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    On Balrogs



    A treatise by Alcarináro
    Elenhir










    The Nature and Number
    of Balrogs



    Before The Lord of
    the Rings



    Wherefore
    each embassy came in far greater force than they had sworn, but Morgoth brought
    the greater, and they were Balrogs.

    -HoME IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, The
    Quenta, §8




    The earliest of
    Tolkien’s writings have Balrogs existing in great numbers. Balrogs in
    ‘hundreds’ ride atop dragons (HoME II,
    The Fall of Gondolin
    ), numbered at a ‘thousand ’ they appear among the reinforcements Morgoth sends to the
    Battle of Unnumbered Tears (HoME IV, The
    Earliest Annals of Beleriand
    & HoME
    V, The Later Annals of Beleriand
    & HoME
    V, Quenta Silmarillion
    ), and ‘a host of Balrogs’ were at Sauron’s disposal
    when he conquered Minnastirith (HoME V,
    Quenta Silmarillion, §143
    ).



    However, it is
    important to note that Balrogs were not conceived of, during this time, as
    being Maiar (which I am assuming is basic knowledge one would have prior to
    reading this work).



    Morgoth
    flies from Valinor with the Silmarils, the magic gems of Fëanor, and returns
    into the Northern World and rebuilds his fortress of Angband beneath the Black Mountain,
    Thangorodrim. He devises the Balrogs and the Orcs.

    -HoME
    IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, The Earliest Annals of Beleriand




    Other writings of this
    particular passage state that Morgoth gathers
    the Balrogs or his demons, demonic broods, etc. But the idea shown here is that
    Morgoth actually creates the Balrogs in this pre-LotR conception, like he does
    with Orcs and dragons and most of his servants, because at this time Tolkien
    had not yet decided that Morgoth was incapable of creating life. The fact that
    other versions of this quote, even from the directly preceding Earliest Annals of Valinor claim that it
    was at this time that Morgoth ‘bred and gathered’ the Balrogs no doubt means
    that the time where he devised them was in some far distant past, which is made
    very clear in the next incarnation of the Silmarillion tales, where he is said
    to have made them prior to the awakening of the Elves.



    These
    were the first made of his creatures: their hearts were of fire, and they had
    whips of flame. The Gnomes in later days named them Balrogs.

    -HoME V: The Lost Road and Other Writings,
    The Quenta Silmarillion, Ch. 3(a)




    Balrogs are, at this
    time, in numbers well over a thousand, and are a race of demons created long
    ago by Morgoth.







    During the Lord of
    the Rings



    The
    Balrogs were destroyed, save for some few that fled and hid themselves in
    caverns inaccessible at the roots of the earth.

    -HoME V: The Lost Road and Other Writings,
    The Quenta Silmarillion, Conclusion




    Prior to the Quenta Silmarillion, other draftings
    held that all the Balrogs, unconditionally, were destroyed in the final battle
    and overthrow of Morgoth. This change opens the possibility for this evil to
    recur in The Lord of the Rings.



    But
    under the foundations of the hills things long buried were waked at last from
    sleep, as the world darkened, and days of dread and evil came. Long ago the
    dwarves fled Moria and forsook there wealth uncounted; and my folk wandered
    over the earth until far in the North they made new homes.

    -HoME
    VII: The Treason of Isengard, The Council of Elrond (2)




    They
    roused from sleep<sup>2</sup> a thing of terror that, flying from Thangorodrim,
    had lain hidden at the foundations of the earth since the coming of the Host of
    the West: a Balrog of Morgoth.

    -The Return of the King, Appendix A, Durin’s Folk



    This addition to the
    matters presented in the Council of Elrond was written in the Fourth Phase of
    the creation of The Lord of the Rings. The Third Phase ended at Balin’s Tomb in
    Moria, with a note following that, among other things, planned the
    confrontation between Gandalf and a Balrog. The implication, therefore, is that
    these ‘things long buried’ were Balrogs, there being more than one of them in
    Moria (or beneath it).



    However, by the time
    The Lord of the Rings is published, this information has been removed to the
    Appendices, stated more clearly as referring to the Balrog, and most
    importantly it has been made singular. There is no longer reason to believe
    that there are many Balrogs beneath the Misty Mountains, which means that there
    is reason to believe that there were fewer Balrogs that survived past the First
    Age.



    ‘A Balrog!’ said Keleborn. ‘Not since the
    Elder Days have I heard that a Balrog was loose upon the world. Some we have
    thought are perhaps hidden in Mordor [?or] near the Mountain of Fire, but
    naught has been seen of them since the Great Battle and the fall of
    Thangorodrim. I doubt much if this Balrog has lain hid in the Misty Mountains
    – and I fear rather that he was sent by Sauron from Orodruin, the Mountain of Fire.’

    ‘None know,’ said Galadriel, ‘what may lie
    hid at the roots of the ancient hills. The dwarves had re-entered Moria and
    were searching again in dark places, and they may have stirred some evil.’

    -HoME
    VII: The Treason of Isengard, Galadriel




    ‘A Balrog!’ said Keleborn. ‘Your news
    becomes ever more grievous. Not since the Days of Flight have I heard that one
    of those fell things was loose. That one slept beneath Caradras we feared. The
    Dwarves have never told me the tale of those days, yet we believed that it was
    a Balrog that they aroused long ago when they probed too deep beneath the
    mountains.’

    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard,
    Galadriel




    ‘Alas!’ said Celeborn. ‘We long have feared
    that under Caradhras a terror slept. But had I known that the Dwarves had
    stirred up this evil in Moria again, I would have forbidden you to pass the
    northern borders, you and all that went with you.

    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mirror
    of Galadriel




    Of greater indication
    to Balrog numbers in the making of The Lord of the Rings is when Celeborn and
    Galadriel are told of the loss of Gandalf in Moria. In the earliest draft, we
    see clearly that Keleborn [Celeborn] clearly believes there to be more than one
    Balrog in Middle-earth, and even that Sauron has them at his disposal. In the
    next draft, there is no more mention of Sauron’s involvement, nor of the
    possibility of multiple Balrogs.

    But in the published
    text, we lose all mention of previous knowledge or supposition of the presence
    of a Balrog in Moria. Celeborn and Galadriel know there is something there, but
    like everyone else in The Lord of the Rings, they do not know exactly what it
    is until after Gandalf has fallen. This is important because it allows for the
    idea that not all the Balrogs were destroyed in the First Age, but that they
    were all believed to have been
    destroyed in the First Age.







    After The Lord of the
    Rings





    But Melkor dwelt in Utumno, and he
    slept not, but watched, and laboured; and the evil things that he had perverted
    walked abroad, and the dark and slumbering woods were haunted by monsters and
    shapes of dread. And in Utumno he wrought the race of demons whom the Elves
    after named the Balrogs.

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Annals of Aman, §
    30



    For the Orkor had life and
    multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar; and naught that had
    life of its own, nor the semblance thereof, could ever Melkor make since his
    rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning: so say the wise.

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Annals of Aman, §45




    Initially, we see that Balrogs are still considered to be created by
    Melkor, a race of demons. They certainly still in exist in large
    numbers. But soon, Tolkien introduces the concept that Melkor is incapable of
    producing life. This contradicts the origin of the Balrogs (and, for that
    matter, the vast majority of Melkor’s servants). Some other origin must be
    devised.



    With these great powers came many
    other spirits of the same kind, begotten in the thought of Eru before the
    making of Ea, but having less might and authority. These are the Maiar, the
    people of the Valar; they are beautiful, but their number is not known and few
    have names among Elves or Men.

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Ainulindalë, §4 revision




    Tolkien had recently introduced the concept of Maiar, a less powerful
    group of spirits with the same origins as the Valar. Many classifications from
    older writings become Maiar, including fays (Melian), Children of the Valar
    (Fionwe/Eonwe), and even some former Valar (Osse).



    And in Utumno he multiplied the
    race of the evil spirits that followed him, the Umaiar, of whom the chief were
    those demons whom the Elves afterwards named the Balrogath. But they did not
    yet come forth from the gates of Utumno because of their fear of Orome.

    -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Annals of
    Aman, §30 of abandoned typescript




    So the Balrogs, and
    other unnamed servants of Melkor, are as well transitioned into being Maiar.



    ‘For he was alone, without friend
    or companion, and he had as yet but small following; since of those that had
    attuned their music to his in the beginning not all had been willing to go down
    with him into the World, and few that had come would yet endure his servitude.’

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Ainulindalë, §24
    <br style="">
    <br style="">


    ‘These were the (ëalar) spirits who first adhered to him
    in the days of his splendour, and became most like him in his corruption: their
    hearts were of fire, but they were cloaked in darkness, and terror went before
    them; they had whips of flame. Balrogs they were named by the Noldor in later
    days.’

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion (I) The First Phase, §18 commentary




    The Balrogs, now stated to have been Maiar, are said to be those who
    started to follow him during his splendor, before his corruption. They must be,
    therefore, have been (or been among those who were) his ‘but small following’.
    This means that initially they could not have been hundreds, or thousands, or a
    host. However, it seems likely that at this stage, Tolkien may have still
    envisioned Balrogs as growing in number through the ages. This was not to last.



    ('a host of Balrogs, the last of
    his servants that remained’) 'his Balrogs, the last of his servants that
    remained faithful to him'. In the margin my father wrote: 'There should not be
    supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed.'

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Annals of Aman, §50




    If seven if the absolute maximum that Tolkien sets for Balrogs in this
    final late conception, then it become clear that Melkor could no longer cause
    them to multiply. They would have been fixed at a mere handful. Whether one
    accepts this marginal note as strict truth of numbers, the intent behind it
    remains; Balrogs are powerful spirits from beyond the World and before Time.
    They are very few in number, and they are always very few in number.



    But then, what of Durin’s Bane and the idea that the ‘Balrogs were
    destroyed, save for some few’?



    The Balrog is a survivor from the Silmarillion
    and the legends of the First Age. So is Shelob. The Balrogs, of
    whom the whips were the chief weapons, were primeval spirits of destroying
    fire, chief servants of the primeval Dark Power of the First Age. They were
    supposed to have been all destroyed in the overthrow of Thangorodrim,
    his fortress in the North. But here it is found (there is usually a hang-over
    especially of evil from one age to another) that one had escaped and taken
    refuge under the mountains of Hithaeglin (the Misty Mountains).
    It is observable that only the Elf knows what the thing is – and doubtless
    Gandalf.

    -Letter 144



    If there are very few Balrogs, and they were all
    supposed to have been destroyed, it does not make sense that ‘some few’ would
    manage to escape. Tolkien, in this letter, has firmly come to the conclusion
    that there was only one Balrog that fled and hid beneath the Misty Mountains.
    It is noteworthy that the Balrog is compared to Shelob, who is stated to be the
    ‘last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world’ (The Two Towers, Shelob’s
    Lair
    ). It seems most likely, therefore, that the Balrog of Moria was the
    last of the Balrogs











    On Balrogs
    and Purpose



    Balrogs
    had three roles as servants of Morgoth.

    Firstly,
    they were his most powerful servants. Even in their earliest conceptions, when
    they were weaker and more numerous, they are stated outright as the most
    powerful. This idea persists, and is stated again in The Lord of the Rings.



    Now
    those drakes and worms are the evillest creatures that Melko has made, and the
    most uncouth, yet of all are they the most powerful, save it be the Balrogs
    only.

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, Turambar
    and the Foalókë




    ‘It was a Balrog of Morgoth,’ said Legolas;
    ‘of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.’

    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mirror
    of Galadriel




    Secondly,
    they served as captains for his forces. Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs, remained
    the leader of Morgoth’s hosts throughout all versions of the tales.



    Now
    these had sustained a terrible conflict in the Great Market to the east of the
    City, where a force of Orcs led by Balrogs came on them at unawares as they
    marched by a circuitous way to the fight about the gate.

    -HoME II: The Book of Lost Tales II, The
    Fall of Gondolin




    the
    Orcs went forth to rape and war,

    and
    Balrog captains marched before.

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand, The Lay
    of Leithian




    Along
    that narrow way their march was strung, when it was ambushed by an outpost of
    Morgoth’s power; and a Balrog was their leader.

    -HoME IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth,
    The Quenta, §16




    But
    now Gothmog lord of Balrogs, captain of the hosts of Melko, took counsel and
    gathered all his things of iron that could coil themselves and above all of the
    obstacles before them.

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall
    of Gondolin




    Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs,
    high-captain of Angband, was come

    -The Silmarillion, Of The Fifth Battle



    Finally, at least in
    the versions written before Tolkien embarked upon The Lord of the Rings,
    Balrogs served as Morgoth’s torturers. There are seven mentions of Balrogs
    torturing or having tortured in The Lay of the Children of Húrin alone.



    Then
    was Melko yet more wroth, saying: “Here we have a plotter of deep treacheries
    against Melko’s lordship, and one worthy of the tortures of the Balrogs”

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, The Tale of
    Tinúviel




    long
    years he laboured

    under lashes and flails

    of the baleful Balrogs,

    abiding his time.

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand,
    The Lay of the Children of Húrin




    The Hammer of Wrath of
    Gondolin were said in BoLT to be largely Noldor who had escaped thralldom of
    Morgoth and had special hatred for the Balrogs more than the other creatures of
    Morgoth. This association with torture is likely the reason Balrogs have, from
    the very first conception, whips. And these whips remained with them throughout
    all revisions, so it is quite possible that they were still, in the last
    writings, still associated with torture.











    On
    the Height of Balrogs



    In The Lord of the Rings, when the Balrog of Moria is first seen and recognized,
    we are told the following about it.



    What it was could not be seen: it
    was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape
    maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and go before it.


    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bridge of Khazad-dum




    Personal
    opinions as to the meaning of that passage has produced opinions as ranging
    from the size of a human to the size of a house. But what is within reason? Let
    us view the evolution of Balrog height from Tolkien’s texts themselves. The
    first account of Balrogs can be now found in the Fall of Gondolin in the second
    volume of The Book of Lost Tales.



