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Old 10-04-2010, 10:39 AM   #1
Vultur
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How big was Ancalagon?

From the Silm: "Before the rising of the sun Earendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin."

But Thangorodrim was the highest mountains in Middle-earth. So how big was Ancalagon, that his crashing to earth would break whole mountains??? Merely Godzilla-sized wouldn't cut it. He must have been like a mile long at least; and it's hard to imagine what Earendil even did to fight something that size...
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:25 AM   #2
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I'm not too sure how to interpret mighty in this case. Might doesn't always come in size, being bigger doesn't always mean stronger or better. Ancalagon may have been heavier, more armoured or more intelligent than the other dragons. His fiery or icy blast (if he had one) could have been more potent, of course these things we don't know, along with his size (in which you may be right). What we do know is that he fell from the sky, we don't know how far he fell, weight gains power the faster it moves. The thing that is always overlooked when discussing Earendil, is The Silmaril and Vingilot. This normal ship was hallowed by the Valar, it was filled with a wavering flame , pure and bright, on it sat Earendil with the Light of The Two Trees combined blazing from the Silmaril, nothing Black and Evil could stand up to that for long.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:18 AM   #3
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It could be the "towers of Thangorodrim" refer to outlooks or bastions of Angband, the great fortress which lay within Thangorodrim. It is entirely within reason that towers would have been built by Morgoth after the great Eagles moved their abode to the Crissaegrim, as there are references to ''terraces" on Thangorodrim in relation to Morgoth's fortress as well.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:37 AM   #4
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The towers as buildings: possible. But elsewhere 'the towers of Thangorodrim' clearly means the mountain peaks: Morgoth raised them as slag-heaps, etc.

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Originally Posted by narfforc View Post
I'm not too sure how to interpret mighty in this case. Might doesn't always come in size,
Certainly. Sauron was probably more powerful than Ancalagon, but certainly much smaller (in physical form).

What I meant about the size was the breaking of (possibly Everest-size) mountains.
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What we do know is that he fell from the sky, we don't know how far he fell, weight gains power the faster it moves.
Yes, but I don't think you can break Everest with a blue whale, even if you drop it from space. Or rather, an aircraft carrier might be a better analogy -- Ancalagon's hide would have been more like armor steel than blubber.

Quote:
The thing that is always overlooked when discussing Earendil, is The Silmaril and Vingilot. This normal ship was hallowed by the Valar, it was filled with a wavering flame , pure and bright, on it sat Earendil with the Light of The Two Trees combined blazing from the Silmaril, nothing Black and Evil could stand up to that for long.
True. Now, the Silmaril didn't slay Carcharoth, just madden him, even though he was more directly exposed, and presumably lesser than Ancalagon. But the Silmaril probably guided Earendil in some way (to strike at the proper point), and Vingilot may have had armaments of some sort.

Also, the Eagles of Manwe were in the battle too, and Thorondor was pretty gigantic himself ('thirty fathoms' - 180 feet across his wings).

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Old 10-06-2010, 02:12 PM   #5
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Yes, but I don't think you can break Everest with a blue whale, even if you drop it from space.
That would be an interesting experience. You know, in the name of science...

Anyway, I don't think you can take the depiction of the War of Wrath too literally. It's highly mythological in it's outline, and also, from an outside perspective, a much older text, and should be read differently to more detailed and realistic first age stories like Coh.
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:21 PM   #6
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I know its a bit blasphemous but think of Merlin - of the Dragon crashing down on Camelot and breaking the towers. It would happen. I agree with Morthoron, that the "towers" were constructions of Morgoth, not of nature.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:48 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=Vultur;640325]and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin."QUOTE]

This could be a piece of hyperbole, a completely over-the-top exageration of Ancalagon's fall, to point out just how great it was. Hyperbole was much used in the ancient literature that Tolkien loved.

Or it could be a metaphor, showing that Ancalagon's death was the turning point of the war that led to the complete destruction of Morgoth's empire, including the towers of Thangorodrim.

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Old 10-07-2010, 08:55 AM   #8
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This could be a piece of hyperbole
But I like the idea of Ancalagon being so big Godzilla would be finger-food...

