Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: Choices of the Half-Elven

Choices of the Half-Elven

I've been ruminating on this question for awhile now after re-reading portions of the Silmarillion and LotR and would like to hear your thoughts on the subject:

The sons of Earendil were given the choice to belong to the Eldar or to the Edain and, as we know, Elrond chose the former and Elros the latter. My question has to do with their children. Why did Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir have the choice to be mortal or not, but the children of Elros, so far as I have been able to determine, did not?

Input...need input!

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Typical anti-edain discrimination, no doubt.

Seriously, I was discussing this with AfterEver, and the choice only seems to work for the 'elven' branch. It was given to the children of Eärendil, as we know; apparently Luthien, Tuor (?), Eärendil and Elwing were on a case-by-case basis.

There is also no indication that Arwen's children will get The Choice, in fact it is assumed that they won't. So mortality seems to be a choice that can be accepted once by any branch of the family. And if Elladan and Elrohir choose to be of the Eldar, and eventually go to Aman, my assumption would be their children would not get The Choice.

So we can speculate away as to why this was granted to the children of Eärendil - as a reward for his role in the War of Wrath?

And why the choice to be mortal is binding on the entire line - In terms of telling the story it makes sense. Tolkien would have had a very different, and more difficult story if mortals with even a drop of elven blood could choose to be of the Eldar.

Alas, I don't think I've helped you very much.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

**So mortality seems to be a choice that can be accepted once by any branch of the family.**
(the ** is all I can think of till I find out how to do italics)


It is stated in several places that the Gift of Iluvatar to the Atani cannot be taken back, not even by Manwe, so I was wondering if that might have anything to do with the reason Elros' children weren't given the choice as Elrond's were.

Beyond that, because it says even the Valar do not know exactly where the Atani go after death (aside from it mentioning the possibility of a brief stop over in the Halls of Mandos), is this somehow indicative of the true magnitude of the Gift. There is so much that is hinted at; the joining of the Atani in the Second Music when Arda will be re-made, for example.

I hope I'm not too incoherent . I've not had a lot of sleep the last few days, and now I find I have to be up at 3 AM - again! It's the job, and it's making my husband very unhappy (understatement of the century!)

Wish I could be an Elf for a day or two. How do they sleep like that?

Nessime

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

...apparently Luthien, Tuor (?), Eärendil and Elwing were on a case-by-case basis.

Purely for discussion purposes: do you suppose Dior would have gotten the Choice, had he lived long enough? In "Memories in the Dark" I went on the basis that he had chosen the Eldar, or was assumed to have, so that I could put him in Mandos, but there’s really no evidence either way, AFAIK. What if he hadn’t chosen before his death? Would the Valar assume one or the other doom for him, or would he get a chance to choose while in some sort of limbo after his death?

Nessime: a very simple HTML tag will do the italics. Put an < i > before the segment you want italicised, and an < /i > afterward, minus the spaces. FYI, you can replace the i's with b's for bold or with u's for italics.

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Purely for discussion purposes: do you suppose Dior would have gotten the Choice, had he lived long enough? In "Memories in the Dark" I went on the basis that he had chosen the Eldar, or was assumed to have, so that I could put him in Mandos, but there’s really no evidence either way, AFAIK. What if he hadn’t chosen before his death? Would the Valar assume one or the other doom for him, or would he get a chance to choose while in some sort of limbo after his death?

Potentially wicked nuzûl there. I can see someone (not me, I'm immune to this one) writing an AU fic where Elrond, Arwen, Elladan or Elrohir dies before the choice can be made.

lyllyn

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Nessime: a very simple HTML tag will do the italics. Put an < i > before the segment you want italicised, and an < /i > afterward, minus the spaces. FYI, you can replace the i's with b's for bold or with u's for italics.

-Aerlinnel


If I followed directions properly the above should be in italics. Thanks for extending such grace to one who is trying to become at least semi - computer literate!

-Nessime

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

FYI, you can replace the i's with b's for bold or with u's for italics.

