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Old 12-22-2012, 08:09 PM   #1
Juicy-Sweet
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Balrog vs 200 000 dwarves ?

Came about this article

http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/...ddle-earth.htm

estimating that Moria at it's peak had a population of 200 000 dwarves at its peak.

I guess the population wasnt much lower when they woke up the Balrog in TA 1980. Since they had found mithril and they were richer than ever, I guess plenty of dwarves wanted to lived there.

This means that ONE Balrog can beat 200 000 dwarves in combat - something I find a bit crazy - and it has some other implications.

The Balrog and Gandalf (the Grey) can be consideres of even power, since they both died trying to kill each other. Or killed each other, while dying in the process

Saruman is stronger than Gandalf (the Grey), as he managed to dominate him and improsion him in Orthanc, as well as being his master etc.

This means Saruman should have been able to, single handedly, to clear out all of Rohan and then Minas Tirith when he had rested a bit.

Since he is worth 200 000 + dwarves in fighting power himself alone, it also seems his army of 10 000 orcs was sorta superfluous and not worth all the trouble. He should have spent the time exercising his own martial arts instead.

I find this silly ... so I prefer to go back to the first premise and assume that the Balrog had helpers, and lots of them. We arent told how exactly the Balrog vs. Dwarves war happened.

Alternatively, we can lower the population of Moria to something more easy to handle, like 10 000. And assume the Balrog used a sort of hit-and-run tactics, killing them in small isolated groups.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Juicy-Sweet View Post
This means that ONE Balrog can beat 200 000 dwarves in combat - something I find a bit crazy - and it has some other implications.
I don't think that's a valid interpretation. I have little doubt that a number of that magnitude could destroy a Balrog's physical body, but one must consider that fear factor it must have had, as well as the Dwarves' ignorance of what they were even facing. Not knowing one's enemy is a terrible drawback, and you have to also keep in mind that a large number of Dwarves, certainly at least many hundreds, were driven from Erebor by a single dragon, a creature they did know well.

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Saruman is stronger than Gandalf (the Grey), as he managed to dominate him and improsion him in Orthanc, as well as being his master etc.
Saruman's ability to imprison Gandalf to my mind is merely indicative of the authority he'd been given as the head of the Order, not necessarily of a superiority of innate power.

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Alternatively, we can lower the population of Moria to something more easy to handle, like 10 000. And assume the Balrog used a sort of hit-and-run tactics, killing them in small isolated groups.
I think that's reasonable. Moria would hardly have been suited to combat involving hundreds inside the mines anyway; its defenses seem to have been justifiably geared toward repelling invaders. They wouldn't have been prepared for something like the Balrog appearing suddenly inside .
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Juicy-Sweet View Post
Came about this article

http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/...ddle-earth.htm

estimating that Moria at it's peak had a population of 200 000 dwarves at its peak.
He doesn't even present it as an estimate, simply a statement. Nothing I am aware of, either in Tolkien's writing or in our knowledge of midieval history (the closest in level of advancement to Middle Earth thru the 3rd age) would seem to support such a population, or anything even on that order of magnitude.

Even 10,000, for a cave-dwelling population, seems high - but even if you go with that population, there seems no indication the Balrog initiated a direct frontal assault. He lives in a realm of tunnels which he knows very well (especially the lower ones). He also has some level of (what might be thought of as magical) arts - witness him perceiving Gandalf's "shutting spell" and delivering a counter-spell that breaks Gandalf's control.

So, I'd imagine him sneaking around, finding and killing Dwarves where he finds them, and, when approached by a force, slashing them, bashing them, and disappearing back into the bowels of the earth. In a tunnel, the Dwarves can't surround him and attempt to overwhelm him with superior numbers.

Essentially, each confrontation becomes something like 20 to 1 (or even 50 to 1). If the Balrog can win that fight, and maintain his stamina, he can kill Thousands of Dwarves - 20 at a time.

Until, finally, the Dwarves realize they can't keep that up.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:54 PM   #4
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I think you are making a false equivalency.

Being able to defeat the conqueror of a third party, does not automatically make one capable of defeating that third party personally.


For example let's consider a Heavy tank.


Any number of troops with light arms would probably be defeated by a tiny tank crew, equipped as they are with heavy armament (and presumably a huge amount of ammunition.)

However 1 solider with a suitable anti-tank missile has a fair chance of emerging victorious.

That same soldier is going to be utterly vanquished by a relative small number of troops armed with only light weaponry.


---

Talking about Balrogs, Gandalf and huge potential Dwarf armies we are ignoring the magic factor.

The fact is that Balrogs are massively sorcerously equipped, being as they are, fallen Maiar. I doubt that there was any Dwarf, or Dwarf cadre even remotely equipped to counter such power.

Consider that the only people we know of, who have been capable of effective combat with Balrogs, prior to Gandalf, were spectacularly powerful Eldar. Even 'run of the mill' first age or related Elves were no match for Balrogs.

A small army of Balrogs could drive off Ungoliant, who in her turn had totally cowed, and albeitly reduced, Morgoth - a Valar.

Further we have little evidence that Dwarf weaponry could even significantly harm a Balrog. Consider that Gandalf was hewing away at the Balrog with Turgon's own sword (a masterpiece of elven craft of a passed age, and magic to boot), and it wasn't exactly making short work of Mr Balrog.

Now Gandalf can counter the Balrog's sorcery, being internally, a Maiar himself. He then can meet it on 'equal' terms and has the right sword for the job.

However in mortal guise Gandalf is indeed going to be arrow or axe fodder for a huge army of Dwarves, and doesn't appear to be equipped with the sort of mass combat magic that could take out a Dwarven army. So just as the soldier with the ATM, he (or Saruman) is going to be in a tight spot faced with such foes.

So there we are:

The Balrog is a tank.

Gandalf is a soldier with an Anti-Tank Missile.

A Dwarf Army is a battalion of light infantry.

Solved :P
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I don't think that's a valid interpretation. I have little doubt that a number of that magnitude could destroy a Balrog's physical body, but one must consider that fear factor it must have had, as well as the Dwarves' ignorance of what they were even facing. Not knowing one's enemy is a terrible drawback, and you have to also keep in mind that a large number of Dwarves, certainly at least many hundreds, were driven from Erebor by a single dragon, a creature they did know well.
Not ENTIRELY convinced by this, although I do see where you are coming from.

It struck me that we dont know if the dwarves at the time of the Balrog's arrival were in good fighting condition - maybe they had few warrioirs and most of them were wimpy mithril craftsmen.

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Saruman's ability to imprison Gandalf to my mind is merely indicative of the authority he'd been given as the head of the Order, not necessarily of a superiority of innate power.
I've always understood the book as implying that Saruman was more powerful than Gandalf. Saruman's the top dog etc.

I
Quote:
think that's reasonable. Moria would hardly have been suited to combat involving hundreds inside the mines anyway; its defenses seem to have been justifiably geared toward repelling invaders. They wouldn't have been prepared for something like the Balrog appearing suddenly inside .
This is a good point. Allthough they should have been able to set up some defenses eventually - maybe destroying soe pillars to bury the Balrog again.

