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Do we have an accepted hierarchy of source text that resolves discrepancies between different "versions of the story"? For example, "The Silmarillion" says that lightning lit Beleg's face after I killed him, and that's how I knew I had done a bad thing. However, I know that it was actually his little elf lantern that came unsheathed that allowed me to see his face (it is burned in the deepest memories of my heart). So, I would think that "The Books of Lost Tales" would supercede "The Silmarillion" in a dispute of historical accuracy. But, that's just my humble opinion, and this whole issue is probably overly legalistic anyway. I just wanted to hear what y'all think, if anyone even cares. I realize that all of this happened such a long time ago that we start to dismiss these little details, but they can be quite personal to some of us.
I would almost always side with The Silm over The Book of Lost Tales. I have both Lost Tales 1 and 2 and they are a great read but it was Tolkien's earliest concepts of Arda you could consider it a 'rough draft' if you will. While the Silm contains errors in itself it is still more consistant and 'polished' work from Tolkien's 1st Age and 2nd Age. Unfinished Tales goes hand in hand with the Silm.

When I read Lost Tales the only time I consider it's text an expansion from the stories in the Silm is only when it doesn't conflict with any part of the Silm, and most of the time it does conflict with the Silm.
I shall try to gather support for this response. In the meantime, I can only offer the vague suggestion that latest writing does not necessarily indicate best intent of the writer. I don't remember where I have seen this mentioned, but I am sure that there are examples (I believe in "The Lost Tales" or maybe "The Unfinished Tales") in which Christopher discusses his father's ambivalence towards and reversion of certain details (especially names).

And so, my criterion, although unfortunately subjective, is to accept those details that are more romantic, in a sense. To me, there is more impact, for instance, in Morgoth's betrayal of his brethern, when they trusted him to erect the pillars of the lamps (as according to tBoLT1); his mere a posteriori attack (as according to Sil.) was only a shallow demonstration of his contempt, and affords no comparison.
To me, there is more impact, for instance, in Morgoth's betrayal of his brethern, when they trusted him to erect the pillars of the lamps (as according to tBoLT1); his mere a posteriori attack (as according to Sil.) was only a shallow demonstration of his contempt, and affords no comparison

Maybe so but nonetheless Tolkien made those changes for a reason, otherwise the records of Arda's history from TBOLT would have made it into the Silm.

Yes there were a lot of name changes from TBOLT to the Silm, but once again that was Tolkien refining his work as he saw best. If i recall correctly wasn't it giant cats, instead of wolves, that guarded Morgoth's stronghold? I'm too lazy to go get my TBOLT1 and TBOLT2 and look it up.

There were many radical changes such as that, that gradually disappeared from Tolkien's work. For instance TBOLT version of "The Fall of Gondolin" (1917) was, as far as I know, Tolkiens first dabble with his fantasy world, and I really enjoyed that chapter, however, it goes against most of the ideas behind the Silm. Balrogs were not Maia originally and there mass multitudes of them in that battle, I believe Tuor slew a handful of them himself, which would be nice to interpret into the Silm, but because of the drastic changes to Balrogs and such it's not possible.
I believe Tuor slew a handful of them himself, which would be nice to interpret into the Silm, but because of the drastic changes to Balrogs and such it's not possible.

Sure it is. H’rin also slew 70 trolls, right? And look at T’rin's exploits.

It's simply because the blood of the Edain was not yet dulled. The founding fathers were simply fiercer and mightier heroes than their descendants.
I read it as not all were Trolls (necessarily), that were slain there. I wonder if the Children of H’rin (to be published) will have anything more to say about it. This troll reference is a bit mysterious and interesting considering this topic. In The Grey Annals it was said concerning the mighty H’rin that...

'Then he cast aside his shield and wielded his axe two-handed; and it is sung that in that last stand he himself slew an hundred of the Orcs. But they took him alive at last...' JRRT

Similarly one hundred Orcs in Tolkien's earlier Quenta Silmarillion (HME V). Christopher Tolkien explains that the text of chapter twenty in the published Silmarillion was primarily derived from the story in The Grey Annals, but elements were introduced from the old chapter sixteen in Quenta Silmarillion, and also from a third text, that: 'was intended as a component in the long prose Tale of the Children of H’rin (the Narn)'

But with respect to the part in question (in this third text), Christopher Tolkien only says: '’in the Narn it is said that H’rin 'seized the axe of an Orc-captain and wielded it two-handed', and again Gothmog appears (see The Silmarillion p.195).'

Here he doesn't say specifically if this is where the Trolls came from, as one might expect, considering that they weren't in the Tolkien versions he published for us. On the other hand maybe he thought that this was implied, and one might well ask why he would have added it himself.

