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Topic: Gandalf the Old Fool?

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Date: Mar 4, 2012
Gandalf the Old Fool?

Here is the thing, how did Gandalf not know there was a Balrog in Moria? Or if he didn't exactly know it was a Balrog, why didn't he feel the need to take out Durin's Bane? (if the Balrog was indeed Durin's Bane). Let us examine the facts:

- Something evil and terrible drives the dwarves of the most powerful dwarf kingdom ever out from their home (Now are we to suppose that the survivors were never debriefed?)

- Dain gets a glimpse of the terror as he passes the gate. (Dain is never debriefed?)

- Orcs of Mordor are known to reside in Moria, making it likely that Durin's Bane and Sauron could be allies. 

- Moria is very close to Rivendell and Lorien. 

 

So from this it is puzzling. Gandalf felt the need to take out Smaug, even though there was no indication he would fight for Sauron and seemed perfectly content just sitting on his hoard. Durin's Bane however, was near to Rivendell and Lorien and was known to have connection with Sauron, making him a much more dangerous threat. Gandalf never thinks to investigate? I really would like to know more of Gandalf and Aragorn's journey through Moria. Maybe that's what they were investigating. Even if Gandalf didn't know it was a Balrog (because everyone assumed all the Balrogs were destroyed) he should have been concerned with this ominous threat of Durin's Bane. 

So the question is, why did Gandalf want to take out Smaug, and not Durin's Bane?



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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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As far as I'm aware no one knew exactly what lay in the depths of Moria. Tales might have told of some lurking dread and perhaps the very wisest elves would have guessed it was a Balog. But then what? Moria was a no-go zone. Even after the dwarves had won the battle of Nanduhirion they still would not dare to go into Moria itself and finish the job.
As for exchange between Durin's Bane and Sauron - I very much doubt there was any whatsoever. They were completely seperate beings just with a common history of serving Morgoth long ago. Durin's Bane never seemed to have any intentions of coming out of Moria and is it's doubtful he would have served Sauron even if communication were to have been made.

Smaug is a different matter. For starters he was on his own in a reasonably accessible location (compared to Moria). Taking him out would be much easier than having to summon up armies for Moria. Plus Smaug may well have served Sauron if Sauron made contact with him because, unlike Durin's Bane it seems, he had a greedy trait that is fundamental to the nature of dragons. No doubt Sauron would have promised him all sorts.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Bard the Bowman,
Welcome to the Tolkien Forums.
I think you will enjoy this place and from your first two postings I believe you will be a most welcome contributor.
I am only a member here but if I can be of any help please don't hesitate to ask.
There are many knowledgeable folks here and participate just because they love Tolkien and his works.
As you can see through the various categories and individual threads there is much to learn and to share.  If you see a  long past date please don't hesitate to offer your expertise or opinion.  Re-opening old threads is something most of us love and your input will be welcomed.
So again,
Welcome!
Bear an Elf-Friend

Your question;
"So the question is, why did Gandalf want to take out Smaug, and not Durin's Bane?"


First of all there were Elven warriors and rulers who had suspicions that "Durin's Bain" slept in deep Moria. And the White Council knew it ... Gandalf knew the history ... and from the excerpts I am posting evidence his suspicions as well.
Second as related to Smaug, Gandalf was more concerned about the removal of "The Necromancer" by The White Council than what he saw as the minor task of removing the dragon.
Third it isn't Gandalf The White who struggles with Durin's Bane it is Gandalf the Grey (a worthy but weaker version of wizard) and his job from Eru was to support the beings of Middle-earth in their battle against Sauron ... Smaug just happens to be a threat left over from Morgoth's defeat (as is Durin's Bane)
Lastly ... Gandalf didn't create these characters ... Tolkien did.
And he changed his mind ... from 1937 to 1954 ... and more changes were revealed with the passing multiple decades from before WWI until 1973  by Christopher Tolkien's releasing his father's unpublished notes and manuscripts.
So comparing all the sources Gandalf's motivation is different because the stories are different ... and the foes are different.

"Tolkien's conception of Balrogs changed over time. In all his early writing, they are numerous. There is a host of them stated to number a thousand in Quenta Silmarillion while at the storming of Gondolin, Balrogs in the hundreds ride on the backs of the Dragons. They are roughly of twice human size, and were occasionally killed in battle by Elves and, at the Fall of Gondolin, five were slain by Tuor. They were fierce demons, associated with fire, armed with fiery whips of many thongs and claws like steel, and Morgoth delighted in using them to torture his captives. They were loyal to Morgoth, and once came out of hiding to save him from capture.
In the published version of The Lord of the Rings, however, Balrogs became altogether more sinister and more powerful. Christopher Tolkien notes the difference, saying that in earlier versions they were "less terrible and certainly more destructible". He quotes a very late margin note that was not incorporated into the text saying "at most seven" ever existed; though in the Annals of Aman, written as late as 1958, after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, Melkor still commands "a host of Balrogs". In later writings they ceased to be creatures, but are instead Maiar, lesser Ainur like Gandalf or Sauron, spirits of fire whom Melkor had corrupted before the creation of the World. They required power of the order of Gandalf's to destroy them, and as Maiar, only their physical forms could be destroyed.

There are a few specially named Balrogs  but the one we are concerned with here is "Durin's Bane".
This Balrog appears in The Lord of the Rings, encountered by the Fellowship of the Ring in the Mines of Moria.

It survived the defeat of Morgoth in the War of Wrath and escaped to hide beneath the Misty Mountains. For more than five millennia, the Balrog remained in its deep hiding place at the roots of the mountains in Khazad-dûm, until in the Third Age the mithril-miners of Dwarf-King Durin VI disturbed it (or released it from its prison) in T.A. 1980. Durin was killed by the Balrog, whence it was called Durin's Bane by the Dwarves.
The Dwarves attempted to fight the Balrog, but its power was far too great. Despite their efforts to hold Khazad-dûm against it, King Náin and many other Dwarves were killed and the survivors were forced to flee. This disaster also reached the Silvan Elves of Lórien, many of whom also fled the "Nameless Terror" (it was not recognized as a Balrog at the time). The Elves called the place Moria, the "Black Pit" or "Black Chasm" (though the name Moria also appears on the West Gate of Moria, constructed thousands of years earlier in the Second Age).
For another 500 years, Moria was left to the Balrog; though according to Unfinished Tales, Orcs crept in almost immediately after the Dwarves were driven out, leading to Nimrodel's flight. Around T.A. 2480 Sauron began to put his plans for war into effect, and he sent Orcs and Trolls to the Misty Mountains to bar all of the passes: Some of these creatures came to Moria, and the Balrog allowed them to remain.
During the reign of Thráin II, the Dwarves attempted to retake Moria in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, culminating in the Battle of Azanulbizar before the eastern gate of Moria in T.A. 2799. This was a victory for the Dwarves, but the presence of the Balrog prevented their occupying Moria. Dáin Ironfoot, having slain the Orc Azog near the gate, perceived the terror of the Balrog within and warned Thráin that Moria was unachievable until some force could change the world and remove the Balrog. The Dwarves thus departed and resumed their exile.
Despite Dáin's warning, Balin attempted to re-colonize Moria in T.A. 2989, but his party was destroyed. Dáin was killed in battle at the end of the War of the Ring in T.A. 3019, just as the change he spoke of was coming to pass.
In January T.A. 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring traveled through Moria on the way to Mount Doom. They were attacked in the Chamber of Mazarbul by Orcs. The Fellowship fled through a side door, but when the wizard Gandalf the Grey tried to place a "shutting spell" on the door to block the pursuit behind them, the Balrog entered the chamber on the other side and cast a counterspell. Gandalf spoke a word of Command to stay the door, but the door shattered and the chamber collapsed. Gandalf was severely weakened by this encounter. The company fled with him, but the Orcs and the Balrog, taking a different route, caught up with them at the bridge of Khazad-dûm. The Elf Legolas instantly recognized the Balrog and Gandalf tried to hold the bridge against it. Since Gandalf and the Balrog were both Maiar, they were beings of the same order. As they faced each other, Gandalf said, "You cannot pass!", and broke the Bridge beneath the Balrog. As it fell, the Balrog wrapped its whip about Gandalf's knees, dragging him to the brink. As the Fellowship looked on in horror, Gandalf cried "Fly, you fools!" and fell.

