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Sauron

The title character of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by R. R. Tolkien, Sauron was the most reliable servant of Morgoth before and during the First Age. (Why Was Sauron Considered Morgoth’s Greatest Servant?) He was a fallen Maia, the main antagonist who ruled the land of Mordor and wanted to rule the entire Middle-Earth. He had deceived the Elves of Eregion who created the Rings of Power while he created the One Ring.

This is how he became known as the ‘The Lord of the Rings’. When he failed to corrupt the Elves, he attacked the Westlands and began a period named ‘Dark Years’ and became known as a ‘Dark Lord’. In the Second Age, the Last Alliance had destroyed his body and the One Ring was taken by Isildur. He had managed to cut off One Ring from Sauron’s finger in the last battle, bringing an end to his power and form. He had returned to Middle-Earth in the Third Age and was finally destroyed by Frodo Baggins in the War of the Ring, resulting in at the beginning of the Fourth Age and the Dominion of Men [1].

History

Origin

Centuries before the First Age, Sauron was a Maia serving Aule the Vala Smith. (Things You Never Knew About Sauron) At that time, he was called Mairon which translated to ‘the admirable’. (A Name For The Dark Lord) He had acquired a lot of knowledge from his master in the fields of craftsmanship and smithing. He soon became mighty among the people of Aule and a powerful Maiar [2]. At this time, he was good and incorrupt, just like Eru had created him. He was known for his virtues of love for perfection and order.

However, his love for order slowly took over his love for other intelligent people who could benefit from his knowledge. He was corrupted by Melkor as he seemed to appreciate his designs masterfully. He became a spy for Melkor in Almaren and his most trusted servant. He became known as Gorthaur the Cruel by Sindar. Though he was not initially so evil, he later started dreaming of ruling and corrupting the world.

First Age

When Melkor mad
e a fortress in Angband in the north-west, he made Sauron its commander. When it was captured by Valar, they searched Angband and Utumno but could not find Sauron. The Elves left the Valinor to attack Morgoth who had stolen the gems that lighted from the destroyed Trees of Valinor. In that battle, Sauron was believed to be the mightiest servants. He was considered equal to Gothmog, the captain of Angband. He was feared as a lord of deadly beasts, a cunning servant and a sorcerer. Before captivating Melkor, he had become its lieutenant and was given the hold of Angband. The Valar succeeded in capturing Melkor but Sauron had escaped. He hid in Middle Earth, leveled Angband and started building an army of Orcs. When Melkor left Angband, Sauron attacked the Elves. He acquired Minas Tirith and became the Lord of the Werewolves. Gorlim was captured and killed. Huan and Luthien soon arrived at the bridge of Tol-in-Gaurhoth and Sauron sent wolves to face them. They were all killed by Huan so Sauron disguised as a wolf and attacked Luthien. Huan attacked him and escaped in the form of a vampire giving the tower to Luthien. Sauron, after this defeat, did not have much influence in the First Age. He took a fair form and repented his deeds in fear of Valar. He then fled and hid in Middle Earth.

Second Age

After about 500 years of the Second Age, Sauron began rising again. As Valar had forgotten about Middle Earth, he decided to turn to evil to continue his work and a lot of men from the South and East followed him. By 882 in the Second Age, Gil-Galad had become aware of the shadow form and had sent a warning to Numenor. In 1000 SA, Sauron was shocked seeing the growing strength of the Numenoreans and decided to hold power over Mordor. He started building Barad-dur as a dark tower near the mountain Doom.
As he knew that men were easy to defeat, he decided to make Elves his servants as they seemed to be more powerful. After staying in disguise and growing his power for years, he took a fair form in 1200 SA and named himself ‘Annatar’ which meant Lord of Gifts. Lindon did not welcome him because Gil-galad and Elrond did not trust him though they were not aware of who he was. (Who Did The Elves Think Annatar Was?) In other places, Sauron was welcomed, particularly in areas where people learned magic and art from him. Eregion and other places had artists keen on improving their knowledge. With this education from Sauron and leadership of Celebrimbor, the grandson of Feanor, Gwaith-i-Mirdain turned into a highly skilled artist. In 1500 of the Second Age, after attaining a great height of strength, the Elves engaged in the creation of the Rings of Power as advised by Sauron as a way to retain the power of Middle-Earth. Sauron also had his plans that he began executing soon. In 1600 SA, after the completion of the Rings of Power, he made the One Ring to execute control over the owners of other rings. He forged it using all the power he had and made it more powerful than any other ring. He also created the Dark Tower using this power. However, the Elves and Celebrimbor were not so foolish. When Sauron wore the One Ring, they became aware and realized they were cheated. They hid their rings and stopped using them. Sauron asked for the rings as they were made with his guidance but the Elves refused and the result was a war.

