TOLKIEN TUESDAY: Incest in Middle-earth

TOLKIEN TUESDAY: Incest in Middle-earth

Good morning Rebels, and welcome back to my life.

Today I’m doing a thing I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Henceforth, I will try to make every Tuesday a Tolkien Tuesday.

I love the world of Middle-earth. It’s probably my biggest fandom. I have read more books in that world than most people probably know exist, I can write in Elvish. I actually have a tattoo in elvish.

And of course there’s the whole thing where I flew around the world to New Zealand just on the off chance that I might actually get a spot on the crew of the Hobbit films.

I like Tolkien, is what I’m trying to say.

So on Tolkien Tuesdays we’ll talk about Tolkien. Maybe we’ll discuss some little-known fact from the books or the world, or maybe we’ll talk about what’s going on in real-life Tolkien news, like when new DVD box sets or collectibles or action figures come out.

Because yeah, frankly I don’t have all that many people IRL who I can talk to about Tolkien. My fandom/obssession with him is a bit of an oddity.

Even my wife mostly just tolerates it, rather than approving.

So if we’re talking Tolkien and we’re talking little-known facts about the Tolkien mythology, we have to talk about the big elephant in the room, probably the worst kept secret in the Lord of the Rings.

Aragorn and Arwen, the man and the elf-maiden, subjects of the most dramatic and sweeping romance of the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy—are cousins.

That’s right, friends. Tolkien was the first incest shipper.

Let’s look at how this happened, because when you see that Aragorn is a man and Arwen is a woman, you might be confused about how they could be related.

We all know that Arwen’s father is Elrond, a.k.a. Agent Smith, a.k.a. the guy who if everyone just listened to him in the first place, we wouldn’t have all these problems and the coming of a second darkness, people, so can we just…

What movie-watchers might not know is that Elrond is also called Elrond half-elven, and that’s because he’s…you guessed it…only half-elven.

Well, kind of. Actually Elrond’s grandfather, Dior, was a half-elf—the first half-elf ever, actually, but he married an elf, so Elrond’s mother was actually three-quarters elf.

Meanwhile Elrond’s FATHER was a real half-elf. So in the end, Elrond was, I guess, five-eighths elf.

But in those days of Middle-earth’s ancient history, anyone who was part elf and part human was just called a “half-elf.”

Elrond also had a brother, named Elros. And the two of them had all sorts of adventures across Middle-earth and it’s very exciting. You should read it some time.

But there came a time when the world almost ended and the gods of Middle-earth had to intervene to stop it. And as part of sorting out the whole “situation” they came to Elrond and Elros and said, “Hey, you guys can choose whichever life you want. You can be Elves and be immortal, or you can be Human and go to heaven after you die.”

(That’s a whole nother thing, but basically only humans get to go to heaven after they die. No one knows what happens to Elves who die).

So Elrond was like, “I think I’ll just live forever, thanks.” But Elros was all, “Hey, I’ve already lived a long, long time, so I think now I’m gonna invest in the afterlife.”

So he became a human. Now he wasn’t JUST human, of course. Because he was half-elven (sort of) he was granted the grace of the gods and lived for hundreds of years. And he also became the first King of Men, which is kind of important to this whole story.

Elros had a son, and HE had a son, and so on and so forth, and eventually we ended up with Aragorn. The great grandson of Elros, brother of Elrond, the father of Arwen.

So they’re not even second or third cousins, guys. They’re FIRST cousins, albeit removed about a thousand times.

Now, it must be said that humanity did not always view first cousin…relations the same way they do now. I mean heck, Albert Einstein married his first cousin and no one even thought that was weird.

And of course European royal families have always made a habit of marrying cousins to preserve the royal lineage, but still…eeew.

So there you go! May you never view that kiss between Aragorn and Arwen the same way again.

Hope you enjoyed this first Tolkien Tuesday, Rebels. As always, thank you for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Maybe. Byyye.


Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at

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