|"Annatar" by Alaïs|
|Other names||Annatar (Q)|
|Titles||The Dark Lord|
King of Men
The Lord of the Rings
Lord of the World
|Language||Valarin, Black Speech|
|Birth||Creation of the Ainur |
|Rule||S.A. 1600 - T.A. 3019|
|Death||25 March T.A. 3019 |
|Notable for||Smith of 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
|Eye color||See below|
|Weaponry||The One Ring|
|Gallery||Images 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 a highly gifted Maia. He was a student of Aulë and became skilled at crafting and making. He was named Mairon. Coveting the power through which he would coordinate all things according to his own will, he joined with Melkor. As "Gorthaur" he became the most trusted lieutenant of Morgoth, being reckoned as the greatest of his allies and servants in the Wars of Beleriand. From his fortress 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, the first time he became known as the Dark Lord. The arrogant Númenóreans, contesting their rule on Middle-earth, challenged him, and Sauron accepted to be brought to Númenor as a captive; however his influence corrupted the Númenóreans further - leading to the Downfall of Númenor. His spirit escaped, as did Elendil and his sons, founding the Realms in Exile of Arnor and Gondor. Elves and the Dúnedain, formed the Last Alliance and, in S.A. 3441, Elendil and Elven High King Gil-galad died fighting Sauron. Following Sauron's defeat, Elendil's son, Isildur, severed his Ringed finger and took the One Ring for himself.
In the Third Age,Sauron the Enemy returned to Middle-earth and, as the Necromancer, took the hill of Amon Lanc as his fortress of Dol Guldur; one of his foremost 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, the Dark Lord Sauron returned to his fortress of Barad-dûr in Mordor, marshalling his armies and using his two-faced vassal, the corrupted Wizard 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, and the Ring was destroyed. The breaking of the Ring caused Sauron's fall, and his stepping on Morgoth's path down into the Void, resulting in the start of the Fourth Age and the Dominion of Men.
As one of the most powerful Maiar, Sauron was created by Ilúvatar before the Music of the Ainur. At the beginning of Time, he was amongst the Ainur who entered into Eä. Here he became one of the Maiar of Aulë, among whose people he was deemed mighty and surpassed only by the Smith himself, and was known as Mairon.
Mairon's virtue was his love for order, planning and coordination, disliking confusion and chaos. But his obsession with 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.
Early on he was ensnared by Melkor, becoming his greatest and most trusted servant. Thus he came to be known as Gorthaur by the Sindar of Beleriand and Sauron by others. Sauron initially was not as evil as Morgoth, as he was serving someone and not himself. Unlike Melkor, who wanted to unmake and corrupt the world, Sauron wished to rule it and do what he wanted with it.
After Morgoth made his great fortress of Angband in the north-west of Middle-earth, he appointed Sauron to be its commander. When the Valar captured Melkor at the Battle of the Powers, they stormed and searched Utumno and Angband; however, they failed to find Sauron.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. Morgoth set a high price on his head and Sauron, commanding a great army of werewolves and fell beasts, sought for Beren.
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 disguises 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.
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 Felagund 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. According to prophecy, Huan would not die until he had encountered the greatest of all wolves, so Sauron contrived to take on that role and defeat the hound. Therefore Sauron took on 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.
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 ordered Sauron to return to Valinor in order to receive the judgement of Manwë. Sauron was not willing to suffer such humiliation, and he instead fled and hid himself in Middle-earth.
It was 500 years into the Second Age when Sauron started to stir again. 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. By S.A. 882, Gil-galad sensed a shadow arising in the East and sent a warning to Númenor. 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.
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. 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 did not perceive who he truly was.
Elsewhere Annatar was gladly received, especially in Eregion, where only Galadriel distrusted him. The Noldorin smiths there learned much from him in art and magic, as their thirst for knowledge was great. Under the tutelage of Annatar and the leadership of Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, became more skilled than anyone save 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. 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.
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. 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.
During 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.
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. 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 Dwarven 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.
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), Sauron's empire continued to expand to dominate barbarian Men as servants and worshippers to the far south and east.
As the Elves had failed him, he had decided to distribute the Rings of Power to three corrupted lords of Númenor 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.
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 Númenóreans with military strength, Sauron allowed himself to be taken as a hostage to Númenor by King Ar-Pharazôn in S.A. 3262.
There, he quickly grew from captive to adviser and was known as Zigûr, the Wizard; he seduced the King and further corrupted the people. He converted many Númenóreans to the worship of Darkness, becoming High Priest of a Melkor cult. 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 it fled back to Middle-earth.
Against the Faithful
Sauron's spirit returned to Mordor in S.A. 3320, where he slowly rebuilt his strength, although 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.
