Thread: elvish strength in 1st age
I believe it gave a sense of past glory when i re-read LotR, sometimes partially revealed, like with Glorfindel near the ford of Rivendell, however some people prefer what they say are Tolkiens last thoughts on the matter that there were no more than 7 Balrogs in total, and to me that takes something away from the deeds done in the first age, so what I want to know are your opinions on the matter, do any of you feel as I do? or do u prefer the more realistic figure of 7?
In the War of Wrath later on, all Balrogs were destroyed, safe some that escaped and fled into the bowels of the earth (the Balrogs became Balrogues) : this would mean maximum 6 Balrogs were destroyed, safe the one who'd later become Durin's Bane. Not very impressive.
Also, at the Fall of Gondolin apparently quite some Balrogs were destroyed (one by Glorfindel, one by Ecthelion, 5 by Tuor), so i think there were quite some more of them in the First Age.
I think it's more realistic if there were 7 Balrogs left in the Third Age, of whom only Durin's Bane was awoken.
In a way, it's a GOOD thing the sources are vague; the individual reader can decide questions such as this for themselves, as no one really has the "right" answer. Despite the "name of Fingon" controversy (from what I've heard second hand I'm inclined to go against the Silmarillion for the sake of continuity on that) asserting HoME on Balrogs against the Silmarillions implicatons makes as much sense to me as going with the LT2 version of Beren, so I'm pretty much with Miruvor all the way.
As a side note, I personally think few, if any, of the Third Age Eldar could stack up with those of the First Age, the few of whom around for the War of the Ring were a different class of Elf than their younger fellows. I don't think LotR can be fully appreciated without the Silmarillion, for the reasons cited above. The loss referenced throughout the series is just a concept until you read the Silmarillion, but then becomes something poignant you share, realizing that the glory of the Elves and Edain is past, and the former soon entirely gone forever. Thus, the triumph of Aragorn, his greater similarity to the fathers of his race than to his "peers," and the renewal of his line through Arwen is that much more wonderful.
So blame it on Canada, or Brazil, or even me, Grondy; for I was one of those who could hardly wait to obtain my first printing copy of the first American edition in 1977, having waited ten years since my initial reading of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
But, perhaps notably, Christopher Tolkien took out this 'host' of Balrogs for the 1977 version of The Silmarillion.
Christopher did retain the wording from the version of the War of Wrath as exhibited in The Lost Road (HME V: that the Balrogs were destroyed, save some few that fled and etc), and we know that when Tolkien wrote this he still thought that many Balrogs existed. He thought so after The Lord of the Rings was completed, but later reduced the number to: 'There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed' (possibly in about 1958).
After The Lord of the Rings was written JRRT only made a number of cursory corrections to the end of Quenta Silmarillion. He never truly revised it, leaving CJRT with the wording as it stood. And Tolkien never got far enough in the revised version of The Fall of Gondolin to let us in on any Balrog numbers there, though there are late enough references to show he upheld the idea of Ecthelion slaying Gothmog, and Glorfindel battling a demon out of Thangorodrim to rescue the fugitives.