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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » The question of Balrog wings (Page 4)
Author Topic: The question of Balrog wings
Mithrandir
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not a bad conclusion, if thats what you meant it to be, any objections? give it a few days...
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Wight Dwarf Star
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i think this might clear up this whole problem!!


From: The Island B.C. Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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That picture is just the artists impression it is impressionistic not realistic. Balrogs do not have wings and refer to the previous pages for a masive amount of evidence to support this.
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Earendilyon
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Never seen that on WDS! Where did you get that one? And by whom was it made?

This message has been edited by Earendilyon on 05-04-2001 at


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Wight Dwarf Star
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Ted Nasmith painted it and the address is http://www.users.cts.com/king/e/erikt/tolkien/me_pics.htm it has lots about lots of diffrent subjects. one of them happened to be Balrogs so i looked at the thing then found a pic in the pic section.

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From: The Island B.C. Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Wight Dwarf Star
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i would gust like to quote the site that i got the pic from!


quote:
Did Balrogs Fly?
This is a point of debate. Some people are firmly entrenched with the idea that Balrogs have wings and can fly. This is mainly from the description in the Fellowship of the Ring:

"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..."
However, this statement is preceded by the description given above that its darkness was LIKE wings. Tolkien was very particular on the use of words. If the Balrog had wings he would not have used the word "like". This usage denotes that its darkness was tangible and looked like wings; not that it actually had wings. We also have a description of how Balrogs moved from the Silmarillion which tends to support the idea that they were land bound and had to walk/run:


"Then suddenly Morgoth sent forth great rivers of flame that ran down swifter than Balrogs from Thangorodrim, and poured over all the plain...In the front of that fire came Glaurung the golden, father of dragons, in his full might; and in his train were Balrogs, and behind them came the black armies of the Orcs in multitudes such as the Noldor had never seen or imagined."
It would seem that the Balrogs were running with the lava flow although not as fast. If they flew, then Tolkien would not have used the word "run" as a comparison on how fast the lava flowed. We also know that Glaurung was a Great Worm and not a dragon which could fly. This meant that Glaurung was land bound and that the Balrogs were in his train; the implication is that the Balrogs, too, were land bound.


[For further discussion on this topic please try A Response to the FAQ]

Whom Did the Balrogs Serve?
The Balrogs were the Chief Servants of Morgoth in the First Age of Middle-earth. They served as protectors of Morgoth in the case of Ungoliant, the giant primeval spider, and as his captains in the battles against the Elves:

"Deep in forgotten places that cry was heard. 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..."
The Balrogs were also sent by Morgoth to battle the Elves in the Fifth Battle, the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (the Battle of Unnumbered Tears), and the Battle for Gondolin.



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From: The Island B.C. Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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The fact that Balrogs do not have wings has already been proven and so this discussion is resl0ved.
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The Laurenendôrian
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It has not been proven. There is just a lot of evidence for it. More evidence is good, as it helps to re-enforce our viewpoint.
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Dingalen
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I tend to get the impression, the same evidence is repeated. There has been little new on the last page. Thomas Jefferson's postulate is fine, but I think we are starting to argue in circles.

So far, I agree with Fingolfin & Mithrandir.


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Dingalen
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So do Balrogs fly? Or how did they come so fast to Morgoth's aid from the ruins of Angband?
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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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  • There is no mention of Wings or any other unnatural appendage being present on Balrogs any where in silm UT or HoME.

  • Such things as Troll esscorts for Balrogs would not be needed if infact Balrogs could fly

  • "Fly you fools" gives us an idea as to how exactly tolkien used the term "fly"

  • If you look at the previous drafts it becomes clear that in fact tolkien didn't intend the Balrog to have wings but to "seem greater then it actually was" nor is there mention of wings in the previous drafts but there is of a "growing shadow" which also sheds somelight on tolkien's intentions.

  • The fact that "wings" was useded as a simile for the growing shadow is also indictive that the term "wings" was also used as a metaphor aswell which (the action of using metaphors and similes to complement each other) is standard literary practice when another simile cannot be determined.

