|Other names||The Golden, Tar-Calion, King of the Sea|
|Birth||S.A. 3118 |
|Rule||S.A. 3255-3319 (64 years)|
|Death||S.A. 3319 (aged 201 years)|
"Ar-Pharazôn the Golden was the proudest and most powerful of all the Kings, and no less than the kingship of the world was his desire." —The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
Ar-Pharazôn the Golden was the twenty-fifth and last King of Númenor. He was the son of Gimilkhâd, who was the younger brother of the twenty-fourth King, Tar-Palantir. Ar-Pharazôn's willful rule, and his great pride, led directly to the world-changing Downfall of Númenor and the founding of the realms of Arnor and Gondor.
In his youth, Pharazôn and Amandil, the Lord of Andúnië and later the leader of the Faithful Númenóreans, were dear friends. After some time, Pharazôn departed from Númenor to participate in the wars in Middle-earth that the King's Men were waging against Sauron. While in Middle-earth, he became a great captain and commander of the Númenórean armies. Pharazôn did not return to Númenor until a few years before the death of Tar-Palantir, when he heard of his own father's early death. During his time there, Pharazôn was generous with the wealth he had acquired in Middle-earth, and the hearts of the people were turned toward him. He remained on the island until Tar-Palantir died. At that time, Pharazôn took the King's daughter Míriel as his wife, much against her will, and against the laws of Númenor which prohibited first cousins from marrying. Pharazôn then changed her name to Ar-Zimraphel. Thus he usurped the throne and, taking the Sceptre into his own hand, proclaimed himself King Ar-Pharazôn.
King of Númenor
Soon after Ar-Pharazôn's unlawful ascent to power, he heard news that Sauron had been assailing the Númenórean settlements in Middle-earth since his return to the island. His captains explained to him that the fallen Maia wished to drive the Númenóreans back to the Sea whence they had come, and declare himself King of Men. They also told Ar-Pharazôn that Sauron wished to destroy Númenor itself, if possible.
Ar-Pharazôn Humbles Sauron
Ar-Pharazôn became very angry upon hearing this news, and decided that he himself would claim the title of King of Men instead, and make Sauron his servant. To accomplish this end, he spent five years preparing a great force. In 3261 he launched the Númenórean fleet and landed at the Haven of Umbar. From there, Ar-Pharazôn and his army marched north to Mordor. Their splendor and might was so great that Sauron's own servants deserted him. Therefore, since he perceived that he could not defeat the Númenóreans through strength of arms, Sauron changed into his fair form and humbled himself before Ar-Pharazôn. The King stripped Sauron of his titles and decreed that he would be taken as a hostage to Númenor, to keep his servants from harassing the Númenóreans in Middle-earth.
Sauron acted as if this decision dismayed him, but it actually furthered his plans to destroy Ar-Pharazôn and the Númenóreans in retaliation for this humiliation. Sauron thus allowed himself to be brought to Númenor by Ar-Pharazôn's army, but as soon as he set foot on the island he began corrupting the minds of the Númenóreans, beginning with their proud King. Sauron flattered Ar-Pharazôn and used his knowledge to help the King gain anything he desired. Ar-Pharazôn responded to this flattery and made Sauron his chief advisor three years after his coming to Númenor.
Sauron taught the people of Númenor many things, and in most of his speeches he spoke against the Valar, who most Númenóreans already feared and disliked. Eventually, however, the Maia's teachings began to focus more upon Darkness. He told his listeners that "Darkness alone is worshipful, and the Lord thereof may yet make other worlds to be gifts to those that serve him, so that the increase of their power shall find no end." These words reached the ears of Ar-Pharazôn, and he spoke to Sauron in secret in order to learn more about the Lord of Darkness. Sauron told the King that this Lord was Melkor, and that Eru Ilúvatar was only a lie devised by the Valar to keep Men from rebelling against them. The Maia thus himself lied to Ar-Pharazôn, and said that by serving Melkor, the "Giver of Freedom", the King would escape from these untruths of the Valar, and become stronger than them.
At this time Ar-Pharazôn began to worship the Darkness and Melkor its Lord. He practiced this new religion in secret at first, but soon displayed it openly, and "his people for the most part followed him". The King made ascending the Meneltarma (which the worshipers of Ilúvatar had formerly done, in order to make offerings on its summit) a crime punishable by death. Sauron then advised Ar-Pharazôn to destroy Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor, which was the last symbol of the Númenóreans' ancient friendship with the Valar and the Elves. Ar-Pharazôn was reluctant to do this, because he had heard of Tar-Palantir's prophecy that the Line of Kings would end when the Tree perished.
Years of Tyranny
However, when a disguised man (actually Isildur) stole a fruit from Nimloth upon hearing Sauron's advice to the King, Ar-Pharazôn assented to the Tree's destruction. It was also at this time that Ar-Pharazôn dismissed his erstwhile friend Amandil from his Council, though the King and his supporters did not otherwise harm Amandil or his family. After the White Tree was felled, Sauron had it burned in a mighty Temple that the Númenóreans had built in Armenelos on his orders. The King and his followers then used this Temple for the worship of Melkor. They captured members of the Faithful and sacrificed them in the fires of the altar, in the hope that Melkor would release them from Death. The Númenóreans did the same to the Men of Middle-earth who lived near their settlements, and thus Ar-Pharazôn became the greatest tyrant that the world had seen since Morgoth, "though in truth Sauron ruled all from behind the throne".
