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Old 03-10-2018, 10:43 AM   #1
R.R.J Tolkien
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Does the Silmarillion Contradict Third age History? How Powerful Were Those First age

Does the Silmarillion Contradict Third age History?

“Pure myth and legend....cosmological myth ”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 122


The third age should have propriety in our understanding middle earth as Tolkien said was his best work and his published work. When he was working on the sillmarillon to finalize for publishing in letters 247 he said “They must have to be integrated with Lord of the Rings” and “the legends [sillmarillion] have to be worked over and made consistent.” Anysupposed or perceived contradictions in any of his works should first be sought to be harmonized. In the letters of J.R.R Tolkien the author spent a great deal of time doing just this. In letters 19 he said he was doing a “construction of elaborate and consistent mythology.” in letters 163 Tolkien said he made LOTR to fit into the preexisting history of the sillmarillion and hobbit. He would answer questions from fans about middle earth drawing from works later published in the silmarillion with no hesitation of any inconstancy.

“The Lord of the Rings was not not so much a sequel to the hobbit as a sequel to the silmarillion, every aspect of the earlier work was playing a part into the new story.”
-J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000

“It [LOTR] is not really a sequel to the hobbit, but to the sillmarillion”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 124


In letters 69 Tolkien did a great deal of rewriting as he found the moon was doing some impossible things based on the placement he had it at various days. As a perfectionist he wanted every last detail perfect and consistent. Many would ask him questions of apparent contradictions and he would find a way to properly understand them and resolve the supposed contradiction. In 214 he said of supposed contradictions “Facts that may appear in my record, I believe, in no case due to errors, but omissions, and incompleteness of information.” 214 shows the depth and level he would go to to resolve small contradictions.

“He says he has to clear up an apparent contradiction in a passage of lord of the rings that has been pointed out in a letter by a reader, the matter requires his urgent consideration...talking about his book not as a work of fiction but as a chronicle of actual events; he seems to see himself not as an author who has made a slight error that must know be corrected or exspalined away, but as a historian who must cast light on an obscurity in a historical document.”
-J.R.R Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

“His perfectionism....he felt he must ensure that every single detail fitted satisfactory into the total pattern.”
-J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000


Some see contradictions between the published silmarillion [edited and complied by Christopher Tolkien] and the Lord of the rings. If we are to take them as cannon, than I think we need to harmonize any supposed contradictions. I think a useful way of doing this is to view sections of the silmarillion as traditions based on truth that also incorporate hyperbole language given their legend/myth status by Tolkien. Tolkien viewed elven written history [the sillmarillion] as legendary writings rather than the third age historical accounts. However Tolkien said in letters 130 “I believe that legends and myths are largely made of truth.”

“What we have in the Silmarillion...are traditions...blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“Moreover my father came to conceive the silmarillion as a compilation , a compedious narrative, made long afterwords from sources of great diversity [poems annuals and oral tales] that have survived in tradition”
-Christopher Tolkien Forward to the Silmarillion

Tolkien's writings use hyperbole language especially in his yet unpublished silmarillion. This is not false, just a style of writing. Over long periods of history tales grow and over time exaggerated characters and beasts become more powerful than they were. Yet even within the text they are often not as mighty as presumed. Often various times you will hear someone was the “greatest” or “tallest” etc.

“Tolkien uses profoundly figurative language – particularly when describing distant events in semi-legendary past.”
-John Garth



How Powerful Were the Maiar, the Valar, and the First age Creatures?

Examples abound in the silmarillion of the results of hyperbole and the effects of tradition and legends coming long after the events. Where mighty warriors and creatures are exaggerated [this also occurs in LOTR to a lesser extent]. I think this language is used often of great creatures of the first ages. However there is also information that gives them a more historical/realistic portrayal as tolkien desired.

“A secondary world which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true” it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken, the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the primary world from outside.”
-J.R.R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey carpenter p 194-195

“I wanted people simply to get inside this story and take it as actual history.”
-J R R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000


Balrogs


Thoe numerous, Balrogs [maiar] were not even said to be melkors strongest weapons in the war of wrath. Dragons [creation of Melkor] were his most powerful servants and they were the most effective in the great battle. Fingor king of Noldor fought 1v1 vs Gothmog [captain of Balrogs and most powerful balrog ever] and Gothmog was unable to kill Fingor 1v1. It was only when other balrogs who encircled the elf king, distracted him, and this enabled Gothmog to kill Fingor. Previously Morgoth and his balrogs fled from Fingolfin and his kin.

Later Gothmog was killed by elven lord Ecthelion.Ecthelion jumped and wrapped his legs around the demon, driving the spike of his helmet into Gothmog's body. This caused Gothmog to lose his balance, and he, along with Ecthelion, fell into the Fountain of the King. Gothmog's fire was thus quenched, showing a weakness, water. Glorfindel killed a balrog with his sword to the stomach. In “of the return of the Noldor” Feanor for a long time fought alone against multiple Balrogs before being killed. After Feanor's sons fought off the balrogs.

"[Balrogs] existed in 'hundreds' (p. 170), and were slain by Tuor and the Gondothlim in large numbers: "thus five fell before Tuor's great axe Dramborleg, three before Ecthelio's sword, and two score were slain by the warriors of the king's house."
-The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, commentary by Christopher Tolkien on "The Fall of Gondolin"



Melkor and Sauron


“His might was greatest of all things in this world.”
-of the ruin of Beleriand

Melkor was the “greatest” “most powerful” and knowledgeable of all the valar the strongest beings outside of Eru [God]. Yet even with him we see weaknesses. He rarely left his strongholds out of fear of valar or the combined strength of the elves. Ungoliant the giant spider was able to match Morgoth in battle, and lost the silmarill to Beren and Luthian.

Morgoth fought at least once when the high elf king Fingolfin challenged him to a 1v1 fight. Morgoth [Melkor] feared Fingolfin and Melkor did not want the fight but had to accept given the horn blasts of Fingolfin being so loud that all his servants would know of his fear. In the 1v1 dual the elvin king wounded melkor eight times including one on his foot that bled and caused morgoth to forever limp. Morgoth gave a cry of anguish and his nearby chieftains “fell on there faces in dismay.” It was not until “the king [fingolfin] grew weary” [having traveled a long distance to challenge melkor] that Morgoth was than able to kill him. Following the fight Thorondor king of the eagles, marred Morgoths face and stole the body of the king from him. Morgoth limped on one foot and never fully recovered from his wounds.

“Severely wounded by fingolfin and Thoronder in 455 and lost a silmarill to Beren and Luthian in 467”
-Robert Foster Tolkien's World from A to Z: The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth

Sauron, a Maiar, was Melkors mightiest and strongest servant. Yet Sauron was defeated by the large hound Huan [said to be the size of a large horse] a creation of the valar. Later Sauron feared the Númenóreans [men] and would not give battle. In the second age with extra power from the one ring, Sauron “wrestled with Gil-Galad and elendil [elf and human], and they were both slain.” In the third age Sauron was overthrown by a hobbit that was able to sneak deep within Mordor and destroy the ring after being fooled to attack at the black gate.

The Valar and Maiar


Valar were the strongest creations by eru. However it seems much of their power has to do with the potential for creation and not all the valar seem to be “fighting” valar. And in letters 181 Tolkien said they “shared in its [earths] making, but only in the same terms as we make a work of art or story.” and within the valar there is “beyond compare” differences in power.

https://books.google.com/books?id=4...nd compare in power highest to lowest&f=false

They rarely engaged in battle with any other than Morgoth besides the war of wrath in the first age. In this battle dragons drove back the valar and it was not a victory for the elves and valar until the eagles and Earendil [man/elf] came and saved the day. The “good” Maiar often were forced to retreat from area such as Melian in Doriath not from Morgoth, but orcs and morgoths servants. In Valinar the Noldor elves “thirst for more knowledge , and in many things surpassed their teachers” [valar]. In Tolkiens letters 130 he said of the attack on valinar by men “The Numen-oreans directed by Sauron could have wrought ruin in Valinor itself.”

In the third age Saruman's army was defeated at helms deep, and his fortress and garrison was taken and destroyed by ents while he hid in fear in his tower. And ultimately, he was slain by Grima Wormtongue. Gandalf was unsure of his ability vs the witch king. Elrond was part maiar yet galadrial was the most powerful elf of the third age.

“Lady Galadrial....was of the Noldor and remembered the day before days in Valinor, and she was the mightiest and fairest of all the elves that remained in middle earth.”
-Silmarillion



Dragons

“Probley first bred by Morgoth when he returned to Angband with the Silmarills”
-Robert Foster Tolkien's World from A to Z: The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth

Many of the large fire breathing dragons of the first age showed vulnerabilities. A large number were killed in battles and the mighty dragon Glaurung was wounded by an axe in of the fifth battle. Turin [a man] killed Glaurung with a single thrust of his sword to the belly. In the third age the last of the great dragons Smaug was killed by an arrow shot from Bard. Likewise Fram killed the dragon Scatha. Ancalagon the largest and mightiest of all dragons to ever live in middle earth was killed by Earendil [ man/elf] blow with his sword. The size of Anacalagon most of all creatures in middle earth appears to have been exaggerated.

Ancalagon the Black: a case study
https://terpconnect.umd.edu/~jkeener...ancalagon.html

Dragon Scale- Why its Impossible to Size up Tolkien's Middle-earth

https://johngarth.wordpress.com/201....-middle-earth/

Tolkiens Drawings are not to be trusted as an absolute for size of a creature that anacalagon is based on as the above links show. In letters 141 he says “the shape and proportions of “the shire” as described in the tale cant [by me] be made to fit into shape of a page, nor at the size be contrived to be informative.” In his letters 10 he said “the pictures seem to me mostly only to prove that the author [himself] cannot draw” “inability to draw” and “defective.” in 27 he said “if you need drawings of hobbits... I must leave it in the hands of someone who can draw. My own pictures are unsafe guide” in letters 13 he said “illustrations I am divided between knowledge of my own inability and fear of what.. artists [doubtless of admirable skill] might produce.” and his pictures were “amateurish” and “silly.”in 23 he said “I wish you could find someone to redraw the pictures properly, I don't believe I am capable of it.” in letters 9 he called his drawings “poor” and “small skill” that he had “no experience” and they were “amateur illustrations.” Most of his drawings of course were never meant for publication.


