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The True Nature of A Balrog: Dread Sentience and Sorcery


Apr 8 2008, 2:34pm

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The True Nature of A Balrog: Dread Sentience and Sorcery Can't Post

It has been a while since I did a thread like this, but with Hobbit slowly moving forward again, and prospects of a sequel film which may (pure speculation, but it seems logical) involve at least a brief scenario involving Balin, Moria and Durin's Bane, The Balrog and his depiction have been much on my mind of late.

Of the prior filmed Balrog. . . there were things I really liked, and some things I didn't. Areas I found wonderful, and a few missed opportunities. If he is revisited, I hope to see an array of his sorcerous power and sentient command.

Which raises the matter of his sentience and sorcery. In a much older post and thread (the one involving the Ring and Lorien), Elizabeth, whose posts I generally find informative and accurate, voiced the opinion that The Balrog was merely a brute beast in intellect, lacking any notable intelligence. One of my concerns with his film depiction, in its brevity, was that viewers might have come away with that notion. But it is a false notion, and the books give vast testament to this, which I wish to touch on here.

Even in our initial encounter with The Balrog, we are shown that he is a sorcerer of incredible skill and power. I reffer all readers to the Chamber of Marzabul. As the Fellowship flees, Gandalf seeks to place a shutting spell upon the door. Then something ( we soon learn that it was The Balrog) enters the chamber, and as the orcs fall silent in their dread, The Balrog lays hold of the door handle. . ."And then it perceived me and my spell. The Counter Spell was terrible. . . I have never felt such a challange!" The end result was that the conflicting magic of The Wizard and The Demon destroyed the door and half the chamber. Christopher Tolkien in later notes assures us that the chamber was indeed broken by the struggle between the powers of the two opposing Maiar.

So what does this mean? Well, on the surface, we know that The Balrog was certainly cognizant enough to recognize the enchantment of an enemy, and to oppose it with witchcraft of his own. It also suggests (as Gandalf declares it his greatest challange ever encountered, and we know he did battle with all Nine of the Wraith Lords of the Ring, The Witch-King included, atop Amon Sul) that the Balrog was a mightier foe than even the Chief of the Nazgul, and other side writings and refference texts plainly support that as fact, that indeed, next to Sauron himself, The Balrog was the most powerful known force of Evil remaining in Middle-Earth during the Third age. The Fear in which the High Elves held Balrogs, as opposed to their lack of fear where the Nazgul were concerned, highlights this further, as does Legolas' comment, "A Balrog of Morgoth. Of All Elf Banes MOST deadly, save the ONE who sits in The Dark Tower."

I have seen many comment on The Balrog without seeming to truly give thought to what he was. According to all the lore, The Balrogs were the first aids, attendants and servants of Melkor the Morgoth, and next to Sauron himself, they were also the mightiest. Valaraukar, The High-Elves Noldorin and Vanyarin called them, The Demons of Might, or literally translated the Power Demons. The very name distinguishes them as more dire and perilous than any of the other varied and terrible demons in Melkor's service. The Lays of Belariand name them as "Proud Thanes of Morgoth" emphasizing the fact that they were nobility within his Hellish court. In that same lay, one of them is mentioned independantly (without any order) smiting Hurin across the mouth for making a disrespectful comment to Melkor. It is interesting and telling that in the finalized versions of Tolkiens writings, they are only seen to serve Melkor himself, and never Sauron. The are the captains of Melkor alone.

They are the captains of Melkor's legions, and their lord Gothmog was High-Captain of Angband upon Melkor's return to that realm, and had his own bodygaurd of trolls. Battle captains, unlike berserker shock soilders, are required to have some level of intellect for command purposes. Also, the idea that The Balrog couldn't think with human or greater intelligence, when Eagles, Ents and spiders could, is a siginificent oversight.

Again, we have to keep in mind what the Balrogs were. Maiar, of the race of The Valar, kindred to Arien. They were among that Holy Host which sang the world into being, and their thoughts had a place in the form and nature of The World. Just because they took on forms of dread did not negate their intellect of fell spiritual power. Manwe sometimes became an Eagle, Yvannah a tree. Sauron often shifted shape, but even as a dire werewolf and a monster serpent in battle with Huan, he was still Sauron The Maia. Ungoliant took the shape of a Spider, but she remained "an evil thing in spider form" not an actual spider with the intelligence of a Spider, she still had the intelligence of a Spirit. . . and was not deceived by Melkor in the end, though the Balrogs saved him from that strait. Thus, the same must be figured for the Balrogs. Gothmog the Balrog was also Gothmog the Maia, and no different with the other members of his kin. That the Demon captains of Melkor, "who first adhered to him in the days of his splendor and became most like him in his corruption" were mightier than the wraith captains of Sauron seems without question.

I will comment more on this later, have to run. Please lend your thoughtsSmile

"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Subject User Time
The True Nature of A Balrog: Dread Sentience and Sorcery AinurOlorin Send a private message to AinurOlorin Apr 8 2008, 2:34pm
    I think you raise a very good point indeed! Padster Send a private message to Padster Apr 8 2008, 4:37pm
    Intelligence Yes, Usuable wings no orcbane Apr 8 2008, 6:45pm
    You're back! sador Send a private message to sador Apr 8 2008, 8:50pm
        Balrog's Back Too - Of Course Tolkien Forever Send a private message to Tolkien Forever Apr 9 2008, 12:44am
            Soooo much to respond to. As usual. . . AinurOlorin Send a private message to AinurOlorin Apr 9 2008, 1:31pm
                Nice Post Tolkien Forever Send a private message to Tolkien Forever Apr 10 2008, 1:27pm
                    A good question AinurOlorin Send a private message to AinurOlorin Apr 15 2008, 5:51pm


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