Sauron's Form

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by DerBerggeist, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. DerBerggeist

    DerBerggeist The Mountain Spirit

    Alright, so I’ve just finished reading the Two Towers for the umpteenth time, and I’ve caught something that bugs me a little. It has to do with Sauron and his form at the time of the War of the Ring.
    In the past, I’ve accepted that Sauron took the form of a great Eye that is covered in fire, yet in the very last chapter of Book Four, Shagrat and Gorbag are talking about what to do with Frodo, and they say this:

    They seem to be implying that Sauron is mobile, indeed mobile enough and in such a form that he would be able to interact one-on-one with the prisoner (Frodo). What of this? I don’t suspect he would change his form FROM the Eye to a solid being, because that would mean that for a short while, the Eye would not be there. Is there another explanation?
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  2. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    I always wondered about this as well. Bucky and a few other members recently started a thread called 'Sauron Was Not a Lighthouse.' It adds more quotes. I don't recall seeing this one here, but I guess it would be weird for a gigantic fiery eye to be floating around Mordor or from Dol Guldur to Mordor when he was driven out by the White Council. Also I posted in the above mentioned thread and put this link in there too that I had found here that also explains more about this, it's from 2002.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
  3. DerBerggeist

    DerBerggeist The Mountain Spirit

    Oh, I had no idea there was already a thread on this. I guess I should have checked first!
  4. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    No it's ok. I'm sure if you searched Tom Bombadil or The Entwives, you'd find about 600 for each (ok maybe not 600 lol but a LOT). I just thought I'd post those here because they have better references in them than what I an give and I don't want to copy someone else's post without giving them due credit.
  5. Gandalf White

    Gandalf White Gone Missing

    I feel like Sauron as a flaming eye, and only a flaming eye, trapped atop a tower is a purely cinematic creation. The Sauron in the books is much more "real." I lack the necessary quotes to 'prove' it, but I envision Sauron as powerful enough to imitate(?) human physicality, although without the Ring he is unable to proceed any further.
  6. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Here's a gathering of some quotes concerning Sauron being physical in the Third Age, keeping in mind that Gollum describes Sauron's hand (for example) in The Lord of the Rings. From letter 246, from a letter to Mrs Eileen Elgar (drafts) September 1963

    'In any case a confrontation of Frodo and Sauron would soon have taken place, if the Ring was intact. Its result was inevitable. Frodo would have been utterly overthrown: crushed to dust, or preserved in torment as a gibbering slave. Sauron would not have feared the Ring! It was his own and under his will. Even from afar he had an effect upon it, to make it work for its return to himself. In his actual presence none but very few of equal stature could have hoped to withhold it from him. Of 'mortals' no one, not even Aragorn. In the contest with the Palantír Aragorn was the rightful owner. Also the contest took place at a distance, and in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when actually physically present. Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic. In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power (as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding figure of great strength of body and supremely royal demeanour and countenance.'

    Here's a couple more references from Tolkien's letters. I can get the numbers if wanted, but for now I'm just pasting this from an old post of mine -- where I was apparently too lazy to note the numbers.

    I gave one date however :*D

    'I note your remarks about Sauron. He was always de-bodied when vanquished.' JRRT 1957. Tolkien continues (skipping some stuff)...

    ' ... It was thus that Sauron appeared in this shape. It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that of course did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end. After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Númenor (I suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, that might be called the 'will' or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination). The impossibility of re-building after the destruction of the Ring, is sufficiently clear 'mythologically' in the present book.' JRRT

    Notable points here in my opinion:

    A) the impossibility of rebuilding not after the loss of the One, but after its destruction

    3) Sauron rebuilds his body after the Last Alliance (that it took longer also fits well with the implication of certain statements in the text and The Tale of Years)

    And (another letter)...

    'After which the Third Age began, a Twilight Age, a Medium Aevum, the first of the broken and changed world; the last of the lingering dominion of visible fully incarnate Elves, and the last also in which Evil assumes a single dominant incarnate shape.'

    Here Sauron would appear to be incarnate in the Third Age as well. ​
  7. Prince of Cats

    Prince of Cats Among the Trees

    I suppose the question now is if Peter Jackson was aware of his misinterpretation and if he decided to still depict Sauron this way to add some cinematic effect :*eek: Surely they must have employed some Tolkien scholars :*down Tens or maybe hundreds of millions of people willfully misinformed about Tolkien's vision ... Who let him have The Hobbit?? ;)
  8. Bucky

    Bucky Registered User

    Most the folks who saw the movie are PJ worshippers as they are casual readers of the book & don't know the difference./

    Noew, PJ's painted himself into a corner with 'THe Necromancer' if he wants to have any continuity & integrity between The Hobbit & TLOR...

    It should be odd seeing 'Sauron the Lighthouse' atop Dol Guldur, yet nobody supposedly knowing that great, big Eye is Sauron. :*rolleyes:
  9. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Of course I have no problem with a film incorporating the image of the Eye, as, with respect to the Eye I include the possibilities of: a metaphor, and emblem, and a vision, depending upon the quote...

