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I'm curious, what do you think? Did Balrogs have wings?

(And I put this in "General Discussion" about Tolkien because I want people to feel free to use all sources, and not just ones they believe should or shouldn't be in "the canon" -- whatever that means.)
I believe some had wings, whilst others had not, just like some Balrogs had horns, some Balrogs had (pointy) tails, and some Balrogs were fans of Alice Cooper.

Twas all up to the Balrogs, they were Valaraukar - Maia spirits - and could all take on the form they wanted, and add any attributes to that form to their heart's content.

For instance, from chapter 9 of the Silmarillion :

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Deep in forgotten places that cry was heard. Far beneath the rained halls of Angband, in vaults to which the Valar in the haste of their assault had not descended, Balrogs lurked still, awaiting ever the return of their Lord; and now swiftly they arose, and passing over Hithlum they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

I think those Balrogs were winged, as i can't see how else they would've made it to Lammoth in time to save their master from Ungoliant's tender embrace. Also the fact that "passing over Hithlum" is mentioned, which to me indicates that flying was involved.

Other Balrogs though, were not winged. Remember that Glorfindel fought a Balrog in Gondolin and threw it down to its doom : if that Balrog was winged, wouldn't it have saved itself by using its wings ? Of course, the Balrog possessing wings doesn't necessarily mean it can fly, but why would it have wings then ? Another possibility is that the Balrog's wings were destroyed in the battle.

All the confusion of course, started with the following quote from The Bridge of Khazad-Dm :

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The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings.

Whilst JRRT only used a comparison, some ppl choose to take this literally.

Also note that Gandalf killed Durin's Bane by throwing it to its doom, which would mean that if the Balrog did have wings, it couldn't fly. Of course, it would be rather unlogical for a Balrog to have wings but not being able to fly : this would be inefficient, hence i think if Balrogs had wings, that they could indeed fly.

So the conclusion is that imo Durin's Bane was not winged.
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So the conclusion is that imo Durin's Bane was not winged.
Then what the heck have I been serving in the The Khazad-dumish Inn? Orc Grinning Smilie

For more on the subject of Balrog wings see Balrogs, the belrog, and the balrogs wings.

Of course feel free to continue the discussion here if you wish.
Thanks for the references, Grondy. I'll take a look. I don't think there is necessarily a right answer, but I thought I would throw it out there.
In the Encyclopedia of Arda, it says this about a Balrog's appearance:
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Balrogs were spirits of fire - their hearts were of fire, we are told, and they carried whips of flame. They could, however, shroud themselves in darkness and shadow. The Balrog that Gandalf fought in Moria, for example, at first gave no hint of his fiery nature apart from the flames that issued from his nostrils.

(Nothing about wings...) But.... It also has an article on whether they had wings or not...
http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/
In the infamous essay, I believe by Mike Martinez, the two passages Miruvor quotes figure prominently (so much for the canon.) I'm inclined to agree to agee with Miruvor on individual Balrogs (I demur at my peril since on known matters I've found he's rarely wrong) while noting that in the Silmarillion passage Martinez (or whomever the author is) quite rightly points out that it doesn't specificaly state they had wings, and could be a figurative description of high speed (after all, the Balrog in the Moria ASCII dungeon was permanently hasted, though I still beat him.) The essayist also observes that the the environs of Moria might well have been too confined at the Balrogs fall for the use of wings, and a similar situation is known to have existed on the Echoriath. All in all, it's a fascinating topic of speculation, but the text offers no diffinitive answer (of which I'm unaware) so I answer the question of "Do Balrogs have wings or not?" the way I answer all such: "Yes."
Yes the Moria Balrog has wings.

Just after the passage where it says "the shadow reached out like two vast wings." (which is definatly just a simile

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The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall;...


This is not metaphor or simile. Its wings were spread from wall to wall.

The darkness/shadow first grew, then it spread its wings.

I will have to go with the theory that the fall of the Balrog and Gandalf was in a confined space so wings would be useless.

So don't worry Gondy keep serving up those Balrog wings.

They are rather good.



_____________

also

Quote:
In the Encyclopedia of Arda, it says this about a Balrog's appearance:


Quote:
Balrogs were spirits of fire - their hearts were of fire, we are told, and they carried whips of flame. They could, however, shroud themselves in darkness and shadow. The Balrog that Gandalf fought in Moria, for example, at first gave no hint of his fiery nature apart from the flames that issued from his nostrils.


I will have to disagree with the nostrils part.

from the chapter The Bridge of Khazad-dum

Quote:
Its streaming mane kindled, and blazed behind it. In its right hand was a blade like a stabbing tongue of fire...


