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View Poll Results: Do balrogs have wings?
Yes 114 58.16%
No 82 41.84%
Voters: 196. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-04-2006, 06:20 PM   #321
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Ai Ai!
Is that when I say... 'A balrog! A wingless Balrog is come!'
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:51 PM   #322
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Well, I think I'll say no more. If Boromir88 can write such a wonderful post and still not convince you, then I don't think I could, either. There was another argument I'd come up with, but I don't think it will be necessary.

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Old 10-05-2006, 10:33 AM   #323
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Wings or no wings, the quote below is the only thing I've ever read that changed the way I imagine Balrogs when I read about them. Not sure if I appreciate that or not, obloquy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by obloquy
I think in general people make demons out to be much more beastly than they are. The extent of a fallen angel's carnality is stooping to the level of Man. We're not talking about a wild animal who'll bark and growl and roar and drool. Tolkien was very severe with Bakshi's version of the Bridge because Tolkien's intention was for the Balrog to maintain a dignified and sinister silence. There's no need for eye spots, or horns, or spikes, or scary wings. Durin's Bane was intimidating enough to even Gandalf when he had not even seen him yet.

Think about what we're talking about, folks. These are ancient, mighty fallen spirits, not guard dogs.
As for wings, balrogs started as one thing in JRRT's mind and migrated to something else. Hence the confusion. I like H.I.'s ideas about Balrog vs. balrog too.

Regardless, NO VOTE from me because I think later Balrogs had wings, couldn't use them for flight, but could fly if they chose to. A simple "yes" or "no" vote doesn't suffice.
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:23 AM   #324
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Balrogs have wings if they wanted them

In the beginning, when the greater spirits went down to Arda, they could walk unclothed. If they had appearance at all, it was of their own choosing. It is debatable as to whether or not those choices were fixed when middle earth was sundered from Valinor and the west.
Personally, I believe that the form a Balrog chose was a reflection of their nature and was therefore full of fire and darkness. As you well may know, Melkor often strode the halls of middle earth in whatever form he chose. He is, however, much greater than a mere Balrog. Only at the end did he continually use the dark terrible form he is best known for and even then - it was most likely still his choice.

Balrogs have wings if it suits them. As pure spirits, they can most certainly fly but have no need for wings.

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Old 01-25-2007, 10:40 AM   #325
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flavius
Personally, I believe that the form a Balrog chose was a reflection of their nature and was therefore full of fire and darkness. As you well may know, Melkor often strode the halls of middle earth in whatever form he chose. He is, however, much greater than a mere Balrog. Only at the end did he continually use the dark terrible form he is best known for and even then - it was most likely still his choice.
But, of course, Melkor lost the ability to change his form in time. Due to one thing and another and his trying to kill everyone.
The counter argument is that Melkor imprisoned the spirits in the bodies of the Balrogs and they were shrouded in shadow and flame. Of course, this has probably been discussed before in this thread but I am, at this time, too tied to go a-looking.
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:46 AM   #326
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flavius
In the beginning, when the greater spirits went down to Arda, they could walk unclothed. If they had appearance at all, it was of their own choosing. It is debatable as to whether or not those choices were fixed when middle earth was sundered from Valinor and the west.
Personally, I believe that the form a Balrog chose was a reflection of their nature and was therefore full of fire and darkness. As you well may know, Melkor often strode the halls of middle earth in whatever form he chose. He is, however, much greater than a mere Balrog. Only at the end did he continually use the dark terrible form he is best known for and even then - it was most likely still his choice.

Balrogs have wings if it suits them. As pure spirits, they can most certainly fly but have no need for wings.
Friend, this is a fine post and makes good sense. Unfortunately it leaves out an important phenomenon: incarnation. Melkor, Sauron, and the Balrogs all eventually lost the power to shed their corporeal form and "reclothe" that they had in their beginnings. This was due to overindulgence in activities reserved for the Incarnates, and to the overuse of certain forms. Their state was similar to that of the Istari, who shared their discarnate nature in their beginnings; the only difference being that the Istari were intentionally incarnated by the Powers, rather than experiencing it as a side-effect of their activities.