First age vs Third age Elves

“History of the elves, or the silmarillion...rational incarnate creatures of more or less comparable stature with our own.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 130


Since morgoth, balrogs and sauron feared the elves at various times in the first age, and since various elves killed balrogs and challenged morgoth, must the first age elves be more powerful than the third age elves? I dont think so. When the silmarillion speaks of elves being more powerful in the first age, it is referring to their collective strength. The elves had a larger population in the first and and their numbers dwindled over time.

In “of the ruin of doriath” the dwarves of Nogrod defeated the mighty kingdom of elves of doriath, captured their city, Nauglamir, and the silmarillion. They than were ambushed by some elves and the rest were destroyed by ents. In of the fifth battle men of dor-lomin and the dwarves of Belegrost won renown at the battle and fought the best rather than any elves. Many times men rose high in elf kingdoms and in warfare and were better fighters than elves. At times the best individual fighter in middle earth was a man. The eldar fled the numonrians who charged for battle in aman, tuna, and the coast of valinor. This is not surprising given in letters 153 Tolkien said “Elves and men are evidently in biological terms one race.” in 181 he says “Elves and men are just different aspects of the humane...elves and men are in their incarnate forms kindrid.”

Durins Bane

The Balrog of Moria known as Durins Bane was slain by Gandalf the gray [first age Olorin] the “wisest” of the Maiar. This account Is used as the best example of Tolkiens change in opinion on Balrogs over time from the first age balrogs to the mighty balrogs of the third age, Durins bane. I think this one example is given to much weight to force a contradiction between Tolkiens views on balrogs.

After publishing Fellowship of the ring a fan asked a question of Tolkien in the letters 144 of Tolkien, Tolkien did not view the third age balrog as different than his unpublished sillmarillion view of balrogs. He said “the balrog is a survivor from the silmarillion and the legends of the first age.” He always sought to reconcile seeming differences and we should as well. The balrog is the best known balrog and arguable the second most powerful [behind Gothmog] in the history of middle earth. His actions against the dwarves show this. He was one of the few balrogs to survive the war of wrath and escaped the valar and the imprisonment of morgoth. The balrogs of the first age were killed by some of the most powerful elves to ever walk middle earth and could easily have been weaker balrogs than Durins Bane.

Also I think the movies exaggerated the balrog in appearance and power. He appears in the movie upwards of 20 feet yet the fellowship of the ring indicates he was not much larger than a man, and the sillmarillion another balrog was described as twice the size of a man, or around 12 feet.

What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater…
-Book Two, Chapter V, The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm

"it pierced the Balrog's belly nigh his own face (for that demon was double his stature) ..."
-Lost Tales, Part II, p. 194

The balrog in the movies also had horns nowhere mentioned in the books. And he also had wings, a highly debatable subject. The real balrog an ancient demon, may have looked something like this.

[​IMG]
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Old 03-11-2018, 06:00 AM   #2
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RRJ,

I touched on this subject before in another thread. Have a look here:
http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthr...210#post704210
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Old 03-11-2018, 06:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
RRJ,

I touched on this subject before in another thread. Have a look here:
http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthr...210#post704210
Thanks for that. You said

The most powerful dwarves, men, and elves were always the oldest. This is especially true of the elves who were either old enough to have seen the light of Valinor, and/or those of the oldest and most distinguished lineages. Galadriel was the last of the elves in the 3rd age, for example, who saw Valinor, and she remained the most powerful because of it.

I dont fully disagree and its a good argument. But I think the fact they are old, such as galadriel, is just the reason they are more powerful. Like the numonrians who lived longer ages, grew in wisdom, and became stronger. For example galadriel in the third age i would argue was more powerful than the second age or first age in part because of Nenya. She was also powerful because she was taught by Yavanna and Melian and her linage.


the Silmarils. They were Valar-level and world-changing relics.

Were they not created by the dwarves?
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
But I think the fact they are old, such as galadriel, is just the reason they are more powerful. Like the numonrians who lived longer ages, grew in wisdom, and became stronger. For example galadriel in the third age i would argue was more powerful than the second age or first age in part because of Nenya. She was also powerful because she was taught by Yavanna and Melian and her linage.
Galadriel was also augmented by the fact that she was born in the Blessed Realm early in the Elves' history, when their power was higher.

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the Silmarils. They were Valar-level and world-changing relics.

Were they not created by the dwarves?
Feanor made the Silmarils. The Dwarves had no involvement.
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:42 AM   #5
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Thanks for that. You said

The most powerful dwarves, men, and elves were always the oldest. This is especially true of the elves who were either old enough to have seen the light of Valinor, and/or those of the oldest and most distinguished lineages. Galadriel was the last of the elves in the 3rd age, for example, who saw Valinor, and she remained the most powerful because of it.

I dont fully disagree and its a good argument. But I think the fact they are old, such as galadriel, is just the reason they are more powerful. Like the numonrians who lived longer ages, grew in wisdom, and became stronger. For example galadriel in the third age i would argue was more powerful than the second age or first age in part because of Nenya. She was also powerful because she was taught by Yavanna and Melian and her linage.
I meant that they were more powerful because, in the First Age, for example, everything was simply more powerful, bigger, and more connected to the Valar. This applies to other races, too. Among the Dwarves, for example:
  • Telchar was a better smith than any subsequent Dwarven smith.
  • Durin the Deathless needs no explanation.
  • Azaghal fell fighting Glaurung. As mighty as Gimli was, I couldn't see him (or Dain, or Thorin, etc) wounding Glauring like Azaghal did.

While Tolkien explicitly said that his works were not Christian allegory, anyone who reads the Old Testament will see parallels in the concept of ancient = mightier.
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Old 03-11-2018, 01:15 PM   #6
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While Tolkien explicitly said that his works were not Christian allegory, anyone who reads the Old Testament will see parallels in the concept of ancient = mightier.
Biblical precedents, certainly; however, Tolkien drew just as heavily, if not more, on the Greek pantheon and mythos in The Silmarillion. Really, every mythology, whether it be Hebraic, Greek or Norse, had some form of ancestor worship wherein the heroes were all greater, braver, lived longer and were of demi-god status back in days of yore. The "gods" themselves were closer to man, and meddled in internecine conflicts, even warring for the side of the true faith (like the Valar), or drew evil races unto them (like Morgoth).
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Old 03-11-2018, 01:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
I meant that they were more powerful because, in the First Age, for example, everything was simply more powerful, bigger, and more connected to the Valar. This applies to other races, too. Among the Dwarves, for example:
  • Telchar was a better smith than any subsequent Dwarven smith.
  • Durin the Deathless needs no explanation.
  • Azaghal fell fighting Glaurung. As mighty as Gimli was, I couldn't see him (or Dain, or Thorin, etc) wounding Glauring like Azaghal did.

While Tolkien explicitly said that his works were not Christian allegory, anyone who reads the Old Testament will see parallels in the concept of ancient = mightier.
And as i argued in my op these are more the result of the first ages being mythical, legendary writings, rather than the historical writings of the third age. Things that gain power over time such as wisdom would generally increase with time i think galadriel is a good example. However i am not ruling out the conclusion of your either, just i am not so sure the third age was that distinct in "power" from the first two ages.


I agree there are many biblical parallels in LOTR.
http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...f-Middle-Earth


but I am not sure I agree with the OT "mightier" depiction you suggest. In fact I see in the sillmarillion allot of the kind of hyperbole used in some old testament text i think supporting my view. for example in war literature of the time period used during the conquest.

http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...uest-of-Canaan
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Old 03-11-2018, 01:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post

Feanor made the Silmarils. The Dwarves had no involvement.
Thanks for the correction, i was thinking of Nauglamir.
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:13 PM   #9
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And as i argued in my op these are more the result of the first ages being mythical, legendary writings, rather than the historical writings of the third age. Things that gain power over time such as wisdom would generally increase with time i think galadriel is a good example. However i am not ruling out the conclusion of your either, just i am not so sure the third age was that distinct in "power" from the first two ages.


I agree there are many biblical parallels in LOTR.
http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...f-Middle-Earth


but I am not sure I agree with the OT "mightier" depiction you suggest. In fact I see in the sillmarillion allot of the kind of hyperbole used in some old testament text i think supporting my view. for example in war literature of the time period used during the conquest.

http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...uest-of-Canaan
I think you're quite off the mark there. I don't for once think that Tolkien meant the slow, inexorable fall from grace from the 1st to 2nd to 3rd Age to be hyperbolic in the least. There are any number of tangible pieces of integral plot-lines that can only lead to the inevitable conclusion that Tolkien intended a precipitous decline from the 1st to the 3rd Age.

From a maker's standpoint, the Silmarils and the Palantir of Fëanor, the galvorn of Eöl, and the weaponscraft of Telchar of Nogrod were not to be repeated in following Ages. The making of the Rings of Power required the intervention by Sauron to teach the craft surreptitiously to Celebrimbor, a scion of Fëanor. Without Sauron's direct influence and "instruction", the Rings would never be created, let alone even contemplated. It is notable that the Elven Rings' power in essence faded once the One Ring was destroyed; whereas the recovered Silmarils play an important role after Dagor Dagorath, when Yavanna shall break them at last and rekindle the light of the Two Trees. The potency of such power is palpable and everlasting.

How many characters in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings opine of lost skill or lost grandeur or lost importance? Thorin bemoaned the Dwarves' loss of skill (save in the making of mithril chain), Aragorn and Faramir recount the greatness of the long dead Numenoreans. There is a pronounced sense of frustration and loss when we come to the Doors of Durin, or Gimli literally cries upon entering Moria, or that a 1500 year-old blade of Westernesse is necessary to unbind the hidden sinew of the WitchKing. Please also recall that Aragorn reforges Narsil, the heirloom of his House, which was first forged by Telchar in the 1st Age, and that his brooch, the Elessar, was crafted by an elven-smith in Gondolin named Enerdhil, whose skill in jewel-crafting was second only to Feanor. Not to mention Bilbo's Sting and Gandalf's Glamdring were also forged in Gondolin. Again, tangible.

And as far as the nature of evil itself, in the 1st Age it takes a host of Valinor -- the Valar, Maiar and Vanyar -- to defeat Morgoth, whereas Sauron is defeated in war by the Numenoreans, later in direct combat against Gil-Galad and Elendil, and, finally and most importantly, the least of all, a hobbit, destroyed the One Ring, and with its dissolution Sauron was expelled from Middle-earth once and for all. The least achieved what the greatest could not, a primary plot point of LotR. So too, the Valar do not directly get involved with 3rd Age affairs, sending instead the Istari, who themselves are cloaked in wizened figures of old men and not allowed to reveal their true natures to combat Sauron.

