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Old 05-06-2000, 11:43 AM   #1
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i've been wondering what everyone else thinks.

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Old 05-06-2000, 12:00 PM   #2
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I am (forgive the pun) up in the air about this one. But I can tell you what I think about it. I will post one of the Barrow-downs articles here. It's going to be long, but I hope you take the time to read it.

Did Balrogs Have Wings?

Maybe, but they didn't fly.

Balrogs occur many times in The Silmarillion but the only appearance of one in The Lord of the Rings gives the best Balrog description. Unforunately, this description also creates one of the longest-lasting debates among Tolkiens enthusiasts: Did Balrogs have wings?

The idea that they have wings comes from one line in the Fellowship of the Ring.:

&quot;The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall;.&quot;

To a literalist this makes the case. No questions. Balrogs had wings.

But not everyone reads Tolkien word-for-word. Many readers point to other passages that imply Balrogs were wingless.

To investigate this point of view let's look at how the Balrog is first described:

&quot;... like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and to go before it.&quot;
&quot;The flames roared up to greet it, and wreathed about it; and a black smoke swirled in the air.&quot;
&quot;Its streaming mane kindled, and blazed behind it. In its right hand was a blade like a stabbing tongue of fire; in its left it held a whip of many thongs.&quot;
&quot;The dark figure streaming with fire raced towards them.&quot;
&quot;... and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils..&quot;

Here the shadow about the Balrog reaches out like two vast wings.

Only after Gandalf bars it's way, calling it 'Flame of Udun', does the wings line appear (repeated here for continuity)

&quot;The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall;...&quot;

This seems to imply that the shadow that reached out like two vast wings spread from wall to wall as the Balrog drew itself up to a great height.

Wings or Shadows? Or Shadow Wings?

Next, Gandalf and the Balrog battle on the bridge of Khazad-dum until at last:

&quot; The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet it broke...&quot; &quot;With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward , and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink.&quot;

When Gandalf returns in The Two Towers he tells what happened next.

&quot;...Long I fell, and he fell with me. His fire was about me. I was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark.&quot;

To guess why a winged Balrog would fall from the broken bridge I will have to read into the story a little. Possible reasons are:

(1) The 'shadow plunged down and vanished' is actually the huge wings knocked useless by Gandalfs blow. The weight of them drags the Balrog down.
(2) Knowing it had met a deadly match it decided to kill Gandalf with the fall rather than continue the battle;
(3) It's wings were so huge that it could not fly within the confine of the Hall or the chasm;
(4) It's wings were merely an affectation to intimidate


At the bottom of the long fall:

&quot;...His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime , stronger than a strangling snake.&quot; &quot;Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels.&quot;

And at the top of Durin's Stair at Durin's Tower:

&quot;There upon Celebdil... Out he sprang, and even as I came behind he burst into new flame... I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountainsaide where he smote it in his ruin.&quot;

Why would a winged Balrog fall from the mountaintop? :

(1) It was already dead;
(2) It's wings were broken by the fight;
(3) It's wings were only decoration


None of these points prove that the Balrog had wings or not. They do suggest that it was incapable of flight.

Let's investigate the history of Arda to see what other information we can find out about Balrogs.

Many of the Maiar that came to Arda with the Valar were aligned with Melkor. Others were later corrupted to his service. The Valaraukar, called Balrogs in Middle-Earth, were among those Maiar that chose to follow Melkor. Being Maiar the Balrogs could have assumed whatever shape they preferred - including winged.

Described as scourges of fire and demons of terror, Balrogs lurked beneath the ruined halls of Angband during Melkor's long captivity and later residence in Aman. When Melkor returned to Middle-Earth the Balrogs issued from the dungeons to save him from Ungoliant. This rescue was decribed :

&quot;... and now swiftly they arose, and passing over Hithlum they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire. With their whips of flame they smote asunder the webs of Ungoliant...&quot;

The phrases 'swiftly they arose' and 'passing over Hithlum' define movement but don't really convey the medium of travel, air or land.