You'll hopefully forgive me for not posting all of my sources for this information. Instead I'll merely direct you here.
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Old 01-25-2007, 12:16 PM   #327
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Obloquy wrote:
Quote:
Melkor, Sauron, and the Balrogs all eventually lost the power to shed their corporeal form and "reclothe" that they had in their beginnings.
We have numerous quotes indicating that Melkor and Sauron became permanently incarnated. But do we have any certain evidence that the Balrogs did? I know that a good case can be made for your position (as indeed you did in the post you link to), but I'm afraid I can't see the possibility that the Balrogs still could change their shape as being inarguably disproven. Or perhaps there is some quote that has slipped my mind.
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Old 01-25-2007, 12:31 PM   #328
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If there are not quotes, I think that it stands to reason that they would be permanently in their bodies. Or else, they would not be identified as Balrogs but 'evil Maia', their physical appearance would label them as Balrogs instead. That is how it strikes me, anyway...
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:19 PM   #329
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
Obloquy wrote:


We have numerous quotes indicating that Melkor and Sauron became permanently incarnated. But do we have any certain evidence that the Balrogs did? I know that a good case can be made for your position (as indeed you did in the post you link to), but I'm afraid I can't see the possibility that the Balrogs still could change their shape as being inarguably disproven. Or perhaps there is some quote that has slipped my mind.
No, you're right. We don't have any explicit textual support for the idea that Balrogs were permanently incarnate, but I think the finality of their deaths is an important indication. If Durin's Bane had been merely a clothed spirit, his defeat at Gandalf's hand would really have done very little good; likewise with Glorfindel's Bane.

Additionally we recognize the affinity Tolkien's mythos have with biblical stories of the corruption of angels to the service of the devil. In those stories the angels were corrupted not just by affiliating themselves with Satan, but by indulging in activities that were reserved for true incarnates, particularly sex relations. While this is not evidence in itself, Tolkien makes the specific point that an eala could become bound to its hroa by habitual indulgence in such activities (he specifies eating and begetting offspring), and it seems unreasonable to presume that these corrupted Maiar (who were said to be corrupted by dark gifts, if I remember correctly) would have abstained more assiduously than their masters.
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Old 01-25-2007, 09:52 PM   #330
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hookbill the Goomba
If there are not quotes, I think that it stands to reason that they would be permanently in their bodies. Or else, they would not be identified as Balrogs but 'evil Maia', their physical appearance would label them as Balrogs instead. That is how it strikes me, anyway...
Which is exceptionally ironic when one considers that the most debated thing about balrogs is their appearance... as this thread goes to show, we don't even know that.
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Old 01-26-2007, 01:47 AM   #331
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What I found interesting, and what doesn't appear to have been picked up on (although admittedly I couldn't bear to read the whole thread) was the quote "With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished".

The key point here is the difference between "fell" and "plunged".

What we have is a shadow like wings, which seems to be detachable from the main body of the Balrog. Remember, here the Balrog is only beginning to fall forward, whereas the shadow is already well down into the depths.

So I voted "no".

Wings, definitely not.

Jetpacks, now that's a "maybe"...
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Old 04-10-2007, 06:43 PM   #332
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Tolkien is a writer, and a very good writer, too. He started with
Quote:
His shadow stretched like wings
for his description of this new creature he was introducing. When you first explain a new character you stick with your description or follow it up with something like, "His shadow which had appeared as wings were then shown to be real wings."

Also, if I am not mistaken, the chasm which Gandalf and the Balrog fell into was HUGE. If the Balrog had wings he would have flown up there, instead of falling. If you argue that the chasm wasn't large enough, then when Gandalf was killing him on top of the mountain, why didn't he see he was loosing and fly away?

You could say that he had wings, but couldn't fly, but no writer puts wings on a creature just for looks, and then forget to say that he has wings just for looks.

We should look at what Tolkien wrote, not what we think he meant. If we do, Balrogs don't have wings.