The downfall of Numenor, which is enumerated in the declining ages of its kings after Elros is a recorded phenomena in the works of Tolkien; again, tangible as opposed to hyperbole. Their Dunedain descendants continue the slow descent from Valaric favor to becoming mere mortals, and eventually only Aragorn is considered a throwback to Numenor, the first King in an Age to choose his time of death at the height of his glory. Tolkien is explicit when he has Aragorn say:

"I am the last of the Numenoreans and the latest King of the Elder Days; and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will, and give back the gift."

It is not hyperbole that has Aragorn referring back to the venerable Kings of Numenor or to the Elder Days. He is, by the grace of the Valar, the final King bestowed with the great gift that the Kings of Numenor frittered away and spurned thousands of years before he was born.

P.S. Upon further consideration, your biblical hyperbole analogy fails utterly because there were beings from the 1st Age still existing in the 3rd Age who could attest to the actual events of the Elder Days: among them Elrond, Galadriel, Treebeard, Gandalf, Círdan the Shipwright and Glorfindel (who himself battled a balrog and whose power was so great he drove the WitchKing away in fear). At the Ford of Bruinen, Glorfindel is revealed as a mighty Elf-lord terrible in his wrath; Frodo saw him as a shining figure. Gandalf explains this later to Frodo (and emphasizes my point!):

"In Rivendell there live still some of his chief foes: the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power."

Even Legolas, a 3rd Age-born Elf by all accounts, knows a balrog when he sees it, although he could not possibly have seen one previously; however, the continuous retelling of Elvish history, perhaps even by those who actually beheld one of these malevolent Maia, gave him the basis to quickly identify it:

"It was a Balrog of Morgoth," said Legolas, "of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.”
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:19 AM   #10
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So far, and concerning the Balrog case anyway, I do think Tolkien reduced their numbers -- and rather drastically from "hosts" of Balrogs (or Balrogs a thousand) to as few as three, or at most seven, ever existing -- due to power considerations.

This later 1950s change was only described in a marginal note, and (if I recall correctly) surfaced in a revision to one description in The Annals of Aman. Thus "many Balrog" type references remained in other texts, but for the 1977 constructed Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien edited these, making them vague regarding numbers...

... though CJRT left the wording (concerning Balrogs) that his father had used regarding the War of Wrath, as -- I'm guessing -- although written during a period when Tolkien still imagined many Balrogs existing in the First Age, it read somewhat vague already. I remember one reader arguing that Tolkien was maybe going to have Glorfindel fight a different kind of demon, a great orc-formed Maia for example, instead of a Balrog. The argument hailed from some wording/revised wording in a late text...

... for myself, I wasn't convinced Tolkien was going to alter such a long held idea, but I must admit (at least), that Tolkien's revision of Balrog to "demon", at one point in the text concerned, seems a bit odd or unnecessary. A Balrog is a mighty demon!
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Old 03-13-2018, 04:54 PM   #11
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Great post thanks for taking the time. I hope I clarified my position and I think it will find us much more in agreement.


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I think you're quite off the mark there. I don't for once think that Tolkien meant the slow, inexorable fall from grace from the 1st to 2nd to 3rd Age to be hyperbolic in the least. There are any number of tangible pieces of integral plot-lines that can only lead to the inevitable conclusion that Tolkien intended a precipitous decline from the 1st to the 3rd Age.

I agree and disagree, i think it depends on what is meant by decline. In many ways such as the elves, their was a drastic decline and i agree as my op said. But there was also the emergence of mankind uniting under Aragon and growth.

Let me clarify some. Lets take balrogs. In the first age collectively, they were far more powerful as their numbers were many. The third age they were few and thus far less powerful. However my op is aimed more at individuals such as an third age balrog vs a first age balrog. I accept blame i was not clear. And more to the point, the strength of the legendary creatures and heroes was exaggerated in the mythical/legendary writings of the first two ages.

After thinking about it I guess i am also arguing against more power overall in the first two ages, but i agree there was a decline in this area perhaps not as much as often assumed.



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From a maker's standpoint, the Silmarils and the Palantir of Fëanor, the galvorn of Eöl, and the weaponscraft of Telchar of Nogrod were not to be repeated in following Ages. The making of the Rings of Power required the intervention by Sauron to teach the craft surreptitiously to Celebrimbor, a scion of Fëanor. Without Sauron's direct influence and "instruction", the Rings would never be created, let alone even contemplated. It is notable that the Elven Rings' power in essence faded once the One Ring was destroyed; whereas the recovered Silmarils play an important role after Dagor Dagorath, when Yavanna shall break them at last and rekindle the light of the Two Trees. The potency of such power is palpable and everlasting.
Very true. cant really argue. but maybe as a counter perhaps something along the lines of Sauromans breeding of the uruk-hai. Saurons improvements of the olog-hai as improved over previous trolls. The hardrim domestication of the mumakil. The rings of power brought into middle earth and used by the like of galadriel. The witch king and the ring wraiths power, 5 wizards sent to ME, gandalf the grey to gandalf the white. the army of the dead put into action. The ents uniting for the attack on isengard. The rise of power in Mordor. Those are a few off the top of my head. Maybe these are not craftsmanship, but they do seem to show a few examples where power seemed to increase or at least reached a higher power in the third age.


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How many characters in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings opine of lost skill or lost grandeur or lost importance? Thorin bemoaned the Dwarves' loss of skill (save in the making of mithril chain), Aragorn and Faramir recount the greatness of the long dead Numenoreans. There is a pronounced sense of frustration and loss when we come to the Doors of Durin, or Gimli literally cries upon entering Moria, or that a 1500 year-old blade of Westernesse is necessary to unbind the hidden sinew of the WitchKing. Please also recall that Aragorn reforges Narsil, the heirloom of his House, which was first forged by Telchar in the 1st Age, and that his brooch, the Elessar, was crafted by an elven-smith in Gondolin named Enerdhil, whose skill in jewel-crafting was second only to Feanor. Not to mention Bilbo's Sting and Gandalf's Glamdring were also forged in Gondolin. Again, tangible.

I agree and once more an generally speaking of individuals more than a total power. However what you have rightly pointed out above fits my view still. Take Moria, yes the great dwarven city was gone, however it was know a power of the followers of melkor and the balrog. So while the dwarves morn, any orc passing by would celebrate the rise of the power of moria for the evil side. Yes the hobbit contains lost power, however the book is on the restoration of that power to the dwarves and men of lake town that can now flourish. And yes the men of gondor nd arnor were in a big decline, but they are restored [at least gondor] under aragorn.




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And as far as the nature of evil itself, in the 1st Age it takes a host of Valinor -- the Valar, Maiar and Vanyar -- to defeat Morgoth, whereas Sauron is defeated in war by the Numenoreans, later in direct combat against Gil-Galad and Elendil, and, finally and most importantly, the least of all, a hobbit, destroyed the One Ring, and with its dissolution Sauron was expelled from Middle-earth once and for all. The least achieved what the greatest could not, a primary plot point of LotR. So too, the Valar do not directly get involved with 3rd Age affairs, sending instead the Istari, who themselves are cloaked in wizened figures of old men and not allowed to reveal their true natures to combat Sauron.
True, but dont forget the Numenoreans could have taken valar and had to be stopped by Eru himself. One of my points was that the valar and maiar are not as epic as sometimes portrayed. I think we see that in the war of wrath as i pointed out in my op. The valar needed rescuing in the battle. On the other side it was the dragons that were most fierce in battle.



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The downfall of Numenor, which is enumerated in the declining ages of its kings after Elros is a recorded phenomena in the works of Tolkien; again, tangible as opposed to hyperbole. Their Dunedain descendants continue the slow descent from Valaric favor to becoming mere mortals, and eventually only Aragorn is considered a throwback to Numenor, the first King in an Age to choose his time of death at the height of his glory. Tolkien is explicit when he has Aragorn say:

"I am the last of the Numenoreans and the latest King of the Elder Days; and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will, and give back the gift."

It is not hyperbole that has Aragorn referring back to the venerable Kings of Numenor or to the Elder Days. He is, by the grace of the Valar, the final King bestowed with the great gift that the Kings of Numenor frittered away and spurned thousands of years before he was born.

I agree fully with the historical downfall of the men of numenor [and there return under aragorn in many ways] I think you might have misunderstood hyperbole as used in my op. The sil and its events are generally historical and true. However simply exaggerated in some areas yet based on truth.



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P.S. Upon further consideration, your biblical hyperbole analogy fails utterly because there were beings from the 1st Age still existing in the 3rd Age who could attest to the actual events of the Elder Days: among them Elrond, Galadriel, Treebeard, Gandalf, Círdan the Shipwright and Glorfindel (who himself battled a balrog and whose power was so great he drove the WitchKing away in fear). At the Ford of Bruinen, Glorfindel is revealed as a mighty Elf-lord terrible in his wrath; Frodo saw him as a shining figure. Gandalf explains this later to Frodo (and emphasizes my point!):

"In Rivendell there live still some of his chief foes: the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power."

Even Legolas, a 3rd Age-born Elf by all accounts, knows a balrog when he sees it, although he could not possibly have seen one previously; however, the continuous retelling of Elvish history, perhaps even by those who actually beheld one of these malevolent Maia, gave him the basis to quickly identify it:

"It was a Balrog of Morgoth," said Legolas, "of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.”

Once more I think you might not object much to my op with a different understanding of what i meant by hyperbole. It only applied to small sections that were based on historical events. For example my biblical argument. The conquest was a historical narrative, yet in the war literature of its day it used hyperbole at times describing the events "all killed" "men woman children" etc these were hyperbole statements used in the standard language of the day describing historical events.
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Old 03-13-2018, 05:08 PM   #12
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So far, and concerning the Balrog case anyway, I do think Tolkien reduced their numbers -- and rather drastically from "hosts" of Balrogs (or Balrogs a thousand) to as few as three, or at most seven, ever existing -- due to power considerations.

This later 1950s change was only described in a marginal note, and (if I recall correctly) surfaced in a revision to one description in The Annals of Aman. Thus "many Balrog" type references remained in other texts, but for the 1977 constructed Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien edited these, making them vague regarding numbers...

... though CJRT left the wording (concerning Balrogs) that his father had used regarding the War of Wrath, as -- I'm guessing -- although written during a period when Tolkien still imagined many Balrogs existing in the First Age, it read somewhat vague already. I remember one reader arguing that Tolkien was maybe going to have Glorfindel fight a different kind of demon, a great orc-formed Maia for example, instead of a Balrog. The argument hailed from some wording/revised wording in a late text...

