The 4th age... and beyond!

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Adanberion 17/Dec/2006 at 01:04 PM
Vagrant of Minas Tirith Points: 74 Posts: 3 Joined: 17/Dec/2006

I recently came across the following excerpt (in the encyclopedia of Arda article about the fourth age : )

"Although we have no records of the later Fourth, or any following Age, Tolkien makes a brief allusion to the future of Middle-earth in a letter written in 1958: "I imagine the gap [between the Fall of Barad-dŻr and modern times] to be about 6000 years; that is we are now at the end of the Fifth Age, if the Ages were of about the same length as S[econd] A[ge] and T[hird] A[ge]. But they have, I think, quickened; and I imagine we are actually at the end of the Sixth Age, or in the Seventh."

This note is especially interesting, as it gives some ground for bringing Tolkienís dating system up to date. The fact that we are íat the end of the Sixth Age, or in the Seventhí hints strongly that Tolkien saw some important historical event as marking the recent (or imminent) end of the Sixth Age. Each of the three Ages we know about ended with a great war and the fall of a tyrant, and Tolkien was writing just thirteen years after the end of the Second World War: could there be a connection?

While this is circumstantial at best, it does seem to hint that perhaps the Downfall of the Third Reich was to the Sixth Age what the Downfall of Barad-dŻr was to the Third. If so, we can íresetí the calendar in 1945, which would be the first year of the Seventh Age. The letter quoted above, then, would have been written in VII 14, which explains Tolkienís reference to the change of Age, while the year 2000 would be VII 56.

Itís important to stress that thereís absolutely no direct evidence for any of this - itís just harmless speculation. We do know, though, that Tolkien was fastidious in calculating his dating systems: itís unlikely that he would have mentioned a change of Age if he didnít have solid reasons for doing so."

This article makes it quite clear that the events in the lord of the rings take place in our world, way before recent history begins.

This is (in my humble opinion) especially interesting, since a gap of thousands of years is to be filled between the beginnning of the fourth age and our era. I believe that LOTR and annex cover up to the year 120 or so of the fourth age, and so come my questions :
- are there in any works of Tolkien any quotes that could give indication about later events in the fourth age and the ages that followed ?
- if not, how do you see the continuation of Tolkiens history as it ended in the beginning of the fourth age ? what could have been the events which started the fifth and the sixth age ? how do we link up tolkienís history and ours ? can we infer anything from other Tolkienís work ?

Maybe this has already been posted... if so i would be glad if you redirect me to any thread that would answer that questions...
Adanberion 17/Dec/2006 at 01:06 PM
Vagrant of Minas Tirith Points: 74 Posts: 3 Joined: 17/Dec/2006
Sorry for my previous post that does not work... I clicked on delete unintentionally
Phil_d_one 17/Dec/2006 at 01:57 PM
Shipwright of Umbar Points: 13181 Posts: 12667 Joined: 14/Jan/2004
Welcome to the Plaza, Adanberion

I have removed the extra thread for you. Just a heads up, however, it is not neccessary to quote such a large chunk of text from the EoA in your post -- merely providing the link would have been sufficient. As for your questions.

i) Unfortunately no. We know some trivial matters such as the fact that Celeborn took ship some time after the end of the records on the Fourth Age, but little else, and nothing of broad scope.

ii) We know that the fall of the Barad-dur was 6000 years ago, and that the length of the ages has grown progressively shorter since.

I imagine the gap to be about 6000 years: that is we are now at the end of the Fifth Age, if the ages were of about the same length as S.A. and T.A.  But they have, I think, quickened; and I imagine we are actually at the end of the Sixth Age, or in the Seventh
(Letter 211 (Footnote) )

From this we could infer some possible dates for the end of each of the subsequent ages as follows.

Fourth Age -- 4000 BC - 1500 BC
Fifth Age -- 1500 BC - 500 AD
Sixth Age -- 500 AD - 2000 AD

And if we were to look for any real-world events that match these dates and fulfil the criterion of the fall of a tyrant which seems to define the first three ages, we’d end up with something like this, which is of course purely my own speculation

Fourth Age -- 4000 BC - c. 1500 BC -- The Trojan War/The Fall of Troy
Fifth Age -- c. 1500 BC - c. 500 AD -- The Invasions of England/The Arrival of the Celts ( /the Normans)
Sixth Age -- c. 500 AD - c. 2000 AD -- World War II

I provide further reasoning for this speculation in my first post in this thread (<-- clickable), if you’re interested.

Once again, welcome