When Feanor arrived in Middle-Earth at Lammoth he passed into Hithlum and was assaulted by the forces of Morgoth (as Melkor was now called by the Elves). The elves fought victoriously for ten days, but Feanor continued to advance ahead of his army. Balrogs came forth from Angband to aid the Orcs that Feanor was pursuing. They assaulted him and he was '... wrapped in fire ...' and '... at the last was smitten to the ground by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs...' His sons arrived in force, and the Balrogs returned to Angband.

Again, the mode of travel is not defined.

Glaurung the golden, father of dragons, preceded the rivers of flame that ran down from Thangorodrim at the onset of the Battle of Sudden Flame. Balrogs followed.

Ancalgon the Black was the first of the flying dragons so Glaurung was on the ground. The following Balrogs could have flown or walked.

Gothmog who mortally wounded Feanor was also present at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. He came between the armies of Maedhros and Fingon, and he turned west to fight Fingon. &quot;...Fingon....fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a thong of fire about him. Then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe, and a white flame sprang up from the helm of Fingon as it was cloven ... and they beat him into the dust with their maces ...&quot;

Gothmog later fought Hurin in the same Battle. Hurin's '... axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog'. He was finally overcome and bound by the Balrog and dragged to Angband.

Once more there is no discussion to the mode of travel but there is an even clue about Balrogs. Gothmog had a 'troll-guard'. Trolls don't fly and never did. A guard of land-bound trolls would make a poor choice for the protection of a flying creature. If Gothmog did fly , perhaps the trolls surrounded him whenever he landed onm a battlefield.

Gothmog made his final appearance at the Fall of Gondolin. He and Ecthelion slew each other as they fought in the Square of the King.

At least one other Balrog was present when Gondolin fell. It accompanied an army of Orcs that watched the pass of Cirith Thoronath. Glorfindel was with the elves. And he fought the Balrog upon a pinnacle of rock in that high place, 'and both fell to ruin in the abyss.'

Another Balrog falls to it's death from a mountainside. See the discussion above describing Gandalf's battle with Durin's Bane atop Celebdil.

The War of Wrath ended the terror of the Balrogs except for &quot;... some few that fled and hid themselves in caverns innaccesable at the roots of the earth ...&quot;

Throughtout the history of Middle-Earth Balrogs are never seen flying. Not even to rescue themselves from potentially fatal falls from mountainsides and down deep chasms. Only one is ever described physically in any detail. It is described on the same page as having a shadow shaped like wings and having wings that were spread from wall to wall.

So, the question is : Did Balrogs have wings?

And the answer is: Maybe, but they didn't fly.
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Old 05-09-2000, 06:38 AM   #3
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

My long story about Balrog wings is just my spin on the subject. Surely, some of you must have more to say about balrogs and their wings (or lack thereof).



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Old 05-17-2000, 08:22 AM   #4
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

Well I'd love to imagine them WITH Wings... they seem so much more formidable that way. Maybe they had wings but could only fly similarly to chickens??? This may explain their lack of use... I personally find John Howe's impressions absolutely fantastic.

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Old 05-18-2000, 11:18 AM   #5
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

They definitely had wings in my mind. I really hope that the Balrog in the movie has wings, because otherwise it'll just look like an oversized Orc <img src=wink.gif ALT="">

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Old 05-18-2000, 01:31 PM   #6
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

You all will probably think that I'm crazy for saying this, but I like to think of the balrog looks like the devil from one or two episodes of the cartoon Reboot, only bigger. With great wings of Fire and Darkness. After all, Gandalf did call it &quot;flame of Udun&quot;. Udun being Hell, maybe even Angband, not the region of Mordor, I should think.

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Old 05-18-2000, 01:49 PM   #7
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

I don't know the cartoon. Do you have a picture or anything? I'd be interested to see it.

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Old 05-18-2000, 02:40 PM   #8
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

This page has two pictures.http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Stat...ason3/314.htmlwww.geocities.com/Area51/...3/314.html</a>

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Old 03-08-2001, 11:07 PM   #9
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

I don't think a balrog does have wings, it is a Maia, a fire spirit. It never uses its wings and on the bridge of Khazadûm it only appears to describe wings of shadow. There are many places where it would be useful for a balrog to have wings, but it does not use them (falling of the bridge of Khazadûm is not the only one, Glorfindel fighting it in Gondolin- they fall to their deaths). Unless it is some sort of penguin,<img src=laugh.gif ALT=":lol"> which I doubt, or its wings are for decoration then I don't think it has wings. <img src=roll.gif ALT=":rollin">
Of course this is just my opinion.

