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AJ Padlock
"Then something came into the chamber - I felt it through the door, and the orcs themselves were afraid and fell silent. It laid hold of the iron ring, and then it perceived me and my spell."
The Lord of the Rings, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"

Balrogs, also known as the Valaraukar, were Maiar that were seduced and corrupted by Melkor into his service.[2]

Origins

Originally, Balrogs were Maiar that were later persuaded by Melkor before the Awakening of the Elves. Their first dwellings had been Utumno, but after their master's defeat during the War for Sake of the Elves, the Balrogs and other creatures in Melkor's service escaped and went to Angband.[3]

History

Years of the Trees

The balrogs of morgoth by thylacinee-d5pl60x

The Balrogs of Morgoth, by Thylacinee

Balrogs were present as early as the Years of the Trees when Melkor and Ungoliant went to Valinor and destroyed the Two Trees. By then, the Balrogs remained in the pits of Angband. After Morgoth destroyed the Trees with Ungoliant, he came to the ruins of Angband to renew his rule in Middle-earth. A disagreement with Ungoliant led to her attacking him, and Morgoth gave out a great cry that roused the Balrogs from their slumber. In a tempest of fire, the Balrogs drove Ungoliant away and prepared to pursue her. However, they were halted by Morgoth and returned to Angband, which shortly thereafter was constructed anew.[4]

First Age

Dead of Feanor by LuisFBejarano

Death of Fëanor, by LuisFBejarano

When Noldor managed to win the battle Dagor-nuin-Giliath,  Fëanor, still in a great rage, pressed on toward Angband. He came even within sight of Angband, but was ambushed by a force of Balrogs, with few elves about him. Soon he stood alone, but long he fought on with all Balrogs alone, so how was mightiest the strength, valour, and endurance, of all the Children of Iluvatar, though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds. But at the last Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs, smote him to the ground, inflicting a mortal wound.

Maedhros, Fëanor's son, persuaded the forces of Morgoth for a feigned treaty, but Morgoth sent his Balrogs. The entire company was slain, except for Maedhros, who was later brought to Angband.[5]

Years later, during the Dagor Bragollach, the Balrogs, along with Glaurung and Orcs, were issued forth from Angband assault the fortresses of the Elves and to kill their allies, the Men.[6]

The Balrogs fought during the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, where Gothmog led the invasion. He threw aside Húrin and Turgon, turned upon Fingon and killed him with the help of another Balrog, securing the field for Morgoth's forces. He also captured Húrin, after Húrin was buried under a mountain of slain foes. He bound the human warrior and delivered him to Angband, whereupon Morgoth attempted unsuccessfully to pry the location of Gondolin from him.[7]

GlorfindelandBalrog

Glorfindel and the Balrog, by John Howe

In FA 510, during the Fall of Gondolin, the Balrogs rode upon the backs of dragons to reach the hidden city of Gondolin. The Lord of the House of the Fountain, Ecthelion, managed to kill Gothmog at the cost of his own life. While attempting to escape the burning city, Glorfindel and his companions were blocked by another Balrog. To save Tuor, Idril and their young son Eärendil, Glorfindel fought the Balrog on a cliff and cast it down, but he was pulled down with the Balrog to their deaths.[8]

The last of the Balrogs fought in the War of Wrath and were destroyed, though some managed to escape and hide in the caverns of the earth.[9]

Third Age

In TA 1980, a Balrog awoke in Moria when the Dwarves had mined too deep for Mithril. It drove the Dwarves out of their home and slew King Durin VI, and the Balrog was thereafter called "Durin's Bane".[10]

During the War of the Ring, the Fellowship of the Ring passed through Moria and encountered Durin's Bane, which pursued them to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Gandalf the Grey fought the Balrog, allowing the Fellowship to escape Moria.[11] Both fell into the abyss, but the battle continued at the peak of Zirakzigil. Finally, it ended, but both Gandalf and Durin's Bane were slain in the process. Gandalf was later "sent back" by the Valar, as Gandalf the White.[12]

Appearance

GandalfVSBalrog

The Durin's Bane uses its fiery whip against Gandalf

Balrogs generally took the form of a tall, menacing being roughly in the shape of a Man, though seeming to consist or be surrounded by shadow. They had two large black wings that can stretch between two pillars, thus being about twenty feet long. They use both a flaming sword, and a many thronged whip. They are constantly burning, and all their weapons appear to be made of lava. Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs in the First Age, used a black axe as well. They induced great terror in friends and foes alike. Many who faced Balrogs referred to them as monsters consisting purely of shadow and flame."


Balrogs seemed to encapsulate and project power and terror, perhaps meant to be a dark shadow of the majesty that the Valar radiate. Additionally, Tolkien refers to Balrogs with "streaming fiery manes".[13]


Additionally, they may have been able to alter their body structures on occasion, as in the battle between Durin's Bane and Gandalf, when the Balrog fell into a body of water he shifted himself into something slimy.[14] However, it is also possible that this alternate form was simply Gandalf using colorful language to describe what the Balrog was like after having its flame extinguished and being covered in water. It is also possible that, while the Balrog, like all other Ainur, could shift form, this was not a case of that.


Powers and abilities

Balrogs were exceptionally powerful creatures. Only seven Balrogs at most were powerful enough to drive away Ungoliant, a monster powerful enough to devour at the least thousand of star-level fruits, and consume the fruits of Telperion, which produced the light for billions of stars.

A single Balrog, who became known as Durin's Bane, managed to singlehandedly drive the Dwarves of Moria from their ancient fastness, which was at the time the greatest kingdom of Dwarves that had ever been. He also contended with Gandalf, who shattered the side of a mountain with physical might alone. The Balrogs were considerably bodily agile, such that their passing is once described as a “tempest of fire”.

Gothmog fought against and overcame Fëanor, an elf who was powerful enough to control the light of the two trees, and was the strongest elf in history. He also spread chaos through the city of Gondolin, filled with elves of similar, though far lower, caliber. He was even thought to be at least somewhat comparable to Sauron during the first age.

Etymology

In Sindarin, the word Balrog means "Demon of Might",[15] from the words bal ("power") and raug, rog ("demon").[16] Balrogs are called Valarauko or Valaraukar[note 1] in Quenya, from the words vala ("power") and rauco ("demon").[16][17]

Other names

In other writings, Balrog is derived from ñgwalaraukô ("demon").[16]

Known Individuals

Durin's Bane

Durin's Bane

  • Gothmog - the Lord of the Balrogs and High-captain of Angband, slain by Ecthelion during the Fall of Gondolin
  • Durin's Bane - awakened in the Third Age, slain by Gandalf at the peak of Zirakzigil

In other versions of the legendarium

In Tolkien's later writings, he made note of the fact that there could not have ever been more than seven Balrogs,[18] yet they were able to drive away Ungoliant in what was described as a "tempest of fire".

In another early writing, the Lord of the Balrogs was named Lungorthin. It is unknown whether it is another name for Gothmog, but Christopher Tolkien thinks it is probably, since the name Gothmog was already mentioned in the earliest writings about Middle-earth.[19]

Initially, the Balrogs were often described to be immense in numbers:

The early conception of Balrogs makes them less terrible, and certainly more destructible, than they afterwards became: they existed in 'hundreds' (p. 170), and were slain by Tuor and the Gondothlim in large numbers: "thus five fell before Tuor's great axe Dramborleg, three before Ecthelion's sword, and two score were slain by the warriors of the king's house.
The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, commentary by Christopher Tolkien on "The Fall of Gondolin"

In later writings, however, Christopher Tolkien notes that:

In the margin my father wrote: 'There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed.
—Morgoth's Ring, Section 2 (AAm*): note 50

Portrayal in adaptations

Video games

  • It is a boss character in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Video Game, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on Game Boy Advance and The Lord of the Rings: The Third AgeIn the latter, the Balrog is fought by Gandalf on the Player's side and becomes a usable hero for the duration of the battle. Though it is referenced in the video games based on the Films.
  • Two Balrogs also appear in The Lord of the Rings Online: Thaurlach, located deep within the Rift of Nurz Ghashu in Angmar, and Durin's Bane, encountered several times during introductive "quests" to Moria. An illusion of Durin's Bane is encountered in the Ost Dunhoth Instance Raid.
  • In LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, players can play as Gandalf and fight with, and eventually defeat the Balrog. The Balrog also appears as an enemy in LEGO Dimensions.
  • The Balrog is also a playable Hero in The Lord of the Rings: Conquest in Mission 4 - The Mines of Moria and Mission 7- The Shire (Evil Campaign)
  • A Balrog by the name of Tar Goroth appears in the game Middle Earth: Shadow of War as a boss. He is fought in multiple stages, and meets his end frozen in a lake by Carnán. Though he is almost resurrected by a Uruk necromancer, Talion and Celebrimbor manage to stop him.

Card games

  • Balrog (named Firelord Balrog) appears in the game The Legend of the Cryptids as a playable card.

Gallery

Balrog vs Gandalf
Balrog - FOT
Balrog

Gothmog the Balrog
Glorfindel and the Balrog
Gothmog the balrog's king
Haste of the Balrogs by Viking-Heart

Summon Balrog
LEGO Balrog
Dragon, balrog2
A Balrog from The Battle for Middle-earth attacks
Screen Shot 2012-06-19 at 4.50.44 PM
Three demons of Melkor in BFME2