But Ar-Pharazôn and the Númenóreans did not escape death by this means, and eventually the King grew old and was in great fear of the end of his life and the "going out into the Darkness that he had worshiped". Ar-Pharazôn became wrathful and desperate, and at last Sauron gave the King his final advice. The Maia told Ar-Pharazôn that by warring against the Valar and conquering Valinor, their land in the West, he could gain everlasting life. Ar-Pharazôn feared to wage such a war, but his desperation prompted him to begin building a Great Armament in S.A. 3310 to attack Valinor.
While this Armament was being constructed, the Valar sent warnings to the Númenóreans in the form of terrible thunderstorms and clouds shaped like Eagles, and the ground began to groan and shake. But these signals only caused the King and his people to harden their hearts yet more, and Ar-Pharazôn (prompted by Sauron) proclaimed, "The Lords of the West have plotted against us. They strike first. The next blow shall be ours!"
War against the Valar
Nine years after the preparations for war began, the Great Armament was completed. Ar-Pharazôn journeyed to the west of Númenor where the fleet was anchored, and boarded his mighty ship Alcarondas. He sat upon his throne in full armor and signaled for the raising of the anchors. The fleet left Númenor just before sundown, and passed into the forbidden seas of the West.
Because no one from the Great Armament ever returned to mortal lands, Ar-Pharazôn's fate remains uncertain. It is said in the Akallabêth that the fleet passed Tol Eressëa and anchored near the coast of Valinor. Upon seeing the splendor of Taniquetil, Ar-Pharazôn became afraid and nearly gave the order to retreat. In the end, however, his pride caused him to go ashore, and a great part of his army followed him. Ar-Pharazôn led his troops to the Elven city of Tirion, and they set up an encampment around it. Then the King proclaimed that the land of the Valar was his, if none would challenge him for it.
At this time, the Valar called upon Eru for aid, and relinquished their authority over Arda. Eru broke the world and made it round, so that Men could never again sail to Valinor. In this catastrophe, Ar-Pharazôn's fleet was pulled into the chasm that opened between the Blessed Realm and mortal lands, and Númenor sank beneath the Sea. Ar-Pharazôn himself (along with the soldiers that had followed him to Valinor) is said to have been buried "under falling hills," and lies in the Caves of the Forgotten "until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom".
Though Ar-Pharazôn was the last King of Númenor, the Line of Elros survived through Elendil the son of Amandil, and his two sons, Isildur and Anárion. They managed to escape the Downfall of Númenor that Ar-Pharazôn's actions had caused, and later created the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth.
Sometime before his death at the end of the Second Age, Elendil wrote down some of the history of Númenor, culminating in the tale of its destruction. Much of this document was focused on the effects of the reign of Ar-Pharazôn and Sauron's teachings to the Númenóreans. Elendil's work was called the Akallabêth, and its retelling of Ar-Pharazôn's life was one of the only parts of Númenor's history that remained widely known after the Downfall.
Many years after the Downfall, the Kings of Gondor erected a great pillar at Umbar as a commemoration of Ar-Pharazôn. Even though Elendil's people suffered greatly because of the evil that Sauron caused in Númenor as a result of Ar-Pharazôn's deeds, his descendants still wished to honor the King and his army for the humbling of Sauron. When Sauron retook Umbar from the Gondorians, he in turn had this monument to his defeat destroyed.
Pharazôn means "Golden" in Adûnaic, and is derived from the word pharaz, 'gold'. Had Ar-Pharazôn taken a Quenya name, he would have ruled as Tar-Calion. This title does not appear to be a direct translation of his Adûnaic name, since it means "Son of Light" (from cal 'light', and -ion, the masculine patronymic). Like all the other Kings of Númenor who took their royal names in Adûnaic, Pharazôn added the prefix ar ('high', 'King') to his name when he seized the Sceptre.
Ar-Gimilzôr = Inzilbêth | __________|_________ | | | | Inziladûn (Tar-Palantir) Gimilkhâd | | | | Tar-Míriel (Ar-Zimraphel) = AR-PHARAZÔN
Other Versions of the Legendarium
In earlier versions of the Akallabêth, Ar-Pharazôn summoned Sauron to Númenor instead of taking an army to Middle-earth and humbling him. The elements of Morgoth-worship and human sacrifice were not originally parts of his rule, either; in the first stories of the Downfall, Ar-Pharazôn merely built the Temple (on top of the Meneltarma, however) for future use and allowed Sauron to watch the people from it.
Alternate stories of Ar-Pharazôn's life written by Tolkien include a version in which Míriel was actually attracted to him, and their marriage was consensual. She gave him most of her power voluntarily. This remarkable textual development existed even in some of the latest revisions of the Akallabêth.
- Downfall of Númenor
- Great Armament
- Amandil (Lord of Andúnië)
- King's Men
|25th King of Númenor