In Tolkien’s universe, the elves are the first to walk in Middle-earth. They are divided into two types: Eldar and Avari. This corresponds to the descriptions in Norse mythology of the two worlds Alfheim and Svartalfheim – the realms of the light elves and the dark elves. Yet there is a difference. Norse mythology has up to nine different worlds, but Tolkien only has two – the worlds of the people and the gods. They, on the other hand, contain elements of many different myths.
Tolkien’s account of creation, which is described in Silmarillion, is linked to legends and religions from all over the western world. There are Greek, Roman and Christian origin myths all mixed together. A great many of the elven kings and queens described in Tolkien’s work have parallels in this cosmos.
They are just one of several “races” – humans, dwarves, orcs, hobbits – that inhabit Middle-earth. Tolkien has been accused of racism. Modern ideas of races linked by common blood and language delimited by the national state boundaries are relatively new. In the Middle Ages, they had ideas about people – gens, natio, populus were the Latin names – who were bound together by social communities, geographical boundaries, cultural norms and ethnicity. It was also linked to an idea of the characteristics of these people, but it was very different to the modern conception.