This is when the Balrog first appeared. I didn't even quote the part where the Balrog jumps over the fiery fissure and the flames roared up to greet it, and wreathed about it. That could be coincedence and not part of the balrogs fiery nature.
I believe Mike Martinez DOES argue that the second occurrence of "wings" in the passage is a continuation of the metaphor in the first. Personally, I view it as I do all such matters: the evidence is inconclusive, so it's up to the reader; I see them with wings, so they have wings so long as they don't leave my mind
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Twas all up to the Balrogs, they were Valaraukar - Maia spirits - and could all take on the form they wanted, and add any attributes to that form to their heart's content.


I agree here with you, that Balrogs are Valaraukar and Maiar (it is quite obvious :-) ), but I don't think, that they are free to do with their shape. There is no passage in the books, where a Balrog has a different shape. My presumption is, that Morgoth (or themselves) put them into a shape like the Istari only with not diminished powers. There is no mention, that a Balrog's spirit returns to Morgoth a get a new shape like Sauron did.
And why didn't Durin's Bane changed his shape during the centuries? I cannot prove it, but I find it is very likely, that the Balrogs cannot change their shape that easy.
Of course, it is still possible, that not all Balrogs have the same shape. Some can have wings and some not.....
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There is no mention, that a Balrog's spirit returns to Morgoth a get a new shape like Sauron did.

Sauron didn't need to get to Morgoth to get a new shape. Note that in the wrestle with Huan, Sauron began as the Necromancer, but subsequently changed into a serpentlike creature and after that, in a vampire. Whilst we're at it, Sauron never went to Morgoth to get a new shape; after he was defeated by Huan, he never returned to Morgoth as he failed and he didn't want to feel the wrath of this master (so he fled to Taur-nu-Fuin).

Also, after his body was destroyed after the fall of Numenor and after his defeat at the second age, he didn't need Morgoth to give him a new physical presence.

It is without doubt, though, that the Necromancer was Sauron's main shape at that point. I believe every Maia/Vala has chosen a main shape when dealing with the plane JRRT's stories take place in.

Anyway, it is not even clear to me whether Balrogs really had a physical body. They're often depicted as big hairy beasts with horns, but i've always seem them more as huge shadows surrounded by flames.

JRRT himself wrote this about Balrogs in Letters:

#144:
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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 it is here 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.


#210 (JRRT bashing Zimmerman's film treatment of LOTR):
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20. The Balrog never speaks or makes any vocal sound at all. Above all he does not laugh or sneer. .... Z may think that he knows more about Balrogs than I do, but he cannot expect me to agree with him.


And that's it.

Again, i believe JRRT just chose an unfortunate metaphore in chapter Khazad-Dm, so that some ppl think Balrogs have wings. There's elements in the books that lead to believe that they were winged, whilst others lead to think they weren't (see my previous post in this thread). I for me, don't care.
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Sauron didn't need to get to Morgoth to get a new shape. Note that in the wrestle with Huan, Sauron began as the Necromancer, but subsequently changed into a serpentlike creature and after that, in a vampire. Whilst we're at it, Sauron never went to Morgoth to get a new shape; after he was defeated by Huan, he never returned to Morgoth as he failed and he didn't want to feel the wrath of this master (so he fled to Taur-nu-Fuin).


Sorry, I think that I took the wrong words. Of course they didn't need Morgoth to have a new shape. They must not return to Morgoth. He was not the master of the Balrog's "life". So he was not responsible for a new "life and shape" of the Balrogs. I just wanted to express, that it is not known, that the Balrogs used a possibility to take a new shape after they lost a shape. I wanted to express that with the example of Sauron, but I did it obviously wrong.

What I meant was, that we don't know an example, that a Balrog has taken a new shape.
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What I meant was, that we don't know an example, that a Balrog has taken a new shape.

Sorry, but we do have an example.

From TTT, chapter The White Rider :
Quote:

'Then tell us what you will, and time allows!' said Gimli. 'Come, Gandalf, tell us how you fared with the Balrog!'
'Name him not!' said Gandalf, and for a moment it seemed that a cloud of pain passed over his face, and he sat silent, looking old as death. 'Long time I fell,' he said at last, slowly, as if thinking back with difficulty. 'Long I fell, and he fell with me. His fire was about me. I was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark. Cold it was as the tide of death: almost it froze my heart.'
'Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin's Bridge, and none has measured it,' said Gimli.
'Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,' said Gandalf. 'Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.
'We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin's folk, Gimli son of Glin. Far, far below the deepest delving of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dm: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.'
Hmmm....yes, you are right. I must now think about my theory :-)
Well, being Maia Balrogs could change their form. They can spontaneously spring of fiery whips. I assume you are familiar with the passage from the mines of Moria. When Tolkien refers to the Balrog's "shadow" he refers to it in a way that his shadow is part of himself that he can manipulate in his malice. Tolkien refers to shadow often as the physcial embodiment of ones' anger.

Now basically, I don't see why Balrogs cannot sprout wings being Maia. They can materialize weapons so why not wings? I think Balrogs do have wings becaue of how Tolkien uses the term "shadow" in his writings. I believe the Moria passage wasn't a complete metaphore.