The balrogs ability to "move fast as if winged" or whatever the correct quote in would sure be a big boost for it in hit an run guerilla tactics. Would have been a real nasty year for the dwarves, with the balrog attacking all over the place killing small groups.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
He doesn't even present it as an estimate, simply a statement. Nothing I am aware of, either in Tolkien's writing or in our knowledge of midieval history (the closest in level of advancement to Middle Earth thru the 3rd age) would seem to support such a population, or anything even on that order of magnitude.

Even 10,000, for a cave-dwelling population, seems high - but even if you go with that population, there seems no indication the Balrog initiated a direct frontal assault. He lives in a realm of tunnels which he knows very well (especially the lower ones). He also has some level of (what might be thought of as magical) arts - witness him perceiving Gandalf's "shutting spell" and delivering a counter-spell that breaks Gandalf's control.

So, I'd imagine him sneaking around, finding and killing Dwarves where he finds them, and, when approached by a force, slashing them, bashing them, and disappearing back into the bowels of the earth. In a tunnel, the Dwarves can't surround him and attempt to overwhelm him with superior numbers.

Essentially, each confrontation becomes something like 20 to 1 (or even 50 to 1). If the Balrog can win that fight, and maintain his stamina, he can kill Thousands of Dwarves - 20 at a time.

Until, finally, the Dwarves realize they can't keep that up.
London and Paris were at 200 000 in the middle ages at some point.

Killing 20 dwarfs a day on an average day, he would get 7300 in a year. Funnily that adds up pretty well with the 10 000 population.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:25 PM   #7
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It's quite a gruesome plotline now.

The dwarves desperately try to fight the Balrog - trying to contain it by caving in rooms, closing off sections, luring it near water reservoirs and trying to drown it etc. (The parts visited in LOTR were undamaged, but the fighting probably took place deeper down.). The King sits in the command room getting the MIA list of names every day and making desperate plans.

Another things has dawned on me - there were survivors, but nobody knows it was a Balrog. The elves would surely had recognized it, if the story got around that it was a shadowy-flamy figure that sorta looked like it had wings, but maybe it didnt have them, wielding a whip of fire. I dont find it credible that the dwarves kept the description of the attacker a secret - and i dont find it credible either they forgot it. Its a mayor event in their legends. So I suppose NO SURVIVORS SAW IT. Each and every dwarf that met and saw the balrog died, and the survivors could just count the bodies, not even knowing what was attacking them. Maybe the small groups of dwarves sometimes just disappeared without a trace - the balrog could toss them into the wells for instance. The Balrog would want to remain secret, lest the elves would go looking for it. Maybe a few dawrves saw glipses of it and such - but noone got a good look so they could describe it.

It's completely like the 1979 ALIEN movie now - just with a Balrog instead of the alien, Moria indtead of a spaceship (both are confined artificial structures), "someplace deep" instead of an unknown planet as "the place they should not have disturbed".

Except it took a whole year and thousands were killed bit by bit. I imagine the surviving dwarves had sorta strained nerves when they left and one or two had developed a solid paranoia. Yeech.

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Old 12-23-2012, 02:25 AM   #8
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It's quite a gruesome plotline now.

The dwarves desperately try to fight the Balrog - trying to contain it by caving in rooms, closing off sections, luring it near water reservoirs and trying to drown it etc. (The parts visited in LOTR were undamaged, but the fighting probably took place deeper down.). The King sits in the command room getting the MIA list of names every day and making desperate plans.

Another things has dawned on me - there were survivors, but nobody knows it was a Balrog. The elves would surely had recognized it, if the story got around that it was a shadowy-flamy figure that sorta looked like it had wings, but maybe it didnt have them, wielding a whip of fire. I dont find it credible that the dwarves kept the description of the attacker a secret - and i dont find it credible either they forgot it. Its a mayor event in their legends. So I suppose NO SURVIVORS SAW IT. Each and every dwarf that met and saw the balrog died, and the survivors could just count the bodies, not even knowing what was attacking them. Maybe the small groups of dwarves sometimes just disappeared without a trace - the balrog could toss them into the wells for instance. The Balrog would want to remain secret, lest the elves would go looking for it. Maybe a few dawrves saw glipses of it and such - but noone got a good look so they could describe it.

It's completely like the 1979 ALIEN movie now - just with a Balrog instead of the alien, Moria indtead of a spaceship (both are confined artificial structures), "someplace deep" instead of an unknown planet as "the place they should not have disturbed".

Except it took a whole year and thousands were killed bit by bit. I imagine the surviving dwarves had sorta strained nerves when they left and one or two had developed a solid paranoia. Yeech.
I'd never thought of the loss of Moria this way, but assuming as I generally do that the Balrog didn't have an army with him it does appeal to me. It's an image which I'd never really considered; I mostly just picture Durin VI having an epic duel with the Balrog. But of course I'd never really accounted for the time which passed before the Balrog slew Náin I and the Dwarves finally abandoned Moria. The idea of the Dwarves holding out as this demon stalked them for a year is a satisfyingly harrowing one.
Also no matter how many Dwarves it actually killed (there were enough survivors to colonise Erebor and the Grey Mountains) one could image a point where the aura of terror it exuded was too much for the Dwarves to resist which might help to account for how it was able to destroy this great kingdom single-handedly.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:48 AM   #9
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I struggle to view a 12 feet tall Balrog (with associated flame and shadow) operating as a stealth assassin. This just doesn't resonate with their MO in any version ie the pre-Maiar dragon riders, or revised Maiar (only 7 ever in existence) version.

I do think we have to consider that the Dwarves simply had no potent counter to the Balrog's huge sorcerous power, massive physical strength and capacity to make most opponents flee through sheer intimidation.

With regards to Gandalf, to sum up my earlier position: simply because I can defeat my friend's enemy (even if he can't), does not mean I can defeat my enemy.

That said, uninhibited by human form, I wouldn't be surprised if any of the Istari could single handedly go to war with a Dwarf army. The Balrog has no imposed inhibitions, it is what it is, raw in its power.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:26 AM   #10
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Isn't a Balrog a Maia? I doubt they really tire so lets assume ALL the dwarves did attack the Balrog it's not as if they all attacked at once. just can't be done. A balrog could I think easily take on 10-15 dwarves at a time.

Also, as somene else mentioned the Balrog probably picked off a lt secretly. cause stirs and whispers and a general fear.
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Old 12-23-2012, 03:34 PM   #11
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Did Tolkien ever say there were 200,000 dwarves in Khazad-dum? If so, where precisely? I find the number ridiculously high, perhaps over 10 times the actual number at any given time. The dwarves were never a prolific race to begin with.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:07 PM   #12
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Question

A figure of 10,000-20,000 dwarves seems more of a realistic maximum,
not only with slow population increase but supplying them with food, etc.
Rohan itself, in a time at the War of the Ring when they had pretty much recovered from past problems, probably had a population of perhaps 100,000
(assuming a male fighting pop. of about Theoden's 10,000 estimate.
Especially after Hollin wasn't a source of trade there's limited trade potential---
dwarves better love eating mushrooms grown in tunnels (like
in southeast Pa.).

