight of Númenor or to enter Valinor. In S.A. 2899 Ar-Adûnakhôr became the first king of Númenor who took his royal name in Adûnaic, the language of Men instead of Quenya, the language of the Elves. This led to civil war in Númenor.
The people of Númenor were divided into two factions. The King's Men enjoyed the support of the King and the majority of the people; they favoured the Adûnaic language. The minority faction, the Faithful, were led by the lord of Andúnië, the westernmost province of Númenor, remained friendly to the Elves and favoured Quenya.
Sauron, who by the second millennium of the Second Age was nearly defeated by the Elves, took advantage of the division. He surrendered to the last Númenórean King, Ar-Pharazôn, and worked his way into the King's counsels. Ultimately, Sauron advised him to attack Valinor under the ruse that doing so would allow the king to claim immortality. This he foolishly did, and as punishment Númenor was swallowed by the sea. However, some of the Faithful escaped and founded the twin kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.
The Men of Gondor gradually mingled with other groups, such as the Northmen. This led to the civil war called the Kin-strife, when Eldacar, a man of mixed descent and the rightful heir to the throne, was challenged by Castamir, who was of pure Dúnedain blood. Eldacar was forced into exile, and Castamir, called the Usurper, took the throne. After a decade Eldacar returned with allies from the North and defeated Castamir. However his sons and many of his followers managed to escape to Umbar.
Also counted among the Men of Gondor were people coming from its provinces and fiefdoms who were not of Númenórean descent. Some of these Men had darker complexions; prominent among them were Forlong the Fat and the Men of Lossarnach who reinforced Minas Tirith before the siege of the city began.
Before the foundation there was already a sizeable Númenórean immigrant population living there. Before the arrival of the Dúnedain Arnor was home to Middle Men of Edain stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population.
After the death of its tenth king, Arnor was shaken by civil war between his three sons. As a result, the kingdom was split into three successor states: Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan. These kingdoms eventually fell in wars with the Witch-king of Angmar, though the Dúnedain of the North survived as the Rangers. In time, one of their Chieftains, Aragorn II, restored Arnor and Gondor as the Reunited Kingdom.
The Faithful were not the only Númenóreans left on Middle-earth when Númenor sank. When Númenor grew in naval power, many Númenóreans founded colonies in Middle-earth. In the second millennium of the Second Age, there was an exodus of Men from an overcrowded Númenor: the King's Men, who wanted to conquer more lands, and the Faithful who were persecuted by the Kings. The Faithful settled in Pelargir and the King's Men settled in Umbar. When Númenor was destroyed, the remaining King's Men became known as the Black Númenóreans and remained hostile to the Faithful of Gondor.
Among the Black Númenórean race was the wicked Queen Berúthiel, wife of Tarannon Falastur, King of Gondor.
Corsairs of Umbar
During the Kin-strife of Gondor, the defeated rebels of Gondor fled to Umbar, which had been controlled by Gondor for several hundred years. Castamir's faction took with them a large part of Gondor's fleet, thus weakening Gondor and establishing a strong naval force at Umbar, the Corsairs of Umbar, bitter enemies of Gondor. Gondor later conquered Umbar, but lost it again afterward.
By the time of the War of the Ring, the Corsairs had mingled with the Haradrim, becoming a mixed people with little trace of Númenórean blood. During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, a combined fleet of "fifty great ships [of Umbar] and smaller vessels beyond count" raided the port city of Pelargir in Lebennin, but these were captured by Aragorn with the help of the Grey Host. Aragorn brought he fleet upriver to Minas Tirith as reinforcements to relieve the siege of the city.
When Elendil founded the Kingdom of Arnor its borders were quickly extended towards the river Greyflood, and Gondor likewise extended up through Enedwaith. In Enedwaith and Minhiriath lived a group of Men related to the House of Haleth. This race was later called the Dunlendings, from the group that lived near the Rohirrim. They had lived in the great woods that covered most of Eriador, and when the Númenóreans ravaged the forests for timber to build their ships in the Second Age, the Dúnedain of Númenor earned the hostility of the Dunlendings. Although the two peoples were related, the Dúnedain did not recognize them as kinsmen for their language was too different.
The Dunlendings later became bitter enemies of Rohan after the people of Rohan moved into their territory. The Dunlendings served Saruman in the War of the Ring and fought against Rohan in the Battle of the Hornburg.
The Northmen were composed of two principal groups: Men who remained east of the Blue Mountains and resisted Morgoth and Sauron, and those of the Edain who did not sail to Númenor after the War of Wrath, but returned east of the Blue Mountains. The Northmen who dwelt in Greenwood the Great and other parts of Rhovanion were friendly to the Dúnedain, being related from afar, and many of them became subjects of Gondor at its height. The Men of Dale and Esgaroth were Northmen, as were the Woodmen of Mirkwood, and the Éothéod, who became the Rohirrim; the Beornings were likewise counted as Northmen.
