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Black Breath

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"When the black breath blows
and death's shadow grows
and all lights pass,
come athelas! come athelas!
Life to the dying
In the king's hand lying!''
― The herb-master in the Houses of Healing, quoting "doggerel" spoken by Ioreth[1]

The Black Breath was a weapon used by the Nazgûl. The Ringwraiths' breath was poisonous and could overpower those affected by it.

[edit] History

In the evening of 29 September T.A. 3018,[2] Meriadoc Brandybuck left the Prancing Pony and went for a stroll in Bree. He saw and followed (or was drawn by) a dark shadow, but then fell unconscious. Strider stated that Merry had been overcome by the Black Breath.[3]

In the last retreat before the city of Minas Tirith was besieged, on 13 March 3019,[2] Faramir was struck by a dart shot by one of the Haradrim, which rendered him unconscious.[4] After the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, on 15 March 3019,[2] Aragorn came to the Houses of Healing and recognized that Faramir was suffering from the Black Breath. Aragorn used athelas to cure Faramir, which led to the rapidly spread news that the King had returned.

Earlier, it appears that both Merry and Éowyn were exposed to the Black Breath when they fought the Witch-king. Aragorn, after treating Faramir, also aided these two with athelas.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Houses of Healing"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Strider"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor"