In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, some of the Men of the First Age were counted the Wise. They possessed a great knowledge of lore and traditions of their people, especially concerning their ancient days.
|“||Men call them 'Wise', but heed them little. For they do not speak with assurance or with one voice, having no sure knowledge such as ye [Elves] boast of, but perforce depending upon 'lore', from which truth (if it can be found) must be winnowned.||”|
But the Wise mostly kept their knowledge secret and passed it only to those whom they chose. Some of them were women, and many remained unwed. Among the Wise are known:
- Bëor the Old (Y.S. 262-355), leader of the First House of the Edain during their journey to Beleriand. Shared a great part of his knowledge with the Elven-lord Finrod Felagund.
- Belemir (born 339), his great-grandson, to whom the wisdom of Bëor was chiefly transmitted.
- Adanel (born 339), granddaughter of Marach and sister of Magor.
- Andreth (361-455?), great-great-granddaughter of Bëor. Also called Saelind ('Wise-Heart') by the Elves, for she was "wise in thought and learned in the lore of Men and their histories".
Belemir married Adanel and was father of five children, of whom the last was Beren, grandfather of his great namesake Beren Erchamion. By this marriage the much differing lore and traditions of the two Houses were brought together. The Wise of the People of Marach were the only Men to preserve the tale of their original sin, when, soon after their awakening, the Men chose to worship Melkor instead of Eru Ilúvatar and in the result their lifespan was shortened.
Andreth in her youth dwelt long in the house of Belemir, of whom she was a second cousin once removed, and thus learned the much differing traditions of the two Houses. She had a close friendship with the Elven-lord Finrod Felagund, called 'Friend of Men', who often visited her during the Siege of Angband to converse on the matters of Elves and Men, as Andreth was the least unwilling of the Wise to speak of this. One such conversation was written down and later known as Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, 'Converse of Finrod and Andreth'. In historical records of Númenor it was often preserved together with the Tale of Adanel, in which she recounted to Finrod the story of the Fall of Men. According to some traditions, Andreth is also credited with the prophecy of the return of Túrin Turambar at the end of the First Age; this depends on variant forms of his fate.
Andreth was deeply in love with the Elf Aegnor, son of Finarfin, after they first met "in the morning upon the high hills of Dorthonion" and later again by the Tarn Aeluin, in which Aegnor saw Andreth's face "mirrored with a star caught in [her] hair". The love was returned but never fulfilled, since Aegnor departed from motives of wisdom: he did not trust the peace of the Siege of Angband and felt the approaching of his death; thus they both remained unwed and childless. Aegnor was slain when Morgoth broke the Siege in the Dagor Bragollach, and Tolkien wrote that "it is probable, though nowhere stated, that Andreth perished herself at this time".
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1993), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, pp. 303-360, ISBN 0-395-68092-1 Citations from pp. 308, 325-7, 336.
- The dates are taken from The new genealogies of the Edain. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 229-235, ISBN 0-395-71041-3
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 372-3, ISBN 0-395-82760-4