    Those are just off the top of my head but I can get specifics but I would need somemore time first


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  • Maglor
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    Sorry to bring this up again but in Lost Tales 2 it says that Melkor tortued eagles to find the secret spell to fly.
    Why would he do this if Barlog's could fly.
    Then it says that he cut the wings of eagles to make his own wings for he dreamed to contend with Manwe in the air.
    Why would he do this if the Barlogs had wings.
    Please post back, even if the subject is old.

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    Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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    For the dragons, refer to the "Nature of Dragons" thread I believe in silm for a breif evolution of dragns created by me. Conjecture perhaps but based on solid evidence and it does seem logical.
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    Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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    I noticed this quote from HoME 10 hasn't come up. At first glance it seems to add fuel to the pro-wingers fire but I disagree.

    quote:
    Deep in forgotten places that cry was heard. Far beneath the halls of Angband, in vaults to which the Valar in the haste of their assault had not descended, the Balrogs lurked still, awaiting ever the return of their lord. Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum, and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

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    Dingalen
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    Admittedly 'winged speed' sounds deceptively like a pro-wing metaphor. But from this quote I also got the impression that the Balrogs mentioned here appear far more powerfull than from the description in LotR. Compared to the passing through Hithlum & Lammoth 'like a tempest of fire' the Balrog in LotR behaves like he is either too carefull or has just gotten up: Instead with rushing the fellowship with all his maian might, he approaches slowly & is even stopped by the chasm (which you wouldn't expect from a creature which once could rush over mountains like a firestorm through dry grass).

    Maybe either the Balrog lost in might with the pasing of time (or the banishment of Morgoth) - or it was lesser compared to its brethren described in the quote.

    It seems very likely that Balrogs (like all Maiar) were not all equal in power!


    From: Somewhere in the Netherlands | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
    Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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    I will show that tolkien had a pattern of using a simile to describe something(and yes it has been proven he used a simile becasue of the specific wording: "like two vast wings") and then when refering back to that thing he refered to the simile instead of the actual things.

    Examples reposted:


    -----
    (A knife in the dark):
    It was burned and broken, and nothing remains of it now but a tumbled ring, like a rough crown on the old hill's head...
    ...suddenly a pale light appeared over the crown of Weathertop behind him.


    -----

    The Hill did not have a literal "crown" those were the ruins of Amon Sul and the "crown" was used as a simile

    (The great river
    As they were swept aside the travellers could see, now very close, the pale foam of the River lashing against sharp rocks that were thrust out far into the stream like a ridge of teeth...
    ...they could hear it rushing and foaming over the sharp shelves and stony teeth of Sarn Gebir, but they could not see it.


    The river dd not have literal teeth, the "teeth" was a simile used to refer to the rocks
    -----

    The white rider:
    Very soon now his strength will fall upon it like a storm...
    ...for behold! the storm comes, and now all friends should gather together, lest each singly be destroyed

    It is clear here that Gandalf is not talking about a storm but rather the military might of Sauron.
    ----

    (the siege of gondor
    Reluctantly Pippin climbed on to the seat and looked out over the wall. The Pelennor lay dim beneath him, fading away to the scarce guessed line of the Great River. But now wheeling swiftly across it, like shadows of untimely night...
    ...now the dark swooping shadows were aware of the newcomer. One wheeled towards him; but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from it a shaft of white light stabbed upwards

    The "shadows " were not literal shadows but were in fact akin to carrion with Nazgul atop them.
    -----

    Shelob's lair
    It flamed like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air with intolerable light...
    ...then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.

    the Phial of Galadriel was not a real star and the term star is simply a simile for it
    -----


    (The bride of Kazadum
    His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings...
    ...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;

    The balrog does not have "wings" per-se and the term is simply used as a simile for the shadow and as with the previously cited examples when tolkien refers back to that object he simply refers to the simile.


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    Tuor
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    What kind of shadows go in both directions?

    Who ever said that just because a creature has wings, that the creature can fly. Look at ostrich. You guys make way too many assumptions.