After the long fall, the two landed in a subterranean lake, which extinguished the flames of the Balrog's body; however it remained "a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake". They fought in the water, with the Balrog clutching at Gandalf to strangle him, and Gandalf hewing the Balrog with his sword, until finally the Balrog fled into ancient tunnels of unknown origin. Gandalf pursued the creature for eight days, until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil, where the Balrog was forced to turn and fight once again, its body erupting into new flame. Here they fought for two days and nights. In the end, the Balrog was defeated and cast down, breaking the mountainside where it fell "in ruin". Gandalf himself died following this ordeal, but he was later sent back to Middle-earth with even greater powers, as Gandalf the White, "until his task was finished". Tolkien does not reveal the ultimate fate of the Balrog.
(With Thanks to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balrog)


Here are a few reference quotes from The Lord of The Rings;

"The Dwarves tell no tale; but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin's Bane."
(The Lord Of The Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IV ~  "A Journey in the Dark", pg 317)

"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.
It came to the edge of the fire and the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it. Then with a rush it leaped across the fissure. The flames roared up to greet it, and wreathed about it; and a black smoke swirled in the air. Its streaming mane kindled, and blazed behind it. In its right hand was a blade like a stabbing tongue of fire; in its left it held a whip of many thongs.
'Ai! ai! ' wailed Legolas. 'A Balrog! A Balrog is come! '
Gimli stared with wide eyes. `Durin's Bane! ' he cried, and letting his axe fall he covered his face.
'A Balrog,' muttered Gandalf. `Now I understand.' He faltered and leaned heavily on his staff. `What an evil fortune! And I am already weary.'
The dark figure streaming with fire raced towards them. The orcs yelled and poured over the stone gangways. Then Boromir raised his horn and blew. Loud the challenge rang and bellowed, like the shout of many throats under the cavernous roof. For a moment the orcs quailed and the fiery shadow halted. Then the echoes died as suddenly as a flame blown out by a dark wind, and the enemy advanced again.
'Over the bridge!' cried Gandalf, recalling his strength. `Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly! ' Aragorn and Boromir did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind Gandalf at the far end of the bridge. The others halted just within the doorway at the hall's end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face the enemy alone.
The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.
`You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. `I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'
The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.
Glamdring glittered white in answer.
There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire. The Balrog fell back and its sword flew up in molten fragments. The wizard swayed on the bridge, stepped back a pace, and then again stood still.
'You cannot pass! ' he said.
With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed.
'He cannot stand alone! ' cried Aragorn suddenly and ran back along the bridge. 'Elendil!' he shouted. 'I am with you, Gandalf! '
`Gondor! ' cried Boromir and leaped after him.
At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.
With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools! ' he cried, and was gone.
(The Lord Of The Rings,The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter V  ~ "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm", pgs 329-331)



When all the guests were seated before his chair the Lord looked at them again. 'Here there are eight,' he said. `Nine were to set out: so said the messages. But maybe there has been some change of counsel that we have not heard. Elrond is far away, and darkness gathers between us, and all this year the shadows have grown longer.'
`Nay, there was no change of counsel,' said the Lady Galadriel speaking for the first time. Her voice was clear and musical, but deeper than woman's wont. `Gandalf the Grey set out with the Company, but he did not pass the borders of this land. Now tell us where he is; for I much desired to speak with him again. But I cannot see him from afar, unless he comes within the fences of Lothlórien: a grey mist is about him, and the ways of his feet and of his mind are hidden from me.'
'Alas! ' said Aragorn. `Gandalf the Grey fell into shadow. He remained in Moria and did not escape.'
At these words all the Elves in the hall cried aloud in grief and amazement. `These are evil tidings,' said Celeborn, `the most evil that have been spoken here in long years full of grievous deeds.' He turned to Haldir. `Why has nothing of this been told to me before? ' he asked in the Elven-tongue.
'We have not spoken to Haldir of our deeds or our purpose,' said Legolas. `At first we were weary and danger was too close behind and afterwards we almost forgot our grief for a time, as we walked in gladness on the fair paths of Lórien.'
`Yet our grief is great and our loss cannot be mended,' said Frodo. 'Gandalf was our guide, and he led us through Moria; and when our escape seemed beyond hope he saved us, and he fell.'
'Tell us now the full tale! ' said Celeborn:
Then Aragorn recounted all that had happened upon the pass of Caradhras, and in the days that followed; and he spoke of Balin and his book, and the fight in the Chamber of Mazarbul, and the fire, and the narrow bridge, and the coming of the Terror. 'An evil of the Ancient World it seemed, such as I have never seen before,' said Aragorn. `It was both a shadow and a flame, strong and terrible.'
'It was a Balrog of Morgoth,' said Legolas; `of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.'
`Indeed I saw upon the bridge that which haunts our darkest dreams l saw Durin's Bane,' said Gimli in a low voice, and dread was in his eyes.
'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. And if it were possible, one would say that at the last Gandalf fell from wisdom into folly, going needlessly into the net of Moria.'
`He would be rash indeed that said that thing,' said Galadriel gravely. `Needless were none of the deeds of Gandalf in life. Those that followed him knew not his mind and cannot report his full purpose. But however it may be with the guide, the followers are blameless."
(The Lord Of The Rings,The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter VII ~ "The Mirror of Galadriel", pgs 355-356)


