After the Battle of Nanduhirion Dáin refuses to support the re-occupation of Moria saying

"Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate. Beyond the shadow it waits for you still. Durin's Bane."

Did he literally see the balrog, or did he just have the foresight to realize that the dwarves could not retake Moria until the "nameless terror" - whatever it was - had been dealt with?

1 Answer 1




I've looked through Reader's Companion, Letters, and History of Middle-earth, and found nothing instructive.

However, even if he didn't literally see the Balrog, I'm inclined to suggest he at least felt it; consider an earlier account of Dáin (emphasis mine):

Then Azog laughed, and he lifted up his head to let forth a great yell of triumph; but the cry died in his throat. For he saw that all his host in the valley was in a rout, and the Dwarves went this way and that slaying as they would, and those that could escape from them were flying south, shrieking as they ran. And hard by all the soldiers of his guard lay dead. He turned and fled back towards the Gate.

Up the steps after him leaped a Dwarf with a red axe. It was Dáin Ironfoot, Náin's son. Right before the doors he caught Azog, and there he slew him, and hewed off his head. [...] [H]ardy and full of wrath as he was, it is said that when he came down from the Gate he looked grey in the face, as one who has felt great fear.

Return of the King Appendix A: "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" III "Durin's Folk"

We can compare Dáin's reaction to the description of the balrog we get in Fellowship (emphasis mine):

Legolas turned and set an arrow to the string, though it was a long shot for his small bow. He drew, but his hand fell, and the arrow slipped to the ground. He gave a cry of dismay and fear. Two great trolls appeared; they bore great slabs of stone, and flung them down to serve as gangways over the fire. But it was not the trolls that had filled the Elf with terror. The ranks of the orcs had opened, and they crowded away, as if they themselves were afraid. Something was coming up behind them. What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and to go before it.

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 5: "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"

Dáin may not have seen the Balrog, and almost certainly wouldn't have known what it was if he had, but it seems exceedingly likely that he perceived the balrog in some way.

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    Are you sure there isn't a quote somewhere saying the Balrog only woke up when the Fellowship was there? If it was asleep in the pits between TA 1980-3019, it can't have been up there for Dain to see it.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 19:10
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    @randal'thor Not clear. We know it was sleeping until the Dwarves woke it up initially, but all reports after that are vague. For instance: "'Alas! ' said Celeborn. 'We long have feared that under Caradhras a terror slept. But had I known that the Dwarves had stirred up this evil in Moria again, l would have forbidden you to pass the northern borders, you and all that went with you." The passage could be interpreted either way; it may have been asleep from 1980 until Balin went in, or it would have woken up for Dain and then gone back to sleep, or it could have been active the whole time Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 19:16
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    @randal'thor Appendix A says that it "may have been already awakened" by Sauron's malice even before 1980. Given that that's even a possibility, it seems doubtful that it would have just "gone back to sleep" after rousing enough to kill someone. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 19:21
  • OK, I'd assumed it was woken (directly or indirectly) by Pippin's stone. +1 to Jason, as ever!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 19:29
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    @randal'thor I always assumed that Pippin’s stone only alerted and attracted the orcs—it was all the racket the orcs were making that called in the balrog. (Though I may be getting details from books and movies mixed up.) Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 3:05

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