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We had an interesting chat last night (for me) on #Tolkien about er..... Tolkien stuff and one thing we talked about was Balrogs. I found a couple of passages in the Simarillion :

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For of the Maiar many were drawn to his (Melkor's) splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into his darkness; and others he corrupted afterwards to his service with lies and treacherous difts. Dreadful among these spirits were the Valarauker, the scourges of fire tht in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror.

Silmarillion, page 31 'Of the Enemies'.

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And in Utumno he gathered his demons about him, those 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 in Middle-earth in later days.

Silmarillion page 47 Ch 3

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Far beneath the ruined 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. With their whips of flame they smote asunder the webs of Ungoliant, and she quailed, and turned to flight, belching black vapours to cover her....

Simariliion page 81 The Flight of the Noldor

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...but at the last he(Feanor) was smitten to the ground by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, whom Ecthelion after slew in Gondolin.


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

Silmarillion page 251 The Voyage of Earendil

So Balrogs were Maiar, corrupted by Melkor and loyal to him. They have a hierachy - we have
Lord of Balrogs - Gothmog. And those that were not destroyed fled underground. How many more lurk in the depths?

Anyone any more info/ideas?
There's still one in my basement. I call him Dourif's Bane.
From the notes in Morgoth's Ring, it would seem Tolkien was having second thoughts on the numbers of Balrogs....

From paragraph 50 of the Annals of Aman, which was one of the sources for a section of the Silmarillion..

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Thence seeing all was lost (for that time), he sent forth a sudden host of Balrogs, the last servants that remained, and they assailed the standard of Manwe, as it were a tide of flame.


The notes about this section say...


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It is notable that the Balrogs were still at this time, when the Lord of the Rings had been completed, conceived to have existed in very large numbers (Melkor sent forth "a host of Balrogs")


Some of Tolkien's later work was an amended version of the Annals of Aman. This was an unfinished work, but he had made the following change to the text

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"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 beside this paragraph, Tolkien had written...

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


I think as he evolved his story, Tolkien was perhaps realising he could not have too many of these such powerful creatures. I think by reducing their numbers, it makes each individual that much more powerful and the deeds of Ecthelion and Gandalf that much greater.
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Thus it was that he (Feanor) drew far ahead of the van of his host; and seeing this the servants of Morgoth turned to bay, and there issued from Angband Balrogs to aid them. There upon the confines of Dor Daedeloth, the land of Morgoth, Feanor was surrounded, with few friends about him. Long he fought on, and undismayed, though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds; but at the last he was smitten to the ground by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, whom Echtelion after slew in Gondolin. There he would have perished, had not his sons in that moment come up with force to his aid; and the Balrogs left him, and departed to Angband.


Silmarillion, The Return of the Noldor

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Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, high-captain of Angband, was come; and he drove a dark wedge between the Elvenhosts, surrounding King Fingon, and thrusting Turgon and Hurin towards the Fen of Serech. Then he turned upon Fingon. That was a grim meeting. At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a thong of fire about him. Then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe, and a white flame sprang up from the helm of Fingon as it was cloven.


Silmarillion, Nirnaeth Arnoediad

When you come to think of it, it does make sense that Gothmog was high-captain of Morgoth, while Sauron was only his lieutenant! Slaying two High Kings of the Noldor and one mighty Noldo Prince (Echtelion of the Fountain)... That’s tough to surpass even by Gorthaur aka Sauron!
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I think as he evolved his story, Tolkien was perhaps realising he could not have too many of these such powerful creatures. I think by reducing their numbers, it makes each individual that much more powerful and the deeds of Ecthelion and Gandalf that much greater.

I think there were more than 7... but a lot of them perished at the battle of Gondolin, while the rest -safe a few- were destroyed at the war of wrath.
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I think there were more than 7... but a lot of them perished at the battle of Gondolin, while the rest -safe a few- were destroyed at the war of wrath.


As the Silmarillion was finally written, I agree, there were lots of Balrogs ("Hosts" of them). The Silmarillion we read today, however, is not the final story JRR was in the process of writing. He had spent a great deal of his life writing and modifying his story, and was still doing so when he died. Were he still alive today, I sometimes wonder if the book would have been published yet, or if he would still be working on it.

When we read the Sil, we don't really see this, but it is a joining together of lots of these stories and notes that JRR wrote over the years. Many of his later writings, and thus those relating to the direction JRR was steering the book in his later years, are not included. In these later writings it would seem JRR was dramatically toning down the number of Balrogs, but it is not these later writings that Christopher used for the version we see today.

It leaves me with a dilemna. Do I go with the "hosts" that Christopher placed in print, or with the 3 to 7 that JRR was intending to have had he lived longer? I don't think either argument is really wrong, although more people will have the impression of "hosts" because that is what they see in print.