'Yes, together we will follow you,' said Legolas. 'But first, it would ease my heart, Gandalf, to hear what befell you in Moria. Will you not tell us? Can you not stay even to tell your friends how you were delivered?'
'I have stayed already too long,' answered Gandalf. 'Time is short. But if there were a year to spend, I would not tell you all.'
'Then tell us what you will, and time allows!' said Gimli. 'Come, Gandalf, tell us how you fared with the Balrog!'
'Name him not!' said Gandalf, and for a moment it seemed that a cloud of pain passed over his face, and he sat silent, looking old as death. 'Long time I fell,' he said at last, slowly, as if thinking back with difficulty. 'Long I fell, and he fell with me. His fire was about me. I was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark. Cold it was as the tide of death: almost it froze my heart.'
'Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin's Bridge, and none has measured it,' said Gimli.
'Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,' said Gandalf. 'Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.
'We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin's folk, Gimli son of Glóin. Far, far below the deepest delving of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dûm: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.'
'Long has that been lost,' said Gimli. 'Many have said that it was never made save in legend, but others say that it was destroyed.'
'It was made, and it had not been destroyed,' said Gandalf. 'From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak it climbed. ascending in unbroken spiral in many thousand steps, until it issued at last in Durin's Tower carved in the living rock of Zirak-zigil, the pinnacle of the Silvertine.
'There upon Celebdil was a lonely window in the snow, and before it lay a narrow space, a dizzy eyrie above the mists of the world. The sun shone fiercely there, but all below was wrapped in cloud. Out he sprang, and even as I came behind, he burst into new flame. There was none to see, or perhaps in after ages songs would still be sung of the Battle of the Peak.' Suddenly Gandalf laughed. 'But what would they say in song? Those that looked up from afar thought that the mountain was crowned with storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire. Is not that enough? A great smoke rose about us, vapor and steam. Ice fell like rain. I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin. Then darkness took me; and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell."
(The Lord Of The Rings, Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V ~ "The White Rider", pgs 501-502)

Here are the various publications where material about Balrogs can be found.

  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), ISBN 0-395-08256-0
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales, Part One, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-35439-0
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-36614-3
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1985), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Lays of Beleriand, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-39429-5
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Lost Road and Other Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-45519-7
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1989), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Treason of Isengard, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-51562-9
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1993), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Morgoth's Ring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-68092-1

So the answer to your question; " ... why did Gandalf want to take out Smaug, and not Durin's Bane?" can have many answers depending on the perspective it is examined from.
For me it is simply stated that Smaug wasn't hidden ... everyone knew exactly where he was.  And Durin's Bane was thought dead or asleep in the uncovered deeps of Moria ... only reawakened after Smaug's death by the dwarves trying to re-colonize Moria and mining deep for mithril.



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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After that well constructed and detailed post by Bear there isn't much more to add!

1. They weren't 100% sure it was a Balrog.
2. The Balrog wasn't an immediate threat.
3. No apparent connections with Sauron.
4. Hidden within the vastness of Moria.
5. Required a substantial army to invade Moria.

Have I missed any?

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Date: Mar 8, 2012

Glordinfel1235:

 

1. They were 100% sure it was a powerful being.

2. Durin's Bane was an immediate threat (close to Rivendell and Lorien. It even was the cause of Nimrodel's people leaving)

3. Apparent connections with Sauron. Sauron's troops were in Moria. How is that not a connection?

4. Hidden doesn't lessen the danger.

5. True. Which leads to the question, was Gandalf actually hoping the dwarves would suceed? I mean, did he really think the expedition would result in the death of Smaug? 



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Mar 8, 2012

Bard,

The point was they didn't know he was there. They thought all Balrogs were hiding, asleep, or destroyed ; they thought he was dead.

Morgoth abused his warriors ... until they were almost all wiped out ... Balrogs included.

Smaug was a lessor dragon ... young even ... "a lessor spawn of greater sires."

And Gandalf did expect the dwarves to give the dragon his commupance.

He counted on the dwarves lust for gold and treasure and the ingenuity of the hobbit to rid the North of the dragon's terror.

 

Gandalf an old fool? I don't think so.

But you do make a point.






-- Edited by Bear on Thursday 8th of March 2012 08:46:27 AM

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Date: Mar 8, 2012
To be put simplistically:

I think that over the long years and reports (rumors really) of the Durin's bane reached the ears of the Wise (Or White Council). I think Gandalf realizes that a Balrog stalks the darkness of Khazad Dum and he hopes that the company of the ring may pass unnoticed by any of the creature within. Oh, yes! He knew there was a Balrog in Moria. The only reason, as Bard put it, he took out the Balrog is because he was the only one who could (Maiar vs. Maiar, very epic!). Gandalf realized that the Balrog would have pursued the company and ended their quest if he didn't stand and give the rest of them a chance to flee. "This foe is beyond any of you.....Run!"

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Date: Mar 8, 2012
Bear wrote:

Bard,

The point was they didn't know he was there. They thought all Balrogs were hiding, asleep, or destroyed ; they thought he was dead.

Morgoth abused his warriors ... until they were almost all wiped out ... Balrogs included.

Smaug was a lessor dragon ... young even ... "a lessor spawn of greater sires."

And Gandalf did expect the dwarves to give the dragon his commupance.

He counted on the dwarves lust for gold and treasure and the ingenuity of the hobbit to rid the North of the dragon's terror.

 

Gandalf an old fool? I don't think so.

But you do make a point.






-- Edited by Bear on Thursday 8th of March 2012 08:46:27 AM


 Bear, my point was that even if Gandalf didn't know a Balrog still existed (indeed, everyone thought they were destroyed), he should have been concerned about a terror that destroyed the greatest dwarf kingdom, regardless of what he might speculate it could be. And he would have known about this for hundreds of years. First tipoff, this thing, Durin's Bane vanquishes the Morian dwarfs. Second wake up call, Nimrodel's people leave in terror. Thirdly, Dain sees this thing, and is terrified. Hello? Gandalf what have you been smoking? 

The Smaug thing is another matter. How exactly did he expect the dwarves to conquer Smaug? I believe their lust for treasure would compel them to try to recapture Erebor, but how that should be done no one had any idea. If Gandalf did, he never told anyone, so I think he didn't have the slightest clue. Maybe he thought that an assassination attempt would stir Smaug up, and a moving dragon is more vulnerable. Who knows?



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Mar 9, 2012

Bard,
Again welcome.

As to "Gandalf the Old Fool?" ...
Did you take into consideration;
    * That "The Hobbit" was a story for children in 1937 and then later revised.
    * That "The Lord of The Rings" was released in three parts in 1954 and 1955 and had its roots in the Silmarillion that Tolkien started writing while on the front during World War I?     
    *That "The Silmarillion"  was published posthumously in 1977 and Christopher Tolkien included margin notes and partial manuscripts which were often at odds with each other.  The Silmarillion index lists Balrogs as a  reference 10 times ... and there are inconsistencies.
   * In 1980 "Unfinished Tales" the Balrogs are in the index only once and that is in reference to Gothmog, (Lord of Balrogs)

As an inducement to a fair and well researched discussion here are a few more suggestions to round out our play.
These are ALL the Balrogs referenced from the index of "The Silmarillion";

"But he was not alone. For of the Maiar many were drawn to his splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into his darkness; and others he corrupted afterwards to his service with lies and treacherous gifts. Dreadful among these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror."
(The Silmarillion, Valaquenta: Account of the Valar and Maiar according to the lore of the Eldar, Of the Enemies, pg 31)

"But in the north Melkor built his strength, and he slept not, but watched, and laboured; and the evil things that he had perverted walked abroad, and the dark and slumbering woods were haunted by monsters and shapes of dread. And in Utumno he gathered his demons about him, those spirits who first adhered to him in the days of his splendour, and became most like him in his corruption: their hearts were of fire, but they were cloaked in darkness, and terror went before them; they had whips of flame. Balrogs they were named in Middle-earth in later days. And in that dark time Melkor bred many other monsters of divers shapes and kinds that long troubled the world; and his realm spread now ever southward over Middle-earth."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter III ~ "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor" , pg 47)