... for myself, I wasn't convinced Tolkien was going to alter such a long held idea, but I must admit (at least), that Tolkien's revision of Balrog to "demon", at one point in the text concerned, seems a bit odd or unnecessary. A Balrog is a mighty demon!
Tolkien took allot of notes and changed drastically during his creation, unless it is published be careful to take it as gospel. This brings up the issue of of Christopher is cannon, my op does make that assumption. However regarding his supposed changing ideas on balrogs, i do not think it is so I will paste from my op.

Durins Bane

The Balrog of Moria known as Durins Bane was slain by Gandalf the gray [first age Olorin] the “wisest” of the Maiar. This account Is used as the best example of Tolkiens change in opinion on Balrogs over time from the first age balrogs to the mighty balrogs of the third age, Durins bane. I think this one example is given to much weight to force a contradiction between Tolkiens views on balrogs.

After publishing Fellowship of the ring a fan asked a question of Tolkien in the letters 144 of Tolkien, Tolkien did not view the third age balrog as different than his unpublished sillmarillion view of balrogs. He said “the balrog is a survivor from the silmarillion and the legends of the first age.” He always sought to reconcile seeming differences and we should as well. The balrog is the best known balrog and arguable the second most powerful [behind Gothmog] in the history of middle earth. His actions against the dwarves show this. He was one of the few balrogs to survive the war of wrath and escaped the valar and the imprisonment of morgoth. The balrogs of the first age were killed by some of the most powerful elves to ever walk middle earth and could easily have been weaker balrogs than Durins Bane.

Also I think the movies exaggerated the balrog in appearance and power. He appears in the movie upwards of 20 feet yet the fellowship of the ring indicates he was not much larger than a man, and the sillmarillion another balrog was described as twice the size of a man, or around 12 feet.

“What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater…
-Book Two, Chapter V, The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm


"it pierced the Balrog's belly nigh his own face (for that demon was double his stature) ..."
-Lost Tales, Part II, p. 194


The balrog in the movies also had horns nowhere mentioned in the books. And he also had wings, a highly debatable subject. The real balrog an ancient demon, may have looked something like this.

[​IMG]
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:57 PM   #13
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Tolkien took allot of notes and changed drastically during his creation, unless it is published be careful to take it as gospel.
Actually my definition of Tolkien canon is "published work by the author", but anyway...

Quote:
This brings up the issue of of Christopher is cannon, my op does make that assumption.
And even though I would disagree as far as employing the word canon here, with respect to taking into account everything that Tolkien wrote about Balrogs (you even quote from The Lost Tales in your original post), well, that's where this marginal note and revision come in.


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However regarding his supposed changing ideas on balrogs, i do not think it is so I will paste from my op.
You are free to hold that opinion obviously, but no one knows for sure, not even Christopher Tolkien. And in my opinion Christopher Tolkien arguably took this note into account: in other words, for the 1977 constructed Silmarillion, it seems to me that CJRT altered those instances where Tolkien referred to very many Balrogs to allow for the possibility that this idea might have been a factor in any later, full QS revision.

Tolkien's marginal note described an actual number: three, at most seven, but the revision to Annals of Aman reads:
"a host of Balrogs" > "his Balrogs"

In any case I think we can safely say that at this point in time (when JRRT writes the note and makes this revision) Tolkien was thinking of drastically reducing Balrog numbers.

For some reason

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Old 03-14-2018, 09:39 AM   #14
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(...) After publishing Fellowship of the ring a fan asked a question of Tolkien in the letters 144 of Tolkien,...
Pedantic niggle: Naomi Mitchison had read page-proofs of the first two volumes, as Fellowship had not been published quite yet when Tolkien answered her here.

Quote:
... Tolkien did not view the third age balrog as different than his unpublished sillmarillion view of balrogs. He said “the balrog is a survivor from the silmarillion and the legends of the first age.”
Okay, but if there were only seven Balrogs that ever existed, Durin's Bane would still be a survivor from the legends of the First Age. Of course, Tolkien does not tell Naomi that when he wrote the Balrog-Gandalf encounter, the Balrog was not yet one of the "primeval spirits of destroying fire" (letter 144, emphasis on primeval here -- that is, the Balrog was not yet a Maia).


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He always sought to reconcile seeming differences and we should as well.
I agree in general, but "always" and Tolkien can be a difficult pairing.

And what we sometimes have in The Letters of JRRT, for examples, are readers pointing out difficulties with author-published ideas or statements. Yes, Tolkien usually looks for what I call internal explanations -- the idea being, not error-by-author, but seeming discrepancy because the translator has more material to draw from than the reader knows about. I often engage in this myself, in threads or in my head at times...

... and Tolkien even sometimes appears to treat "private draft material" (from his point of view) as if already published, and tries to find an internal answer. But that said: Quenta Silmarillion was still open to drastic revision, and if, in 1958, Tolkien thinks that Balrogs being Maiar might be problematic if they existed in the thousands -- despite the noted strengths of the First Age (or problematic for whatever reason) -- he is very free to make this revision.

Nothing about Balrog numbers had been published, and obviously JRRT is not bound to private writing, or even a given letter in my opinion. JRRT ultimately dropped his long held idea about how Elves were reincarnated -- a change he was free to make given what had been published about this... interestingly perhaps, even here Tolkien "holds on" to the old reincarnation idea by noting not simply that it is false, but that it might be noted in the legendarium as a false Mannish idea. Thus it still will arguably find its way into print (internal in one sense), despite it being no longer true internally.

And I could use the same argument against me with respect to the Glorfindel case I referred to above, and I (the other me) would have to at least concede that the idea of Glorfindel defeating a Balrog does not appear in anything Tolkien himself published...

... if it had, my argument (the other me again) would have been arguably easier!

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Old 03-14-2018, 02:33 PM   #15
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Actually my definition of Tolkien canon is "published work by the author", but anyway...

And even though I would disagree as far as employing the word canon here, with respect to taking into account everything that Tolkien wrote about Balrogs (you even quote from The Lost Tales in your original post), well, that's where this marginal note and revision come in.


You are free to hold that opinion obviously, but no one knows for sure, not even Christopher Tolkien. And in my opinion Christopher Tolkien arguably took this note into account: in other words, for the 1977 constructed Silmarillion, it seems to me that CJRT altered those instances where Tolkien referred to very many Balrogs to allow for the possibility that this idea might have been a factor in any later, full QS revision.

Tolkien's marginal note described an actual number: three, at most seven, but the revision to Annals of Aman reads:
"a host of Balrogs" > "his Balrogs"

In any case I think we can safely say that at this point in time (when JRRT writes the note and makes this revision) Tolkien was thinking of drastically reducing Balrog numbers.

For some reason
Point taken. That is a sure safe bet. It is a subject that I am not fully on one side or the other.

http://newboards.theonering.net/foru...=unread#unread

But to even discus first age matters we need some material to work with, this op does assume the sillmarillion published is part of cannon. If not, there is no first age/second age cannon and it would vary greatly from person to person. I also never said reject any of Tolkiens notes, but to be very careful with his unpublished materials. The reasons I think of the balrogs as i do, come not just from the sillmarillion, but his letters as well.
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Old 03-14-2018, 02:55 PM   #16
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Pedantic niggle: Naomi Mitchison had read page-proofs of the first two volumes, as Fellowship had not been published quite yet when Tolkien answered her here.
Thanks for the correction. However just a couple months out with no major revisions and none done to the balrog he saw as constant with his sillmarillion.




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Okay, but if there were only seven Balrogs that ever existed, Durin's Bane would still be a survivor from the legends of the First Age. Of course, Tolkien does not tell Naomi that when he wrote the Balrog-Gandalf encounter, the Balrog was not yet one of the "primeval spirits of destroying fire" (letter 144, emphasis on primeval here -- that is, the Balrog was not yet a Maia).
At this point why do you suppose Tolkien had the view there were only 7 ever? The sillmarillion had many and they are referred to in the letter. They were maia in his mind at this point.

"The Balrog is a survivor from the Silmarillion and the legends of the First Age. So is Shelob. The Balrogs, of whom the whips were the chief weapons, were primeval spirits[maia] of destroying fire, chief servants of the primeval Dark Power of the First Age. They were supposed to have been all destroyed in the overthrow of Thangorodrim, his fortress in the North. But it is here found (there is usually a hang-over especially of evil from one age to another) that one had escaped and taken refuge under the mountains of Hithaeglin (the Misty Mountains)."




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I agree in general, but "always" and Tolkien can be a difficult pairing.

And what we sometimes have in The Letters of JRRT, for examples, are readers pointing out difficulties with author-published ideas or statements. Yes, Tolkien usually looks for what I call internal explanations -- the idea being, not error-by-author, but seeming discrepancy because the translator has more material to draw from than the reader knows about. I often engage in this myself, in threads or in my head at times...

... and Tolkien even sometimes appears to treat "private draft material" (from his point of view) as if already published, and tries to find an internal answer. But that said: Quenta Silmarillion was still open to drastic revision, and if, in 1958, Tolkien thinks that Balrogs being Maiar might be problematic if they existed in the thousands -- despite the noted strengths of the First Age (or problematic for whatever reason) -- he is very free to make this revision.

Nothing about Balrog numbers had been published, and obviously JRRT is not bound to private writing, or even a given letter in my opinion. JRRT ultimately dropped his long held idea about how Elves were reincarnated -- a change he was free to make given what had been published about this... interestingly perhaps, even here Tolkien "holds on" to the old reincarnation idea by noting not simply that it is false, but that it might be noted in the legendarium as a false Mannish idea. Thus it still will arguably find its way into print (internal in one sense), despite it being no longer true internally.

And I could use the same argument against me with respect to the Glorfindel case I referred to above, and I (the other me) would have to at least concede that the idea of Glorfindel defeating a Balrog does not appear in anything Tolkien himself published...

... if it had, my argument (the other me again) would have been arguably easier!

Vary good. Once more my op assumes the sillmarillion as published is cannon. Weather that is so should be another thread. In fact I think you should start it i would love to hear all opinions on it.
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Old 03-14-2018, 05:11 PM   #17
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Thanks for the correction. However just a couple months out with no major revisions and none done to the balrog he saw as constant with his sillmarillion. (...) At this point why do you suppose Tolkien had the view there were only 7 ever? The sillmarillion had many and they are referred to in the letter. They were maia in his mind at this point.
I don't suppose it at that point, but what I mean is, Tolkien did make a notable change between writing the Balrog-Gandalf encounter and answering this letter, and it changes nothing with respect to explaining that Durin's Bane is a creature from the First Age...

