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Topic: Which Balrog?

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Soldier of the East - Rank 4
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Which Balrog?

I was wondering, which Balrog was the greater? The Balrog of Moria, or the balrog that fought Glorfindel?


Really the question is "Is the balrog of Moria more or less powerful than the other balrogs of the first age".


Any quotes would be great.


Gil-Galad.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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The Balrog of Moria was one of the Balrogs of the First Age.
He was the only one to escape the War of Wrath and to hide in Eriador.
As far as their power is concerned, I doubt that any differences are mentioned.
All we know is Gothmog was strongest.
Anything else on this matter is unknown.

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As TM explains, everything is just speculative and nothing conclusive.  But I would bet money that Durin's Bane was more powerful than the Balrog Glorfindel fought...because of these reasons:


1. The Balrog Glorfindel fought is from The Book of Lost Tales, which were Tolkien's earliest conception of Balrogs.  There are many more Balrogs in BoLT than Tolkien's final thoughts, also the ones in BoLT are not as powerful as he eventually would make them. 


The BoLT Balrogs were an entire race of their own, while they were still very powerful, eventually (by the time of The Silmarillion and LOTR) Tolkien made Balrogs as being Maiar and much more powerful. 


2. Both Glorfindel and Gandalf died while slaying their balrogs...however I would like to note the power difference between the two.  At the time Glorfindel was a very powerful elf-lord, however he would not be as powerful as Gandalf.


3. Durin's Bane fought Gandalf for several days, and the wide majority of the time he only had a whip against Gandalf's sword.  It is very difficult to fight with a whip when your opponent has a sword, and yet Durin's Bane put up a fight for several days and ended up killing Gandalf in the process.


So for those reasons I would say that Durin's Bane was more powerful than the Balrog Glorfindel had fought.



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I am Lórien, Lord of Dreams, my true name is 'Irmo' in Quenya.
Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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I disagree with this, considering that some of the points are incorrect.
Firstly point 3 is clearly flawed.
As far as weaponry is concerned the Balrog of Moria used a sword ("From out of the shadow a red sword leapt flaming") and many-thonged whip of flame in its battle with Gandalf. In the First Age, they also used black axes and maces, as described in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears).
So I doubt that weaponry is of any use in establishing a better balrog.

And as far as the opponents, Glorfindel and Gandalf are concerned, I doubt their deaths at the hands of the balrogs shows that the balrogs were unequal in power.
The terrain, the weather, the context in which the battle is fought, the state of the balrog at that time, they all can influence the outcome.
For example, perhaps there was bad weather in the mountains near Gondolin, the small way in the mountains was probably not a good terrain for the balrog fighting Glorfindel, maybe the balrog was tired after the siege of Gondolin.

Again, it is only speculation, but I use this to help show that there are many other factors that influence the outcome of a battle, some in some cases more important then what opponent is being faced.

And also to address point 2 I will give Ecthelion as an example. Ecthelion fought Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs in Gondolin and killed him but died in the process. This is exactly what Gandalf did to Durin's Bane. I doubt however that this means that Ecthelion is stronger then Gandalf, to follow the example you gave concerning the balrogs.

And as far as point 1 is concerned I will partially agree with you. In BolT balrogs were indeed weaker then in later works. This does not mean however that Tolkien's view on the balrog that killed Glorfindel had never changed as time passed. Conisdering the fact that the balrog is mentioned in the Silmarillion, I am reluctant to accept point 1 as proof as far as the power of the balrogs is concerned.

In conclusion, I am well aware that all you did was speculate Lord Lorien, however in this case the speculation made has no real facts to back it up I am afraid. Peronally, considering the information available I would speculate that their power was equal or very similar.
Of course we have stronger and weaker Maiar, as seen in Gothmog's example, clearly the strongest balrog. However, in absence of any proof I would consider Durin's Bane and the First Age balrog equal in power.

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Wasn't the maia that prtected the sun the type of maiar that the balrogs are, just it didn't join Morgoth? If so, was it as powerful as the balrogs, or more?

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Arien was indeed a fire spirit as well.
And yes, I believe she refused to join Melko, probably scorched him as well.
But again, based on the information we only know she was stronger then Tilion. We can not know if she was a stronger fire spirit then the balrogs.

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Firstly point 3 is clearly flawed.~TM


Durin's bane had two weapons...a sword and a whip.  The sword is broken, leaving only the Balrog with a whip and his hands (legs...etc) to fight with:


There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire.  The Balrog flew back and its sword flew up in molten fragments.~The Bridge of Khazad-dum


Gandalf has his staff and Glamdring...Gandalf's staff breaks:


The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand.~ibid


Now Gandalf does lose his staff, which was probably his best weapon, as the Balrog loses his sword.  However, again it's very difficult to fight with a whip against a sword.  Yes, the Balrogs did use axes, but Durin's Bane didn't have one.