"Deep in forgotten places that cry was heard. Far beneath the ruined halls of Angband, in vaults to which the Valar in the haste of their assault had not descended, Balrogs lurked still, awaiting ever the return of their Lord; and now swiftly they arose, and passing over Hithlum they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire. With their whips of flame they smote asunder the webs of Ungoliant, and she quailed, and turned to flight ..."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter IX ~ "Of the Flight of the Noldor", pg 81)


"Thus it was that he drew far ahead of the van of his host; and seeing this the servants of Morgoth turned to bay, and there issued from Angband Balrogs to aid them. There upon the confines of Dor Daedeloth, the land of Morgoth, Fëanor was surrounded, with few friends about him. Long he fought on, and undismayed, though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds; but at the last he was smitten to the ground by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, whom Ecthelion after slew in Gondolin. There he would have perished, had not his sons in that moment come up with force to his aid; and the Balrogs left him, and departed to Angband ... But even in the hour of the death of Fëanor an embassy came to his sons from Morgoth, acknowledging defeat, and offering terms, even to the surrender of a Silmaril. Then Maedhros the tall, the eldest son, persuaded his brothers to feign to treat with Morgoth, and to meet his emissaries at the place appointed; but the Noldor had as little thought of faith as had he. Wherefore each embassy came with greater force than was agreed; but Morgoth sent the more, and there were Balrogs. Maedhros was ambushed, and all his company were slain; but he himself was taken alive by the command of Morgoth, and brought to Angband.
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XIII ~ "Of the Return of the Noldor", pgs 107-108)

"Thither, as was earlier told, Ungoliant had fled from the whips of the Balrogs, and there she dwelt a while, filling the ravines with her deadly gloom ..."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XIV ~  "Of Beleriand and Its Realms", pg 121)

"In the front of that fire came Glaurung the golden, father of dragons, in his full might; and in his train were Balrogs, and behind them came the black armies of the Orcs in multitudes such as the Noldor had never before seen or imagined. And they assaulted the fortresses of the Noldor, and broke the leaguer about Angband, and slew wherever they found them the Noldor and their allies. Grey-elves and Men. Many of the stoutest of the foes of Morgoth were destroyed in the first days of that war, bewildered and dispersed and unable to muster their strength. War ceased not wholly ever again in Beleriand; but the Battle of Sudden Flame is held to have ended with the coming of spring, when the onslaught of Morgoth grew less.... And because of the strength and height of the Shadowy Mountains, which withstood the torrent of fire, and by the valour of the Elves and the Men of the North, which neither Orc nor Balrog could yet overcome, Hithlum remained unconquered, a threat upon the flank of Morgoth's attack; but Fingolfin was sundered from his kinsmen by a sea of foes."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XVIII ~  "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin", pg 151-152)

"Thus he wrought the doom of Doriath, and was ensnared within the curse of Mandos. And those that heard these words perceived that Thingol would save his oath, and yet send Beren to his death; for they know that not all the power of the Noldor, before the Siege was broken, had availed even to see from afar the shining Silmarils of Fëanor. For they were set in the Iron Crown, and treasured in Angband above all wealth; and Balrogs were about them, and countless swords, and strong bars, and unassailable walls, and the dark majesty of Morgoth."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XIX ~  "Of Beren and Lúthien", pg 167)

"Now the phalanx of the guard of the King broke through the ranks of the Orcs, and Turgon hewed his way to the side of his brother; and it is told that the meeting of Turgon with Húrin, who stood beside Fingon, was glad in the midst of battle. Then hope was renewed in the hearts of the Elves; and in that very time, at the third hour of morning, the trumpets of Maedhros were heard at last coming up from the east, and the banners of the sons of Fëanor assailed the enemy in the rear. Some have said that even then the Eldar might have won the day, had all their hosts proved faithful; for the Orcs wavered, and their onslaught was stayed, and already some were turning to flight. But even as the vanguard of Maedhros came upon the Orcs, Morgoth loosed his last strength, and Angband was emptied. There came wolves, and wolfriders, and there came Balrogs, and dragons, and Glaurung father of dragons. The strength and terror of the Great Worm were now great indeed, and Elves and Men withered before him; and he came between the hosts of Maedhros and Fingon and swept them apart ...
Yet neither by wolf, nor by Balrog, nor by Dragon, would Morgoth have achieved his end, but for the treachery of Men....
But now in the western battle Fingon and Turgon were assailed by a tide of foes thrice greater than all the force that was left to them. Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, high-captain of Angband, was come; and he drove a dark wedge between the Elvenhosts, surrounding King Fingon, and thrusting Turgon and Húrin aside towards the Fen of Serech. Then he turned upon Fingon. That was a grim meeting. At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a thong of fire about him. Then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe, and a white flame sprang up from the helm of Fingon as it was cloven. Thus fell the High King of the Noldor; and they beat him into the dust with their maces, and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XX ~  "Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad", pgs 192-193)

"At last, in the year when Eärendil was seven years old, Morgoth was ready, and he loosed upon Gondolin his Balrogs, and his Orcs, and his wolves; and with them came dragons of the brood of Glaurung, and they were become now many and terrible. The host of Morgoth came over the northern hills where the height was greatest and the watch least vigilant, and it came at night upon a time of festival, when all the people of Gondolin were upon the walls to await the rising sun, and sing their songs at its uplifting; for the morrow was the great feast that they named the Gates of Summer. But the red light mounted the hills in the north and not in the east; and there was no stay in the advance of the foe until they were beneath the very walls of Gondolin, and the city was beleaguered without hope. Of the deeds of desperate valour there done, by the chieftains of the noble houses and their warriors, and not least by Tuor, much is told in The Fall of Gondolin: of the battle of Ecthelion of the Fountain with Gothmog Lord of Balrogs in the very square of the King, where each slew the other, and of the defence of the tower of Turgon by the people of his household, until the tower was overthrown; and mighty was its fall and the fall of Turgon in its ruin ...
... There was a dreadful pass, Cirith Thoronath it was named, the Eagles' Cleft, where beneath the shadow of the highest peaks a narrow path wound its way; on the right hand it was walled by a precipice, and on the left a dreadful fall leapt into emptiness. Along that narrow way their march was strung, when they were ambushed by Orcs, for Morgoth had set watchers all about the encircling hills; and a Balrog was with them. Then dreadful was their plight, and hardly would they have been saved by the valour of yellow-haired Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower of Gondolin, had not Thorondor come timely to their aid.
Many are the songs that have been sung of the duel of Glorfindel with the Balrog upon a pinnacle of rock in that high place; and both fell to ruin in the abyss. But the eagles coming stooped upon the Orcs, and drove them shrieking back; and all were slain or cast into the deeps, so that rumour of the escape from Gondolin came not until long after to Morgoth's ears. Then Thorondor bore up Glorfindel's body out of the abyss, and they buried him in a mound of stones beside the pass; and a green turf came there, and yellow flowers bloomed upon it amid the barrenness of stone, until the world was changed."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XXIII ~  "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin", pgs 242-243)