The image of an Alien stalking Moria is not only scary- but could be not
that far from Tolkien's conception.

Of course that does bring up the question of how the balrog organized
his orc/troll forces in Moria later. He seems to have been the generalisimo.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:10 PM   #13
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"Each and every dwarf that met and saw the balrog died, and the survivors could just count the bodies, not even knowing what was attacking them."


Ah, got it. So it's Alien.
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuor in Gondolin View Post
A figure of 10,000-20,000 dwarves seems more of a realistic maximum,
not only with slow population increase but supplying them with food, etc.
Rohan itself, in a time at the War of the Ring when they had pretty much recovered from past problems, probably had a population of perhaps 100,000
(assuming a male fighting pop. of about Theoden's 10,000 estimate.
Especially after Hollin wasn't a source of trade there's limited trade potential---
dwarves better love eating mushrooms grown in tunnels (like
in southeast Pa.).

The image of an Alien stalking Moria is not only scary- but could be not
that far from Tolkien's conception.

Of course that does bring up the question of how the balrog organized
his orc/troll forces in Moria later. He seems to have been the generalisimo.
I agree, just don't see Moria ever having anything near 200,000 dwarves. Look at Gondolin for example. They had an army of say 13,000. Considering they were elves it would give them a population of around 30,000. Gondolin was one of the great cities of Middle Earth.

From the lack of description as you said the dwarves never had a pitched battle with the Balrog. They probably experienced a sense of dread and were picked off.

We must also accept that enough dwarves left to populate and create Erebor. So after a certain amount of deaths, the dwarves probably decided to escape. The war with Sauron, though brief in the Second Age would have cut numbers back too.
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:53 PM   #15
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I struggle to view a 12 feet tall Balrog (with associated flame and shadow) operating as a stealth assassin. This just doesn't resonate with their MO in any version ie the pre-Maiar dragon riders, or revised Maiar (only 7 ever in existence) version.

I do think we have to consider that the Dwarves simply had no potent counter to the Balrog's huge sorcerous power, massive physical strength and capacity to make most opponents flee through sheer intimidation.

With regards to Gandalf, to sum up my earlier position: simply because I can defeat my friend's enemy (even if he can't), does not mean I can defeat my enemy.

That said, uninhibited by human form, I wouldn't be surprised if any of the Istari could single handedly go to war with a Dwarf army. The Balrog has no imposed inhibitions, it is what it is, raw in its power.
The logical reason for the "alien" scenario with a stealthy Balrog is this:

Obviously Gandalf has no idea whatsoever there's is a Balrog in Moria. If he knew it was there, he would have picked ANY other route than Moria. Better to walk through Isengard then

This means no elf knew it either - if they did, they would tell Galadrian/Elrond(some other leader, and eventually Elrond would hear about th Balrog and tell Gandalf.

So my assumptions is that if anyone remotely allied with the Elves knew it was a Balrog, the information would have winded up with Gandalf.

We ALSO know that all elves that heard the description of the balrog would know immediately what it was - Legolas reaction in LOTR - I assume as well that even a vague description would make them think it was probably a balrog.

This leaves two possibilities:

EITHER the dwarves saw the balrog, but didnt tell anyone about it, ever. This makes no sense to me, so I dont like this version. They must have wanted to find out what the *** it was, so they could find out how to kill it and get Moria back. So they should have gone around to all available loremasters with their best drawing of it asking "how do we kill this?". And yes, they are hostile with the elves. But I think the possibility of getting an advice like "ah this think dies from garlic" would have made them ask the elves in spite of their enmity.

Or ELSE they didnt see it at all, meaning noone ever figured out what it was and noone could help them.
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:14 PM   #16
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I googled "Moria population estimate" to see if there was some golden thread out there - but I just found this one, as well as a bunch of REAL places called Moria.

Dunno if there's mentioned a headcount of ANY dwarven city anywhere in Tolkien? The we could compare and guess a bit.

Otherwise I suppose the 10 000 estimate which also is pretty random is orthodoxy now - since we are page 1 in google

Another thought in why it might have been easy for the Balrog.

Moria must have had a heavy bueareaycracy + safety measures for two reasons:

Mines always need to control the miners for theft. Seing Moria is mining the priciest of all things to mine, mithril, they must have had extensive rules and laws for who were allowed to mine where, to control if noone was cheating.

Due to them only having few exits, they are very vulnerable to being besieged. It means they must have had huge food supplies + water supplies + heavy safety measures to prevent sabotage.

So I imagine Moria as a place with most people being informed only on a "need to know basis", with a lot of identity paper ("Sir this is a class B mithril mine. We need to know you belong here.") and security clearing etc - a slow inefficient bureaucracy.

Meaning they sucked at adapting their defenses from armies coming from the outside to an unknown enemy from the inside. And their forces were hampered by red tape when they wanted to pass through a mithril mine to blow up the section they thought the balrog was in. etc.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:54 PM   #17
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I think the comparison with Alien is excellent: most of dwarves had probably never seen their Bane before until Gimli could and those who had got such a chance were dead next moment. But unlike Alien, Balrog had advantages - weapons of mass destruction. He could make ceilings fall with his spells and burn air in mines, suffocating dwarves.
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:50 PM   #18
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I have just a tiny little question to ask.

What does this have to do with the Books? There seems to be very little discussion of Tolkien's actual texts.
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:17 PM   #19
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I have just a tiny little question to ask.

What does this have to do with the Books? There seems to be very little discussion of Tolkien's actual texts.
It looks as if it's not the only discussion like this at Barrowdowns. There is a problem and it seems texts say little about it. Could you contribute?
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:24 PM   #20
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I have just a tiny little question to ask.

What does this have to do with the Books? There seems to be very little discussion of Tolkien's actual texts.
Beth, it seems everyone is talking about the current Hobbit movie. What does that have to do with the book?
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:27 PM   #21
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Oh, there's no problem with the discussion, Sarumian.

Indeed, there are many like it here on the Downs. I was simply wondering if it belonged in this forum, which is supposed to be about in depth discussion of the books, since it isn't book-based.

Perhaps one of the other forums, which are devoted more to conjecture and opinion, would draw more attention to the topic?

Since the texts say little about the topic, I wouldn't have much to contribute, but thank you kindly for asking.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:35 PM   #22
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Beth, it seems everyone is talking about the current Hobbit movie. What does that have to do with the book?
But Morth, we have our very own special forum for that, the movie forum, to which you have recently added much drama and intrigue. There's a place for everything and everything in its place. Perhaps a fitting quote from Alice In Wonderland--part of which was first presented as an Anglo Saxon poem and so does bear some affinity to Tolkien--can justify my cantankerousness: I have lost my muchness.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:03 AM   #23
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Obviously Gandalf has no idea whatsoever there's is a Balrog in Moria. If he knew it was there, he would have picked ANY other route than Moria. Better to walk through Isengard then

We ALSO know that all elves that heard the description of the balrog would know immediately what it was - Legolas reaction in LOTR - I assume as well that even a vague description would make them think it was probably a balrog.
These might be useful - I was reading the Moria chapter the other day to look up a rare example of using a 'spell' so it's fresh in the mind...

