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Alaïs - Annatar.jpg
"Annatar" by Alaïs
Biographical Information
PronunciationQ, [ˈsaʊron]
Other namesAnnatar (Q)
Mairon (Q)
Gorthaur (S)
Zigûr (A)
The Necromancer
The Shadow
The Enemy
The Terrible
The Ruler
Aulendil (Q)
The Dark Power
The Black One
The Black Hand
The Deceiver
The Nameless One
The Black Master
The Sorcerer
The Abhorred Dread
Artano (Q)
TitlesThe Dark Lord
King of Kings
King of Men
Lord of the Earth
Lord of the World
The Lord of the Rings
The Base Master of Treachery
Dol Guldur
LanguageBlack Speech
BirthCreation of the Ainur
Death25 March T.A. 3019
Notable forHigh Smith under Aulë
Lieutenant to Morgoth
Deceived the Elves into forging the Rings of Power;
Created the One Ring;
Brought about the Downfall of Númenor;
Nearly conquered the whole of Middle-earth
Physical Description
HeightSee below
Hair colorSee below
ClothingSee below
WeaponryThe One Ring
GalleryImages of Sauron
"But in after days he rose like a shadow of Morgoth and a ghost of his malice, and walked behind him on the same ruinous path down into the Void."
Valaquenta: Of the Enemies

Sauron was originally a Maia of Aulë named Mairon. Captivated by the power to order all things according to his own will he joined with Melkor. As "Gorthaur" he became Morgoth's lieutenant, being the greatest of his servants in the Wars of Beleriand. From his base of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, Sauron was directly responsible for the death of Barahir and later the Noldorin king Finrod during the Quest for the Silmaril. He demonstrated the ability to take the form of a wolf, a serpent, and a vampire.

After the downfall of Morgoth, Sauron continually strove to conquer Middle-earth throughout the Second and Third Ages. In the Second Age, under the guise of Annatar, he deceived the Elves of Eregion, who under his guidance had created the Rings of Power, whilst he secretly forged the One Ring in Mount Doom. Thus Sauron became "The Lord of the Rings". Failing to corrupt the Elves, he assaulted the Westlands, beginning a period called the Dark Years, when first time he became known as the Dark Lord. His influence corrupted the Númenóreans - leading to the destruction of Númenor - which led to Elendil founding the Realms in Exile of Arnor and Gondor. Elves and the Dúnedain, the descendants of the Númenóreans, formed the Last Alliance and, in S.A. 3441, Elendil and Elven High King Gil-galad died destroying Sauron's body. Following Sauron's defeat, Elendil's son Isildur took the One Ring.

In the Third Age, Sauron returned to Middle-earth and, as the Necromancer, took the hill of Amon Lanc as his fortress of Dol Guldur;one of his chief servants, the Witch-king, formed the realm of Angmar in the north of Eriador. Following an attack by the White Council in T.A. 2941, Sauron returned to his fortress of Barad-dûr in Mordor, marshalling his armies and using his double-faced vassal, Saruman . By T.A. 3018 Frodo Baggins was in possession of the Ring, and he was led by Gandalf as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring in the Quest of the Ring. Whilst Sauron waged the War of the Ring against the Free peoples of Middle-earth, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee and Gollum reached Mount Doom. On 25 March T.A. 3019, they reached Mount Doom and the Ring was destroyed. The breaking of the Ring caused Sauron's fall and resulted in the start of the Fourth Age and the Dominion of Men.



Mairon by Maureval

As one of the Maiar, Sauron was created by Ilúvatar before the Music of the Ainur.[1] At the beginning of Time, he was amongst the Ainur who entered into .[2] Here he became one of the Maiar of Aulë,[2] and was known as Mairon.[3]

Mairon's virtue was his love for order, planning and coordination, disliking confusion and chaos. But his obsession to order gradually overshadowed his love for the other intelligent beings of Arda, who would benefit from his planning; it became the sole object of his will, the end in itself. He started admiring Melkor's power to realize his designs quickly and masterfully.[4]

Early on he was ensnared by Melkor, becoming his greatest and most trusted servant.[5] Thus he came to be known as Gorthaur by the Sindar of Beleriand and Sauron by others. Sauron initially wasn't as evil as Morgoth, as he was serving someone and not himself.[2] Unlike Melkor, who wanted to unmake and corrupt the world, Sauron wished to rule it and do what he wanted with it.[4]