    Then Glorfindel’s left hand sought a dirk, and this he
    thrust up that it pierced the Balrog’s belly nigh his own face (for that demon
    was double his stature); and it shrieked, and fell backwards from the rock, and
    falling clutched Glorfindel’s yellow locks beneath his cap, and those twain
    fell into the abyss.

    -HoME
    II: The Books of Lost Tales II, The Fall of Gondolin<br style="">
    <br style="">


    Thus, as of 1916-7, we
    know that Tolkien had Balrogs of somewhere between twelve and fourteen feet
    tall (assuming Glorfindel was between six and seven feet tall). We also know that this view persisted until
    the time of the writing of The Lord of the Rings. For Tolkien in the Quenta references the aforementioned
    writing, showing that his conception of matters, including Balrogs, is
    unchanged.



    Of the deeds of desperate valour done there, by the
    chieftains of the noble houses and their warriors, and not least by Tuor, is
    much told in The Fall of Gondolin; of the death of Rog without the
    walls; and of the battle of Ecthelion of the Fountain with Gothmog lord of
    Balrogs in the very square of the king, where each slew the other; and of the
    defense of the tower of Turgon by the men of his household, until the tower was
    overthrown; and mighty was its fall and the fall of Turgon in its ruin.


    -HoME IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, The Quenta, §16




    Chronologically, the
    next instance we have of any indication of Balrog stature is in the first
    drafting of the confrontation between Durin’s Bane and Gandalf in Khazad-dûm,
    where we are told:



    A figure strode to the fissure, no
    more than man-high and yet terror seemed to go before it.

    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The
    Bridge, Draft 'A'




    Since
    Glorfindel was not a Dwarf, this is a sudden and rather startling change.
    Balrogs, in one sentence, are now half as tall as before. Now, since this is
    still at a time when Tolkien conceived of Balrogs as a race of many thousands,
    it would make no sense for some members of the race to be twice as tall as
    others, so this idea cannot be written off as merely being a different, smaller
    Balrog than the one Glorfindel fought in BoLT.



    But Tolkien soon changed the height, a bit more with every draft of the
    encounter, and also with a note following Draft ‘A’ that allows us to
    understand the context of all the changes.



    Alter description of Balrog. It
    seemed to be of man’s shape, but its form could not be plainly discerned. It felt
    larger than it looked.


    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The Bridge, note following Draft 'A'
    <br style="">
    <br style="">


    of man-shape maybe, and not much
    larger


    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The Bridge, Draft 'B'




    and not much greater


    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The Bridge, Draft 'C'




    The note tells us that the Balrog cannot be seen clearly (due to the shadow
    about it that was introduced in Draft ‘B’), but that its presence was more than
    its substance. Through the note following Draft ‘A’, it is seen that the
    ‘maybe’ of Draft ‘B’ is due to the obscuring nature of the shadow, and that the
    Balrog does indeed still have a man-shape. ‘Man-shape’ has also replaced
    ‘man-high’ though because it is ‘not much larger’ we know that shape still encompasses height, so the Balrog is still
    essentially ‘man-high’.

    Now we
    have a Balrog that is not much larger than man-high, but that appears larger
    than it is. In Draft ‘C’, ‘larger’ becomes ‘greater’, but there is no reason to
    believe that the idea that this ‘greater’ is somewhat due perception has
    changed.



    This brings us back to the account in the Lord of the Rings. The difference
    from ‘C’ to the published text is that it is, instead of ‘not much greater’,
    ‘yet greater’. It should not be clear that the word ‘greater’ implies little to
    nothing as to the Balrog’s actual height, but primarily concerns the feel of
    the Balrog and its aura of darkness. Thus, we arrive with a Balrog of about
    man-high (6’4” by Numenorean measurements) and perhaps a few inches larger, but
    certainly no more than that.



    The fire in it seemed to die,
    but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly
    it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to
    wall.

    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm



    In the wavering firelight Gandalf
    seemed suddenly to grow: he rose up, a great menacing shape like the monument
    of some ancient king of stone set upon a hill.

    -The Fellowship of the Ring, A Journey in the Dark<br style="">
    <br style="">


    The idea that the Balrog could become ‘a
    great height’ has often been used as evidence that Balrogs are, in fact, quite
    large. But it was illusion. Just as Gandalf demonstrates, while fighting the
    wolves that attacked the party on the western side of the Misty Mountains, the
    Balrog appears to be greater than it is. It is worth noting that the
    ‘darkness’, the aura of shadow, increases as the Balrog appears to become
    larger, as it was introduced in the same drafting that begat the idea that the
    Balrog ‘felt larger than it looked’.
    There is, therefore, no reason to believe that the Balrog gained height, unless
    one believes Gandalf did as well. And so Balrogs remain at the previously
    stated stature, somewhere around or just shy of six and a half feet tall.











    The
    Form of Balrogs<br style="">
    <br style="">


    Demonic
    Attributes



    Both
    the word ‘Balrog’ and the Quenya equivalent ‘Valarauko’ are translated as
    meaning ‘Demon of Might’ Earlier translations of the word ‘Balrog’ were ‘demon
    of power’ and ‘demon of terror’. Balrogs are also frequently referred to,
    especially in the earlier years of Tolkien’s writings, as ‘demons’, or the word
    ‘demon’ is used to refer to them. This has led many to believe that Balrogs
    have horns, tails, cloven feet, and other attributes commonly associated with
    the imagery of the popularized Christian demon.



    But
    this is false. Tolkien used many pre-existing words to describe the creatures
    with which he populated his world. Those things he gave these names to were
    seldom physically similar to what held the names before. Tolkien’s Elves, for
    instance, are not the same as the traditional fay-folk who were first called
    Elves, though the current use of the word in the fantasy genre helps to mask
    any earlier dissimilarity. The Noldor are also named Gnomes, yet have
    absolutely no relation to the earlier ‘earth-dwelling’ variety (Letter 239). There is also a note, found on all three
    pages of notes discussed by Christopher Tolkien in the chapter Notes on Various Topics of HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, that
    states ‘Wizards = Angels’. This refers, of course, to their nature of being
    sent by the ‘gods’. No one believes that, because of this statement, the Istari
    float around in all white with wings and halos and the occasional flaming
    sword.



    Likewise,
    the Balrog association with the word ‘demon’ is more general and symbolic. They
    are extremely powerful servants of the originator of evil, Melkor. Melkor’s
    domain, one should note, is frequently referred to as ‘hell’ and, like the word
    ‘Balrog’, is even translated in such a sense; Angband is literally ‘Hells of
    Iron’.



    But,
    if that itself is not enough evidence, one final line of reasoning may be
    exhausted. The term ‘demon’ is not specifically used to refer to Balrogs.



    From shape to shape, from wolf to
    worm,

    from monster to his own demon form,

    Thû changes, but that desperate
    grip

    he cannot shake, nor from it slip.

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand, The Lay of
    Leithian, 2762-2765




    Fierce hunter-haunted packs he had

    that in wolvish form and flesh were
    clad,

    but demon spirits dire did hold;

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand, The Lay of
    Leithian, 3688-3690




    Melkor had corrupted many spirits —
    some great, as Sauron, or less so, as Balrogs. The least could have been
    primitive (and much more powerful and perilous) Orcs; […] unable to return to spirit-state (even demon-form), until released
    by death (killing), and they would dwindle in force.

    -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, Myths Transformed,
    VIII




    The
    first quote tells us that Thû, the precursor of Sauron, had, as his natural state, ‘demon form’. The second
    quote tells us that Morgoth’s werewolves were demon spirits. And the third
    quote seems to imply that any evil spirit taking on a form that was not the
    form of something else was in demon-form. Therefore, it seems very clear that
    demon refers both to an evil spirit and to any original form an evil spirit
    takes.

    Thus
    it is shown that Tolkien did not refer to Balrogs as ‘demons’ in a manner
    reflecting physical attributes. So we have no reason to portray them with
    stereotypically ‘demonic’ features that they are not mentioned otherwise as having.
    Therefore, since there is never mention of horn, nor hooves, nor tails, Balrogs
    do not have these characteristics.







    Fire
    and Shadow



    ‘An evil of the Ancient World it
    seemed, such as I have never seen before,’ said Aragorn. ‘It was both a shadow
    and a flame, strong and terrible.’

    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mirror of
    Galadriel




    The
    primary characteristics of the Balrog, as visible in The Lord of the Rings, are
    the fire and darkness that surround it. Balrogs had, since their inception,
    been associated with fire. In the first writings they are seen wielding whips
    of flame, shooting arrows made of fire, and riding atop dragons made of flame
    in whose presence ‘iron and stone melted’ (HoME
    II: The Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall of Gondolin
    ). Balrogs go to war
    ‘like fire’ (HoME IV: The Shaping of
    Middle-earth, The Quenta, §11
    ).
    Balrogs’ ‘hearts were of fire’ (HoME V:
    The Lost Road, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 3(a)
    ).



    When
    Tolkien modified Balrogs in the process of writing The Lord of the Rings,
    height was not the only change. While in Draft ‘A’ of The Bridge, fire imagery is heavy with the Balrog, in Draft ‘B’,
    the element of shadow is introduced. Focus on the fire of the Balrog fades as
    focus on the shadow grows, until the text that appears in The Fellowship of the Ring, where mention of fire only appears in
    conjunction with mention of shadow, or in the words of another character
    (namely, Gandalf), or as something distinct from the Balrog itself (the
    Balrog’s sword and the fire-filled chasm). Shadow, on the other hand, is
    mentioned frequently by itself, and also referred to as ‘cloud’, ‘darkness’,
    and ‘gloom’.



    Ultimately,
    Tolkien describes Balrogs thus:



    their hearts were of fire, but they
    were cloaked in darkness, and terror went before them; they had whips of flame.


    -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, (I) The First
    Phase, §18








    Differentiating
    Details<br style="">
    <br style="">


    The
    form of the Balrog, so far, is described as of humanoid shape, taller than most
    Elves and Men, and wreathed in shadow and in flame. There, however, are more
    details given than that. Most of the following quotes are quite clear by
    themselves, so this section has little accompanying text.





    They
    could see the furnace-fire of its yellow eyes from afar; its arms were very
    long; it had a red [?tongue].

    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The
    Bridge, Draft ‘A’




    Durin’s
    Bane had yellow eyes. This may or may not mean that all Balrogs had yellow
    eyes, but the colour is specifically chosen to be associated with fire, so it
    should be assumed that this, at least, is the case with Balrogs in general.



    About
    him sat his awful thanes,

    the
    Balrog-lords with fiery manes,

    redhanded,
    mouthed with fangs of steel;

    devouring
    wolves were crouched at heel.

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand, The Lay
    of Leithian




    Its
    streaming hair seemed to catch fire, and the sword that it held turned to
    flame.

    -HoME
    VII: The Treason of Isengard, The Bridge, Draft ‘A’




    Its streaming mane kindled, and
    blazed behind it.

    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bridge of
    Khazad-dûm




    ‘Fiery
    locks’ is entirely inappropriate: he was not a balrog!

    -Letter 297



    The
    word ‘mane’, which appears in the published text of The Lord of the Rings, has
    misled many people and artists to represent the Balrog as having a lion’s or
    horse’s mane. However, that passage has much figurative language, and the draft
    text (present as such in all three drafts, not just ‘A’) seems to imply that
    the hair of the Balrog is actually just long, so that it looks like a mane.

    Another
    note about the hair of the Balrog is that it is either appears to be or
    actually is on fire. In the former case, that would mean it is probably red.



    His
    fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling
    snake.

    -The Two Towers, The White Rider



    he
    was a thing of slime, strong as a strangling snake, sleek as ice, pliant as a
    thong, unbreakable as steel.

    -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The
    White Rider




    Gandalf
    relates his fight with the Balrog to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, and what he
    says this is what the Balrog was after they fell into water. It likely has no
    bearing on the actual physical attributes of the Balrog, instead referring to
    the difficult time Gandalf had during his fight with it, now that they were no
    longer falling together.











    Regarding
    Wings



    Before
    The Lord of the Rings



    To
    prove that Tolkien’s initial conception of Balrogs, found in The Fall of Gondolin, could not fly and
    did not have wings, only one quote and minimal logic is required.



    Then
    arose Thorndor, King of Eagles, and he loved not Melko, for Melko had caught
    many of his kindred and chained them against sharp rocks to squeeze from them
    the magic words whereby he might learn to fly (for he dreamed of contending
    even against Manwë in the air); and when they would not tell he cut off their
    wings and sought to fashion therefrom a mighty pair for his use, but it availed
    not.


    -HoME
    II: The Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall of Gondolin
    <br style="">
    <br style="">


    If
    Balrogs could fly, Melko would not need to have tried to get the secret of
    flight from the eagles. Therefore, Balrogs could not fly. If Balrogs had wings,
    Melko would have realized the futility in fashioning a pair of wings for
    himself without the ‘magic words’. Therefore, Balrogs did not have wings. So
    this earliest conception of Balrogs did not have wings and could not fly.



    The
    Eagles dwell out of reach of Orc and Balrog, and are great foes of Morgoth and
    his people.

    (HoME IV: The Shaping of
    Middle-earth, The Earliest ‘Silmarillion’, §8
    )



    This
    quote from is from the next version of the Silmarillion myths, The Book of Lost
    Tales being the first. The fact that the Eagles are out of reach of Balrogs
    means that the Balrogs cannot fly.



    These
    were the first made of his creatures: their hearts were of fire, and they had
    whips of flame. The Gnomes in later days named them Balrogs.

    -HoME V: The Lost Road and Other Writings,
    The Quenta Silmarillion, Ch. 3(a)




    But
    he loosed upon his foes the last desperate assault that he had prepared, and
    out of the pits of Angband there issued the winged dragons, that had not before
    been seen; for until that day no creatures of his cruel thought had yet
    assailed the air.