I'm not trying to argue the Trolls were Christopher Tolkien's addition (though I've seen at least one person on the web stating it's possible), again it's just an interesting topic in my opinion, given the circumstances. Apparently Tolkien made no later alterations to the passage from the older Quenta Silmarillion itself, though this need not be considered an approval necessarily.
I generally use this hierchy:

HOME - Use as lore only if the text is not disputed in a more relaible source. HOME often contains Tolkien's earliiest concepts of his myth (for example in the very early drafts there wasn't any Sauron).

Unfinished Tales - Generally the things are correct in there. If there is going to be something written that is later disputed elsewhere Christopher Tolkien usually states so.

The Silmarillion - whilst it may miss out a fair bit of the entire Silmarillion which Tolkien had in mind (for it is edited by Chris. Tolkien) it rarely contains incorrect information.

The Hobbit/Lotr - To my knowledge its pretty much correct with very few, if any, points that can be disputed.
Ya I agree with LOA and his order, basically what i mentioned above, with the exception of LOTR/HOBBIT.
I appologize; I cannot figure out this strange box that some people have named "computer" in this (fifth?) age of the Sun. So, I don't yet know how to quote someone else's post.

My edition of The Sil. says copyright 1977, whereas my BOLT says copyright 1984, so I don't follow the logic that The Sil. is a changed version of TBOLT. In fact, I see it the other way around. It was my impression that Christopher basically just compiled a selection of his father's manuscripts that he thought could be published as a history to The LOTR, calling it The Sil., and then he later spent more time sifting through the manuscripts to provide a "better" (at least more detailed) acount in The HOME? This would make The Sil. only the first tantalizing presentation, a mere survey if you will, of a multi-volume history. It is clear, though, reading through TBOLT, especially the commentary by Christopher, that there are many cases in which the story has reverted to an earlier version of the manuscript. I guess the question of how to interpret these instances, as a deliberate authoritative replacement or just an abandoned account, is precisely what we are discussing.

Yes, giant cats; Tevildo was their prince. Does this difference effect anything else? Carcharoth still bites off Beren's hand, right? Maybe I'm confusing the story in TBOLT with the commentary in TBOLT.

I'm interested to hear more of the inconsistencies regarding the balrogs.
to make a quote it's very easy, just above the box we use to type our messages there are 7 buttons you can click, the quote is the one in the middle, the icon is self explanatory. Smile Smilie

TBOLT was published after The Silm, however all of the writings from TBOLT were written many years before the writings published in the Silm. TBOLT 1 & 2 are Tolkien's earliest conceptions of Arda, and therefore there are many inconsistencies with his later drafts and the later published works.

Apparently when Tolkien first devised up Balrogs they were a creation from Melkor, instead of being a Maia and a creation from Illuvatur. They weren't nearly as powerful but had many more in numbers. That's all i can recall off hand, without going to look them up, I'm sure there are a few people here who could help explain more on the subject.
Firstly I think we are in the 7th Age of the Sun. The 6th ended with WW2 (according to some obscure quote by Tolkien).

Secondly The Silmarillion is definately more up to date on the information than BOLT. It calls the Noldor I believe 'Gnomes'? Or that may be all Elves....Definately an early concept. BOLT was made by Christopher Tolkien to purposely highlight and show Tolkien's earlier concepts of his work. Therefore it doesn't matter wehn it was published becuase it was not meant to be accurate in relation to Tolkien's latest idears at the time.

In various HOME books it also mentions Balrogs. I quote:

"There came afresh a hundred thousand Orcs and a thousand Balrogs, and in the forefront came Glomund the Dragon, and Elves and Men withered before him." - The Shaping of Middle-earth

So as we see in the beginning Tolkien did not make Balrogs as fallen Maiar. He made them into another of Melkor's corruptions thousands strong.

But as we see later:

"The idea that Morgoth disposed of a 'host' of Balrogs endured long, but in a late note my father said that only very few ever existed - 'at most seven'." - BoLT2, The Fall of Gondolin

So as you can see Chris. Tolkien tells us of this early concept of having thousands of Balrogs but then mentions that there were only 3-7 in Tolkien's later idears.
In my opinion there had to be at least 5 Balrogs. We know that 1 was slain by Glorfindel, 1 by Ecthelion. We also know that after these 2 were slain it says in the Silmarillion:

"But it availed him not. The Balrogs were destroyed, save some few that fled and hid themselves in caverns inaccessible at the roots of the earth; and the uncounted legions of the Orcs perished like straw in a great fire, or were swept like shrivelled leaves before a burning wind."