First Age

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 Battle of the Powers, they stormed and searched Utumno and Angband; however they failed to find Sauron.[6]

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.
Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"

With the unchaining of Morgoth and his subsequent destruction of the Two Trees 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.[7]

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.[8]

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 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 revealed Eilinel was dead and 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 their being disguised as Orcs, Sauron espied them as they entered into the vale between Ered Wethrin and Taur-nu-Fuin and was suspicious as Orcs passing were supposed to report to him. 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. So great was the terror of his approach that even Huan momentarily recoiled. Sauron leaped to attack Lúthien, but she drew her magic veil over his eyes afflicting him with fatigue and blindness, then Huan sprang upon Sauron and there they fought. The force of Sauron's malice alone left Lúthien weak and nearly unconscious, and the fighting was brutal and prolonged; however, he could not subdue the hound of Valinor. He was trapped within Huan's jaws and could not break free, even when he took the form of a serpent and finally his own shape. Rather than leave his physical form, 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.[5]

Second Age

Sauron-Annatar and the creation of the One Ring by Mysilvergreen

It was 500 years into the Second Age when Sauron started to stir up again.[10] Sauron decided that the Valar had forgotten about Middle-earth and he once again turned to evil; many Men in East and South, already corrupted by Melkor, fell under the Shadow by following him.[5] By S.A. 882, Gil-galad sensed a shadow arising in the East and sent a warning to Númenor.[11] Around S.A. 1000 Sauron was alarmed by the growing power of the Númenóreans, and chose Mordor as a land to make into a stronghold. He began the building of Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, near Mount Doom.[10]

Although Sauron long knew that Men were easier to sway, he sought to bring the Elves into his service, as they were far more powerful.[5] After lying hidden and increasing his power in secret, in S.A. 1200 Sauron put on a fair visage, calling himself Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, an emissary from the Valar. he was never welcome in Lindon as Elrond and Gil-galad did not trust him and refused to treat with him, although they never realised who he truly was.[5]

Elsewhere Annatar was gladly received, especially in Eregion where the Noldorin smiths learned much from him in art and magic, as their thirst for knowledge was great.[12][10] Under the tutelage of Annatar and the leadership of Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, became more skilled than anyone else, save for Fëanor himself. In the year S.A. 1500, when they reached the very height of their power, the Elves began the forging of the Rings of Power which according to Annatar would help them preserve their powers over Middle-earth.

But Sauron was ready to begin his own plans, and in S.A. 1600 - ten years after the completion of the Rings of Power - he created The One Ring to control the bearers of the other Rings. For this he invested most of his own power into the Ring as he forged it, so that it would be more powerful than the others. With its power he completed the building of the Dark Tower.[5][10]

But the Elves were not so easily ensnared, and as soon as Sauron put on the One Ring they and Celebrimbor were aware of him, and realised they were betrayed.[12][10] They hid their Rings from Sauron and did not use them. Sauron demanded that the other Rings be given to him, for they would not have been made without his knowledge. The Elves refused, and the War was inevitable.[5]

The Black Years

In this time Sauron constructed the Black Gate of Mordor to prevent invasion; and raised massive armies of Orcs, Trolls, and Men, chiefly Easterlings and Southrons whom he dominated as a king and god. He had them make many fortified towns and armed those under him with iron.[13][5]

The War of the Elves and Sauron began in S.A. 1693 and was a bloody conflict which destroyed Eregion and devastated much of Eriador.[10] 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 the Dark Lord of almost all of Middle-earth beyond the coasts, but the Númenóreans responded to the Elves' call for aid and sent a relief force. With united forces, Sauron's army was driven back and defeated near the Sarn Ford and withdrew to Tharbad where he was reinforced. But the Númenórean admiral Ciryatur had sent a fleet up the river Gwathló and Sauron's army was attacked in the rear and utterly defeated. The Dark Lord fled back to Mordor with little more than his own bodyguard and a handful of orcs.[14]

Nonetheless, while Sauron's subsequent power never quite matched the height it had during the War with the Elves, many of his most powerful enemies' homelands had been devastated. As the Númenóreans established dominions around the Westlands (c. S.A. 1800),[10] Sauron's empire continued to expand to dominate barbarian Men as servants and worshippers to the far south and east.[13][15]