    ... but that's very different from presenting Sauron as being without a body, for example.
  10. DerBerggeist

    DerBerggeist The Mountain Spirit

    I'm very against the idea of the Eye of Sauron being a metaphor. The descriptions of it are very clearly of a visible and physical thing. Now I know you were just saying it's a possibility and not a for-sure thing, but yeah that's my view on it.
  11. Troll

    Troll Lorekeeper of Nardor

    The Eye is still cooler than Heavy Metal Sauron from the intro. :*p
  12. DerBerggeist

    DerBerggeist The Mountain Spirit

    Haha, well it's not about what's cooler, it's about what's right. But in my opinion, the following quote from Tolkien totally ends the debate about what form Sauron took in the Third Age:

    The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    As for the Eye, I like the idea that Sauron was a sort of "cyclops". Perhaps the whole of his face, or at least most of it, was a single, fiery eye. The description of Sauron should be taken literally, not metaphorically.
  13. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Hmm, well maybe metaphor isn't technically the right word? but in any case I was thinking of examples like the following, where I would say we do not have an emblem, or a vision, so I need a word to easily describe instances like: 'And suddenly he [Frodo] felt the Eye. There was an eye in the Dark Tower that did not sleep.' (The Breaking of the Fellowship) Or: '... but I did not speak, for I was heavy with thought, and weary after my struggle with the Eye of Mordor.' The White Rider

    I don't imagine Gandalf struggling with a literal eye for instance, so to me it seems a reference to Sauron's will, or his searching will or mind.
  14. elessarGObonzo

    elessarGObonzo Registered User

    Sauron had to be mobile or else he could never have left Mordor to the north, then to Mirkwood, then again back to Mordor. The books seem to imply that his physical form was destroyed when he lost The Ring because he had put too much of his will into the making of The Ring. I imagine his will still had a presence sort of similar to The Black Riders in The Fellowship of The Ring, though I imagine much stronger. When Frodo is first assaulted by "the knife in the dark" the other members of the party claim they only felt The Riders' presence and didn't really see them.
    Also though, later in the books The Riders seem to have gained a physical presence on the battlefield. I would think this is what was slowly happening with Sauron also. As the world was turning to evil and dismay everywhere it seemed to be fueling their dark spirits. I would've liked to hear Tolkien's vision of how they would eventually appear in the physical realm after\if he had recovered The Ring.
    The eye standing on top of Mt Doom I just took as a form of magic Sauron was using to keep watch and influence over Midle-Earth. I really don't want to think of him as a big flaming eye floating around.
  15. Bucky

    Bucky Registered User

    You've been watching the movies too much.

    Read my thread 'Sauron is not a Lighthouse'.

    The evidence is overwhelming that Sauron had a physical shape in the end of the Third Age.
  16. Troll

    Troll Lorekeeper of Nardor

    That is actually a pretty decent explanation of the Evil Lighthouse for those inclined to Jackson apologetics. No one ever said the Eye actually was Sauron, just that it was closely associated with him in some way.
  17. DerBerggeist

    DerBerggeist The Mountain Spirit

    Yes, the Riders were technically invisible to those not wearing the Ring, but they always wore black hoods, so anyone could "see" them even if they weren't wearing the Ring. If this wasn't the case then the hobbits wouldn't have called them "Black Riders" before the events near Amon Sûl.
  18. Mouth_Of_Sauron

    Mouth_Of_Sauron Herald of Mordor

    I'd always pictured Sauron as the Dark Lord, able to move between the corporeal and incorporeal, requiring time to regain his physical form after having been "vanquished" (see: Galin's wonderful quotes, awesome post). As I read the books, Sauron sat in his high tower in Mordor and brooded war. His "great eye" I simply interpreted as his ability to perceive the workings of Men and Elves in far-off places, through his spies, what we might call "clairvoyance" or "remote viewing" or generally just being one of the bad-ass abilities that come with being the Supreme Evil Lord of Middle Earth. The image of a large physical flaming eye never really crossed my mind. So when Jackson's adaptations came out, I kept assuming the Necromancer was still sitting in his big phallic tower brooding war, but the "great eye" was here put into a physical form a kind of "representation" of Sauron. When it came to my attention that Jackson intended the Eye to be Sauron HIMSELF rather than his device, my laurels were rescinded and I became quite disappointed.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  19. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    Maybe they'll show Sauron at Dol Guldor in 'The Hobbit' and we'll see how they depict him, whether he's a giant fiery eye or a shadow or something.
  20. Mouth_Of_Sauron

    Mouth_Of_Sauron Herald of Mordor

    I imagine PJ's depiction of the Necromancer will be similar to his depiction during the victory of Isilidur scene in LotR, but in "flashbacks" and "visions", as to reconcile his Big Ugly Eye. Just a hunch, but I'll be taking bets.

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