Legolas would know what a Balrog was from tales of the destruction of Gondolin, he wouldn't need to see one. But in any case, I think that some in Middle-earth knew there was something lurking in Moria, and may have even known what it was. Gimli, I think, knew exactly what Durin's Bane was:

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Gimli stared with wide eyes. 'Durin's Bane!' he cried, and letting his axe fall he covered his face.
Aragorn sounds like he might know what lurks in there as he directs these words to Gandalf specifically:

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It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you, Gandalf. And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!'
As for Gandalf, he knows something is in there but doesn't know what exactly it is. He just knows there are dark, Nidhoggr-esque things under the mountains. He maybe hopes the Watcher is it, especially after they read the book of Mazarbul.

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'I do not know,' answered Gandalf; 'but the arms were all guided by one purpose. Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' He did not speak aloud his thought that whatever it was that dwelt in the
lake, it had seized on Frodo first among all the Company.
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And since the dwarves fled, no one dares to seek the shafts and treasuries down in the deep places: they are drowned in water--or in a shadow of fear.'
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even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin's Bane.
But the main one that shows Gandalf is not aware of a Balrog (and showing how stressed he is at this point as there cannot be very many threats in Middle-earth that would pose that particular type and level of threat, yet he is still befuddled):

Quote:
'As I stood there I could hear orc-voices on the other side: at any moment I thought they would burst it open. I could not hear what was said; they seemed to be talking in their own hideous language. All I caught was ghash: that is "fire". Then something came into the chamber--I felt it through the door, and the orcs themselves were afraid and fell silent. It laid hold of the iron ring, and then it perceived me and my spell.
'What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:49 PM   #24
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The logical reason for the "alien" scenario with a stealthy Balrog is this:

Obviously Gandalf has no idea whatsoever there's is a Balrog in Moria. If he knew it was there, he would have picked ANY other route than Moria. Better to walk through Isengard then

This means no elf knew it either - if they did, they would tell Galadrian/Elrond(some other leader, and eventually Elrond would hear about th Balrog and tell Gandalf.

So my assumptions is that if anyone remotely allied with the Elves knew it was a Balrog, the information would have winded up with Gandalf.

We ALSO know that all elves that heard the description of the balrog would know immediately what it was - Legolas reaction in LOTR - I assume as well that even a vague description would make them think it was probably a balrog.
The elves were aware of Durin's Bane the 'Nameless Terror' as was Gandalf and Aragorn and others of the 'Wise.' The lack of specifics is easily accounted for given the poor state of lore amonst most of the peoples by this stage of Middle Earth's history. The Balrog was cloaked in fire and shadow, and the ancient world was not short of sorcerous big bad monsters: Werewolves, Vampires, Flightless Dragons etc. Each might comfortably (depending on their true nature) comfortably outclass any dwarf force of that age. Presumably there would be very few survivors of any confrontation or even rough proximity. Thus we're left with poor informed witnesses who were far enough away to escape. I don't think any automatic ID on a balrog is assured at all.


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This leaves two possibilities:

EITHER the dwarves saw the balrog, but didnt tell anyone about it, ever. This makes no sense to me, so I dont like this version. They must have wanted to find out what the *** it was, so they could find out how to kill it and get Moria back. So they should have gone around to all available loremasters with their best drawing of it asking "how do we kill this?". And yes, they are hostile with the elves. But I think the possibility of getting an advice like "ah this think dies from garlic" would have made them ask the elves in spite of their enmity.

Or ELSE they didnt see it at all, meaning noone ever figured out what it was and noone could help them.

The hostility runs both ways (e.g. Ban on Dwarves in Lorien), so lines of communication are pretty weak at best. Plus word had reached the wise, it simply was clearly insufficiently informed or detailed to allow for an ID.

You're assuming the lore-less could simply get a good description on a Balrog, it's so sorcerously potent, and able to cloak itself in fire and shadow, any ID would very probably just a generic big bad evil.


---

But all of this aside, it's inconcievable that the utterly warlike fire Maiar who could chase off Ungoliant (a big bad on a power scale to rival a Valar), would take to sneaking around.

Plus let's not forget that the earlier people's of Middle Earth were vastly more powerful than subsequent generations.

A Third Age Dwarf army/population is really not all that puissant in comparison to any host assembled in the First, and the Dwarves have never even been remotely on the same power level as the Eldar.

Balrogs who could plough their way through hosts of the Eldar really wouldn't even notice 10/20,000 Dwarves.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:52 PM   #25
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Well we have no confirmation of him battling lots all at once or small numbers. More likely than not only small numbers had the courage to try to buy time for the rest to escape.

Their weapons.....proved ineffective.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:00 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Draugohtar View Post
The elves were aware of Durin's Bane the 'Nameless Terror' as was Gandalf and Aragorn and others of the 'Wise.' The lack of specifics is easily accounted for given the poor state of lore amonst most of the peoples by this stage of Middle Earth's history. The Balrog was cloaked in fire and shadow, and the ancient world was not short of sorcerous big bad monsters: Werewolves, Vampires, Flightless Dragons etc. Each might comfortably (depending on their true nature) comfortably outclass any dwarf force of that age. Presumably there would be very few survivors of any confrontation or even rough proximity. Thus we're left with poor informed witnesses who were far enough away to escape. I don't think any automatic ID on a balrog is assured at all.





The hostility runs both ways (e.g. Ban on Dwarves in Lorien), so lines of communication are pretty weak at best. Plus word had reached the wise, it simply was clearly insufficiently informed or detailed to allow for an ID.

You're assuming the lore-less could simply get a good description on a Balrog, it's so sorcerously potent, and able to cloak itself in fire and shadow, any ID would very probably just a generic big bad evil.


---

But all of this aside, it's inconcievable that the utterly warlike fire Maiar who could chase off Ungoliant (a big bad on a power scale to rival a Valar), would take to sneaking around.

Plus let's not forget that the earlier people's of Middle Earth were vastly more powerful than subsequent generations.

A Third Age Dwarf army/population is really not all that puissant in comparison to any host assembled in the First, and the Dwarves have never even been remotely on the same power level as the Eldar.

Balrogs who could plough their way through hosts of the Eldar really wouldn't even notice 10/20,000 Dwarves.
Where did you get the idea that Balrogs could plough their way thoruhg a host of the Eldar in the first age?

The only creatures that had such power were the flying dragons, Glaurung and Carcharoth. The Balrogs were captains, but they usually the more powerful elven lords were enough to at least stall one.

We have seen the Balrogs sneak around plenty of times. The Balrog of Moria was only alive, because he managed to sneak under the earth. When Morgoth was first overthrown once more the Balrogs snuck in the dungeons. There appears to be some cowardice when Gothmog is charged with capturing Hurin as well. Instead of go and capture him personally he sends his troll guard and only approaches when Hurin is restained.

A Balrog was strong, but an army of 10,000 dwarves would be too great for him.