As the Elves had failed him, he had decided to distribute the Rings of Power to three corrupted lords of Númenor[16] and an Easterling king and other five Men, as well as lords of the Dwarves. The Dwarves proved too hardy and resistant to their effects; but the Men eventually faded and in S.A. 2251 they appeared as Ringwraiths, his greatest slaves.[10]

Believing he would dominate all of the Middle-earth, Sauron assumed many glorious titles: King of Kings,[17] King of Men,[16] Lord of the Earth,[5] and even Lord of the World.[17]

On Númenor

The Temple of Melkor by Elena Kukanova

This offended the arrogant Númenóreans who had already started to fall under the Shadow. The proud Númenóreans came to Middle-earth with great force of arms, and Sauron's forces fled. Realising he could not defeat the Numenoreans with military strength, Sauron allowed himself to be taken as a hostage to Númenor by King Ar-Pharazôn in S.A. 3262.[10]

There, he quickly grew from captive to adviser and was known as Zigûr, the Wizard;[18] he seduced the King and further corrupted the people.[10] He converted many Númenóreans to the worship of Darkness, becoming High Priest of the Cult of Melkor. He had the White Tree cut down and in its place raised a great temple in which he performed human sacrifices, persecuting those who were still Faithful. Finally, he convinced the king to rebel against the Valar and attack Valinor itself, claiming they would gain immortality. Eru, the supreme god, then directly intervened: Númenor was drowned under the sea, and the great navy of Númenor was destroyed.

Sauron was on Númenor in the Temple of Melkor and was caught in the ensuing flood. However his spirit survived, although severely weakened by the destruction, and fled back to Middle-earth.

Against the Faithful

Sauron's spirit returned to Mordor in S.A. 3320,[10] where he slowly rebuilt his strength, and he was unable to assume a fair shape. From this point on he started to rule through terror and force, largely filling the fearsome role left vacant by his former master.

Meanwhile, a few faithful Númenóreans, led by Elendil, were saved from the flood, and they founded Gondor and Arnor in Middle-earth. Sauron still considered them his hated enemies and he launched a pre-emptive attack on Gondor in S.A. 3429.[10]

In response, the Númenóreans formed the Last Alliance with the Elven-king Gil-galad. Learning of them Sauron dispatched some Orcs of Mordor to the Misty Mountains to ambush them.[19] He also burned the gardens of the Entwives against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin.[20] Nonetheless the Allies reached Mordor and defeated Sauron's forces in the Battle of Dagorlad in S.A. 3434 and finally laid siege before Barad-dûr.[10]

The siege lasted for seven years until S.A. 3441, when Sauron left his fortress engaging in direct combat. Elendil and Gil-galad fought Sauron and vanquished him, but both were killed.[10] 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. After his defeat in the War of the Last Alliance, Sauron had lost his ability to form a physical body for a great while.

Third Age

Sauron's defeat released his subjects, like the Easterlings, from his tyranny, but they fell into chaos. Their tribes and kingdoms battled against each other and some withdrew to the hated west.[21] Weakened by his defeat and the loss of the One Ring, it is thought that he fled to the far east to regain his power and strength before returning.

It was not until c. T.A. 1000 that Sauron could again begin to take shape. Worried by this prospect, the Valar sent five Maiar from the West to assist the peoples of Middle-earth against Sauron.[22]

His power was enough that he began again to throw a shadow across portions of Middle-earth. Apparently Sauron's spirit managed to move some Easterlings who invaded Rhovanion and came to the Vales of Anduin.[23]

The Necromancer

These moves coincided with the coming of the Shadow to Greenwood the Great.[24] Around 1050 he chose a hill in southern Greenwood as a place to build the fortress of Dol Guldur. At first, the Wise thought that this "Necromancer" was one of the Nazgûl who had returned and taken up residence in southern Greenwood.[25]

