we'll disagree on this one.
the only person that would be more powerful in the 3rd age than the 1st would indeed be Galadriel, but she didn't do much to help in the War of the Ring in comparison to Gandalf, the hobbits, or even Elrond. so fie for all the power she had.
The 'Diminishing of the Elves' is a comment about their society, not their individual prowess.
exactly; since the Elves were leaving Middle Earth in droves there wasn't much of an Eldar society in Middle Earth. it was in Valinor. the Elves could have been more powerful Valinor, but we don't know that.
and how many Elves were there by the 3rd Age? i can think of four major Eldar enclaves: Cirdain the Shipwright's, Galadrial's, Elrond's, and the realm of Legolas' father.
to me that points a diminishing in society and a population, and thus power. considering that at one point the Elves were the only race on Middle Earth, and far more advanced than Men. yeah, individuals may have been powerful, but not as race.
IMHO, the idea that 3rd Age Middle Earthers as opposed to 1st/2nd Age Middle Earthers comes from the scope of things that happened within the story of Middle Earth, from the Silmarillion to the Return of the King.
meaning that someone(s) who fights amies of dragons, Balrogs, and has the balls to fight a Vala comes across as more powerful than someone who fights a tribe of Orcs. yeah, the logic is skewed, but there it is, and that why (again, IMO) that 3rd Age Middle Earthers appear
It may well be that the companies of dragons and Balrogs would have been scaled back somewhat
but they weren't. and it's because of this that the view of weaker 3rd Agers will persist whether what you said is true or not.
The lessening of the lifespan was due to them being further from Valinor, and therefore at the time of the Edain in Beleriand (when they were pretty much the same distance from Valinor), they'd have had the same lifespan as other men
i'll take you word on this, but i've never found it in my reading but it has been a while. i thought that the Numenoreans were rewarded with an island and extended life for their support in the wars of Beleriand.
and i always thought that Elendil was longed lived because he chose a mortal life, as opposed Earendil who chose an eternal life.
or am i mixing those guys with someone else?
there's no evidence for the view that people were less powerful in the Third than in the Second or First Ages
no, but i think the lack of evidence leads to that conclusion. i can't think of many displays of power in the War of the Ring that equal the displays of power in the Silmarillion.
the one person that i thought was way powerful Tom Bombadil, since the Ring had no effect on him whatsoever.
EDIT: in hindsight, having thought about it some more, whether or not Tolkien meant to or not, i think that the War of the Ring is meant to be a story of hope of Mankind for itself.
i've always been asked, 'if Gandalf was so powerful, why didn't he just beat up Sauron and throw the Ring in the volcano himself.' aside from the explanation that Gandalf gives, i think that part of the story has to do with Mankind rescuing itself without the help of gods (Valar) or riding the coat tails of the Elves or Dwarves.
perhaps the Elves (at least) seemed to be less powerful because they no longer had no interest in Middle Earth. after being around the 1st and 2nd Ages of Middle Earth (a really long time), that would make sense to me.
It's possible that Illuvatar wants Mankind to stand on its own, and realize it's own potential.
and i'm not trying to convince you, Red Orc, or any one of any thing, that's simiply what i concluded after reading Tolkien.