Numbering the Maiar by the Ages

Discussion in 'The Hall of Fire' started by 1stvermont, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    So I have been thinking and wondering. How many Maiar lived in middle- earth for each age. The third age at the time of the WOTR appears to have the five Istari, the balrog, and Sauron for a total of 7. Am I missing any? So how does that compare to the earlier ages. I am not looking for valar or maiar that reside outside of middle earth such as in valinor. But those like melian who lived for a time in ME.
     
  2. Thomas Snerdley

    Thomas Snerdley New Member

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    Hello 1stvermont,
    This is my first answer here at the Tolkien Forum.

    Unfortunately, it is not possible to definitively determine the number of Maiar at any point in time, either before the creation of Arda, during any of the Ages of Middle-earth, in Valinor, Beleriand or later Middle-earth. This is compounded by the fact that Tolkien did not specify which powerful beings contained Maiar spirits (e.g., Tom Bombadil, Ungoliant, Thorondor, Glaurung, Thuringwethil, Fangorn, Huan, Draugluin, Carcharoth, Shelob, etc, etc). Additionally, it is known of the Maiar that “Their number is not known to the Elves, and few have names in any of the tongues of the Children of Ilúvatar; for though it is otherwise in Aman, in Middle-earth the Maiar have seldom appeared in form visible to Elves and Men.” [1]

    However, overlooking the fact that we can never now how many Maiar were present in Middle-earth invisibly, there are a few statements we can make about the relative numbers for each Age with some hope of accuracy:
    • First Age. It appears almost certain that this was the Age during which the largest number of Maiar were physically present in incarnated forms outside of the Blessed Realm. During this period, the following Maiar were known to have participated in actions upon the land of Middle-earth (counting Beleriand, and not counting Ossë or Uinen, who apparently remained in the bordering seas):
      • Sauron.
      • Valaraukar (Balrogs). Though there number remains unknown, they must certainly have been the most populous during the First Age since some, perhaps most, were killed during this Age and therefore disembodied.
      • Melian.
      • Eönwë. Additionally, it is quite possible that Eönwë led additional Maiar, and possibly Valar, to Beleriand during the War of Wrath.
      • (possibly) Arien and Tilion, if we can consider the airs above Middle-earth as inclusive, otherwise not.
      • (possibly) Olórin. He was numbered among the Maiar and was known to have interacted with elves. While it is not definitively stated that this took place in Middle-earth, judging from his peripatetic nature we can perhaps surmise that he voyaged outside of the Blessed Realm where his compassion was most needed.
    • Second Age. This Age seems to have had the smallest recorded presence.
      • Sauron.
      • Balrogs. Durin's Bane, and perhaps others (see below).
      • (possibly) Arien and Tilion.
    • Third Age. During this Age there was a resurgence in numbers but again there is no way to specify an exact count.
      • Sauron.
      • The Istari. There is no way of knowing how many Istari were present in Middle-earth, though it is almost certainly more than five. Per Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth: “Of this Order the number is unknown; but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth, where there was most hope (because of the remnant of the Dúnedain and of the Eldar that abode there), the chiefs were five.” [2] These were Olórin, Curumo, Aiwendil, Alatar and Pallando.
      • Balrogs. In addition to the Balrog known as Durin's Bane, it is quite likely that at least one more Balrog dwelt in Middle-earth, most likely sleeping in a cavern deep beneath the earth. The Silmarillion states: “The Balrogs were destroyed, save some few that fled and hid themselves in caverns inaccessible at the roots of the earth ...”. [3] Since there is no other record of a Balrog awakening, it is likely though not certain that at least one more dwelt in Middle-earth.
      • (possibly) Arien and Tilion.
    • Fourth Age.
      • Balrog(s). Possibly one or more Balrogs sleeping in caverns beneath Middle-earth.
      • (possibly) Arien and Tilion.
    [1] The Silmarillion (Valaquenta).
    [2] Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (The Istari)
    [3] The Silmarillion (Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath)
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018

  3. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    Congrats on the first post. And thanks for all the knowledge.
     