    -HoME V: The Lost Road and Other Writings,
    The Quenta Silmarillion, Conclusion




    These
    quotes originate in the last of the Silmarillion revisions before Tolkien began
    to write The Lord of the Rings. In the conclusion, we see that there are winged
    dragons, the first of Morgoth’s creatures to fly. Now, as has been shown in a
    previous section, and quoted again here, at this time in the development of the
    mythos Balrogs were created by
    Morgoth. Therefore, it is not possible that Balrogs can fly at this time. Now,
    since Balrogs at this time could not fly, they must not have wings. This is
    because up to this point wings have only existed in Tolkien’s works for
    purposes of flight, and also that Balrogs have been proven to have not had
    wings in their earliest conception. With no reason to have wings and no stated
    addition of wings, it must be taken as truth that the Balrogs of this version
    of the Silmarillion stories do not have wings.







    During
    the writing of The Lord of the Rings



    There is no mention of
    wings in Draft ‘A’ of The Bridge, nor
    in Draft ‘B’. The word appears first in Draft ‘C’, in a quote that states ‘the
    Balrog halted facing him, and the shadow about him reached out like great wings’.
    This is undeniably a simile. As per the reasoning at the end of the last
    section, Balrogs in Draft ‘C’ of The
    Bridge
    cannot have wings.







    In
    The Lord of the Rings



    There
    are several ways to show that the Balrog of Moria did not have wings.

    The
    first method is through examination of the figurative nature of the passage.
    Here follow a selection of quotes from The
    Bridge of Khazad-dûm.




    The door burst in pieces. Something
    dark as a cloud was blocking out all the light inside, and I was thrown
    backwards down the stairs.



    it was like a great shadow, in the
    middle of which was a dark form, or man-shape maybe, yet greater;



    It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it.



    For a moment the Orcs quailed and
    the fiery shadow halted.



    His enemy halted again, facing him,
    and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings.



    The fire in it seemed to die, but
    the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it
    drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall;
    but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and
    altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a
    storm.



    From out of the shadow a red sword
    leaped flaming.



    With a terrible cry the Balrog fell
    forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished.



    The
    first mention of the shadow of the Balrog is that it is ‘something dark as a
    cloud’. The word cloud appears again later, with light from the fiery chasm
    fading ‘as if a cloud bent over it.’

    The
    second mention, the second quote above, describes the Balrog as ‘like a great
    shadow’, with a qualifying statement. This is a simile. However, later the term
    ‘fiery shadow’ is used, and it is clearly referring to the Balrog. But the
    Balrog is not a shadow, but ‘like’ a shadow. Tolkien, however, has used this
    simile to create an ongoing metaphor. There are three further mentions of the
    ‘shadow’ during the encounter.

    A
    later quote says ‘the shadow about [the Balrog] reached out like two vast
    wings’. This is another simile. After Gandalf’s speech, the text states that
    ‘[the Balrog’s] wings were spread from wall to wall’. But there is no previous
    mention of other wings, so the only logical step, given that no earlier
    conception of Balrogs had wings, is that the word here is referring back to the
    simile, and that the wings are not real.

    It
    has on occasion been argued that Tolkien would not use a metaphor that derived
    from a simile, as that is clumsy, and so the wings must be real wings. However,
    it has been shown that Tolkien not only did use a metaphor that is derived from
    a previous simile, but that such a device was used in the very same passage.
    The reference, of course, is to the ‘shadow’ introduced with simile linking it
    to the Balrog and then used in place of the Balrog.

    Therefore,
    there is not only evidence that Tolkien used the same terms repeatedly as
    figurative language in this encounter, but that he specifically used a metaphor
    from a previous simile. Therefore there is no reason to doubt that the second
    mention of ‘wings’ in fact refers to the ‘shadow about [the Balrog]’. Thus, the
    Balrog of Moria does not have wings.





    The Balrog made no answer. The fire
    in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the
    bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were
    spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the
    gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened
    tree before the onset of a storm.



    The
    second method to disproving that the Balrog had wings is to look critically at
    the paragraph with the second mention of wings, and so to fully understand all
    of the parts. It follows:



    ‘The Balrog made no answer.’ Gandalf had just finished his speech. This
    speaks for itself. Or rather, doesn’t.

    ‘The fire in it seemed to die,’ The Balrog is either dampening its own
    flames, or obscuring them.

    ‘but the darkness grew.’ The shadow of the Balrog is increasing in
    size, like it did when it ‘reached out’ before.

    ‘It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge,’ The Balrog is advancing towards Gandalf.

    ‘and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height,’ As shown in the section regarding height, the
    Balrog is providing an illusion as growth, as Gandalf did. This growth quite
    possibly relies on the darkness. Gandalf, it should be noted, appeared to grow
    in ‘wavering firelight’.

    ‘and its wings were spread from wall to wall;’ This will be analyzed after the rest of the
    passage, as it is the part in question.

    ‘but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom’ If ‘but the darkness grew’ is the only
    preceding mention of it becoming darker, this makes little sense, especially
    ‘still’, which implies something had happened that would imply otherwise. If
    Gandalf is glimmering in the gloom, the gloom has to have happened. The gloom
    would be the fire dimming, the darkness increasing, the Balrog moving itself
    (and the shadow about it) forward towards Gandalf, the illusion of height
    derived from darkness, and the shadow spreading out as metaphorical ‘wings’.

    ‘he seemed small, and altogether alone’ If the Balrog appears larger, Gandalf in
    turns appears smaller.

    ‘grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.’ Not only are storms violent, but they are
    dark clouds, and the shadow of the
    Balrog has already been referred to as a cloud, and seen to extend in front of
    it; it did, after all, obscure the light of the fire from the chasm before the
    Balrog leapt across.



    So,
    we see that each individual part of this passage in some way increases the
    darkening effect the Balrog has. All parts are referring back to the shadow.
    Therefore, either there is a new mention of real wings not associated with the
    shadow amidst a passage almost overflowing with references to the shadow, or
    the mention of wings is just another way of describing the growing shadow that
    is the central focus of this passage. The latter seems most likely, so the
    Balrog of Moria does not have wings.





    The
    third method is a simple discussion of scale. As shown in the section regarding
    height, the Balrog is less than seven feet tall. The chasm over which the bridge
    spanned was fifty feet across. Given that it was a chasm, this means that the
    hall itself must have been much wider. To literally reach from wall to wall,
    the Balrog would need a wingspan the width of the hall, at the very least.
    Assuming that the chasm was only twice as long as it was across, the hall
    itself would be one hundred feet wide, which would mean that the Balrog would
    need a wingspan of one hundred feet. So taking generous measurements for the
    height of the Balrog and a very low estimate for the size of the hall, the
    Balrog would need a wingspan more than fourteen times its own height. That
    would be absurd. Therefore, since the Balrog could not have had such a
    wingspan, the idea that the quote regarding the wings spreading from wall to wall
    is literal must be rejected. And if the quote is not literal, there is little
    reason to believe the wings existed, especially in light of all other evidence.
    Thus, the Balrog of Moria does not have wings.





    After
    The Lord of the Rings



    Deep in forgotten places that cry
    was heard. Far beneath the halls of Angband, in vaults to which the Valar in
    the haste of their assault had not descended, the Balrogs lurked still,
    awaiting ever the return of their lord. Swiftly they arose, and they passed
    with winged speed over Hithlum, and they came to Lammoth as tempest of fire.

    Then Ungoliant quailed, and she turned
    to flight, belching black vapours to cover her; but the Balrogs pursued her
    with whips of flame into the Mountains of Shadow, until Morgoth recalled them.
    Then her webs were shorn asunder, and Morgoth was released, and he returned to
    Angband.

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, (II) The Second Phase, Of the
    Thieves’ Quarrel, §18-19




    Of
    all of the writings of Tolkien after The Lord of the Rings, there is only one
    passage which seems to imply that Balrogs had wings and could fly. However,
    there are two lines of reasoning to show that there is no such implication.



    The
    first line of reasoning involves analysis of the wording itself. The Balrogs
    begin underground in Angband. ‘Swiftly they arose’ speaks of their ascent out
    of those subterranean halls, to the surface. They ‘pass with winged speed over
    Hithlum’. But ‘to pass over’ means to travel across, not to travel above; Fingolfin’s horse, when that Elf
    went to challenge Melkor, is stated to have ‘passed over Dor-nu-Fauglith’. And
    ‘with winged speed’ is figurative language, meaning ‘speed as if with wings’.
    It merely means that the Balrogs are travelling quickly, and if anything denies
    the idea that they have wings, for if one has wings, it is oneself that is
    winged, not one’s ‘speed’.



    The
    second line of reasoning involves the history of the passage. The Balrogs had
    rescued Morgoth from Ungoliant from the very first version of the story that
    had her threaten him, found in The
    Earliest ‘Silmarillion’
    . In that version and the next, Orcs are with the
    Balrogs. When Orcs become absent in the third version of the rescue, it is not
    because Balrogs learned how to fly and so leave the Orcs behind, but because
    Tolkien decided that Orcs would be made at a later point, and they could not
    have helped Morgoth escape before he made them. This is evidence that Balrogs,
    and even Orcs, are quick enough on ground to come to Morgoth’s aid, and so
    denies the idea that the speed of flight would be necessary to rescue Morgoth
    before Ungoliant overcame him completely. As such, there is no reason to
    believe, from this passage, that Balrogs could fly, and so no reason to believe
    that they had wings.





    In
    conclusion, Balrogs did not have wings in their earliest conception. Throughout
    the various rewritings and new versions of the stories, there is no evidence
    that they gained wings and there is no evidence in any passages that they had
    wings. Because of this, there is no reason at all to believe they had wings.
    Therefore, Balrogs do not have wings.











    Balrogs and Weaponry





    In
    The Fall of Gondolin, much is said about how Balrogs wage war. There are more
    specifics found there than in any other writing of Tolkien. Regrettably, this
    was also the earliest work which mentioned Balrogs, so it cannot be determined
    if all said there lasted throughout the revisions to which Balrogs were
    subjected.

    Balrogs
    were armoured in iron, and they wore iron helms. They also had projective
    weapons set on of made of fire.



    Of those demons of power Ecthelion
    slew three, for the brightness of his sword did cleft the iron of them and did
    hurt to their fire, and they writhed

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall
    of Gondolin




    Now had he beaten a heavy swinge on
    its iron helm, now hewn off the creatures whip-arm at the elbow.

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall
    of Gondolin




    Then the Balrogs continued to shoot
    darts of fire and flaming arrows like small snakes into the sky, and these fell
    upon the roofs and the gardens of Gondolin till all the trees were scorched,
    and the flowers and grass burned up, and the whiteness of those walls and
    colonnades was blackened and seared

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall
    of Gondolin




    Balrogs
    are also stated to have used flails, twice in the same text. These flails, like
    the arrows and darts, are either on fire or partially made out of fire.



    long
    years he laboured

    under lashes and flails

    of the baleful Balrogs,

    abiding his time.

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand,
    The Lay of the Children of Húrin




    and
    the Balrogs about him

    brazen-handed

    with
    flails of flame

    and forged iron

    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand, The Lay
    of the Children of Húrin




    There
    is also mention of Balrogs using swords. While the majority of this comes from
    the Balrog of Moria, there is one less clear mention found in The Lay of the Children of Húrin.
    ‘Finweg’ is an earlier name of Fingon, who in later versions is stated to have
    been killed by Balrogs, though those passages make no references to swords.



    when the blazing helm

    of Finweg fell

    in flame of swords


    -HoME III: The Lays of Beleriand, The Lay
    of the Children of Húrin




    Gothmog,
    Lord of Balrogs, was also stated to have a black axe, in a text written after
    the publication of The Lord of the Rings.



    Then Gothmog hewed him with his
    black axe

    -The Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle



    Balrogs
    were, from the earliest writings to the latest notes, always bearing whips of
    flame. There are, in fact, more references to these whips than to all other
    weaponry used by Balrogs combined. Clearly, whips were the primary weapon of
    the Balrogs.



    Now
    these were demons with whips of flame and claws of steel by whom he tormented
    those of the Noldoli who durst withstand him in anything – and the Eldar have
    called them Malkarauki.

    -HoME II: Book of Lost Tales II, The Fall
    of Gondolin




    Then Ungoliant quailed, and she
    turned to flight, belching black vapours to cover her; but the Balrogs pursued
    her with whips of flame into the Mountains of Shadow, until Morgoth recalled
    them.

    -HoME
    X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, (II) The Second Phase, Of the
    Thieves’ Quarrel, §19




    It
    is curious to note that the only time these whips are not mentioned to be ‘of
    flame’ is in association with the Balrog of Moria. In both Draft ‘A’ of The Bridge and the account in The Bridge of Khazad-dûm, it is the
    Balrog’s sword that is said to be fiery, with the whip being described as
    having ‘many thongs’. The published texts relates that the whip ‘whirled and
    hissed’ and the thongs ‘whined and cracked’ and later ‘lashed and curled’. And
    in Letter 144, which begins as specifically referring to the Balrog of Moria,
    Tolkien wrote that ‘the whips were the chief weapons’ of Balrogs. However,
    later writings that deal with the Silmarillion stories once again use the term
    ‘whips of flame’, so if Tolkien meant to remove the fiery nature of the whips,
    the idea did not last.

    Edited by: Alcarináro

  2. Sil's Avatar
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    #2


    Bravo.

    non prohibere me.




  3. Tree's Avatar
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    My goodness that is long. Well done!

    I shall print it out and read it, along with the 'Tom B- Peeling the Onion' thread. I've reads bits of it, and it's great how comprehensive you've been. Now whenever "Do Balrogs have wings?" pops up, you can just point them in this direction!
    <strike>
    Oh by the way- you know in the Silm, when the Balrogs rescue Melkor from Ungoliant- weren't they flying then? (though I agree they didn't have wings)</strike>

    Ah okay



    Edited by: Tree
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  4. Alcarináro's Avatar
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    #4


    Tree, section Regarding Wings, sub-section After The Lord of the Rings addresses that.