The year T.A. 1300 marked Sauron's increased power, evidenced by "evil things" who multiplied and grew bold again, like the Orcs of the Misty Mountains and some of the Dragons, who attacked the Dwarves; and the return of the Nazgûl, with the founding of the evil realm of Angmar.[25] In the following centuries, his subjects in Angmar, the East and the South concentrated against his ancient enemies. Kings Araphant of Arnor and Ondoher of Gondor realised that a single force was co-ordinating the attacks on both of their kingdoms and that they should work together to combat this evil. However Angmar was successful in destroying Arnor and soon after the Nazgûl gathered in Mordor and conquered Minas Ithil to prepare Sauron's return; their final success was ending the royal line of Gondor.[26][5][25] As his shadow deepened, a balrog awoke causing the desertion of Moria.[25]

Pass the Doors of Dol Guldur by John Howe

By T.A. 2060 the power of Dol Guldur grew so much that the Wise were alerted that Sauron was returning. Gandalf entered the fortress in 2063 but the shadow fled before him to avoid his revelation. Returning to the East,[25] and started corrupting the Easterlings and forging a strong alliance between their tribes. The period of his absence was known as the Watchful Peace , because the Shadow on Mirkwood had lessened (only Khamûl was left in Dol Guldur), and the Nazgûl stayed quiet in Minas Morgul[25] using this period to prepare for Sauron's return.

Return to Dol Guldur

The Necromancer returned in 2460 more powerful, with many Men in his service, and again took up residence in Dol Guldur.[25] His return coincided with the One Ring revealing itself three years later, falling in the hands of a Stoor. Feeling the danger, the Wise formed the White Council.[25]

The Necromancer's aims remained to gather the Rings of Power, find news about the One, and eliminate the Heir of Isildur, if anyone remained in Middle-earth.[27][25] In T.A. 2475 the Uruk-hai exited Mordor and briefly conquered Ithilien. By some years later the Orcs of the Mountains organized themselves blocking the passes to the West; Moria had been depopulated centuries earlier by the Balrog, and Sauron sent his creatures (Orcs and Trolls) there.[25] Under his shadow were also the Balchoth who invaded Mirkwood and also cooperated with Orcs to attack Gondor.[28] His servants captured the Dwarf King Thráin II and taken one of the Seven Dwarf rings from him.[25]

Still investigating the Necromancer, Gandalf sneaked into Dol Guldur in 2850 and met the dying Dwarf King, learning that the Necromancer was none other than Sauron. The next year Gandalf informed the White Council and urged an immediate attack upon the fortress; but Saruman the White had learned of the presence of the Ruling Ring near the Gladden Fields; he thought best to allow Sauron to build up his strength in order to reveal its location so that Saruman could seize it himself. Following this strategy, Saruman opposed Gandalf.[25]

As his power was growing and his arising came closer, his minions moved again against Gondor; his agents stirred the Haradrim to resume attacking Gondor, while Uruk-hai and Orcs of Mordor infested Ithilien[28][25] but never managed to pass beyond Anduin, further into Gondor.[29] All this time Sauron apparently had learned about the Disaster of the Gladden Fields where his old enemy Isildur was killed, shortly after his own demise, almost three millennia ago. He had put his minions look around Anduin near the Gladden Fields for the One Ring, not knowing that it had been already in the possession of a Stoor.[25]

Attack of the White Council

Considering the situations, and the occupation of the dragon Smaug of Erebor, Gandalf was worried that Sauron's military assault against the West was a matter of time, and that he would use Smaug in his force; Gandalf started considering a simultaneous attack both against Dol Guldur and against Smaug, to weaken Sauron.[30]

Dol Guldur by Angus McBride

In T.A. 2939 Saruman learned that Sauron was searching for the Ring, and worried that he would find it sooner than him. In 2941 he conceded with Gandalf to attack him.[25] Indeed, in themeantime Gandalf not only managed to eliminate Smaug, but also the Orcs of the Mountains were decimated in an ensuing battle, allowing the Kingdom Under the Mountain and of Dale to flourish again.[30][31]

Although Gandalf was weakening Sauron's potential grasp in the North,[30] Sauron had been expecting the White Council's attack against Dol Guldur and fled from there.[25]

Return to Mordor

The Nazgûl had been preparing Barad-dûr for Sauron's return, so it was easy for Sauron to return secretly to his old stronghold a year later. Sauron declared himself openly in T.A. 2951, sent three Nazgûl back to Dol Guldur and started rebuilding the Dark Tower, and once it was completed, the Mount Doom erupted.[28][25]