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  4. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Nice first (or any number) post!

    I'll add that I believe Olorin visited Galadriel in the Second Age > within the context that at least two tales of the Elessar stone were told in Middle-earth itself.

    And that I believe only five wizards came to Middle-earth in the Third Age (despite the description already quoted above from the Istari text). Long argument not included here.

    And that one Balrog survived into the Third Age, despite The Silmarillion description already quoted above. Long argument also not included here.

    All according to my head-canon, anyway.
     

  5. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    There has to be one more Balrog besides Durin's bane. Two died in the Fall of Gondolin, five fought in the Wrath, some were destroyed; minimum two, maximum three (probably three).
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  6. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    I would be interested to here both of those long arguments.
     
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  7. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Part of my longer argument concerning Balrog numbers: the War of Wrath reference was written at a time when Tolkien imagined hundreds, possibly thousands of Balrogs existing, even after the Valarin War on Utumno.

    And in my opinion, Tolkien changed his mind (to three, or at most seven Balrogs ever existing), or at least seemed to be unsure about these large numbers, despite that he never (for whatever reason) revised all of his descriptions to fit the new idea > he did revise one description concerning the War on Utumno, wiping out a reference to large numbers < which seems in step with his marginal note about three or at most seven.

    For the constructed Silmarillion published in 1977, Christopher Tolkien revised certain Balrog descriptions with respect to their numbers (removing references to large numbers to make the matter vague), but he left the War of Wrath reference as worded, possibly because it was still fairly vague. And generally speaking, Tolkien himself never got around to fully updating later portions of Quenta Silmarillion.


    Part
    of my longer argument about Istari numbers: looking at all the references to the Istari, both published by Tolkien himself and posthumously published, the reference to more than 5 wizards (his description of the "chiefs" as noted above) seems, to my mind, to be the "odd man out" so to speak.

    It could be argued that Tolkien simply forgot, or felt it unnecessary, to word any later descriptions with his "more than five" idea in mind, but in any case, five wizards is the number noted in author-published work, and I'm not convinced that the Istari essay necessarily contains, in all matters, canonical facts (as I define canon and so on). . .

    . . . including that any Istari were blue! Which idea is later contradicted by Tolkien in a letter, and, as far as I know today, remains an idea that doesn't appear anywhere but in the Istari essay in question.

    Anyway, I'm not arguing that I'm correct about any of this, it's just all according to my
    personal head-canon. In other words, to me, these matters seem misty enough for my annoying "asterisks".

    I'm not sure I have the time or energy for my longer-winded versions of these opinions, with multiple citations, misspelled words, and who knows what else, so for now . . .

    :)
     
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  8. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    While the idea of hundreds or thousands make them a bit less rare, it would make sense to me that those 'seven are what is left post Battle of the Powers. I just find hard to believe there were just seven and all of them survived that war, there should have been more, maybe lesser in might; not to the point of hundreds but definitely more than just seven considering what was being thrown at Morgoth.
     
  9. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    I wonder, if in the end, JRRT would have kept First Age Balrog numbers vague, revising mentions of very large numbers (like he did in the "Utumno description" at least, and again, as Christopher Tolkien basically decided to do for The Silmarillion, given the matter as Tolkien left it, I guess) -- revising these large number descriptions but not noting any specific number.

    Tolkien's "three or at most seven" (it seems to me) exists as a marginal note to himself, and is not an internal note or part of the tale itself . . . anyway, just wondering.

    Imagine if Tolkien went with only three Balrogs ever existing! Seems odd maybe, but it appears he at least considered this at the time of the note/revision (for details see The Annals of Aman, Morgoth's Ring).
     
  10. Gothmog

    Gothmog Lord of Balrogs Staff Member

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    On the numbers of Balrogs, Tolkien was in the process of making them greater individually so needed to balance this by having fewer of them. After the writing of TLoR, I wonder if the Ring Lore affected how he looked at this issue. After all there were Three, Seven, and Nine Rings of Power, Tolkien mentions for the new numbers for the Balrogs "Three or at most Seven". Perhaps he would have increased this to Nine making the number of Ringwraiths of Sauron match the number of Balrogs of Morgoth.
     