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Old 04-11-2007, 12:31 AM   #333
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finduilas
If the Balrog had wings he would have flown up there, instead of falling.
...
If you argue that the chasm wasn't large enough, then when Gandalf was killing him on top of the mountain, why didn't he see he was loosing and fly away?
In normal circumstances, yes. Those times, however, he was fighting a wizard, whose power matched, at in the beginning, even that of Sauron, cf. Unfinished Tales. Thus, he may not have had the chance to get away from Gandalf, or Gandalf intentionally prevented that.
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Old 04-11-2007, 02:20 PM   #334
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Okay, so that is a possibility(sp). But what do you say to my other arguements?
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Old 04-11-2007, 11:55 PM   #335
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finduilas
Okay, so that is a possibility(sp). But what do you say to my other arguements?
I believe they rest more on consideration of style rather than 'evidence'. Since this is more subjective, I would refrain from commenting on that, since it is not my field.
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Old 04-16-2007, 03:35 PM   #336
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
I believe they rest more on consideration of style rather than 'evidence'. Since this is more subjective, I would refrain from commenting on that, since it is not my field.
As far as I have been able to tell, there is no evidence either way, and I think that looking at style would be the best way of doing it. Since Tolkien doesn't state it either way straight out, logic is the only way to "prove" anything.

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Old 04-16-2007, 04:17 PM   #337
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finduilas
Since Tolkien doesn't state it either way straight out, logic is the only way to "prove" anything.
In the tussle between logic and my mind's eye, the latter wins out every time.

Hence, Balrogs have fully functioning, albeit rather shadowy and unwieldy, wings.
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:19 PM   #338
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In the tussle between logic and my mind's eye, the latter wins out every time.
Take THAT all who say that humans are rational creatures!!
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:32 PM   #339
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Take THAT all who say that humans are rational creatures!!
It gets worse - my mental image was primarily influenced by the picture of a Type VI (I think) Demon in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, circa 1979.
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:34 PM   #340
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It gets worse - my mental image was primarily influenced by the picture of a Type VI (I think) Demon in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, circa 1979.
Turn in your Official Tolkien Fanboi card at once!!!
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:01 PM   #341
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Old 04-16-2007, 06:24 PM   #342
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Did Paul McCartney have Wings

The evidence for Balrogs having Wings is rather Shady.
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Old 04-17-2007, 09:06 AM   #343
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Lol. I will admit that Balrogs do look better with wings, but I seriously think they didn't have any. But really, what sensible auther would do what people think Tolkien must have done to have winged Balrogs?

This is kind of off the subject, but I can't think of where else to post it, when Gandalf broke his staff on the bridge, did he fight the rest of his battle with out using any more of his power/magic? And when he overcame the Balrog by breaking his sword, was the Balrog also bereft of his power, and did they fight the rest of the battle on merely fighting abilities? Just wondering.

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Old 04-17-2007, 11:36 AM   #344
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Quote:
This is kind of off the subject, but I can't think of where else to post it, when Gandalf broke his staff on the bridge, did he fight the rest of his battle with out using any more of his power/magic?~Finduilas
We aren't given a great amount of detail about how the fight went, it's more of a vague and generalized description (retold by Gandalf).

Gandalf had his staff and Glamdring. The Balrog had a sword and a whip. Gandalf's staff is broken, and The Balrog's sword is broken...of course leaving with Gandalf to fight with his sword and the Balrog to fight with his whip. (And as a side note, it is extremely hard to fight with a whip - up close- so you can kind of picture how tough a foe the Balrog was). Anyway here's Gandalf's description of the 'battle' that took place:
Quote:
'We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he cluted me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels...In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dum: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.'
[...]
'There upon Celebdil was a lonely window in the snow, and before it lay a narrow space, a dizzy eyrie above the mists of the world. The sun shone fiercely there, but all below was wrapped in cloud. Out he sprang and even as I came behind, he burst into new flame. There was none to see, or perhaps in after ages songs would still be sung of the Battle of the Peak' Suddenly Gandalf laughed. 'But what would they say in song? Those that looked up from afar thought that the mountain was crowned with storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire. Is not that enough? A great smoke rose about us, vapour and stream. Ice fell like rain. I threw down my enemy, and smote it in his ruin.'~The White Rider
That's all that's said about the fight between Gandalf and Durin's Bane...I hope it helps and make of it what you will.
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Old 04-17-2007, 08:34 PM   #345
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Apologies if this is a naive or ill-informed question... but is anyone in a position to ask Christopher Tolkien (or an authority in the Tolkien Society) to settle the dispute? I would be willing to take CT's informed opinion as law...
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Old 04-17-2007, 10:10 PM   #346
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardy
Apologies if this is a naive or ill-informed question... but is anyone in a position to ask Christopher Tolkien (or an authority in the Tolkien Society) to settle the dispute? I would be willing to take CT's informed opinion as law...
If C. Tolkien could settle this dispute unequivocally then he would have more publishing to do: a lot of people would want (demand?) to see the text from which he drew his conclusion. Barring unpublished material, C.'s informed opinion is no more authoritative than those presented in this thread (though it may be more "informed").
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Old 04-17-2007, 10:16 PM   #347
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Well, Sardy, from my view there is no dispute...and the only reason there is 'dispute' is because some like to base their visualization of a Balrog off of D&D and therefor are forever manipulated into believing Balrogs actually did have wings. (:::cough:::SPM:::cough:::: )
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:14 PM   #348
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Eye

