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Topic: Balrogs and Dragons

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Chief Maiar
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Balrogs and Dragons

Although it is known that Balrogs are corrupted maiar, what are dragons since all dragons originate from the Great Worm this means they are birthing animals/beings which would lessen my belief that they are corrupted maiar.



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Nay they were not corrupted Maiar. I would imagine they originated as twisted creatures brought into the world throught Melkors discord. I also think that this is how such creatures as Bombadil, Ungoliant etc were created.


Have you any quotes to suggest they were maiar?



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Chief Maiar
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Not particularly though it wouldn't supprise me since I believe Balrogs were and Dragons would appear to be as powerful as those fell beasts. If I'm not mistaken though I believe there is a quote explaining that Ungoliant was a maia (not 100% sure but fairly sure).

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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The fell beasts were very little in comparison to dragons and Balrogs. Balrogs are the mightiest and worst of all the evil beings of Morgoth save only Sauron and dragons came behind them. Fell beats do not compare to either.


It is pobable that Ungoliant could have been an Ainur:


"...But some have said that in ages long before she decended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the kingdom of Manwe, and that in the beginning she was one of those that he corrupted to his service. But she had disowned her master..."
"...And she fled down into the south, escaping the assualts of the Valar and the hunters of Orome, for their vigilance had ever been in the north, and the south was long unheeded."


"In a raving she lived, and took the shape of a spider of montrous form..."


Come on Gandalf your the mod here you should have written these quotes!


Anyway it says that although the Eldar did not know whence she came they said that she was one of those that Melkor corrupted to his service, this seems to indicate a Maiar.
Also she decended from the Darkness just like the Ainur did.
And lastly she took the shape of a spider, meaning she was not of spider shape originally, this is what many of the Ainur do through the course of the world, taking phisical shapes if they must.


All three put together seem to indicate a 95% chance Ungoliant was of Ainur race.



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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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1) All dragons do not originate from Glaurung, who I'm assuming Olorin/Gandalf means when he refers to the "Great Worm." There are a number of different types of dragons, and Glaurung was only one of them - the wingless breed. There were also the winged, fire-breathing dragons (a la Smaug), the cold drakes (Scatha) and possibly the Were-worms.


2) I highly, highly doubt the dragons were corrupted Maiar. There are simply far too many of them and they are not nearly powerful enough. Tolkien originally envisioned the Balrogath as an entire army of powerful creatures, but they were not Maiar. When they became Maiar in Tolkien's mind, then their numbers dropped substantially.


As for my own views on the matter, I personally believe the dragons to merely be creatures that lived in Arda (like the birds and beasts) and which were corrupted to Morgoth's service when he saw their worth. Glaurung was not the "Father of Dragons" in the sense that all of the other dragons were derived from him, but simply that he was the first that the Elves met (remember that The Silmarillion is a story told from the perspective of the Elves).


3) Glorfindel1235, I've addressed the topic of Ungoliant being one of the Ainur/Maiar in another thread (can't remember which one exactly right now, sorry) and so I will not repeat it here. I can if you wish, and I can go into more detail as well, but I won't unless you wish me to.



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Do your views support Ungoliant being a Maiar?
I think when people refer to Glaurung as father of Dragons they mean that he is the mightiest dragon of Morgoth and the most feared.



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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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No, I do not believe that Ungoliant is one of the Maiar.


And Glaurung was not the mightiest of the dragons. That title belongs to Ancalagon the Black.



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Personally Glorfindels quotes above support that Ungoliant was of Maiar race. If you have quotations saying or at least hinting she was not Narguzir present them for judgmen. If not then your view is speculative.


Ancalogon was mightiest of all winged dragons, and second only to Glaurung. Glaurung was father of dragons and was the one most close to Morgoths fell spirit was high within him.
I could get the quote from Unfinished tales but it would save time if you know the part of what I speak. The part where Turins sister looks into Glaurungs eyes and sees the fell spirit of Morgoth within them. Although this quote does not prove Glaurung as father of dragons there are many more direct quotes that need not be mentioned.



