Brego wrote: That was quick Galin! Circling above again waiting for someone to dare.......
Just reading posts Brego, and responding. And 'waiting' for someone to dare what? No, in any case I'm not waiting for statements like yours as posted on 18 June, and actually I don't understand why you injected this film commentary here in this thread.
Balrogs wrote: But my good friend Galin, that is a two way road. The balrogs were also fighting the sons of Feanor, who were probably just as powerful, if not moreso, than Gandalf the Grey. It consisted largely of his sons, who were some of the most powerful elves known. I'm also not seeing much about them "slaying" the balrogs, only that they drove them off. Whereas the balrogs definitely got in a few death blows.
Balrogs were certainly powerful in general of course, as their very name suggests, but all I'm adding is a closer look at Feanor's death, as I'm not sure I agree with your interpretation here, at least fully.
On top of this, it also seems like initially it was just Feanor and Gothmog who crossed swords, and it was an epic battle, but this is where Gothmog got in his blows. THEN the rest of his small host came to his aid, giving him a chance to fall back, and were able to, again, drive the balrogs off.
The text notes that Feanor, with but few friends, had become surrounded by Orcs and Balrogs that now issued from Angband [the Balrogs were not initially in the battle], the bad guys seeing that Feanor had made a tactical mistake.
So Feanor was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds -- not necessarily by Gothmog yet in my opinion, or Gothmog alone at least. Then 'but at the last' he was smitten to the ground by Gothmog -- Feanor's sons come up with aid just at this moment 'and the Balrogs left him [Feanor]' and departed.'
So while you are generally correct that this path goes two ways, I don't think we can certainly know that we had a one to one combat here, when Gothmog got in his blows. I read it as unfair odds rather, with Gothmog getting a notable and 'final' blow in -- and even perhaps smiting an already wounded, unfairly beset Elf.
In the early 1950s Tolkien did not revise the old Quenta Silmarillion version [1930s version] of this encounter specifically, but he did note a slight difference in the early 1950s Grey Annals version. Again the host of Morgoth sees Feanor's mistake and Balrogs join the fray from Angband...
'There upon the confines of Dor Daedeloth, the land of Morgoth, Feanor was surrounded, with few friends about him. Soon he stood alone, but long he fought on, and laughed undismayed, though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds. But at the last Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs, smote him to the ground, and there he would have perished, but Maidros and three other of his sons in that moment came up with force to his aid, and the Balrogs fled back to Angband.'
JRRT, Grey Annals section 45
To my mind it sounds like the Balrogs did not engage once they lost the advantage, and they fled [the word 'departed' is used in the Silmarillion version]. And here we learn that Feanor long fought on alone -- which is not stated in the Silmarillion version, which I think helps underscore the unfairness of the fight in general.
And also like you said, numbers are debatable in this scenario, so in all fairness it could go several ways.
Just to add: I also meant numbers from an external point of view. When Tolkien rewrote these passages in the early 1950s he still imagined that great numbers of Balrogs existed in Middle-earth [possibly thousands] in the First Age, even after he had penned the fight with Gandalf.
Later, based on a marginal note and a revision to the Annals of Aman, JRRT seems to have desired to drastically reduce the number of Balrogs that ever existed -- to as little as three [!] or at most seven, although in any case he did not revise all the texts that still suggested very many Balrogs [Christopher Tolkien revised nearly all these remaining references incidentally, for the 1977 Silmarillion].
Anyway, while I can't say, and am not saying, that your interpretation of the battle here is wrong necessarily, I read it otherwise, and feel that the text better suggests unfair odds rather than a 'fair fight' so to speak, between Gothmog and Feanor.
Balrogs are strong yes... and cheaters I think