(Kidding.)
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
Anyway, I don't think you can take the depiction of the War of Wrath too literally. It's highly mythological in it's outline, and also, from an outside perspective, a much older text, and should be read differently to more detailed and realistic first age stories like Coh.
I agree. Tolkien's personality should be considered. He was Filologist, expert on ancient literature. If you read "Ring of Nibelungs", "Saga of Volsungs", or Arthurian Legends, which were certainly one of his main inspirations, or if you look at works of C.S. Lewis (notably Chronicles of Narnia), who was Tolkien's close friend and has influenced him a lot, You will see that all these texts are mostly parables. And so are all of Tolkien's works, Silmarilion possibly most of all, (though that's really on personal opinion).

You really wouldn't ask where is the gate to underworld that Orfeus used in serch for Euridika. As well as doubting Arthur's foretold return when England is in gravest peril will get you nowhere. And by the way, where did Agamemnon assemble fleet of thousand warships?

I this manner I could ask how is it possible for Volcano (meaning Mount Doom) to erupt with such violence, after engulfing a piece of gold. There weren't any preliminary eruption before, or any earthshaking. And then in matter of seconds it all burst out. I'm not any volcanologist, but reality is different, prove me wrong.

My point is, that Ancalagon was pretty damn big. I wouldn't try to measure him. I see him just as manifestation of terror that Morgoth unleashed, malice that even Ainur were shocked to witness. Ancalagon is more an idea, presence, as well as Earendil, aka "Star of Hope".

I'd see Ancalagons fight with Earendil as symbol, Hope defeating Malevolence, that even the mightiest of the mighty (Valar) could not match.
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:54 PM   #10
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I agree. Tolkien's personality should be considered. He was Filologist, expert on ancient literature.
I believe it's 'philologist', my good fellow
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:54 AM   #11
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I know its a bit blasphemous but think of Merlin - of the Dragon crashing down on Camelot and breaking the towers. It would happen. I agree with Morthoron, that the "towers" were constructions of Morgoth, not of nature.
Actually, we know they were constructions– but that doesn't make them buildings in the normal sense:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vultur
The towers as buildings: possible. But elsewhere 'the towers of Thangorodrim' clearly means the mountain peaks: Morgoth raised them as slag-heaps, etc.
And this seems to be quite true. However, by the same token–
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Originally Posted by Vultur
Yes, but I don't think you can break Everest with a blue whale, even if you drop it from space.
I can't recall any indication they were anything like as high as Everest, and they weren't natural mountains, so maybe they wouldn't be all that stable. Ancalagon would still have to be utterly enormous, however.

As has been said already, though, the account in the War of Wrath should perhaps not be taken too literally.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:06 AM   #12
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I can't recall any indication they were anything like as high as Everest, and they weren't natural mountains, so maybe they wouldn't be all that stable.
Actually, it is reputedly said in the History of Middle-Earth pt. IV, i.e. the Shaping of Middle-Earth (page 110, my Atlas of Middle-Earth says) that Thangorodrim (if they are indeed what is meant by the "towers", but I think they are, since they are referred to like that several times, I believe) were the highest peaks in Middle-Earth (even though above the gate the wall reached only 1000 ft, the mountains themselves were obviously a lot bigger). I would not have expected less from Morgoth anyway. But that's just a remark... anyway I think in the account of the battle we are indeed talking about a battle of epic dimensions, so the fall of Ancalagon is definitely emphasised in the account, but at the same time, I think it might be even real - I mean, not a hyperbole, but Balrogs and Sauron and Morgoth and whoever had all this syndrome of looking bigger than they seemed, and their might sort of overreached their envelope, so to say, and I am imagining Ancalagon's fall doing much more harm than it would be possible just physically... sort of, there being in any case something more than just the whatever 70 tons of meat...
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:53 AM   #13
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Actually, it is reputedly said in the History of Middle-Earth pt. IV, i.e. the Shaping of Middle-Earth (page 110, my Atlas of Middle-Earth says) that Thangorodrim (if they are indeed what is meant by the "towers", but I think they are, since they are referred to like that several times, I believe) were the highest peaks in Middle-Earth
The quote is from the 'Quenta Noldorinwa':

