5

Lungorthin is mentioned in The History of Middle-earth 3, The Lays of Beleriand: and he's called the Lord of the Balrogs, but we also know Gothmog was blessed with this title as well. Chris Tolkien speculates that Lungorthin may have just been a Balrog lord. Is there any evidence that may support that Lungorthin may have been the first Balrog lord?

1
  • 1
    Balrogs don't really have first lords. It's a very flat team structure. Feb 17, 2022 at 15:24

2 Answers 2

8

Lungorthin or 'pale blue flames of horror' (1) is only mentioned once by JRR. It came from a revision when thousands of Balrog's existed and in various shapes and forms. Lungorthin for instance was wreathed in blue or white flame and was master of the guard at Melkor's throne, staying deep underground at Thangorodrim.

It's likely that Lungorthin was either revised out of the lore altogether or as the potency and scarcity of Balrogs increased in later revisions his role was merged with that of Gothmog.

Either way, Gothmog and his role in The Silmarillion makes him the first and greatest of the Balrog lords.

1
  • 1
    I personally like to think that lungorthin existed even when silmarillion was revised, also chris tolkien thinking he was a balrog lord rather than lord of balrogs may mean he may have still exicsted
    – user31546
    Dec 17, 2014 at 20:11
2

No. Gothmog existed before and after Lungorthin, both in-universe and out-of-universe.

What we know about Lungorthin

Lungorthin only ever appears as a single isolated reference in a version of a poem that Tolkien wrote around 1924 or 1925.

There the mind of Hurin | in a mist of dark
neath gaze unfathomed | groped and foundered,
yet his heart yielded not | nor his haughty pride.
But Lungorthin | Lord of Balrogs
on the mouth smote him, | and Morgoth smiled:
'Nay, fear when thou feelest, | when the flames lick
and the whistling whips | thy white body
and wilting flesh | weal and torture!
The Lay of the Children of Húrin - Second Version (c.1925) - lines 93-100

This was a revision and expansion of a previous version of this poem, written four years prior, in which the name Lungorthin did not appear.

'I know and I hate. | For that knowledge I fought thee
by fear unfettered, | nor fear I now,'
said Thalion there, | and a thane of Morgoth
on the mouth smote him; | but Morgoth smiled: Tear when thou feelest, | and the flames lick thee,
and the whips of the Balrogs | thy white flesh brand.
The Lay of the Children of Húrin - First Version (c.1921) - lines 57-62

In his commentary on this poem, Christopher discusses the significance of the title Lord of Balrogs, and concludes that it was probably not intended to be the same title as Gothmog had, because Gothmog can be found in writings written both before and after this, so at the time Tolkien wrote this, Gothmog was presumably existing as a character as well.

The thane of Morgoth who smote him on the mouth (version I, 59) now becomes Lungorthin, Lord of Balrogs (96) - which is probably to be interpreted as 'a Balrog lord', since Gothmog, Lord or Captain of the Balrogs in The Fall of Gondolin, soon reappears in the 'Silmarillion' tradition.
The Lays of Beleriand - Commentary

This is really all that J.R.R. Tolkien or Christopher Tolkien has ever said on Lungorthin, and there really is no other official information to be had. (It should also be noted that "Lungorthin" does not appear in the linguistic companion Tolkien wrote to the poem, which has been published in Parma Eldalamberon #15.)

What we know about Gothmog

As has already been mentioned, Gothmog appeared with his title in The Fall of Gondolin, a work set after the The Lay of the Children of Húrin, but written earlier.

But now Gothmog lord of Balrogs, captain of the hosts of Melko, took counsel and gathered all his things of iron that could coil themselves around and above all obstacles before them.
The Fall of Gondolin (c.1917)

And shortly after writing the Lungorthin line, Tolkien refers to Gothmog with his titles in events set before The Lay of the Children of Húrin.

Feanor refused, but he was wounded in the fight by a Balrog chief (Gothmog), and died.
Sketch of the Mythology (c.1926) - §8

For Feanor was wounded to the death by Gothmog Lord of Balrogs, whom Ecthelion after slew in Gondolin.
Quenta Noldorinwa (c.1930) - §8

Conclusion

If we assume (as Christopher does) that Gothmog continued to exist unchanged between the writing of The Fall of Gondolin and these slightly later writings, than it emerges that Gothmog would have been occupying the Lord of Balrogs title in-universe at the same time that Lungorthin appears. So your suggestion of them occupying the title sequentially would not work.

Either we have to conclude that they had different titles, they shared a non-unique title, or that Christopher is wrong, and the two characters do not exist in the same canon.

1
  • Or, "Lungorthin" is just an alias for Gothmog, the way that Morgoth is an alias for Melkor.
    – Spencer
    Feb 17, 2022 at 14:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.