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For the past week or so, I have been searching through the History of Middle Earth for more information about Balrogs. Specifically, I want to know what they look like. The description in the Lord of the Rings is pretty vague #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (1/x)
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Balrog is described as “a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater” (321). And yet this creature has some animalistic traits, including a “streaming mane” (321)...so, pretty vague. #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (2/x)
I am especially curious as to whether a Balrog could resemble a bull in any way--the depiction in the movies with the tail and the horns definitely suggests it (see pic below) and Balrog kind of sounds like bull... #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (3/x)
The name Balrog itself means 'fire demon,' and is derived from Old English: Bealuwearg, Bealubróga [O.E. bealu ‘evil’, cf. Modern English bale(ful); wearg ‘felon, outlaw, accursed being’] found in the 'Etymologies' in _The Shaping of Middle Earth_ #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (4/x)
So with this in mind, I dove into the History. The best description of a Balrog comes in Tolkien's drafts of the scene on the Bridge of Khazad Dum, preserved by Christopher Tolkien in _The Treason of Isengard_: #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (5/x)
“A figure strode to the fissure, no more than man-high yet terror seemed to go before it. They would see the furnace-fire of its yellow eyes from afar its arms were very long; it had a red [?tongue]... #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (6/x)
"...Through the air it sprang over the fiery fissure. The flames lept up to greet it and wreathed about it. Its streaming hair seemed to catch fire and the sword it held turned to flame. In its other hand it held a whip of many thongs” #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (7/x)
However, Tolkien wrote a note above the description in the manuscript. The note states: "Alter description of Balrog. It seemed to be of man’s shape, but its form could not be plainly discerned. It felt larger than it looked" #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (8/x)
So...Tolkien wanted to keep it intentionally vague, at least in the description. So, because he was a linguist at heart, I turned to the word 'Balrog' itself and its OE origins...could there be a possible link to 'bealu' with Latin "belua"? #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (9/x)
I would say possibly--deVann's _Etymological Dictionary of Latin_ leaves the etymology of "belua" uncertain but does suggest it could have a link with Germanic *diusa- 'animal' #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (10/x)
Orel's _Handbook of Germanic Etymology_ suggests that this *diusa- is a form of deuzan 'animal' which "continues IE *dheuso." This IE root is also given as a possibility by deVann, though no one makes an explicit link between 'belua' and 'bealu'. #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (11/x)
So there is a tenuous link. Can 'belua' mean bull? Cicero, in de Officiis I.30, states: ('the nature of man surpasses the herds and other beasts') suggesting that cattle could be considered 'beluae' #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (12/x)
So while the description of a Balrog is vague, it does have some possible connections with a bull. Yay for me!

In this research, I also found that interesting things happen to those who kill a Balrog. #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (13/x)
When Glorfindel fell to the Balrog, upon his grave "turf of green and small flowers like yellow stars bloomed there amid the bareness of stone" (The Shaping of Middle Earth) #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (14/x)
Feanor was mortally wounded in his fight with Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs: "he died but was not buried; for so fiery was his spirit that his body fell to ash as his spirit sped" (The Lost Road and Other Writings) #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (15/x)
And of course there is Gandalf the Grey, who defeats the Balrog of Moria and is killed, only to be resurrected as Gandalf the White. So those who kill Balrogs have some sort of 'power' over death. #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (16/x)
This is all very interesting when we consider Gandalf's elvish name. Mithrandir.

Mithrandir kills the Balrog and is reborn to the highest order of Wizards...

Kind of like how Mithras kills the bull and is transformed...

#Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (17/x)
Clauss, in _The Roman Cult of Mithras_ states that "the killing of the bull has nothing to do with mere slaughter or destruction, rather with transfiguration and transformation” (Clauss 79). #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (18/x)
In addition, just like the fertility that comes from Glorfindel's death, in imagery of Mithras' bull sacrifice "corn-ears or a cluster of grapes are shown beneath the wound on the bulls neck, or the tail ends in one or more ears of corn” (80) #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (19/x)
So there you have it...the basic outline of my argument that Gandalf is a Mithras figure. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my ideas about Wizards and the Cult of Mithras (as I slowly write a chapter for an edited volume on Tolkien and classics) #Tolkien #ClassicsTwitter (20/20)
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