Quote:
Feanor died in the hour of victory, looking upon the gigantic peaks of Thangorodrim, the greatest of hills of the world
"The world" was subsequently emended to "the hither world", presumably to allow for Taniquetil to be the highest peak in Arda.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:59 PM   #14
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Well, I stand corrected. However, I still think the reference is to the actual mountains, not just some buildings on them. I doubt that whole section is meant to bear analysis in terms of realistic physics.
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:18 AM   #15
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On the other hand, there is some precedent for Tolkien's fiery critters breaking mountains when they fall and die. The Balrog of Moria "fell from that high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin." Not quite as spectacular as Ancalagon breaking the peaks of Thangorodrim, but the Balrog was smaller, and I doubt that Tolkien ever meant that the dragon took out the mountains (ala the Bakshi interpretation of the end of the Balrog). There is also a possibility that the peaks of the reference are not those of a naturally occurring mountain range, but rather something that Morgoth deliberately fashioned to look more menacing, like spires of rock much closer together than, say, the peaks of the Himilayas.

Then again, maybe when these fire-critters fall and die, they explode in a nuclear fashion and flatten the landscape. Perhaps the Yellowstone caldera isn't a leftover from an old volcano, after all....
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:11 AM   #16
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I do not think we can compare The Towers of Thangorodrim to any mountain or range of which we know. What we do know is that Morgoth made them from the vast (newer) delvings of Angband. These new delvings occured when Morgoth returned from his enforced stay in the house of his brother Mandos. In the Silmarillion it states:- But above this gate, and behind it even to the mountains, he piled the thunderous towers of Thangorodrim, that were made of the ash and slag of his subterranean furnaces, and the vast refuge of his tunnellings. They were black and desolute and exceedingly lofty; and smoke issued from their tops, dark and foul upon the northern sky. So, these lofty peaks seem less like great mountains, and more like huge chimneys for the darkness of industrialisation, something which pops up time and time again in the Life and Works of Tolkien. The towers of Thangorodrim are also described in The Silmarillion as reeking. It is possible that the strength of these towers have been somewhat overstated, Slag, ash and rock can be packed quite tightly, however, if reeking black smoke is issuing from fissures high on its peaks, it give thought to how that smoke gets there. I believe that it travelled up through the towers, therefore making the towers of Thangorodrim full of tunnels and cracks, and maybe very unstable.
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Old 10-10-2010, 12:46 PM   #17
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One thing about this that has not been considered, I think, is the velocity with which Ancalagon smashed into Thangorodrim. Also, we have not considered the explosive potential of draco magnus pennatus*, which, after all, is capable of breathing fire (a known property of both the early, wingless drake model ala Glaurung, and the later winged dragon, Smaug).

Granted, I'm being a little bit facetious, but I am attempting to demonstrate that the destructive force of something need not be limited to them being dropped on something. If, for example, we imagine a giant cannon on Vingelot capable of shooting Ancalogon at Thangorodrim--and if we consider Ancalagon as a super-explosive living firecracker--we may be able to circumvent the "blue whale dropping" hypothesis.

Silly as I am being, after all, the Silmarils were anathema to evil, and we haven't exactly got details of Eärendil smiting Ancalagon--only the bare fact that he did, and the consequences. It's a bit cartoony, but imagine something like Ancalagon attempting to devour Eärendil, only to be repelled back to earth at thunderous speed when flesh touched the holy jewel, to explode as he hit the slopes of Thangorodrim. Admittedly, there's still a lot of room for hyperbole in this slightly ridiculous account...



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Old 10-10-2010, 12:58 PM   #18
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I believe it's 'philologist', my good fellow
Sorry, I wrote that after rather prolonged stay at local inn. And I was too "tired" to realize that english writes such words differently from my mother-language.

