The race of Men (that is, Atani) is one of several races inhabiting Arda. They are the humans of Middle Earth.
The race of Men is the second race of beings created by the supreme God, Ilúvatar. Because they awoke at the start of the First Age, at the first rising of the Sun (FA 1), while the Elves awoke three Ages before them, they are called the Afterborn (Quenya Atani, Sindarin: Edain) by the Elves.
Men bear the Gift of Men, which is mortality, and therefore they age and die when their time comes, and are susceptible to illness and disease. Elves are immortal, in the sense that they are not susceptible to aging and disease. Even if their bodies are slain, their spirits will remain bound to the world for as long as it lasts, and pass to the Halls of Mandos to wait until they are released or the world ends.
The Elves call the race of Men, in Quenya Atani, literally meaning "Second People", but also Hildor (Aftercomers) or Fírimar (Mortals). They are also called the Usurpers, the Strangers, the Inscrutable, the Self-cursed, the Heavyhanded, the Nightfearers and the Children of the Sun. The name Atani became Edain in Sindarin, but this term was later applied only to those Men who were friendly to the Elves.
Groups and AlignmentsEdit
Although all Men of Middle-earth are related to one another, there are many different groups with different cultures. The most important group in the tales of the First Age were the Edain. Although the word Edain refers to all Men, the Elves use it to distinguish those Men who fought with them in the First Age against Morgoth in Beleriand from others.
Those Men who fought with them against Morgoth in the First Age were divided into three Houses. The First House of the Edain was the House of Bëor, and entered Beleriand in FA 305 and were granted the fief of Ladros in Dorthonion by Finrod Felagund. The Second House of the Edain, the Haladin was led by Haldad, and later by his daughter, Haleth, and settled in the Forest of Brethil. The Third House, which became the greatest, was led by Marach, and later his descendant, Hador, and they settled in Dor-lómin. This house was known both as the House of Marach and the House of Hador.
Other Men didn't cross the Misty Mountains or fight against Morgoth. Some, such as the Easterlings, fought openly on his side. Later on, the Haradrim would fight on Sauron's side against the descendants of the Edain. Below follow short descriptions of the most important groups of Men in the First, Second, and Third ages.
For their services and assistance rendered to the Elves and the Valar in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, the Edain were rewarded with a new land of their own between Middle-earth and the Undying Lands. This was the island of Númenor, an island far away from the evil of Middle-earth.
The Edain were led to this island by Elros with the help of his father Eärendil, who sailed the heavens as the bright star of the same name. Once there Elros became the first king of Númenor as Tar-Minyatur and the Edain became known as the Dúnedain. The kingdom of Númenor grew steadily in power and the Dúnedain became the noblest and highest of all Men on Arda. Allied to the Elves, Númenor fought against Morgoth's lieutenant Sauron.
Now that the Men of the West had become powerful they came to resent the Gift of Men, Death. They wanted to become immortal like the Elves, and enjoy their accumulated power for all time. The Númenóreans turned away from the Valar, began to call the Gift of Men the Doom of Men and cursed the Ban of the Valar which forbade them to sail west beyond sight of Númenor or to enter Valinor. In SA 2899 Ar-Adûnakhôr became the first king of Númenor who took his royal name in Adûnaic, the language of Men instead of Quenya, the language of the Elves. This led to civil war in Númenor.
The people of Númenor were divided into two factions: the King's Men, who enjoyed the support of the King and the majority of the people. They favoured Adûnaic as language. The minority faction, the Faithful, were led by the lord of Andúnië, the westernmost province of Númenor, and favoured Quenya. Sauron who by the second millennium of the Second Age was nearly defeated by the Elves and Numenoreans, took advantage of the division. He surrendered to the last Númenórean King, Ar-Pharazôn and worked his way into the King's counsels. Ultimately, Sauron advised him to attack Valinor and claim immortality. This he foolishly did, and as a punishment Númenor, the island of the Men of the West fell and only the Faithful escaped and founded the twin kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.
Before the fall of Númenor, however, as it was growing in naval power, many Númenóreans sailed east and founded colonies in Middle-earth. In the second millennium of the Second Age there was an exodus of Men from overcrowded Númenor. The King's Men migrated because they wanted to conquer more lands, and the Faithful because they were persecuted by the Kings. The Faithful settled in Pelargir and the King's Men settled in Umbar. When Númenor was destroyed the King's Men became known as the Black Númenóreans and remained hostile against the Faithful of Gondor. From their ranks Sauron recruited the kings who would become the nine Ringwraiths in the second millennium of the Second Age.
Further east of Umbar another group of Men lived, the Haradrim. They are dark skinned Men and waged war on great Oliphaunts or Mûmakil. Hostile to Gondor, they were subdued in TA 1050 by Hyarmendacil I. This was long ago, and now the Haradrim present great threat from the south.
Most of the Men who fought in the armies of Morgoth and Sauron were Easterlings, who came from the region around the Sea of Rhûn. Some Easterlings offered their services to the elvish kingdoms in Beleriand, among them were Bor and his sons and Ulfang the Black and his sons. This proved to be disastrous for the Elves in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad when Ulfang and his clan switched sides and defected to Morgoth, while Bor and his sons died bravely fighting on the side of the Eldar.
After Morgoth's defeat Sauron extended his influence over the Easterlings and although Sauron was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men at the end of the Second Age, the Easterlings were the first enemies to attack Gondor again in TA 492. They were soundly defeated by King Rómendacil I, but invaded again in TA 541 and took revenge by slaying King Rómendacil. Rómendacil's son Turambar took large portions of land from them. In the next centuries Gondor held sway over the Easterlings. When Gondor's power began to decrease in the twelfth century Third Age, the Easterlings took the complete eastern bank of the Anduin except Ithilien crushing Gondor's allies, the Northmen.
The Easterlings of the Third Age were divided in different tribes, such as the Wainriders and the Balchoth. The Wainriders were a confederation of Easterlings which were very active between TA 1856 and TA 1944. They were a serious threat to Gondor for many years, but were utterly defeated by Eärnil II in TA 1944. When Gondor lost its royal dynasty in TA 2050 the Easterlings started to reorganize themselves and a fierce tribe called the Balchoth became the most important tribe. In TA 2510 they invaded Gondor again and conquered much of Calenardhon, until they were defeated by the Éothéod, coming to Gondor's aid.
The Northmen were composed of two principal groups. First, not all the Men who remained east of the Blue Mountains and Misty Mountains were tempted by Morgoth or Sauron. They were joined after the War of Wrath by those of the Edain who did not wish to travel to Númenór (similar to how, at the end of the first age, various eldar remained and went east, becoming lords of the silvan elves). The Northmen who dwelt in Greenwood the Great and other parts of Rhovanion were friendly to the Dúnedain, being for the most part their kin, and many of them became Gondorian subjects. The Men of Dale and Esgaroth are Northmen, as were the Woodmen of Mirkwood, and the Éothéod, who became the Rohirrim.
When Elendil founded the Kingdom of Arnor its borders were quickly extended towards the river Greyflood, and Gondor likewise extended up through Enedwaith. In Enedwaith (Middle-land) and Minhiriath (Sindarin for Land between the Rivers) lived a group of Men related to those Men that became the House of Haleth, and they are known as the Dunlendings. They had lived in the great woods that covered most of Eriador, and when the Númenóreans started to chop these woods down to build their ships in the Second Age, the Dúnedain of Númenor earned the hostility of the Dunlendings. The Dunlendings later became bitter enemies of Rohan.