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Old 11-06-2004, 09:22 PM   #1
Witch-King
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Tolkien The Balrog Theorem

My fellow Barrow-downers, I present to you the Balrog Theorem, proving mathematically that Balrogs do not have wings.

First, some derivative information using quotes:

"His enemy [the Balrog] halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings... The fire within it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height and its wings were spread from wall to wall."

Now, my theorem:

If shadow=wings, then wings=shadow. If the wings spread, then the shadow spreads. Concordedly, vis-a-vi, ergo, when the wings stretch from wall to wall, the shadow, which is the wings which are the shadow, does so as well. It's a paradoxyl simile. Thus there are only figurative wings, and no literal wings.
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Old 11-06-2004, 10:16 PM   #2
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1420!

I wondered about the "figurative" or "literal" Balrog's wings myself. Wondering since the shadow grew, the wings grew...whatever. I thought I read somewhere that Balrogs could fly at one time, but I'm not going to say that for sure, I'll just search frantically to see if I can find it again, or not. Or I could just be going mental, and making up things again .
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Old 11-07-2004, 02:22 AM   #3
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The "Do Balrogs have wings or no?"-eternal discussion, finalized for good by such a wonderful mathematical theorem? Excellent, Witch-King! Excellent! I really agree with your mathematical/logical solution !

Now, to be honest, I have not believed too much that those devillish creatures had wings. Why?

- from the episodes where they appear in the story - fighting, fleeing or attacking - I do not recall them using wings. Fire and flame-whips - this is their "trade-mark", IMO. But wings?... I don't think so.

- they lived under the ground, in the depths of the earth - so, what would they need wings for?

- let's look at this:
Quote:
For of the Maiar many were drawn to his 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 gifts. Dreadful among these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror.
The Published Silmarillion, Valaquenta, Of the Enemies

What we learn right from the beginning is that the Balrogs were Maiar, and as such, their material shape was just this - a shape to fit the world of Arda, but they still could "breach" the physical laws and "behave" like spirits as they actually were. So even if a Balrog could "suddenly [it ] drew itself up to a great height " I don't consider it to be because of a pair of wings, but rather because they could, I assume, in certain moments, choose to use their Maiar-powers.

- if a Balrog had wings, will the Balrog who Glorfindel fought against fall intio the abyss? And would the Balrog who Ganfdalf fought fall into the abyss? Why not fly up safely if they had a pair of wings available?

Just .... thinking, you know... I might be wrong, but this is my overall "impression" of those powerful and .... aren't they just fascinating!!!..... creatures!
 
Old 11-07-2004, 07:40 AM   #4
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1420!

Quote:
Why not fly up safely if they had a pair of wings available?
Penguins have wings and they can't fly, flamingos, Ostriches, and Emus too. But, other then that a very well put together argument .

Edit: If we are speaking "literally" that the Balrogs indeed had wings of "shadow" then, I don't see much use of being able to fly if they're wings of shadow. Shadow could mean two things, you can take it literally and thing of shadow as "dark cloud of smoke/shadow" or you can take it figuratively and just mean, "darkness."

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Old 11-07-2004, 09:13 AM   #5
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The antithesis.

Neither argument is, of course, definitive.
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Old 11-07-2004, 09:49 AM   #6
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Balrogs have wings. And they can fly.

So there.

In Other News: there are no orc females, they can be redeemed, and Gandalf had no definite plan for the Fellowship should they have reached Mordor together.
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Old 11-07-2004, 04:12 PM   #7
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Applying mathematics to language is a baaad idea.
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Old 11-07-2004, 05:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
...its wings were spread from wall to wall.
This refers to the shadow that was LIKE wings. Not actual wings. Again, further support for my theorem.
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Old 11-07-2004, 06:45 PM   #9
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You already used that one. Also, and I don't want to get into a big semantics argument here, it seems more likely that, if the 'wings' were figurative, Tolkien would have said 'the wings', instead of the possessive 'its'.
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Old 11-07-2004, 07:09 PM   #10
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In reference to your antithesis, perhaps Gimli's reference was to the darkness that seemed to come from the steed?
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Old 11-07-2004, 07:21 PM   #11
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The point is that Gimli mistook a flying creature for a balrog, and Frodo's only stated reason for believing otherwise was that it 'felt colder.'
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Old 11-07-2004, 09:47 PM   #12
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Hasn't this discussion (and virtually any discussion of Balrog wings/lack thereof) become a tad pointless? I mean, clearly we're all rather locked into our opinions...
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Old 11-07-2004, 10:20 PM   #13
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Silmaril

This topic has been discussed ad nauseum on The Barrow-Wight's, Feanor...'s, Gwaihir's, Keeper's, jstate's, and Fingolfin's threads, just as a beginning.
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Old 11-07-2004, 10:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil
This topic has been discussed ad nauseum on The Barrow-Wight's, Feanor...'s, Gwaihir's, Keeper's, jstate's, and Fingolfin's threads, just as a beginning.

Ah, yes, but isn't it nice to have another go at it again?

Actually, what I would like to know is, why do we keep having this discussion? What does it matter if balrogs had wings or not, and whether those wings -- if there -- could make the balrog fly?

Why can't each reader just make up her or his mind for her or himself? Perhaps Tolkien left it open to interpretation intentionally, to ensure that each of us can have our own particularised version of Middle-earth? Think about the million of other examples like this: what does Legolas look like? How big around is Bag End? What does Rivendell look like?

Tolkien leaves us with far more questions like this than he does answers. I like it -- in my Middle-earth, Balrogs have wings, Legolas has jet-black hair, Bag End is precisely as it was in the movie, and Rivendell is a large single house, rather like an Italian villa, ca 1550.
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Old 11-07-2004, 10:39 PM   #15
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Witch-King
My fellow Barrow-downers, I present to you the Balrog Theorem, proving mathematically that Balrogs do not have wings.

First, some derivative information using quotes:

"His enemy [the Balrog] halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings... The fire within it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height and its wings were spread from wall to wall."

Now, my theorem:

If shadow=wings, then wings=shadow. If the wings spread, then the shadow spreads. Concordedly, vis-a-vi, ergo, when the wings stretch from wall to wall, the shadow, which is the wings which are the shadow, does so as well. It's a paradoxyl simile. Thus there are only figurative wings, and no literal wings.
Yes, yes, yes... i get it. But, did you ever think of it in a metaphysical aspect? i won't lecture you, only explain so do not quote this to threaten me. Thank you. anyway, among metaphysics it is believed that when you are in the astral field (the sub-concious realm) you have wings, much like your aura (life energy) which your wings take after. Knowing this, how i precieve your first direct quote is that Tolkien is explaining how the Balrog is basically, "gathering power" from himself. "The fire within it seemed to die, but the darkness grew" sounds much like blowing on coals doesn't it? It gives the illusion that it is dying out but, when you blow carbon dioxide on it then begins to catch. As for the "double shadow" it can be seen as a merge or completion of this step of both the wings and aura. My reason for the Balrog "gathering power"? Well, if you were in Moria for that long and hadn't been that active for ages wouldn't of you stopped to gather yourself together?

thank you for letting me share. you may become POLITE critics now... thank you.
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Old 11-11-2004, 10:34 AM   #16
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Incredible! The exact argument used by no-wingers for years, presented in the native tongue of so many of the forum's members: gibberish. Why hadn't this been done before?!
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Old 11-11-2004, 06:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
Ah, yes, but isn't it nice to have another go at it again?
Quote:
Originally Posted by burrahobbit
No.
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Old 11-11-2004, 07:20 PM   #18
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obloquy has dripped his traditional bile onto this topic, so we can close it now.
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