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Valar
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"Before the rising of the sun Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin." Silm,Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath.Of course that mean those dragons who came there. I cant find anything else about Glaurung beside that he was the first of Uruloki and the Father of Dragons. It doesn't say which of these two was more powerful. There are three powerful dragons presented and this is not any order: Smaug, Ancalagon and Glaurung. Will have to do some more research.


 



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Orc captain of Thangorodrim - Rank 3
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mouthofsauron & Glorfindel -- I'm not going to address the Ungoliant in two seperate threads. Please see my posts concerning the matter in Beorn? (<-- link) since it's there that I posted first and in which most of my points will be dealt with.

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Soldier of the East - Rank 4
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Balrogs were not more powerful than Dragons. I found a quote ing the book of lost tales 2 that suports this.


Now Tuor had arisen when the assault of Ecthelion gave him space, and seeing that great deed he wept for his love of that fair Gnome of the Fountain, but being wrapped in battle he scarce cut his way to the folk about the palace. There seeing the wavering of the enemy by reason of the dread of the fall of Gothmog the marshal of the hosts, the royal house laid on and the king came down in splendour among them and hewed with them, that they swept again much of the square, and of the Balrogs slew even two score, which is a very great prowess indeed: but greater still did they do, for they hemmed in one of the Fire-drakes for all his flaming, and forced him into the very waters of the fountain that he perished therein.


It says here that killing one fire-drake is a greater deed than killing two score of balrogs.


 



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Valar
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Gil-galad, Book of Lost Tales are Tolkien's earliest drafts and ideas.  In BoLT Balrogs were a race of their own, there were thousands and thousands of them.  Later in Tolkien's writing (by the time he starts writing The Silmarillion and LOTR), he altered his Balrogs quite a bit.  He reduced their numbers, and made them Maiar that had been corrupted and were drawn to Morgoth's service.  I woud also like to point out that even in BoLT it is established that Balrogs were more powerful:


"Now those drakes and worms are the evillest creatures that Melko has made, and the most uncouth, yet of all are they the most powerful, save it be the Balrogs only."~Book of Lost Tales II, Turumbar and Foaloke


So even in Tolkien's earliest conception of Balrogs they were more powerful than Dragons.  That would mean later in Tolkien's published writings, when Balrogs were Maiar and much stronger, they would still be more powerful than Dragons.



-- Edited by Lord Lórien at 03:40, 2006-09-17

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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perhaps it also had to do with the fact that in the beginning balrogs were a race of their own
after their number was reduced, they also were made stronger by Tolkien, and so became more powerful then dragons

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Okay, I will admit that I was wrong in this.


I used the wrong book to prove my point and then was disproved with the same book.


Sorry for the misinformation. I will try not to let it happen again.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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ah, don't worry, everbody makes mistakes...even I do sometimes (LOL)
BoLT isn't that reliable anyway

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Honor, Freedom, Fatherland
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Thanks, means alot.

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Elf of Beleriand - Rank 2
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I too believe that the Balrogs were greater than the Dragons.  The one advantage I would give the dragons is flying, and not all of them were able to fly.  And that brings up the endless dabate also of do Balrogs fly. 


 


No of deeds of killing these beasts, since ecthelion killed Gothmog, lord of Balrogs, Glorfindel and Gandolph also killing ones in one on one battle.  These are 3 strong charactors that took on these beasts and not one of them lived, even though they took down there enemy as well.  Where as with dragons, Turin killed Glaurung, and although he got severly injured, he didn't actually die from the wound.  Bard shot down smaug with arrows, which I don't believe a Balrog would even flinch at.  Back to Turin, he also had Gurthang, a very mighty weapon and I believe if it were just a regular sword, he would not of been able to kill Glaurung.  Wow, just mumbling now, sorry.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Well...flying wasn't really an advantage when fighting Earendil as he had Vingilot and could fly as well

but I guess that against normal inhabitants of Arda that could not fly, flying dragons would have had a great advantage

if Glaurung had also been able to fly, the fate of Beleriand might have been quite different

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I cannot see how TM. Belerinad failed by the end. I suppose it might have happened a little quicker but the end result would be the same.