"Of the march of the host of the Valar to the north of Middle-earth little is said in any tale; for among them went none of those Elves who had dwelt and suffered in the Hither Lands, and who made the histories of those days that still are known; and tidings of these things they only learned long afterwards from their kinsfolk in Aman. But at the last the might of Valinor came up out of the West, and the challenge of the trumpets of Eönwë filled the sky; and Beleriand was ablaze with the glory of their arms, for the host of the Valar were arrayed in forms young and fair and terrible, and the mountains rang beneath their feet.
The meeting of the hosts of the West and of the North is named the Great Battle, and the War of Wrath. There was marshalled the whole power of the Throne of Morgoth, and it had become great beyond count, so that Anfauglith could not contain it; and all the North was aflame with war.
But it availed him not. The Balrogs were destroyed, save some few that fled and hid themselves in caverns inaccessible at the roots of the earth; and the uncounted legions of the Orcs perished like straw in a great fire, or were swept like shrivelled leaves before a burning wind. Few remained to trouble the world for long years after. And such few as were left of the three houses of the Elf-friends, Fathers of Men, fought upon the part of the Valar; and they were avenged in those days for Baragund and Barahir, Galdor and Gundor, Huor and Húrin, and many others of their lords. But a great part of the sons of Men, whether of the people of Uldor or others new-come out of the east, marched with the Enemy; and the Elves do not forget it.
Then, seeing that his hosts were overthrown and his power dispersed, Morgoth quailed, and he dared not to come forth himself. But he loosed upon his foes the last desperate assault that he had prepared, and out of the pits of Angband there issued the winged dragons, that had not before been seen; and so sudden and ruinous was the onset of that dreadful fleet that the host of the Valar was driven back, for the coming of the dragons was with great thunder, and lightning, and a tempest of fire.
But Eärendil came, shining with white flame, and about Vingilot were gathered all the great birds of heaven and Thorondor was their captain, and there was battle in the air all the day and through a dark night of doubt. Before the rising of the sun Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin. Then the sun rose, and the host of the Valar prevailed, and well-nigh all the dragons were destroyed; and all the pits of Morgoth were broken and unroofed, and the might of the Valar descended into the deeps of the earth. There Morgoth stood at last at bay, and yet unvaliant. He fled into the deepest of his mines, and sued for peace and pardon; but his feet were hewn from under him, and he was hurled upon his face. Then he was bound with the chain Angainor which he had worn aforetime, and his iron crown they beat into a collar for his neck, and his head was bowed upon his knees. And the two Silmarils which remained to Morgoth were taken from his crown, and they shone unsullied beneath the sky; and Eönwë took them, and guarded them."
(The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter XXIV ~  "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath", pgs 251-252)



As to the other points you have raised a have just a few insights which lead us to a difference only of opinion.

That we don't know what happened to Balin in Moria is the reason Gloin comes with his son Gimli to seek counsel from Elrond and the rest of the wise... they don't know what is wrong they just know things aren't as they should be.
No one is sure what happened in Balin's attempt to establish a new dwarf kingdom in Moria until they find the manuscript  in the Chamber of Mazarbul. (The Chamber of Records)
The manuscript seems more worried about ambushing orcs and the Watcher in the Water.
The end seems to be more about being trapped by orcs and hill trolls and that they "can't get out."
As Gandalf holds the door he senses the power of the still unidentified Balrog ... and no one is positive until Legolas at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm where Gandalf puts it all together and makes his solitary stand.
No fool was Gandalf ..... he knew that he alone could face this deadly evil ... and he did to his very death.

I think that to continue this it might be advisable to define our terms ... those being ... Maiar, Olorin (Gandalf) and his mission, and the past history of the Dwarves to Elves, Men, and the minions of Morgoth.

Certainly an interesting sojourn when describing one of Tolkien's heroes as a "fool."

Shall we continue?









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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Now I don't want to be controversial but I think we aren't on the same page here. My point isn't that Gandalf was a fool for leading the Fellowship through Moria. I can understand his decision. He hoped to sneak past Durin's Bane unnoticed.

My point is actually why Durin's Bane (they didn't know it was a Balrog) was never viewed as a potential threat to the neighbouring realms of Lorien and Rivendell. The Wise should have considered this threat for the reasons I stated earlier. And thanks Bear for bringing up the subject of Gloin. How come at the Council of Elrond when Gloin reported the news on Balin, Gandalf didn't jump up and shout, "Maybe Durin's Bane is the reason you short fool! What has Dain been smoking? He saw it for Eru's sake!". I'm surprised the Wise just sat there and kept their mouths shut about the subject.

Again, I'm not saying Gandalf was a fool for leading the Fellowship into Moria or fighting the Balrog. I'm saying that his judgement is in question due to the fact he never thought Durin's Bane was a threat.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Bard,
I am a little confused.  But still enjoying this!
You say; "I'm not saying Gandalf was a fool for leading the Fellowship into Moria or fighting the Balrog. I'm saying that his judgment is in question due to the fact he never thought Durin's Bane was a threat."
So Gandalf is not a fool ... he was just foolish in one thing ... not recognizing that the dwarves had awoken the Balrog.
Gandalf wasn't a God.  Gandalf wasn't even an angel.  He was Istari; that is one of five Maiar sent to earth to battle Sauron.  He did not see the future.  As he arrived one of the Three Rings of the Elves, called the Red Ring and the Ring of Fire; (originally borne by Círdan the Shipwright) was given  to Gandalf on his arrival in Middle-earth.
He was a member of the White Council but wouldn't accept a leadership role on it.  It went to Saruman ~ (we know how that worked out!)


The White Council was formed in the Third Age to combat the Necromancer of Dol Guldur.(who it turns out to be Sauron and a few of his Nazgul) The White Council thought they had driven the Necromancer out, but it was just a strategic retreat foe Sauron. (maybe he was tipped off by Saruman)

Rivendell and Lothlorien were surrounded by a multitude of enemies and found many ways to combat these foes.  There were so many that what was happening deep in Moria was beyond their sight.
Dol Guldur was eastwards across the Anduin River in the southwest corner of Mirkwood.  (less than 100 miles from Lorien and Caras Galadhon.)
The Trolls and Goblins haunted the mountains nearest Rivendell and, as we saw in The Fellowship of the Ring, there are all kinds of nasty things on the roads leading to and from Rivendell. (Old Man Willow, Barrow-wights, Trolls, Goblins and Orcs, Highway Men, giant spiders, Gollum, etc.)
In short there are enough bad guys surrounding them that Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, (and Gandalf too) probably thought very little about the creatures  (Balrogs)  who disappeared (believed destroyed) in the defeat of Morgoth.


At Rivendell "Gandalf didn't jump up and shout ..." because he wasn't sure he knew the answer.  It was also the policy to discuss the dangers faced in the most obscure and misleading way and behind closed doors ... (the letter sent by Gandalf to Frodo about Aragorn ... "all that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost" is a good example) This was done as a way of avoiding panic and impulsive and not well thought out responses and actions. I also see that as Tolkien has developed the character of Gandalf secrecy and misdirection are a common foil of the wizard;

  • Tricking Bilbo to go along with Thorin as a "burgler."
  • Getting Bilbo to leave the Ring to Frodo.
  • The veil of secrecy surrounding the Ring.
  • Getting Frodo to sell Bag End.
  • Leaving special letters which carry verses to recognizing
  • And these are just a few ...

Gandalf is just not the personality to "jump up and shout ..."