U's for underlining, that is. Maybe I'll think about what I'm typing next time

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Why can Tuor set sail with Idril? He, for all we know, has no elven blood, and that he had an elven wife and he loved elves is no reason for this.

Sothis

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Howdy,

In the Silmarillion, chapter 'Of Tuor and the fall of Gondolin,' page 245, it reads finally -"But in after days it is sung that Tuor alone of mortal Men was numbered among the elder race, and was joined with the Noldor, whom he loved; and his fate is sundered from the fate of Men."
As I understand from other areas of the Sil, Iluvatar alone could have arranged for a mortal man to forsake the gift of death, and be counted among the immortal Firstborn (as it says above, Tuor was the only exception of the sort).
In the case of the Half-elven, Iluvatar bid the Valar to decide, and the Valar bid that the Peredhil decide for themselves. So I surmise that Iluvatar either personally sundered Tuor's fate, or allowed the Valar to do so, or for Tuor to decide for himself, or some such thing. Basically, it looks like Tuor had the favor of Eru (a wonder there isn't more fanfics written about such an important fellow *wink*).

Maybe someone else can offer more, but in the meantime, did this help at all?

---AfterEver, who is off to finish my coffee...



 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

My understanding is Luthien and Tuor were exceptions to the rules because of their importance to Eru's plans.

I got into a terrible fight over this point on the Barrowdowns but I am *not* convinced that Elros' children were not given the Choice as well, (like their cousins). It is likely that all chose to be accounted as Mortal Men, (certainly all the sons did for they left descendants in Numenor) but I cannot see why Elrond's offspring should be offered the choice while Elros' are not.

According to Manwe *all* persons possessing Mortal blood in greater or lesser measure are subject to the Gift of Men *unless* other fate be granted to them as a special favor.

This means that the twins and Arwen were, by nature, just as mortal as their cousins dispite their Elvish Mother. But they were given the grace of choice. And I see no good reason why the same grace should not have been offered to Elros' offspring too.

Even if all did choose to be mortal, (as all Elrond's children may well have done) that doesn't prove they weren't given the chance to choose.

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Even if all did choose to be mortal, (as all Elrond's children may well have done) that doesn't prove they weren't given the chance to choose.

I've never found anything in canon that would counter this viewpoint, which was one reason this subject was raised in the first place. And your reference to the "grace" extended to Elrond's children is precisely the word Tolkien used with Arwen. Remember the great debate the Valar had about Earendil, whether he belonged to mortal kind or to the Eldar by virtue of his Elvish blood? He was deemed to be mortal, but that special grace was granted to him to choose.

This has the makings of a great nuzgul - what if Elros's children had chosen to belong to the Eldar kindred? Ooo!

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

...but I cannot see why Elrond's offspring should be offered the choice while Elros' are not.

This is an interesting discussion. It seems like the first time the Valar addressed the issue of the half-elven still living in MIddle-Earth was after the War of Wrath. At that time Luthien had chosen mortaliy, Dior had died at Doriath, and Earendil and Elwing faced their choice in Valinor. In the Silmarillion it says that humans may pass through the Halls of Mandos, so I supposed that is where Dior may have had to make his choice. Tuor must have made his choice in Valinor as well.

But it leads to the issue of child development. Earendil and Elwing seemed to grow with the speed of the Edain. They had married, given birth to children and been considered Lord of their peoples while still in their early to mid thirties. Since an elf isn't considered a full grown adult until they are 50 years (or perhaps even 100 years) according to LACE in HoME Vol 10 - that means that Earendil and Elwing and their children were aging as mortals would.

So, they face their choice and somehow their fates are adjusted accordingly. Elros is given a span of 500 years to live (I think he was in his 40's when the decision was made) and Elrond's aging is made into that of the Eldar.

This must imply, then, that Elros' children are born into his choice and Elrond's into his. In LOTR Appendix A it says "That so long as I abide here, she shall live the the youth of the Eldar," answered Elrond, "and when I depart, she sahll go with me, if she so chooses."

