Tolkien Gateway

Sauron

Revision as of 13:45, 5 January 2012 by Amroth (Talk | contribs)
"Don't call my place a nasty hole! You wait till it has been cleaned and redecorated!" — Thorin
This article is undergoing major revisions as part of Tolkien Gateway's countdown to The Hobbit films. To plan and to discuss the changes see here.
J.R.R. Tolkien - Sauron.jpg
Sauron
Biographical Information
Other namesAnnatar[1]
The Dark Lord[2]
Gorthaur the Cruel[3]
Mairon[4]
Necromancer[2]
Created/bornBefore the Music of the Ainur
Years influentialcirca S.A. 500 - S.A. 3441
circa T.A. 1000 - T.A. 3019
Destroyed25 March, T.A. 3019
RealmTol-in-Gaurhoth (Tol Sirion)
Dol Guldur
Mordor
Physical Description
RaceMaiar
GenderMale
AppearanceVarious: see appearance section.
AccomplishmentsDecieved the Elves into forging the Rings of Power;
created the One Ring;
brought about the Downfall of Númenor;
and nearly conquered the whole of Middle-earth.
"Sauron [...] was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself."
J.R.R. Tolkien[3]

Sauron was the greatest and most trusted servant of Morgoth before and during the First Age. After the downfall of his master, he continuously strove to conquer Middle-earth throughout the Second and Third Ages. Deceiving the Elves of Eregion, who under his guidance had created the Rings of Power, he secretly forged the One Ring in Mount Doom. Thus Sauron became "The Lord of the Rings".

Contents

History

Origin

As one of the Maiar, Sauron was created by Ilúvatar before the Music of the Ainur.[5] At the beginning of Time, he was amongst the Ainur who entered into .[3] Here he became one of the Maiar of Aulë,[3] and was known as Mairon.[4] However, he was soon ensnared by Melkor and became his greatest and most trusted servant.[1] Thus he came to be known Gorthaur by the Sindar of Beleriand and Sauron by others.[2]

Years of the Trees

After Melkor made his great fortress of Angband in the north-west of Middle-earth, he appointed Sauron to be its commander.[6] When the Valar captured Melkor at the Siege of Utumno, they stormed and searched Utumno and Angband; they, however, failed to find Sauron.[6]

First Age

Sauron was become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.
J.R.R. Tolkien[7]

With the unchaining of Morgoth and his subsequent destruction of the Two Tress of Valinor, the Sun first rose and ushered in the awakening of Men. Leaving Sauron in command of the war, Morgoth left Angband in secret to find the second-born kindred of the Children of Ilúvatar and to corrupt them to his will.[8]

After the fall of Fingolfin, Sauron launched an attack on Tol Sirion. Utter fear descended upon Orodreth and those who defended the isle. Sauron assailed Minas Tirith and turned it into a watch tower for Morgoth. Therein Sauron sat and Tol Sirion the fair became Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves.[7]

Upon hearing of the deeds of Barahir and his companions, Morgoth ordered Sauron to find and kill them. Gorlim, one of Barahir's companions, was captured and brought before Sauron. There Sauron promised that he would he would free Gorlim and his wife Eilinel in return for information. Under the terror of Sauron's eyes, Gorlim revealed everything he knew and thus the hiding place of Barahir was betrayed to the enemy. Subsequently, Sauron had Gorlim put to death.[9]

Beren, son of Barahir, promised to avenge his father's death. He wandered Dorthonion as an outlaw and achieved great deeds that were heard far and wide. Thus Morgoth set a high price on his head and Sauron, commanding a great army of werewolves and fell beasts, sought for Beren.[9]

Later, Finrod Felagund, Beren, and their ten companions left Nargothrond in search of the Silmarils. Despite being disguised as Orcs, Sauron espied them as they entered into the vale between Ered Wethrin and Taur-nu-Fuin. He had them captured and they were brought to him. There Finrod and Sauron fought in songs of power; the strength of both was great, but Sauron was more powerful. He then stripped them of their Orc disguise but failed to discern who they were. He had them thrown into a dark pit where one by one they were devoured by a werewolf. Withstanding this horror, they refused to betray one another.[9]