As to folks being unconcerned about the evil in Moria I offer some small evidence to the contrary.
And Tolkien manages to see your point of Gandalf falling into folly but he refutes it immediately.

"Then Aragorn recounted all that had happened upon the pass of Caradhras, and in the days that followed; and he spoke of Balin and his book, and the fight in the Chamber of Mazarbul, and the fire, and the narrow bridge, and the coming of the Terror. 'An evil of the Ancient World it seemed, such as I have never seen before,' said Aragorn. `It was both a shadow and a flame, strong and terrible.'
'It was a Balrog of Morgoth,' said Legolas; `of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.'
`Indeed I saw upon the bridge that which haunts our darkest dreams l saw Durin's Bane,' said Gimli in a low voice, and dread was in his eyes.
'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. And if it were possible, one would say that at the last Gandalf fell from wisdom into folly, going needlessly into the net of Moria.'
`He would be rash indeed that said that thing,' said Galadriel gravely. `Needless were none of the deeds of Gandalf in life. Those that followed him knew not his mind and cannot report his full purpose. But however it may be with the guide, the followers are blameless. Do not repent of your welcome to the Dwarf. If our folk had been exiled long and far from Lothlórien, who of the Galadhrim, even Celeborn the Wise, would pass nigh and would not wish to look upon their ancient home, though it had become an abode of dragons?
'Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone.' She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer.
He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: `Yet more fair is the living land of Lórien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth! '
There was a silence. At length Celeborn spoke again. `I did not know that your plight was so evil,' he said. `Let Gimli forget my harsh words: I spoke in the trouble of my heart. I will do what I can to aid you, each according to his wish and need, but especially that one of the little folk who bears the burden.'
 (The Lord Of The Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter VII ~ "The Mirror of Galadriel", pg 356)

So I guess elvish Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel had a suspicion that a Balrog slept in the depths of Moria. They had been in Middle-Earth for many ages and would recognize the characteristics of such a character of the Balrog.  But Gandalf was new to Middle-Earth. (Third Age only)  He wouldn't know if he was powerful enough to defeat one of the minions of Morgoth.  But he would know that he was Maiar. He knew he was given the power and the skills by Eru to defeat the lieutenants of Morgoth.
I doubt he knew which element of Morgoth's evil resided asleep deep in Moria.  But after he arrived at the Moria gates near The Watcher in the Water he knew that he was up against ancient evil ... but I don't believe he was sure which one.




Now as to your point "Now I don't want to be controversial ...", I have to chuckle.
Meaning no disrespect but this topic was controversial from the first posting.
Please don't be offended ... that is a good thing, especially here.
"So the question is, why did Gandalf want to take out Smaug, and not Durin's Bane?"
Gandalf wanted to take out all that was evil. But he didn't know all that was evil ~ at least he wasn't sure exactly what was evil. He wasn't sure exactly where Durin's bane was ~ my point is the question itself is controversial.
Even the title to the thread "Gandalf the Old Fool?" is controversial.

In your last posting you waiver a fair distance from your first question;
"Again, I'm not saying Gandalf was a fool for leading the Fellowship into Moria or fighting the Balrog. I'm saying that his judgment is in question due to the fact he never thought Durin's Bane was a threat."
"... his judgment is in question ..."
is set to provoke a response. ...Judgement? Question? Even that he thought Durin's Bane not a threat ... he knew it was a threat. Balrogs are always a threat. He just wasn't sure where Durin's Bane was hiding, sleeping, caged, or dead.

You may claim innocence, but this topic was meant "to stir the pot."

Which keeps us all growing, listening, researching, reading, and writing ... about Tolkien ... which is exactly what this Forum is meant to do!



That bottom line is this;
You provoked an interesting discussion.
Your topic provided "a forum" where material could be generated that we possibly all might learn from.
Please don't be afraid to speak your mind here.  The site moderators are very good here and hold an open tolerant attitude within a structure that welcomes divergent viewpoints. "Controversial" is a stepping stone to an exchange of opinion and a chance to learn.
Lastly, if something really bugs you, use the private message feature in your profile. Most of us use it for support and encouragement.  But there is no reason you can't express your frustration within the limits of good taste.

Bard ... we are friends here. We have our ups and downs but the true score is many nations, many levels of scholastic input, many levels of Tolkien expertise ... and room for everybody.
We love Tolkien.
And you are most welcome here ...



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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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I see. Now Bear, there are a few points I don't think you are taking into account. By the way, for the purposes of this discussion I will only be using the term "Durin's Bane" to describe the being responsible for the destruction of Khazad-dum and Durin's death. I am not specifically stating that Durin's Bane is a Balrog (although it indeed was).

1. My first point is that Gandalf may not have identified Durin's Bane as a Balrog. After all, it was often clouded in shadow, and perhaps the survivors and also Dain didn't see enough to describe it accurately. However, the fact remains that an unspeakable terror of immense power was in Moria (regardless of whether it was a Balrog or not), and Gandalf gave no concern to it whatsoever. Granted if it had been identified as a Balrog, Gandalf may have had greater cause for concern and perhaps taken steps to ensure its overthrow.

2. The part about Celeborn puzzles me. When did they suspect there was a terror in Moria? During the days of Khazad-dum? Or were they referring to Balin's group stirring up Durin's Bane again?

3. And when I said "jump up and shout" I was exaggerating. I didn't actually mean that. What I meant was that something should have been said. And the Council of Elrond was a "closed doors" meeting. After all, if they are discussing the Ring of Power, then I think the issue of Durin's Bane is not a matter too high for the discussion. Something should have been said. Gandalf no doubt knew of something powerful in Moria, and why he didn't at least say something to Gloin baffles me. I also think that Dain failed in his duties as king, when he let Balin go. But this is a subject for another thread.

Gandalf knew:
- there was a terror of immense power in Moria
- It was still there after the War of Goblins and Dwarves
- It was allied (and possibly served) with Sauron, as his troops were inhabiting Moria

It could be capable of destroying Rivendell or Lorien at Sauron's command for all Gandalf knew. His precautions were nonexistent.

Gandalf did not:
- Give a possible explanation to Gloin
- Take steps to ensure the removal of Durin's Bane (in other words, the creature tha ruined Khazad-dum, not specifically the Balrog)

Therefore it appears that Gandalf majorly overlooked this problem.

I'm also wondering about his previous trip into Moria. Do you think possibly he was investigating Durin's Bane and trying to discover what it was?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Don't forget that the Balrog had been deep under Moria for centuries before the dwarves delved too deep. It seems fairly clear that the Balrog didn't have any inclinations towards going outside into the world. Galadriel, Celeborn, Elrond etc would have known this. The only reason Nimrodel's people fled was because the dwarves had awakened the Balrog, not because he fancied a bit of sunlight after all those years in the depths.

I really think the Wise were more preoccupied with the many others evils in the world - evils which were a constant threat and were on the rise everywhere in the later years of the Third Age.

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Yes I believe you mouth of sauron. However, I don't think that should excuse Gandalf. He should have been concerned with this powerful minion of Sauron's. However, I'm willing to give him a bit of slack. The White Council pretty much became deficient after their last meeting. Radagast became an ecologist, Saruman only cared about ring-lore, and the elves were just coasting until they could set sail to the West. So maybe he was a bit overburdened, but I think he should have given as much thought to Durin's Bane (the thing not the Balrog) as he did to Smaug.