I think one of the Eldar could change again to the aging process, the doom of the mortal, but can this process be reversed for the mortal? Elros' children would have developed and aged as mortals - could they regress?

Once Elrond left, it seems that his children would begin to age too - it is implied, perhaps, that his presence is needed for them to continue to live in the youth of the Eldar. So if Elladan and Elrohir delayed too long, it seems they might find themselves aging too.

Nuzgul are terrible things; now I suppose this will have to work into my story too.

Nilmandra

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I think one of the Eldar could change again to the aging process, the doom of the mortal, but can this process be reversed for the mortal? Elros' children would have developed and aged as mortals - could they regress?

I wouldn't think so, but I suppose they could simply remain as they are? This is really just a "what if" since in canon they are accounted among mortal kind, but if you were to do an AU story I would imagine anything could happen.

That's the easy part. Trying to figure out if they did or didn't have a choice in Tolkien's mind is not so easy - I can see some valid points for either determination. The door is open for anyone to step through...

This is where the nuzgul become agressive!

~Nessime
*who's not immune, darn it!*

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

We know the Half-Elven *matured* at the normal Mortal rate but this does not necessarily mean they continued to age the way Mortal Men did once they were fully grown. The fact that Dior was accepted as an Elf suggests they did not.

Tolkien writes that Elrond and Elros had the same 'potential for life' whatever that may mean. I would suggest that it means that Half-Elven, though by nature Mortal are also by nature very long lived.

Elros' progeny may have been required to make their choice earlier than Elrond's children, and chosing Elf-kind would probably have meant taking ship to Aman, never to return. One can see why that held little appeal.

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

The fact that Dior was accepted as an Elf suggests they did not.

How do you mean?

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I mean he was Thingol's Heir. Clearly the Elves of Doriath considered him one of their own.

Now that would have been an interesting situation; an Elven kingdom ruled by Mortal Men.....

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Must it have had something to do with his…um…race? This is IMHO, of course, but I would think that he would have been accepted as Thingol’s heir solely on the basis that he *was* Thingol’s only living descendant.

Also, I don’t see that the Peredhil would necessarily have had to identify themselves as one or the other immediately, or as soon as they came to maturity. It seems to me that they would have been able to live in a sort of limbo, considered Half-elven and unique, until they were ready to make their choice.

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I don’t see that the Peredhil would necessarily have had to identify themselves as one or the other immediately

It is probably fortunate for the Valar that there were so few - could be a problem to figure out and keep everyone straight if that was the case. Plus, it doesn't sound like much communication went on between Valinor and Middle-Earth.

After the War of Wrath Elrond and Elros had to choose - Manwe demanded it. It says the choice was only granted to Earendil and Elwing and their sons. There is no hint that they could wait - it says that Earendil and Elwing were summoned to Valmar and the decree given to them. One would guess that Manwe's herald, Eonwe, would give the message to Elrond and Elros while in Middle-Earth, after the Valar had destroyed Morgoth, and they had to choose at that time.

In the Akallabeth it says 'But to Elros, who chose to be a king of Men, still a great span of years was allotted, many times that of men of Middle-Earth; and all his line, the kings and lords of the royal house, had long life even according to the measure of the Numenoreans.'

The ony choice Tolkien ever mentioned after that is to Elrond's children - they would live in the youth of the Eldar until Elrond departed for the west. In Tolkien's letters it says that the twins delayed their choice for a while.......and then we never know what happened.

Of course, in an AU one can write whatever they want and there is much room for exploration!

Nilmandra

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I don’t see that the Peredhil would necessarily have had to identify themselves as one or the other immediately

It is probably fortunate for the Valar that there were so few - could be a problem to figure out and keep everyone straight if that was the case.

lol. I can just see the Valar sitting around discussing the problem:

Damn those peredhil anyway. We really must stop the eldar and edain interbreeding, it's far too stressful to deal with. I don't know, it just takes two to start it and now they're turning up all over the place. Even the secretary left, she couldn't handle all those files in limbo. I mean where do we file people that aren't mortal or immortal? We should have stopped that choice idea Ages ago.