  5. halfir's Avatar
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Elenhir: A true return to the glory days of significant qualitative posting. You are to be congratulated. This is most certainly a 'showcase' piece and I have moved it to Advanced Lore. And you have been tribbed. My congratulations on an excellent piece of work.Edited by: halfir
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  6. halfir's Avatar
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    #6
    While laudatory comments are more than deserved for Elenhir's excellent piece of scholarship I hope those posting will also take the opportunity to ask questions and get queries settled-or discussed- as well. Let's make this a truly interactive thread.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  7. Eruvérdë's Avatar
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    Elenhir : Truly a piece worth reading ! *huggles* Gives me, one with weak lore background, a good cause and motivation to devlve into this subject matter more

  8. halfir's Avatar
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    #8
    On a minor aside note it is interesting to see that when reducing the number of Balrog's Tolkien keeps to numbers that have numerological significance that he has used throughout the Legendarium- in this instance, 3 and 7:

    After the Lord of the Rings

    'There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed.'

    It is noteworthy that the Balrog is compared to Shelob, who is stated to be the ‘last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world’ (The Two Towers, Shelob’s Lair). It seems most likely, therefore, that the Balrog of Moria was the last of the Balrogs

    Tolkien effectively conjoins the Balrog and Shelob in the lines:

    The Balrog is a survivor from The Silmarillion and the legends of the First Age. So is Shelob.{Letter # 1441}

    I think Elenhir's conclusion a reasonable one.

    The Form of Balrog's

    Balrogs are also frequently referred to, especially in the earlier years of Tolkien’s writings, as ‘demons’, or the word ‘demon’ is used to refer to them. This has led many to believe that Balrogs have horns, tails, cloven feet, and other attributes commonly associated with the imagery of the popularized Christian demon.

    But this is false. Tolkien used many pre-existing words to describe the creatures with which he populated his world. Those things he gave these names to were seldom physically similar to what held the names before

    Elenhir's gloss on this, with which I agree, is given further support in PE 17 P. 48 entry under Balrog which reads:

    "(mighty) demon". A word made in ancient Sindarin for the spirits (of "mayan" origin) corrupted to his service by Melkor in the days outside Arda, before the coming of the Elves and the Assault upon Utumno....{my bold emphasis}

    I see the pertinent word here as being spirits and corrupted the term demon referring to those beings that Melkor had corrupted not to their physical form.

    There is also a note, found on all three pages of notes discussed by Christopher Tolkien in the chapter Notes on Various Topics of HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, that states ‘Wizards = Angels’. This refers, of course, to their nature of being sent by the ‘gods’. No one believes that, because of this statement, the Istari float around in all white with wings and halos and the occasional flaming sword.

    Indeed and in Letter # 156 Tolkien uses the Greek word for messenger to define what he means by the term 'angel'.

    Differentiating details


    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt">His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt"> -The Two Towers, The White Rider
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt">
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt">he was a thing of slime, strong as a strangling snake, sleek as ice, pliant as a thong, unbreakable as steel.
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt"> -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The White Rider

    Gandalf relates his fight with the Balrog to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, and what he says this is what the Balrog was after they fell into water. It likely has no bearing on the actual physical attributes of the Balrog, instead referring to the difficult time Gandalf had during his fight with it, now that they were no longer falling together.{my bold of Elenhir's text}.

    Some time ago I advanced the view that this could have a literal meaning, that the Balrog actually changed shape. That view did not meet with general approval- if any- and I can't currently find the thread in which I advanced it- but I noted Elenhir's comment It likely has no bearing and thought as that left open a slight window of opportunity I would use it by mentioning my earlier view-which I must add I did not advance with too much confidence!

    Balrog's Wings

    I think Elenhir has cogently settled this argument once and for all- Balrog's did not have wings!

    A great piece of work and one that we can all use as a definitive resource. Well done.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  9. Túrin's Avatar
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    #9


    I've only had time to skim at the moment, but I must echo what the other have said already: bravo, Elenhir. I hope soon to have the time to read this more closely. Doubtless I'll be in agreement with most all of your ideas and conclusions, but it will be an interesting and enlightening read nonetheless.

  10. Li's Avatar
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    #10


    Like the others I have only had time to skim your post however the subject of Balrogs has always held a dread fascination for me and I want to do your post justice by relishing it at a more suitable time. Doubtless I will have questions to ask once I have read it but for now allow me to echo everyone elses sentiments and say "Bravo!". If halfir had not already given you tirbute then I most certianly would have.

  11. halfir's Avatar
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    #11
    Elenhir's paper On Balrogs gives me the opportunity to draw Plaza members' attention to the other very fine pieces currently available in AL and to thefive archived threads covered in Golden Oldies -Expositions:

    http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/forum...asp?TID=229281

    Hopeless Courage
    Frodo: Traitor or Tragic Hero?
    Magic in ME
    The Three Great Elven Rings of Power
    Balder the Beautiful is Dead

    Like most AL threads these originated in other Lore forums and were moved to be 'showcased' in AL- to quote my good friend Bearamir whose idea AL essentially was. And there are, of course, both in the archives, and current in other Lore Forums, discussions and essays on aspects of Tolkien that are very well worth reading. So, once you have read this thread, take a look at those mentioned above and check them out. They are worth spending some time on, as are all the Lore Forums.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  12. Laitaine Adarlas's Avatar
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    #12
    Elenhir, brilliant post. So much evidence scattered in so many books that you have expertly collected into influential arguments. Certainly brought to light some things I did not know.

    The most interesting thing I found that you brought up was though Balrogs are so often ascociated with fire, it does not appear that there was any external part of them that betrayed that in Tolkien's final writings, save perhaps their "fiery" hair. Yes, they have hearts and whips of fire but in reference to themselves, they are more often described as shadow and darkness. Why then is it so common to describe them as creatures of fire and shadow? Is it just because of their whips, because lesser being would not be able to perceive their "heart of fire"?

    Another note:
    Fiery locks’ is entirely inappropriate: he was not a balrog!
    -Letter 297
    Who was Tolkien referring to?

  13. halfir's Avatar
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    #13

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Another note:
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Fiery locks’ is entirely inappropriate: he was not a balrog!
    -Letter 297
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Who was Tolkien referring to?
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Legolas.One suspects that "Mr. Rang' to whom this draft letter was addressed had, in his observations on Tolkien's Nomenclature offered 'fiery locks' as one description of Legolas.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  14. Eldorion's Avatar
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    #14


    A thought just occurred to me last night: would Balrogs have been bound to their physical form like Morgoth was (after a certain point) or would they have had the freedom to change it? I would be inclined to think they were bound since there's no mention of them changing form (that I can think of) but there is mention of them being killed, though I don't really know.

    Sorry if this is an obvious question.


  15. Galin's Avatar
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    #15
    Nice work Elenhir!

    I might have justa bit to add with respect to Balrog numbers anda fewSilmarillion related texts: despiteTolkien's revision to the Annals of Aman (and the marginal noteconcerning the small numbers of Balrogs)for whatever reason, it seemsJRRT did not alter everydescription that implied large numbers of Balrogs.As you noted, with respect to'some few'Balrogs surviving the War of Wrath, this line was written by JRRT when he imagined large numbers of Balrogs existing, and this section of QS was never truly updated by JRRT himself.

    Christopher Tolkien retained the wording with respect to the War of Wrath for the 1977 Silmarillion, but he seems to have edited out still existingreferences to large numbers of Balrogs for the 1977 Silmarillion, nicelyleaving the constructed version vague on the question. The published Silmarillion alterationsto JRRT's Quenta Silmarillion should be in blue below (unless these were altered by JRRT himself, but this is not noted inThe History of Middle-Earth seriesat least,that I remember anyway) . The brown colour ismy emphasisfor comparison:

    __________

    'Wherefore each embassy came with greater force than was agreed, but Morgoth sent the greater, and they were Balrogs. Maidros was ambushed...' Of The Siege of Angband (Quenta Silmarillion) []'... but Morgoth sent the more, and there were Balrogs.' Of The Return of the Noldor (The Silmarillion)

    'Sauron came against Orodreth, the warden of the tower, with a host of Balrogs.' Of the Ruin of Beleriand And the Fall of Fingolfin (Quenta Silmarillion)[]'... named Gorthaur, came against Orodreth, the warden of the tower upon Tol Sirion.' Of The Ruin Of Beleriand (The Silmarillion)

    'There came wolves and serpents, and there came Balrogs one thousand,...' Of the Fourth Battle: Nírnaith Arnediad (Quenta Silmarillion)[] 'There came wolves and wolfriders, and there came Balrogs, and dragons...' Of The Fifth Battle (The Silmarillion)

    __________

    I agree with CJRT's treatment of these texts (if there are other similar examples,I hope people willplease point them out). Of course the later altered text to The Annals of Aman, revised by JRRT himself, still does not include a specific number -- note thatit is only in the marginal note 'to himself' that we specificallyget 3, or at most 7.

    I wonder if JRRT was going to be so specific on numbersin the Quenta Silmarillion proper, so to speak.

    Anyway, I would tend to agree that Tolkien was going to reduce Balrog numbers, despite that he left some passages'not revised' (if so), but I just thought I wouldadd those passages I'm (currently) aware of, and noteChristopher Tolkien's nice handling of the matter (IMO)too.

    Again, nice job.

  16. Alcarináro's Avatar
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    #16
    Galin, I had at one point planned to talk about the later version of the account of the embassies, but I must have forgotten during my writing. In The Grey Annals of HoME XI, it is said:
    Now Morgoth being dismayed by the rout of his armies and the unlooked-for valour of the Noldor, and desiring time for new designs, sent emissaries to Maidros, and feigned that he was willing to treat with him. And Maidros feigned that he for his part was also willing, and either purposed evil to the other. Therefore against covenant each came with great force to the parley, but Morgoth with the more, and Maidros was defeated and taken captive.
    -HoME XI: The War of the Jewels, The Grey Annals, §49

    In this passage, there is actually no reference to Balrogs at all.
    As to the quotes that continue to state large numbers in later writings, I've always attributed those to Tolkien keeping previous writings on hand and consulting them (a practice that, if I recall correctly, CT mentions several times throughout HoME), so that older ideas leak through. It's comparable to how Tolkien writes that Melkor 'wrought' the Balrogs in one quote that was written after he writes that Melkor cannot create life (and there is a similar marginal note saying the 'true account' is found in the Valaquenta).

    It is also worth noting, and I just realized this looking for a quote to answer Eldorion, that in Text VI of Myths Transformed, when talking about Morgoth's 'agents', the 'armies' and the 'Balrogs' are treated separately, which might imply that Balrogs are no longer so numerous as to be considered simply a part of Morgoth's armies.

    As usually happens when one finishes and makes public something like this, there's immediately a few things one sees and realizes that not everything was thoroughly exhausted. Some time in the future I'll probably edit in a longer and more detailed analysis of this quote through the revisions.

    Laitaine
    , well, in later writings we do see that the Balrogs come to Lammoth 'as a tempest of fire', so clearly they are still conceived of as heavily fiery in outward appearance. I would theorize, and mind you this is just a theory, that the Balrog of Moria made a conscious choice to emphasize shadow over fire. It is worth noting that 'The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew' only occurs after Gandalf finishes his speech wherein he outright tells the Balrog that fire is his medium as well (evidence of Gandalf using fire is found on Weathertop, on Caradhras, and against the wolves). Before that, about half of the mentions of shadow or darkness also referred to the Balrog being fiery. If Durin's Bane is trying to intimidate Gandalf, darkness is the clear choice.

    Eldorion, there is nothing explicitly clear on that issue in regard for Balrogs. Taking an approach through the historical revisions, the fact that they started out as a race of creatures and only became Maiar in later writings, and that they never do change shape (internal to a conception, that is), it seems to be implied that they were earthbound. There is also the quote I gave in Nature and Number about how they became 'most like [Melkor] in his corruption'. Letter 200 also talks about how Sauron took longer to rebuild a body (and ultimately could not rebuild again after the destruction of the Ring) 'because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit'. In the first subsection of The Form of Balrogs I quote from Myths Transformed, which (although I used the quote for a different purpose) says that the Balrogs were inherently less great than Sauron. But since the Balrogs are physically very mighty, I've always operated under the assumption that they heavily invested the 'inherent energy' of their spirit in their physical forms, which would essentially reduce them, at a single death, to a state of being unable to create another body.
    This lack of a reserve, if you will, could also serve to explain, internal to the mythology, why they would be unable to change shape, as Sauron did lose this ability with one of his deaths and resulting expenditures of his own inherent energy.
    I decided to, about a week ago, not to include a section about this in the treatise because I've never been able to prove it to my own satisfaction, and I did not want a flimsy section of largely conjecture right in the middle of everything else.

    Edited by: Elenhir

  17. halfir's Avatar
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    #17
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Eldorion Dagda: This post of Tyr's in another thread might help throw some light on your question regarding shape-changing:
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    Melkor and Sauron’s loss of fair Hew (sic)<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=227864&amp;PID=6791512#6791512<O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    In a post in this thread Tyr, quoting PE 17 gave the following information:<O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    "Melkor, they said, was invisible, and his presence was only revealed only by great dread and by a darkness that dimmed or blotted out the light and hues of all things near him. The Maiar corrupted by him stank. For this reason neither he nor any of the evil Maiar ever approached one of the Eldar that they wished to persuade or deceive except clad in their fanar. These they could still make to appear beautiful to Elvish eyes, if they wished — until after the great treachery of Melkor and the destruction of the Trees. After that Melkor (Morgoth) and his servants were perceived as forms of evil and enemies undisguised" (PE17:175). {My bold emphasis} <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    Tyr also observed, with regard to the above: One wonders why Sauron was still able to retain a fair hue all throughout the Second Age until the downfall of Númenor, though — maybe this is related to his perhaps-repentance, at least at first?