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Old 03-09-2001, 09:23 AM   #10
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

I like you Elenna, you agree with me on everything. <img src=smile.gif ALT="">

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Old 03-09-2001, 09:41 AM   #11
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</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://www.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_profile&u=00000316>Ongel</A> at: 3/9/01 10:42:56 am
 
Old 03-09-2001, 09:55 AM   #12
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

<img src=laugh.gif ALT=":lol"> thx <img src=smile.gif ALT=""> i sort of like you to <img src=wink.gif ALT="">

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Old 03-09-2001, 12:27 PM   #13
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

For those interested, there is a much longer and more detailed thread on this subject on Page 3 of this Forum (Books) called &quot;Were Balrogs winged?&quot;. I bring this up because if this thread goes much farther, someone will inevitably find and post to the other one also and there will be two running side by side. BTW, we love it when old threads are revived by new posters. New opinions make for more discussion. <img src=smile.gif ALT="">

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Old 03-09-2001, 01:29 PM   #14
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Celbringnar: Maybe they had wings but could only fly similarly to chickens??? <hr></blockquote>

Do Balrog's taste like chicken?

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Old 03-09-2001, 02:15 PM   #15
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

Everything tastes like chicken.


&quot;Maybe they couldn't get it right, maybe that's why chicken tastes like everything!&quot;

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Old 03-09-2001, 06:14 PM   #16
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Re: Do balrogs have wings?

Everything (including, I'm sure, Balrogs) tastes like chicken because chicken itself has no taste, so it can taste like whatever you want it to.

Although my parents insist that when they were young, chicken wasn't tasteless, but had a distinct chicken flavour. Or maybe it was a distinct Balrog flavour, but they didn't realise that. Perhaps chickens didn't evolve from dinosaurs or other birds, but from Balrogs. (No, perhaps not. That's just too silly. <img src=wink.gif ALT=""> )

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Old 03-09-2001, 09:49 PM   #17
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Moving on...

I think that balrog's did have wings, but they would be leathery like the wings of a bat, or in ME case like a dragons. Given the appearance of balrogs, being a biped standing upright, I dont think that the wings would be strong enough to actually flap and generate enough momentum to actually fly.. Praps balrogs were able to glide for a short while, but my poiny being that gliding would not be enough to save them from the falls mentioned earlier. The theory of there being winged balrogs and balrogs without wings is probably most likely, but concerning the one's with wings, I think the wings would not be strong enough to fly with.

I too like the pictures of John Howe, the battle of the balrog and fingolfin, and of course the battle at Khazad-dm, where the balrog is depicted with wings. Ted Nasmith also has a good depiction of the Moria battle between Gandalf and Durin's Bane, where the latter is shown with out wings, and does not take away from the illustrated power of the balrog. If anyone gets a chance to look at both pictures, I would recomend it, they are both really good <img src=smile.gif ALT="">

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Old 03-09-2001, 11:37 PM   #18
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Moving on...

but since balrogs are maia and maia's can make their own shape why would they make a shape which has wings that they have no use for?

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Old 03-10-2001, 01:19 AM   #19
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Moving on...

To look scary, I suppose.

I think that the wings on Balrogs were shadows. That would a: make them scarier, and b: explain why they can't fly.

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Old 03-10-2001, 01:57 AM   #20
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Moving on...

Maybe the shadowy wings are Balrog-ian Christmas Decorations, they wear them to look pretty.

Pretty Intimidation? <img src=tongue.gif ALT=":b">

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Old 03-10-2001, 07:12 AM   #21
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<img src="http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/posticons/bluepal.jpg" align=absmiddle> Re: Moving on...

Praps more for better balance than flight..

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Old 08-18-2001, 05:07 PM   #22
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Ad: Do balrogs have wings?

Ad teithad: Do Balrogs have wings?

Suilaid.

I agree that Balrogs look cooler with wings. Unfortunately, I have to admit the evidence points in the opposite direction.