... thus in 1958 or later, the same remains true (or easily can): the conception shifts in Tolkien's mind regarding both works, and with each shift the Balrogs remain consistent.

In other other words: Durin's bane was not a Maia when Tolkien wrote the encounter, same as the other Balrogs in QS > then "DB" was a Maia, so also the Balrogs in QS, at the time this letter was answered. Still consistent.



Then in the later 1950s Tolkien (possibly) begins to question if Maia status is problematic in any way with respect to great numbers in the Elder Days. Too powerful? Or whatever other reason (I still tend to lean toward "too powerful", but as I say, just my opinion so far)...

... so, if so, DB's battle with GS (G. Stormcrow) can remain as written, as arguably, there's nothing necessarily inconsistent about this with respect to Tolkien's question. And if original numbers are to be revised, Tolkien never gets to a full revision of everything in QS however, as we know is true in general, in any case.

So possibly, we get less Balrogs at about the same time when we get Orc-formed Maiar thrown into Morgoth's mix.
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Old 03-14-2018, 07:08 PM   #18
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I don't suppose it at that point, but what I mean is, Tolkien did make a notable change between writing the Balrog-Gandalf encounter and answering this letter, and it changes nothing with respect to explaining that Durin's Bane is a creature from the First Age...

... thus in 1958 or later, the same remains true (or easily can): the conception shifts in Tolkien's mind regarding both works, and with each shift the Balrogs remain consistent.

In other other words: Durin's bane was not a Maia when Tolkien wrote the encounter, same as the other Balrogs in QS > then "DB" was a Maia, so also the Balrogs in QS, at the time this letter was answered. Still consistent.



Then in the later 1950s Tolkien (possibly) begins to question if Maia status is problematic in any way with respect to great numbers in the Elder Days. Too powerful? Or whatever other reason (I still tend to lean toward "too powerful", but as I say, just my opinion so far)...

... so, if so, DB's battle with GS (G. Stormcrow) can remain as written, as arguably, there's nothing necessarily inconsistent about this with respect to Tolkien's question. And if original numbers are to be revised, Tolkien never gets to a full revision of everything in QS however, as we know is true in general, in any case.

So possibly, we get less Balrogs at about the same time when we get Orc-formed Maiar thrown into Morgoth's mix.

What do you have to offer in support the balrogs were not maia at this point? how did it kill gandalf and give him such trouble? is there something in the published text to suggest this? as far as i am aware tolkiens cosmology was finished and his understanding of balrogs as well.

"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."


Does this text come from after the publishing of LOTR? In the end I think we must go with what Tolien did have, rather than what we think he might have possibly done do you agree? he saw balrogs as maia before the first book of lotr was published and does not see any issues, I dont see reason why we should.
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Old 03-14-2018, 08:07 PM   #19
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According to The Return of the Shadow, Professor Tolkien planned for a Balrog being in Moria around 1940 (after originally planning that it would be a Ringwraith on the bridge instead). When did he first conceive of Balrogs as being Maiar? That's the key question.

Certainly in Letter 144 he does refer to them as "primeval spirits", although that doesn't necessarily mean Maiar as we understand it now. When was the concept of the Maiar properly solidified? When he was writing The Lord of the Rings, there were still "Children of the Valar".

I'm not really sure what point I'm trying to make to be honest

EDIT: I believe Christopher Tolkien thinks that the term "Maiar" was first used in 1958 (according to Morgoth's Ring) but that doesn't prove much about finding a date for the idea of what would eventually be called "Maiar".
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:18 PM   #20
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What do you have to offer in support the balrogs were not maia at this point? how did it kill gandalf and give him such trouble? is there something in the published text to suggest this? as far as i am aware tolkiens cosmology was finished and his understanding of balrogs as well.
The idea of Maiar did not yet exist at the time Tolkien wrote the encounter between Gandalf and Durin's Bane. The main text of LOTR was finished by 1949 (and the Moria material was first written much earlier), but the Maiar did not enter enter the picture until the 1950s during the reworking of the Annals of Valinor into the Annals of Aman. Morgoth's Ring discusses this in the chapter of that name.

The idea that Tolkien's cosmology -- or really anything else about the First Age -- was ever "finished" is a misconception and will impede any attempt to make sense of his writing. He obviously continued to tinker with the later Ages as well, but he tended to consider himself bound by published material except in the course of preparing new editions.

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Old 03-14-2018, 09:28 PM   #21
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EDIT: I believe Christopher Tolkien thinks that the term "Maiar" was first used in 1958 (according to Morgoth's Ring) but that doesn't prove much about finding a date for the idea of what would eventually be called "Maiar".
You're probably thinking of the footnotes to the first section of the Annals of Aman in which Christopher comments (note 4): "AV 2 had here (V.110) 'these are the Vanimor, the Beautiful', changed in the later rewriting (see note 3) to 'these are the Mairi...', and then to 'these are the Maiar...' This was probably where the word Maiar first arose." In the introduction to that chapter he dates the text to probably 1958, but acknowledges his uncertainty about that. I can't recall offhand anything to suggest that the idea of a new catch-all category for lesser spirits emerged much earlier than 1958, though of course the categories that it subsumed had for the most part been around for a very long time.
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Old 03-15-2018, 08:51 AM   #22
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Certainly in Letter 144 he does refer to them as "primeval spirits", although that doesn't necessarily mean Maiar as we understand it now.
Good point. I simplified the matter too much above, although I was centering on "primeval spirits" compared to Melkor-made creatures. The terms Maiar and Umaiar (for Balrogs) do appear in the early 1950s (if CJRT's guess about AAm* is correct), but the matter is not so simple, as you correctly suggest (for example: Maiar "the beautiful" at a point in this phase, and the Valarindi, the children of the Valar).

I should have gone with "primeval spirits" versus Melkor-made

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Old 03-15-2018, 09:11 AM   #23
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In the end I think we must go with what Tolien did have, rather than what we think he might have possibly done do you agree?
Yes... so I'll go with three or at most seven Balrogs ever existing, according to Tolkien's note and revision to The Annals of Aman, instead of the possibility that JRRT might have stuck with "hosts" of Balrogs.


Apologies. Couldn't resist!

Eldo's here! Huzzah!


By the way, this notion seemingly arose to Tolkien with respect to the Valarin siege of Utumno, where a host of Balrogs "assailed the standard of Manwe, as it were a tide of flame"... in other words, it's here that JRRT ultimately altered "host" to "his" and noted: "There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed."

And also by the way, if someone were arguing that we must accept 3 or 7, I would probably be saying something like: "Maybe, maybe not, Tolkien didn't revise every example of very many Balrogs, and..."

So yes, I'm annoying
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:30 AM   #24
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Thanks Galin! I saw my Ancalagon essay quoted in the OP so I couldn't resist taking a look through the rest of the thread.

(Not John Garth's essay, the other one, obviously. )
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:19 AM   #25
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By the way, this notion seemingly arose to Tolkien with respect to the Valarin siege of Utumno, where a host of Balrogs "assailed the standard of Manwe, as it were a tide of flame"... in other words, it's here that JRRT ultimately altered "host" to "his" and noted: "There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed."
That "3" opens a very interesting line of questioning. Assuming it's intended as 'there should be not supposed more than... 3... ever existed' - ie, that there were (potentially) only 3 balrogs ever, rather than only 3 involved in the siege - does that mean that Tolkien considered a view where Gothmog, Durin's Bane, and Glorfindel's fighting buddy were the only balrogs? In that scenario, two of the three that ever lived would have died in quick succession, which would cement the Fall of Gondolin as the climactic event of the First Age.

And, thinking about it, perhaps in Tolkien's mind it was. Certainly Gondolin is name-dropped more than any other place in the First Age during LotR and The Hobbit: Elrond describes his father as 'born in Gondolin before its fall' rather than pointing out that he's the Evening Star, both Gimli and Galadriel mention it, and of course there are multiple swords from there.

Leaving the published works behind, we know that the Fall of Gondolin was the first full-length Lost Tale Tolkien wrote, and that the Doom of Mandos at one point included the words 'Great is the fall of Gondolin'. There's certainly a feeling that, whether or not Gondolin was the greatest Elven realm, its fall was the most significant event of the First Age.

So maybe the note does indicate Tolkien considering that two-thirds of Morgoth's elite died at Gondolin. If only he'd finished writing Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin...!

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Old 03-15-2018, 12:20 PM   #26
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Interesting post Huinesoron.

I wonder if we (despite what I just pointed out above!) could have the scenario: many Balrogs before the siege of Utumno > reduced by this battle to a more limited number for later in the First Age. Granted I'm just making this up, but...

... "many" could be left vague, and the survivors of Utumno would be quite notable in Gondolin, along with that later recreant Durin's Bane.

I'm sort of used to imagining "some" at the War of Wrath, but JRRT never really fully updated the conclusion to QS, so... or am I just liking the idea to help me in some Galadriel argument I have in the back of my mind?

Hmm. I can't always trust me
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:06 PM   #27
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The idea of Maiar did not yet exist at the time Tolkien wrote the encounter between Gandalf and Durin's Bane. The main text of LOTR was finished by 1949 (and the Moria material was first written much earlier), but the Maiar did not enter enter the picture until the 1950s during the reworking of the Annals of Valinor into the Annals of Aman. Morgoth's Ring discusses this in the chapter of that name.

The idea that Tolkien's cosmology -- or really anything else about the First Age -- was ever "finished" is a misconception and will impede any attempt to make sense of his writing. He obviously continued to tinker with the later Ages as well, but he tended to consider himself bound by published material except in the course of preparing new editions.
Nice to see you on this forum as well my wise friend. I am not one to question you so it seems I must accept maiar was not fully developed yet. However the strength of the balrogs and at least some of the history of them seemed clearly finished in the letters of tolkien at this point. He had even previously tried to publish what he saw as a consistent [few touch ups] sillmarillion with the LOTR. I would also say while he may have never totally finished the sillmarillion due to lack of energy in old age, he thought it close to finished and tells of its history many times in its letters that matches the published sillmarillion we have today.
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:25 PM   #28
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Yes... so I'll go with three or at most seven Balrogs ever existing, according to Tolkien's note and revision to The Annals of Aman, instead of the possibility that JRRT might have stuck with "hosts" of Balrogs.


