What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

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Postby Mithfânion » Wed Nov 01, 2000 2:30 pm

Of course I third that as well <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0><BR><BR>It's just that I have posted so mcuh on this thread that I don't feel I could possibly give more evidence for the case of the Elves.<BR><BR>And I am sure Mablung will agree with me on that as well <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Cranthor » Wed Nov 01, 2000 7:14 pm

Yes!!!!! Someone to back up my pro-Feanor posts!!<BR>A worthy addition into the House of Feanor.
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Postby Aranilde » Wed Nov 01, 2000 7:24 pm

LOL! I thank your trust in me (and your compliment!), Cranthor <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> Or were you spoke about Gil-Galad and Mablung? <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>DD
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Postby Telperion » Thu Nov 02, 2000 2:10 am

As always I add my voice to the chorus, and agree that the Noldor/Sindar nations of the First Age were the greatest. Numenor comes a close second and everything else a distant third. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>(And of course it all depends on which Age you're talking about too)<BR><BR>Salute!
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Postby Belegûr » Thu Nov 02, 2000 2:48 am

Of course, to raise the argument: Numenor could have beaten the **** out of all the Beleriandic nations. Or maybe we should close this discussion <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>
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Postby Neithan » Sat Nov 04, 2000 2:34 pm

I am more interested now in what exactly everyone considers the Noldor to have done. Really for all everyone's ranting and raving about the Noldor, what exactly did they do? As I have stated before in what seems a now acient post, the Noldor did not exactly do much in the final battle against Meklor and after the war did even less to secure ME, for then it became the Numenor who provided the arms and the strength to free ME from Saurons shadow. The Noldor could never defeat Meklor, no one ever said that Sindar or the Numenor could not. Gives a rather big implication as to the strength in these societies. As for the battles that the Noldor fought they rarely won. Perhaps in all things considered though they were great (the Noldor) but their greatest weakness tended to be in the trouble they had uniting themselves. A Numenor settlement was a Numenor settlement. And thus was considered part of the whole and so the whole would come to protect the settlement. The Noldor were isolated from themselves, although they shared much they remained seperate. This is how one could judge the relative strength. Perhaps not even from a greater civilization alone but maybe in organization and structure did then the Numenor become more powerful. After all it not what the house is made of that necessarily determines its strength but how it is assembled.
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Postby Telperion » Sun Nov 05, 2000 6:09 pm

But you forget that the Noldor had a High King, so in many ways they were united. The Elves call their leader a "High King" and the local govenors "Kings", while the Numenoreans call their leader just "King" and his govenors "Ministers" or whathaveyou.<BR><BR>But you're also right that the Beleriandic nations were not just provinces under a High King, but actual separate realms that worked under an alliance.<BR><BR>So what was the point of the High King in Hithlum?<BR><BR>And to answer your point on "the Noldor didn't win and yet Numenor did": The Eldar fought a God. The Numenoreans fought his pet ghost. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> But seriously, Melkor was the most powerful of the Ainur. None but the Hosts of Valinor could defeat him....it's no wonder that the High Elves fought the Long Defeat against Morgoth. Numenor would fair no better.<BR><BR>Sauron, while he did have the title of Dark Lord, was not even half the power of Morgoth. A complete grade down, a Maiar. Sauron was a lesser Dark Lord fighting with lesser Elves and Men. The earlier peoples and nations will always surpass the peoples and nations of the later Ages.<BR><BR>
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Postby cian » Sun Nov 05, 2000 8:32 pm

JRRT:<BR>"If we consider the situation after the escape of Morgoth and the reëstablishment of his abode in Middle-earth, we shall see that the heroic Noldor were the best possible weapon with which to keep Morgoth at bay, virtually besieged, and at any rate fully occupied on the northern fringe of Middle-earth, without provoking him to a frenzy of nihilistic destruction. And in the meanwhile, Men, or the best elements in Mankind, shaking off his shadow, came into contact with a people who had actually seen and experienced the Blessed Realm.<BR> In their association with the warring Eldar Men were raised to their fullest achievable stature, ..." [<i>Morgoth's Ring</i>]<BR><BR>Wow <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby Ancalagon » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:41 pm