Nic

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

lol. I can just see the Valar sitting around discussing the problem:

Damn those peredhil anyway. We really must stop the eldar and edain interbreeding, it's far too stressful to deal with. I don't know, it just takes two to start it and now they're turning up all over the place. Even the secretary left, she couldn't handle all those files in limbo. I mean where do we file people that aren't mortal or immortal? We should have stopped that choice idea Ages ago.


Oh golly! I can just picture it! I've always maintained that God has a sense of humor, so why wouldn't the Valar?

~Nessime


 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I was just browsing through HoME Vol XII looking for a particular piece of information - and I found this interesting bit in the chapter: 'The Making of Appendix A'.

'At the end of the First Age an irrevocable choice was given to the Half-elven, to which kindred they would belong. Elros chose to be of Mankind, and was granted a great life-span; and he became the first King of Numenor. His descendants were long-lived but mortal. Later when they became powerful they begrudged the choice of their forefather, desiring the immortality within the life of the world that was the fate of the Elves. In this way began their rebellion which, under the evil teachings of Sauron, brought tabout the Downfall of Numenor and the ruin of the ancient world.

Elrond chose to be of Elvenkind, and became a master of wisdom. To him therefore was granted the same grace as to those of the High Elves that still lingered in Middle-Earth: that when weary at last of the mortal lands they could take ship from the Grey Havens and pass into the Uttermost West, notwithstanding the change of the world. But to the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed; to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they wedded with one of Mankind, to become mortal and die in Middle-Earth. For Elrond, therefore, all chances of the War of the Rings were fraught with sorrow.'

Christopher Tolkien annotated the comment about Elrond's children that in the Tale of Years their fate was: 'if Elrond departed they should have then the choice to pass over the Sea with him, or to become mortal, if they remained behind.'

See, the Valar *knew* what a pain it would be to maintain all the records, the appeals process and such.

I had forgotten about the reason for the rebellion for the Numenoreans, too.

Nilmandra

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

'At the end of the First Age an irrevocable choice was given to the Half-elven, to which kindred they would belong. Elros chose to be of Mankind, and was granted a great life-span; and he became the first King of Numenor. His descendants were long-lived but mortal

This still goes back to my original musings - never mind all Elros's decendents. I'm really only wondering about his immediate offspring - Vardamir et al. (I can't think of the names of all of them right now.)

If the choice is supposed to be irrevocable, why do Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen get to choose, and not Vardamir and his siblings? I will accept that once their choices are made that that will be the end of it and their offspring can either like it or lump it!

I can't help but feel that it has something to do with the significance of the Gift of the One to Men, something which I've recently been pondering again at length.

I still think this could make for a great AU fic. But I have enough nuzgul to feed right now, thank you very much!

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I still think this could make for a great AU fic. But I have enough nuzgul to feed right now, thank you very much!

*Nilmandra stealthily opens the door to the Nuzgul hutch and watches as newly born Nuzgul chase Nessime*

as Nessime runs away with Nuzgul biting on her heels.

You know how vicious they can be!

Nilmandra (who is mostly immune to Nuzgul bites )

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

IMO there is no proof that Vardamir, Tindomiel, Manwendil and Atanalcar, (I looked them up in UT) were *not* given the Choice. All Tolkien says in that much quoted letter is that all Elros' descendants were Mortal - which does not preclude the possibility his four children chose to be so.

For that matter I do not consider a letter binding as 'canon'. The Professor himself felt bound only by what had actually been published, (unless he could figure out a way to get around it that is) . The material in the Letters, and HoME too, only indicates what his thinking was at the time he wrote them not necessarily his final opinion on the subject.

The Gift is indeed very important, according to one of the Professor's notes *all* persons with any Mortal blood at all are automatically subject to it in accordance with the Will of Eru Himself. This of course contradicts the suggestion that Celebrian's Elven blood somehow made a renewed choice necessary for her children, (but as I said notes and letters indicate the Professor's evolving conception *not* his final decision and so are often contradictory).

