It’s been at least a few years since I’ve read the books so my textual memory has lapsed but a question always plagued me. The ages for various characters are hinted at but never given concretely. Then again perhaps I’m mistaken and they are given. If that’s the case, even better. However, just as a completist, I’d be interested in some feedback on who people think is the oldest or perhaps ranking the oldest to the not as old.
Relevant characters: Galadriel, Celeborn, Gandalf, Sauron, Treebeard, Tom Bombadil, Elrond, Saruman, others that I may be forgetting.
Sauron, Gandalf (Olorin) and Saruman, since all were Maiar (angels, essentially) and would’ve been around at the very creation of the universe, although Bombadil is very, very old, too, and his exact status in the Tolkien legendarium is ambiguous, to say the least.
Any Elves and Ents would’ve come along quite a bit later, relatively speaking.
Singing the universe into existence, then worrying about Melkor.
Treebeard, and all the ents (Treebeard was not necessarily one of the fathers of ents, AFAIK) were created after the world, at the prompting of Yavanna after Aule made the dwarves. Bombadil? No one knows, although I believe only the elves call him “oldest.” I’m certain that he is no older than the world.
Yeah, it’s Sauron, Gandalf, and Saruman – they were there In The Beginning.
Oh, and the others – Galadriel, Celeborn, and Elrond – differ widely. Galadriel is the granddaughter of Finwe, one of those who awakened rather than being born. Celeborn’s ancestry and age are uncertain, but both were born during the Years of the Trees.
Elrond is much younger – descended from Finwe about three generations after Galadriel, and born after the destruction of the Trees (the years of the sun).
The unmentioned dwarves were created by Aule and given life by Iluvatar, but not permitted to waken before the elves; I believe the same is true of the ents, but I haven’t seen the source material.
Cirdan was a first-generation elf, was he not? I don’t think that there are any others of the first generation still in Middle-Earth as of the Third Age, so that would make him the oldest of the Children of Illuvatar. And I believe that the Elves awoke the first Ents, so he’d be older than Treebeard, too.
The various Maiar still have him beat, though, as well as probably Tom Bombadil (though who can really be sure about anything, when it comes to him?).
Oh, and even if you count the dwarves (created earlier but forced to sleep), they’re not immortal. Even Durin the Deathless is deathless only in the sense that the dwarves believe he gets reincarnated into his descendants: The most recent Durin was Durin VII.
Gandalf says that Treebeard is the oldest of all living things, and Celeborn addresses him as “Eldest”; but Bombadil claims to have seen the first raindrop and the first acorn, and to have been around before the rivers and trees.
Uhh… I won’t mock you for disagreeing over the books, but… Hell, no. That sop utterly wrong I can’t even argue about it. You pretty much have to ignore not only all textual information but Tolkein’s own stated word to believe that.