If the elves had know there was a Balrog there then I am sure they may have done something about it. Glorfindel was already a balrog slayer and now he returned more powerful.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:33 AM   #27
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Where did you get the idea that Balrogs could plough their way thoruhg a host of the Eldar in the first age?
Well let's see:

Could any host of elves, men or Dwarves even begin to combat Ungoliant? The answer would appear to be a resounding no. However a relatively small number (presumably) of Balrogs can drive her off (when Melkor himself cannot?) This puts them on an incredible power level.

With regards to their direct interaction with the Eldar, in general only the most puissant of the Eldar could meet them in single combat, and their defeat generally claimed the lives of those same individuals. Their like (with a few exceptions ie Galadriel) is no longer in Middle Earth. Only 3? Individuals we know of have ever defeated a Balrog. Seeing as Balrogs ie siege of Gondolin tend to lead from the front, it suggests that they were simply ploughing through all but the mightiest of the Eldar.

The very presence of the Balrog unmans both Legolas and Gimli.

It is probable, as per the texts, that the weapons of the Dwarves of the Third Age simply wouldn't have any potency against a Balrog. Whilst not all Balrogs would appear to be created equal, they can (e.g. Gothmog) be on a power scale to rival Sauron. Do we think 20,000 dwarves could defeat Sauron? It was luck and no ordinary sword which could even do Sauron the least of hurts.


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The only creatures that had such power were the flying dragons, Glaurung and Carcharoth. The Balrogs were captains, but they usually the more powerful elven lords were enough to at least stall one.
Dragons are not on a greater power scale that Balrogs. There's an old thread on these forums talking about this point also. Remember that a man killed Glaurung, his own father having been easily mastered by Gothmog in single combat.

Quote:
We have seen the Balrogs sneak around plenty of times. The Balrog of Moria was only alive, because he managed to sneak under the earth. When Morgoth was first overthrown once more the Balrogs snuck in the dungeons. There appears to be some cowardice when Gothmog is charged with capturing Hurin as well. Instead of go and capture him personally he sends his troll guard and only approaches when Hurin is restained.
I think any man would be below the general notice of a Balrog in battle. They go into hiding because their master is overthrown by the Valar, not men or elves. The Balrog would be aware there could be powers in Middle Earth to rival it, it is alone and quite content where it is. It would be sheer stupidity to wander out and invite attention from the wise.

Quote:
A Balrog was strong, but an army of 10,000 dwarves would be too great for him.

If the elves had know there was a Balrog there then I am sure they may have done something about it. Glorfindel was already a balrog slayer and now he returned more powerful.
I totally disagree, but that's ok. But a balrog is not a sneaky Alien substitute. An army of 10,000 dwarves who are mostly reduced to gibbering wrecks, with useless weapons doesn't seem a terrible opponent for a First Age Fire Maia.

The wise DID know there was a big bad monster in Moria, they chose to leave it alone. No doubt understanding that they would be facing that might be more than their equal. As for Glorfindel, even returned he's still no match for say Feanor, and Feanor (the most powerful Elf who has ever lived) was outmatched by Balrogs ultimately.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:55 AM   #28
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Remember that a man killed Glaurung, his own father having been easily mastered by Gothmog in single combat.
But Turin didn't kill Glaurung by fighting him in single combat. The situations aren't really comparable.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:40 PM   #29
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As Gandalf might say, here follows an account of general info pertaining to Balrogs...

Externally, just looking at it as a story, Balrogs are meant to be a match for the Eldar as Dragons are a match for Men. Balrogs were more than captains leading Morgoth's armies, they were his on-field commanders and highly skilled (plus powerful) combatants. They are meant as a mighty strong opponent for the greatest of the Eldar (or maiar in Gandalf's case). As Draughohtar mentions, they drive off Ungoliant, they slay Feanor, Glorfindel and Gandalf battle Balrogs. Men's "great opponent" are the Dragons. For this match to work, from a story standpoint, dragons have to be slightly less powerful than balrogs, as Men are less powerful than Elves.

Of course there are situations where any sort of 'luck' or certain circumstances can lead to a lesser opponent defeating a greater one. There are also Men who are more powerful than Elves, but in a direct comparison the greatest of the Eldar are superior to the greatest of Men, the average Eldar are greater than the average Men. I'm just talking generally here, in how Balrog, dragons, Eldar, Men...etc are presented in the story.

Now within the context of the story, Balrogs being incarnate could of course be slain and in some hypothetical scenario of "How many dwarves does it take to kill a Balrog?", of course tens of thousands could feasibly do it (that would assume the dwarves don't flee in terror from the aura of fear and power a Balrog can command). But seeing as they were Morgoth's on-field commanders, I doubt a single Balrog would take on tens of thousands of dwarves. If they were vain, reckless idiots, Morgoth wouldn't have used them as captains. They willingly seek out battle and challenge the greatest of Eldar (plus Gandalf), but they also show tactful retreat when it is necessary. They do fight pretty dirty but by no means are they reckless or cowardly.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:14 PM   #30
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Thing is, it's physically impossible for anyone to fight 20,000 enemies at a time. I would say even 10 gets a bit crowded.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:58 PM   #31
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But really, all it would take to kill a balrog is one Fastitocalon.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:32 PM   #32
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Thing is, it's physically impossible for anyone to fight 20,000 enemies at a time. I would say even 10 gets a bit crowded.
Chuck Norris could do it.

I still think this question comes down to the Dwarves having a lack of understanding of what they were dealing with, coupled with the unmanning fear surrounding the Balrog.

Consider the Nazgűl. On their own, Tolkien said they had no great power over the fearless, and by that, he meant physical power. So, one would think that the Nazgűl were capable of being destroyed like the Witch-king eventually was, if only one could summon the courage. However, it took millennia before that circumstance was reached.
Then, magnify the terror of the Nazgűl by many times, and add to it the fear of an unknown quantity with an awe-inspiring visage, and one gets a picture of what the Dwarves faced.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:34 PM   #33
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Chuck Norris could do it.
And the phantom could do it standing on his head.

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I still think this question comes down to the Dwarves having a lack of understanding of what they were dealing with, coupled with the unmanning fear surrounding the Balrog.
I agree with this. I think the Dwarves never got a clear idea of what is Durin's Bane. And the idea of fear also - the example with Nazgul that you bring up is dead on.

But I would also add that the Balrog fights not only with physical weapons (ie swords etc), or even psychological ones (ie fear), but also with that inner "force" that you can't block with any shield or weapon. When Sauron walked out of Barad-dur wielding the Ring, he didn't suddenly have better sword-fighting skills, but he had this metaphysical power. Similarly with the Balrog. I am of the opinion that Gandalf and Balrog had a battle of wills, both at the door (duh), but mostly on the bridge. The Balrog had a power even Gandalf had a hard time resisting. What could a group of Dwarves do against it? Their power was mostly in physical weapons.