    And in ÓSANWE-KENTA Tolkien writes:


    <DIV style="TEXT-ALIGN: justify">Melkor alone of the Great became at last bound to a bodily form; but it was because of the use that he made of this in his purpose to become Lord of the Incarnate, and of the great evils that he did in his visible body. Also he had dissipated his native powers in the control of his agents and servants, so that he became in the end, in himself and without their support, a weakened thing, consumed by hate and unable to restore himself from the state into which he had fallen. Even his visible form he could no longer master, so that his hideousness could not any longer be masked, and it showed forth the evil of his mind. So it was also with even some of his greatest servants, as in these later days we see: they became wedded to the forms of their evil deeds, and if these bodies were taken from them or destroyed, they were nullified, until they have rebuilt a semblance of their former habitations, with which they could continue the evil courses in which they had become fixed’. (Pengolodh here evidently refers to Sauron in particular, from whose arising he fled at last from Middle-earth. But the first destruction of the bodily form of Sauron was recorded in the histories of the Elder Days, in the Lay of Leithian.) {My bold emphasis and underline}
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><O:P></O:P>Edited by: halfir
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  18. Fingolfin of Hithlum's Avatar
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    #18
    Finally we can come to a conclusion about the wings without a giant argument! I agree with Elenhir, good logic.

    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. " - Jiddu Krishnamurti

  19. Eldorion's Avatar
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    #19


    Thank you very much for your help Elenhir and halfir.

  20. Galin's Avatar
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    #20
    'Galin, I had at one point planned to talk about the later version of the account of the embassies, but I must have forgotten during my writing. In The Grey Annals of HoME XI, it is said: (edit quote, see above). In this passage, there is actually no reference to Balrogs at all.'

    Yes,no reference to Balrogs inthattradition, the variant tradition of theAnnals. With respect to this event (Maedros and etc)there are no Balrogs notedin The Later Annals of Beleriand for example,butthey appearin the Quenta Silmarillion of the 1930s.In a post Lord of the Rings contextwe couldhave a similar thing: no Balrogs in the Grey Annals (GA), but the Balrog description is not revisedfor the Later Quenta Silmarillion (LQS).

    The firstdescription I quoted above(from the QS tradition)survived into LQS despite a number of other post Lord of the Rings revisions to this chapter. The second example (Orodreth and etc)alsowas not revised--with Tolkien even altering §143of the chapter, but not the 'host' of Balrogs passage. The third example'survived' too,butnotingCJRT's description under The Last Chapters Of The Quenta Silmarillion,it looks likeJRRT never really got around to trulyrevising this chapterin any case (The Grey Annals contains 'Balrogs a thousand'§ 230).

    With respect to MaedrosIthink GA and LQSare an echo of the earliertraditions ('earlier' in the external sense of course),and in this'phase' at least, large numbers of Balrogs still existed. That is,if I haven't missed anything, and am reading the textual history correctly enough here.

  21. Alcarináro's Avatar
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    #21


    But, Galin, previous Annals of Beleriand worded the matter quite differently. The Grey Annals are relevant because they adopt the wording found throughout all of the revisions of the Silmarillion accounts, mentioning an alleged meeting of truce, each party bringing combatants, and Morgoth sending more. Previous Annals of Beleriand, on the other hand, simply say that Maidros was ambushed and taken to Thangorodrim. In that respect, the Grey Annals quote is really more of a successor to the Silmarillion line than the Annals of Beleriand line, which means it is noteworthy that there is no mention of Balrogs.

    Yes, there are some quotes that remained using the same numbers as in QS. But there are some that changed, and there are other quotes that give other reasons why there should be fewer (it is possible, given what I have quoted above, that Tolkien rejecting the idea of Balrogs reproducing could account for a number decrease in line with the marginal note).


  22. Eruvérdë's Avatar
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    #22


    halfir : Ooo...so that explains why Sauron was not able to regain his bodily form when the ring was cut off along with the Ring(though he was strong in spirit). He had much of his spirit in the Ring too? Hence when the Ring was destroyed, he was too, right? If such is the case, makes one wonder why he had much of his spirit and will in the Ring? Would he have known that once the Ring was off him, he would be in danger since he is of bodily form now?

  23. halfir's Avatar
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    #23
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">He could regain bodily form as long as the One existedeven though he didn't possess it -although each rebuilding took that much longer because of the amount of will expendedeach time (cf. Letter # 200)- but he could not regain fair form!{
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">Once the One was destroyed he could no longer re-build himself in any form!
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">Why did he take the risk? Well if you want great power you have to take commensurate risk. And, because of his psychology, as Tolkien tells us in Letter # 131, Sauron never imagined that anyone would want to destroy the One.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">Gandalf makes the same point in FOTR-The Council of Elrond:
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">But the only measure he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">His great fear was that a powerful individual would find the One and attempt to use it against him. Hence Aragorn's deliberate unveiling of himself to Sauron via the Palantir- to show that theheir of isildur,of the bloodline of he who had cut the Ring from Sauron's hand, was alive. Sauron would see this as a major threat -the heir of Isildur potentially wielding the One was something he would very much fear.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  24. Eruvérdë's Avatar
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    #24


    halfir : Ah I see. Wait, does Sauron knows Gollum or Bilbo has the Ring in their possession?

  25. Eldorion's Avatar
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    #25


    He found out about "Baggins" from Gollum, though he had a bit of trouble trying to catch him.

  26. Eruvérdë's Avatar
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    #26


    Eldorion: Oh yes that. How did he manage to know that it is Gollum who has the ring in his possession first?


  27. Mikkelinski's Avatar
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    #27
    Thank you for such a brilliant post on Balrogs!

    With this, all the questions I've ever had regarding them have been answered =) There's so much more to the whole Middle-Earth than I ever realized before comming here.


    "It's not called paranoia when I know they're after me!"

  28. halfir's Avatar
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    #28
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">Eruvérdë: Often the text speaks much more clearly than any commentator! If you look at Gandalf's words to Frodo- FOTR-The Shadow of the Past- you get a very full answer to your question:
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons. And all folk were whispering then of the new Shadow in the South, and its hatred of the West. There were his fine new friends , who would help him in his revenge!.......And sooner or later as he pried on the borders he would be caught, caught and taken for examination.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  29. Galin's Avatar
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    #29

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">'But, Galin, previous Annals of Beleriand worded the matter quite differently.'
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">That's true, it's different and briefer,butI was looking ata simpler externalcomparison:'nomention of Balrogs' in the matter of Maedros beingtaken captive (Annals tradition), versus 'mention of Balrogs'with respect tothe same general matter(QS tradition). This muchappearsechoed inpost Lord of the Rings versions as well. Grey Annalsis not as brief as the Annals of Beleriand, yes, butthat doesn't meanGA necessarilycontains all details with respect to Morgoth's forces here.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">'The Grey Annals are relevant because they adopt the wording found throughout all of the revisions of the Silmarillion accounts, mentioning an alleged meeting of truce, each party bringing combatants, and Morgoth sending more. Previous Annals of Beleriand, on the other hand, simply say that Maidros was ambushed and taken to Thangorodrim. In that respect, the Grey Annals quote is really more of a successor to the Silmarillion line than the Annals of Beleriand line, which means it is noteworthy that there is no mention of Balrogs.'
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">OK, butif you are alsoimplyingthat the 'latest text' on the Maedros matter is represented by GA alone (no Balrogs),then I can't wholly agree, since it is my feeling that, at this point,Tolkien retained Balrogs being presentfor LQS too. In other words, in the early 1950s I don't think the 'survival' in LQS of the earlierQS passage is simplya case of an older idea mistakenlypeeking through -- at least I don't feelthis is necessarily so, let's say --and at this phase in the post Lord of the Rings writing, there are still implications of many Balrogs in bothGA and LQS.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">I'm not sure we disagree on anything here

  30. Hallas C. Pehwarin's Avatar
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    #30


    The treatise done by Elenhir, and the other posts I have read about the Balrogs are absolutely fantastic. Everyone deserves to receive a few fanatic points on a job well done! I give a salute to those who enjoy talking about the mythical creatures of Middle Earth and Valinor.

  31. Ardamir's Avatar
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    #31


    I've been in touch with Michael Martinez regarding Elenhir's essay. He, being a strong Balrogs-with-wings advocate, didn't have a very high opinion of it.
    Member of the Tolkien Society, the Finnish Tolkien Society, and founder of <em>Lindon</em>, the Swedish-speaking smial of the FTS. My Tolkien-related twitter: http://twitter.com/Ardamir

  32. Reikon Suchi-ru's Avatar
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    #32


    Elenhir - Would you mind if I shared this with the President of the Tolkien Society here at my College? I'd cite you in whatever manner you would wish, and I think it would spark some interesting discussion!

  33. Alcarináro's Avatar
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    #33


    Ardamir, I am aware of Martinez's 'thoughts' on the matter. I discovered them when trying to figure out why Active Users showed twenty-some guests all viewing this thread a few days ago. But like most of Martinez's views on the works of those with whom he disagrees, he provides no substance for why he is right.
    So Martinez wrote a paper on Balrogs back in the day. And? It was woefully short, and as usual Martinez was more concerned with telling people what the books said, rather than showing it. He quotes essentially nothing, simply making claims. Many of his arguments for why anti-wingists are wrong misrepresent the opposite side. In fact, he once wrote 'The people who object to winged Balrogs insist that if it really had wings the Balrog would fly.' My arguments have never insisted such a thing, and though a firm anti-wingist I have, when Balrog threads on this site were more frequent, made of habit of correcting the inevitable argument from another anti-wingist concerning some alleged necessity of wings equating to flight. Martinez's typical defense when someone, including well-respected experts like Hammond and Scull, disagrees with his findings is that he has been misinterpreted.

    And anyone who has been on the Plaza in the lore scene long enough will remember Martinez's brief presence here, not an instant in which he was not 'refuting' something someone said without a shred of proof.
    Martinez is a good business-man. He's done well for himself in life. He writes a lot of papers, yes. But he has zero ability to respond rationally to other people, and that makes anything he says on a contested subject (like this one) quite worthless, as it can only be through cooperative discussion (which he cannot handle) that anything better is reached.
    So as to his out of hand dismissal of my treatise, I have only to hand you back another out of hand dismissal for, you guessed it, his dismissal. My work is greater than the whining of an aging man about why the young people don't listen to something he claims he refuses to discuss anymore, yet continues to point back to his old essays.

    Do not bring back any messages from him, for this is a thread on lore, and I will not have it degrade into ideological warfare. I welcome discussion. I welcome questions. I welcome opposing views that use logic and the texts. I do not welcome him and his methods. That is all.

    Reikon, that would be perfectly fine. However, note that the work is not, as I previously imagined, complete. There are a few details I forgot, like the 'flying from Thangorodrim' quote in the Appendices. I know how to handle them, but I likely won't amend the whole thing until December. So as of now it is still a work in progress.


  34. Stronghold's Avatar
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    #34
    Does anyone else get the idea that the Balrog then first showed up at Moria was vastly different than the one in the rewrite that happened almost 20 years later?

    I wonder if Balrogs were Tolkien's idea of demons but, later, that was changed to be more of a version of simpler corruption. I think Balrogs counter-balanced other corrupted Maia (Sauron especially who had free will, Balrogs didn't seem to) but his ideas about what these lesser spirits were seemed to have taken a 180 once he started really getting the Silm. mythos down. Maiar, at one time, could even reproduce, for example.

    Really, 30 years worth of revisions are hard for us to deal with as readers. We cannot say what was in the Professor's mind except, maybe, at one given moment, not over MANY years. But, it's fun to ponder and research :)

  35. Hallas C. Pehwarin's Avatar
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    #35


    I have to agree with your post Stronghold even with what Tolkien created and loved by his devote following we will never know what was in the Professor's mind at any given point. So ask to open a thread on that particular topic to the Admin.

  36. halfir's Avatar
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    #36

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">But like most of Martinez's views on the works of those with whom he disagrees, he provides no substance for why he is right.


    And he's not always so good at providing evidence for supporting the positions he does take either!

    Hallas: No one has to ask to open a thread in any Lore Forum . AL is different as no threads can be opened until they have proved their worth elsewhere, and are transferred here by an Administrator.
    And BTW if you are currently masquerading as The Invisible Woman why do you have a picture we can all see!

    Edited by: halfir
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  37. Hallas C. Pehwarin's Avatar
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    #37


    Thanks for the wise input Halfir, and as to why you can see my picture ask my forum rulers Pell and Idrissa since it was done for the Halloween festivities until the end of November.

  38. I think I remember titanic debates between Elenhir and Martinez, it was quite fun to watch. To me Elenhir has and always will be the plaza's foremost scholar in the field of Balrogs. Another well written article.


    <font color=green>"When Hobbits first began to smoke is not known...But all accounts agree that Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom in the Southfarthing first grew the true pipe-weed in his gardens..."

  39. halfir's Avatar
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    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">I think most of us would concur with the sentiments in your last statement.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">I must admit I don't recall the particular E/M debates but I do remember some fairly heated web debates between Michael Martinez and Conrad Dunkerson.Conrad has produced a fairly balanced assessment of the pro-and anti-wings argument here:
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">which no doubt added fuels to the flames in his arguments with Michael Martinez, as the latter is very much in the 'Balrogs have wings' 'camp.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  40. Tiwazdtr's Avatar
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    #40


    A true masterpiece...... All the evidence about these creatures....... or should i say maiar.. having wings or not........ debate is totally solved....... (sorry for not having anything new to say but i wanted the points and the subject was so totally and masterfully covered by you WELL DONE anyways for your work.............
    I shall do what i must...

  41. halfir's Avatar
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    Tiwazdtr: A warm welcome to the Plaza and especially the Lore Forums. Enjoy!
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  42. Galin's Avatar
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    'In the margin my father wrote: 'There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed.'" MR, Section 2 (AAm*) - note 50 just before Section 3

    So, this then was the 'turning point'. Yet there is no way of knowing whether this idea of a limited number of Balrogs would have been retained. Given the difficulty in precisely dating these texts it is even possible that the Grey Annals (GA2) reference to 'Balrogs a thousand' post-dated the Annals of Aman note saying there were 'at most seven'. We thus have the possibly unique situation of a widely accepted point of Tolkien lore which is contradicted by every extant narrative writing on the subject, and indeed was only ever found in a single post-LotR marginal note.'