From then on Sauron stayed in Barad-dûr to conduct his war on the Free peoples. The shadow of Mordor caused despair and sickness to the Gondorians, like Finduilas, and in his desperation, the Steward Denethor, Sauron's most immediate enemy used the Anor-stoneto gain knowledge. That palantir was directly linked to the Ithil-stone that the Nazgûl had snatched from Minas Morgul, and when Sauron used it, he discovered Denethor was using his. Sauron attempted to wrench the Anor-stone to his will, but failed due to Denethor's strength of will and birth-right to the stone. But this stressed and worn-out the steward, who lost his hope.[28][32]

By T.A. 3000 the shadow lengthened, and Saruman, who was residing in Orthanc, had secretly found and decided to use the Orthanc-stone. As happened with Denethor, Sauron linked with his mind, managing to enslave him;[25] from one of his wisest enemies, Saruman became one of his greatest servants.

Around T.A. 3009 Gollum, who formerly bore the One Ring and now pursued its thief, ventured into Mordor and was captured by Sauron minions. Gollum was tortured and interrogated for the following years,[25] and before releasing him, Sauron learned that the One Ring had been found by Bilbo Baggins of the Shire.

Sauron bred immense armies of Orcs and allied with or 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.

The War of the Ring

Sauron was alarmed when he the Elves of Mirkwood;[25] captured Gollum and sent the Nazgûl out to attack Osgiliath and hunt for the Ring. Sauron had two purposes in making this assault: first, to test the strength and preparedness of Denethor; and second (and more importantly) to make the appearance of the Nazgûl seem to be only a military force, hiding from the Wise their mission to hunt for the One Ring.[29] As Denethor's forces were stronger than Sauron hoped,[29] the following months Sauron continued to amass his forces in Mordor preparing for a full assault against Gondor.[33]

The armies managed to conquer half of Osgiliath, allowing the Nazgûl to begin their search for "the Shire",[29] 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, his plans were altered[34] and proceeded hastily with his ready forces.

When Saruman's army was defeated at Isengard, Pippin looked into the Palantir of Orthanc and saw Sauron, who thought the Hobbit was a prisoner of Saruman. Later Aragorn used the Palantir 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.

The Shadow of Sauron by Ted Nasmith

Although Sauron lost the Battle of Pelennor Fields, the free forces of the West were greatly weakened, and Sauron still had sufficient 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. Sauron saw Frodo as he put on the ring and, realising he had been tricked, sent the Nazgul to Mount Doom. But Gollum inadvertently saved Frodo 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, following his former master Morgoth into the Void. [2] His servant Saruman would suffer a similar fate.


Physical Form

Tolkien's unfinished sketch of Sauron, apparently showing him just after the destruction of the Ring

At first Sauron appeared as a royal and commanding figure in a strong body. He was also able to veil his power and change his shape. Later however he could take only a terrible form, of a stature slightly greater than a Man's,[35] "an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."[16] Isildur recounted that at the Siege of Barad-dûr, Sauron's hand was black with a deadly burning touch.[12]

Eye of Sauron

The Eye of Sauron, called by various names, was the symbol of Sauron the Dark Lord following the loss of the One Ring. This symbol was adopted to show his unceasing vigilance and piercing perception, and was displayed on the weaponry of his servants, or at least the orcs.

Sauron's Eye as Frodo sees it in the Mirror of Galadriel is the only feature of his later form described in detail. It is yellow and rimmed with fire, with a slit pupil, "a window into nothing."[36] The colour is compared to that of a cat's eye, but because of the references to Sauron's Lidless Eye, it may also resemble that of a snake, such as an adder. Readers differ as to whether Sauron's eyes were literally lidless and resembled what Frodo saw, or instead the Eye was only a symbol that Frodo saw in the Mirror in an elaborate form.