...Or I just like to imagine a metaphysical part to everything.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:19 PM   #34
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But I would also add that the Balrog fights not only with physical weapons (ie swords etc), or even psychological ones (ie fear), but also with that inner "force" that you can't block with any shield or weapon. When Sauron walked out of Barad-dur wielding the Ring, he didn't suddenly have better sword-fighting skills, but he had this metaphysical power. Similarly with the Balrog. I am of the opinion that Gandalf and Balrog had a battle of wills, both at the door (duh), but mostly on the bridge. The Balrog had a power even Gandalf had a hard time resisting. What could a group of Dwarves do against it? Their power was mostly in physical weapons.
I agree. If you read from before the Fellowship arrive at Moria to when Gandalf falls, it's clear that this is, for want of a better word, a supernatural type of force. It's absolutely clear from the text that Gandalf does not know the Balrog is there, and he may not even be aware of what it is when he casts his spell to attempt to bind it. What Aragorn and Gimli knew is less clear though. And Aragorn even tries to warn Gandalf off from going into Moria.

Perhaps it was known by those few who did know/guess that the Balrog might be in Moria that Gandalf was the very best placed opponent for it? And that they didn't want him to face it? After all, it was known what it did to Glorfindel in the escape from Gondolin.

Hoping to win against this Balrog with a sword is fairly hopeless though:
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'Do as I say!' said Gandalf fiercely. 'Swords are no more use here. Go!'
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:46 PM   #35
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Perhaps it was known by those few who did know/guess that the Balrog might be in Moria that Gandalf was the very best placed opponent for it? And that they didn't want him to face it? After all, it was known what it did to Glorfindel in the escape from Gondolin.
I doubt that anyone knew that it was a Balrog, or Gandalf, of all people, would have known. Instead, Durin's Bane and Balrog seemed like two unrelated entities. Aragorn's prediction, in my eyes, was just foresight, not knowledge.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:51 PM   #36
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Well let's see:

Could any host of elves, men or Dwarves even begin to combat Ungoliant? The answer would appear to be a resounding no. However a relatively small number (presumably) of Balrogs can drive her off (when Melkor himself cannot?) This puts them on an incredible power level.
I don't know probably, but sometimes different weapons are needed to fight different opponents. Could Boromir kill the Witch King without the right sword? No. Could Merry? Yes. Now that does not mean Merry is stronger than Boromir.
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With regards to their direct interaction with the Eldar, in general only the most puissant of the Eldar could meet them in single combat, and their defeat generally claimed the lives of those same individuals. Their like (with a few exceptions ie Galadriel) is no longer in Middle Earth. Only 3? Individuals we know of have ever defeated a Balrog. Seeing as Balrogs ie siege of Gondolin tend to lead from the front, it suggests that they were simply ploughing through all but the mightiest of the Eldar.
There have only ever been around 3-7 Balrogs and closer to 3 than 7. What do you mean the like of the Eldar in the first age are not around? Elrond, Galadriel, Cirdan, Galdor, Glorfindel and Gildor to name but a few. Probably throw in Elronds sons as well.

It took Fingon riding at the front of 200 elves to drive off a baby Glaurung.
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The very presence of the Balrog unmans both Legolas and Gimli.
Though it does not do the same to Boromir and Aragorn, both who were ready to fight it.
Quote:
It is probable, as per the texts, that the weapons of the Dwarves of the Third Age simply wouldn't have any potency against a Balrog. Whilst not all Balrogs would appear to be created equal, they can (e.g. Gothmog) be on a power scale to rival Sauron. Do we think 20,000 dwarves could defeat Sauron? It was luck and no ordinary sword which could even do Sauron the least of hurts.
Even Sauron was defeated in combat when he faced Elendil and Gil-galad. How was it luck that Sauron was defeated? Further more do you realise that it was dwarvish smiths that made that Narsil?
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Dragons are not on a greater power scale that Balrogs. There's an old thread on these forums talking about this point also. Remember that a man killed Glaurung, his own father having been easily mastered by Gothmog in single combat.
Turin arguably was a greater fighter than the Elvish Lords of the time. He certainly was physically stronger. Not that Turin actually fought Glaurung, but stabbed him from below.

How was Hurin easily mastered by Gothmog in combat? In fact it was quite the opposite with Gothmog waiting until his troll guard and thousands of orcs had restrained Hurin, before he approached.

The great dragons are certainly on a greater scale than the Balrogs. Even Smaug was a threat to Rivendell and Lorien. Do you think the Balrog would have any hope of destroying Rivendell or Lorien?

Balrogs had greater spiritual potency than dragons, but I would not say more than Glaurung and perhaps Ancalagon. Their potent spiritual power would be a great weapon against the dwarves, but less so against High Elves capable of resisting.
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I think any man would be below the general notice of a Balrog in battle. They go into hiding because their master is overthrown by the Valar, not men or elves. The Balrog would be aware there could be powers in Middle Earth to rival it, it is alone and quite content where it is. It would be sheer stupidity to wander out and invite attention from the wise.
The Balrogs are strong, but you are greatly overrating their physical power. I would imagine many of the men of the first age would be able to match one including Turin, Beren, Hurin, Galdor and others. Then so would many of the kings of Numenor and obviosuly Elendil.
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I totally disagree, but that's ok. But a balrog is not a sneaky Alien substitute. An army of 10,000 dwarves who are mostly reduced to gibbering wrecks, with useless weapons doesn't seem a terrible opponent for a First Age Fire Maia.
How are Balrogs not sneaky? They double teamed and killed Fingon from behind, as I said before Gothmog did not want to face Hurin. Why would the dwarvish weapons be useless? Especially when swords like Narsil can do them so much hurt.
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The wise DID know there was a big bad monster in Moria, they chose to leave it alone. No doubt understanding that they would be facing that might be more than their equal. As for Glorfindel, even returned he's still no match for say Feanor, and Feanor (the most powerful Elf who has ever lived) was outmatched by Balrogs ultimately.
The wise did not know what the monster was. Overall power does not mean you are the greatest fighter. Luthien overall was the most powerful elf. Feanor was more powerful than his brother Fingolfin, but not as valiant in a fight. Glorfindel was already an elf lord powerful enough to kill a Balrog and he had his powers increased almost to the same level as Olorin.

Now Feanor himself was killed by all the Balrogs together.

There was no chance of the Balrog standing a chance against the Wise, considering just Gandalf alone was enough to kill it.

Last edited by cellurdur; 01-02-2013 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:02 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by cellurdur View Post
Though it does not do the same to Boromir and Aragorn, both who were ready to fight it.
Aragorn is ignorant of the nature and history of Balrogs, his reaction to stand with Gandalf was because the sense to not let Gandalf "stand alone" was greater than any fear he might have felt.

Boromir is a warrior, in every meaning of the word, including having an excessive pride by not knowing when he's overmatched by an opponent. Boromir was one of the few who did not flee from the Nazgul, when Sauron launched a diversionary attack on Osgiliath to get the Nazgul across the Anduin and hunt for the Ring. Boromir also blasted his horn to challenge the Balrog in Moria. His death is purely a warrior's death, because simply put, Boromir did not flee from battles (except in this case when Gandalf refused to let Aragorn and Boromir aid him, for as Lal brings up Gandalf's statement).