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. He also burned the gardens of the Entwives against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin. 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.
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. 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 lost his ability to form a physical body for a great while.
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. 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 in a physical living body. Worried by this prospect, the Valar sent five Maiar from the West to assist the peoples of Middle-earth against Sauron.
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.
These moves coincided with the coming of the Shadow to Greenwood the Great. 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.
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. In the following centuries, Sauron's 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 coordinating the attacks on both of their kingdoms and that they needed to 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 for Sauron's return; their final success was ending the royal line of Gondor. As his shadow deepened, a balrog awoke, causing the desertion of Moria.
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. Returning to the East, Sauron started corrupting the Easterlings and forging a strong alliance between their tribes.[source?] The period of his absence was known as the Watchful Peace, because the Shadow on Mirkwood had lessened and the Nazgûl stayed quiet in Minas Morgul, 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. His return coincided with the One Ring revealing itself three years later, falling in the hands of a Stoor. Sensing the danger, the Wise formed the White Council.
The Necromancer's aims remained to gather the Rings of Power, find news about the One Ring, and eliminate the Heir of Isildur, if one remained in Middle-earth. In T.A. 2475 the Uruk-hai exited Mordor and briefly conquered Ithilien. 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 Orcs and Trolls there. Also under his shadow were the Balchoth, who invaded Mirkwood and cooperated with Orcs to attack Gondor. Sauron's servants captured the Dwarf King Thráin II and took one of the Seven Dwarf rings from him.
Still investigating the Necromancer, Gandalf snuck 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, and he thought it 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.
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 but never managed to pass beyond Anduin, further into Gondor. 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 sent his minions to look for the One Ring around Anduin near the Gladden Fields, not knowing that it had been already in the possession of a Stoor.
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.
In T.A. 2939 Saruman learned that Sauron was searching for the Ring, and worried that he would find it sooner than he. In 2941 he conceded with Gandalf to attack Dol Guldur. Indeed, in the meantime Gandalf managed to eliminate Smaug, and the Orcs of the Mountains were decimated in the ensuing battle, allowing the Kingdom Under the Mountain and Dale to flourish again.
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.
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-stone to gain knowledge. That palantír was directly linked to the Ithil-stone that the Nazgûl had taken 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 wore out the steward, who lost his hope.
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; 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's minions. Gollum was tortured and interrogated for the following years, 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 became a symbol of power and fear.
The War of the Ring
Sauron was alarmed when the Elves of Mirkwood captured Gollum, so in June of T.A. 3018 he dispatched the Nazgûl to hunt for the One Ring in secrecy. To disguise the crossing of the Nine over the Great River, Sauron staged an attack on Osgiliath. This feint served two purposes: first, to test the strength and preparedness of Denethor, and second and more importantly, to present the Nazgûl as merely a military asset, concealing from the Wise their true mission. Denethor's forces were stronger than Sauron hoped, but Sauron took the eastern half of the city nonetheless. This allowed the Nazgûl to cross the Great River and begin their hunt. Now knowing the measure of his enemy, Sauron continued to amass his forces in Minas Morgul and Mordor in preparation for the siege of Gondor.
By September, the Nazgûl had failed to discover the Shire, and Sauron's wrath and fear were mounting. Via messenger, Sauron ordered the Nine to discard secrecy in favour of speed and go to Isengard to confront Saruman about his knowledge of the whereabouts of the Ring. At this time, Sauron also conveyed to the Nine such dire threats as to dismay even the Lord of Morgul. The Nine ultimately failed in their mission, being defeated and unhorsed by the flood of the Bruinen. The Witch-king returned alone to Mordor in December of 3018 to Sauron's great fear, for Sauron perceived that his foes still had strength left in them, and luck seemed to be on their side.
Sauron's next glimpse of the Ring (or so he believed) would come in the late hours of 5 March T.A. 3019, when Pippin looked into the palantir of Orthanc that he had recovered from the flood of Isengard. Sauron, unaware of Saruman's defeat at hands of the Ents, assumed Pippin was the Wizard's prisoner, and was being forced to look into the Palantir as a form of cruel sport. Rather than interrogate Pippin immediately, Sauron chose to torment him, and bid him tell Saruman that he would send for the prisoner immediately.  He was therefore deceived into thinking the Ring was finally within his grasp.
A few hours later, on the morning of 6 March, Sauron encountered one of his foes in the palantír of Orthanc: Aragorn looked into the Stone, revealing himself to Sauron as the Heir of Isildur and wielder of Andúril, the Blade Reforged. Aragorn spoke no word to Sauron and with a great effort of will wrested control of the Stone from him. As Aragorn intended, this played on Sauron's gnawing doubts and filled him with fear, believing that Aragorn might have overthrown Saruman, seizing Pippin and therefore the Ring. Thus, he ordered the Witch-king to launch his long-planned assault on Gondor immediately, rather than wait for all preparations to be made, hoping to destroy his enemies before they had a chance to make full use of the Ring's power.
