What would the Balrog have done if the ring had fallen into his hands

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by Ossë, May 23, 2004.

  1. Ossë

    Ossë Registered User

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    I often wonder what the balrog would have done say if the company had perished in the mines and he had obtained the ring. Would he have keep it for himself? He was probably powerful enough to use it. Or would the ring hold no temptation for him, for he himself is much older than the ring? Would he then have given it to sauron desiring a return to the dark days and thinking that this was the best way to do it? In fact, did he even know sauron was still about? Was the balrog even aware of anything to do with the rings at all, being underground for so long. Although i would think that the balrog would be sensitive enough, indeed even familiar enough to some extent with the evilness and the power of the ring even if he had never known of it before. I wonder what would happen if sauron and the balrog had meet. I am sure i remeber reading somewhere, i think in UT, where gandalf said that it was possible that smaug and sauron would 'help' each other. Therefore i would assume the same would be true of the balrog. Could the balrog consider sauron a worthy master and become a servent of him? Or would he see him merely as a fellow former servant of the same master?
     
  2. Ithrynluin

    Ithrynluin seeker of solace Staff Member

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    Would the ring have fitted its fingers? Or would it grow so as to suit the Balrog? ;)

    I think the Ring would definitely be tempting to him, as it called out to any bearer, from Hobbit to Man, from Elf to Maia, in order to ensnare them. Tom Bombadil is an obvious exception, belonging to none of those races.

    It may be that the 'closeness' of the Ring was what awoke, or contributed to awakening, the Balrog in the first place.

    Sauron referred to Shelob as 'his cat'. Dare we assume that he would have devised similar nicknames for Smaug and the Balrog as well? Something like 'his wormy' and 'his teddy bear', respectively? :D

    Anyway, cool topic, Ossë. And a warm welcome to the Tolkien Forum!
     
  3. Ol'gaffer

    Ol'gaffer The Dawson

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    One would presume that maybe the Balrog would try to help bring the ring to Sauron, unless being completely ensnared by it that it would try to keep it to himself?

    This is a very interesting idea, and a welcome to the boards Ossë on my behalf as well.
     
  4. Lantarion

    Lantarion no house

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    A simple but very interesting question! And you present some good observational questions; welcome aboard Ossë. :)

    As I see it, there are two general factors that determine the Balrog's disposition in this situation: one is the physical, and the other is psychological.
    The Ring, being a band of gold with some apparent size-changing capabilities, would not fit on a Balrog's 'finger', I'm quite sure! :D In fact, as a Balrog is composed entirely of nothing but "shadow and fire", it would be impossible for one to 'wield' or wear something like garments or jewelry. His weapons, as we recall, are not orfinary whips or a standard longsword: they are of the same essense as the Balrog himself, probably wrought for them by Melkor ("whips of flame", etc.).
    But given the hypothetical sitation where a Balrog would be able to handle and be in possession of the Ring, the psychological aspect comes into play. Actually, it is arguable whether the Balrog might in fact be able to use the Ring: as is visible from the text, the Ring is a sort of transportation device between the Seen and Unseen worlds. Now as I assume that a Balrog's Maian spirit exists in the Unseen, it may be feasible to think that the Ring in the Unseen would not handle like a material object, and thus would be 'usable' by the Balrog himself. (Just hypothesizing.. ;))
    Now! If Durin's Bane had been in possession of the Ring, what would he have done. I see many possibilities: as a soldier, servant and/or sort of 'elite drone' of Melkor's armies, Balrogs would probably have a sort of Orcish sense of evil duty to them, which would probably prehibit them from using the Ring, and instead seeking out its master. I see this as quite plausible, as the Valaraukar were Maiar perverted, i.e. changed, to be servants of Melkor.
    Or, as an independent agent, the Balrog could claim the Ring and use it for himself. Given that amount of power, I think there would be practically no stopping such a powerful Maia-spirit on a rampage; but I think there is a hitch. The Ring is not designed to be used by anybody except for Sauron himself. It has a sort of built-in magical mechanism which is activated when it is separated from its master, its 'host' you might say. It worked when it slipped off Isildur's finger in the Gladden Fields, and it worked all the time when it was in the possession of the Baggins family: it was slowly but surely making its way back to its master, or host!
    So I propose that the Balrog, even if capable of wielding the Ring, would not have been able to use it successfully, if Sauron was still in existance.