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I think what TM was saying is that Turin would not have been able to kill Glaurung the way he did, and might not have been able to do it all.  Glaurung would of been able to keep going destroying all the lands as he went, so maybe he would of destroyed Beleriand before it was destroyed after the war of wrath.  Either way it seems Beleriand was going down, but maybe the timeline would of been quicker.


 


As to the point of Earendil and his ship, I agree, and also like in the war of wrath, he might have gotten Thorondor and the other eagles to help.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Could be...it is interesting to think why the ship of Earendil didn't catch fire during the fight due to Ancalagon's fire...unfortunately nothing more is said on that

And I am happy you understood what I meant Turgolfin

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I wonder if Tolkien was still going to have Earendil slay Ancalagon.



'In this last reappearance of the mysterious and fluctuating idea the prophecy is put into the mouth of Andreth, the Wise-woman of the House of Beor: Turin will 'return from the Dead' before his final departure, and his last deed within the Circles of the World will be the slaying of the Great Dragon, Ancalagon the Black. Andreth prophesies of the Last Battle at the end of the Elder Days (the sense in which the term 'Last Battle' is used shortly after-wards in this text, p. 371); but in all the early texts (the Quenta, IV.160; the Annals of Beleriand, IV.309, V.144; the Quenta Silmarillion, V.329) it was Earendil who destroyed Ancalagon.] HoME XII, The Problem of Ros


Interesting anyway.


Galin



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Indeed interesting, especially because this was Tolkien's later idea
Perhaps in earlier writings he wanted to give Earendil a bigger part then just the guy who sails to Aman, and so told about him killing Ancalagon
But I can also see good reasons behing the decision to chose Turin, considering that Turin already was an established Dragon slayer. Still...this leaves me even more confused.

If Earendil had Vingilot, what did Turin have...I doubt he was able to use his old dragon killing trick, perhaps wait for Ancalagon to attack him, duck, and then stick his sword in the dragon's belly...

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Hmmm, who knows? but since this is in the context of a prophecy, and it's Turin 'returned' (and already known as a Dragonslayer), maybe Tolkien was going to handle it with something like: 'It was said by some (or believed) that the words of Andreth the Wise-woman came true, and Turin son of Hurin...' (or something similar). If we go back to the early version of the Quenta Silmarillion (compare the following to the constructed, published version), we know, in any case, that little is said in any tale, and tidings were learned long afterward...



'Of the march of the host of Fionwe to the North little is said in any tale; for in his armies went none of those Elves who had dwelt and suffered in the Hither Lands, and who made the histories of those days that still are known; and tidings of these things they learned long afterward from their kinsfolk, the Light-elves from Valinor.' QS



 



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Indeed, he could easily do this, since the Silmarillion is in fact, Elven lore, and even in the Sil it is imentioned that not many things are known about the battle that ended the War of Wrath, and Tolkien doesn't go into details.
Still, I personally would rather see Earendil as the slayer, especially because of his advantage by being in the air as well...
And if Turin manages to kill Ancalagon, it couldn't be as spectacular as Ancalagon falling over Thangorodrim

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I would like to comment Galin on your second quote (your last one). It is quite old.

Fionwe is Manwe and Varda's son and sister to Ilmare. Now as we know the concept of Valar children was disregarded quite a while ago so it does not make much sence. Is that quote perhaps from the Book of Lost Tales at a guess?



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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Glorfindel1235 wrote:



... It is quite old. Fionwe is Manwe and Varda's son and sister to Ilmare. Now as we know the concept of Valar children was disregarded quite a while ago so it does not make much sence. Is that quote perhaps from the Book of Lost Tales at a guess?







