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How did Sauron get his name?

Grond

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Cian or one of the other many language experts can probably address this better than I but here goes.

Sauron is a maia. In the beginning there was Eru (God) and there sprang from his thought the Ainur (Angels). These Ainur were divided into two classes, the Vala (Arch-angels) and Maia (Angels). There was no evil in the beginning. Melkor (a Vala) turned to evil and became the first Dark Lord on Arda (Middle-earth) and he pretty much contested Middle-earth with the Eldar (on and off) during the entirety of the First Age. He was eventually vanquished (as told in the Silmarillion) and chained in the void. His trusty Lt. Gorthaur (Sauron) escaped and took over Melkor's quest to rule Middle-earth. I would think that Gorthaur and Sauron would have been the names given them by the Elves. It states in the Sil that the Ainur themselves needed no names, knowing who they were and being able to converse through thought and without the need for speech. When the elves came to Aman (heaven) during the First Age, they needed to identify the Ainur and named all of them. They spoke in the High-elven language of Quenya and I believe (but could be wrong) that Gorthaur would be Sauron's Quenya name. The informal language of the Elves is Sindarin (I believe) and I think Sauron is his name in that speech.

I'm sure if I'm off base here that one of the other lore-masters will kick in. Your best option is to read the Silmarillion as it fills in much of the history of Middle-earth from its creation until the time of the Lord of the Rings. :)
 

Tar-Elenion

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IIRC Gorthaur is Sindarin (I dont think 'TH' is used in 'mature' Quenya, though IIRC it was still used in the Vanyarin dialect (Quendya)) and Sauron is Quenya (Cian can give better info on this).
I would not say they Ainur were divided into two classes (the Valar and the Maiar) but rather those of the Ainur that came into Arda were divided into Valar and Maiar; there were other Ainur who remained elsewhere.
 

Cian

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Agreed Tar-E, Sauron is Quenya, Gorthaur Sindarin.

Tolkien's seemingly ultimate thinking here is that Sauron is contemporary for older *Thaurond > derivitive of adj. *thaurá (stem THAW) "detestable"

Vanyarin and archaic Noldorin Quenya will show 'th' as Tar-E mentioned. Don't ask Fëanor to say Serindë :)
 
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