    My take: take it or leave it, it's mine! *mutters in a frighteningly Gollum-esque manner*
    :eek: :eek:
     
  5. Ithrynluin

    Ithrynluin seeker of solace Staff Member

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    Have we not discussed this before, Lantarion old friend? :cool:

    How can a being 'composed entirely of nothing but shadow and fire' be destroyed then? How can it break a mountain top? How can it tamper with the physical world without an actualy physical body?
     
  6. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    Being totally evil but loyal, he would have turned it over to Sauron. Barring that, he would have used it to propose to another Balrog.

    By the way Ossë, do you have a good view of TTF where you are? "Ossë can you see?" (Sorry, couldn't resist, it's the American in me!:p)

    Barley
     
  7. Starbrow

    Starbrow Tolkien Fan

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    Welcome, Osse.

    Since Sauron was a Maia, I would assume other Maiar that have some sort of physical presence, such as a balrog, would also be able to wield the ring. I never got the impression that Durin's Bane was subject to Sauron. Rather, they both served Melkor and may have had an allegiance of sorts. I think it likely that the balrog would use the ring to destroy with fire and violence anything it wanted. Think of the damage it could do to Lothlorien if he had the ring. Yet the ring would still seek its master and somehow work its way back to Sauron, with or without the balrog. Maybe Sauron would attack the balrog to get his ring back.
     
  8. Iluvatar

    Iluvatar Registered User

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    I gotta tell you, I don't see a balrog blithely passing along the Ring to Sauron. It might happen, but there would be some serious coercive negotiations. Instead I think we'd possibly see the balrog set up shop. In the First Age, the balrogs were among the baddest of the bad. Can you see Gothmog giving over the Ring to Sauron, a dude who couldn't even handle Huan (a dog!!!)? granted, this balrog is no Gothmog, but we've got to bear in mind that it is nevertheless serious kaka, on a power for power basis probably superior to Sauron, although I'll grant that in terms of sheer malicious wisdom Sauron would have enough of an edge to ultimately come out ahead. But with the power differential increased by the Ring . . . I'm not so sure.
     
  9. Lantarion

    Lantarion no house

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    Haha, we certainly have. ;)
    I have some new theories pertaining to the physicality of the Balrog, which have to do with their semi-corporeal, Seen-Unseen bodies.. But I'm not sure if this is the place for that. :)
     
  10. Eledhwen

    Eledhwen Cumbrian

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    Is a Balrog not of the same order of spirits as the Maiar, corrupted in the first rebellion of spirits who joined the discord of Melkor? This makes me think that the corporeal form of the Balrog was not 'natural' but chosen - maybe at the behest of Melkor (a bit like a loony group of extreme left or right wingers banding together and wearing the same uniform). This leads me to wonder whether, if expediency permitted, they might be able to change their form to one that would make the One Ring more useful to them (that is assuming Balrogs don't have ring fingers, or the ability to quickly produce such an appendage).

    And are Balrogs, being Maiar, not highly sentient? They are also evil. So all that remains to ask is whether they could sense the power of the ring (in which case they would take it). If they did not sense its power, would its inbuilt properties draw the evil Balrog to possess it and cause it to discover its power? Again, if so, it would surely keep it.

    Or so I think. :cool:
     
  11. Ossë

    Ossë Registered User

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    Hello all, and thank ye for the kind words.