  11. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    On the number of balrogs soon before publishing Fellowship of the ring a fan asked a question of Tolkien in letters 144 . Tolkien did not view the third age balrog as different than his decades long sillmarillion view of balrogs as existing in great numbers. He said “the balrog is a survivor from the silmarillion and the legends of the first age.” He had attempted, and was attempting, to publish the sillmarillion at this time that included the published first age view of balrogs. Even after the publication of LOTR he used the term “host” in Annuals of Ammon in 1958.


    It is notable that the balrogs were still at this time when the lord of the rings had been completed, conceived to have existed in very large numbers.”
    -Morgoths Ring The Annals of Aman section 2 S50



    And than again in post LOTR edited writings found in the The Grey Annuals in the war of the Jewels that during the fifth battle


    There came balrogs, a thousand.


    The only time any mention of fewer balrogs is made comes from a draft Christopher Tolkien labeled as aam* that diverged in multiple areas from aam and was abandoned by Tolkien. Further the 3-7 that ever existed came from a scribble mark [a note to self] by Tolkien and was not even part of the draft.

    Some would say that a “host” can be understood as 3-7? I dont think this is true. Tolkien was a master of words and their origin and would not have used “host” to describe 3-7 balrogs. He used “host” many times and it meant a great number. When Turgon came with 10,000 Noldor from Gondolin, they were described as a “host.”


    Merium Webster Definition of host
    1: armythe destruction of Pharaoh's host in that sea

    • a whole host of options

    Host Definition by Free dictionary

    1. An army.

    2. A great number; a multitude. See Synonyms at multitude.

    [Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin hostis, from Latin, enemy



    So for this to be true Tolkien would have had to make a mistake in wording multiple times [not likely given Tolkien]. But the context helps us understand it as a host. Since Melkor sent the balrogs out vs the combined strength of the valar it would make sense if he had at his disposal a large number fight them. But 3-7 maiar vs the combined valar would not fit the context well. Further, Christopher Tolkien in Morgoths rings took “host” to mean a large number. Even if Tolkien wanted to change his writings to say 3-7 balrogs, that would not make the balrogs stronger, just fewer.
     
  12. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    In addition (same letter), JRRT also noted: "They were supposed to have been all destroyed in the overthrow of Thangorodrim, his fortress in the North. But it is here found (…) that one had escaped and taken refuge under the mountains . . ."

    If I recall correctly, this usage does not hail from after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, but rather from the early 1950s phase, after the main tale of The Lord of the Rings was "finished" but not published.

    This hails from the early 1950s phase (or earlier), when there is no doubt Tolkien still thought of Balrogs existing in large numbers. The question is, however, did Tolkien still hold this idea in the later 1950s "phase" and after.

    I disagree. The revision to the Utumno text and marginal note is to a later typescript copy of Annals of Aman, not AAm*.

    Yes, but I wouldn't expect it to be part of the tale, as worded. Still, it explains the thinking behind the revision here.

    But to me the matter is one of timing (when Tolkien wrote what), and thus the question of Tolkien mistakenly using the word host disappears.

    Christopher Tolkien took "host" to mean a large number, yes, so the question arises: why did Christopher Tolkien edit out still remaining references to large numbers of Balrogs for the constructed Silmarillion published in 1977?

    My answer: because he was aware of the misty nature of the textual situation here, and gave (in my opinion) due consideration to his father's marginal note and revision to AAm, which is dated to the later 1950s phase -- and is thus not simply an early 1950s phase manuscript description that was typed/copied in the later 1950s. The Annals of Aman typescript that dates from 1958 is an amanuensis typescript, thus not made by Tolkien himself.

    If I recall correctly, I think there is at least one case of very many Balrogs not being revised in this general period (later 1950s), in a section where Tolkien did some "later" revising. Did Tolkien simply miss the Balrog reference? Maybe, maybe not. But in any case, the answer even here could hinge on dating again, given that both revisions only generally date to 1958-ish or later, so the marginal note to AAm could still be later!