Apologies. Couldn't resist!

Eldo's here! Huzzah!


By the way, this notion seemingly arose to Tolkien with respect to the Valarin siege of Utumno, where a host of Balrogs "assailed the standard of Manwe, as it were a tide of flame"... in other words, it's here that JRRT ultimately altered "host" to "his" and noted: "There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed."

And also by the way, if someone were arguing that we must accept 3 or 7, I would probably be saying something like: "Maybe, maybe not, Tolkien didn't revise every example of very many Balrogs, and..."

So yes, I'm annoying
I think you are putting to much weight on a unpublished note. You would think he would have revised his sillmarillion on this big change as one of his first chances if he was going to go though with it. Tolkien was a perfectionist in his writings. Nothing hit the press unless revised, reconsidered and then finally published. For example frodo was originally bingo bibbo's son. The hobbits originally met in Bree a “ranger” hobbit named trotter. Even sections that had stayed constant over and over could be drastically changed moments before publication such as the design to minis tirith. Lewis said his friends had “hoped for a final text of an old work, what they actually got was the first draft of a new one.”

“Whole thing comes out of the wash quite different to any preliminary sketch”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien

“It will probable work out very differently from this plan when it really gets written, as the thing seems to rite itself once I get going as if the truth comes out then, only imperfectly simple in the preliminary sketch.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 91

“Every part has been [re]written many times”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 130



But as i said in my op this post must assume the published sillmarillion as cannon weather i agree with it or not [i need to read the histories of ME in full first] . Plus Tolkiens sillmarillion that included "host" at this time of letters 144, saw no contradiction.

and yes your annoying, but i like it.
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:26 PM   #29
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Thanks Galin! I saw my Ancalagon essay quoted in the OP so I couldn't resist taking a look through the rest of the thread.

(Not John Garth's essay, the other one, obviously. )
I loved your essays. Glad it suckered you into this thread.
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:31 PM   #30
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I think you are putting to much weight on a unpublished note.
Well, the Silmarillion is unpublished to my mind, but anyway, the last section of my last post basically says that if you (or anyone) were pushing the idea that we must accept 3 or 7, I would probably be arguing the other side.

I'd put at least some weight on the ambiguous nature of this matter, and I'm not used to limiting my blatherings to the constructed Silmarillion.

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You would think he would have revised his sillmarillion on this big change as one of his first chances if he was going to go though with it.
Why? Tolkien didn't know this thread was someday going to exist

Due to CJRT there's no mention of "hosts/thousands" of Balrogs in the 1977 constructed Silmarillion anyway. If I recall correctly, we have the anglicized plural Balrogs in places, and that the Balrogs were destroyed in the War of Wrath, save "some few" that fled (a description written before the 3 or 7 note).

Gothmog -- slain by Ecthelion

Glorfindel's Bane -- slain by we-know-who

Four Mighty Raugs -- slain in the War of Wrath

Durin's Bane -- slain by Mithrandir

I'm also not sure if Tolkien was going to keep his "save some few" that survived -- I think letter 144 can arguably be read two ways regarding this, but admittedly "save some few" messes with my seven little Balrogath list here, in any case.

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Old 03-15-2018, 07:19 PM   #31
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Nice to see you on this forum as well my wise friend. I am not one to question you so it seems I must accept maiar was not fully developed yet. However the strength of the balrogs and at least some of the history of them seemed clearly finished in the letters of tolkien at this point. He had even previously tried to publish what he saw as a consistent [few touch ups] sillmarillion with the LOTR. I would also say while he may have never totally finished the sillmarillion due to lack of energy in old age, he thought it close to finished and tells of its history many times in its letters that matches the published sillmarillion we have today.
While I wouldn't advise anyone to accept everything I say without question, I appreciate your vote of confidence and especially your kind words about my essays; thank you.

The 1977 Silmarillion is not a great guide as to what Tolkien's latest intentions for the First Age were (though his intentions would undoubtedly have continued to evolve had he lived longer). Tolkien contemplated a lot of major revisions late in his life and the Later Silmarillion (HoMe X-XI) has a lot of examples of points on which Tolkien never made up his mind. I do think there is solid evidence in some cases (such as the excision of Elfwine) that Tolkien more or less definitively decided the change should be made, but he did not engage in large-scale rewriting of established texts towards the end of his life. As a result, much of the Silm is based on Tolkien's mid-ish 1950s (pre-Myths Transformed) conception of the legendarium, although some passages are based on much earlier texts that Christopher mixed later ideas into to achieve at least partial consistency. It is natural, then, that there is a good deal of compatibility between the 1977 Silm and letters that Tolkien wrote in the mid-1950s such as Letter 144 (as you point out). But Tolkien explored a lot of different ideas (some radically so) later on.

Christopher Tolkien did not entirely ignore his father's later ideas; he removed the Second Prophecy of Mandos and the Elfwine framing device, although in the latter case he did not replace it with a different framing device (something he discussed the downsides of in the Foreword to The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1), but in general he did not implement radical changes to the mythology. I don't want this post to come off as an attack on Christopher because I think he did a remarkable job when faced with an unenviable situation, but I do not think that the 1977 Silm was intended to be treated as definitive or that doing so helps us gain a better understanding of Tolkien's First Age works. I'm perfectly happy to use the 1977 Silm as a baseline for discussion and speculation, but I have no compunctions about putting other material above it. This is to some extent a subjective process (Galin has referred to it as assembling one's own "personal Silmarillion", which is a phrase I like), so as far as Lore discussions go, I think it's more worthwhile to pay attention to the full scope of the evolving legendarium. (I've already said my piece about the idea of canon and why I don't think it's useful in one of my essays and in the TORn thread you linked to above, so I won't bore you with it again. )

I'm not sure how much sense any of this makes because I am really behind on sleep and a bit mentally frazzled from grad school plus a large personal project, but this is sorta where I'm coming from. I know a lot of people don't find this level of uncertainty to be satisfying but it actually makes the Silmarillion more like Primary World mythologies which I think is neat. And the Bilbo/Red Book transmission allows for a lot of Silmarillion material from various eras to potentially be retained as in-universe texts (by analogy with the First Edition of The Hobbit, which was replaced on bookshelves but not excised from its place in the internal source tradition of the Red Book), which I think was part of Tolkien's intention towards the end of his life. That's a subject for another (more awake) post, though. But it doesn't necessarily make them "definitive".

There is of course a ton of room for disagreement and debate on the subject of what Tolkien might have done. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm pretty sure that I'm in the minority with my view of Elfwine vs Bilbo, though it's something that I personally think is relatively straightforward as far as Later Silmarillion issues go.
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Old 03-15-2018, 08:53 PM   #32
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Very true. cant really argue. but maybe as a counter perhaps something along the lines of Sauromans breeding of the uruk-hai. Saurons improvements of the olog-hai as improved over previous trolls. The hardrim domestication of the mumakil. The rings of power brought into middle earth and used by the like of galadriel. The witch king and the ring wraiths power, 5 wizards sent to ME, gandalf the grey to gandalf the white. the army of the dead put into action. The ents uniting for the attack on isengard. The rise of power in Mordor. Those are a few off the top of my head. Maybe these are not craftsmanship, but they do seem to show a few examples where power seemed to increase or at least reached a higher power in the third age.
That is not a counter-argument. Saruman did not create the Uruk-hai, he merely borrowed the recipe from Sauron who actually first bred the race earlier in the 3rd Age. But Saruman and Sauron tinkering only goes back to the point that they were Maiar, and 1st Age (actually Ainulindalë) beings that are holdovers in the 3rd Age, and these Maiar easily swayed the 3rd Age races under their control (which merely bolsters my point). That both Sauron and Saruman were once Maiar in the service of Aulë, the Vala master of all crafts, is notable and they learned their abilities under his tutelage in the deeps of time. But unlike Aulë who created the Dwarves (with the final permission of Eru), Sauron and Saruman did not create life, merely subverted existing creatures.

In addition, it's interesting the other characters you named. The 3 wielders of the Elven Rings of power were a Maia (Gandalf) and two 1st Age Elves (or half-Elf as the case may be) Elrond and Galadriel, and the previous holders of these Rings, Cirdan and Gil-Galad were also 1st Age Elves. The ents were led by Treebeard, again, a 1st Age being. The Haradrim domesticating Mûmakil really doesn't equate in this conversation, although the idea of using them in war was perhaps just as novel for the period as Hannibal using elephants during the Punic Wars against the Romans.

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I agree and once more an generally speaking of individuals more than a total power. However what you have rightly pointed out above fits my view still. Take Moria, yes the great dwarven city was gone, however it was know a power of the followers of melkor and the balrog. So while the dwarves morn, any orc passing by would celebrate the rise of the power of moria for the evil side. Yes the hobbit contains lost power, however the book is on the restoration of that power to the dwarves and men of lake town that can now flourish. And yes the men of gondor nd arnor were in a big decline, but they are restored [at least gondor] under aragorn.
The dwarves, even retaking Moria in the 4th Age, were a shadow of their 1st Age or 2nd Age greatness. Their numbers were decimated by the end of the War of the Ring, and Tolkien infers they will eventually disappear (that whole lack of comely dwarf maidens thing). The men of Laketown certainly were not to the level of greatness as Dale earlier in the 3rd Age, and Aragorn may have restored Gondor as an empire, but that doesn't in any way mean that the the Dunedain blood of Gondorions themselves wouldn't continue to wane and mix with lesser races. As I mentioned previously, Aragorn himself admits he is the last of his line (meaning a Numenorean throwback). He was a reflection of former glory.


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True, but dont forget the Numenoreans could have taken valar and had to be stopped by Eru himself. One of my points was that the valar and maiar are not as epic as sometimes portrayed. I think we see that in the war of wrath as i pointed out in my op. The valar needed rescuing in the battle. On the other side it was the dragons that were most fierce in battle.
I think you are misreading the passage of Ar-Pharazon's invasion in the Akallabêth. It's not necessarily true that the Numenoreans "could have taken" the Valar (in fact, you can't "kill" the Valar in the conventional sense). Tolkien himself referred to Ar-Pharazon's folly as "going up with war against the Deathless" as he broke the ban of the Valar. It seems to me the more likely scenario is that Manwe, not wishing to spill the blood of First and Second Born Children of Eru in a catastrophic war, and the Valar themselves forced to kill Numenoreans, gave up power to Illuvatar himself to make a final, divine judgement over his Children.