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    Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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    That wasn't my point
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    Mithrandir
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    Conclusion
    The Balrog is an ancient Maia. Maia have the ability to shape-shift as the see fit. Therefore, the Balrog of Moria at one time had the power to change it's appearance to whatever it pleased. It is widely speculated that over the balrog's deep slumber it lost alot of it's power, mainly it's power to change shape. Therefore i deem it safe to say that the balrog could look however it pleased until a certain time, at which he was "stuck" in that form. So, in conclusion, the only concisive information we know is that the balrog (most likely) cannot fly.

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    Tuor
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    quote:

    It is widely speculated that over the balrog's deep slumber it lost alot of it's power, mainly it's power to change shape.

    Mith,

    Where did you hear this? I thought that over time Aunir regained power, as aposed to losing it.


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    Dingalen
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    You cannot generalize it like this, I think. The point is, that the world is changing. This is the reason, why the elves created the rings: To preserve what was pure and beautiful as in the spring of the world. With passing of time this original vigor and beauty would decline - or change!
    Ainur who would take physical form to interact with the world invested their power in the physical form (manifestation). But with the passing of time this form is affected by the physical world and its processes.

    My hypothesis is that over time the physical form (fana) that in the beginning might have been flexible to the ainu's will, became more 'physical', i.e. more susceptible to the laws of the physical world. Resulting in that the maia (or vala) cannot change his physical form. While in the beginning, while his creation (e.g. the fana) was fresh and born of the ainu's pure metaphysical imagination - it was also still maleable. But with time it would adapt to the physical world. Change. Gain a 'life' of its own. Like a human body maintains processes without our concious will. And that by this, power that was invested in physical things would get trapped in it, changed and dispersed. Like Tom's power was linked to his forest - while the forest lived its own life and was subject to outside forces. (Anyone out there read Terry Pratchett's "Thief of Time"? Certainly an interesting point of view concerning manifestation and its effects on the manifested beings!)

    That is what happened to Morgoth and Tom Bombadil - and most likely the Balrog.

    And whether the Balrog of LotR had wings or not is still not clear. Fingolfin showed very neatly that Prof. Tolkien used similes (but like smilies - but we all use them! Every day. Big deal. ).

    The point is whether Prof. Tolkien used wings just as a simile for the Balrog's shadow (light devouring aura) or whether these actually were something like metaphysical wings.

    This message has been edited by Dingalen on 08-06-2001 at


    From: Somewhere in the Netherlands | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
    Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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    THat was not my point either. my point is:

    When tolkien in hte past has utilized the strucutre present in "the Bridge..." he has been refering back to the simile in all thosecases as if it were the real thing. I have established a modius operandi when it comes to this strucutre

    new quote:

    quote:
    And out of the west there would come at times a great cloud in the evening, shaped as it were an eagle, with pinions spread to the north and the south and slowly it would loom up, blotting out the sunset, and then uttermost night would fall upon Numenor. And some of the eagles bore lightning beneath their wings, and thunder echoed between sea and cloud. (silm Akalabeth)

    This message has been edited by Fingolfin of the Noldor on 08-06-2001 at


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    Mithrandir
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    Hmmm, Dingalen i like your approach. That is very plausible. Tuor i have picked up on that concept from a few other guys i know and partly due to a "general observation" that power declines over time.
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    Tuor
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    Then why was Sauron gaining power over time as he was trying to reform. He was stronger at the time of the Ring's destruction than he was after the ring was cut off his finger.
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    Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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    If we are to formuate any decion on what exactly is meant in the text we must look to the text. Becasue this specific text is very vague we musty look to other passages of the same structue to establish tolkien's MO (what he genreally menat when he used that specifc structure) and I have discovered it. He utilizes a simile and then refers back to it instead of the thing previously modified. My quotes establish this and there are no counter examples to my point and as such the only evidence with which we can determine what is truley menat was tolkein's aforementioned modius operandi. And I have found it and so we must assume that as was he common practice tolkie was refering back to the simile as if it were the modified noun.
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    Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » The question of Balrog wings (Page 4)
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