The image of "Cannon of Vinglot" is hilarious. But i see your point. The energy that sent Ancalagon flying onto the peaks can surely make a difference when it comes to damage caused.
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:14 AM   #19
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http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/cgi-bin/c...s=1&tdens=2750
Quote:
Distance from Impact: 500.00 meters ( = 1640.00 feet ) Projectile diameter: 30.00 meters ( = 98.40 feet ) Projectile Density: 1500 kg/m3 Impact Velocity: 100.00 km per second ( = 62.10 miles per second ) (Your chosen velocity is higher than the maximum for an object orbiting the sun)Impact Angle: 45 degrees Target Density: 2750 kg/m3 Target Type: Crystalline Rock
Quote:
The Earth is not strongly disturbed by the impact and loses negligible mass.The impact does not make a noticeable change in the tilt of Earth's axis (< 5 hundreths of a degree).The impact does not shift the Earth's orbit noticeably.
Blank template: http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/
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Old 10-11-2010, 04:39 AM   #20
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Pipe

Ah, what fun. Let's plug some different numbers into it.

Quote:
Distance from Impact: 1000.00 meters ( = 3280.00 feet )
Projectile diameter: 300.00 meters ( = 984.00 feet )
Projectile Density: 1500 kg/m3
Impact Velocity: 50.00 km per second ( = 31.10 miles per second )
Impact Angle: 90 degrees
Target Density: 2500 kg/m3
Target Type: Sedimentary Rock

The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 89700 meters = 294000 ft
The projectile reaches the ground in a broken condition. The mass of projectile strikes the surface at velocity 46.3 km/s = 28.8 miles/s
The impact energy is 2.27 x 1019 Joules = 5.43 x 103MegaTons.
The broken projectile fragments strike the ground in an ellipse of dimension 0.655 km by 0.655 km

Crater shape is normal in spite of atmospheric crushing; fragments are not significantly dispersed.

Transient Crater Diameter: 5.73 km ( = 3.56 miles )
Transient Crater Depth: 2.03 km ( = 1.26 miles )

Final Crater Diameter: 7.23 km ( = 4.49 miles )
Final Crater Depth: 537 meters ( = 1760 feet )
The crater formed is a complex crater.
The volume of the target melted or vaporized is 0.202 km3 = 0.0485 miles3
Roughly half the melt remains in the crater, where its average thickness is 7.85 meters ( = 25.8 feet ).
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Old 10-11-2010, 11:34 AM   #21
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On the other hand, there is some precedent for Tolkien's fiery critters breaking mountains when they fall and die.
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Then again, maybe when these fire-critters fall and die, they explode in a nuclear fashion and flatten the landscape.
It's the "Dark Side" energy being released when they die <g>

Seriously, if you look at the other dragon deaths which Tolkien described, I think we have to allow for more than just a dead weight falling.
  • When Glaurung was mortally stabbed, he started thrashing around breaking things.
  • When Smaug received his mortal wound he shot spouting into the air, crashed down on Esgaroth, and completed the total destruction of the town by his death-flailings.
Also, if the "three peaks of Thangorodrim" were more in the style of mighty towers of slag and ash - then think how it only took a single Boeing 767 to bring down each of the WTC Towers on 9/11.
All it takes is for a thrashing Ancalagon (mightiest of the winged dragons) to weaken the supportting infrastructure of the towers enough (in his death throes) that they collapse under their weight - not unlike the WTC towers.
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:17 AM   #22
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Pretty darn big.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:13 PM   #23
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Ancalagon was "pretty darn big", whatever hyperbole Tolkien might have used. Big and powerful. I always thought that he only broke a part of Thangorodrim with his fall and thrashing, which was still a huge part. Perhaps he knocked off four mountains, maybe five, but definitely not the entire chain.
My answer as to why Orodruin errupted when the Ring was thrown in it: the Ring had so much power in it that when it was destroyed, the power caused the "natural disaster". It is also possible that the destruction is more near Mt Doom than any other place, because the Ring's power begun there; Sauron made it in Sammath Naur. I think that it is a metaphorical scene (about the Ring being thrown in, I mean), but exageration is also possible. I find a lot of Tolkien's exagerations to also be symbolic.
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