So as we can see by the use of the words 'Balrogs' - refering to at least 2 or more were destroyed in the War of Wrath, bringing our total up to 4. Then it can be disputed by Tolkien saying 'save some few that fled...' that more than 1 escaped the War of Wrath. We know that there was only 1 KNOWN Balrog to have escaped but who's knows if there may be others?
It depends how litterally you take that statement. But anyhow we know that 1 did escape the War and was later slain by Gandalf in Moria, bringing out total up to 5. But it is possible that more than 1 escaped the War of Wrath so I would say 5-7 Balrogs in total.

Tevildo was Prince of Cats and was Melkor's chief servants. He was Tolkien's original idear before he thought of Sauron (thus is why I mentioned that in Tolkien's earliest concepts Sauron didn't exist).
OK, I am seeing Tevildo as a problem now. I think I have that story so jumbled in my mind that I can't give any straight responses. I will reread Beren's story in both Sil. and BOLT before I make any further comments about this issue.

I still don't see the balrog problem, though. There is at least one surviving balrog at the time of LOTR; any surviving balrogs are ancient; they are evil specifically in the sense that they are affiliated with Morgoth himself. Regarding these first three issues, there is no contradiction.

4th balrog issue: Why is maia vs. non-maia important?
If non-ainur are too easy for Gandalf to kill such that the encounter would be inconsistently overblown, then why did he need Thorin's help to deal with Smaug? Are dragons also maiar? I could be missing one thing, though: is the balrog referred to as a maia in LOTR?

5th balrog issue: Why is the number important?
There only needs to be one surviving balrog near the end of the Third Age; any others are just surplus. The surplus would only be a real problem for the dwarves, and there is so little written about the dwarves that I don't think an inconsistency would arise if there were 1000 surplus balrogs scattered throughout the deeps. So why didn't they run into other balrogs at Helm's Deep and Dunharrow? It is also highly likely that the surplus of balrogs would have tended to inhabit farther north and west than Helm's Deep and Dunharrow. Or, I might argue that Helm's Deep and Dunharrow are not deep enough for balrogs in the first place. Or, there is just that possibility that Helm's Deep and Dunharrow were not inhabited whereas Moria was. And even in Moria it was greed that led Durin to delve so extremely deeply that awoke the balrog; it's not like the balrog was sitting there anxiously waiting to pounce (the first time).

Does The Sil. say that the only things Iluvatar created (directly) were the Flame Imperishable, the ainur, the elves and men? So, anything else in existence is created by the ainur?
What are you asking?

Tevildo was Prince of Cats and was the first idear of Chief servant of Melkor before Sauron.

There were at most 7 Balrogs of all time, all of which are Maiar spirits of Fire which Melkor corrupted. Only one remained to trouble the world in the Third Age. No it is not mentioned that the balrog was a fallen maiar in LOTR becuase that is getting to in depth. Tolkien kept things that were ancient in his myth 'mystical' in LOTR. There is no mention of Ainur (with one or two exceptions when he refers to the Valar). It is not even told that the Wizards were actually Istari in LOTR, let alone Maiar.

Lastly The Ainur can only create things partially. For instance Aule created the Dwarves but they were at first not independant from Aule. They could only move and speak when Aule wanted them to. This is becuase Aule distributed his OWN mind into them - they were not seperate beings.

Only Iluvatar can create things wholly independant from other things becuase of the Flame imperishable.
I will reread Beren's story in both Sil. and BOLT before I make any further comments about this issue.

Ya and originally Beren was an Elf and not a man. (Already a huge difference and therefore you can't really take any context out of TBOLT versions and add them to The Silm.)

Maia vs non-Maia is a huge difference, That's like comparing the Eldar to the Edain! The Maia versions of the Balrogs were much more powerful and more of a force to be reckoned with. Tolkien wanted the Balrog to be more dramatic later and not just some average minion of Morgoth. All the Balrogs (with the exception of BOLT and Tolkiens earliest writings) are Maia. Dragons are not Maia the father of all dragons Glaurung was created by Morgoth.

Lord of All
Only Iluvatar can create things wholly independent from other things because of the Flame imperishable.

Also with the exception of Orcs. Morgoth made them in mockery of the Elves, and those were the one creation that had a mind of their own.

The only point I'm really trying to get across, Turinturumart, for the most part you can't take context from TBOLT 1 or 2 and add them to The Silm (or any other published work of Tolkien) because there is just too much conflict between the books, there are way too many drastic changes that have occurred after TBOLT work was compiled which was around (1917 -1920).
The Orcs were not a creation of Melkor as such. The were Elves. They were Elves even when they were Orcs. Melkor tortured there phisical appearance and mental state but couldn't change there being - which was of the Firstborn. Of course this is is you believe Orcs are Elves. Valid cases can be disputed that they were Men or something else, but Elves are the most likely.
For example Ice is water. Its phisical charateristics may have changed but its still H2O in substance.
Aule was the one who went furthest in creating something wholly seperate from himself.

