Balrog

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Vee
Posts: 2711

Balrog

Post#1 » Tue Feb 10, 2004 6:19 am

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 :

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'.

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

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

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


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?

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virumor
Posts: 3567

Balrog

Post#2 » Tue Feb 10, 2004 8:16 am

There's still one in my basement. I call him Dourif's Bane.
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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valedhelgwath
Posts: 4233

Balrog

Post#3 » Tue Feb 10, 2004 3:59 pm

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..

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...


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

"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...

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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bugyfeanor
Posts: 668

Balrog

Post#4 » Tue Feb 10, 2004 5:53 pm

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

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!
Evil may yet be good to have been ... and yet remain evil. (Silmarillion)

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virumor
Posts: 3567

Balrog

Post#5 » Wed Feb 11, 2004 2:09 am

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.
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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valedhelgwath
Posts: 4233

Balrog

Post#6 » Wed Feb 11, 2004 2:23 pm

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.


shaya puma
Posts: 97

Balrog

Post#7 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 9:17 am

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.

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virumor
Posts: 3567

Balrog

Post#8 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 9:32 am

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.
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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bugyfeanor
Posts: 668

Balrog

Post#9 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:38 pm

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...
Evil may yet be good to have been ... and yet remain evil. (Silmarillion)

shaya puma
Posts: 97

Balrog

Post#10 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:48 pm

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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