The Infamous Balrog-Wing Debate

Discussion in 'J.R.R. Tolkien / Lord of the Rings' started by Lews Therin Telamon, Jan 20, 2006.

?

Do Balrogs have Wings or not?

  1. Yes, Balrogs have Wings.

    14 vote(s)
    82.4%
  2. No, Balrogs don't have Wings.

    2 vote(s)
    11.8%
  3. I don't know/No way to know for sure

    1 vote(s)
    5.9%
  1. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    I know a question was raised a few years ago on this topic, but that thread seems to have died, and with all the new members (myself included), I feel I would like to put this question to you faithful Tolkien fans:

    Do Balrogs have wings or not?

    For long this question has been the source of confusion and discontent among Tolkien fans everywhere, and no definitive answer has yet been reached. If you're new to this question, please remember not to say whatever you say as if it's common sense, because there is equally good sense available to refute it, I guarantee it.
     
  2. Nienor

    Nienor Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes, of course. They were pictured that way in the movie. Would PJ have done anything with the movie that wasn't true to the books. ;)
     
  3. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    Wow, what a solid argument. :rolleyes:

    I don't think that comment should even be dignified with an answer; that is, if it were serious.
     
  4. Elkean

    Elkean New Member

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    I remember in the 1970 Ralph Bakshi version that the Balrog also had wings. Plus, in the FOTR videogame the Balrog had wings as well, so apparently a lot of people seem to think that Balrogs do have wings. I for one agree with them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2006
  5. Lady_of_Shalott

    Lady_of_Shalott Weaving the Magic Web

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    As I recall, in Fellowship of the Ring, in the chapter where they meet the Balrog, it is described as a "great winged beast". I'll look it up for the actual quote. At least that's what I recall.
     
  6. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    That's only three people: Peter Jackson and the other two. Last I checked, three people, however popular, do not make a majority. You can't base your decisions on the views of other people, but rather on the facts at hand, of which there are numerous beyond count.

    If you'll recall, the line in the book was "...a shadow stretched from wall to wall like two vast wings..." or something similar. However, what is not at all uncertain is the presence of the word "like," hense, simile. The wings are thereafter referred to without the like or an as, but Tolkien has, on countless occasions, used a simile and thereafter referred to that simile in the form of a metaphor. I can't very well describe the argument (because, despite my arguing against wings at the moment, I think they have them, and argue against only because no one else is here to do so. Also, some of your arguments are weak, and it is good to be enlightened, no?). Therefore, I will present you with a link to an essay discussing Balrogs, their wings, and the most common arguments as to whether or not they have them. Clearly some of us (i.e. the last two posters; that is, unless they joke more subtly than Nienor) don't have much experience debating this issue, so this essay should enlighten you.

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html
     
  7. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    And unless you're joking, nobody likes a smart alec with a superiority complex. If you make a thread then lambast everyone who posts in it, don't expect it to last very long or be very popular.
     
  8. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    I do tend to come across as patronizing at times (because sometimes I can't help it; I'm not pround of it), but I was, indeed, joking (maybe not 100%, but I was certainly not being very serious... it was more of a mild jest than a joke).

    I myself have only read 3 of the Histories of Middle Earth, so I hardly know everything (or close too it). It's just funny seeing people who do exactly what I did, and march in stating the clear truth as if it should be obvious to everyone and making an ass of myself the entire time. They weren't nearly so blatant as I was at first, so I really have no grounds for being condescending to anyone in that regard (or in any, but in that especially).

    Regardless, this thread is not about me defending myself; rather, it is about the question as to whether or not Balrogs have wings. And I must say, I'm disappointed no one's voted for anything but "Yes" yet. As it is, I'd like to invoke some thought discussion of this subject.

    When I look back into the earliest texts, it seems clear to me that Tolkien did not envision Balrogs with wings. However, I am of the opinion that, when writing LotR, Tolkien first began to contemplate Balrogs with wings, and thus he made the Balrogs intentionally ambiguous in that aspect because he could not decide; and, indeed, an ambiguous fear is often more frightening than a known one, so it would only add to the fearsome aspect of the Balrog. However, I believe Tolkien liked the idea of Balrogs with wings, and only restrained himself because in all his previous texts, they were without, and it would be so difficult to change them that he would leave it ambiguous for now and maybe clarify it later (though he never got the chance). Therefore, I have taken the position that Balrogs did have wings, because, for one thing, I think they're much cooler with them, and I believe that Tolkien liked the idea. And if Tolkien liked it, that's all I need.

    Anyway, any thoughts on this?
     
  9. Elkean

    Elkean New Member

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    There's no need for any of that, I mean everybody is basically in the same boat as everybody else on this forum (with the exceptions of Mods and such) and nobody should insult somebody (specifically me since I was one of those previous posters you spoke of) for giving their opinion on something. I mean, that's what you asked for in this thread. You're not going to be very popular around here if you keep throwing around cheap shots at everybody who posts something.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2006
  10. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    It was not an insult (if taken as such, I'm sorry), and I don't throw around cheap shots. Honestly, it was a side comment, not meant to be focused on, not meant to be a big deal. I was not meaning it to be taken as "You don't know what you're talking about, so shut up," which is untrue, but rather it was a comment that is taken from fond memories of my valiantly charging into the debate and saying "What the heck is wrong with you people? The book said that balrog stretched its wings from wall to wall. That's all I or anyone needs to know, so I frankly don't understand how you can still debate it. Do you not understand the words? Honestly, you should read thoroughly before saying anything against it." (That's pretty much my entire post in a nut shell, and it's a pretty stupid and ignorant and arrogant post). I was kind of looking back on my memories and thinking "Ah, yes, how uninformed I was." You, Elkean, on the other hand, said something not nearly as stupid as I did, so you can't seriously think I'd insult you for saying it without insulting myself far more. It'd be like saying someone more good looking than you is ugly.