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The Balrogs are strong, but you are greatly overrating their physical power. I would imagine many of the men of the first age would be able to match one including Turin, Beren, Hurin, Galdor and others. Then so would many of the kings of Numenor and obviosuly Elendil.
It might be worth pointing out here, we know practically the Nazgul's only weapon was fear. They had no great physical strength over the fearless (Letter 210). Balrogs, on the other hand, could instill fear as a weapon, but it was by no means their primary weapon. They were combatants, skilled in the use of a variety of weapons (swords, whips, axes, hand-to-hand fighting). They typically sought confrontation with the greatest opponent. They were definitely dishonourable in fighting (but dragons weren't?), but this doesn't mean they were not front-line commanders who also sought battle.

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How are Balrogs not sneaky? They double teamed and killed Fingon from behind, as I said before Gothmog did not want to face Hurin. Why would the dwarvish weapons be useless? Especially when swords like Narsil can do them so much hurt.
They do fight dishonourably, without a question, but Gothmog was engaged in combat with Fingon for quite a while, before he had another Balrog intervene. No one can definitively say whether Gothmog was afraid of losing or just really intent upon winning (thus resort to dirty tactics and end it).

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There was no chance of the Balrog standing a chance against the Wise, considering just Gandalf alone was enough to kill it.
Don't downplay Gandalf here. The way the battle unfolds is one of my favorite pieces of writing in LOTR.

Gandalf tries to put a shutting spell on the door, Durin's Bane counters and Gandalf has to quickly speak a 'Word of Command' to try to shut the door. Durin's Bane responds with such a terrible counter spell, the door explodes and Gandalf says it nearly "breaks him"

Fastforward to the bridge. Gandalf decided to challenge Durin's Bane again. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire. Wielder of the flame of Anor..." (Bridge of Khazad-dum). Gandalf isn't just uttering nonsense here, he is revealing his true nature as a Maiar and servant of Eru. Once knowing Durin's Bane was indeed a Balrog, Gandalf understands their nature and history, thus knowing no one else in the Fellowship had the will, weapons, nor skill to defeat him. The Balrog answers the challenge by "stepping onto the bridge."

Gandalf breaks the bridge, Durin's Bane drags him down and when they do reach a bottom "ever he clutched me and ever I hewed him." Both at this point, from either the fall or the blows (Gandalf also said he was burned) had sustained wounds far beyond what a Man could endure. The fight continues on the peak until finally Gandalf slays him, but Gandalf is also killed in the process.

If a Balrog died in combat, not one instance did the Balrog not kill its assailant. I don't say this to mean in a hypothetical situation, under no circumstances could someone kill a Balrog and then walk away from it. But gathering the battles we do know, probability and odds all point to, if someone is powerful enough to slay a Balrog, that person would be killed as well.

They were dishonourable and no doubt resorted to dirty tactics when they wanted, but this does not change the fact they were skilled fighters, skilled to use a variety of weapons, and possessed not only great spiritual power, but physical power.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:26 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Aragorn is ignorant of the nature and history of Balrogs, his reaction to stand with Gandalf was because the sense to not let Gandalf "stand alone" was greater than any fear he might have felt.
I realise that, but it shows that it was possible overcome the fear. Boromir managed to do it with just pride alone.
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Boromir is a warrior, in every meaning of the word, including having an excessive pride by not knowing when he's overmatched by an opponent. Boromir was one of the few who did not flee from the Nazgul, when Sauron launched a diversionary attack on Osgiliath to get the Nazgul across the Anduin and hunt for the Ring. Boromir also blasted his horn to challenge the Balrog in Moria. His death is purely a warrior's death, because simply put, Boromir did not flee from battles (except in this case when Gandalf refused to let Aragorn and Boromir aid him, for as Lal brings up Gandalf's statement).
Yes Boromir for all his faults was a true warrior and that's why his father loved him best. I dare say if there was a vote for the best man in ME, prior to the War of the Ring, Boromir would have easily won the populace vote.
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It might be worth pointing out here, we know practically the Nazgul's only weapon was fear. They had no great physical strength over the fearless (Letter 210). Balrogs, on the other hand, could instill fear as a weapon, but it was by no means their primary weapon. They were combatants, skilled in the use of a variety of weapons (swords, whips, axes, hand-to-hand fighting). They typically sought confrontation with the greatest opponent. They were definitely dishonourable in fighting (but dragons weren't?), but this doesn't mean they were not front-line commanders who also sought battle.
No I agree that Balrogs were great powers physically, but was pointing out that there greater power was the power of the spirit. Even Glaurung was more powerful spiritually than physically.

As for dragons, no doubt they were dishonourable, but was just pointing out how Balrogs were too. I was dispelling the idea, that a Balrog would not be content to sneak around Moria.
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They do fight dishonourably, without a question, but Gothmog was engaged in combat with Fingon for quite a while, before he had another Balrog intervene. No one can definitively say whether Gothmog was afraid of losing or just really intent upon winning (thus resort to dirty tactics and end it).
It's true, but this kind of helps illustrate the point about Balrogs and dragons. Fingon fought a famous duel face to face with Gothmog. When Glaurung was still young it took Fingon leading 200 elves to drive him off.
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Don't downplay Gandalf here. The way the battle unfolds is one of my favorite pieces of writing in LOTR.

Gandalf tries to put a shutting spell on the door, Durin's Bane counters and Gandalf has to quickly speak a 'Word of Command' to try to shut the door. Durin's Bane responds with such a terrible counter spell, the door explodes and Gandalf says it nearly "breaks him"

Fastforward to the bridge. Gandalf decided to challenge Durin's Bane again. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire. Wielder of the flame of Anor..." (Bridge of Khazad-dum). Gandalf isn't just uttering nonsense here, he is revealing his true nature as a Maiar and servant of Eru. Once knowing Durin's Bane was indeed a Balrog, Gandalf understands their nature and history, thus knowing no one else in the Fellowship had the will, weapons, nor skill to defeat him. The Balrog answers the challenge by "stepping onto the bridge."

Gandalf breaks the bridge, Durin's Bane drags him down and when they do reach a bottom "ever he clutched me and ever I hewed him." Both at this point, from either the fall or the blows (Gandalf also said he was burned) had sustained wounds far beyond what a human body could endure. The fight continues on the peaks until finally Gandalf slays it, but Gandalf is also killed in the process.

If a Balrog died in combat, no one instance did the Balrog not kill its assailant. I don't say this to mean in a hypothetical situation, under no circumstances could someone kill a Balrog and then walk away from it. But gathering the battles we do know, probability and odds all point to, if someone is powerful enough to slay a Balrog, that person would be killed as well.

They were dishonourable and no doubt resorted to dirty tactics when they wanted, but this does not change the fact they were skilled fighters, skilled to use a variety of weapons, and possessed not only great spiritual power, but physical power.
I would not try and downplay Gandalf, but rather if Gandalf was enough then think about if Saruman, Glorfindel, Elrond, Galadriel, Cirdan and Celeborn were all there too. I agree with you too Gandalf's sacrifice was brilliantly written.

I am not sure about your last assessment that if someone was powerful enough to slay a Balrog they would not walk away from it. Balrogs, maybe as many as 4, were slain against the host of Valinor. Feanor himself was putting up a fight against most of the Balrogs together. I would be hesitant to suggest either he would not win one one.