Trivia

  • Almost all the known individuals were vanquished in terms of double suicides or falling together. All the balrogs within their final battles end in falling. Gothmog sunk deep in the fountain, Glorfindel's balrog fell over a cliff, and Durin's Bane actually fell twice (fell with Gandalf from the Bridge of Khazad-dûm and thrown down from the top of Zirakzigil by the final blow of the wizard).
  • Seemingly, there had not been dangerous conflicts between balrogs and dragons. It is unclear whether this was achieved because these fiery demons and monsters were indeed compatible and were sensible, or because there were no common interests, and both of them were unconcerned about each other. It is also possible that such situations might have been restricted and controlled by orders of their master to avoid damaging the mightiest members of his forces.
  • Some fans of the Doom series claim that the Balrog of the movies looks similar to a cross between a D3 Cyberdemon and a D3 Maledict (A Cyberdemon with Maledict Wings).
  • A demonic monster in the popular 2D side-scrolling game Maplestory, bears many similar qualities and characteristics, and thus many believe the monster was represented on behalf of the fictitious one depicted in the Tolkien series.
  • A certain antagonist in the MMORPG Wartune, Merloch, is identical exactly to a Balrog, save for an additional two horns.
  • A demon in Dungeon Hunter: Alliance called the "Cremator" has the same head and fiery presence as a Balrog, but without wings.
  • Many fans claim that the Balrog inspired Games Workshop's Bloodthirster in Warhammer, which is known as the Greater Daemon of Khorne.
  • The main antagonist of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Dahaka, strongly resembles the Balrog, but has one horn bent downward, and it does not have wings.
  • The Balor from Dungeons and Dragons is clearly based on the Balrog.
    • In early editions of the game, it was in fact referred to as the Balrog. The name was changed due to copyright claims made by Tolkien Estate.
  • The hero named Hellbringer from the MOBA game Heroes of Newerth can summon Malphas, whose appearance is very similar to the cinematic rendering of the Balrog.
  • War, the first horseman and main playable character from the game Darksiders, has a chaos form that looks very similar to Durin's Bane.
  • "Balrog" was the name of a boxer from the USA who made his debut as the second boss in Street Fighter II. Although he cannot kick, he made up for it with pummeling punches. This name was originally part of a triangle of replacement; the original Japanese game credited him as M. Bison (after boxer Mike Tyson), leaving the character Vega named Balrog.
  • In the manga and anime series Saint Seiya, Balrog Rune (or Balron Lune) is a servant of Hades clad in armor modeled after Tolkien's monster.
  • The Juggernaut and its upgrade the Ravager in Heroes VI, also resembles the Balrog's looks, especially the head region. Whether this is on purpose or just a coincidence is not known.
  • The boss Fyrus from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess bears a slight resemblance to the Balrog, in its height and black, fiery form.
  • The form of the character Chaos in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, Feral Chaos ("Desperado Chaos" in the Japanese version), bore a strong resemblance to the Balrog (particularly its depiction in Peter Jackson's films) due to his being massive, demonic, possessing horns, and being constantly wreathed in flame.
  • Various characters from the Diablo franchise are visually similar to the Balrog.

Translations around the World

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ባልሮግ
Arabic بالروع ?
Armenian Բալրոգ
Belarusian Cyrillic Балрог
Bengali বল্রোগ
Bulgarian Cyrillic Балрог
Burmese ဗလ္ရောဂ္ ?
Catalan Bàlrog
Chinese 炎魔
Dari بالروگ
Georgian ბალროგი
Greek Βαλρογ ?
Gujarati બલ્રોગ
Hebrew בלרוגים
Hindi बल्रोग
Japanese バルログ
Kazakh Cyrillic Балрог
Korean 발록
Kurdish بالرۆگ (Arabic script) Balrog (Latin)
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Балрог
Macedonian Cyrillic Балрог
Marathi बल्रोग
Mongolian Cyrillic Балрог
Nepalese बल्रोग
Pashto بالروګ
Persian بالروگ
Polish Balrogowie
Punjabi ਬਾਲਰੋਗ
Russian Балроги
Sanskrit बल्रोग्
Serbian Балрог (Cyrillic) Balrog (Latin)
Sinhalese බල්‍රොග්
Tajik Cyrillic Балрог
Tamil பல்ரொக் ?
Telugu బల్రొగ
Tibetan བལྲོག
Tigrinya ባልሮግ
Ukrainian Cyrillic Балроґ
Urdu بالروگ
Uyghur بالروگ
Uzbek Балрог (Cyrillic) Balrog (Latin)
Yiddish באַלראָג

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The History of Middle-earth, Vol. II: The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, III: "The Fall of Gondolin"
  2. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta: "Of the Maiar"
  3. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter III: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  4. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
  5. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIII: "Of the Return of the Noldor"
  6. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XVIII: "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  7. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XX: "Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  8. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXIII: "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  9. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXIV: "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  10. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, III: Durin's Folk
  11. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter V: "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  12. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V: "The White Rider"
  13. The History of Middle-earth, Vol III, The Lays of Beleriand, III:"The Lay of Leithian
  14. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V: "The White Rider"
  15. The Silmarillion, Index of Names
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 The History of Middle-earth, Vol. V: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies"
  17. Parma Eldalamberon, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  18. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI: The War of the Jewels, Part One: The Grey Annals, Notes
  19. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. III: The Lays of Beleriand, chapter I: "The Lay of the Children of Húrin"

Notes

  1. Also spelled Valarauco and Valaraucar


External links

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