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">C. Dunkerson, The Truth About Balrogs Volume II: How many Balrogs were there?
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">As I read the evidence at least, this possibilitygoes against CJRT's(admittedly difficult) external chronology asnotedin The History of Middle-Earth. The Grey Annalsreference 'Balrogs a thousand'is presented as an early 1950s text, and is consistent with other early 1950s references to many Balrogs. In Annals of Aman (Morgoth's Ring), the alteration from 'a host of Balrogs' to 'his Balrogs' and the marginal note which includes 'at most 7 ever existed',are included in the sectioncharacterized as noting: 'late scribbledchanges and notes made on one or other copy of the typescript of the whole text.'
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">So this marginal note appearsonatypescriptwhich CJRT was inclined to date to 1958 -- forthe commentary on dating here,seeMorgoth's Ring pp. 141-2, 300(the typescript Tolkien himself made is presented asAAm* rather). CJRT also notes: 'There is some evidence that the Grey Annals followed the Annals of Aman (in its primary form), but the two works were, I feel certain, closely associated in time of composition.'
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">So while Conrad's notionseemspossible, I think the better and more likelyscenario is that laid out by CJRT, in which the marginal note on the Annals of Aman typescriptpost-dates the writing of thisGrey Annalsreference.Edited by: Galin

  43. Galin's Avatar
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    MR, Section 2 (AAm*) - note 50 just before Section 3
    Hmm, I just noticed the asterisk in Conrad's reference to thesource ofTolkien's marginal note. As I readthings,the marginalnote ('at most 7')to section 50 is not to AAm* but rathertothe amanuensis typescript of AAm (in the book note the star between AAm* and the'typescript of the whole text'-- seep. 80).

    CJRT refers to AAm* in even hazier terms with respect to dating: 'There seems no way to determine with certainty when it was made, and I can only record my feeling that it belongs with the writing of the AAm manuscript rather than to some later time. At any rate my father soon abandoned it (see p. 80).' AAm* appears to end before section 50.

    Perhaps Conrad's'(AAm*)' wasjust a generalway to note where Tolkien's comment can be found in the book(as the star and the rest of the notes do follow 'just before Section 3'), but in any case,so farIwould notagreethat the marginal note was added to AAm*rather than tothe 1958 typescript 'of the whole text'.

  44. This is an excellent collation of all the available recensions, and your reasoning is very convincing! With one small quibble:

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcarináro
    But ‘to pass over’ means to travel across, not to travel above [...]
    No, “to pass over” can indeed mean to travel above. This is a perfectly common and intuitive usage, but don’t just take my word for it. Afew examples from the Professor himself (among many; for convenience, these are all from The Lord of the Rings):
    <UL>
    <LI>
    “All that day the Company remained in hiding. The dark birds passed over now and again; but as the westering Sun grew red they disappeared southwards.” —“The Ring Goes South”</LI>
    <LI>
    “And hardly had they reached its shelter when the winged shadow had passed over once again, and men wilted with fear.” —“Minas Tirith”</LI>
    <LI>
    “[...] a flying darkness in the shape of a monstrous bird, passed over Edoras that morning, and all men were shaken with fear.” —“The Muster of Rohan”</LI>
    <LI>
    “Straight down upon the Nazgûl they [the Eagles] bore, stooping suddenly out of the high airs, and the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale.” — “The Field of Cormallen”</LI>[/list]
    In spite of this rather small point, I agree with your conclusions. Well done.

  45. scribe's Avatar
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    #45
    But despite the fact those were above doesn't negate the fact they were travling across.

    I would argue that passing over means to travel across on ground or above. It niether is evidence that something was travling above nor is it evidence to the contrary.

  46. Quote Originally Posted by scribe
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">But despite the fact those were above doesn't negate the fact they were travling across.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">I would argue that passing over means to travel across on ground or above. It niether is evidence that something was travling above nor is it evidence to the contrary.
    Agreed. I didn't say that “to pass over” implies flying. Rather, I said that it's incorrect to say that “to pass over”implies not flying. The phrase does not imply either one or the other, just as you say. Hence, it's not a good piece of evidence on the subject of Balrog wings.

    Fortunately,there is more than ample evidence against wings without this one piece.

  47. Uncultured Swine's Avatar
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    #47


    I just wanted to say congrats and thank you to Elenhir, a great post full of detail and objective thinking and a hint of detective work

    Very informative and a good read, I have a question which is linked to part of your post, in regards to Morgoth wanting the ability to fly or at least to bestow it open his servants. As you stated, he finally managed it in the last brood of Dragons, do you or anyone else have any info on how he did this? I would very much like some info on this if you or anyone can shed any light I would be appriciative!
    Again, well done on the great post.

    The doom lies in yourself, not in your name.

  48. Galin's Avatar
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    #48
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV ="WebWizRTE">Concerningthis section:
    <DIV ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt" align=justify>
    ‘For he was alone, without friend or companion, and he had as yet but small following; since of those that had attuned their music to his in the beginning not all had been willing to go down with him into the World, and few that had come would yet endure his servitude.’
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt" align=justify> -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Ainulindalë, §24


    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt">‘These were the (ëalar) spirits who first adhered to him in the days of his splendour, and became most like him in his corruption: their hearts were of fire, but they were cloaked in darkness, and terror went before them; they had whips of flame. Balrogs they were named by the Noldor in later days.’
    -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion (I) The First Phase, §18 commentary
    <DIV style="MARGIN: 0in 0.4in 0pt">
    The Balrogs, now stated to have been Maiar, are said to be those who started to follow him during his splendor, before his corruption. They must be, therefore, have been (or been among those who were) his ‘but small following’. This means that initially they could not have been hundreds, or thousands, or a host. However, it seems likely that at this stage, Tolkien may have still envisioned Balrogs as growing in number through the ages. This was not to last.

    This secondpassageappears to befrom LQ2 (although noted in the commentary to LQ1), and arguably betterrelates to the Valaquenta account rather,of the same generalperiod -- whatever it has to say on the matter of numbers. Also,thequote fromversion Cconcerning this 'small following' wasomitted fromversion D: 'The concluding passage from this paragraph, from 'For he was alone without friend or companion...' omitted' (CJRT commentary, Ainulindale D).

    So to my mind: 'These were the (ealar) spirits who first adhered to him in the days of his splendour...'should rather becompared withthe Valaquenta account: 'For ofthe Maiar many were drawn to his splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into darkness; and others he corrupted afterwards to his service with lies and treacherous gifts. Dreadful among these spirits were the Valaraukar,...' In the margin of one copy of LQ2, relating to Melkor 'making' the Balrogs,Tolkien wrote: 'See Valaquenta for true account'. And the reason LQ2 (1958-ish) wasn't true, orhad to be revised, is because the wording of LQ1§18 ('These were the first made of his creatures: their hearts were of fire, but they were cloaked in darkness...') was retained in LQ2.Unless I've made a mistake, whatwe have is basically (with respect to the Later Quenta Silmarillion texts):


    early 1950s

    LQ1: 'some were from the beginning drawn to the power of Melkor' Of The Valar
    'These were the first made of his creatures...' §18 concerning Balrogs, from Of the Coming of the Elves

    later 1950s

    LQ2: 'For of the Maiar many were drawn to his splendour in the days of his greatness...' Valaquenta
    'These were the (ealar) spirits who first adhered to him in the days of his splendour...'§18 concerning Balrogs, revised

    Of course in the early 1950s (if we follow CJRT's feeling about the dating here) we also have AAm*where the Balrogsare Umaiar. Butin any case the passage fromAinulindale was not onlyseemingly rejectedbut comes from a different phase of writing than the description of the ealar from LQ2.Edited by: Galin

  49. I have a question. Is Sauron a Balrog or Mair? Because in the Silmarillion it says: "But Melkor was not alone. He was aided by the Mair and creatures of extreme power the Balrogs. One of the more power ful of these was named Sauron..." Or some thing like that.
    Strike Your Iron When It's Glowing Hot.

  50. halfir's Avatar
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    #50

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">It is quite clearly stated in The Silmarillion -Of the Enemies that Sauron, Melkor's greatest servant in his beginning he was of the Maiar of Aulë.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">You have actually conflated two separate paragraphs in your quote and have thus mis-stated what The Silmarillon actually says about Sauron.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">However, as is made clear in the opening essay in this thread Tolkien in developing his concept of Balrogs latterly made them into Maiar.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">So both Sauron and the Balrogs are Maiar, but not all Maiar are Balrogs- and neither was Sauron!
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Edited by: halfir
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  51. Laitaine Adarlas's Avatar
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    #51
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">It appears from all the quotes you have presented above that Gothmog is the only Balrog mentioned that not only had a name, but also a gender. Not only is he called the lord of the Balrogs but there is also the quote "Then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe". Gothmog is obviously male.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">But what about the rest of them, particularly the one Glorfindel battled and the one in Moria? I've pulled these quotes from your first post.
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1"> Then Glorfindel’s left hand sought a dirk, and this he thrust up that it pierced the Balrog’s belly nigh his own face (for that demon was double his stature); and it shrieked...
    -HoME II: The Books of Lost Tales II, The Fall of Gondolin
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1"> The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall.
    -The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">Why did Tolkien deny the rest of the balrogs Balrogs any gender? It seems implausible that they would be female, as save for Thuringwethil I can't think of any First Age female servants of Morgoth. Even Ungoliant was not really one of his servants. But I will admit, it could be possible but I have always thought of them as male. But is Tolkien making a conscious decision to make the Balrogs neither gender? Or is he trying to clearly distinguish it from Gandalf and Glorfindel in his text?
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">It seemed to be of man’s shape, but its form could not be plainly discerned. -HoME VII: The Treason of Isengard, The Bridge, note following Draft 'A'

    This quote makes me think that the balrog is shaped like Men, and not necessarily a man. But if you can convince me that is wrong and that the Balrog is clearly male, I will stand corrected.

  52. Galin's Avatar
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    #52

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">It seems Gandalf chose 'him'for 'Name him not!' for example, or: he fell with me.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">As far as that goes, anyway
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">There's also a 'he, him, his' forGlorfindel's (early version)Balrog in The Book Of Lost Tales.Edited by: Galin

  53. halfir's Avatar
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    #53
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  54. geordie's Avatar
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    #54


    Just a passing thought - most of the time, Tolkien refers to orcs as 'he'. But in RotK ch.1, The Tower of Cirith Ungol, Tolkien refers to the orc with the whip as 'it'.



    'It raised the whip a second time, but the blow never fell... The orc wheeled round, but before it could make a move Sam slashed its whip-hand from its arm... (Sam) fell backwards, clutching at the orc as it stumbled over him... The orc in its wild haste had tripped on the ladder-head...'



    This is the one who was arguing with Shagrat earlier.



    'I'm not going down those stairs again, be you captain or no... a nice mess you two precious captains have made of things, fighting over the swag...'



    There's something about the tone of that voice, beyond the general tone of disapproval... Sounds distinctly female to me...









    Este Edit - So girls are 'its' now, huh?
    Edited by: Nutella

  55. halfir's Avatar
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    #55
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  56. geordie's Avatar
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    #56
    Este Edit - So girls are 'its' now, huh?

    No, no, no - well, perhaps maybe. The main thing is that this particular snaga is not referred to as 'he', which leaves the question open: is this orc a she, not a he? The nagging tone sets me wondering.

    As Tolkien himself wrote in the Munby letter: 'There must have been orc women'.



    Edited by: geordie
    It's all in the books...

  57. halfir's Avatar
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">And of course as Tolkien later wrote to Dora Flack:
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">Orc women were notorious fishwives and naggers (unpublished letter in a private collection)

    Este Edit -
    You're terrible. *dies* But I will leave you advanced lorists to yourself. I just can't resist teasing geordie when the opportunity presents itself.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">Edited by: halfir
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  58. ceedawn's Avatar
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    #58
    perhaps balrogs are neither male or female; not choosing a gender, although given the male appellation as a ''fallback''. ha ha, the old male fallback position. also, i'm far from offended, but, males nag just as much as females.
    never laugh at live dragons!

  59. Alcarináro's Avatar
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    All Ainur are inherently gendered. Balrogs would be no exception. The following quote says 'Valar', but it is meant to apply to Maiar as well.

    But when they clad themselves the Valar arrayed them in the form some as of male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice; even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment, but is not made thereby.
    -HoME X: Morgoth’s Ring, The Ainulindale, §25

    Galin mentions that Gandalf refers to the Balrog when he says 'Name him not!' In the recalling of his struggle against Durin's Bane, he also refers to the Balrog with the words 'he', 'him', 'his' seventeen more times. Tolkien also refers to Durin's Bane as 'he' in Letter 210.
    As to the Balrog Glorfindel fought, in BoLT it is described both as 'it' and 'he'. When Glorfindel actually starts to fight with it, the pronoun by which it is described loses gender. I posit that the main reason behind this is that Tolkien did not wish to cause confusion between the pronouns for the Balrog and for Glorfindel. Note that, likewise, when the Balrog is fighting Gandalf it is 'it', but when Gandalf is recalling the fight (and is himself 'I'), the Balrog is 'he'.

    This is, of course, not to mention that, as I describe in the original post, the evolution of Balrogs through the rewrites of the mythos have them for decades being a race, and along with this concept there are quotes about them increasing in number. This would necessitate female Balrogs in that stage, at the very least. I had a thread about the possibility of female Balrogs, back when I envisioned this whole thing as much more detailed examination. I think it is in Ad Lore of Archive 5.

    Galin, I see your post from the last page and will respond to it at some time in the next few days, but at the moment I am very deprived of sleep, as might be evident from the structure of this post.

  60. Heskil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alcarináro
    Balrogs are, at this time, in numbers well over a thousand, and are a race of demons created long ago by Morgoth.

    PE 14 contains a table entitled 'Creatures of the Earth', which was composed by Tolkien about 1918-1920. This table reflects 'a hierarchical reordering of the seven categories of beings'. It is stated there that Balrogs were 'probably an evil form of fays'. Although there are no direct indications on the Barlogs’ origin in the Book of Lost Tales, we can conclude that at least in this version of the Legendarium they were not creatures of Morgoth, but rather belonged to these predecessors of the concept of Maiar.Edited by: Ghost of a Rose

  61. Corlassion Manaveru's Avatar
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    #61
    As for female orcs, and i suppose one could extend this to female balrogs, i would suppose that we should keep in mind that orcs were originally elves, who are of both genders. It seems logical to say that orcs could be of both genders as well, unless Melkor or Sauron or Saruman devised some way to merely breed them using some form of genetic engineering or cloning. Those shots of the Uruk Hai in the movies are only slightly disturbing, and bring to mind some odd science.


