How Elven Am I?

Part of the 12th Grade English Curriculum at Palmerton Area High School was J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, taught by the illustrious Mr. Ronald Yeager. It was one of his specialties, along with Bob Dylan's poetry.

With this common cultural reference as background, I was nicknamed "Strider" by some older students, and the nickname was adopted by members of my class who knew a bit about the trilogy. I think it was because I projected an air of nobility appropriate to the heir of the royal line of the Dunedain and rightful ruler of Gondor and Arnor. Or maybe it was because I'm tall and take big steps.

The name stuck fast when my class reached 12th Grade, to the point that one friend tried to have me and my date announced at the prom as "Aragorn and Arwen."

Mr. Yeager especially liked the idea of having "Strider" in his class. I decided to have fun with the idea, and so one night I calculated just how much elven blood was left in Aragorn from his ancestor Elros, brother of Elrond Half-Elven.

This matters because while Tolkien asserted opposition to racism, and included an overt anti-racist storyline in Lord of the Rings (the friendship between Gimli and Legolas), his worldview was still deeply built on ideas of race. The character of individuals and the political organization of the land is rooted in race. It's the sliver of Elvish ancestry that makes the Dunedain more noble than other humans, and grounds their right to rule. But how much Elven ancestry is there by the time of Aragorn?

Aragorn and Arwen's family tree

Some notes on the calculation: The information is based on the appendices at the end of The Return of the King as well as The Silimarillion. The 22 generations between Vardamir and Elendil are an estimate, because Tolkien's records follow a different branch of the Dunedain royalty during that time period.

Tolkien does not give information on the Aragorn's female ancestors beginning with Elros. I have therefore assumed that they were full-blooded humans. This may not be the case, however, as nobility tends to marry nobility. Thus a fraction of Elven blood may have returned through marrying some other branch of the royal family. The figures for the percentage of Elven and Maia blood should therefore be taken as minimum estimates, and the Human figure as a maximum.

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