Mouth of Sauron

From Tolkien Gateway
The Mouth of Sauron
Man (Black Númenórean)
"The Mouth of Sauron" by John Howe
Biographical Information
Other namesThe Messenger
PositionLieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr
Notable forNegotiating with Aragorn and Gandalf
Physical Description
RaceMan (Black Númenórean)
ClothingHigh helm, robed in black
SteedBlack horse
GalleryImages of the Mouth of Sauron

The Mouth of Sauron was the Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr, a servant and emissary of Sauron at the end of the Third Age. He was a tall man that was robed in black and wore a high helm.[1]



The Mouth of Sauron was a Black Númenórean who "entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first rose again".[note 1] He had forgotten his original name, which is not remembered in any tale.[1]

The Mouth of Sauron learned great sorcery and knew many of the Dark Lord's plans as a servant of Sauron. Being more cruel than an Orc and cunning, he rose in power and favour.[1]

Late Third Age

It is not known if the messenger who came from Mordor to King Dáin Ironfoot on a horse during the night in T.A. 3017 and asked about the whereabouts of a Hobbit and for the return of a little ring that was stolen by this Hobbit was the Mouth of Sauron.[2]

The Mouth of Sauron briefly appeared on a huge and hideous black horse or horse-like creature when he haggled with the army of the west in front of the Morannon, trying to convince Aragorn and Gandalf to give up and let Sauron win the battle for Middle-earth. Though he came before Aragorn and his men as an ambassador, he used quite insolent speech when he dealt with them. He tried to intimidate the army into surrendering by showing them the mithril coat of Frodo Baggins to make them think that the Ring-bearer had been captured. When Gandalf turned down his proposal, the Mouth of Sauron set all the armies of Barad-dûr upon them.[3]

The Mouth's fate is nowhere recorded, but it is probable he died in the assault before the Morannon.[4] If he had survived, it is likely that he would have been one of the leaders in the retreat of Sauron's evil servants after the fall of Barad-dûr.

Other names

The name "the Mouth of Sauron" poses a possible inconsistency in the narrative. Aragorn mentions that Sauron did not allow the name Sauron (which means "Abhorred" in Quenya) to be written or spoken.[5] Therefore it would be strange for a servant of Sauron to have a title that includes the name "Sauron". However, it is possible that the Mouth of Sauron did not use this title in the presence of Sauron and only used it when he was speaking to someone who was not a servant of Sauron.

Other versions of the legendarium

In a manuscript of an outline of Book V, the name of Sauron's messenger at Dagorlad is Mordu.[6] Following Mark Fisher's suggestion,[7] Paul Strack explains that Mordu is a Noldorin name, probably meaning "Black Night", from morn ("black") + ("night").[8]

In an earlier draft of the chapter "The Black Gate Opens", the Mouth was described as a living man, that was captured as a youth and in a later draft as the son of a house of wise and noble men in Gondor who desired evil knowledge and entered the service of the Dark Tower.[9]

Portrayal in adaptations

Mouth of Sauron in adaptations
The Return of the King (1980 film)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings Online
The Mouth of Sauron's description in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
The Mouth of Sauron's description in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum  
The Mouth of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
The Mouth of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum  

1980: The Return of the King:

The Mouth of Sauron briefly appears at the Black Gate. In this adaptation he was voiced by Don Messick.

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

The Mouth of Sauron's role is expanded. He is portrayed as the person who tortures Gollum into telling Sauron of "Baggins" and "Shire", though he is not named until the credits.[10] John Rye provided the voice of the Mouth of Sauron, symbolising the function of the Lieutenant of Barad-dûr.

1992: Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series):

The Mouth of Sauron is played by Peter Gawajda.

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

The Mouth of Sauron does not appear in the theatrical cut of the movie, but he does appear in the extended version, played by an unrecognizable Bruce Spence. His helmet, with the words "LAMMEN GORTHAUR" (Sindarin for "Voice of (Sauron) The Abominable") in Cirth written on it, covers his entire face except for his mouth, which is horribly diseased and disfigured by all the evil he has spoken, and disproportionately large, creating an unsettling effect. In fact, much of this spectacle is a result of CGI effects. Actually Jackson conceived this idea long after the footage had been shot and asked his special effects team to create the effect digitally.
The extended DVD cast commentary mentions that Jackson considered different depictions of the character, such as having Kate Winslet (who starred in Heavenly Creatures, another Jackson film) play the role, partially to emphasize the temptations Aragorn was facing.
In the movie itself, Aragorn decapitates the Mouth of Sauron with his sword. This sequence is often criticized by purist and outsider alike; through human history it was considered a crime of war to execute messengers or heralds. In the book, the Mouth actually specifically points out that as an ambassador he is protected by the laws of war, and Gandalf acknowledges this:
"...though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow. "I am a herald and an ambassador, and may not be assailed!" he cried. "Where such laws hold," said Gandalf, "it is also the custom for ambassadors to use less insolence. But no one has threatened you. You have naught to fear from us..." -- Book V, Chapter 10, "The Black Gate Opens"

2003: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of the Mouth of Sauron is provided by Juraj Slezáček.

2017: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Mouth of Sauron is one of the Gúrzyul, mortal servants of Sauron whom through the Dark Arts he had made ageless during the Second Age, although unlike wraiths they remain bound to their physical bodies and can be killed. First appearing at the Black Gate in a sequence near-identical to that in the book, the Mouth of Sauron survives the demise of his master and names himself Dulgabêth the Black Word, Sauron's Heir. The Mouth of Sauron is later killed by the player with the help of two Rangers.

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  1. It has been noted that this reference is difficult to interpret; according to Appendix B the Dark Tower arose first some time after S.A. 3320 and again in T.A. 2951. If the Mouth lived in the Second Age, he would be one of the King's Men of Númenor, and probably prolonged his life with sorcery (cf. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 274); in the second interpretation he would serve Sauron only for 68 years, and this would make him a Black Númenórean of Umbar or Harad. The second interpretation is more feasible (and supported by Michael Martinez) but both have been considered.