The death of the Witch-king and the defeat of his army in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields were a setback to Sauron, but he still had a great force of arms held in reserve in Mordor, more than enough to eventually secure military victory against all of his enemies combined. After his encounter with Aragorn in the palantír, Sauron believed that one of his foes in Minas Tirith held the One Ring and would soon attempt to use it. As such, Gandalf was able to exploit Sauron's false beliefs with an audacious plan: the army of the Free Peoples would march on the Black Gate as a feint, keeping Sauron's Eye fixed upon them and blind to all else that moved, as the true Ringbearer made his way to Mount Doom.
For the next nine days, Gandalf's plan worked - as the Host of the West made its way east and north, Sauron kept his entire focus upon it and diverted the whole strength of Mordor to the Black Gate to meet them. Even when Shagrat brought news of an "Elvish" intruder in Cirith Ungol, Sauron's belief that the Ring was with the Host of the West remained unshaken and he made no attempt to investigate further; he could certainly not imagine that his enemies were trying to sneak the Ring into Mordor. Frodo and Sam thus made it to the Sammath Naur undetected, and Sauron did not become aware of them until the very moment that Frodo claimed the Ring for himself.
Only then did Sauron finally perceive Frodo and, realising he had been tricked, was overwhelmed with wrath and fear. He instantly lost all interest in the ongoing Battle of the Morannon and dispatched the Nazgûl from the skies above the battle to Mount Doom with all haste. It was too late; Gollum fell into the Crack of Doom with the Ring, destroying it and himself. In the moment of the Ring's destruction, Barad-dûr and many other of Sauron's fortresses crumbled to ruin. Sauron's spirit emerged and rose above Mordor like a black cloud - he stretched out his hand towards the army of the West, but even as he did so, he was blown away by a great wind and vanished.
Thus Sauron's power was unmade, and his dominion in Middle-earth came to an end. According to Gandalf, Sauron was "maimed for ever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape." Sauron's corporeal body that was in the Dark Tower died, and without the Ring his spirit no longer had the power to create a new one. Though his indestructible mind and being were bound forever to Eä, Sauron had lost all power to effect his will upon the world and could never again grow in strength.
It is said of Sauron, in summary of his long career of wickedness in Arda, that "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."
Sauron was a being of exceptional power, both in personal might and in sorcery, yet his greatest strength lie in his cunning, intellect, and charisma; through persuasion, deception, and coercion, he brought ruin to many mortal realms and united others unto himself, often without ever having to physically intervene, and he nearly cast Middle-earth into darkness several times throughout his existence.
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 greater than a Man's, though not giant, "an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure." Isildur recounted that at the Siege of Barad-dûr, Sauron's hand was black with a deadly burning touch. Gollum would also call him "Black Hand", noticing he only had four fingers after Isildur cut one off.
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." 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's gaze, even indirectly, was known to wither, exhaust, and weaken his foes, with Denethor, Aragorn, and Gandalf all rendered weary and dreadful after confronting him. The sheer malevolence Sauron exuded through his presence alone was enough to render Lúthien frail and nearly unconscious.
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).
- 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.
- deriving from the Primitive Quendian form þaurond- (formed from the adjective þaurā "detestable", from root THAW).
- deriving from Thauron, which includes the Sindarin element thaur ("abominable, abhorrent"; also found in Gorthaur).
Gorthaur was a name used of Sauron by the Sindar during the First Age, meaning "Terrible Dread". The name is composed of the elements gor ("horror, dread") and thaur ("abominable, abhorrent"). The Quenya equivalent was Ñorsus.
In some of Tolkien's notes from the 1950s, it is said that Sauron's original name was Mairon (Q, "the Admirable"), 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, although he could not use that name in Númenor, as it was a Quenya name with royal implications. There he was called Zigûr, meaning "Wizard" in Adûnaic.
Annatar is Quenya for "Lord of Gifts", from anna + tar. It can be noticed that Morgoth used a similar name when he seduced the first Men: "Giver of Gifts". 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").
Among his many titles and epithets were:
- The Base Master of Treachery, used once by Gandalf to explain why the Mouth of Sauron should not be trusted.
- The Black One, used once by Gollum.
- The Black Hand, used twice by Gollum.
- The Black Master, used by Isildur when cursing Sauron's former servants, the Oathbreakers.
- The Dark Lord, given by the Free Peoples after he rose in the Second Age.
- The Dark Power, used by Gandalf.