Sauron (pron. [ˈsaʊron])[note 1] is a Quenya name, said to mean "the Abhorred".[37]

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).[38]
  • 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.[39]
  • deriving from the Primitive Quendian form þaurond- (formed from the adjective þaurā "detestable", from root THAW).[40]
  • deriving from Thauron, which includes the Sindarin element thaur ("abominable, abhorrent"; also found in Gorthaur).[41]

Other names and titles

Gorthaur (Sindarin, pron. [ˈɡorθaʊr]) was a name used of Sauron by the Sindar during the First Age,[2][42] meaning "Terrible Dread". The name is composed of the elements gor (horror, dread) and thaur (abominable, abhorrent).[43]

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. He continued to call himself Mairon the Admirable, or Tar-mairon ("King Excellent"), until after Númenor's downfall,[3] although he couldn't use that name in Númenor, as it was a Quenya name with royal implications. There he was called Zigûr,[18] meaning "Wizard" in Adûnaic.[44]

Annatar is Quenya for "Lord of Gifts", from anna + tar.[45] It can be noticed that Morgoth used a similar name when he seduced the first Men: "Giver of Gifts".[46] In an isolated note, Tolkien gives other names used by Sauron when he seduced the Elves in the Second Age: Artano ("High-smith") and Aulendil ("Devoted to Aulë").[47]

Among his many titles were the Necromancer, the Abhorred Dread, the Nameless Enemy, the Cruel, 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

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.

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".

The Necromancer

In The Hobbit the Necromancer is an obscure villainous entity mentioned fleetingly by Gandalf as one of the dangers of the wider world. He is peripheral to the plot of the book: explaining why the company takes the dangerous road though Mirkwood rather than going around, and providing a reason for Gandalf's absence for that section of the journey. Thematically the Necromancer, a truly 'terrible' force beyond the power of the main protagonists, gives the world of The Hobbit a greater level of reality which Tolkien felt was necessary for a "fairy-tale" to ring true.[48]

Despite the alias it would appear that the Necromancer was always intended to stand for Sauron, a figure from the very earliest phases of his Legendarium (as Tevildo in "The Tale of Tinúviel"). Shortly after the publication of The Hobbit Tolkien wrote:

Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it – so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge.
Letter 19

Indeed, in the Lay of Leithian, Thû is called a "necromancer" who "held his hosts of phantoms and of wandering ghosts" (l. 2075) in Tol-in-Gaurhoth.[49]

However, as The Hobbit was not originally intended to be integrated with Tolkien's wider mythology the Necromancer did not necessarily need to be consistent with his First Age counterpart Sauron, rather the two were loosely linked to add an 'impression of depth' to the narrative of The Hobbit. With Tolkien's decision to merge the two 'worlds' and make Sauron the central antagonist Lord of the Rings came the need to reconcile the two figures and account for his whereabouts in the millennia between the end of the First Age and his dwelling in Bilbo's Mirkwood. This was largely achieved in the Tale of Years, with Sauron becoming a much greater figure after the fall of his master, one who arguably drove the history of the entire Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth.

Fans have noted that the alias "Necromancer" for Sauron is obscure, as in the context of neither The Hobbit nor The Lord of the Rings Sauron is ever specifically mentioned to use necromancy, i.e. controlling the spirits of the dead.[50]

A later essay mentions the practice of necromancy concerning the fëar of the Unbodied Elves, mentioning that Sauron possibly did so and also taught his followers,[51] although this reference isn't given in context of the story.

Minions and allies

Portrayal in adaptations

Sauron in Adaptations
The Necromancer in the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game  
The Necromancer in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  


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

Sauron is briefly shown in the prologue sequence as a shadowy figure in a horned helmet.

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Sauron is played by Sala Baker and voiced by the late Alan Howard. In these films, he is depicted as a tall armored warlord wielding a huge mace (similar to how Morgoth is described in The Silmarillion). In the first film, he is depicted dispatching a number of Elves and Men with his mace, before killing Gil-galad (offscreen) and then Elendil before being defeated by Isildur using his father's broken sword to cut off the finger wearing the One Ring, as well as three others on the same hand. This strangely causes his body to explode, producing a shockwave that knocks everyone on the battlefield off their feet.
Later on, Saruman implies to Gandalf that Sauron was unable to retain his physical form and that the Eye was his astral form, a detail which is never brought up in the novel. It is unknown if Saruman was truthful with this statement, or if he was either misinformed or lying (since he was already corrupted by Sauron).

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

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

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

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Sauron is played and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, under his assumed identity as the Necromancer. In these films, it is stated that the White Council does not discover he is Sauron until much later, during the events of these films, previously believing him to be a human with skills in magic. In these films, Sauron initially appears as a shadowy figure before assuming his armoured form from the previous films. With him as the slit black pupil, he projects flames around him, creating the visage of the Great Eye.