Something has struck me about Gandalf and the Balrog in Moria that I'm abstracting a bit beyond what is explicit in Tolkien. The balrogs are Maiar and Gandalf is a Maiar. Further, Gandalf is typified always as a master of fire. Cirdan gives him Narya the red, the ring of fire. His spells typically are of fire. The balrogs are repeatedly described as spirits of flame.

In some sense, from before the foundations of Arda, across the bridge of Khazad Dum, Gandalf is face to face with a brother.
Balrogs were originally spirits of fire, Valaraukar, just like Arien, who sails the ship of the Sun. Only difference is that Balrogs allied themselves to Morgoth.

Gandalf is not a Valarauka, it seems that Olorín - which was Gandalf's name in Valinor - was a servant of Nienna or Manwë instead.

So i fail to see how Gandalf would be a brother of Durin's Bane.
They could be; after all, Melkor and Manwe are brothers... Yet I don't recall Olorin to be one of the fire spirits. Narya is the one which helps him fight the Balrog in Moria...
Okay, all of my identification of Gandalf with fire is circumstantial, but it is consistent.

While Arien is a spirit of fire or spirit of flame, the term Valaraukar is, as far as I can find, used exclusively for the Balrogs. In any case, they all did exist before the earth together with each other and with Iluvatar. I identify them all as of a type for, I think, good reason. I say "brother" metaphorically. Melkor and Manwe are hardly such because they have a shared mother and father.
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Melkor and Manwe are hardly such because they have a shared mother and father.


Huh? I don't understand. Eru created Melkow and Manwe. And I do agree that the term Valaraukar was used only for the balrogs.
I don't know, Loni. I am not sure what shaya meant exactly. Yes, the father of all is Eru or whatever name you wish to call him by. Although dwarves are more distant in that Aule originally created them (sort of Eru's grandchildren) but I think Eru had to give them life. Gandalf is a Maia and the Balrogs were originally Maia who were corrupted ,so loosely speaking they are related (to use a general term). But the creation of the Valar and all other spirits was by Eru alone.
What I meant was that even though Melkor and Manwe are described as brothers it's not for the reason humans are defined as brothers. I was writing in defense of my writing "brothers" about pre-existing spirits of fire. Eventually, my identifying Olorin as a spirit of fire is the least documented and most intuitive thing I say.
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Melkor and Manwe are hardly such because they have a shared mother and father.

There are relations between Valar all right. Manwë and Melkor are indeed brothers, that relation between them was made by their father Eru, who is the father of all Ainur. It are two spirits who are brothers, so of course you can't compare with humans.

There is not only relation between Melkor and Manwë : Vana and Yavanna are sisters; Namo, Irmo are brothers and Nienna is their sister.

Anyway, it is mentioned nowhere in the Silmarillion or anywhere else that Olorín was a spirit of fire. It's just mentioned that he visited Nienna's halls a lot, that he liked being in Tirion a lot, and that he was sent to Middle-Earth by Manwë and Varda themselves...

He did wield Narya, the ring of fire, but the reason why Círdan gave it to him is not because Gandalf was a spirit of fire and because Círdan noticed that; Círdan gave it because he could see that Gandalf would need it in the future.

The only 'fiery' thing which can be appointed to Gandalf is that he mentions he is "a wielder of the secret flame of Anor" but i think that's just a warning given to the Balrog to show that he has the power to rebuke the "flame of Udűn".

The only thing Gandalf has in common with any Balrog is that they're both of the Ainur.
I don't want to go that much farther with this. I don't have anything conclusive to say. I have already pointed out how much of his magic has to do with fire. What I posted originally is still how I feel.

It's not my primary image of Gandalf, anyway. I associate him with Nienna, my favorite of the Valar.

It is unwise to dispute with someone who has a balrog in their cellar, anyway. My sump pump would indeed be no match.
I think the comparison I would make to illustrate the Sauron/Gothmog relationship would be Prime Minister/Field Marshall. Sauron was the more wise and subtle, and, I think, more intimately involved with Morgoths counsels; Gothmog was shaped and formed for battle, of which Sauron was capable, but other things as well.
I wonder if "Goth"mog painted his face white and his nails black, and if he wore black lipstick, together with a black trenchcoat.

At least we know Morgoth did. I reckon Marilyn Manson'd do a good job in a future Sil flick..

I was wondering, do the balrogs just serve Melkor, or do serve sauron to?

 

Also, what are some characteristics of balrogs?

It is my opinion they only served Morgoth. They were more or less "equal" with Sauron during Morgoths reign. Both having high ranks but servin different purposes, as mentioned above.