By their nature the Half-Elven were mortal, though probably very long lived and not subject to ordinary aging or disease. Earendil and Elwing were given the choice of which kindred to belong to as a very special favor and dispensation. This same favor was extended to their sons and their grandchildren - all of them.

At least that's what I think, but if you disagree that's fine too.

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

My apologies. I am a little new to this whole forum thing, and I think I misunderstood the thread.

Blessings,
Nilmandra

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Seems to me you've been right on topic, or at least as on-topic as anybody ever is, ;)

IMO the Half-Elven are an important part of Eru's revised plan, said revision being made necessary by the Valar hauling as many Elves who would go off to Aman and letting Morgoth run rampant over Middle Earth inspiring fear and avoidance between the remaining Elves and Men.

Originally Elves and Men were meant to have a close, reciprocal relationship each enriching the other with their unique gifts and insights, the Valar and Morgoth messed this up. Now the two Kindreds are divided and likely to remain so until the End. The Half-Elven, combining as they do the characteristics of both races are meant to bridge the gap. Thus it would be important that some Half-Elven chose immortality among the Elves so as to bring the insights of Men among them.

Immortality does not however seem to have been a popular choice with the Half-Elven. In fact it seems very probable that only three of the eleven offered the Choice opted for Elvendom.

Elwing is said to have chosen to be an Elf in memory of Luthien. Earendil would have preferred to be counted as a Man but chose alike because he would not be parted from her. Elrond's reasons for choosing Elvishness are never mentioned, (possibly a desire to see his parents again).

Elros chose to be Mortal and his children, (assuming they had a choice) did likewise. There is also good reason to believe that all three of Elrond's children eventually chose Mortality, dispite being three quarters Elf and raised as Elves.

Maybe being an Elf isn't as great as some people think?

But what about Half-Elven *not* offered the choice, like Dior and his sons Elured and Elurin? Since all with mortal blood share the Fate of Men then Dior must have passed beyond the Circles of the World when he was killed. As would Elured and Elurin, if they did die.

Assuming they didn't what then? The only hint is Tolkien's note that Elrond and Elros had the same 'potential for life'. I would suggest this means both had the unending youth and immunity to disease of the Eldar *but* should they be killed, or chose to die as Elros did, they pass out of the World as Men do.

If this is the case then Elured and Elurin would, like their great niece and nephews, have the life of the Eldar until they were either killed or grew weary of the world and chose to die, (however long that took).

In Elros' case it took about five hundred years, but he was living among Men and grief over the loss of friends, wife, even children and grandchildren, would have hastened his 'world weariness'. A Half-Elf living among Elves as one of them might hang on much longer.

If Elured and Elurin lived and had children those children too would be mortal by nature, even if their mothers were Elves. Ditto for grandchildren, great - grandchildren....

Hmmmm....I begin to see why Tolkien found it expedient to kill those two boys off!

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Maybe being an Elf isn't as great as some people think?

Oh boy! I can see this one setting off some great debates in certain quarters!

I tend to agree with your conclusion that Elladan and Elrohir utimately choose mortality. This whole question is actually one of the Challenges. See "A Peredhil's Fate" *hint hint*

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Seems to me you've been right on topic, or at least as on-topic as anybody ever is

*Nilmandra blushes* I never meant to imply you were wrong or I disagreed with you. I blame it on my science degree - it has warped how I approach such things. At some of the list groups I belong to, some of the folks asking questions like this are looking for anything Tolkien said on the matter. I have most everythng he wrote, and I like research, so I write down the passages that seem relevant and let the writer decide. There are wonderful stories based on speculation, reading between the lines, looking at what wasn't said or the creation of an AU setting. That is all I meant. As a matter of course I am non-offensive.

Maybe being an Elf isn't as great as some people think?