I will post here because I can see a wrongly belief that men were stronger than elves even Numenoreans. For Tolkien in the beginning that was true but in the later years that changed.
In those days Elves and Men were of like stature and strength of body.. More frail were Men.. - People that was written in 1937!!!
Eärendil had the strength of men - again that was written in a time where the Noldor were called Gnomes(1937) and were said to be shorter than Hadoreans like the sentence say: folk were yellow haired and blue-eyed for the most part... They were of greater strength and stature in body than the Elves... Like to them were the woodland folk of Haleth, but they were not so tall; their backs were broader their legs shorter and less swift... the people of Beor were dark or brown of hair; their eyes grey, and their faces fair to look upon...Their height was no greater than that of the Elves of that day, and they were most like to the Gnomes; for they were eager of mind, cunning handed, swift of understanding, long in memory.

For in Numenore a great people arose, in all things more like the First Kindred than other races of Men that have been, yet less fair and wise than they, though greater in body. - First version ever made(around 1936).
...the people of Numenor grew great and glorious, in all things more like the Firstborn than any other races of Men that have been; yet less fair and wise than the Elves though greater in stature. For the Numenoreans were taller than even the tallest sons of Men in Middle-Earth. - Also written around 1936 most probably in 1940 and they are know taller but the strength is clearly cut off.
Now let's see what Tolkien thinks about Eldar, Men, Edain and Numenoreans in later years.
The eldar said, and recalled in the songs they will sang in later days, that they could not easily be distinguished from the Eldar - not while their youth lasted, the swift fading of which was to the Eldar a grief and a mystery. - Written around 1968 and that's a comparison between the descendants of Hador and the Eldar.
The men of Beor were dark or brown of hair, but fair of face, with grey eyes; of shaply form, having courage and endurance, yet they were no greater in stature than the Eldar of that day. For the Noldor indeed were tall as are in the latter days men of great might and majesty. But the people of Hador were of yet greater strength and stature, mighty among the children of Eru, ready in mind bold and steadfast. Yellowhaired they were for the most part...Like unto them were the woodmen of Haleth, yet somewhat broader and less high. - Written in 1951 and now the Noldor are as tall as the Numenoreans and the Hadoreans seems to be freaking tall also.
Therefore they grew wise and glorious, and in all things more like the Firstborn than any other of the kindreds of Men; and they were tall, taller than the tallest sons of Middle-earth - Written in 1951(the same date where the Noldor of the first age were said to be as tall as Numenoreans) and again the difference between their strength of body is still dropped and quite the contrary for they are now of similar appearance so they can't be so much larger than an Eldar.
"The Númenóreans ... are in constant communication with their ancient friends and allies, either in the bliss of Eressea, or in the kingdom of Gilgalad on the shores of Middle-earth. They became thus in appearance and even in powers of mind, hardly distinguishable from the Elves..." - again in a later note Numenoreans and Eldar were thus in appearance.
They were called “halflings”; but this refers to the normal height of men of Númenórean descent and of the Eldar (especially those of Ñoldorin descent), which appears to have been about seven of our feet.’ - Written in 1968 and again about Numenoreans being taller than the Eldar remain dropped.
Here are also some statements about elven characteristics that proves they aren't weak or weaker than human at all, it's quite the contrary actually.
Numerous times the Eldar were said to be strong even in appearance:
“…and they were tall and dark-haired and strong like fir-trees, and from them most of the Noldor later were sprung. - First description ever and how is their strength measured if not in comparison with the rest of the children of Illúvatar.
[color=#FF0000]“…The Noldor, outnumbered and taken at unawares, were yet swiftly victorious; for the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were strong and swift, and deadly in anger, and their swords were long and terrible." - again they are said to be strong and here there is also a mention of spiritual power being empowered by the light of the trees.
In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe." - again the Sindar are described as a race almost as strong as the Noldor who were many times said too be strong.
There is also:
[color=#0000FF]They (Elves) were thus capable of far greater and longer physical exertions[/color] (in pursuit of some dominant purpose of their minds) without weariness; they were not subject to diseases; they healed rapidly and completely after injuries that would have proved fatal to Men; and they could endure great physical pain for long periods. Their bodies could not, however, survive vital injuries, or violent assaults upon their structure; nor replace missing members (such as a hand hewn off).[/color]
In this matters people always talk about Turin vs Saeros and how superior Turin was and the statement that says he became stronger than any elf:
1- Saeros is a Nandor elf wich are shorter and weaker than the Eldar - The Eldar (...) they were in general the stronger and taller members of the Elvish folk at that time.
2- Turin was also said to be taller than most men and of the elves of Doriath - That was written in the period where elves weren't that tall but even so he couldn't be the tallest since Thingol was the tallest.
3- Yes Turin was said to be stronger than any elf but that was for sure an average statement that wouldn't include Fingolfin for example. And with the age around 20 Beleg was still said to be stronger than him and Beleg was(although mighty) far from one of the Noldor captains and princes.
Another thing remember Boromir talking about the strongest men who the tails tell(he would probably know more about Numenoreans than Edain) and those were Beren and Turin. But Talking about Beren remember when he was captured and bonded alongside with Finrod by Sauron? why didn't he had the strength to burst his bonds when the werewolf came to kill him? instead Finrod was the one who did it and killed the werewolf disarmed. - Felagund put forth all his power and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf, and slew it with his hands and teeth. - Was Finrod the strongest of all the Noldor was he even top 10? This passage also talks about the Noldor Spiritual power that can boost their physical strength.
Another examples of Spiritual Strength:
Aika-nar meant 'fell fire'. It was in part a 'prophetic' name; for he was renowned as one of the most valiant of the warriors, greatly feared by the Orks: in wrath or battle the light of his eyes was like flame, though otherwise he was a generous and noble spirit. - talking about Angrod spiritual power. Show me a man whose eyes burn like a flame.
Eldar were giving way, he sprang forward and hewed a path through the foes, daunted by his stature and the terrible light of his eyes, till he came to the [Orc-captain] and felled him.
There is also Feanor and Maedhros sentences but...
There is also Glorfindel who scared the Nine, could Aragorn one mighty Numenorean that resembles Elendil do that?? or even Earnur who couldn't even hold his horse against the Wich-King??
Who is the greatest race and greatest civilization?
I saw some comments Talking about Gondor being Superior than the Noldor Kingdoms of the first age and did a comparison between Gondor's armies and Gondolin's armie:
1- Read 'Childrens of Hurin' and see the passages where only Noldors were fighting that day for Gondolin, there is another place that says he didn't go with all his houses and there is also another passage where it states that 2/3 of the people of Gondolin were Sindar.
2- Gondolin sent 10000 Noldor(probably most of them) so there are for sure many Sindar warriors in the city at least more 5000.
3. Gondolin wasn't the only Kingdom and not even the biggest, there was also Nargothrond, Feuds of the Son's of Feanor, Hithlum.
The greatest race was the Noldor since they learn things much faster then men, are individually superior(strength, stamina, healing factor, durability, sight, skill, coordination and magic), make better weapons and powerful artifacts:
Sauron indeed achieved even greater control over his Orcs than Morgoth had done. He was, of course, operating on a smaller scale, and he had no enemies so great and so fell as were the Noldor in their might in the Elder Days.
“…that time the Noldor still walked the lands here, the most powerful and most beautiful children in the world, and their languages were still heard by mortals.”
The greatest civilization were Númenor only because they became blessed like the Eldar and had peace for many years and were instructed by the Eldar. If the High-Kingdom of The Noldor wasn't in constant war against Morgoth (Balrogs, werewolves, Serpents, Dragons, Trolls, wargs and orks) and doomed by the rest of the Valar, they would have prospered and advanced in the art of making Ships(since Osse would destroy every single ship).
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby Mablung » Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:32 pm

AncaIagon, I consent to your capable summary of this lengthy, old discussion. No surprise though, given my previous opinions here. 8)

I remember posting here while waiting in eager anticipation of the very first film, it seems like a long time ago - which it is! And soon the last film will be out; if someone had told us posting back then that we would need to fast-forward 15 years to see the final instalment of The Hobbit it would have made us very impatient!

