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Wings or No?

Do Balrogs have wings?

  • Yes

    Votes: 236 69.6%
  • No

    Votes: 103 30.4%

  • Total voters
    339

Beorn

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Did Balrogs have Wings? What do you think, rather than what you evidence thinks....I don't want people to argue, just whether they have wings...
 
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ReadWryt

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The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
I don't need to say anything else.
 

Iluvatar

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I had been swayed by a previous paragraph that described the shadow behind him as being "like two vast wings," but this passage by ReadWyrt has convinced me that Balrogs did in fact have wings.
 

Lantarion

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In one of Howe's paintings, or some other artist's, the Lord of Balrogs doesn't have wings. I think he looks like an exceptionally large and ugly troll, and the wings add a much-needed touch to his mien.
No intended argument-starting content. :D
 

Rosie Cotton

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I'm pretty sure that the balrog did have wings. I used to think that he didn't, that they only had "shadowy" wings that weren't there in the physical sense, but the quote from the book is

and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings
so it was the shadow surrounding the balrog that was being described in this part, and later when the balrog is being described as spreading his wings from wall to wall it probably meant real physical wings.

How do you picture the balrog, aside from the wings? I've always imagined him as a giant monster, by monster meaning a type of devil/beasty creature all red and horned. When reading this part of the book just now to find the quote, I just reformed how I've always pictured him. The book describes him as "a great shadow in the midst of which was a great being, possibly of man shape, yet greater". I now have a much more terrifying image then my devil creature. I now picture a giant man, engulfed in flame and shadow, but scarily human, wielding a whip, you can barely see the man in the midst of the shadow, but his outline is there and you can almost see the look of hatred upon his face.

:rolleyes: Of course it's really hard to picture him like this and still see him as having wings. So I think that Tolkien intended for him to have wings, I just don't picture them when I picture the balrog.
 

Gothmog

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I do not and never have believed that Balrogs had wings. The quote that ReadWryt posted could just as easily mean the shadow of the Balrog as this had already been discribed as reaching out "like two vast wings". Therefore the 'wings' mentioned later were probably the Shadow of the Balrog reaching the walls. I don't think that Tolkin thought of the Balrogs as having wings as there is no mention of such things anywhere else.
 

Dengen-Goroth

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I agree with you Gothmog. I can never imagine, and haven't, Balrogs with wings.
 

Iluvatar

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I have always pictured Balrogs as having wings, and ReadWyrt's quotation confirms it in my mind. Nevertheless, I do concede the validity of Gothmog's posting; I just don't agree with it. My first view of Balrogs came from the 1979 Tolkien calendar. That year was devoted to scenes from Bakshi's film. As terrible as that movie was it did contain some sensational artwork. The portrayal of the Balrog will forever be the one that I think of.
 
R

ReadWryt

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To presume that when Tolkien said that the Balrog's wings spread from wall to wall meant that he REALLY meant the Shadows is to impune his ability to susinctly describe events and scenes. I think that if you read his works you will find that he had a firm grasp on describing PRECISELY what he meant, and with tremendous detail and accuracy.
 

Gothmog

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I impugn NOTHING!!! I interpret that which I read, as do you!!! I think that if you Read his Works you will find that he allows each to interpret acording to his abilities. That is why so many people enjoy his works so much!! Also why there are so many discusions about the finer points of his works.
 

Iluvatar

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I agree with Gothmog about the importance of our interpreting the works of Tolkien ourselves, even if the old fart is wrong about Balrogs and their wings. Tolkien implied on several occasions that he was just a translator of the Red Book of Westmarch (note that the Redbook's version of Gamgee is actually Galbasi (or Galpsi). This creates the possibility of the fallible author and the fallible narration. We have two conflicting paragraphs, found on the same page. One said "like wings" and the other very definitely said "wings." What did Tolkien mean? What did Frodo (Tolkien's author) mean? I prefer to believe that they meant that Balrogs had wings, but the old fart believes that they meant that Balrogs did not have wings. Who's right? Well, obviously I am, since the old fart's brain cells have obviously deteriorated after a life of profligate living, but it doesn't mean that he's impugning Tolkien, or Frodo.
 

Gothmog

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Well said Iluvatar. My view of the Balrog was formed before I saw the film or any artwork of Balrogs, Therefore, to me the images by others look wrong. Just my view.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with my brain cells. Both of them are working fine. It is just that sometimes they do not speak to each other!!!:D :D :D
 

Thorondor

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Like I said before, I don't think they had wings, but extended their power in a consuming darkness(shadowy wings).

I am also suprised that no one has brought up the point Why didn't the Balrog fly out of the Abyss with its wings? Shadows can't fly, and wings can.

Rosie- Doesn't it also say there, or somewhere, that it had a flaming whip, and a flaming sword/or mace?
 

Rosie Cotton

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Yes, it does says he had a flaming whip and a sword. I don't remember anything about a mace though.
 

Kementari

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'Why did the Balrog cross the road???

Well, no ones knows if the Balrog acually crossed the road or not - the "road" may have been metaphorical, Tolkien was very unclear' :D

Everybodie has their own visions, it is not use argueing! But it does say WINGS in the text, so I believe that the Balrog may have had them...

Maybe there was not enough room for the Balrog to spread his wings and fly off!!
 
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R

ReadWryt

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You mean I'm not the ONLY "old fart" around here?

I'm just saying that the same man who could take up nearly a page and a half describing Minas Tirith, or as the party approached Rivendell, when he says "Echoes ran along as they hurried forward; and there seemed to be a sound of many footfalls following their own.", then later says, "He did not obey at once, for a strange reluctance seized him. Checking the horse to a walk, he turned and looked back. The Riders seemed to sit upon their great steeds like threatening statues upon a hill, dark and solid, while all the woods and land about them receded as if into a mist.", are we to assume that the Black Riders horses had no feet because the former statement said there only Seemed to be footfalls following?

I tend to think that the author had the marvelous habbit of saying what he meant, and quite eloquently described what he meant us to see, hear and feel. Frodo is quite obviously being dragged down by what previously had been described as something "like a great weight upon him", and in the end it indeed manifested as a great weight, literally and figuratively.

I meant no insult in saying that to not take literally Tolkien's assertion that Wings spread from wall to wall was to impune his skills, but as a sound can be LIKE footfalls when in actuallity they are, could not the Shadows of Wings turn out to reveal themselves as actual wings?

As for why Balrogs don't fly, ask an ostrach or penguin..*Shrug*
 

Gothmog

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It would seem that you are not.

Why do you want everything to be of one view? Only one way to interpret the whole of the writings of Tolkin?

I agree! He was marvelous at making sure that we would have his view of things he ment us to see, feel or hear. Does that prove that he did mean us to see the Balrog in a particular way? No, it means that when he wanted us to see, feel or hear something in a certain way he would do so. Otherwise he would leave some ambiguity so that we could use our own imagination and thereby be part of the story!

Yes, The shadows of wings could have turned out to be actual wings, but they could also have turned out to be shadows so dark as to seem solid. As I said it is a matter of interpretation.

As for the Ostrich, it's wings are to small to bear the weight of it's body in flight.

The penguin uses it's wings to "fly" under the water. The movements of it's wings to travel under water are the same that other birds use to move through the air.
 

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