Huan Subdues Sauron by Ted Nasmith

When all of their companions were dead, Finrod and Beren were the last who remained alive in Sauron's pit. When a werewolf went to attack Beren, Finrod Felegund used all his power to defeat it. In this he was successful. However, he was critically wounded and soon passed away. In that dark moment, Lúthien came to the bridge of Tol-in-Gaurhoth and sang. From his tower of Minas Tirith, Sauron saw Lúthien and knew that it was the famous daughter of Melian and Thingol. He desired to capture her and hand her over to Morgoth. Therefore he sent a wolf to the bridge, but it was quickly and silently slain by Huan. He sent many more and each one Huan killed. Finally, he sent Draugluin, sire of the werewolves of Angband. The fight between Huan and Draugluin was fierce. Eventually Draugluin fled and, before dying, he told his master that Huan was there. Therefore Sauron took the form of a werewolf, the greatest the world had ever seen, and went towards the bridge. He leaped to attack Lúthien, but Huan sprang upon Sauron and there they fought. But Sauron could not subdue the hound of Valinor. He yielded to Lúthien, giving her control of the isle in return for his release. He then took the form of a vampire and fled to Taur-nu-Fuin, filling the forest with horror.[9]

After the War of Wrath, with the downfall of Morgoth and the destruction of Thangorodrim, Sauron adopted a fair form and repented his evil deeds in fear of the wrath of the Valar. Eönwë then ordered Sauron to return to Valinor in order to receive the judgement of Manwë. Sauron was not willing to suffer such humiliation and so he fled and hid himself in Middle-earth.[1]

Second Age

After lying hidden and dormant for about one thousand years, Sauron put on a fair visage in the Second Age. Calling himself Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, he befriended the Elvish smiths of Eregion, and counseled them in arts and magic. Not all the Elves trusted him, particularly Lady Galadriel and Gil-galad, High King of the Ñoldor, but few listened to them. The Elves forged Rings of Power, but in secret Sauron forged the One Ring in Mount Doom to rule the other rings, investing most of his own power into the Ring as he forged it.

In this time Sauron became known as the Dark Lord of Mordor. He raised Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, near Mount Doom; constructed the Black Gate of Mordor to prevent invasion; corrupted nine mortal Men with Rings of Power and turned them into the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths), his chief servants; and raised massive armies of Orcs, Trolls, and Men, chiefly Easterlings and Southrons.

Sauron's power reached its zenith 700 years after Mordor's creation, in the 17th century of the Second Age. Immediately after Sauron created the One Ring, Celebrimbor and the other Ring-bearers realized his treachery went to war with him. The War of the Elves and Sauron was a bloody conflict which destroyed Eregion and devastated much of Eriador. Celebrimbor was slain and his body impaled on a spike paraded at the head of Sauron's legions. The Elves were pushed back almost to the Blue Mountains, while their Dwarf allies (who had also rejected Sauron) retreated behind the walls of Moria where Sauron could not assail them. Sauron was master of almost all of Middle-earth beyond the coasts, but the Numenoreans responded to the Elves' call for aid and sent a relief force. The combined armies rallied and were able to defeat Sauron's armies in Eriador after heavy fighting, and the Dark Lord fled back to Mordor with little more than his own bodyguard.

Nonetheless, while Sauron's subsequent power never quiet matched the height it had during the War with the elves, many of his most powerful enemies' homelands had been devastated. Relative to his enemies, Sauron's empire was actually in a stronger position than it used to be. His empire continued to expand to dominate barbarian Men to the far south and east. Throughout this, Sauron remained faithful in his old allegiance, building temples to the worship of Morgoth, where human sacrifice was practiced. Because of this, towards the end of the Second Age, Sauron assumed the titles of Lord of the Earth and King of Men.

The Forging of the One, by Ted Nasmith

This offended the Númenóreans, the powerful Men descended from the line of Beren and Lúthien, who lived on the island of Númenor in the sea between Middle-earth and Valinor. The proud Númenóreans came to Middle-earth with great force of arms, and Sauron's forces fled. Realizing he could not defeat the Numenoreans with military strength, Sauron allowed himself to be taken as a hostage to Númenor by King Ar-Pharazôn. There, he quickly grew from captive to advisor and was known as Tar-Mairon; he converted many Númenóreans to the worship of Morgoth, and raised a great temple in which he performed human sacrifices. Finally, he convinced the king to rebel against the Valar and attack Valinor itself. Eru, the supreme god, then directly intervened: Númenor was drowned under the sea, and the great navy of Númenor was destroyed. Sauron was diminished in the flood of Númenor, and fled back to Mordor, where he slowly rebuilt his strength during the time known as the Dark Years.