    I think the balrog would certainly be sensitive to the rings power. When gandalf was casting the shutting spell on the door, and balrog grabbed hold of the handles then 'percieved' gandalf and his spell, then instantly cast a counter spell. Would the balrog know what the ring was? I mean he had been underground for while, but did he hear of the news of the outside world? Also did sauron know that the balrog existed in moria? Everyone knew that somthing existed in moria and was commonly known as durin's bane. But gandalf certainly did not know exactly what durin's bane was, until he met it face to face.
     
  12. Lantarion

    Lantarion no house

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    Ossë that's a great interpretation! Perhaps it was not Pippin's stone, or the drums of the Orcs, or anything else that drew the Valarauko to the Fellowship (after all, he was leading the nasties, not the other way round), but the Ring around Frodo's neck! I haven't even considered that actually, as I'm sure the Fellowship wouldn't have in such a distressing situation. :)

    Well, seeing as the physicality of the Balrog has quite a direct relevance to this topic, I'll share my thoughts on it after all. :)
    I hold that, as essentially Maian beings, the Balrogs' form was neither wholly metaphysical nor wholly physical; i.e. they existed neither solely in the Seen or in the Unseen. Also, as powerful Maiar, they would (like other characters in Tolkien's works) have been able to shift between Seen and Unseen, or exist 'more' in either of them.
    I hold also that when the Balrog was confronted by Gandalf, and when he 'stepped' onto the Bridge, he existed 'more' in the Seen world, and thus was able to interact with his surroundings. There are many possible motives for his doing so, perhaps to try and frighten his adversary away or to be able to battle him better. Also, when the Bridge collapsed, the Balrog was taken by surprise and upon being attacked mid-drop by Gandalf, he would have been unable to shift back to the Unseen. But I would say that after the fall in the water, and the wrestling match between him and Gandalf, the Balrog was able to regain his more Unseen form, which is why he 'flew' up the stairs and into the maze of tunnels under Moria rather than labouring up them clumsily, as his size would have undoubtedly made for.
    Then, again, on the mountain-top both the Balrog and Gandalf (in my view) were more in the Unseen; how else would either have been able to really hurt the other? And lastly, I hold that when Gandalf managed somehow to perhaps tap into the Balrog's hröa-driving force, his life-source you might say (though not the fëa), and was able to defeat him and, in essense, 'kill' him, the Balrog became entirely existant in the Seen world and thus 'smote the mountainside' as a heavy, large, physical mass.

    There are probably flaws in this reasoning, but it's something I've been tossing around for a little while.. And given the Balrog's hypothetical skill of Shifting between Seen and Unseen, it would tie in well with the Ring's own Seen/Unseen-link and could provide the Balrog with some means of utilizing it.

    But I have a theory about the Ring as well: I think that Sauron did not only design it solely for himself, but also for the specific humanoid form he was in. Had he taken the form of a dark cloud or something else, a material object like the Ring could presumably not be used while in that state. The purpose of the Ring was only to increase Sauron's magical capabilities while in humanoid form, which made his 'world domination'-plan far more executable. The invisibility factor is, to me, a pure side-effect; as a Maia, Sauron already existed in part in the Unseen and so would not turn invisible, but Frodo as a wholly Seen entity would be transported 'mostly' to the Unseen upon tapping into the evil energy in the Ring, i.e. becoming invisible.
     
  13. Eledhwen

    Eledhwen Cumbrian

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    I think JRRT would agree with you both. A number of times he is quoted as citing the Ring as the power that draws evil towards the bearer.

    I like the analysis of the battle, Lantarion. I'm tempted to see if your theory will shoehorn into the descriptions of the Fall of Gondolin (BoLT2) - though that was from a much earlier form of the mythology.
     
  14. Snaga

    Snaga The Usual Suspect

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    Fire is a physical thing, and very much in the 'seen' world! I don't doubt that the balrog could and did exist in both worlds: if an elf like Glorfindel did, it seems likely that a more powerful being would too. I don't see any evidence for balrogs 'moving from one world to another' - it seems more likely they would exist in both simultaneously. The balrog doesn't go invisible at any point.