So, when Morgoth was out of the picture, neither believed the other worthy to be in charge. So the few remaining balrogs fled to the shadows to make their return with Morgoth's. Which interestingly enough suggests the balrogs aren't TRULY evil...they just do what they're told. Sauron was more than intent on continuing the dark plans of his master, but the balrogs figured there was no point. And of course there is no mention of Sauron teaming with balrogs after the First Age.

So I've always believed they did not work together and had no intention of doing so. Same with dragons. We know they existed during the Second and Third age, but at no point did they help Sauron or did he even attempt to ask for their help (as far as we know). Thus, it seems unlikely the two ever worked together post-Morgoth.

I agree. I don't think the balrogs would've follow Sauron even if he went and tried to recruit them. Now if it was Gothmog, it would've been different.

That is an excellent point, Glorfindel! Would another one of Morgoth's servants be able to keep the band together?

I agree Gothmog has the best chance of Sauron or Glaurung in maintaining a following. Though I still couldn't be 100% sure. Would Sauron follow Gothmog? I HIGHLY doubt it. And even if they he did, I just do not see that relationship working out. One always trying to undermine another, each questioning the other's final intentions and loyals...

I can see the dragons teaming with the balrogs, and maybe even destroying Sauron because he's a threat to them. Or Sauron would escape and create a new empire, and we'd have two major enemies to fear!!!

Is there even a text out there that suggests Sauron attempted to get their help? I feel like this is a pretty hefty plot hole that appears to be pretty overlooked. There has to be SOMETHING on it...

Hi guys, nice to read you again!

Point on dragons: Gandalf's basic premise in The Hobbit was that it couldn't be good to have a dragon so handy, there on the Lonely Mountain, that Sauron could approach and eventually get to help him in his dour and terrible plan; specifically, against Wilderland and even Eriador; therefore, he would help the dwarves in their quest, because interests would coincide.  And I guess Gandalf would be in a position to make an educated guess, as he, too, was a Maia and thus of a condition equal to Sauron and the balrogs, though the dragons would be another case, I guess...

Good thread, this!

Good point about Smaug. In my opinion, Smaug would only ally with Sauron if the situation benefited him. Even if it did happen, Smaug would see himself as equals and not as a servant of Sauron.

So I've always believed they did not work together and had no intention of doing so. Same with dragons. We know they existed during the Second and Third age, but at no point did they help Sauron or did he even attempt to ask for their help (as far as we know). Thus, it seems unlikely the two ever worked together post-Morgoth.

I was wondering about it a few days ago and had no idea the that the discussion is already open on PT.

Point on dragons: Gandalf's basic premise in The Hobbit was that it couldn't be good to have a dragon so handy, there on the Lonely Mountain, that Sauron could approach and eventually get to help him in his dour and terrible plan; specifically, against Wilderland and even Eriador; therefore, he would help the dwarves in their quest, because interests would coincide.

Exactly what my conclusions were. I wouldn't say for sure that Sauron would try to recruit Smaug. And guess he would fail* - but at the time no one knew when the Ring was and it would be a disaster if Sauron or Smaug would find it (I'm curious what would happen if Smaug would find it!). So Gandalf, knowing that the danger of Sauron's return is rising, wanted to get rid of the possibility that Middle-Earth will have to face them both - Smaug and Sauron. Cause the results of them being basically on the same side would be calamitous for Arda.

* I agree with Glorfindel, here - the only benefits of Smaug being alive for Sauron would be massive destruction of Arda and it's residents. I can't see Smaug becoming an ally for Sauron voluntarily unless he was offered something really prescious...

We are forgetting that Sauron could have bribed Smaug withe the riches of other free people's for his aid in battle. Should thy have happend all would have been lost. Dayton, don't forget, was the most cunning and patient power in ME and would have had a number of plans for domination.
Even if Sauron was able to bribed Smaug, he wouldn't serve Sauron as a "servent." It was the same with Saruman. He had his own agenda.
Just as Melkor bribed Ungolient, who was not subject to the Dark Lord, Dragons were greedy for unrequired wealth and therefore made ideal minions, albeit unknowingly for those who could offer wealth.

Yes and look how that turned out... sad

I think Glorfindel's point, which I wholeheartedly agree with, is an alliance would never be formed between the two. A temporary pact perhaps, but that's hardly the same thing. Also Melkor/Ungoliant were both after the same thing: the light of the universe. In Smaug/Sauron's case, both parties would have different end objectives and I just don't see it happening. At all. Dragon's don't care about world domination and dark overlords don't care about gold. Thus once the battle is over, so is their friendship.