    As I say, I can think of no better reason for Christopher Tolkien to alter these references. His revisions appear to be in consideration of the 1958 revision to AAm (and the note), making the matter questionable enough for him to take a middle-ground approach.

    In my opinion so far :)
     
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  13. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    According to Christopher [who i quoted in Morgoths ring ] this comes from 1958.




    it came from a later version of the grey annuals

    "when my father turned again, in 1950-51 to the matter of the eldar days after the completion of the lord of the rings he began new work on the annuls by taking up the AV 2 and AB 2 manuscripts"
    -Christopher Tolkien The war of the jewels



    I could have made a mistake. But can you give me any info to support this or specific section where i could find this.


    but he kept host and "a thousand" even after LOTR. Also later does not always conclude he would have stuck with it. I think the evidence points to [not conclusive] him keeping balrogs in large unnamed numbers. I always thought he should have had durins bane just be gothmog as a survivor.




    i can agree. There was manuscripts [2 i think] eddied/altered by Tolkien where he did keep the host/many after lotr. That he did also make a slight note also does leave the matter vague. But i do think this tips it towards large numbers of balrogs.

    "The only time any mention of fewer balrogs is made comes from a draft Christopher Tolkien labeled as aam* that diverged in multiple areas from aam and was abandoned by Tolkien."

    He picked back up the other version and did not edit or make a note. Perhaps he forgot but I think it more likely, he decided against it or at least, thought the revision not important enough. I think it would take some "reading into" Tolkiens mind to declare 3-7 balrogs was his final choice.
     
  14. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Here's the quote you provided above, now with my emphasis: “It is notable that the balrogs were still at this time when the lord of the rings had been completed, conceived to have existed in very large numbers.” Morgoths Ring, The Annals of Aman, commentary to section 50.

    Completed, not published however. As I say, this is the early 1950s phase. You are correct, of course, that Tolkien was hopeful Waldman would publish The Silmarillion along with The Lord of the Rings, but at this point The Lord of the Rings itself wasn't published yet.

    But I note the date here. Again the early 1950s. The Grey Annals are a later version of The Annals of Beleriand.

    The commentary to section 50 refers to AAm, then there's a star, with following commentary about the text AAm* -- but the section immediately following this (after another star) includes a note that refers to section 50 of The Annals of Aman (AAm) again, noting later revisions (in general) made "on one or another copy of the typescript of the whole text."

    And this refers to later typescripts upon which (one or another) Tolkien's revision to "host" was made, and upon which we find his marginal note. Thus there are here, two commentaries regarding section 50 of AAm, one concerning the early 1950s, the second concerning alterations made to later copies of AAm (not AAm*), in 1958 or later.

    To clarify my argument: there is no section 50 in AAm*, which appears to end in section 32. You have correctly noted that AAm* was abandoned, and it ended before section 50. So Tolkien's revision to section 50, and his marginal note that goes along with it, can't be on the text AAm*.

    It's not on the original AAm either (early 1950s), it's on a later typescript, giving it its date of 1958 or later.

    And agreed, not even Christopher Tolkien can read his father's mind. But anyway, he does not declare, nor am I declaring, that 3-7 was certainly Tolkien's final choice and should be treated as a fact. I'm saying that thousands/hosts of Balrogs is arguably also not a given fact, and I'm adding that this mist must be (I think) behind Christopher Tolkien's decision to edit the Silmarillion as he did . . .

    . . . choosing a "middle", vague road :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  15. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    Nice, thanks guys. Moar
    [​IMG]
     
  16. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    Very interesting. When I have more time i might dig into it just to make sure. But Tolkien did not editing to LOTR in between this time and publication as far as i am aware. And I think the point stands that he held this view of balrogs as constant between the two writings.



    OK but a finished text seen as constant with the sillmarillion version of balrogs.