The Black Years

During this time, Sauron had undertaken the construction of Black Gate in Mordor so that nobody could invade. He also raised armies of Men, Orcs, and Trolls and dominated all as a god and king. He instructed them to construct numerous fortified towns and armed the armies with iron. The war of 1693 SA between the Elves and Sauron was a devastating one and destroyed Eregion, causing a lot of damage to Eriador. The Elves were pushed to the mountains and Celebrimbor was slain. The Dwarf forces hid behind the walls so that Sauron could not find them. Though he was the Dark Lord of the entire Middle Earth, Numenoreans agreed to send a force to support the Elves. With these combined forces, Sauron’s armies were defeated. The Dark Lord came to Mordor with some people and orcs. The subsequent strength of Sauron could never match what he had during this war but his enemies had been robbed of their homelands. Sauron was stronger than his enemies in this respect.
The Numenoreans expanded their dominance across the Westlands while Sauron’s reign spread to barbarian men who became his servants and believers and his power expanded to the south and east. As he was defeated by the Elves, he had decided to give away the Rings of Power to three lords of Numenor, lords of the Dwarves and five men. While the Dwarves showed great resistance, men faded and became his slaves, named as Ringwraiths. All through this time, Sauron continued practicing his old allegiance. He constructed temples where Morgoth was worshipped and humans were sacrificed. Due to this, he was given titles like ‘King of Men’ and ‘Lord of the Earth’.

Destruction of Numenor

The Numenoreans had already begun falling under the shadow and were offended by Sauron’s power. The arrogant and proud Numenoreans arrived in Middle-Earth with lots of arms and were powerful enough to defeat Sauron’s army. He realized that he could not defeat them with his forces so he allowed being taken as a hostage to Numenor by the King. He quickly started growing from a captive to adviser and then was named Zigur the Wizard. He seduced the king and also corrupted people. He started converting Numenoreans to the worship of Morgoth and soon became the High Priest of the Melkor. He removed the White Tree and made a temple where he began practicing human sacrifices. Ultimately, he persuaded the king to attack Valinor to become immortal. The supreme god, Eru, interfered directly and drowned Numenor under the sea, destroying the entire navy. Sauron was found in the temple and was caught. His spirit survived, though weakened, and went to Middle Earth.

Battle Against the Last Alliance

It was in the 3320 of the Second Age that Sauron’s spirit returned in Mordor. He regained his strength gradually but could not take up a fair shape. He decided to rule with force and terror, filling the fearful role previously held by his master. Some faithful Numennoreans who were saved from the flood founded Arnor and Gondor in Middle-Earth. Sauron considered them enemies and began preparing for an attack on Gondor. To respond to this attack, the Numenoreans made the Last Alliance with the support of the king Gil-Galad.
When Sauron came to know about this, he sent some Orcs to the mountains to crush them. He also destroyed many places of the Allies. But they reached Mordor somehow and defeated Sauron’s armies in 3434 SA in the Battle of Dagorlad. They made a siege with Barad-dur that lasted for seven years after which Sauron engaged in a forefront battle. Gil-galad and Elendil faced Sauron and destroyed him but they were killed. Son of Elendil, Isildur, took the One Ring from his finger. The Ring betrayed him and was lost for years. After this defeat in the Battle of the Last Alliance, Sauron could never take a physical form.

Third Age

Though defeated, Sauron was not destroyed completely. He spent thousands of years as a shapeless evil due to his power and will for One Ring. Thus, he could never be truly vanished till he existed and in the initial years of the Third Age, lay hiding and recovering his strength until he could finally create a form for himself.

The Necromancer of Dol Guldur


In the year 1000 of the Third Age, Sauron finally started rising again and trying to take hold of Dol Guldur. He had hidden in the ‘Hill of Sorcery’ in the south of Mirkwood. He disguised as a dark sorcerer named ‘the Necromancer’ and nobody could realize that Sauron had returned. At that time, the Valar sent five wizards to fight this form not knowing who it was. These wizards included Gandalf the Grey and they rallied people of Middle Earth against that darkness. In the Third Age 1300, the Ringwraiths appeared again and started attacking the Numenorean kingdom until they all got destroyed. Gandalf suspected that Sauron had appeared as
Nazgul attacked the fortress but Sauron fled towards the East and remained concealed. This led to the beginning of the Watchful Peace that ended in 2460 TA with Sauron’s return to Dol Guldur. At this time, the Smeagol and his friend Deagol finally found the One Ring. It was in 2850 TA that Gandalf made another intrusion into Dol Guldur and found that the Necromancer was Sauron. Over the years, the White Council used its might to drive him away forever in 2941 TA. As he did not have the Ring, he could only use a small part of the strength and the enemies could defeat him and get him out of Dol Guldur easily. The Dark Lord, with a lot of
time to prepare for acquisition, abandoned Dol Guldur and went to Mordor where he declared himself and started preparing for the final battle against the Middle Earth.