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a lot of people would want (demand?) to see the text from which he drew his conclusion. Barring unpublished material, C.'s informed opinion is no more authoritative than those presented in this thread (though it may be more "informed").
Ah, but what if CT can tell a story like this- "One day I asked my daddy, 'Why didn't the Balrog just fly away?' and Dad answered 'Balrog's don't have wings, son.' "
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:59 AM   #349
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some like to base their visualization of a Balrog off of D&D and therefor are forever manipulated into believing Balrogs actually did have wings. (:::cough:::SPM:::cough:::: )
Then again, I believe that Gary Gygax and co based their Type VI Demon on Tolkien's Balrog, seeing as it wielded a whip and a flaming sword ...
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Old 04-18-2007, 06:58 PM   #350
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I say yes, but they cant fly with them *nods* that's my theory ^_^ I have no evidence to back up my claims tho
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:49 PM   #351
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I say yes, but they cant fly with them
I don't think that Tolkien would create a creature with wings that couldn't fly. After all, he only had, say maybe 100 creatures, while in this world there are... millions? but only a very limited amount have wings and can't fly.
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:57 PM   #352
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Then again, I believe that Gary Gygax and co based their Type VI Demon on Tolkien's Balrog, seeing as it wielded a whip and a flaming sword ...
Perhaps the whip and the flaming sword was the only connection Mr. Gygax was making to Tolkien's balrogs.

But seriously, most artists will draw pictures that get people captivated, interested, and 'wowed' even if it means neglecting 'accuracy.' As we all know gigantic horned demons with enormous wings is far more appealing than a man-sized opponent that could manipulate fire and shadow. I mean we just have to watch the movies to see what people think 'looks' better.

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I don't think that Tolkien would create a creature with wings that couldn't fly.~Finduilas
I think you're on the right track, but the question is why would the Balrog choose wings if they can't be used for flight?

One of the 'pro-wingers' arguments is well there are animals with wings but can't fly (penguins, emus...and etc). That's true, but the wings of these animals still serve a purpose to them.

Balrogs being Maiar chose their own form (as Sauron did)...if they did choose a form with wings...what would be the purpose if not for flight? Therefor, it wouldn't make any sense as to why a Balrog would choose a form with wings yet were unable to fly. As there would be no purpose for the wings so why would they assume a form with wings?

Also, what has gone unresponded to is the size of the 'wings' (if they were literal wings). Durin's Bane was approximately 6 feet tall...The area where Gandalf confronts the Balrog is referred to as a 'chasm,' a chasm by definition is twice as wide as it is long. The Bridge spanned 50 feet, so this would mean the width of the chasm was at least 100 feet. If they were literal wings, than you must also take this literally: and its wings were spread from wall to wall (The Bridge of Khazad-dum). This would mean that an approximately 6 foot Balrog would have a 100 foot wingspan. Why would that make any sort of sense? Finally, take into consideration the Balrog's agility and it's ability to get through all the passage ways and tunnels of Moria. How can a creature with gigantic wings when spread were literally from 'wall to wall' (in a chasm) be able to manuevre (and manuevre to the ability that it does) through the mines?
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:22 PM   #353
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Jetpacks, now that's a "maybe"...

Or maybe propellers.
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Old 04-19-2007, 02:36 AM   #354
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I think it's clear that Balrogs gave the impression of winged creatures(Underhill's thing with Gimli thinking the flying creature was a Balrog and Frodo stating otherwise).