East and south of Umbar lived the Haradrim, the Southrons or Men of the South. They were dark-skinned Men and used great Oliphaunts or mûmakil in war. Hostile to Gondor, they were subdued in T.A. 1050 by Hyarmendacil I.
By the time of the War of the Ring, however, Gondor's waning power left both Umbar and the Harad unchecked, and they frequently attacked Gondor from the south. Tolkien suggests that the source of this animosity was Sauron; while many Haradrim fought with Sauron's forces in Gondor in the War of the Ring, they discovered afterward that Sauron had deceived them.
In the First Age, some tribes of Easterlings offered their services to the Elvish kingdoms in Beleriand; the strongest among them were Bór and Ulfang (called the Black), and their respective sons. This proved to be disastrous for the Elves in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad when Ulfang and his clan switched sides and defected to Morgoth, while Bór and his sons died bravely fighting on the side of the Eldar.
After Morgoth's defeat, Sauron extended his influence over the Easterlings, and although Sauron was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men at the end of the Second Age, the Easterlings were the first enemies to attack Gondor again in T.A. 492. They were soundly defeated by King Rómendacil I but invaded again in T.A. 541 and took revenge by slaying Rómendacil. Rómendacil's son Turambar established Gondor's control of large areas of their land, and in the next centuries Gondor held sway over the Easterlings. When Gondor's power began to wane in the twelfth century of the Third Age, the Easterlings took back the land as far as the Anduin ( except Ithilien) and enslaved Gondor's allies, the Northmen.
The Easterlings of the Third Age were divided into several tribes. The Wainriders were a confederation of Easterlings active between T.A. 1856 and 1944. They were a serious threat to Gondor for many years, but were utterly defeated by Eärnil II in 1944. A fierce tribe called the Balchoth invaded Gondor in 2510 and conquered much of Calenardhon. The Éothéod came to Gondor's aid, and the Balchoth were defeated. Thereafter, the Easterlings did not threaten Gondor until the War of the Ring, when they were among Sauron's fiercest warriors at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Woses or Drúedain
Another group of Men were the Woses. They were small and bent compared to other Men. A band of them lived among the Folk of Haleth in the First Age and were held as Edain by the Elves, who called them Drúedain (from Drûg, their native name, plus Edain).
At the end of the Third Age, some Woses, small in number but experienced in forest life, lived in the Drúadan forest of Gondor (which was named for them). They killed off Orcs who strayed into their woods with poisoned arrows. Through a grievous misunderstanding, they were hunted as beasts by the Rohirrim.
In the War of the Ring, they were vital in helping the Rohirrim reach the Battle of the Pelennor Fields; they guided the army unseen through the forest, and thus the Rohirrim were able to surprise their enemies. In gratitude, Théoden pledged to stop hunting them.
After Sauron's downfall, King Elessar granted the Drúadan forest to them in perpetuity.
Hobbits were strictly an offshoot of Men rather than a separate race. The origin of Hobbits is obscure; they first appeared in the records of other Men in the Third Age.
Other races of Men
Other races of Men are mentioned in Tolkien's work, though they play a relatively small part in the history of Middle-earth. Among these are the Lossoth, a hardy people native to the Ice Bay of Forochel in the far north. A race of wicked Men descended from wild Hill-folk inhabited the realm of Angmar and served its Witch-king until the fall of that kingdom. Tolkien also makes reference to Giants in The Hobbit. These Giants may be related to the race of Man, though the scant information about them had led to debate over their exact nature and even their existence as an independent race in Tolkien's world.
- Beren son of Barahir
- Haleth chieftain of the Haladin
- Morwen mother of Túrin and Niënor Níniel
- Túrin Turambar son of Húrin
- Tuor son of Huor
- Kings of Númenor
- Ruling Queens of Númenor
- Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anárion
- Erendis wife of Tar-Aldarion
- The Witch-king of Angmar and the other Nazgûl corrupted by the Nine Rings of Men
- For notable Hobbits see Hobbit
- Aragorn II Elessar, son of Arathorn II
- Denethor and his sons Boromir and Faramir
- Théoden, his son, Théodred, his nephew Éomer, and his niece Éowyn
- Ghân-buri-Ghân, chief of the Drúedain
- Bard the Bowman, slayer of Smaug the dragon
- Gríma Wormtongue, counsellor of Edoras and servant of Saruman
- Mouth of Sauron, Lieutenant of Barad-dûr
- Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring. Prologue.
- Tolkien: Guide to the Names of the Lord of the Rings, "The Firstborn".
- Carpenter: The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, #131.