War of the Ring

To prepare powerful armies, Sauron brought together Orcs and enslaved men from different parts. He gathered his terrific servants, Ringwraiths and the Nazgul, each of them wearing the rings he had created for mortal men. With the lidless Eye symbol, he could practice his power over Middle Earth and ultimately the Eye became the sign of fear and power. When Gollum, the founder of the Ring, was captured, Sauron tortured him and found that he had acquired the ring once again. He also heard words like ‘Baggins’ and ‘The Shire’ from him. Thinking that the ring was the One Ring, he sent his people to find these things to get back the One Ring.
During this time, Sauron had come together with a fallen Maia named Saruman the White. He allied with him and expected that the wizard will help him get rid of one of the main threats he faced in executing his plans of acquiring Gondor and other Elves. However, Saruman could not win and Sauron lost one of the best servants as well as the powerful orc army of Saruman. After this battle, Palantir fell into the hands of the Fellowship of the Ring and Aragorn showed himself to Sauron as if he possessed the Ring. Affected with this revelation, Sauron speeded up his plans of attacking the city of Minas Tirith in Gondor. He wanted to destroy the city and crush the last resistance to his power before the enemies could support it. However, the combined forces of Rohan, Gondor, and Dunedain of Arnor defeated the army of Sauron. Though he possessed a lot of forces to destroy the
city and strength to conquer Middle Earth once again, the doubt on Sauron rose. He waited for a time when Aragorn and other races came against each other so that he could move out and get the Ring.

Downfall


Though the armies of Sauron were successfully faced at Minas Tirith, Aragorn and Gandalf knew that most of the forces were still in Mordor and preparing for another attack. Mordor was full of troops and Frodo had no chance of reaching Mount Doom without being noticed. To handle the situation, a council was formed containing commanders of the forces in the place and Gandalf was appointed as its head. Gandalf told the council that they cannot hope to defeat Sauron’s armies by force though they had been victorious. Sam and Frodo entered Mordor and Aragorn diverted his attention by attacking the Black Gate. Sam and Frodo reached Mount Doom with no difficulty and Frodo succumbed to the power of the Ring. Suddenly, Sauron came to know about him and immediately headed toward the mountain. He was frustrated and terrorized and sent the Ringwraiths to regain the Ring. However, he was late as Gollum had taken the Ring from Frodo and was dead, destroying the Ring. Earthquake and eruption destroyed the fortress and the mountain, consuming the remaining Nazgul who had run away with the Great Eagles. With the end of the source of power, Sauron was badly defeated and his armies were destroyed. After the destruction of the Ring, Sauron lost his physical form forever and was left
with a malevolent spirit moving above Mordor as a massive shadow that was quite terrific but easily blown away by winds. The power of Sauron came to an end and his threat and fear were gone forever.

Etymology

The meaning of Sauron in Quenya [3]is ‘the abhorred’. In Sindarin, it gets the meaning horrific or dread from Gor (Gorthaur) and abominable from Thaur. The original name of Sauron is believed to have been Mairon which translates to the Admirable. He used this name when in Numenor and added the title Tar which means King Excellent. When, in the Second Age, Sauron was in disguise, he got the name ‘Annatar’ for himself which translates to The Lord of Gifts. He also called himself Aulendil (Friend of Aule) and Artano (High Smith). Sometimes, his name was written as Thauron as an earlier pronunciation of Sauron.
In the earliest version of ‘Lay of Leithian’, Tolkien named Sauron as Thu which was again introduced as his alternate name in 2017 Beren and Luthien. A character of ‘Prince of Cats’ was considered to be
the forerunner for Sauron. It was a villain as depicted in the stories ‘Beren and Luthien’ and ‘The Book of Lost Tales’.