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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There is no evidence the Balrog ever had anything to do with Sauron past the First Age. The orcs of Moria weren't exactly the orcs of Mordor, they may have ultimately served Sauron but the lines of communication would have been almost non-existent. I reckon they were mostly tribes that were only nominally under Sauron's control.
Besides which what does that really have to do with the Balrog? The orcs were afraid of him if anything, I don't see any connection between the Balrog and Sauron. Maybe I'm missing something.

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Bilbo, my point is that Gandalf doesn't have the knowledge we have. If you were in Gandalf's shoes, or boots, whatever, and you were aware of a nameless terror in Moria, where orcs of Mordor are, what conclusion would you draw? I would think of the possibility that this creature might wreak havoc under the command of Sauron, and would want to take steps to eliminate this threat. Much more than Smaug that's for sure.

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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This thread prompted me to revisit the chapter The Ring Goes South to look into what Gandalf's thoughts were about traversing the 'long dark of Moria'.
When the mountain passes defeat the Fellowship of the Ring there had been a long debate between Gandalf and Aragorn. I was under the impression that Gandalf feared the mines but in fact it was Aragorn who was set against them entering Khazad Dum. Gandalf wished to pass that way despite him knowing of the creature of 'shadow and flame'. There were too many reports over the ages of Durin's Bane for him and the council not to realize that the creature stirred once more.

Yet he (Gandalf) suggests first that they enter the mountain. Strange!!!!!


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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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In the film it's Gimli who is most eager to enter Moria while it's Gandalf who fears that route the most. This seems the most logical scenario. Strange indeed!

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In the book it's also Gimli most eager to enter Moria. Indeed, he is the only one not reluctant about that path. I find it very very strange that Gandalf would not be considering Durin's Bane. I mean, why was he so surprised that it was a Balrog? It was certainly something very powerful. That much he knew. I can understand that he would be surprised that a Balrog still existed, but he shouldn't have been surprised that there was a power to match him residing in Moria. 

 

Even stranger is the incredibly apathetic White Council witholding of action upon Durin's Bane. 



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Bard the Bowman wrote:
Even stranger is the incredibly apathetic White Council witholding of action upon Durin's Bane. 

As has been mentioned already - the 'power' within Moria wasn't going anywhere. It had been there for several thousand years and it only caused the dwarves to flee because they 'delved too deep'.

The White Council were concerned with Sauron - that is why the Istari were sent to Middle-eart after all. They weren't going to deviate and try and summon a big enough army to invade Moria and try and defeat this 'unknown power' that wasn't any real threat to them.



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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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That is a good point Glorfindel!

The Istari came to Middle-earth to contend with Sauron and perhaps they were to remain as neutral as possible in the dealing with other threats in the world. Maybe the were aware of something like a 'butterfly effect' when it came to intervening with the natural order of things but right there I drift away from fact into speculation.

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Exactly. So why on earth did Gandalf feel it necessary to take out Smaug? Smaug wasn't going anywhere, and there was absolutely no indication that he would follow Sauron. Yet Gandalf felt the need to take out Smaug, when he should have been more concerned with Durin's Bane (which had an apparent connection with Sauron and was closer to destroying the elves).

The other theory is that Gandalf really didn't expect anything to come from the expedition, and he just sent the dwarves for...well I haven't quite figured that out yet either. If a dragon is resting peacefully, the last thing you should do is send in some dwarves to incite him to destruction. So I'm still trying to decipher Gandalf's reasoning for that particular quest.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Bard,

No offense,

"So why on earth did Gandalf feel it necessary to take out Smaug?"

because Tolkien wrote his CHILDREN"S STORY without any deliberate connection to his other works ... get it ...1937 versus 1954 ... "Lord of The Rings" includes "hobbit and dragon stuff" that "The Hobbit" does not.
Why?
The Hobbit came first as a CHILDREN"S STORY not meant to be a work based on his other writings.
Why?
BECAUSE TOLKIEN WROTE IT THAT WAY!

So come on!  Get over it! Move on.

You have enough knowledge and writing skills to stop beating a dead horse ... let it go!



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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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I understand your point Bear. But why then did Tolkien continue to entertain the idea that Gandalf felt it absolutely necessary to remove Smaug? Why did he feel the need to write in his little excerpt in the Appendices about this subject? 



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Bard,

Please which Appendices? The ones in The Lord of The Rings? (written years after The Hobbit")

The primary antagonist is the dragon ... but we have so many protagonists ... with all sorts of supportive antagonists and neutral protagonistic forces which are benign and still antagonistic to our main character. (I am speaking only of The Hobbit here)

Because Tolkien was so prolific there are many sources which can be reviewed ... so which Appendices please?



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Gandalf speaks to Frodo in Minas Tirith about the Quest of Erebor, just after the War of the Ring was won, from Unfinished Tales:
"I was very troubled at that time," he said, "for Saruman was hindering all my plans. I knew that Sauron had arisin again and would soon declare himself, and I knew that he was preparing for a great war. How would he begin? Would he try first to re-occupy Mordor, or would he first attack the chief strongholds of his enemies? I thought then, and I am sure now, that to attack Lorien and Rivendell, as soon as he was strong enough, was his original plan. It would have been a much better plan for him, and much worse for us."
"You may think that Rivendell was out of his reach, but I did not think so. The state of things in the North was very bad. The Kingdom under the Mountain and the strong Men of Dale were no more. To resist any force that Sauron might send to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar there were only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, and behind them lay a desolation and a Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. Often I said to myself: 'I must find some means of dealing with Smaug. But a direct stroke against Dol Guldur is needed still more. We must disturb Sauron's plans. I must make the Council see that.'"


I think that might answer Bard's question about why Gandalf was so concerned with the Dragon Smaug. He knew that Sauron was growing as The Necromancer in Dol Guldur. If Sauron was allowed to grow stronger he would destroy any alliance created by the free peoples of Middle-Earth by attempting to sack Lorien and then Rivendell. No help would be able to come from the north from Free Men or Dwarves to the aid of the Elves if Smaug was deployed as a block from the North. Then Sauron would move to take Rivendell next and once that was accomplished he would summon the Balrog. Why wouldn't the Balrog help take revenge on the Elves? After that Minas Tirith and Rohan would fold like a cheap suit. These things might have come to pass if it wasn't for the White Council directed by Gandalf to flush Sauron out of Dol Guldur and it was Saruman's fear that if the White Council didn't make that move there would be nothing stopping Sauron from finding the ring before he did.

Gandalf goes on to speak about his intentions for Thorin: "As soon as Thorin saw them (The key and map given to him by Thrain) he really made up his mind to follow my plan, as far as a secret expedition went at any rate. Whatever he thought of Bilbo he would have set out himself. The existence of a secret door, only discoverable by Dwarves, made it seem at least possible to find out something of the Dragon's doings, perhaps even to recover some gold, or some heirloom to ease his heart's longings."   Unfinished Tales, The Quest of Erebor, pgs. 336, 338, 339.

I dunno...



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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Thanks Jaidoprism. That was really helpful. So, let us assume the attempt on Erebor had failed and the quest had ended their, and Smaug receded and settled back down on his hoard, but the White Council still drove Sauron from Mirkwood, do you think Gandalf would have been as concerned about Smaug?