Certainly in this quote the Balrog may have been incapacitated, as wing advocates argue, so it couldn't fly up.
[7] &quot;I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place, and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin.&quot;
The Two Towers III 5 The White Rider

However, what about these two?
[6] &quot;Then with a rush it leaped across the fissure.&quot;
The Fellowship of the Ring II 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dm

&quot;It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge...&quot;
The Fellowship of the Ring II 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dm

From this, it must be taken to mean that whether or not the Balrogs had wings, they couldn't fly.

But did they have wings? The impression one gets is that the cavern the Balrog the company meets is in is huge. In other words, if the Balrog has wings that spread &quot;from wall to wall&quot;, it must be huge -- at least as big as a house.

As evidence, look at the Chamber of Marzabul in which the
[13] &quot;...orcs one after another leaped into the chamber.&quot;
The Fellowship of the Ring II 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dm



...and

[14] &quot;...clustered in the doorway.&quot;
The Fellowship of the Ring II 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dm


Obviously this opening is quite small.

Also, in HoME:

[15] &quot;[the Balrog] strode to the fissure, no more than man-high yet terror seemed to go before it.&quot;
The History of Middle-earth Volume VII (The Treason of Isengard), X The Mines of Moria II: The Bridge

This can't be used as evidence as it is a rejected draft, but obviously Tolkien imagined the Balrogs as man-sized.

Which means the only alternative is that the Balrogs somehow created their wings. But Tolkien's final decision was that the Maiar who fell from grace and took bodies in Middle-Earth lost the ability to change their shape. It appears the only part of the Balrog that could change shape was it's shadow.

I use arguments extensively from the Encyclopedia of Arda. (http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.../balrogs.html)www.glyphweb.com/arda/def...rogs.html)</a>

Abcened!

</p>
 
Old 02-20-2003, 04:01 AM   #23
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[img]smilies/evil.gif[/img] Balrogs have wings! [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img] of course they have...
 
Old 02-20-2003, 06:21 AM   #24
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Hmm, the last post was from 2001. I think it was pretty clever to rise this topic too..
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Old 02-20-2003, 01:42 PM   #25
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Hmm... The fabled Balrog/wing debate. Now for my own two-cents. I want you all to remember that this is partly my opinion and partly something I seem to have read or heard somewhere. I see to remember once hearing that things are more frightening when left to the imagination. If we were to actually know whether or not the Balrog had wings, it would take away our own impressions of its looks. Half-known or half-seen things tend to be more frightening than if you know precisely what something is. For instance, a nightmare. If you can fully remember every detail and you know exactly what happened and where, you can think back and say "That wasn't so bad." But if it is only partially remembered and the only thing that is foremost in your thoughts is how afraid you were, it makes it far more terrifying. In my opinion, Tolkien left the possibility of wings up to the imagination in hopes that fear of the unknown would enrich his own imagery. Just my own thoughts. Also- I'm not entirely sure that if the Balrog had wings, any of the Fellowship would have been able to tell for sure. If anyone else has been underground, in a cave or some such place, you'll remember that it darker than dark. Any idea of 'black' is refined after you experience pure darkness. You cannot see anything, and with the light coming from fire and Gandalf's staff alone, and firelight being very fickle, it would be impossible to tell if the very size of the being was just a trick of the light, much less precisely what its extremities were.
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:30 PM   #26
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Quick! Kill the thread! I don't know if I can stand this again!

And BTW....they do have wings.
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:52 PM   #27
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I think a more appropriate question from the beginning would have been, "did the Balrog of Khazad-dum have wings when the Fellowship ran into it?" Valaraukar were spirits of fire, very, very powerful ones. Sauron was a great spirit, and he could change his shape to whatever he felt necessary to look like. Though I doubt a Balrog has the kind of control needed to conceal its fiery form in the body of an elf-look-alike, or a man, it could probably change shape to some degree. Sauron didn't lose his ability to change shape until after his body was badly, badly damaged in the fall of Numenor, and when he returned (I don't think he fully lost the body, because he carried the Ring back to Mordor with him, as he had it in Numenor and nobody noticed (Tolkien's letters)), he had lost the ability but could still at least rebuild a new body. The Balrog had never 'fell'. It was still fairly peachy from its entire age of rest, so I would assume it could shape-shift. As for whether or not the Balrog had wings in Khazad-Dum, it can be seen as literal or metaphorical, and the debate has about as much chance of being settled as those of creation versus evolution, or for some American History, the literal and flexible interpretation of the Constitution. We've argued the points over and over again;

Why would he call them wings, if they weren't wings? How come a 'WINGED' steed of the Nazgul reminded Gimli of the Balrog? The Balrog was a creature of shadow, so of course its wings were of shadow, IT IS SHADOW! How could Balrogs go with 'winged' speed in the Silmarillion to Melkor's aid?