That being said the Balrog was a great and powerful terror. However, to suggest he could take on thousands of Dwarves at once is too much for me. That apart there would at least be a few survivors, who would have spread the word if he had fought them all at once.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:50 PM   #39
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I don't know probably, but sometimes different weapons are needed to fight different opponents...
Come now, it's not a matter of weaponry. Tulkas fights bare handed and is the mightiest, physically speaking, of the Valar. Look at how Manwe dispatches the mightiest army to ever walk the earth: the host of Ar-Pharazon. These are matters of sheer self-possessed power.

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What do you mean the like of the Eldar in the first age are not around?
Galadriel apart (Glorfindel is a matter of huge speculation), none of the others are considered particularly puissant in matters of conflict. Gandalf is an embodied Maia WITH a ring of power. Eladan and Elrohir whilst of note, have a standing closer to a Dunedain than say Echthelion.

As for Glaurung, of course they are potent, but their inate power is naturally less than that of a Maia, being secondary products of Morgoth's breeding program.

As for Aragorn and Boromir, one might construe that Boromir was too ignorant to be afraid, and Aragorn is far far from an ordinary man. Aragorn and a small band of men turn the tide of the Battle of the Pelenor fields. (As opposed to the hoardes of the dead as per PJ's version).

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Even Sauron was defeated in combat when he faced Elendil and Gil-galad. How was it luck that Sauron was defeated? Further more do you realise that it was dwarvish smiths that made that Narsil?
Both Gil-Galad (vastly inately powerful) and Elendil (not exactly an ordinary man) are defeated utterly by Sauron, but deal him sufficiently stunning a blow (series of blows) to incapacitate him so that Isildur can take advantage of the situation and cut the ring from his hand. I don't think that their are smiths equal to Telchar left in the world by the third age!

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Turin arguably was a greater fighter than the Elvish Lords of the time. He certainly was physically stronger. Not that Turin actually fought Glaurung, but stabbed him from below.

How was Hurin easily mastered by Gothmog in combat? In fact it was quite the opposite with Gothmog waiting until his troll guard and thousands of orcs had restrained Hurin, before he approached.
Thousands of orcs? The troll guard certainly, but Gothmog didn't struggle in the end. Hardly comparable to Feanor who held off (all perhaps) of the Balrogs for a time, but fell in the end. As for Glaurung, the difference is that he died from a single stab wound (from an outstanding sword no doubt), whereas Feanor dealt Gothmog many a blow and yet the chief of the Balrogs was not imperilled.

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The great dragons are certainly on a greater scale than the Balrogs....
In my opinion, certainly not. Dragons are bred creatures. Gothmog and Sauron would not have long stayed at the head of the armies of Morgoth if their physical power could be contested. Sorcerously speaking a dragon (no dragon ever) could match a Balrog: an eternal spirit of fire. There's no need for a fist-fight, the Balrog is the natural master.

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The Balrogs are strong, but you are greatly overrating their physical power. I would imagine many of the men of the first age would be able to match one including Turin, Beren, Hurin, Galdor and others. Then so would many of the kings of Numenor and obviosuly Elendil.
Combat with a Balrog is about far more than sheer physicality. Glaurung easily masters the mind of the Children of Hurin, I don't doubt a Balrog would achieve the same feat. The Eldar have a natural resistance, and deep deep lore, and yet even the mightiest fall before the Balrogs; only claiming victory with their own deaths.

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How are Balrogs not sneaky? They double teamed and killed Fingon from behind, as I said before Gothmog did not want to face Hurin. Why would the dwarvish weapons be useless? Especially when swords like Narsil can do them so much hurt.
Which gives you an idea of the power required to combat a Balrog. Feanor is the mightiest child of Illuvatar, and he could hold off a host of Balrogs. Fingon can manage two. (Let's not assume the Balrogs became stupid around Feanor and only attacked from the front.) Gothmog has no need to face Feanor, he is a General at the time. As for Narsil, it requires Elven smiths to reforge the blade, the lore of Telchar is long lost to the Dwarves.

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The wise did not know what the monster was. Overall power does not mean you are the greatest fighter. Luthien overall was the most powerful elf. Feanor was more powerful than his brother Fingolfin, but not as valiant in a fight. Glorfindel was already an elf lord powerful enough to kill a Balrog and he had his powers increased almost to the same level as Olorin.

Now Feanor himself was killed by all the Balrogs together.

There was no chance of the Balrog standing a chance against the Wise, considering just Gandalf alone was enough to kill it.
"For Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind: in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and subtlety alike: of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and a bright flame was in him"

Glorfindel is all speculation tbh, and indeed appears to be retcon'ing on the part of Tolkien.

As for Gandalf he is an embodied Maia WITH a ring of power, and he still has to die to defeat the Balrog. None of the wise would have willingly picked that fight needlessly.
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:24 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Draugohtar View Post
Look at how Manwe dispatches the mightiest army to ever walk the earth: the host of Ar-Pharazon. These are matters of sheer self-possessed power.
Sorry to split hairs but I believe it was actually Eru Himself who destroyed the Great Armament, not Manwë. The Valar laid down their guardianship of the world temporarily so that Eru could intervene.
I agree though that it doesn't seem unreasonable to imagine the Balrog of Moria being capable of destroying the Dwarves in numbers to an extent. My reading of Professor Tolkien's work has always suggested to me that the confrontations involving powerful beings tend to involve some element of spiritual potency, the "might" of a creature which involves more than physical strength or skill. Despite all their crafts and such lore as they possessed, the Dwarves have always appeared to me to largely be beings who were not especially mighty in this regard, at least compared to those who were especially potent among the Ainur, the Noldor and the Edain (and Dúnedain). Consider some of the memorable heroics of Elves and Men mentioned in this discussion compared to some of the great feats of Dwarven heroes: Azaghâl wounding Glauring or Dáin Ironfoot slaying Azog. These are impressive deeds in their own way, no doubt, but not necessarily on the same level as, say, Ecthelion of the Fountain against Gothmog or Turambar against Glaurung. I don't mean to suggest that the Dwarves were inferior as soldiers compared to Elves and Men in general - it appears that they were among the more formidable forces in military terms - but that they lacked the supremely heroic individuals of other races.
That being said, given that Durin's Folk had sufficient numbers to colonise other regions after the abandonment of Moria it would suggest to me that it was not so much a matter of Durin's Bane wiping out enormous armies as it was killing those forces sent against it (including two kings) in such a way that the survivors could see that trying to withstand it was futile and that they would eventually all have been killed had they stayed. The situation would suggest to me that the Balrog could probably chew through such opposition as was deployed against it by the Dwarves; a mighty hero could have opposed it as in the Elder Days (and eventually did in the shape of Gandalf) but the Dwarves themselves lacked the means to handle it.
I don't really see the Balrog wiping out armies of thousands of Dwarves single-handedly either but the examples of the First Age would suggest to me that such beings were generally at risk mostly from individuals of relatively comparable power and perhaps were not to be worn down by numbers alone.
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