Thread: do Balrongs have wings?
Hi everybody!I've recently read a couple of essays on balrongs and Iam trying to find out if they had wings or not.In the books it is not made clear!(sorry for asking all the time but i need help) I think that if they had wings the balrong Gandalf fought with could have flown away if it had enough strengh.What's your opinion?Thanks!!!
I think Tolkien gave the Balrog a shadow which appeared to be a wingspan. But I don't think it was supposed to have wings, despite what the movie shows.
There is an argument for and against wings:
"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. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm."
(The Lord of the Rings)
This shows that the Balrog only had things which looked like wings, not actually having wings itself.
Here is something saying the opposite:
"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; 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."
(Lord of the Rings)
You will notice it doesn't say LIKE in this quote, therefore it does imly that it had wings. However this is becuase Tolkien has already said 'LIKE wings' in the previous quote so there was no need to do it again.
In my view Balrogs may have had things which looked like wings, but were made out of the shadow surrounding the body of the balrog, not the actual body itself. Therefore it could not use the Wings to fly.
Even if it did have wings it is highly unlikely that they could fly becuase all the known Balrogs were killed by falling from a height. If they could fly they could stabalise themselves.
(Ecthelion killed and got killed by Gothmog, Glorfindel killed and got killed by another balrog, Gandalf killed and got killed by Durins bane).
Plus a small point even if the could fly (which they couldn't) it is doubtful they were ever fly away from the enemies.
Or would; they were pretty big bad a-ses. Gothmogs death had less to do with falling from a great height than with having Ecthelions spiked helm through it's gut and that worthy wrapping him up and pushing him into the greatest fountain in Gondolin though. You'll recall from Mr. Martinezs essay there's considerable question over whether a winged Balrog had room to unfurl his wings in the battle with Gandalf, while in the similar battle with Glorfindel following the Fall of Gondolin we find the combatants in a similarly cramped mountain pass and chasm. For completeness, yes the first instance is a simile but it's unclear whether the second mention of "wings" is a continuation of it (the language does not encourage this position; an established simile doesn't become a physical reference, but remains a simile) and the Silmarillion has Balrogs "flying" to the aid of Morgoth in his encounter with Ungoliant. There's also the issue of Balrog most likely being Maiar and not being so much contained but manifested physically, in which case any one Balrog could have or lack wings at its discretion. Decide for yourself, because it's unclear from canon, though arguments can be made both ways. I lean towards "yes." One more hit for the search "Do Balrogs...?"
For more discussion on the topic of Balrog wings, please see: Balrogs
, the balrogs wings
, and the belrog
. Especially take note of Plastic Squirrel's lengthy post under the latter topic. It contains a long winded article lifted from The Encyclopedia of Arda and basically says you can't get there from here. Meaning after all is said and done, neither side can come up with the definitive answer. So the argument goes on.
I personally lean towards the wings of ephemerous smoke and shadow school; believing that their wings were for intimidation rather than flying: Morgoth had Dragons for that, except Glaurung who was a great non-flying worm type of Dragon.
(I copied most of this from one of my previous posts in one of those other threads I've linked to above.)
Before you write anymore here, read those other threads and then decide the best thread under which to add your comments. Thanks.
Just a correction Grondmaster - Glaurung not Gurthang was the wingless breed of worms.
Of course you are correct LoA, Gurthang was the malicious reforged sword Anglachel used by Túrin to the detriment of many. I have edited my above post with the Dragon's correct name.
But all of this is evading the more fundamental and important questions: did Gurthang have wings, and is it more powerful than Morcrist?
I doubt it had wings and I doubt that Orcrist (if thats what you meant) was more powerful then Gurthang, even if it was held by an Elf in Gondolin.
Two Balrongs don't make a wight.
But, but... the Dragon-helm of Dor-lomin had wings, right? So why can't Gurthang, HUH? The other was but a pun for puns sake, though Virs was better.
Unless wings on a sword are small and form the hilt, they are only going to add unnecessary weight and be more of a hindrance than a help. And if Glaurung was wingless, why also shouldn't Gurthang be, as was Caudimordax?
I think they had wings, almost as a cruel joke of their not being good and not being able to use them, they are weighed down with great evil and so the wings are a fake majestic touch that inspire even more terror and awe in those that have to face them.
They totally freaked me out, wings or no.
try the book "the science of middle earth" which conmtains a lenghty discustoin on balrog wings, down to working out the wing span needed to actually lift a creature the size of a balrog off the ground
well worth reading for other essays contain there in too
I say some had wings, whilst others did not.
Why should they be all the same? I say there is as much diversion among Morgoth's servants bounded to him than among the Valar's servants.
Vir, that is true but lets see;
all elves (of pure descent) have pointy ears, two arms, two legs and are beardless
all dwarves (of pure descent) have beards and are shorter of stature then men or elves
so why shouldn't ALL balrogs have either wings or not have wings?
Until they got really old (third cycle), like Círdan. But Mahtan, Fëanor's father-in-law, had a beard earlier on (second cycle) — which was different for an Elf.
sorry, i have been well and truely corrected, thank you Tyrhael
so why shouldn't ALL balrogs have either wings or not have wings?
They're Maiar, and hence not locked into a certain form unlike the Eruhini. They can take on any form they want.
Oh that is correct. I was just reading Tolkien's letters last evening and it talked about that, it was almost a sort of clothing they put on,so it is true . they could look stlyin' however they chose I suppose. Bah! they chose badly!
Yes, I take it they should all have chosen the form of a painfully seductive queen, as did Takhisis in Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance series.
To the heroes, it would at least make their bloody downfall in battle a bit more palatable.