It's from Quenta Silmarillion (HME V). Alterations by JRRT to the part I quoted (see the Later Quenta Silmarillion) were minor: Fionwe was changed to Eonwe and part of a sentence was changed to 'the light Elves in Valinor.' (Christopher Tolkien published '... long afterwards from their kinsfolk in Aman')


The point of the passage is not about the concept of the children of the Valar, but rather that 'little is said in any tale' so, if indeed Tolkien was going to have 'Turin Returned' slay Ancalagon, the description would arguably not have been very detailed in any case. The reason for this version is rather simple: I had it at hand; and I wouldn't have had to change much in the way of wording considering JRRT's later alterations.


  



-- Edited by Galin at 03:35, 2007-01-12

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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However it seems a bit odd to have Turin come back from the dead to slay Ancalagon, after having slayed Gluarung and then to have him come back from the dead again to slay Morgoth at the end of the world...

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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odd? it depends on how you see it...

anyway, no need to think of it odd, we can't know if this was his idea at all

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Indeed I still favour Earendil slaying Ancalagon the Black. I cannot see how its feasible for Turin to do it when the Winged dragon is in combat. No chance of a cheap shot.

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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My point exactly!
Though we can't be sure what would happen...
I'm sure Tolkien could have thought of something to make Turin kill Ancalagon if he wanted it this way, unfortunately these ideas were also never published in a completed form

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I guess Christopher Tolkien favoured Earendil slaying Ancalagon more seeing as this was the scenario he chose to have published.

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My personal take on this matter is that Dragons are not Maiar. They are however more than just animals, because they can do a master's bidding, or else they are their own masters when none greater than they commands them. Dragons are inspired by ancient traditions which Tolkien was not only aware of, but used as sources of imagination.

Nevertheless, I recall reading somewhere that Mekor put spirits in the fashioned bodies of dragons. If memory serves me right and this is indeed written somewhere (and my opinion is that it might be in the earlier works, perhaps the 'Book of Lost Tales'), it shows that dragons were in the beginning made by Melkor and then continued to be bred by him; which also suggests they were not able to breed themselves.

On the other hand, it may be that later on this idea changed and dragons were conceived as being independent creatures only corrupted by Melkor. But I think evidence does not support it very well. For one thing, in all of the First Age, there is only one important dragon referred to: Glaurung. There are some other winged dragons making a very brief appearance in the War of Wrath, but it is implied by the wording of the text (again I don't have 'The Silmarillion' close by) that Morgoth only let forth those creatures in the end of the battle, in a desperate effort to turn the tide in his favor. Why would he keep them hidden for so long, instead of letting them go out earlier, employing them with better efficiency? Can it mean that they were not yet 'made' or 'grown up' enough to make a difference in that war, until the very last moment? In the Third age also Smaug is of some prominence, but other than that, dragons do not seem to multiply, but dwindle and perish of their own account.

---

Secondly, about the difference between Balrogs and Dragons, and who was stronger. I guess that Balrogs were more powerful, being Maiar (while in my opinion, dragons are not). Yet the main difference is in the way these two enemies are fought. It depends on how much irrational fear they provoke in their foes. Let us imagine a simple real life example: most people would rather back off from a room filled with spiders than from one filled with cats. But in reality an angered cat could do more harm than a spider could (here I am not talking about tarantulas or scorpions, just plain ordinary spiders). It is that irrational fear coming probably from dealing with an animal so much different (we and cats are mammals, so there is a connection deep down, but spiders are from another class - in a biological meaning of the word).

The same could be with Balrogs and Dragons. I cannot choose which would seem more terrifying, but I guess this is the main aspect to think of, because sheer power alone is not necessarily a measure of how effective a creature is an a 'servant of Evil'.

---

Now about the killing of Ancalagon the Black (which by the way is described as the most powerful and terrible of Dragons, more powerful still than Galurung), I still think now, as I always have, how could a ship withstand the attack of a flying dragon, which in my mind has much greater mobility. Granted, the ship had been hollowed by the Valar, but I still think the problem of maneouvrability remains. And then, I tend to see it as a hyperbole (an narrative exaggeration of fact) due to the legendary nature of the event. How large should a creature be so that in falling, it could break mountains? And just how high would it have to fly? I should imagine the first figure to be in the millions of tons, and the heigth of its flight to be in the tens of miles; surely this is an impossible feat, unless magically aided, and I think there was little magic at work then. But anyway, compared to other parts of 'The Silmarillion', the War of Wrath receives a higly legendary status, removing it from common sense notions which otherwise seem to govern the narrative.