From this point on he was unable to assume a fair shape, and ruled now through terror and force. A few faithful Númenóreans were saved from the flood, and they founded Gondor and Arnor in Middle-earth. These faithful Men, led by Elendil and his sons, allied with the Elven-king, Gil-galad, and together fought Sauron and, after a long war, defeated him, although both Elendil and Gil-galad were killed. Isildur, son of Elendil, cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger and claimed it. Later, the Ring betrayed him and was lost for more than two thousand years.

Third Age

In the Third Age, Sauron rose yet again, at first in a stronghold called Dol Guldur, the Hill of Sorcery, in southern Mirkwood. There he was known as the Necromancer, and the Elves did not recognize him at first. Gandalf the Wizard stole into Dol Guldur and discovered the truth; eventually the White Council of Wizards and Elves put forth their might and drove Sauron out. But the White Council was led by Saruman, who wanted the Ring for himself, and for this reason, he did not want to attack Dol Guldur. When Gandalf insisted on an attack again, the White Council did attack. Unfortunately, this time Sauron was already prepared for an attack and escaped to Mordor, rebuilding and fortifying his fortress Barad-Dûr. He now fortified Mordor and prepared for war against Gondor and the Elves, using his new ally Saruman to defeat Rohan.

Sauron bred immense armies of Orcs and allies with which enslaved Men from the east and south. He adopted the symbol of a lidless eye, and he was able at that time to send out his will over Middle-earth, so that the Eye of Sauron was a symbol of power and fear.

After torturing Gollum, he learned that the One Ring had been found by Bilbo Baggins. He sent his deadliest servants, the Nazgûl, to the Shire, only to find that both Bilbo and his nephew, Frodo, had departed. Unbeknownst to Sauron, Frodo had, at the behest of Gandalf, joined the Fellowship of the Ring on a quest to destroy the Ring. He rallied his vast armies to conquer the resistance's strongholds, and sent the Ringwraiths to find and kill Frodo. At about this time, he also learned that Aragorn, Isildur's heir, had also joined the Fellowship, and was rallying armies to defeat his.

The Shadow of Sauron, by Ted Nasmith

When Saruman's army was defeated at Isengard, Aragorn used the Palantir of Orthanc to reveal himself to Sauron. Sauron made the premature conclusion that Aragorn had the Ring, and sent an army commanded by his strongest servant, the Witch-King of Angmar, to overthrow Minas Tirith. This battle would become known as the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Although Sauron lost the Battle of Pelennor Fields, the free forces of the West were greatly weakened, and Sauron still had sufficent armies in reserve to ensure military victory. He was outwitted, however, by the strategy of Gandalf, who urged the captains of the Free peoples to march against Sauron, thus diverting the Dark Lord's eye from the real threat of Frodo, the Ring Bearer, who was nearing the end of his quest to destroy the One Ring.

Frodo, however, failed at the last moment, unable to resist the power of the Ring at the place of its birth. But Gollum inadvertently saved him by recovering the Ring in a desperate attempt to possess it, and then falling with it into the fire. Thus Sauron's power was unmade, and his corporeal power in Middle-earth came to an end. His spirit towered above Mordor like a black cloud, but was blown away by a powerful wind from the West. Sauron was now permanently crippled, never to rise again. Saruman would suffer a similar fate.

Appearance

"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
This article or section is a stub. Please help Tolkien Gateway by expanding it.