Again, it is only speculation, but I use this to help show that there are many other factors that influence the outcome of a battle, some in some cases more important then what opponent is being faced.~TM


That is a good and logical point...obviously one I did not take into consideration.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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indeed...I had also forgotten that the balrog lost the sword during the battle...
still...a whip is good to keep your enemies at a safe distance.
unfortunately no detailed accounts of the battle remain, except the account of Gandalf.
and still, I stay to my point. yes, even if Durin's Bane had no more sword, and even if Glorfindel's Balrog had perhaps an axe, but still this does not prove much.



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I partially agree with both on this point.


Lord Lorien is correct when he says that Durin's bane put up more of a fight to a Maiar than Glorfindel's balrog did to an Elf. However that could be due to circumstances. However as we are given no details about the weather or climate etc with each case I suppose we have to assume they were pretty similar (Durin's Bane fought Gandalf inside a mountain, Glorfidel fought a balrog outside one - not much difference - there are still ravices, hills and precipieces in each case) so following this as we have no more information on this matter we have to assume it was an even match.


Therefore Durin's bane would gets my vote.


Lets not forget that he conquered and drove an entire civilisation of Dwarves from under Khazad-dum single handed.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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who says the other balrog couldn't have done the same?
just because he is mentioned more often in Tolkien's works clearly does no make him stronger
and as far as the speculation about the other factors that influenced the battle I would say don't speculate if you have no details.
speculation is good, but not here, considering the importance of even small details. what if the mountain pass in Gondolin was not made of hard enough rock and it collapsed under the balrog's weight? what if Durin's Bane had hurt himself more or less during the fall? what if, what if?
saying the conditons were equal is plausable, but very unlikely.

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We cannot be picky enough to try and catagorise each situation into Likely and unlikelyhoods TM. We have little deatil as you say so we therefore have to assume conditions were pretty equal. Itb may not be realistic but its all we have got.


If Glorfidnel's balrog could not beat the Elf and survive I very much doubt he could beat the greatest of Dwarves, plus a whole civilisation and survive like Durin's bane did.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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when you realise it might not be realistic then stop specualting
speculation it useful to a certain point.
but when such small details can prove decisive speculating has no point
let's face it...we'll never know which of them was stronger...

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You did not answer my last statement and this is not speculation:


If Glorfindel's balrog could not beat the Elf and survive I very much doubt he could beat the greatest of Dwarves, plus a whole civilisation and survive like Durin's bane did.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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if Ecthelion of the Fountain died killing Gothmog, greatest of balrogs
and if Gandalf died killing Durin's Bane, weaker then Gothmog
does this make Ecthelion stronger then Gandalf?
food for thought.

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There is a crucial difference:


Ecthelion had hosts at his command.  Gandalf did not.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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read the Sil, Ecthelion fought Gothmog ALONE
and even so, so did Gothmog
this is not the point, it was a duel between the 2 where they both killed each other. end of story.
I doubt this makes Ecthelion stronger then Gandalf?
so you understand why this kind of logic is useless.

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I'm going to agree with TM on this one, in that it is difficult to tell which Balrog was mightier.

A lot of things have been discussed in this thread, such as length of the battles, weaponry, terrain, races, and outcome.

Gandalf and the Balrog of Moria were of the same order, but Gandalf's strength is in wisdom. Ecthelion was a warrior hardened by the war against Morgoth, so his strength was probably skill at arms. Personally, I think Ecthelion was greater at arms than Gandalf, though I seriously doubt he could have beaten Eonwe on his best day. I would say the same of Glorfindel, that he was a great warrior and could hold his own against Gandalf.



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So you think that Ecthelion or glorfindel could beat Gandalf one on one in a battle even though we know Gandalf the grey was powerful enough to keep the nine Ringwraiths at bay on Weathertop? (and that is Gandalf the grey, Gandalf the white was even stronger)



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I personally think that Ecthelion could best Gandalf in single combat. Keeping the Nazgul at bay isnt comparable to defeating Gothmog. My previous comment regarding Glorfindel was that he was a match for Gandalf at arms. I am not sure whether he could best him in single combat, though I imagine it would be close.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Opinions are divided.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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so in the end, as I said, you can't really know

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Could Ecthelion hold back the nine Nazgul on weathetop? Doubtful. He could only use a sword not magic.

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magic?
I guess that is a funny term to use for Noldor like Celethil
such powers were seen as magic, usually elvish magic leading to Olorin being falsely named Gandalf (Wand-Elf, since people believed he was an Elf)
and the whole could x have done this? or could y have done that? are not relevant to the topic, and will not solve the riddle posed by the deaths of the 2 balrogs
we won't know who was stronger

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Basically I say a Maiar could surpass an Elf in combat.

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so if Ecthelion and the greatest balrog killed each other
and if Gandalf and a weaker balrog killed each other
does this mean that Gandalf is stronger then Ecthelion?

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But we don't know which one is the stronger. However, if it takes a week or two to kill a balrog (of moria), either....


a) the balrog was very strong, 


b) gandalf was very weak


personally, i don't like the second point, because that's been proven false on a number of occations. therefore, it seemstha the arg was strongerthen Gothmog.