I think this observation is spot-on. Of course, all the half-elven lived originally in Middle-Earth and the elves there lived under the Doom of the Noldor. If I try to limit my perspective to the First Age - I would also ask - why would I want to be an elf? They kill each other, fight with each other, grow weary, live under a curse......and if you take the thought process of choice to say, Elros' children - the lives of the elves at the begining of the second age weren't that great either, as compared to men. Numenor is where the power was. Men are who had the unique gifts.

I wonder how Elrond and Elros did make their decision. When Eonwe (as herald to Manwe, if that is who brought word to them) presented their choice to them, did the message contain a promise of what the choice would bring? Mortality would bring also Kingship and great power and wealth? A continuing line of descendents to carry on the name? If they chose to be of Elf-kind, were they promised wisdom, to help shape Middle-Earth into the future? Did they speak to each other about their choices, help each other decide? How much time did they have? How much information were they given by the Valar to help make the choice - did they understand the consequences/benefits?

See, this Nuzgul has already bitten me. It happens in a few chapters.

Blessings,
Nilmandra

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Nilmandra I assure you I took your comments as intended, I'm sorry if my response sounded defensive or offended.

That would be quite a story, twin brothers choosing fates that will mean they'll be parted until the End of the World. Why would they do that? There must have been powerful reasons for both making the choice he did. And that must have been one painful good-bye when Elros sailed for Numenor leaving Elrond behind to learn how to be an Elf.

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I once read a very inspiring essay about the coices of the Half-elven, but I can't for the life of me remember where it was and who wrote it. It basically said that the half-elven (excluding Eärendil) were given the choice because of ther Maia foremother Melian. The theory was that as the maiar blood got diluted very quickly in mortals, Elros' children did not get a choice. But since elves are "higher" beings, the children of Elrond do get a choice. Arwen chose mortality, but there are no records refering to the choices of Elladan and Elrohir. Maybe they also chose different fates, like Elros and Elrond (ouch, get off me, stupid nuzgul, I have enough of you nibbling my ankles at this time!)

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

The Maiar blood is still functioning as late as Aragorn's generation, (of course there has been a great deal of inbreeding) as his power to heal wounds inflicted by the Enemy is apparently unique to the Children of Luthien - Elrond shares it but not Glorfindel, powerful High Elven Prince that he is.

And Elves are *not* 'higher' beings. They are beautiful and immortal and have great gifts of artistic creativity *but* they are also bound to Arda and limited by Fate.

Men on the other hand are *not* of Middle Earth but visitors therein for a brief time before returning again to Eru. Because of this they are not only free from the bonds of Fate but have the power to change fate and create new themes to the Music. Unlike the Elves they can contend with, and even defeat, the semi-divine Valar and undo the marring of Morgoth - if they choose to use their gifts in that way.

If you ask me *Men* are the 'Higher Beings' !

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

While reading through this threat, I formulated a question: Were the children of Mithrelas and Imrazor (the forefathers of the Lords of Dol Amroth) given The Choice, too? For some reason, I think that The Choice was granted on behalf of the Maian blood of Melian, at least originally

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Pardon me, I have one brief question that sort of branches off from this whole discussion of 'The Choice'. How exactly does this 'choice' come about, er I mean how exactly how do they go about choosing, er Im not making myself clear. Are peredhil like, visited in a dream or vision or something? Or how exactly does this occur? ~VG (terribly sorry to have come in and completely ((or mostly)) changed the subject)

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

Were the children of Mithrelas and Imrazor (the forefathers of the Lords of Dol Amroth) given The Choice, too? I have seen nothing in HoME or anywhere else that indicated that Galador or the other Princes of Dol Amroth had any Choice... - Barbara

 

 

Re: Choices of the Half-Elven

I wonder how Elrond and Elros did make their decision. When Eonwe (as herald to Manwe, if that is who brought word to them) presented their choice to them, did the message contain a promise of what the choice would bring? I was truly wondering the same thing, too, Nilmandra. I can't wait to find out in History Lessons... - Barbara P.S. Glad to see you hanging out with the HoMEies, so to speak...

 

 

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