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I agree fully with the historical downfall of the men of numenor [and there return under aragorn in many ways] I think you might have misunderstood hyperbole as used in my op. The sil and its events are generally historical and true. However simply exaggerated in some areas yet based on truth.
Again, there were 1st Age beings present and leading or influencing the peoples of the 3rd Age (whether that be Sauron, Gandalf, Galadriel or Elrond). They did not downplay the past; on the contrary, these 1st Age beings superseded and were by far more powerful than any 3rd age character. But in the 1st Age, Sauron was a lieutenant of a greater Vala, and Saruman and Gandalf were followers of the Valar as well. Galadriel, great as she was, learned much under the tutelage of Melian the Maia, and Master Elrond was a lieutenant as well, not a prince. Even Shelob, as evil and bloated as she was, was merely another of the thousands of offspring of Ungoliant, who rivaled Morgoth himself. And the WitchKing may have filled 3rd Age Men with dread, but on two occasions he fled from a 1st Age Elf-lord like Glorfindel.

You wish to conflate the deeds of 3rd Age folk, while minimizing 1st Age power claiming the use of hyperbole. That is simply not how Tolkien wrote the story.
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Old 03-16-2018, 03:10 AM   #33
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It's not necessarily true that the Numenoreans "could have taken" the Valar (in fact, you can't "kill" the Valar in the conventional sense). Tolkien himself referred to Ar-Pharazon's folly as "going up with war against the Deathless" as he broke the ban of the Valar. It seems to me the more likely scenario is that Manwe, not wishing to spill the blood of First and Second Born Children of Eru in a catastrophic war, and the Valar themselves forced to kill Numenoreans, gave up power to Illuvatar himself to make a final, divine judgement over his Children.
Yes, I always understood the situation as being that Manwë called upon Eru because it would have been inappropriate for the Valar to have fought the Númenóreans, even though they could have annihilated them easily. Surely the whole point of Sauron encouraging the Númenóreans to attack Aman was in the hope that the Valar would wipe them out.

EDIT: Letter 156 more or less states that the Valar not fighting the Númenóreans was a matter of law, not ability: "The Valar had no real answer to this monstrous rebellion - for the Children of God were not under their ultimate jurisdiction: they were not allowed to destroy them, or coerce them, with any ’divine’ display of the powers they held over the physical world."

EDIT 2: However, Letter 131 states that the invasion was a source of "real peril (since the Númenóreans directed by Sauron could have wrought ruin in Valinor itself)". This, however, suggests to me that the Númenóreans could have caused a lot of destruction and disaster – killing Elves and despoiling holy places, for instance – before they were defeated. I don't think it implies that they could have defeated the Valar themselves, merely that Sauron may have informed them of "weak points" in Aman that they could have attacked and damaged.

EDIT 3: Akallabêth also heavily implies that Sauron expected the Númenóreans to lose, as he had been "hoping only for the death of the Númenóreans and the defeat of their proud king."
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Old 03-16-2018, 02:34 PM   #34
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Question for the history of middle earth scholars. When was this text written? after publishing LOTR?

"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."


If Tolkien created in the category of Maiar after LOTR, than he must have been ok with balrogs in large numbers as maiar correct?
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Old 03-16-2018, 02:43 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Well, the Silmarillion is unpublished to my mind, but anyway, the last section of my last post basically says that if you (or anyone) were pushing the idea that we must accept 3 or 7, I would probably be arguing the other side.

I'd put at least some weight on the ambiguous nature of this matter, and I'm not used to limiting my blatherings to the constructed Silmarillion.
and just to be clear i am not on one side or the other as far as canonization of the sillmarillion. But to even have such a discussion it must be assumed otherwise we have no constant sillmarillion as they would vary from person to person.


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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Why? Tolkien didn't know this thread was someday going to exist

Due to CJRT there's no mention of "hosts/thousands" of Balrogs in the 1977 constructed Silmarillion anyway. If I recall correctly, we have the anglicized plural Balrogs in places, and that the Balrogs were destroyed in the War of Wrath, save "some few" that fled (a description written before the 3 or 7 note).

Gothmog -- slain by Ecthelion

Glorfindel's Bane -- slain by we-know-who

Four Mighty Raugs -- slain in the War of Wrath

Durin's Bane -- slain by Mithrandir

He did however wish to publish his sillmarillion. You would think he would have wanted this corrected if he wished to stick with it rather than his normative of

“Whole thing comes out of the wash quite different to any preliminary sketch”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien

“Every part has been [re]written many times”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 130


and as you stated, he held the same view of balrogs [regardless of how they were categorized] for a long period, one note against it is not that great of evidence imo.


I just finished the 1977 sil and I believe it does not say thousands however it does mention many multiple times. More than 7, or at least so it seemed. Maybe someone could help with some direct quotes.


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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
I'm also not sure if Tolkien was going to keep his "save some few" that survived -- I think letter 144 can arguably be read two ways regarding this, but admittedly "save some few" messes with my seven little Balrogath list here, in any case.
lol.
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Old 03-16-2018, 02:57 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Eldorion View Post
While I wouldn't advise anyone to accept everything I say without question, I appreciate your vote of confidence and especially your kind words about my essays; thank you.

The 1977 Silmarillion is not a great guide as to what Tolkien's latest intentions for the First Age were (though his intentions would undoubtedly have continued to evolve had he lived longer). Tolkien contemplated a lot of major revisions late in his life and the Later Silmarillion (HoMe X-XI) has a lot of examples of points on which Tolkien never made up his mind. I do think there is solid evidence in some cases (such as the excision of Elfwine) that Tolkien more or less definitively decided the change should be made, but he did not engage in large-scale rewriting of established texts towards the end of his life. As a result, much of the Silm is based on Tolkien's mid-ish 1950s (pre-Myths Transformed) conception of the legendarium, although some passages are based on much earlier texts that Christopher mixed later ideas into to achieve at least partial consistency. It is natural, then, that there is a good deal of compatibility between the 1977 Silm and letters that Tolkien wrote in the mid-1950s such as Letter 144 (as you point out). But Tolkien explored a lot of different ideas (some radically so) later on.
I need those volumes before i could give a good evaluation. But it just seems to me in the case of DB, that Tolkien at the time [1950's] and post publishing of the fellowship of the rings, saw no inconsistencies and wanted than to publish the sillmarillion that he seemed over and over to refer to as a finished history of the first ages [in his letters]. He very well may have drastically wanted to chang things later but i need those volumes first. With my limited knowledge it seems the 1977 sil likely took the best option, or very close to it. Tolkien must have had in mind the 1950's version of the sil when he wrote LOTR because it

“The Lord of the Rings was not not so much a sequel to the hobbit as a sequel to the silmarillion, every aspect of the earlier work was playing a part into the new story.”
-J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000

“It [LOTR] is not really a sequel to the hobbit, but to the sillmarillion”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 124




Quote:
Originally Posted by Eldorion View Post
Christopher Tolkien did not entirely ignore his father's later ideas; he removed the Second Prophecy of Mandos and the Elfwine framing device, although in the latter case he did not replace it with a different framing device (something he discussed the downsides of in the Foreword to The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1), but in general he did not implement radical changes to the mythology. I don't want this post to come off as an attack on Christopher because I think he did a remarkable job when faced with an unenviable situation, but I do not think that the 1977 Silm was intended to be treated as definitive or that doing so helps us gain a better understanding of Tolkien's First Age works. I'm perfectly happy to use the 1977 Silm as a baseline for discussion and speculation, but I have no compunctions about putting other material above it. This is to some extent a subjective process (Galin has referred to it as assembling one's own "personal Silmarillion", which is a phrase I like), so as far as Lore discussions go, I think it's more worthwhile to pay attention to the full scope of the evolving legendarium. (I've already said my piece about the idea of canon and why I don't think it's useful in one of my essays and in the TORn thread you linked to above, so I won't bore you with it again. )
Just to be clear I have no position yet especially before I have not read the HoMe X-XI. I very well may end up agreeing with you as I often did with your essays. However to even engage in such a discussion as my op, there must be a set standard and only the published sillmarillion can fulfilling that even if imperfectly. As you said otherwise its "one's own personal Silmarillion" and it would vary. Even if that is the correct mode.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Eldorion View Post
I'm not sure how much sense any of this makes because I am really behind on sleep and a bit mentally frazzled from grad school plus a large personal project, but this is sorta where I'm coming from. I know a lot of people don't find this level of uncertainty to be satisfying but it actually makes the Silmarillion more like Primary World mythologies which I think is neat. And the Bilbo/Red Book transmission allows for a lot of Silmarillion material from various eras to potentially be retained as in-universe texts (by analogy with the First Edition of The Hobbit, which was replaced on bookshelves but not excised from its place in the internal source tradition of the Red Book), which I think was part of Tolkien's intention towards the end of his life. That's a subject for another (more awake) post, though. But it doesn't necessarily make them "definitive".

There is of course a ton of room for disagreement and debate on the subject of what Tolkien might have done. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm pretty sure that I'm in the minority with my view of Elfwine vs Bilbo, though it's something that I personally think is relatively straightforward as far as Later Silmarillion issues go.

Thanks as always for your posts.
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Old 03-16-2018, 03:00 PM   #37
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“The Lord of the Rings was not not so much a sequel to the hobbit as a sequel to the silmarillion, every aspect of the earlier work was playing a part into the new story.”
-J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000

“It [LOTR] is not really a sequel to the hobbit, but to the sillmarillion”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 124



I posted this above in a reply but I wanted all to see it because i think it supports what I have said on DB. In the letters of Tolkien he wrote the LOTR more as a squeal to his personal favorite the sillmarillion [rather than the hobbit] and after LOTR was published saw his 1950's sillmarillion as constant with LoTR and tried to get it published. This seems to me to support the 1977 sillmarillion and the take on DB and balrogs i have offered. Comments?
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Old 03-16-2018, 03:44 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
That is not a counter-argument. Saruman did not create the Uruk-hai, he merely borrowed the recipe from Sauron who actually first bred the race earlier in the 3rd Age. But Saruman and Sauron tinkering only goes back to the point that they were Maiar, and 1st Age (actually Ainulindalë) beings that are holdovers in the 3rd Age, and these Maiar easily swayed the 3rd Age races under their control (which merely bolsters my point). That both Sauron and Saruman were once Maiar in the service of Aulë, the Vala master of all crafts, is notable and they learned their abilities under his tutelage in the deeps of time. But unlike Aulë who created the Dwarves (with the final permission of Eru), Sauron and Saruman did not create life, merely subverted existing creatures.
A counter to strength in the first age is to give example of strength that increased in the third age imo. If it were Sauron or Saruman does not matter [thanks for the correction if so] but that it was the third age vs earlier forms. I think it supported my argument that knowledge can be gained over time [such as numonrians longer life spans] and so even though sauron and saruman were both Maiar and were first age beings, that does not take away that over time they created a better breed of ork that morgoth [valar] could not and sauron could not in the first 2 ages.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
In addition, it's interesting the other characters you named. The 3 wielders of the Elven Rings of power were a Maia (Gandalf) and two 1st Age Elves (or half-Elf as the case may be) Elrond and Galadriel, and the previous holders of these Rings, Cirdan and Gil-Galad were also 1st Age Elves. The ents were led by Treebeard, again, a 1st Age being. The Haradrim domesticating Mûmakil really doesn't equate in this conversation, although the idea of using them in war was perhaps just as novel for the period as Hannibal using elephants during the Punic Wars against the Romans.
I am not saying the Maia are not powerful creatures in middle earth. They will always be among the most powerful. I did say they tend to be set apart to much IMO as far away and above all others that I dont think is accurate to Tolkien mythology. For example we are talking on increase in knowledge over time In Valinar the Noldor elves “thirst for more knowledge , and in many things surpassed their teachers” [the valar].”