    To what extent is the balrog's form fixed? It is not native to him: Iluvatar did not make him that way. Was it imposed by Morgoth, or adopted by the Balrog? If it was adopted, can it now escape it? If it can, or if it is in some sense fluid, then it can wield the ring. It seems to me more in keeping with the sense of the mythology that the Balrog could wield the ring.

    As others have said, it would be tempted by the ring, and was not under the direct authority of Sauron. Was it aware of current events? Did it have ways to learn? Yes: (1) Sauron had 'peopled Moria' with his creatures, orcs and the like. (2) Whatever lore of the dwarves, which would include some ringlore, had been left in the wreck of Moria. We cannot assume ignorance - nor omniscience. It would know of the concept of magical rings, but not of their exact nature. It would percieve the importance of the ring, and lust for its power.

    Would the Balrog be able to use the ring? Gandalf thought he would, but he would be turned to evil by it. The ring more suits the balrogs malign nature, and we know that the Balrog was almost a match for Gandalf. It seems likely the Balrog could use it. Having made use of it, he would necessarily clash with Sauron. If Gandalf and Galadriel thought that with it they could overcome Sauron, then perhaps the Balrog could.

    Of course, the Balrog has shown little sign of wishing to do such things. The Balrog put its faith in Morgoth, and was so shattered by its defeat that it fled and hid from the Valar for millenia. Awoken by the dwarves, it was content to destroy them, and gather to it orcs to guard its domain. Witness though the effect on Sam that the ring had: the dreams of conquest and power. It seems likely then that the ring would drive the Balrog into a terrible campaign of conquest, and that it would have been ultimately as bad for the West as Sauron regaining the ring.
     
  15. Lantarion

    Lantarion no house

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    As I said, Snaga, the balrog would, according to my theory, shift literally between Seen and Unseen; he would exist in neither of them wholly, but rather in one of them more. I gave examples to this effect in the post.
    So though there is little real evidence to back the theory up, there is nothing to disprove it as I see it; according to my theory, the Shifting did not require the Balrog to become invisible at any point (indeed I believe that it might have ben wholly unable to do so, Maia or not).
     
  16. Gothmog

    Gothmog Lord of Balrogs Staff Member

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    And shifting between the "Seen" and "Unseen" worlds would have no bearing on the problem anyway. The Ringwraiths, Sauron, Glorfindal all had physical presence in both.

    The Balrog had a physical body as is shown by the discriptions of the fight with Gandalf.
    So there is no mention here that the Balrog "Flew" up the stairs. He fled from Gandalf's sword he was visible and had a presence physical enough for Gandalf to hew and then clutch at through out the climb up from deep below the lowest delvings of the Dwarves to the bottom of the "Endless Stair" and up to Durin's Tower in the pinnacle of the Silvertine. I would say that this is a reasonable description of a creature with more than enough physical presence to grasp and even wear the Ring. And as a Mair spirit probably well able to wield the Ring and the power of Sauron contained therein.
     
  17. HLGStrider

    HLGStrider All Knowing Magic Cat

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    A humble suggestion. ..This thread should've been titled Durin's Bane with Isildur's Bane.

    It just sounds so clever when you say it like that. . .Durin's Bane, Isildur's Bane. . .hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . .purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. . .Elgee starts purring and everyone looks at her funny. Sorry, just feeling oddly content today, meeeeeeeeowyawn.

    Anyway, my own personal opinion? The fiersome thing would be no match for an undying witch king. It may have been able to unmake him several times, but the Witch King was a near match for Gandalf the White and even Gandalf the Gray was eventually able to conquer the Balrog.

    Since the Ring wanted to get back to Sauron, the Balrog wouldn't know how to use it, and probably wouldn't have time to learn, the Ring would provide the Balrog with no immediate advantage.

    However, when the Balrog claimed the Ring, Sauron would immediately know and immediately begin a search for it. As the current master of evil, the Goblins would have been on Sauron's side. The Witch King would come, with an army, and the Witch King would take it and bring it home. No Balrog would be a match for all nine, at the very least.
     