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    Thank you for such a great post Elenhir.

    I am now tempted to attempt drawing a Balrog. I was always hesitant to try due to a lack of confidence in my own imaginary conception of the demons.

  63. Estel Undomiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncultured Swine
    I just wanted to say congrats and thank you to Elenhir, a great post full of detail and objective thinking and a hint of detective work

    Very informative and a good read, I have a question which is linked to part of your post, in regards to Morgoth wanting the ability to fly or at least to bestow it open his servants. As you stated, he finally managed it in the last brood of Dragons, do you or anyone else have any info on how he did this? I would very much like some info on this if you or anyone can shed any light I would be appriciative!
    Again, well done on the great post.
    Not only that, but I have a question about the dragons themselves. If Melkor could not make anything with semblance of life as it says in the Silmarillion, how could he have created Dragons ? By slow torture of the Eagles, as he had done with the orcs ? No, I think not for if he could not fly I very much doubt it that he could catch them or trap them in theireyries high up in the mountains.

    I leave it for the Loremastersto clear me up on this.

  64. Elenhir congratulations!This post is great!I now think I know more thinks about Balrogs,although I have already read about them in Tolkien's books.I think this post enriches the whole forum!!!

  65. Well done. Very informative.


  66. Laielinwen's Avatar
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    geordie:
    There's something about the tone of that voice, beyond the general tone of disapproval... Sounds distinctly female to me...


    Shame on you!

    Al... excellent observation and analysis! Counting as well as pointing out the particular circumstances in which Tolkien used "it" and "he". (Fighting/actively engaged with the balrog or reflecting back/discussing) Nice job.
    In memory of my beloved friend halfir, whose journey continues on just beyond my sight, but the impressions of his footprints behind, forever can be seen: the ROAD goes ever on and on...

  67. Galin's Avatar
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    'Galin, I see your post from the last page and will respond to it at some time in the next few days,...'

    I'll ramble onbefore the few days are up

    My niggle concernsyour choice of texts, not so much theconclusion. Basically you compare a phase I text (one arguably revised within its phase as well)to a phase II text, to conclude that:'The Balrogs, now stated to have been Maiar, are said to be those who started to follow him during his splendor, before his corruption. They must be, therefore, have been (or been among those who were) his ‘but small following’. This means that initially they could not have been hundreds, or thousands, or a host.'

    Evenin phase II (later 1950s) there seem to have been at least the possibility ofmany Balrogs: because the Valaquenta stated that many Maiar were drawn toMelkor's splendour, and alsothat the Balrogs werethe ealar (spirits) who first adhered to him in the days of his splendour (noting the repetition of the word splendour in the phase II texts).

    More generally, though Tolkien revised AAm in phase II for much reduced Balrog numbers,revisions were not carried out systematically: one exampleIfind surprisingis the reference to Sauron coming against Orodreth with a host of Balrogs, because Tolkien made revisions to this section (section 143) in both phase I and phase II, and seems never to have revised this -- and actually JRRT revised the very next sentence in both phases -- while the word 'host' in the previous sentence is the very same word as ultimatelyrevised in AAm!

    Anyway one could try toexplain that variously,soto expand (but not complete)my earlier collection of references to both Melkor's following and references toBalrogs:

    early 1950s

    A) Ainulindale C, section 24:'For he was alone, without friend or companion, and he had as yet but small following; since of those that had attuned their music to his in the beginning not all had been willing to go down with him into the World, and few that had come would yet endure his servitude.’ Ainulindale D, section 24:'the concluding passage of this paragraph, from 'For he was alone, without friend or companion...' omitted.' (CJRT)

    B) Later Quenta Silmarillion 1: Of The Valar, section 10b:'some were from the beginning drawn to the power of Melkor' Of The Coming of the Elves, section 18 (concerning Balrogs):'These were the first made of his creatures...'

    C) Annals of Aman, section 30: 'And in Utumno he wrought the race of demons whom the Elves after named the Balrogs.' Section 50: 'on a sudden a host of Balrogs.'

    D) Annals of Aman abandoned typescript (or AAm*) section 30: 'And in Utumno he multiplied the race of the evil spirits that followed him, the Umaiar, of whom the chief were those demons whom the Elves afterwards named the Balrogath.'

    CJRT notes that there seems no way to determine with certainty when AAm* was made, but he thinks or feels thatit belongs to the first phase, so that's where I put it -- but the real problem hereis trying to decipherthe true order of all these texts within this phase.

    It seemsa somewhat complicatedgrey area, as we have two competing concepts of Balrogsin the same phase (Balrogs made by Morgoth,and Balrogsas corrupted Maiar), andalso texts regarding the spirits of Melkor. I assume AAm* came afterreferences to Morgoth 'making' Balrogs, butanyway,we have less texts to look atinthe laterperiod:

    later 1950s

    B) Later Quenta Silmarillion 2: Valaquenta section 10b:'For of the Maiar many were drawn to his splendour in the days of his greatness...' Of The Coming of the Elves, section 18 (concerning Balrogs):'These were the (ealar) spirits who first adhered to him in the days of his splendour...'

    C) Annals of Aman: section 30 (no revision, but note AAm* in earlier phase). Section 50 'a host of Balrogs' to 'his Balrogs'

    I realize that keeping it simpler can be part of writing an informativeessay, but in boiling it down,I'm not sure I would necessarilynote certaincitations having to do with Melkor's following, because when the Balrogsare not Maiarit doesn't matter how many spirits followedMelkor (Ainulindale C's 'but small following' suspect or not)-- and when theyare Maiarin AAm*they could be multiplied anyway --and when they are Maiar 'again' in phase II we have 'many' Maiar drawn to Melkor's splendour.

    Unless I'm mistaken (quite possible!)therelooks tostill bea 'vehicle' for many Balrogs right up to the phase II revision to AAm. After that, 'arguably not' despite certain descriptions never having been revised similarly.

  68. Kronis's Avatar
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    #68
    First off may I say bravo on such a wonderful article on the Balrogs, most indepth and, while I've given it a quick read, I'll be reading it properly when I print it off.

    One thing I would like ask however is this. It has been established that Balrogs are Maiar and so created by Eru Ilúvatar, please correct me if I'm wrong. Now we know that the Balrog Maiar were corrupted by Melkor so they served him. Now what I wonder is this; if the Balrogs were created by Eru and then corrupted by Melkor it stands to reason that they would have had a fairer form before their corruption. So do we have any idea if this is true and if so what the form was?


  69. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #69

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    Brilliant work, Alcarináro!I like the depth of your argument and the strong use of supporting quotes from primary sources in your argument; it is very strong.

    Below is a quote which further supports <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alcarináro’s[/B] argument above that Balrogs do not have wings. I will discuss this quote in depth as to its relevance and interpretation.
    <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>
    ‘But who can say what it hit?’ said Legolas.<O:P></O:P>
    ‘I cannot,’ said Gimli. ‘But I am glad that the shadow came no nearer. I liked it not at all. Too much it reminded me of the shadow in Moria – the shadow of the Balrog,’ he ended in a whisper.<O:P></O:P>
    ‘It was not a Balrog,’ said Frodo, still shivering with the chill that had come upon him. ‘It was something colder. I think it was ----.’ Then he paused and fell silent.<O:P></O:P>
    (<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">LOTR, FOTR, II, The Great River[/I])
    This discussion occurs at night directly after Legolas shoots dead the winged creature that one of the Nazgûl was on, as it flew over the Fellowship who were on the west bank of Anduin.
    ‘But who can say what it hit?’ said Legolas.<O:P></O:P>
    - It is obvious here that Legolas is talking about the winged creature, which is what the arrow hit.
    <O:P></O:P>
    ‘I cannot,’ said Gimli. ‘But I am glad that the shadow came no nearer. I liked it not at all. Too much it reminded me of the shadow in Moria – the shadow of the Balrog,’ he ended in a whisper.<O:P></O:P>
    - Gimli says ‘shadow’ three times, perhaps implying that he did not realise that the creature was a flying winged creature but that it was more a kind of shadow like the ‘two vast wings [of shadow]’ (<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">LOTR, FOTR, II, The Bridge of Khazad-D[/I]<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">ûm[/I]) of the Balrog which ‘were spread from wall to wall’ (<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">LOTR, FOTR, II, The Bridge of Khazad-D[/I]<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">ûm[/I]). As <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alcariáro[/B] wrote in the opening post above, the Balrog could not possibly have wings that are far bigger in comparison to its head-to-foot body height, they would be too out of proportion. So, perhaps Gimli interprets this ‘shadow’ to be an extension of the creature itself, that the wings (as mentioned by the narrator) of the winged creature are not actually thought of by him to be wings but a shadow that is stretching out from some not-clearly-seen creature, just like the ‘wings’ of the Balrog mentioned in the quotes above from <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Bridge of Khazad-D[/I]<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">ûm[/I]. Also, Gimli doesn’t say ‘wings of the Balrog’, he says ‘shadow of the Balrog,’ which is almost a direct confirmation from a character that Balrogs do not have wings.
    - Earlier on it is written: ‘Soon it appeared as a great winged creature, blacker than the pits in the night.’ (<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">LOTR, FOTR, II, The Great River[/I]). Maybe he did see the creature clearly, but we cannot be sure because it is night. The creature is described to the reader as being winged but none of the Fellowship members ever mention wings, only shadow therefore implying that they could not clearly see what it was, hence the conclusion of Gimli that it may have been a Balrog. The winged creature is described as ‘blotting out all light as it approached.’ (<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">LOTR, FOTR, II, The Great River[/I]) thus further supporting that the Fellowship could not clearly see what the creature was and if it had wings or not.
    - ‘But now rising and sailing up from the South the great clouds advanced, sending out dark outriders into the starry fields. [...] a dark shape, like a cloud and yet not a cloud, for it moved far more swiftly, came out of the blackness in the South, and sped towards the Company,’ (<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">LOTR, FOTR, II, The Great River[/I]). The winged creature approaches from out of the dark clouds (as implied in this quote) which may have obscured the creature’s true form and appearance from the Fellowship, therefore leading Gimli to interpret it as a Balrog by associating the creature with the clouds from which it came, thus likening the clouds to the ‘shadow of the Balrog’. Perhaps Gimli believed that the clouds behind the creature were created by it, just as the Balrog appeared to have control of its own shadow, changing the size and depth of its shadow accordingly.
    <O:P></O:P>
    ‘It was not a Balrog,’ said Frodo, still shivering with the chill that had come upon him. ‘It was something colder. I think it was ----.’ Then he paused and fell silent.<O:P></O:P>
    - Here I do not think that Frodo is talking about the winged creature, rather he is talking about the Nazgûl atop of it which he and the Fellowship can feel, but not see. Frodo says that ‘it was not a Balrog’ and he states that his reasoning is due its ‘colder’ presence. This does not shed any light on whether Balrogs have wings or not, but I think it is still relevant to this Balrogtopic as it further emphasises that Balrogs had ‘hearts of [...] fire, [... and] whips of flame.’ (The Silmarillion, Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor), etc., thus attributing Balrogs to be ‘hot’ creatures, whereas the Nazgûl is ‘cold’.
    <O:P></O:P>Edited by: Stinker_8

  70. Eowyn79's Avatar
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    #70
    Sauron was most definately a Maia, but that could be a confusing sentence.

  71. PredictableSurprise's Avatar
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    What do y'all think would have changed if the Balrog in Moria had gotten ahold of The Ring? Since Sauron was once the servant of Morgoth and during the First Age Balrogs were Morgoth's most feared soldiers would It have been able to usurp Sauron? I have asked some people I know and they say it couldn't have even used it because its not a "wizard" and would end up being used like Smeagol but the Balrog and Gandalf are both Maiar, note that Sauron is also just a Maiar, and Gandalf said the Ring would corrupt him to overthrow Sauron so would it not do the same to the Balrog? For it to have survived Morgoth's downfall it had to be incredibly strong already and add the daunting power of The Ring which contained much of Sauron's own power.



  72. Estel Undomiel's Avatar
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    #72
    Would it not be better if we could have a separate discussion on this?

    If it could drain Gandalf of his powers enough to tire him when in Khazad-Dum, I would say it would have been able to usurp Sauron! It is of the same race as him! There was a mention though that the balrog had been unleashed or that it had followed the fellowship because the ring had drawn it thither!
    It is ridiculous to think that it would become like Smeagol when there is a thought that had the ring come to Aragorn he would have been such a powerful person on the lines of Legolas whenAragornrelates to themof the trial of the Palantir with Sauron!

  73. SarumanRingMaker's Avatar
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    PredictableSurprise: I have asked some people I know and they say it couldn't have even used it because its not a "wizard" and would end up being used like Smeagol

    Well the Balrog is a wizard of sorts, if we generally qualify wizard as someone who can cast spells.

    "What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open!..." (The Bridge of Khazad-dum)

    I don't know why anyone would tell you the Balrog would become like Gollum. He had fled from Morgoth's service and seemed to be enjoying a permanent residence in Moria. I'm not sure what reasons he would desire the Ring, as he acts like he just doesn't want to be disturbed more than any desire for power or joining Sauron.
    Why youth? There is already enough youth. Why not a fountain of smart?

  74. Alcarináro's Avatar
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    My answer, whenever the question of 'what if the Balrog got the Ring?!' rears its head, is that the Balrog never displays any desire to rule or, really to do much of anything. All Durin's Bane seems to care about is waiting for the return of Morgoth and killing anyone who directly disturbs him. He never left Moria in the full thousand years since he drove the Dwarves out. He never appears to have tried to organize the Orcs around him (except perhaps selecting a drummer as a herald).



    Is he capable of using the Ring? Surely. That is trivial. Would he? Doubtful. His behaviour over amillennium indicates otherwise.The Ring is not designed to do what he does best; it gives the power to control and subjugate others, not to kill them.