But I think you missed my point. The rings themselves added to maia such as gandalf or elves such as galadriel a power that was not around in the first age. Gandalf himself is an added power at least to ME compared to the first age. I also made the point I would think Galdriel [more powerful than elrond part maia] was more powerful [in part because of the ring] in the third age than the first. The ents were around but never united for a war on the scale of isengard. That mumakil to me seems a good example where time and knowledge was increased [to domesticate the wild beasts] for action and causing an increase in power over previous ages in this case.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
The dwarves, even retaking Moria in the 4th Age, were a shadow of their 1st Age or 2nd Age greatness. Their numbers were decimated by the end of the War of the Ring, and Tolkien infers they will eventually disappear (that whole lack of comely dwarf maidens thing). The men of Laketown certainly were not to the level of greatness as Dale earlier in the 3rd Age, and Aragorn may have restored Gondor as an empire, but that doesn't in any way mean that the the Dunedain blood of Gondorions themselves wouldn't continue to wane and mix with lesser races. As I mentioned previously, Aragorn himself admits he is the last of his line (meaning a Numenorean throwback). He was a reflection of former glory.
I dont disagree, In fact moria and lake town depended on trade with elves for economy and with them leaving ME, they could not fully restore power. But to prove my point they did not have to, just a change of power happens with a loss of power such as the orcs in moria. Or as you say the dwindleing of the dwarves [and elves] they will however be replaced by mankind. However this thread does not deal with 4th age hypothetical but the first 3 ages.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
I think you are misreading the passage of Ar-Pharazon's invasion in the Akallabêth. It's not necessarily true that the Numenoreans "could have taken" the Valar (in fact, you can't "kill" the Valar in the conventional sense). Tolkien himself referred to Ar-Pharazon's folly as "going up with war against the Deathless" as he broke the ban of the Valar. It seems to me the more likely scenario is that Manwe, not wishing to spill the blood of First and Second Born Children of Eru in a catastrophic war, and the Valar themselves forced to kill Numenoreans, gave up power to Illuvatar himself to make a final, divine judgement over his Children.
True i did not get it from the passage, but from Tolkiens letters. In Tolkiens letters 130 he said of the attack on valinar by men “The Numen-oreans directed by Sauron could have wrought ruin in Valinor itself." While the valar perhaps could not be "killed" in the same sense, we see valar and maiar being wounded or bodily killed by conventional weapons from the first age to the third age. I dont disagree fully with what you have said about Manwe. But weather he steeped aside or not does not take away from what Tolkien called the mightiest navy to ever gather in ME and its potential to ruin valinor itself.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Again, there were 1st Age beings present and leading or influencing the peoples of the 3rd Age (whether that be Sauron, Gandalf, Galadriel or Elrond). They did not downplay the past; on the contrary, these 1st Age beings superseded and were by far more powerful than any 3rd age character.
I dont disagree. I am not "downplaying" I am simply pointing out a style of writing and its effects on perception of those historical events. I am simply pointing out the style it was written for a better proper understanding.


“Pure myth and legend....cosmological myth ”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 122


Tolkien's writings use hyperbole language especially in his yet unpublished silmarillion. This is not false, just a style of writing. Over long periods of history tales grow and over time exaggerated characters and beasts become more powerful than they were. Yet even within the text they are often not as mighty as presumed. Often various times you will hear someone was the “greatest” or “tallest” etc.

“Tolkien uses profoundly figurative language – particularly when describing distant events in semi-legendary past.”
-John Garth



I am not saying maia or valar are not of the most powerful beings. My op says

"the valar the strongest beings outside of Eru [God]"

"Valar were the strongest creations by eru"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
But in the 1st Age, Sauron was a lieutenant of a greater Vala, and Saruman and Gandalf were followers of the Valar as well. Galadriel, great as she was, learned much under the tutelage of Melian the Maia, and Master Elrond was a lieutenant as well, not a prince. Even Shelob, as evil and bloated as she was, was merely another of the thousands of offspring of Ungoliant, who rivaled Morgoth himself. And the WitchKing may have filled 3rd Age Men with dread, but on two occasions he fled from a 1st Age Elf-lord like Glorfindel.

You wish to conflate the deeds of 3rd Age folk, while minimizing 1st Age power claiming the use of hyperbole. That is simply not how Tolkien wrote the story.
Agreed as my op says of morgoth

“His might was greatest of all things in this world.”
-of the ruin of Beleriand


However i think he is a great example of why the valar [he being the greatest] are not so far and above all other creatures as my op argues. Some also argue Sauron became stronger with the ring and had more success than morgoth.


Yes galadriel learned from the valar and maia and that is part of her power. Because especially early the maia and valar were the most powerful as they taught the children of eru. However In Valinar the Noldor elves “thirst for more knowledge , and in many things surpassed their teachers” [valar] I would think Galadriel would be such a candidate for this.

Calling Elrond a lieutenant and saying he was weaker goes against you as he was part maia and thus below pure elves. I would suggest it had to do with time of birth, family etc.

You said "Ungoliant, who rivaled Morgoth himself" I will let that speak for itself.



I would say I am doing neither, but trying to understand them as Tolkien did.

“Moreover my father came to conceive the silmarillion as a compilation , a compedious narrative, made long afterwords from sources of great diversity [poems annuals and oral tales] that have survived in tradition”
-Christopher Tolkien Forward to the Silmarillion
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Old 03-16-2018, 04:02 PM   #39
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Yes, I always understood the situation as being that Manwë called upon Eru because it would have been inappropriate for the Valar to have fought the Númenóreans, even though they could have annihilated them easily. Surely the whole point of Sauron encouraging the Númenóreans to attack Aman was in the hope that the Valar would wipe them out.

EDIT: Letter 156 more or less states that the Valar not fighting the Númenóreans was a matter of law, not ability: "The Valar had no real answer to this monstrous rebellion - for the Children of God were not under their ultimate jurisdiction: they were not allowed to destroy them, or coerce them, with any ’divine’ display of the powers they held over the physical world."
I dont disagree fully with what you have said about Manwe. But weather he steeped aside or not does not take away from what Tolkien called the mightiest navy to ever gather in ME and its potential to ruin valinor itself. Neither does Sauron's plan of causing them to fight and i am sure he would wish to wipe them both out.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
EDIT 2: However, Letter 131 states that the invasion was a source of "real peril (since the Númenóreans directed by Sauron could have wrought ruin in Valinor itself)". This, however, suggests to me that the Númenóreans could have caused a lot of destruction and disaster – killing Elves and despoiling holy places, for instance – before they were defeated. I don't think it implies that they could have defeated the Valar themselves, merely that Sauron may have informed them of "weak points" in Aman that they could have attacked and damaged.
While the valar stood by? I would suggest valinor itself was in peril, that included the entire area and those who dwelled there. Noldor elves sure did a great job in the first age against balrogs and morgoth in battle, if the numenoreans could best them, it seems indeed valinor was in peril.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
EDIT 3: Akallabêth also heavily implies that Sauron expected the Númenóreans to lose, as he had been "hoping only for the death of the Númenóreans and the defeat of their proud king."


In letters 153 Tolkien said the characters can be wrong in their statements and dont represent Tolkien. In fact his example was the maiar Gandalf being wrong in a statement. No reason Sauron could not be. He made the rings as an attempt to control ME, that did not work out so well.
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Old 03-16-2018, 04:05 PM   #40
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He did however wish to publish his sillmarillion. You would think he would have wanted this corrected if he wished to stick with it rather than his normative of...
Well, for myself I don't find this a very compelling point though, considering how much else had not been updated or revised even at the end of Tolkien's life. Christopher Tolkien even had to deal with some material that still dated to 1930!

And if the notion of reducing numbers waited till 1958 or later (going by the note being found on a text in this phase), then the notion/opportunity of getting The Silmarillion published along with The Lord of the Rings with Waldman, had passed...

... yes, Tolkien still wanted to revise, update, publish his Silmarillion in the later 1950s, 1960s, early 1970s but there was arguably plenty to do outside of this Balrog detail, not to mention work on the long prose versions of the Great Tales.

Quote:
and as you stated, he held the same view of balrogs [regardless of how they were categorized] for a long period, one note against it is not that great of evidence imo.
A note... and a revision; a revision which CJRT arguably echoed for the 1977 Silmarillion, since...


Quote:
I just finished the 1977 sil and I believe it does not say thousands however it does mention many multiple times. More than 7, or at least so it seemed. Maybe someone could help with some direct quotes.
But you just read it! Why do I have to do the work... [wanders away]...

... [eats snack, returns] okay, if the Silmarillion index reference pages are complete, then there are no references to "many" Balrogs. Which makes sense to me, as why would CJRT alter a reference to hosts of Balrogs (or whatever), and leave some other reference indicating very many.

Actually, I know I've written a post concerning the Tolkien-made revision to AAm, including instances that were never changed by JRRT himself (for whatever reason), compared to CJRT's revised wording in the 1977 Silmarillion. It might even be here at BD somewhere, but I can't recall at the moment.

Anyway, as I said, there are instances of the anglicized plural (Balrog-s), and this "some few" survived text (with respect to the War of Wrath), and now I'll add that we have one description of "another" Balrog at one point, indicating two in the scene...

... or at least two, if you like

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