That's all,

and for the record I didn't vote.
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Old 04-19-2007, 05:09 AM   #355
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I think it's clear that Balrogs gave the impression of winged creatures(Underhill's thing with Gimli thinking the flying creature was a Balrog and Frodo stating otherwise).
Interesting note, though, it does not help the real matter...

Because we all know that Balrogs gave the impression of winged creatures. The point is, if it was mere impression, or real wings...
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Old 04-19-2007, 06:28 AM   #356
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Well, ok, valid point about Tolkien not creating something with wings that can't fly.

Maybe they could originally fly, but over time they lost the use of their wings. I mean from their age, not through de-evolution. I mean, that Balrog that Gandalf blocked in Moria must have been ancient. I always imagine Balrogs to have wings like bats, so perhaps when a Balrog gets old the membranes start to get brittle and break so they can't fly any more. Either that, or all that fire eventually burns them away, lol. Though, were they fiery in the book? Its been so long since I've read it ^^;


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Because we all know that Balrogs gave the impression of winged creatures. The point is, if it was mere impression, or real wings...

Hmm, perhaps Balrog's don't actually have wings, but perhaps something on their backs that look very much like wings. Possibly some kind of defence from attack? I mean, some Butterflys' wings have false eyes on them for their predators will attack their wings and not their body. Perhaps Balrogs "wings" were not meant for flying but as a distraction for an attacker? An intelligent attacker would perhaps try to disable wings to stop the target from flying off.
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Old 04-19-2007, 06:51 AM   #357
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Originally Posted by ElentariGreenleaf
Maybe they could originally fly, but over time they lost the use of their wings. I mean from their age, not through de-evolution.
If anything, I would likely imagine them losing their wings because of their turning to evil, like for example Sauron or Morgoth lost the abilities to appear in different shapes later then.

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Originally Posted by ElentariGreenleaf
I mean, that Balrog that Gandalf blocked in Moria must have been ancient. I always imagine Balrogs to have wings like bats, so perhaps when a Balrog gets old the membranes start to get brittle and break so they can't fly any more. Either that, or all that fire eventually burns them away, lol. Though, were they fiery in the book? Its been so long since I've read it ^^;
The wings were not fiery, but shadowy:
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...and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings...
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Originally Posted by ElentariGreenleaf
Hmm, perhaps Balrog's don't actually have wings, but perhaps something on their backs that look very much like wings. Possibly some kind of defence from attack? I mean, some Butterflys' wings have false eyes on them for their predators will attack their wings and not their body. Perhaps Balrogs "wings" were not meant for flying but as a distraction for an attacker? An intelligent attacker would perhaps try to disable wings to stop the target from flying off.
It's an interesting opinion, though I believe it was mentioned here by some as a possibility - but I find the idea of wings providing "distraction" quite inventive.
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Old 04-19-2007, 07:55 AM   #358
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Boromir...I am utterly confused. Didn't you vote that Balrog's do have wings? And yet you seem to speak for those of us who think they don't... It it's an attempt at sarcasm, it's not working.

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Old 04-19-2007, 08:07 AM   #359
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Originally Posted by Boromir88
As we all know gigantic horned demons with enormous wings is far more appealing than a man-sized opponent that could manipulate fire and shadow. I mean we just have to watch the movies to see what people think 'looks' better.
Precisely. Hence, many people will, when they first read that passage (possibly influenced by Tolkien art etc) imagine a Balrog with wings. My point about the mind's eye trumping logic is relevant here. The impression conveyed by a text might be very different from its technical meaning, when logically deconstructed.

Whether Tolkien intended his Balrogs to be winged remains a moot point, but I would hazard a guess that many pro-wingers (and certainly myself) formed an impression of a winged Balrog on first reading the relevant passage and are now either disinclined or unable to reject it, regardless of the logic of the argument to the contrary. In my own case, my original impression was reinforced over time by artistic portrayals of the Balrog.
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Old 04-19-2007, 08:12 AM   #360
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Hm. I dunno, SPM. When I first read the book, I know I'd seen a painting by John Howe of the Balrog, and his Balrog had wings, I believe. But, when I read the book, I don't remembering actually thinking they had wings. It just seemed to me like some huge shadow and flame all mixed together.....no body, really, no wings...

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