The other day I was sitting around watching The Fellowship of the Ring, as I do every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, when I mentioned to my roommate that, last time I read the books, it sounded like Arwen was the daughter of Elrond and Galadriel.

Needless to say, this was pretty confusing, and I wasn’t at all convinced my interpretation was right; obviously Galadriel and Celeborn are the hot ticket these days, but when you live for thousands of years, is monogamy even less cool than it is for a mortal lifespan? Is cheating even a thing, or is it more like,

Celeborn: Hey, I just realized I haven’t seen another chick naked in 500 years. Mind if I hit the taverns tonight?

Galadriel: Go ahead, sweetie! Oh, you remember that guy Elrond Half-Elven? My old college roommate? Well, we had an affair like 4,800 years ago. Sorry. We were all kind of wound up about Melkor at the time. You know how that goes.

Celeborn: Well, it’s over now, right?

Galadriel: Oh yeah. No, I haven’t even talked to him this Age.

Celeborn: Okay. Well, off to sow me some wild oats!

Galadriel: Have fun! Let me know if you’re going to be later than next spring!

More importantly, how come every elf on Middle Earth doesn’t have scores of children? Even if you only pop out one kid every ten years, some of these guys should have racked up two-three hundred kids by now. Yet Elrond, who’s so old he can remember Isildur’s original betrayal, only seems to have three kids: Arwen, and his twin sons.

That’s some serious fucking birth control. No wonder Galadriel doesn’t give a shit about the Ring when she’s walking around with the One IUD to Rule Them All. Or, as my roommate put it, are elves “so beautiful, yet so impotent”?

Indeed, there’s four possible conclusions we can draw here: a) Elves just don’t bone that often–no more than a couple times a decade; b) Elves get it on as much as humans or dwarves or anyone else, but they have some kind of ultra-effective birth control, be it sheepskin condoms or some inborn ability to choose when to get pregnant; c) They screw like anyone else, they don’t have birth control, but they’re just shooting blanks 99% of the time, or d) They’re only fertile through the first phase of their lives–say, the first 50-200 years–at which point they hit elf menopause, and just sort of putter around the woods for the next 10,000 years or whenever accident strikes them down.

Of these, a) just doesn’t seem likely. c) makes a certain amount of sense–if elves were descended from a line of particularly long-lived apes, rampant infertility would ensure the herd isn’t constantly starving from overpopulation–but if you’ve got 500-1,000 years between generations, it’s going to take a while for that trait to develop, and besides, once the culture developed enough to where they got better at gathering food and the other resources of life, you’d think faster-breeding genetic lines would start to reemerge.

d) is a little better. It ensures any given elf can pass on his or her DNA before settling down into their Golden Eons. However, if I were to dig into the recorded elf family trees, I expect I’d find the children of a single pairing would be born too far apart to be explained by Elf Menopause.

This leaves us with c). In other words, A Wizard Did It. Not a particularly elegant solution, but hey, elves are pretty in touch with nature, and besides, I seem to recall elves were created by some ultra-god back in the good old days, and he seems pretty on the ball.

Still, this conclusion leaves something to be desired. Though it’ll be a sacrifice, I’m going to have to do some field research before coming down on one side or the other. Word up, Arwen. It’s in the name of science.

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