Radio series

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

The voice of Sauron is provided by Felix Felton.[52]

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.

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

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

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

Video games

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. I (1990 video game):

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

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.

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:

Sauron, in his fair guise, appears during the flashback to the years of the Second Age. He uses the name "Antheron" instead of "Annatar", which only appears in the works not covered by the game' licese.
Visiting Sauron's personal chambers in Dol Guldur leads to a vision of the Dark Lord, still weak and recovering from his defeat at the hanf of Isildur.
During an extended flashback sequence to the War of the Last Alliance, Sauron himself is met within Barad-dur by the player, who controls a historic character.

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: Guardians of Middle-earth:

Sauron is a "guardian".[53]

2014: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

2017: Middle-earth: Shadow of War


1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

Sauron is treated as a Mage of level 180 (level 360 if using the One Ring). Among his items are the Elf-slaying Black Sword (S. Mormegil), the Gauntlet of Slaying ("Narsil's Bane"), and the Black Scale of dragonskin. Among his special powers are Domination (control over other players using the One Eye), resistance to normal weapons, and the ability to force anyone within his sight to resist fear (or otherwise becoming frozen).

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

The card "Sauron", appearing in the set The Balrog, is playable as a manifestation of the card "The Lidless Eye" (from the set The Lidless Eye), and can be used by players to enhance their general influence.[54]

External links


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


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Enemies"
  3. 3.0 3.1 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
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", pp. 394-398
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  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. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of Men into the West"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  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. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Amroth and Nimrodel"
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  17. 17.0 17.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131, (undated, written late 1951)
  18. 18.0 18.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, passim
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", Note #20
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix B: The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves", p. 259
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", pp. 388-389
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes", #60
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages"
  25. 25.00 25.01 25.02 25.03 25.04 25.05 25.06 25.07 25.08 25.09 25.10 25.11 25.12 25.13 25.14 25.15 25.16 25.17 25.18 25.19 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring"
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
  31. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Palantíri"
  33. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
  34. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  35. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 246, (dated September 1963)
  36. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Mirror of Galadriel"
  37. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names", entry "Sauron"
  38. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", p. 393 (entry "THUS-")
  39. 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
  40. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967), p. 380
  41. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry thaur
  42. 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
  43. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names"
  44. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part Three: The Drowning of Anadûnê: (vi) Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language: [Final section: Further material]", p. 437
  45. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entries anna, tar
  46. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Four. Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth: Author's Notes on the 'Commentary'", The 'Tale of Adanel', p. 344
  47. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", Notes, p. 254
  48. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 17, (dated 15 October 1937)
  49. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian: Canto VII (Beren and Felagund before Thû)"
  50. "Why is Sauron called the "Necromancer"?", Stackexchange (accessed 9 January 2020)
  51. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Laws and Customs among the Eldar, Of Re-birth and Other Dooms of Those that go to Mandos", p. 224
  52. Radio Times, Volume 133, No. 1724, November 23, 1956
  53. "Guardians of Middle-earth: First Official Gameplay Trailer" dated 29 June 2012, YouTube (accessed 16 July 2012)
  54. "Home page for the game Middle Earth", Trade Cards Online (accessed 5 January 2012)
Ring created
c. S.A. 16003441
Followed by:

Valar  Lords   Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · Melkor
Queens   Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Maiar   Arien · Eönwë · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Salmar · Tilion · Uinen
Wizards   Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · Blue Wizards
Evil   Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs
Music · Valarin · Almaren · Valinor · Valmar · Second Musicitalics indicates Aratar
Ring-bearers of the One Ring
Sauron (S.A. 1600 - 3441) · Isildur (S.A. 3441 - 25 September, T.A. 2) · Déagol (c. 2463) · Sméagol (c. 2463 - 2941) · Bilbo Baggins (2941 - 22 September, 3001) · Frodo Baggins (22 September, 3001 - 13 March, 3019) · Samwise Gamgee (13 March, 3019 - 14 March, 3019) · Frodo Baggins (14 March, 3019 - 25 March, 3019) · Gollum (25 March, T.A. 3019)
Also briefly held the Ring: Gandalf (13 April, T.A. 3018) · Tom Bombadil (27 September, T.A. 3018)