As they were great mariners, they began to yearn for the West. “The more joyful was their life, the more they began to long for the Immortality of the Eldar.” (Fall of Númenór, “The Shadow Falls on Númenór”)
Thus they would desire to have more time to enjoy their crafts and what they’ve made.
The first sign of the shadow was from Tar-Minastir, the 11th king. While Ciryatan, his son, scorned the yearnings of his father, he was able to ease the restless by voyaging. They’ve become greedy and restless.
The Númenóreans first came to Middle-earth as teachers and friends of Middle-earth Men.
Tar-Atanamir the Great was greedy and proud much like his father. He would speak openly against the Ban of the Valar. The shadow deepened, and the Númenóreans’ thirst for immortality grew greater.
While the Valar rewarded the Dúnedain with long life, they couldn’t keep them from the weariness of the world.
The Valar laid a ban on the Númenoreans from sailing west to Eressëa or Valinor – as such places made them enamored of a possibility of immortality:
“…against their law, the special doom or gift of Ilúvatar (God) and which their nature could not in fact endure.” (JRR Tolkien, Letter # 131)
Thus Eressëa and Valinor are known as “immortal” lands for the Elves.
There are 3 phases in their fall from Grace: (1:23)
Acquiescence (willful obedience without understanding)
Increased murmuring (as their obedience becomes unwilling)
Rebellion (causing a rift)
A shadow fell upon the Númenóreans – and thus the murmuring begins.
Nùmenòreans ask for immortality (1:43)
“They said among themselves: ‘Why do the Lords of the West sit there in peace unending, while we must die and go we know not whither, leaving our home and all that we have made? And the Eldar die not, even those that rebelled against the Lords. And since we have mastered all seas, and no water is so wild or so wide that our ships cannot overcome it, why should we not go to Avallónë and greet there our friends?’
And some there who said: ‘Why should we not go even to Aman, and taste there, were it but for a day, the bliss of the Powers? Have we not become mighty among the people of Arda?”
The Elves reported it to the Valar and Manwë was grieved. Afterwards he sent messengers to the Dúnedain to spread his message.
“‘The Doom of the World,’ they said. ‘One alone can change who made it. And were you so to voyage that escaping all deceits and snares you came indeed to Aman, the Blessed Realm, little would it profit you. For it is not the land of Manwë that makes its people deathless, but the Deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land; and there you would but wither and grow weary the sooner, as moths in a light too strong and steadfast.’
But the King said: ‘And does not Eärendil, my forefather, live? Or is he not in the land of Aman?’
To which they answered: ‘You know that he has a fate apart, and was adjudged to the Firstborn who die not; yet this also is his doom that he can never return again to mortal lands. Whereas you and your people are not of the Firstborn, but are mortal Men as Ilúvatar made you. Yet it seems that you desire now to have the good of both kindreds, to sail to Valinor when you will, and to return when you please to your homes. That cannot be. Nor can the Valar take away the gifts of Ilúvatar. The Eldar, you say, are unpunished, and even those who rebelled do not die. Yet that is to them neither reward nor punishment, but the fulfillment of their being. They cannot escape, and are bound to this world, never to leave it so long as it lasts, for its life is theirs. And you are punished for the rebellion of Men, you say, in which you had small part, and so it is that you die. But that was not at first appointed for a punishment. Thus you escape, and leave the world, and are not bound to it, in hope or in weariness. Which of us therefore should envy the others?’”
The messengers revealed that the mind of Ilúvatar was not known to the Valar concerning the mortality of the Númenóreans. But they mainly knew that the Númenóreans were made not to achieve immortality and the trip to Aman would not automatically grant them immortality – the latter which we will see later in Lord of the Rings with certain mortals being selected to go to the Undying Lands. They will die eventually there.
However, Atanamir was still displeased and so were the rest of the Númenóreans. However, he lived to a great age of 421 years – and was the first to escape death instead of waiting upon hope. Many followed his example, and Tar-Atanamir became the Unwilling.
Ar-Adûnakhôr would become King as the shadow grew deeper in Númenor, and due to their rebellion the lives of the Kings in the House of Elros had waned.
They no longer spoke Elven-tongues, but they were maintained in secret by the faithful. While their power increased, their lifespans decreased due to their desire and thirst for immortality. Ar-Adûnakhôr would begin to persecute the faithful who spoke the Elven-tongues, and the Eldar would no longer visit Númenor.
Ar-Pharazon and Downfall of Númenor
The Downfall of Númenor coincided with Ar-Pharazon’s assailing of Valinor in 3319 SA, and the escape of Elendil and his sons.
“Ar-Pharazon hardened his heart, and he went aboard his mighty ship, Alcarondas, Castle of the Sea. Many-oared it was and many-masted, golden and sable; and upon it the throne of Ar-Pharazôn was set. Then he did on his panoply and his crown, and let raise his standard, and he gave the signal for the raising of the anchors; and in that hour the trumpets of Númenor outrang the thunder.” (Fall of Númenor, “3319-Downfall of Númenor”)
After the Númenóreans’ fleets moved west, Ar-Pharazôn’s fleets came up out of the deeps of the sea, encompassing Avallónë and the isle of Eressëa. The Elves mourned the loss of the light caused by the Númenóreans.
Ar-Pharazôn had almost turned back, but pride overtook him, and he left his ship for the shore claiming the land for his own.
He had convinced himself that he would be just like Eärendil who had sailed west. However, the main difference was that Eärendil was halfelven and the Númenóreans were mortal men.
After Ar-Pharazôn’s assailing,
“Númenór itself on the edge of the rift topples and vanishes for ever with all its glory in the abyss. Thereafter there is no visible dwelling of the divine or immortal on earth.” (Letter # 131)