And honestly I think a dragon would make a HORRIBLE minion. Minion's are servants who follow your every command without a second thought. A dragon would never be that subserviant to someone who was once, almost, his equal and would second guess every command he was given. Especially if he saw himself as an equal. The only master the dragons will ever serve is long gone.

 

Edit: Also Brego, what were you referring to when you said Dayton?? I'm going to guess it was an auto-correct mistake for Sauron...

Wicked auto correct (iphone)

Agreed re the dragon as minion argument,  However as a powerful tool, Smaug would be devastating against all of The Free Peoples as well as against nature itself.

Sauron, having been present during Melkor's use of his most powerful creations would be fully aware of their uses. Dragons in Tolkien's universe, obviously love destruction, cruelty and evilness.  Who knows, perhaps Sauron could have simply asked Smaug, who he possibly knew from an earlier Age, to have some destructive fun.....

I am sure that Mithrandir would have had a nagging doubt in regards to Smaug, would you?

Well, I'd have to disagree that dragons loved destruction. Cruelty and evilness yes, and undoubtedly Smaug and Sauron would be unstoppable. However dragons didn't destroy for the sake of conquering those peoples, like Morgoth/Sauron/Saruman etc. They would only show aggression to further their own interests, which was usually about wanting more treasure. Smaug felt wronged by the people of Dale, he didn't just think it was funny to torture them.

So I'd say the only way Sauron could get Smaug to join him is to bribe him with 3x the number of jewels and gold he already had. However afterwards, there is no doubt in my mind they'd split ways, if not just out of spite and/or jealousy. Perhaps even a war would start between the two. Sauron didn't keep his promise or used some loophole to give Smaug less or who knows. It seems more likely that Second Age Sauron could rally the balrogs for the sake of world domination, but certainly not the dragons. They have too much to live for (shiny possessions). However with the balrogs, Sauron must find them, and he'd probably have to go himself, something he probably didn't have much time for as all the free peoples of Middle Earth sought to destroy him!!

I'm not sure what you mean about Gandalf's nagging doubt though? Are you saying he would have a nagging doubt that Sauron/Smaug would have teamed up? Or that he was afraid they WOULD team up and have a nagging doubt they could be stopped? While I do not at all doubt that he would, technically he wouldn't have been around to have such thoughts :P  (sorry, couldn't resist)

Yes Rogs, I guess I am saying that I believe that Gandalf would have had some worry, even a tiny one. For if indeed Sauron was stirring, as Gandalf had suspected, then perhaps if he joined with Smaug, they would have devastating effects on the Wise of the Earth. For even without His Ring, Sauron would bring onthe final ruin, before the coming of Ellesar the unifying King. Elrond had similar feelings in regards to the finding of The Ring and the Doom of Men.

I guess I believe that this was the message Tolkien wanted us to believe or half believe. Sauron the master deceiver.

Since I'm addicted to doing small notes about various things while re-reading the books, I think I have a nice quote on Gandalf's thoughts about Smaug/Sauron cooperation.

The Unifinished Tales - The Quest of Erebor

"You may think that Rivendell was out of his reach, but I did not think so. The state of things in the North was very bad. The Kingdom under the Mountain and the strong Men of Dale were no more. To resist any force that Sauron might send to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar there were only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, and behind them lay a desolation and a Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. Often I said to myself: "I must find some means of dealing with Smaug. But a direct stroke against Dol Guldur is needed still more. We must disturb Sauron's plans. I must make the Council see that.'

It is what Gandalf says to Gimli and the hobbits in Minas Tirith, after the coronation of King Elessar. There is also stated that Gandalf desperately pressured Thorin to take Bilbo on the Quest, suggesting that if they won't agree to take him their mission will surely end as abysmal failure. It is suggested that Gandalf - as an ultimate argument - reminded Thorin of his gift of seeing the future. This is what Gandalf says to Thorin when he tries to convince him to take Bilbo on their journey:

The Unfinished Tales - The Quest of Erebor

"You are quite right,' I said. 'If I had no other purposes, I should not be helping you at all. Great as your affairs may seem to you, they are only a small strand in the great web. I am concerned with many strands. But that should make my advice more weighty, not  less.' I spoke at last with great heat. 'Listen to me, Thorin Oakenshield !' I said. 'If this hobbit goes with you, you will succeed. If not, you will fail. A foresight is on me, aid I am warning you."

Also, I find it significant that Gandalf admits that he wouldn't care about the Dwarves and Thorin's urge to reclaim their possesions and their land if it wasn't for a bigger cause. I guess that might suggest that Bilbo's participation in slaying Smaug has the same importance as killing the dragon in defeating Sauron. It's like a chain of events that Gandalf sees in the future.