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Your hypothesis neglected the possibility that the Balrog of Moria and Gandalf may have been nearly evenly matched. Regardless, it is highly unlikely that the Balrog of Moria was as mighty as Gothmog. As I suggested earlier, Ecthelion was just mightier at arms than Gandalf. That does not lessen Gandalf, who was far more subtle and likely stronger in will than Ecthelion.




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Saying that Ecthelion was stronger in Arms then Gandalf is just utter speculation. We jhave to go by facts and its a general belief that Maiar are great than the children of Iluvatar.


Remember Gandalf had just led the fellowship through many perils and Moria and had fought long and hard before he even new about the Balrog.


There is a quote saying how weak Gandalf said he was before he faced the Balrog.


Ecthelion however was fully rested when he fought the balrog.



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How can you say that Ecthelion was fully rested?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Becuase Gondolin was caught by surprise by the hosts of Morgoth whilst they were doing there daily business. Therefore Ecthelion was probably in a fairly rested state doing his daily ordering of the gaurds and feasting and so on. At the least we know he had not spent the past month or two leading a fellowship through dangerous perils and through Moria with little rest.

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Exactly. he would've been fighting for  while before he fought the barog.

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I think you were posting the same time as my last post. Re-read.


 



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That is a solid point MoS.  I'm not sure about Ecthelion's state of rest, but it's made clear that Gandalf had been certainly weakened.  Not only the journey through Moria, but also if we remember he had encountered the Balrog (though not known to him at the time) when he was holding the door into the Chamber of Mazarbul shut and this encounter had been a great strain on Gandalf:


The drum-beats broke out wildly: doom-boom, doom-boom, and then stopped.  Gandalf came flying down the steps and fell to the ground in the midst of the Company...~The Bridge of Khazad-dum


'What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge.  The counter-spell was terrible.  It nearly broke me.'~ibid


'A Balrog,' muttered Gandalf.  'Now I understand.'  He faltered and leaned heavily on his staff.  'What an evil fortune!  And I am already weary.'~ibid


 



-- Edited by Lord Lórien at 21:48, 2006-10-20

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I am Lórien, Lord of Dreams, my true name is 'Irmo' in Quenya.
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Reading the chapter doesn't say much, but i would think that he would be tired from the fighting, before Gothmog comes up. After all, you're going to send your best person/balrog in when the emeny is tired, and can't put up enough of a fight to hurt you. But poor Gothmog obviously miscalculated how soon an elf gets tired.

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I'm sorry. I looked at the Silmarillion, and from there its resonable to think that Ecthelion was well rested. I was thinking of BoT II. In this it says that Ecthelion was injured and that Tour took him to the fountain so he wouldn't have to fight. But then Gothmog came and Ecthelion lundged at him and tackled him over the wall. He just fell while doing this.

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Saying that Ecthelion was stronger in Arms then Gandalf is just utter speculation. We have to go by facts and its a general belief that Maiar are great than the children of Iluvatar. - MoS

I understand the point you are trying to make, but your own words dispute your point since you are referring to his battle against Gothmog who was a Maiar. The facts are that we are comparing a battle between an Elf and a Maia vs Two Maiar.

I am not sure why it is even assumed that Ecthelion was well rested. In the Fall of Gondolin, it states that the host of Morgoth was not stayed until they reached the walls of the city. So the host of Morgoth had to battle past the gates and then Ecthelion and Gothmog do battle in the square of the King. According to the account it does not appear that Gothmog or Ecthelion just met fully rested and ready to go at it.

We do however know that Gothmog was second only to Sauron among Melkor's servants and that Gandalf could not best Sauron in single combat, as Tolkien himself speculated that Gandalf could 'possibly' defeat Sauron with the aid of Sauron's ring.

So yes I do believe that if Ecthelion could defeat Gothmog he could defeat Gandalf in combat, though at what price I do not know.


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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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of course all is speculation mos, the point is no answer can be found
good find Gothmog, makes sense that both Gandalf and Ecthelion were tired
and still, we can't compare them
even if Gandalf was weary and Ecthelion was interrupted by the balrog while having his usual afternoon cup of tea, you still can't draw a line and say what the answer is, it doesn't work that way and that#s what I've been talking about the whole thread

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Indeed but Bolt is an old outlook. The Silmarillion seems to suggest a different story.


And we don't know the circumstances. Gothmog might have been rampaging all around and then Ecthelion jumps up on his back (which would be pretty hot) and then manages to make him fall off a cliff. Whereas Gandalf and Durin's Bane are met face to face and orderly.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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fall off a cliff?
they both died in the central plaza of Gondolin
no cliffs, no dirty tricks
a duel between an Elf fighting to defend his city and the greatest balrog of all times
both die.

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TM - Where did you get that Ecthelion and Gothmog fought like that?


In BoLT it says that Ecthelion was injured and simply jumped at Gothmog and they both fell off a cliff.


So yes TM; their was a cliff involved.



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