He could of course, have referred to the wings as merely great shadows and clouds and smokes that came off the Balrog in a generic shape that appeared 'wingish'. The Hellhawk could have reminded Gimli of it merely because it was dark shadow against light, and evil in nature. Of course it is shadow, it's a spirit of fire Melkor gave the ability to cloak itself in shadow to it. Going with 'winged speed' is actually a fairly common phrase used about things without wings, it just means really fast. Why did he use the term wings or winged so often? Who knows? Maybe Tolkien envisioned them as winged at these times, maybe not.

Do as I've said before, either weigh the arguments against eachother and pick out the one that seems most likely, keep reading and find out something we haven't, or just stick to original ideas. Do Balrogs have wings? Who knows? Were Sauron's actual eyes, his physical eyes, fiery yellow cat-eyes? Who knows, we could argue that they are, but for all we know that's only a 'spiritual' representation of his vigilance, or metaphor like the 'wings'. Some things we will never know. On the subject of Sauron's appearance, look forward to that as a topic soon, though I daresay it won't be as potent a topic as the timeless debate between the Strict and Loose interpretors of the Silmarillion, and the Lord of the Rings.

"Wings are in the eye of the beholder. . ."
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Old 03-04-2003, 03:35 PM   #28
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There is Actually one reference to Balrogs flying in the apdx a of RotK under Durins folk it says that when the Dwarves were in Moria delving for Mythril they

"Delved deep at that time, seeking beneath Barazinbar for Mythril, the metal beyond price that was becoming yearly harder to win. Thus they roused from sleep a thing of terror that, Flying from Thangorodrim, had lain hidden at the foundations of the earth.
 
Old 03-04-2003, 03:43 PM   #29
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In Fotr Gandlaf shouts "Fly you fools" before he falls. This shows that fly sometimes doesn't actually mean to fly in the air, it can simply mean to escape and run away. I guess it could be either in the quote you gave.

[ March 04, 2003: Message edited by: Mattius ]
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Old 03-04-2003, 03:52 PM   #30
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Indeed, J.R.R. used the term "fly" many times in place of "fleeing", or any such approximation. Otherwise, there would have been instances of Elves, too, taking to the skies above Middle-earth. Trust me, this thread (like the Balrog of Moria) is better left buried and undisturbed... for all parties involved.
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Old 03-04-2003, 07:17 PM   #31
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Hasnt anybody seen the animated LotR?? Of course Balrogs had wings, and they could fly too!! But they never stopped falling...lol only kidding!
They had wings but couldnt fl cause they had one too many Big Macs.....and thats the truth! [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 03-04-2003, 08:57 PM   #32
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Quote:
...The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew...it drew itself up to a great height, and it's wings were spread from wall to wall...
These quotes would suggest that the Balrog's wings were shadow for is is after "the darkness grew" that the wings were spread perhaps suggesting that they were the Shadow from the Flame of the monster, It may also be suggested that it was a large creature "...It drew itself up to a great height...". This quote gives reason to believe that the demon was rather large.
Oh, and By the Way...is it Balrogs or Balryg (the plural)?
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Old 03-05-2003, 12:11 PM   #33
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Quote:
"Thus it was that he drew far ahead of the van of his host; and seeing this the servants of Morgoth turned to bay, and there issued from Angband Balrogs to aid them."
Before anyone else thinks to revive this discussion through one of their own theories, I would advise reading the other Balrog threads to see if that very idea has not already been offered (and proved invalid). Here's one of the more notable ones I can remember.
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Old 03-05-2003, 02:04 PM   #34
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"Were Balrogs Winged?" gets into some pretty heavy examination of textual evidence, especially towards page three. There are a number of other threads on this thoroughly debated topic which can be found by searching, as Sud mentioned.
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