    I admit i would like MR to be more straightforward but i think you might be misreading it. Under the original star before commentary starts on section 1 it reads "I will refer to this text as AAM*...at any rate my father soon abandoned it"

    Than on section 50 he makes the comment of a host of balrogs. Than it reads after the section 50 commentary and the *

    "The typescript text [AAm*] which my father began but soon abandoned continues for a little way beyond the point reached in the first section [p68]significant differences from AAM are as follows. Than under section 50 we see the note of 3-7 balrogs. Christopher dated this as an earlier am boned text.



    I think our difference is if AAM* continues after section 32. To me it seems it very much does and the note belongs to that discarded text and so i think very much weekend the idea of Tolkiens revision on balrogs as the final say. I also would say we cannot know why Christopher decided on what he did at all time either. I am not saying "host" has to be the answer only it seems to me given what we have, that seems the much better conclusion if we had to bet where he would have gone. I also agree and like the middle road taken.
     
  17. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    1stvermont, we agree that in the early 1950s Tolkien still imagined large numbers of Balrogs. And I think that's Christopher Tolkien's point, in his first commentary to section 50, AAm.

    Agreed again, this section of MR could be a bit clearer. "Soon" abandoned it though.

    A little way, because that commentary (p. 68) reaches up to section 25, and AAm* ends in section 32, in mid sentence. "Here the typescript AAm* ends, at the foot of a page." Christopher Tolkien, commentary, section 32.

    Tolkien scholars Hammond and Scull describe AAm* with only one sentence, but they too note how soon it ends:

    "He [Tolkien] also began a typescript of the work, making many changes of varying significance, but abandoned it before the Awakening of the Elves." Hammond and Scull, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, entry Annals of Valinor (which includes the history of the Annals of Aman of course)

    The Elves Awake in section 37. And obviously section 32 comes before that.

    As I say above, there is no section 50 in AAm* to revise. Tolkien's revision to section 50, and his marginal note on Balrog numbers, dates to 1958 or later, and is found on AAm, not AAm*.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
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  18. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    But if you keep reading in Morgoths Ring after the original section 50 commentary it reads

    "The typescript text [AAM*] which my father began but soon abandoned continues for a little way beyond the point reached in the first section [p68]significant differences from AAM are as follows

    He than goes on to mention those differences and among them is the 3-7 barogs note on the AAM* draft on section 50. Thus it did go to 50. As for your quote I cannot say for sure not having read the source I would be interested in why they said this. IS it a chronological statement? But either way I do take Christopher and morgoths ring as the authority here over a quote i am unaware of in a book.
     
  19. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Christopher Tolkien does go on to comment on the differences between AAm and AAm* with respect to sections 30, 31, 32 -- and then he ends this part of the commentary by saying: "Here the typescript AAm* ends, at the foot of a page. Once again, what began as a copy was changing with gathering speed into a new version. But I see no reason to think that any more of it ever existed." Christopher Tolkien

    Then there's another section, separated by space and a star, after which Christopher Tolkien begins: "It remains to record a very few late scribbled changes and notes on one or another copy of the typescript of the whole text." And he proceeds to comment on sections 38, 41, 42, 43, 50. This is not AAm*, this is (quoted from the Appendix to MR): "AAm typescript Amanuensis typescript, dating from about 1958 ( . . .) Annotations and alterations made to this are given at the end of the commentaries on each section of AAm."

    The end of each section, and that's where this commentary on 38, 41, 42, 43, and 50 is, the end, right before the Third Section, which starts with section 51.

    They say this 'cause AAm* ends before section 37, in which the Elves awaken.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  20. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    Galin, I will have time to look at post 19 tomorrow so sorry if this ignores your post. I was thinking. Maybe the scholars you quoted were referring to AAM* as a divergent text up till section 32. After section 50 in MR it says the text largely remained the same but with slight alterations. Maybe that is why the scholars mentioned it as a divergent text ending earlier.

    I stand corrected, thank you sir. MR is a bit unclear would you agree?


    That really does help the 3-7. I think it could go either way, I must think on this some more but i still lean towards host. Thanks for being patient with me.