Appearance

Though he is the main character of ‘The Lord of The Rings’, Sauron never appears directly in the events described in the trilogy. Moreover, you don’t find any detailed description of his look anywhere. However, in ‘The Silmarillion’, Sauron is represented as the one who changes shape and takes multiple forms like a wolf, serpent and even a vampire. He took the form of ‘Annatar’ after Morgoth’s fall and was called the ‘Lord of Gifts’. He retained this form until the Fall of Numenor after which he lost the ability to take any fair form. As referenced in the History of Middle-Earth, a passage describes the appearance of Sauron vaguely like that of a man who is greater than any other in the Numenor race. Some men considered Sauron fair while others found him terrible and some others evil. (What Did Sauron Look Like?) There are clues in history describing Sauron’s appearance as a Dark Lord after losing his power to take a fair form. According to a description by Tolkien, he had a human form that was more than the stature of a man but not so gigantic. He emitted so much heat that his touch could merely kill somebody. Isildur said his hands were black and like a burning fire and the entire body was blackened with heat and fire. Gollum had seen Sauron once and has said that he had four fingers on his black hand. He states that Sauron could not regain the fifth finger from which the Ring was taken away by Isildur. Apart from this physical appearance, he also possessed a dreadful presence and fearful eyes.

Weapons and Powers

As one of the mightiest beings, Sauron possessed a deep knowledge of the substances in the world and their use. He used this knowledge when he was ruling Middle Earth as the Dark Lord. He constructed the One Ring and the fortress with the help of wisdom. He was also particularly aware of the use of fire and had an amazing ability to tap into Earth’s fires. Some of the primary powers of Sauron included disguise and deception. He took multiple forms in the First Age. During his battle against Luthien and Huan in ‘The Silmarillion’, he took as many as four forms – the original one which was a type of terrible dark sorcerer, a serpent, a wolf and a vampire.
Towards the end of the First Age, he took a fair form when he repented his evil deeds in fear of the anger of the Valar. Then, in the Second Age, he took up that fair form again and it was called ‘Annatar’ used to deceive the Elves to create the Rings of Power. This deception to cheat the Elves was of a much higher level than taking the form. After centuries, again, Sauron succeeded in deceiving Numenoreans and put them to their destruction being convinced to get eternal life. This type of destruction symbolizes Sauron’s manipulative quality and his ability to change the enemies’ perception. There is an interesting relationship between Sauron’s qualities of deception and his symbol. Though he never appeared directly in front of anybody and deceived all, he presented himself to be an Eye that sees everything and penetrates all disguises. He was also able to disguise himself by taking various forms. However, after the Fall of Numenor, he could not take up a proper shape for several years after which he became a horrifying Dark Lord. When he lost the Ring, it became more difficult for him to get his physical form though he could regain it through the War of the Ring. There is no clear description of Sauron’s power and its nature and extent. They are completely up to one’s imagination.

Symbol

The Eye is the symbol most associated with Sauron in the Lord of the Rings. It was also called by other names like the Evil Eye, the Red Eye, the Great Eye, the Lidless Eye. The Orcs even had the symbol on their shields and helmets. They also called Sauron by the name ‘Eye’ as he did not let his name be called out or written.
According to Tolkien, Sam and Frodo had a glimpse of the Eye and they described it as the one surrounded by fire but glazed by itself, yellow like a cat’s, watchful with the black part of the pupil opening on a window that led to nowhere. There is a confusion about whether Sauron’s actual form was an ‘Eye’ or he had a body other than the eye. Gollum had told Frodo that Sauron had a black hand with four fingers as one finger was cut off by Isildur when he took his Ring.
The finger was never seen even when he resurged centuries later. According to the description of Tolkien in The Silmarillion, The Eye of Sauron was so terrific that only a few could endure it before his body got lost in the War of the Last Alliance. In the Lord of the Rings context, the Eye refers to a person with thoughts and emotions.

Concept

According to references from the History of Middle-earth, Sauron has undergone a lot of changes through the versions of the Silmarillion legendarium. The prototype of the character was a huge, evil cat called Tevildo, the Prince of Cats. This figure played a role that was later taken by Sauron in some of the first versions of ‘The Book of Lost Tales’. Tevildo was later replaced by a Necromancer and then it was changed to Gorthu and Sur before Sauron. The Book of Lost Tales tells the story of Beren and Luthien and features the description of the fight between cats and dogs in the earliest form. The cats were later replaced by wolves and the figure of Sauron became the Lord of wolves. Before 1977 when The Silmarillion was published, the identity and origins of Sauron were quite unclear to people who did not refer to the notes of Tolkien. Sauron was sometimes described as belonging to the Eldar elves or one of the Valar.