But then there is the Silmarillion.. 8)
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby Black Numenorean » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:41 pm

True, the Elves were perhaps of greater stature and strength than even Numenoreans, but what they lacked was ambition, borne from the fact that they are immortal. Men on the other hand are mortal, and therefore they are ambitious to achieve more before their short lives burn out (to the elves anyway). That is why the Numenoreans were the more powerful civilization. The only elf that could have led his people to victory against the Sea-Kings was perhaps Feanor, for he was the most warlike of them all.
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby Felaróf » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:01 am

You would have to consider the Valar at Aman. They would have need for great dwellings with the amounts of the Eldar who come to live there. The Valar were undoubtedly the greatest in craft, lore, and wisdom. Therefore, a civilization with (In man's perception) Godly knowledge and capabilities, and without strife would be a candidate for potentially the strongest.

Then you have the Noldor. Of the Children, the Noldor were the greatest in craft. With their Immortal life spans, the Noldor had much more time to thrive and flourish than did the Numenoreans. They dwelt for ages, and undoubtedly had no rivals (Aside from Valarian hosts, including Melkor in Thangorodrim and Angband).

I think then you have Melkor's host. At various times in Utumno, Angband, Thangorodrim, etc. He obviously had an efficient means for growth and establishing some sort of infrastructure for a host large enough to rival the host of the Valar, and constantly (through two whole ages) continue to cause strife among the Eldar. This requires a great amount of power and resources in terms of civilization.

I think the Numenoreans factor into this discussion, but coming in at a solid 4th place. And Easily greatest among non-first-born, or Valarian civilizations.

In terms of men, I feel as though the Numenorean culture and civilization was unrivaled. That is partially why they needed to be destroyed. It would be interesting to see the hierarchical dynamics of if Numenoreans dwelt amidst the Rohirim, amidst the Gondorians, Amidst the Easterlings.. etc. How would the power have shifted, how would allegiances have coalesced etc..

And curiously, this parallels an analogy in our own real world. That of the Atlanteans..
Many great mystery schools of thought, credit an Atlantean/Mother Civilization as having given our current cycle of man; mathematics, art, science, literature, civilization, undoubtedly some correspondence here.
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby Morwenna » Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:37 am

Can you really call the Valar a civilization, though? They are spirits, who can appear in bodies when they wish. They just "are." They do act, but I can't see where they would have or need the kind of group interaction required of a civilization.
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby albergo » Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:05 pm

Interesting question. As you point out, the Numenorians when they landed with their full might in Middle Earth under Al-Pharozon, are said to be the mightiest armada ever seen and Sauron immediately realized he could not fight that strength and surrendered to it (all this towards the end of the Second Age).

But the Numenorians are not strictly a Middle-Earth civilization, they live on an island in the sea pretty close to Valinor. The Numenorian exiles that established Arnor and Gondor were the survivors of that civilization and as great as they were to create Gondor and Orthanc and their other wonders, probably did not have as much military power as the the Noldorin Elves of the First Age, if their power could have been combined. At the Fifth Battle the plan was to unite all the Noldorin regimes against Morgoth, this including the Elves living in Hithlum under Finrod and the various bands of the sons of Feanor, and in a surprise the Elves of Gondolin came forth 10,000 strong, mightily armed, each one an Elven warrior in full strength. And there was a vast host of Men as their allies, so this must be considered also because in Hithlum at least the Elves and Men were joined into a common civilization. This group could have prevailed against all of Morgoth's host when he was at full strength in Angband if not for the treachery of Ulfang the Accursed (unfortunately one of our own kindred). So that military power was probably the most powerful to be based in Middle-Earth.

Doriath was strong because of the power of Melian that kept it secret from the rest of Middle-Earth for a long time. Militarily I don't think they focused so much on weapons and so probably didn't have as much power.

If you consider power in terms of civilization, art, perhaps that in combination with military power,
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Re: What was the most powerful civilization in Middle-earth?

Postby Billobob » Wed May 06, 2015 1:51 pm

I would say either Doriath or Numenor. Because they represent the peak of both men and Elves. Well I guess eventually the reunited kingdom (Arnor and Gondor founded by Aragorn) will surpass Numenor but we never really hear that.
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