Anyway this is going a bit off topic so I apologise...
I agree that "maia vs. non-maia" is a difference (maybe even a "huge" one). I just don't see what difference that makes in terms of anything else in the stories. Why is the maia version of the balrog favored over the non-maia version. A dragon does just fine at being a dramatic force of evil without having to be a maia.

I will keep Lord of All's hierarchy in mind. Thanks everyone.
Well I'm glad you can help clear that up at least. I'm pretty sure they derived from Elves though, even Tolkien mentions in The Silm.
P. 47
Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressea, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindale before the Beginning: so say the wise.

It is possible for people to interpret that quote a little different, but it looks to me like Melkor did create a breed of Orcs, yes derived from Elves, but yet when it says ...and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since... It sounds to me like a lot of work went into that creation more than just manipulated Elves.

One other fact to point out that the first Orcs didn't derive from the Edain is, the Orcs came before the Edain walked the Earth.

Ok sorry for being off topic there, just had to get that out.
It sounds to me like a lot of work went into that creation more than just manipulated Elves.

The fiend did not create, he corrupted.

Ok sorry for being off topic there, just had to get that out.

You wouldn't need to feel sorry if you had posted it in the appropriate thread!
If I may be excused of one more off topic post...

It may have been wise to give the full quote here Turin:

"For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Il’vatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindal’ before the Beginning: so say the wise."

Stopping where it says 'could ever Melkor make since...' does not mean since he made the Orcs but since he rebelled in the Music of the Ainur.

The furthest one could say in this matter is that Melkor made the RACE of Orcs, but not there being. Thus it wasn't a creation becuase he had most of the template already created for him.

PS: Remember that the Silmarillion is an account of the Beginning but is written by the Elves in later years. Not everything can be taken as 100% proof like it could if Tolkien was giving an historical account of it. But by all accounts I would say 99% Orcs are Elves.

This post therefore also comes into the original starter topic. The Silmarillion can only be taken so far becuase its knowledge comes from the Elves and there account of the First Age and the Valinorean Ages that came before it.
Orc-origins probably deserves its own thread (and I would guess there is one about somewhere), but briefly (since it's brought up here)...

Orcs believed to be corrupted Elves was but one of several ideas, and the one Christopher Tolkien adopted for his constructed Silmarillion. Emphasis on 'believed to be' in any case, because this idea is not presented as a certain fact but rather a belief of certain characters within the tale (the Wise of Eressea for example).

'But of those unhappy ones who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty....'
(and so on)

Readers have known there were variant ideas concerning Orc origins (Men for example), as early as the publication of Unfinished Tales. Tolkien was aware of chonology concerns, meaning he was tinkering with chronology when tinkering with the problem, because he knew, of course, that beings needed to be available for corruption (into Orcs) before something that could be called Orcs started to appear in Middle-earth.

Orc-formed Maiar seems one of the more solid ideas added, considering all of Tolkien's later ideas (which included Men, and even beasts for example).
Tolkien Forums has a good thread about this but seeing as I am not allowed to post links to other sites I will send it to you via PM Galin.
Since you bring it up, LoA, I can remind you that you have been told that we would glady do a link exchange with Tolkien forums (which you were the first to suggest I believe). But so far we haven't heard anything about it from you or anyone else there. Our e-mail is still if the admins there wish to get in touch.
Ok I will PM an admin there and give them the email address Amarie. Smile Smilie
Galin once wondered: I wonder if the Children of H’rin (to be published) will have anything more to say about it. This troll reference is a bit mysterious...

Well, it doesn't... at least not specifically. But it is clear enough that in the new book Christopher took the passage concerning the great battle from the Narn version, whereas in the constructed Silmarillion he followed the Annals with some features taken from the Narn version.

This explains why there are no trolls in the Grey Annals passage, yet they appear in the constructed Silmarillion (and of course appear in the new Children of H’rin too).

So Gothmog the Balrog had a 'troll-guard' according to JRR Tolkien (some wondered if Christopher had added this detail himself). I still wonder if the intention is that H’rin, mighty as he no doubt was, slew seventy trolls! instead of seventy foes which included this troll-guard. I will say I find the vagueness of that question a nice element in any case, and fitting.

Christopher does state that his father wrote the later version with the Annals in front of him, and it is interesting then that (seemingly) JRRT did not cross out or revise H’rin slaying 'an hundred of the orcs' in the Annals, or add mention of any trolls. Possibly the two traditions were meant to diverge on this point, though that is pure speculation and it may easily be that the troll-guard version represented a revision never actually undertaken in the Annals.