Adaptations

Film

The film adaptations of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, Sauron is either portrayed as a humanoid character or as a physical eye. In Peter Jackson’s trilogy, he appears as both of these. The character is voiced by Alan Howard. Sauron is portrayed in a huge humanoid form till he loses the Ring. The rest of the story shows him as a disembodied Eye. The video games ‘Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’ and ‘Middle Earth: Shadow of War’ represent this story. In these games, the character recovers the form after his defeat and loses it once more to regain it again and then become an Eye. Both the animated film of 1978 and live-action film of 2001 depict the formation of Rings of Power but the battle between Sauron and the Elves is not described. The films directly go to the later battle of the Last Alliance.

In the two films, Sauron does not take the Annatar form that he adopted while making the One Ring but a form that describes him as the Dark Lord. He was defeated by Isildur without anybody’s support. Just like in books, Sauron is shown as a primary antagonist all through the movies. He is represented as a god-like being with a presence that causes instant and intense pain and destruction. He is portrayed as a huge nine-foot-tall black knight wearing black armor. He is mostly shown in spiky armor that can kill lots of men in one hit. The body of Sauron dissolves with explosive forces when Isildur cuts the Ring with his sword. The spirit remains intact and it transforms into the Eye of Sauron. In the previous versions of the adaptations, Sauron reformed accepting Aragorn’s challenge and battled with him. In ‘The Hobbit’ film adaptations, Sauron has appeared in the form of a Necromancer and a primary antagonist. Jackson has described him through voice in these films. In ‘An Unexpected Journey’, Sauron is portrayed as a black, humanoid ghost. In ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, he reveals his extensive powers and appears as an entity of mist accompanied by fire. Then he assumes a semi-physical form and acquires the Eye in an attempt to capture Gandalf. (Why DIdn’t Sauron Kill Gandalf?)

Video Games

The appearance of Sauron has been seen in merchandise of the Jackson including multiple videos and computer games.
  • Sauron appears as a playable character in a session play quest of ‘The Lord of the Rings Online’.
  • Sauron can be seen as a Ring Hero in the strategy game ‘The Lord of the Rings – The Battle for Middle-Earth II’. He is difficult to kill, strong character in the game as he can kill most cavalry and infantry units easily. He can also throw fiery rocks from the sky to threaten enemies. Upon killing, Sauron explodes greatly and damages enemy units. When he is dead, you can collect the One Ring to summon another Ring Hero.
  • The video game introduced in 2014 ‘Middle Earth – Shadow of Mordor’ has Sauron’s appearance as Annatar who deceives Celebrimbor to create the Rings of Power. He later challenges Sauron and eventually loses the Ring transforming Sauron into Annatar once again and leading to his death. (You can finally Fight Sauron In Middle Earth - Shadow of Mauron).
  • ‘LEGO Dimensions’ has a miniature form of Sauron and is voiced by Steven Blum. In this game, he invades Metropolis and then challenges the player for a battle. When defeated, the player is taken back to the primary game antagonist and does not come back.
  • The two video games ‘LEGO The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘LEGO The Hobbit’ has Sauron’s appearance. In the first one, he is a playable character in the form of a boss while the latter has it in the form of a miniature playable character. In the Hobbit, he can be seen in an armored, fiery form.

Other Works

  • Sauron is known to have appeared or referenced in multiple other works apart from the adaptations of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Some of these include:
  • The novel ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King mentions The Eye of Sauron as a sleepless eye of the villain. This eye also influenced another fantasy series named ‘The Dark Tower’ with a similar villain with an eye as his icon. (Sauron, literature’s ultimate source of evil).
  • The Marvel Comics Universe has the ‘Supervillain Sauron’ as an enemy of the X-men who names himself after the Tolkien character.
  • Sauron is portrayed in the ‘Lego Batman Movie’ in an eye form and is voiced by Jamaine Clement, the famous comedian. The Eye causes great havoc in the city with flames and lava but was eventually destroyed by a fire blast from the Kraken.
  • An ambiguous character with immense power and evil, ‘The Adversary’ in Bill Willingham’s comic series ‘Fables’ is inspired by Sauron. This character was known to have led to a lot of misfortune in the history of the series.
  • An audio adjustment tool based in Russia, Ainur Sauron is also named after Sauron.
  • Sauron is also the inspiration for the antagonist ‘King Sombra’ in ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ in his first appearance. (King Sombra Like Sauron?).

References

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Sauron

Biographical info


Other Names (a.k.a)
The Shadow
The Enemy
The Terrible
Titles
The Dark Lord
Lord Of Earth
Birth
Creation of the Ainur
Death
25 March T.A. 3019

Physical information


Race
Maia
Gender
Male
Height
Stature slightly greater
than a Man.
Eyes
Yellow
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