  75. PredictableSurprise's Avatar
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    Haha its so nice to be in a forum of informed people, I asked my room mate and quoted all the LotR specific terminology and he just stared at me, but in response toAlcarináro's post"My answer, whenever the question of 'what if the Balrog got the Ring?!' rears its head, is that the Balrog never displays any desire to rule or, really to do much of anything." Doesn't The Ring have its own will? Granted up to this point it has used it to return to Sauron, leaving Gollum and such, but if it found a more powerful host could it not corrupt it if its mind was weak willed? Such as the Balrog seems to be, no desire except to remain close to the core of the earth and it couldn't have been too loyal to Morgoth if it fled during the final fight of his demise, basically I am asking is how sentient is The Ring? Cause its power is to control but it seems to be the one who ultimately controls the person who tries to use it.



  76. halfir's Avatar
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    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginwidth="1" marginheight="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">PredictableSurprise- A warm welocome to the Plaza and especially the Lore Forums. Enjoy.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.





  77. I dont think that Sauron was known of the presence of Durin's Bane.
    So they never allied with each other but its very possible that they did because Durin's Bane allowed the Orcs and Trolls in Moria.


    Edited by: Poltergeist

  78. Gothdagnir's Avatar
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    #78
    I am sure all of your brilliant minds have already wondered this, and/or I missed it in the very good piece of work Elenhir brought to us.



    I have often wondered at the fact that Balrogs were almost ( Almost is the key word ) a elite average soldier in the Sil ( There were in fact in a sense "Balrog Slayer" or "Hunters" ) but in LotR they ( I wonder if I should use this plural....Anyways ) were a very difficult for even Gandalf the Grey to slay. Which could also bring the question, could Gandalf kill any other Maiar ( A.K.A, the Witch King of Angmar, and could of Gandalf the White of won.... I guess we will never know.)?

    Anyways these are some of my thoughts sorry if rambled on.

    P.S Sorry if I spelling anything incorrectly.

    P.P.S Also sorry Admins about me bringing a OT question here.

  79. elrock's Avatar
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">Firstly the witch king is not a maiar and also the balrogs were melkors great captains-as was suaron (although he was called lietenant)-gandalf though a maia is bound to flesh and is weaker then he was as a maia-however it can be assumed that balrogs were also weaker than other maiar as elves slew some of them-including gothmog the greatest of them-so gandalfs feat though great was not impossible whereas killing other maiar not bound to flesh as the istari and balrogs would have probably been impossible as they would not actually be killed,
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">EDIT: also if balrogs had wings would the moria balrog not just have flown out of the chasm.
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">and yes Elinhirs work is incredibly impressive.Edited by: elrock

  80. Galin's Avatar
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    #80

    Alcarinaro wrote: 'Thus, as of 1916-7, we know that Tolkien had Balrogs of somewhere between twelve and fourteen feet tall (assuming Glorfindel was between six and seven feet tall).'

    I thought I would drag a quote from The Fall of Gondolin over here. 'Tis written that in those days the fathers of the fathers of Men were of less stature than Men now are, and the children of Elfinesse of greater growth, yet was Tuor taller than any that stood there. Indeed the Gondothlim were not bent of back as some of their unhappy kin became, labouring without rest at delving and hammering for Melko, but small were they and slender and very lithe.'

    It's also noted that the 'Noldoli' that came forth to see Tuor marvelled at his stature and gaunt limbs.

    I wondered elsewhere (in my 'Orks of the Elder Days' thread), if the reader is meant to think that the 'Noldor' or Gnomeswere not very tall in this conception, asif Tuor is smaller than the average Man of Tolkien's day (if that is the intended interpretation), but yet tall enough to be amarvelled at bythe Gnomes of Gondolin, I wonder how tall even a lord of Gondolin like Glorfindelmight have been.

    Of course if so, this only arguablyaffects (at least a bit)the height of the Balrog in this conception, and I don't recall if there is anything else in the early tales that might indicate an actual height of the Gnomes or Noldoli.

  81. geordie's Avatar
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    #81
    On the question of whether or not Gandalf could kill another maia - well, he did - he bumped off the balrog. (Mind you, he died doing it).

    And another maia who met his end in the story was Saruman, done in by poor old Grima. Maiar are not invincible; not in their embodied forms, anyway.

    Edited by: geordie
    It's all in the books...

  82. Galin's Avatar
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    #82
    With some further delving, I'm beginning to think the 'Elves' of the Lost Tales were notably smaller than they would later become, especially considering some old descriptions that I had forgotten, including:


    <BLOCKQUOTE =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">
    Nuin's words to Tu on the stature of the sleepers in the vale of Murmenalda are curious. In A is added: 'Men were almost of a stature at first with Elves, the fairies being far greater and Men smaller than now. As the power of Men has grown the fairies have dwindled and Men waxed somewhat.' Other early statements indicate that Men and Elves were originally of very similar stature, and that the diminishing in that of the Elves was closely related to the coming of, and the dominance of, Men.

    Nuin's words are therefore puzzling, especially since in A they immediately preceded the comment on the original similarity of size; for he can surely only mean that the sleepers in Murmenalda were very large by comparison with the Elves. That the sleepers were in fact children, not merely likened in some way to children, is made clear in D: 'Nuin finds the Slumbrous Dale (Murmenalda) where countless children lie'

    Christopher Tolkien, The Book of Lost Tales </BLOCKQUOTE>

    Nuin had said...

    '(...) nor any the more when Nuin made an end of his tale, telling of all he saw there -- and methought,' said he, 'that all who slumbered there were children, yet was their stature that of the greatest of the Elves.'

    How tall was Glorfindel of Gondolin, as originally conceived (I think Penlod was noted as the tallest of Gnomes in the early Fall of Gondolin). I don't think it was between 6 and 7 feet at this point.


  83. Endril's Avatar
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    #83


    As I was reading a translation of LOTR I saw that some of those that translated made the part with "darkness spread like wings" as actual wings... probably they watched the movies or something.

    The translation would sound like the balrog spread his wings of darkness, which surely leads to a totally different interpretation after all.

    A small question, I imagine the darkness that surrounded the balrog as almost a tangible, visible thing which shrouded the demonic being. Is that alright or was it otherwise?



  84. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #84
    Perhaps like Milton's description of Hell?

    No light, but rather darkness visible
    "I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses."

  85. Bostonion's Avatar
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    #85


    Endril,A small question, I imagine the darkness that surrounded the balrog as almost a tangible, visible thing which shrouded the demonic being. Is that alright or was it otherwise?That sounds right. The darkness is something noticable about Durin's Bane and it is visible enough to obscure the Balrog's form:What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and go before it. - Bridge of Khazad-dumAragorn points to both the shadow and flame:‘An evil of the Ancient World it seemed, such as I have never seen before,’ said Aragorn. ‘It was both a shadow and a flame, strong and terrible.’ - Mirror of GaladrielDorwiniondil's quote from Milton fits nicely. Because my impression was there was the darkness of Moria, but then the darkness (shadow) of the Balrog, which was even darker than the normal darkness from being underground. Also, if I recall, similar to Ungoliant's description about the 'unlight' aroundits form.

    everything is a copy, of a copy, of a copy

  86. Elessar Elfstone's Avatar
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    #86
    brilliant


    Elessar

  87. halfir's Avatar
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    #87
    Elessar Elfstone - a warm welcome to the Plaza and especially the Lore Forums. Enjoy.
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  88. Dal Maegil's Avatar
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    #88
    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginwidth="1" marginheight="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1">
    Quote Originally Posted by halfir
    But like most of Martinez's views on the works of those with whom he disagrees, he provides no substance for why he is right.
    <DIV marginwidth="1" marginheight="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">


    And he's not always so good at providing evidence for supporting the positions he does take either!
    The main post is an excellent bit of research, and I applaud it. The mention of Mr. Martinez reminded me of an article I saw in the Other Minds publication,entitled "Balrogsdo not have wings - but they do fly!", which was written in answer to Mr. Martinez's own essay, entitled "Do Balrogs have wings? Do they fly?" It's an interesting examination of thematter, one which seemed to have set Martinez off (at least temporarily). Here is alink to the publication; it's just past the editorial at the beginning. (link)

  89. halfir's Avatar
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    #89
    Lest it be thought otherwise I have the greatest respect for Michael Martinez who has produced some seminal work. But, like all of us, he does have lacunae (blind spots) and source referencing to support a point has on occasion been one of them. However, overall his contribution to Tolkien studies has been creative and inspirational- and that far outweighs the times when he is perhaps, less than perfect!

    And Dael Maegil thanks for the link. The 'Balrog's Wings' debate will, as they say of successful West End plays 'run and run' and supporters of the two main differing positions will continue to discuss and debate the issue until the end of Tolkien websites!
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  90. Troelsfo's Avatar
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    #90

    Quote Originally Posted by halfir
    Lest it be thought otherwise I have the greatest respect for Michael Martinez who has produced some seminal work. But, like all of us, he does have lacunae (blind spots)
    Hear! Hear!
    It would be pointless to turn this into a listing of Michael's contributions or of my own lacunae, so I'll forgo both
    The Balrog wings flame-wars that raged in the Tolkien newsgroups in the nineties often made the primary opponents take up arguments or positions that were more extreme than they would otherwise have done, which then led a schism where people would make up their mind on other issues based on their position in the Balrog wings discussion. One such attached issue has been on how to approach the material from The History of Middle-earthseries, with one side arguing that it documents a series of distinct and separate mythologies where nothing written for one mythology can be taken as evidence of how things were in a later mythology, and another side arguing that everything from e.g. The Book of Lost Talescould be taken as evidence even of how things work in the ‘Later Quenta Silmarillion’ unless explicitly contradicted. These days the main parties in that discussion would probably give less polarized descriptions of their positions, but, at least as I read the old discussions, in ‘ye olden days’ the positions really were that polarized.
    Michael Martinez responded on his blog to the piece in the Other Mindsjournal:http://blog.tolkien-studies.com/2010...gs-are-coming/
    I am inclined to agree with Michael in the opening paragraph, at least as far as Balrog wings are concerned:
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
    At some point in time, people will treat any essay concerning Balrogs with the utter disdain and dismay the topic thoroughly earns.
    not because there is nothing of interest to be gained from looking at the question (I have probably learned more about metaphors and similes and their use from that debate than I have from twelve years in the Danish schools, not to mention a lot about some of the intricacies of the English language), but because the history of the debate will turn any attempt at a firm analysis suspect. Perhaps if the subject could be completely killed for a decade, we could revisit it in a more detached manner, but that, alas, seems unlikely.

    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  91. geordie's Avatar
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    #91
    When I joined the Tolkien Society in 1981, the subject of balrog's wings was considered old hat.

    I think a decade's break might not be long enough.



    It's all in the books...



  92. Now, since this is
    still at a time when Tolkien conceived of Balrogs as a race of many thousands,
    it would make no sense for some members of the race to be twice as tall as
    others, so this idea cannot be written off as merely being a different, smaller
    Balrog than the one Glorfindel fought in BoLT.

    But are not hobbits supposed to be "between two and four feet tall"? Thus it is the case that the notion of some members of species being twice as tall as some others is not an unprecedented one in Tolkien's work.



  93. halfir's Avatar
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    #93
    Moestelveen a warm welcome to the Plaza and especially the Lore Forums. Enjoy!
    He that would foil me must use such weapons as I do, for I have not fed my readers with straw, neither will I be confuted with stubble.

  94. Great article! Very insightful.

  95. ElendilTheShort's Avatar
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    #95
    Why do people fail to acknowledge the simple understanding of the meaning of the words "like two vast wings" and once that description is given the later descriptive use of the word "wings".

    Saying the shadow is "like" wings does not imply in any way actual physical wings.

    Excellent post Alcarinaro. I always enjoyed your discussions years ago when you were posting as ElenhirEdited by: ElendilTheShort

  96. 123fingolfin's Avatar
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    #96
    Sauron was not a Balrog but one of the more powerful Mair.

  97. Darkcrow's Avatar
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    #97


    Bravo, very informative


  98. Haflin's Avatar
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    #98



    Quote Originally Posted by Darkcrow

    Bravo, very informative
    Quite so, The author of the original post should be proud of that work as it is quite extensive.the subject of Balrogs was a heated discussion between my classmates and I in my senior year of highschool where we studied Tolkein's work for our English Literature class.The conclusion I came to was that if Balrogs were a race or indeed a group of maiar aligned to Melkor then there were certainly, given their number, slight variations in appearance, stature, weaponry and so forth.Some of my friends also wonderd if it was possible that some Balrogs had wings while others did not. At the time I had not read the Silmarillion but with this information I'm sure I can now settle that little debate...



    Edited by: Haflin
    ~"If what we do doesn't matter then all that matters is what we do."~



  99. Actually I have never even thought of Sauron to bea Balrog, I believe it was actually stated several times in the books that Sauron was of the Maiar along with Gandalf, Saruman, and even the Balrog met at Khazad-Dum by the Fellowship.

    I am the Mouth of sauron, hear him speak.

  100. corlisswyn's Avatar
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    #100
    This passage came up in another fora, but I thought including it here might be a teeny good reference:
    Letter 210, to Forrest J. Ackerman"The Balrognever speaks or makes any vocal soundat all. Above all hedoes notlaugh or sneer." (the letter referred to a screenplay Tolkien read on LotR in the 1960s)
    From that passage, I rather imagine the balrog of that screenplay to be snarky and playful in his taunting of Gandalf, perhaps even in rhyme. The passage continues, "Z [Zimmerman, the screenwriter] may think that he knows more about Balrogs than I do, but he cannot expect me to agree with him." I daresay Tolkien took great offense.
    I also gleam from what has been said that perhaps Balrogs are not as sentient as the dominant races of Middle Earth (men, elves, dwarves, hobbits, etc.) Rather I see them as puppets that act only on instinct when not tethered to a master? Without vocal sounds, how might Balrogs communicate? And if they don't communicate, are they truly on par with the Children of Illuvatar?




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