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Yes. I believe Gandalf would be seriously concerned about Smaug. Smaug would have followed through and destroyed those 'tub thumping lake men' and Lake Town would have fallen. Unless Bilbo had the opportunity to hold an audience with Smaug as he managed to do in The Hobbit. Then Bard (your namesake) would have been informed of the naked patch in Smaug's armor and still shot down the Dragon.

If Bard had not known of the bare patch in the Dragon's armor then Smaug would still be in bed of gold within the Lonely Mountain. Sauron would have sent his minions there much earlier than he did in the War of the Ring and a great force would have destroyed the Elves of Mirkwood and then Lorien. Many of the elves would be hard put to it to flee Middle-earth while the Dragon lived. And Dain would be held away from helping the alliance against Sauron. Moria was overrun. Lonely Mountain has a great force waiting the word from Mordor. Think of it as a massive game of chess on a board shaped like middle earth: The misty mountains lie between Rivendell and Lorien. Sauron has a Bishop or a Rook in the Balrog with a multitude of orcs, that's a strike against Rivendell for sure. Another Bishop or Rook in the Lonely Mountain, that's a strike against Mirkwood first and depending on who fell first, the freed up bishop or rook would turn to Lorien. The death of Smaug was a huge deal in the way that the War of the Ring panned out.

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Well are we to assume Gandalf was ignorant of the fact that Sauron had troops in Moria?

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That too, at the time of the Hobbit was a very mysterious subject. The mines of Moria had been abandoned for centuries due to Durin's Bane. So no reports were to be had. Gandalf hears reports of the mysterious stronghold of Dol Guldur and expects the Lord of the Nazgul to be reeking havoc there. It wasn't until he discovers that the Necromancer was indeed Sauron himself manifesting once again that there was any reason to think that the disbanded orcs throughout middle-earth were doing anything else but hiding and biding their time. And to attempt to eradicate their sparse numbers and spread out tribes is like trying to stamp out too many roaches at once. They just scatter.

It wasn't until Gandalf learned that Sauron stirred once more and the orcs had their leader's influence back that the orcs were even considered a threat. So it wasn't until the time of The Hobbit that the orcs were any threat to anyone but random wayfarers and the like...

What say you?

P.S.  My 200th post!  I wish I'd prepared a speech....confuseno



-- Edited by Jaidoprism7 on Wednesday 21st of March 2012 11:01:00 AM

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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I think that orcs were indeed considered a threat. Are you forgetting Angmar? And remember the War of Dwarves and Orcs. However, that is not my point.

Let's look at it this way; why would Gandalf suspect a connection between Durin's Bane and Sauron? (rhetorical) Well, if Gandalf knew that orcs of Mordor were residing in Moria, then he would certainly fear an alliance between this mysterious creature Durin's Bane (unknown to all that it was indeed a Balrog) and the Dark Lord. That would prompt him to take some action against this threat.

Now, if this was indeed the case, Gandalf seems to be negligent (although he does more than the rest of the Council combined), for as we know from the books, Durin's Bane was not investigated.

So, the question is, did Gandalf know orcs of Mordor were in Moria? If he didn't, then he might just think (and reasonably so) that Durin's Bane would just sit in Moria and rot. If Gandalf did know of the Mordor troops there, he should have been far more concerned than what we gather from the text.

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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I will get back to you about that Bard, but I have formulated an answer that may satisfy you for now when pertaining to Gandalf's lack of urgency concerning these things:

Gandalf was very fond of the Halflings' leaf!
Cheers!

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I can't remember exactly when the orcs in Moria fell directly under Mordor's control and by what degree were they subject to orders from Mordor?

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You and other members of this site might be able to provide the exact moments in the literary works where the orcs of Moria fell directly under Mordor's control.

I can't say directly but more like influenced. At a certain point in LOTR Gollum abandons his search for the ring because he heeds the call of Mordor. This disembodied influence was strong with him because Sauron was calling to the Ring which Smeagol possessed for a little more than half a millenia. 'He heard his masters.....call....' to paraphrase Gandalf, of the One Ring. As far as I know Orcs were rallied, if not created entirely, by Morgoth and perhaps the skill was passed to the former student of Aule...Sauron to create or rally more of them. This call began perhaps after the White Council failed to capture the Necromancer. Perhaps Sauron saw their arrival as a threat and it forced his hand to action much sooner than he cared for.

Never has my opinion of his settling in Mirkwood been changed; He was searching for the Ring. That's a given. Saruman learns why and continues to dissuade the White Council in taking action so he may learn more about its whereabouts...


Can anyone perhaps make my muttled words a bit clearer with some actual research. I think I'm close, just not amongst my books at the moment.

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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I agree 100 percent with you there Jaid, but I would like to add some. I think we may be drifting from the point. Gandalf clearly states in The Fellowship of the Ring that black uruks of Mordor are in Moria. How long? And if they had been there for some time was the White Council aware of them? These are the fundamental questions that need to be answered.

FACT: We know black uruks of Mordor were in Moria.

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Bard,
I believe the Black Uruks of Mordor were there to bring word to the disbanded orcs of Moria & to rally them back into service of their master Sauron the Great. Yes. Indeed!

Tolkien really delved into great depths when creating his world (I'm sure I don't need to tell you that) and a lot of his details were chronological, but he never divulged his thought processes, or spelled them out for us. I think he knew that too much info about the enemies movements and their scoutings would take away from their menacing quality. But what we have been discussing was certainly implied and it is more than safe to make the assumption that Sauron was making moves in equal opposition at times in the stories in question.

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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Well said Jaido! And Bear as well before! It appears that I've missed a very interesting topic. But oh well, I think Bear has laid this one to rest with his research and facts.

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Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Huan, please don't make a general statement like that without any proof to back it up. Bear actually wasn't even on-topic for most of the discussion. Are you the same person from the Bear account? It sounds like it. The fundamental questions from my last post still haven't been answered.

How long were the uruks of Mordor in Moria?

If they had been in Moria some time (which I suspect they had), why would the White Council not view Durin's Bane (just the creature in general, not necessarily a Balrog), whatever it was, as a likely ally of Sauron and an immediate threat to Rivendell and Lorien?

Remember to think from the perspective of the characters in the novels. They are not omniscient as the readers are, so if I was in the story and I saw that Moria was inhabited by servants of the Dark Lord, I would naturally assume that Durin's Bane was also under the control of Sauron. Doesn't anyone on this site think things through?

By the way, the argument that the Balrog hadn't been active outside of Moria is a weak one. Gandalf feared Smaug's involvement in the War of the Ring, despite the fact he showed no interest in anything other than treasure and was even commented on as becoming larger, hence decadent and plumper.

 

Also one question never answered is why Dain was never debriefed. 



-- Edited by Bard the Bowman on Thursday 12th of April 2012 04:28:15 PM

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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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I'm sorry, Bard, its not your place to tell people what they can and cannot say. Or to say that on person is running two seperat accounts (though its been a whilse since I've been complimented so). If you don't think anyone on this site thinks things through then why even post here? I can't. Speak for my friends here but I for one feel insulted.

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Rohan Peasant - Rank 2
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Huan, I never told you what to say. I simply asked you a question. If you re-read my first sentence of my last post you will find you are mistaken. I have another request. Please make sure you completely read and understand what someone is saying.

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