  18. Snaga

    Snaga The Usual Suspect

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    Can't agree with you about that, Elgee.

    Frodo and Sam both wore the ring outside Mordor without revealing themselves. They put themselves at risk of discovery, but it is not an instant and inevitable result of wearing the ring. Ergo, the balrog could conceal his possession of the ring for a time, if it suited him.

    Second, if the Balrog had the ring, command of the Nazgul would pass to him. I direct you to Saruman's words to the witchking, in Unfinished Tales (sorry, can't provide the quote as I'm not at home).

    Moreover, the orcs do not all follow Sauron, certainly not so that their loyalty is a given. Consider: Saruman's orcs were able to prevail against the word of Grishnakh, who certainly was representative of Sauron. If the Balrog wore the ring, I cannot imagine any orcs opposing him. In fact, the scenario of orc on orc violence in a balrog vs. nazgul fight is unfeasible. Both the nazgul and the balrog would realise such an orc battle to be futile and irrelevant, since it would be mastery of the ring that would be crucial, and no orc battle could influence that.

    Ultimately, we can't know whether the Balrog could bend the ring to his will. But as a maia, he was of greater stature than Galadriel, who believed she could. Was this just her conceit, or a deception caused by the ring? Possibly, but there is not much hint of this in the text. But if he could wield the ring, I contend he would throw down and humble Sauron.
     
  19. HLGStrider

    HLGStrider All Knowing Magic Cat

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    True, but my point was not that he would be revealed when wearing the Ring but when he attempted to claim ownership of it, which I believe he would've had to do to use it to its full potential. Frodo was immediately revealed when he claimed the ring as his own and Gandalf warned strictly against doing so in Rivendel. . .and this is just a feeling, but I don't think the Balrog would wait to claim mastery once he realized what he had. There isn't much of a personality to analyze here, but to me he seems more of the go for broke type, willing to risk all in a full assault rather than calculatedly attack.

    But consider also that Saruman's orcs were bred for the express purpose of being Saruman's orcs. The ones in Moria hadn't been bred to be the Balrog's orcs. They simply followed him because he was mucho big guy. There has to be some assumption that the orcs flock under one flag unless otherwise bred/trained otherwise I think there'd be more talk of orc tribal warfare.

    As to the Ring/Wraith control issue, I do admit to be very unknowledgable as to anything in the Unfinished Tales, so I can't really comment. I've never gotten ahold of a copy of all of them, and what I did read of them was about six years ago before my local library mislaid their copy of the one volume they had. Talk about annoyances. . .so I can't comment.

    Except to say,
    A. This mastery of the Ring Wraiths is no where visible in the Lord of the Rings.
    B. It would probably take time to learn and Sauron would not let the Balrog have time.
    C. Isn't it said somewhere else that no one besides Sauron could ever truly master the ring because he made it and put his soul in it? I have always been under that opinion due mostly to other conversations on this board. There is one lord of the rings?

    I think Galadriel was under a deception. Anyone would've eventually fallen.
     
  20. Ithrynluin

    Ithrynluin seeker of solace Staff Member

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    Fallen how? Do you mean 'become evil' or 'fail to succeed'? Of course anyone wanting to make use of the One would have become evil eventually, however good or just their intentions; You know how that saying goes - The road to hell is paved with good intentions. ;)

    I think a handful of individuals were quite capable of mastering the Ring for themselves and overthrowing Sauron. Not in one on one combat, but in building up enormous armies and ousting Sauron by this means (as it is said in the Letters). Galadriel conceived herself of being able to wield the One, and I quite trust her judgement. After all, she is counted among the three greatest of Elves and has had many millenia of experience to build up her wisdom. Tolkien also states that if Galadriel was indeed capable of mastering it, so was Elrond as well. And undoubtedly Gandalf, Saruman and the Balrog too I believe.