Etymology

Sauron
Tengwar, Quenya mode

Sauron (pron. [ˈsaʊron])[note 1] is a Quenya name, said to mean "the Abhorred".[10]

Several accounts of the origin of the name Sauron were suggested in different linguistic manuscripts:

  • deriving from Quenya saura ("foul, evil-smelling, putrid", from the root THUS).[11]
  • deriving from Quenya saura ("foul, vile"; from root SAWA). The manuscript continues saying that Sauron "could be a genuine Sindarin formation from saur; but is probably from Quenya". However, this origin appears to have been rejected, as it is followed by the comment "No. THAW-, cruel. Saura, cruel" in the manuscript.[12]
  • deriving from the Primitive Quendian form Øaurond- (formed from the adjective Øaurā "detestable", from root THAW).[13]
  • deriving from Thauron, which includes the Sindarin element thaur ("abominable, abhorrent"; also found in Gorthaur).[14]

Other names and titles

Gorthaur (Sindarin, pron. [ˈɡorθaʊr]) was a name used of Sauron by the Sindar during the First Age,[15][16] meaning "Terrible Dread".

In some of Tolkien's notes from the 1950s, it is said that Sauron's original name was Mairon, "the admirable" (Q, pron. [ˈmaɪron]), "but this was altered after he was suborned by Melkor. But he continued to call himself Mairon the Admirable, or Tar-mairon 'King Excellent', until after Númenor's downfall."[4]

Among his many titles were the Necromancer, the Abhorred Dread, the Nameless Enemy, the Cruel,[17] the Dark Lord of Mordor and the Lord of the Rings. The Dúnedain called him Sauron the Deceiver due to his role in the downfall of Númenor and the Forging of the Rings of Power.

Other versions of the Legendarium

Prior to the publication of The Silmarillion Sauron's origins and true identity were unclear to those without full access to Tolkien's notes. In early editions of the Guide to Middle Earth, Sauron is described as "probably of the Eldar elves."

Since the earliest versions of the Silmarillion legendarium as detailed in the History of Middle-earth series, Sauron has undergone many changes. The prototype of this character was Tevildo, lord of the cats, who played the role later taken by Sauron in the earliest version of the story of Beren and Lúthien in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, The Tale of Tinúviel. Tevildo later (but still in the Book of Lost Tales period) was transformed into Thû, the Necromancer. The name was then changed to Gorthû, Sûr, and finally to Sauron. Gorthû, in the form Gorthaur remained in The Silmarillion.

Portrayal in adaptations

Sauron in Adaptations


1955: The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series):

The voice of Sauron is provided by Felix Felton.[18]

1966: The Hobbit (1966 film):

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

Sauron is mentioned only very briefly at the end; Gandalf and Elrond discuss how the "Necromancer" had been driven from his abode in the south of Mirkwood.

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

1979: The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series):

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

1985: Lord of the Rings: Game One:

1988: J.R.R. Tolkien's War in Middle Earth

1990: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1:

Sauron is mentioned by Gandalf in the beginning of the game.

1993: Hobitit:

1993: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. II: The Two Towers:

Sauron is mentioned in the beginning of the game, when Gandalf explains the history of the One Ring.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game):

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game):

2003: The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring:

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Sauron and the events of the south of Mirkwood are left unmentioned. However, whilst in Mirkwood, Bilbo has to defeat creatures that he calls "Minions of the Necromancer".

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age:

At the end of the game, Berethor and company (the playable characters) have to defeat the eye of Sauron by physically attacking him on top of Barad-dûr.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

2005: The Lord of the Rings: Tactics:

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar:

2008: The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria:

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

2010: The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest:

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

2013: The Hobbit: There and Back Again:

See also

Notes

  1. Sauron is pronounced "sour-on" (sour as in not sweet).

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Account of the Valar and Maiar According to the Lore of the Eldar"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 183
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of Men into the West"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 393 (entry THUS-)
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 183-4
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967), p. 380
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names" (entry for thaur)
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin (Chapter 15)", p. 240
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Enemies"
  18. Radio Times, Volume 133, No. 1724, November 23, 1956
Preceded by:
N/A
Ring-bearer
c. S.A. 16003441
Followed by:
Isildur

Ainur
Valar
Lords:  Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas
Queens:  Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Former:  Melkor
Associated Maiar
Manwë Eönwë · Olórin Varda Ilmarë · Olórin · Arien
Ulmo Ossë · Uinen · Salmar Yavanna Aiwendil
Aulë Mairon · Curumo Estë Melian
Oromë Tilion · Alatar · Pallando Vána
Other Maiar
Balrogs Gothmog · Durin's Bane · Lungorthin
Wizards Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · Blue Wizards (Rómestámo · Morinehtar)
Topics
Music · Valarin · Almaren · Valinor · Valmar · Second Music