You might be familiar with elves from Lord of the Rings or other fictional media. Perhaps you’ve played DnD and played as an elf or are interested in general lore.
Are elves immortal though? Yes, they are, but there are some interesting characteristics of elf immortality that are worth mentioning. We’ll go over that here.
How Long Do Elves Live?
Elves are immortal. They do appear in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. But, most of the history surrounding these creatures is actually in The Silmarillion.
They are typically depicted in fantasy literature as beautiful, dangerous, and creatures that live in wild places.
Sometimes they’d be called fairies in a few cases. For example, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom were depicted as almost elflike.
The lore of elves dates further back, where Beowulf describes them living amongst giants and demons as well. They are considered non-human along with an un-Christian species.
They all have one thing in common in a lot of cases: they’re immortal. Their will is so strong that it can get them whatever it is that desire, and what they want to achieve as well.
Immortal – But at a Cost
If you’ve seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies, or even read the book, you may have seen these elves die.
They are immortal for the most part, but when elves become adults, they simply stop getting older. They are “immortal” so long as they aren’t given too much emotional damage. But elves will also die off if the world dies.
They only exist for as long as the world will. They can be slain in some cases, and if that happens, when they go for judgment, in this case, Manos in LOTR lore, they are given a period of time where they’re judged, and in some cases, they can be “re-embodied.”
So yes, they can come back to life, if they’re judged by their spirit and are given another chance at life.
However, they are immortal, and they can stay the same age in a lot of cases. They can recover from wounds that would normally kill humans.
However, if there is too much grief or pain, or there is weariness, they can end up dying, and they’ll go to the Halls of Mandos.
After a “cleansing” they are clothed in bodies that look just like the ones that they had before. However, they don’t go back to “Middle Earth” or the world that they’re from, but instead, they stay on Valinor, where they are judged.
The only exception to this, someone who did end up going back was Glorfindel who was a “reborn” hero rather than someone who had the same name as the one from the Silmarillion.
They can’t die and are considered” unkillable” are undead soldiers, according to LOTR lore. They do go through a “life cycle” but it’s much different from others, and it
The Elven “Life Cycle
Unlike other beings, elves go through a few “life cycles” which is different from what humans naturally go through.
They are born after a year of conception, and they don’t go through physical puberty until they’re fifty years old. They are not considered completely grown until they’re 100 years old.
From there, they’d engage in daily life activities including marriage, sex and the rearing of children, and various arts.
They don’t develop beards until they reach their third life cycle, which is supposedly at least 300 years old. However, not every elf has them, and they’re considered a rarity and usually would show the aging of another person.
Elves don’t necessarily physically get older, but instead, they will reach a level of maturity which causes weariness and sorrow. This can burden them, and this will age them naturally.
They can sometimes develop this aging over time, having gone through traumatic experiences. They usually are immune to all diseases and can heal from normal wounds. However, grief and weariness can kill them.
Can They Give Up Immortality?
Elf immortality is another subject that is also studied since in the Silmarillion one of the elves ends up giving up her immortality.
Arwen also tells Aragorn in the movie that she will give up immortality to stay upon earth.
This can be done if someone is pure-blooded and gives up permission. Half-elves too are given this choice, and elves may give this up to save someone.
While it is symbolic, it still can present the idea that some elves can give up immortality. However, there needs to be a reason for it.
Some enterprising elves in lore may end up cutting ties with life, but this is rare. Voluntary mortality is only granted but Valar, where the elves go when they end up passing.
If elves decide to do this, then any offspring they have will be mortal automatically and not given the same choice as their parents. Elves, if they do decide to make this choice, eventually are still reborn if they’re brought to be judged by Manos.
Elves however live a very long life, and it’s interesting. Usually, this urge to give up immortality is done for the benefit of another person, such as a lover, or someone they want to be close to.
Elves are interesting creatures with a very rich history. To a degree, they are immortal, and in general are considered to be immortal beings, whether they’re forest elves or even Christmas elves that live at the North Pole.
But the subject of immortality is interesting. While elves are immortal so to speak, they can end up dying if they feel weary and sad. Grief of course is a big killer and can subject them to death.
But in terms of if they fully pass or not, they don’t. They live a long time, and that time is spent on the world, engaging in the arts, and trying to make it a better place.