    Seriously, I didn't mean to be offending in any way, just a fond comment that was made because of my memories of my arrogance and stupidity. If I came across as patronizing or insulting in anyway, I'm sorry; I used to be very patronizing at times when I was much younger, and occasionally it pops up in my conversations unlooked for. I'm really a very nice person, and I appreciate the fact that you and Lady_of_Shallot are smart and nice people too; it's simply that you don't have much experience debating the issue, so you don't know the counter arguments. I was, if anything, less informed that you are now, so I have no beliefs in my having superior knowlegde or anything as stupid as that. Now, please, I feel I have eplained myself more than enough and apologized for any misunderstandings or insults, assured that none were meant, and I think it is long overdue that this thread be put back on track.

    Now, I do not mean to demean your opinions, Elkean, but it is important you look at the facts, not at how other people interpret them, when debating this issue. The counterargument for the passage from which those opinions are undoubtedly founded is as follows (F.Y.I., it's from the site linked to above):

    So, that's the general rundown of that argument. If, after reading that, you still believe that Balrogs have wings, then you're half way to my belief; I seriously recomend reading the entire document, because it goes over lots of the major arguments and is generally very informative (it certainly was very informative to me). After reading it all and debating the issue with other people, I came to the conclusion that Tolkien did not see Balrogs as having wings, because, to me, the arguments against seem so strong and the evidence for seems so weak, like someone denying something even when they know it's true. The argument against the passage in Moria, however, strikes me as being weak, so that's kind of where I got my theory from.

    Anyway, if people don't want to bother reading the whole document (it is kind of long), then feel free to go ahead and argue away either for or against. Of course, there seems to be a bias against no wings here so far....

    Can someone at least argue against wings for the sake of arguing? We won't get anywhere if everyone agrees that Balrogs have wings.
     
  11. Elkean

    Elkean New Member

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    First of all I was never debating the topic in the first place (read my post again), so how could I not know enough about the topic to give a good debate if I was never actually debating in the first place? I was just giving my opinion on the matter and what other people have said about it. Otherwise, no hard feelings here.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2006
  12. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, if nobody thinks that, why waste forum space with pointless posts? We've got the Spam section for that.
     
  13. Gil-Galad_360

    Gil-Galad_360 Aran Noldorin

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    In the FOTR book you can read that the balrog expands its wings, so if Tolkien said it expanded it's wings....then it had them
     
  14. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    If you'd read the quote I posted, you would see that a common argument is that Tolkien's statement was a metaphor, and thus he was not stating it had wings, but rather likening the shadow of the Balrog to wings without using like or as, which is a common activity set into place by Tolkien. Therefore, simply stating that Tolkien said it therefore it's true isn't accurate.

    As for your comment, Mububban, that was one of my many bad jokes. They're bad because no one seems to find them funny. :rolleyes:

    Anyway, all I was trying to intimate was that we need to get more people to argue the opposing side, because you can be sure there are many, many people who would be more than happy to do so. Thus far, this has been a very one-sided debate simply because no one has shown up to argue the opposition; that doesn't mean there's no one who would do it if they got the chance. I simply wish someone would show up to do so; I'm very disappointed that this argument seems so dead on this forum when it's so alive on others.
     
  15. Elan Morin Tedronai

    Elan Morin Tedronai The Forsaken

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    Well actually, if you'll look in the Debates thread, this topic has already been discusessed, over several pages if I remember correctly, maybe you should read that if you want to see some arguments. Perhaps people just don't feel like covering old ground again.

    http://www.thefantasyforum.com/showthread.php?t=202
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2006
  16. Lews Therin Telamon

    Lews Therin Telamon The Kinslayer

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    I did see that other thread, yes, but it was old and fairiy dead, and it was also not in the LotR section. I felt a new thread would have more life, and if it's in the LotR section I thought it would only attract people who are familiar with the books (which has yet to be proved wrong). Therefore, I started a new thread; but thus far it appears to have been in vain.
     
  17. Gildor Inglorion

    Gildor Inglorion Immortal and unforgiving

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    Not sure what else there is to be contributed, but i just thought i would raise a few points that always confuddled me ...

    It does cleary state how ' and its wings were spread from wall to wall ' you can take that how you like. Its pretty clear to me though that it didnt have the use of wings even if the creature did posses them

    When he fell, why on earth didn't the Balrog just use his ' supoosed ' wings to fly back up?

    All i can think of really is it wanted to drag Gandalf down on purpose, hence it used its whip to drag Gandalf down with him to the abyss.

    In the Silmarillion the Balrogs are not shown as either possesing or not possesing wings, well i can't find an adequate passage that aptly describes them. pus i ain't got the Silmarillion on me. then again there is this interesting piece of art by John Howe ( bloody love this picture )

    [​IMG]

    Again i can't recall the Balrogs of the Silmarillion ever using wings and such, lots of the artwork portrays them thus with wings.

    As to the Balrog of Moria, too long in the dark? Has it lost the use of its wings?

    But yeh overall i reckon they do! But as to the actual usage of the limbs in flight an such perhaps not, as i said before i can't recall any glaring examples, they are always described as fighting alongside the orcs as well ...

    * Shrug *
     
  18. Elkean

    Elkean New Member

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    Really cool picture Gildor. I just checked out that John Howe sight and it's really cool.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2006
  19. Gildor Inglorion

    Gildor Inglorion Immortal and unforgiving

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    Yah i bought the art prints, and its currently adorning my wall, its stupendously good!
     
  20. Kakashi

    Kakashi The Fighters Guide House Member

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    how can it be a debate when it clearly says "yes" in the book?