-- Edited by John Wain on Monday 6th of June 2011 01:04:07 PM

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Well we do know that Melkor couldn't create anything from scratch, to state the obvious. Therefore dragons must either be Maiar spirits and thus could take shape, or they must have been corrupted from already existing animals.

Now if we factor in the later conclusion by Tolkien that Ainur cannot reproduce then dragons cannot be Maiar spirits alone. If we also factor in that they possess a spirit while animals do not we are left with only one conclusion: the bodies of dragons must have originally been corrupted by Melkor from already existing animals and then inhabited by Maiar spirits afterwards. This is supported by:

"But in that moment Glaurung issued from the gaping doors, and lay behind, between Túrin and the bridge. Then suddenly he spoke, by the evil spirit that was in him, saying: 'Hail, son of Húrin. Well met!'"

The quote strongly implies there is an actual spirit in possession of his body. Thus:

1. Dragons cannot just be 'animals' which do not possess a spirit.

2. They cannot just be Maiar because Maiar can't reproduce while dragons can it seems.

The only option left is a fusion of both, thus negating both of these flaws; the ability to reproduce and the possession of a spirit.


Is there anything that contradicts this?

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I had a thought last night and don't know where else to post it but here.

It seemed to me that Smaug was the last dragon in ME, however, in Ch. 2 of FOTR it sounds as if there might be dragons still around. When Gandalf is explaining to Frodo why the ring cannot be destroyed he lists the things that may be able to destroy the great rings. One was dragon fire but he says (I'm paraphrasing) there are none left now in ME whose fire is hot enough or something to that effect. He didn't specify that there were NO dragons left in ME. Am I being too grammatical or does anyone know if Smaug had some relatives floating around?



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You refresh a very interesting topic Lady Laurelin!


I believe there are more dragons than the ones that played part in massive events of Tolkien's stories. We know of the demise of Scatha (killed by Fram), Glaurung (killed by Turin), Ancalagon (killed by Earendil), Smaug (killed by Bard the Bowmen) but nothing is ever said of what became of the "cold-drake" who killed Dain I.

And I remember reading that there were many dragons that attacked the Dwarves mansion within the Grey Mountains. Their breeding place was the Withered Heath, although their numbers probably dwindled over time.

I'm gonna dig into this one a bit. Definitely worth it. Dusting off the tomes right now....




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Smaug was the last of the 'great Fire Drakes' - meanning fire-breathing dragons that could fly. There were various other types of dragon - cold worms which were flightless and fire-less (perhaps offspring of Morgoth's earliest attempts at breeding dragons). Dragons which could breathe fire but couldn't fly (of the same ilk as Glaurung). But there were never any dragons that could fly but could not breathe fire - because flight was something developed much later by Morgoth. The first flying dragons were unleashed by him in the War of Wrath, long after he'd bred dragons with the ability to breathe fire.

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So, perhaps there were the cold dragons still floating around somewhere. I wonder since they were earth-bound did they just stay in one area and not really bother anyone? Thanks for the info Glorfindel.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Dragons don't seem to be particularly bothersome by nature. They seem content to keep to themselves. Plus we don't know exactly what they are - it seems that they are base creatures and Maiar spirits inhabit some of the more impressive ones such as Smaug, Glaurung, Ancalagon etc. Morgoth 'bred' the dragons presumably from some pre-existing ancient creatures therefore the majority of dragons - particularly the lowly specimens like cold worms - presumably don't have Maiar spirits inhabiting them. Thus they are basically stndard creatures, albeit not natural in origin, and not evil per se.

Smaug, for example, was content to stay in the Lonely Mountain on his treasure. He could of burned Lake Town long before, and the Mirkwood forest, but he seems to have rarely ventured beyond the Mountain.

It seems only a strong will like that or Morgoth or Sauron can get them to do their bidding.

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