Thread: Bye Bye Balrogs
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:34 PM   #11
Late Istar
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,184
Aiwendil is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Aiwendil is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Greetings, Khazad-dum! It's always good to see new people in this rather dusty old barrow.

You are certainly right that Balrogs are Maiar. However, whether they could be re-embodied after being slain is a trickier issue. You mentioned Gandalf - but actually this seems to me to be a counter-example, since Gandalf was only able to return to life by the special grace of Eru. Of course, Gandalf was explicitly limited in his incarnate form in Middle-earth in a way that the Balrogs were not.

Re-embodiment as a possible solution to the Balrog problem was actually considered in the early days of this project (see the first few posts on this thread). I think Jallanite summed up the situation here quite well:

In theory then we might have 7 Balrogs slain by the Valar, the same 7 slain again at Gondolin, and then again by the Enw's host in the War of Wrath, save for one who escapes.

However in the third Age speculation on the origin of Durin's Bane there is no suggestion that ir is a re-embodied Balrog, which would surely have been a guess if it were known that Balrogs in the past had re-embodied themselves after being slain. Possibly they were only re-embodied by Morgoth's power and not their own. Yet might not Sauron have also done so, in the Second Age, when at his greatest might?

With such floundering suppositions, hypotheses, and probabilities I will leave the debate to those who enjoy arguments of ignorance.
Jallanite's point here, which I quite agree with, is that we simply don't have enough information to decide one way or the other whether the Balrogs could be (and were) slain and re-incarnated.

Findegil wrote:
When I read the conclusion of this thread rightly, the decission was to try not to specify any number of Balrogs, but to work with assumption that 7 existed and 3 were killed in the Battle of the Powers.
Yes, as far as I can tell/recall, that was our decision.

While translating this I found (porberbly due tomy bad english) that the second sentence of the passage might be read figurativly. Please correct me if I am worng! Could 'But they were withered in the wind of his wrath and slain with the lightning of his sword;' be understood as meaning 'It was as if they were withered and slain'?
That's an interesting thought. The crux of it is the word 'slain' - can this word be understood to mean something short of 'made to be dead' in this instance? My immediate inclination is to say that it cannot be so construed. I can't think of any other place Tolkien used the word 'slay' non-literally.

But ultimately, even if one admits the possibility of a non-literal interpretation of the sentence, I don't think that's sufficient to allow us any more freedom than we've taken, since there remains still the possibility that it was meant literally.

Seeing that Tolkien himself has addressed the Balrog already in FoG as 'demon', I think that it adds to ambigous Balrog emandations to leave it open if this is a Balrog or not. From the discription especially the 'whip of flame', one could gues that this Demon is a Balrog, but it also could be a diffrent kind of monster. Thus we would again give the reader the freeness to decide for himself.
You know, as I think about it I like this possibility more. Tolkien's change of 'Balrog' to 'Demon' in the Glorfindel essay is somewhat inscrutable, and I recall spending a great deal of time in the early days of the project trying to figure out what thought lay behind it. But, as you rightly point out, we don't necessarily need to determine the reason for the change in order to implement it. I need to think about this a little bit more.

Two further points cmae up during my research that we already mist after the decision taken inthis thread:
In our chapter Of the coming of the Elves we took up
Let's not get ahead of ourselves - I don't think we've officially worked on that chapter yet! (Unless I've simply forgotten it, which is entirely possible).

All right, let's get just a little ahead of ourselves: I agree with the first change, though I think you meant to include more in the { } brackets:

he sent forth on a sudden CE-EX-12.5 {a host of}<AAm, late scribbeld changes his> of Balrogs,
I don't, however, agree with adding the footnote, for two reasons. First, it goes against our decision to leave the exact number of Balrogs ambiguous. Second, it seems clear to me that this was a note Tolkien wrote for himself and was never intended to actually stand in any text (even in a footnote).
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