- The Deceiver, given by Amandil before departing to ask the Valar deliverance from Sauron's corruption.
- The Enemy, given by the Free Peoples after he rose in the Second Age.
- The One Enemy, used once by Frodo Baggins.
- The Eye, with its variants, mainly refered to his mental form and his emblem, but also applied to Sauron himself.
- The Great, following the name of Sauron, it is only used once by Gandalf, once by Glóin, and once by the Mouth of Sauron.
- The King of Kings, given by himself when he rose in the Second Age, enraging Ar-Pharazôn.
- The Lord of the Earth, given by himself when he rose in the Second Age.
- The King of Men, given by himself when he rose in the Second Age, enraging Ar-Pharazôn.
- The Lord of the World, given by himself when he rose in the Second Age, enraging Ar-Pharazôn.
- The North King, given by the people of Agar.
- The Necromancer, used during his rule in Dol Guldur when his identity was unknown.
- The Nameless, probably given by the people of Gondor, as it is only used by Boromir as Nameless Enemy, by Faramir as Nameless One, and by the watchmen of Gondor.
- The Lord of the Ring or Lord of the Rings.
- The Ring-maker.
- The Ruler, used once by Saruman during his confrontation with Gandalf.
- The Shadow, not properly given to him, but to his power when he expanded it in the Third Age.
- The Sorcerer, used during his rule in Dol Guldur when his identity was unknown.
- Wolf-Sauron, the name given to the dreadful werewolf-shape that Sauron took on when he went to do battle with Huan.
Other versions of the legendarium
Since the earliest versions of the legendarium, 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". Morgoth also had another servant named Fankil who led evil Dwarves and notably acted as his lieutenant, a role assumed by Sauron in the final works.
Tevildo later was transformed into Thû, the Necromancer - the first proper iteration of the later Sauron. 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".
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 through 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.
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.
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 of The 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.
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, although this reference is not given in the context of the story.
Minions and allies
- Thuringwethil- Vampire Herald
- Draugluin- First of the Werewolves of Angband; mortally-wounded by Huan
- The Witch-king of Angmar - Lord of Morgul, Lord of the Nazgûl and deadliest servant; vanquished by Éowyn and Merry
- The King of the Dead - King of the Oathbreakers, former servant bound to the Heir of Isildur
- Ar-Pharazôn - Last King of Númenor, rival-turned-puppet, coerced to the worship of the Darkness
- Herumor - Lord among the Haradrim
- Fuinur - Chief among the Haradrim
- Captain of the Haven - Commander of the Corsairs of Umbar; slain by Aragorn
- The Mouth of Sauron - Lieutenant of the Dark Tower and personal Ambassador
- Grishnákh - Orc captain of the Dark Tower; slain by the Riders of Rohan
- Saruman - Lord of Isengard, corrupted White Wizard and capable but faithless servant; stabbed in the back by Gríma
- Gothmog - Lieutenant of Morgul, second only to the Witch-king among the Morgul-host
- Shagrat - Captain of Cirith Ungol; put to death for his failures
- Muzgash - Orc guard at Cirith Ungol; shot by treacherous comrades
- Lagduf - Orc sentry stationed at Cirith Ungol; shot by treacherous comrades
- Radbug - Orc sentinel of Cirith Ungol; had his eyes squeezed out by Shagrat
- Snaga - Torturer of Cirith Ungol; fell to his demise in a fight with Samwise Gamgee
- Ufthak - Orc subordinate in Cirith Ungol; caught by Shelob in her webs
- Shelob - Descendant of Ungoliant and convenient guardian of the pass through Mordor
- The Two Watchers - Statues inhabited by evil spirits
- Characters from older concepts
Portrayal in adaptations
|Sauron in Adaptations|
- Sauron is briefly shown in the prologue sequence as a shadowy figure in a horned helmet in a non-speaking role.
2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):
- Sauron is played by Sala Baker and voiced by Alan Howard. In these films, he is depicted as a tall -yet not gigantic - armored warlord wielding a huge mace (a blend between his vague description by Tolkien and the more detailed appearance of Morgoth as 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; the scene figured in the concept art done for the prologue, however) 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 his yearning for power and Sauron's influence).
- For the portrayal of Sauron as a giant eye of fire in these movies, see Eye of Sauron#Portrayal in adaptations.
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.
- 1 September: A Shadow of the Past:
- 14 October: Alloyed:
- It is revealed that Sauron was disguised as Halbrand (portrayed by Charlie Vickers) the entire time. After being supposedly "split open" by Adar, he took on the form of a mortal Man and gave to himself the name Halbrand. At some point in time, he came upon the corpse of the last King of the Southlands and took up the crest because he thought that it suited him well.
- 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.
1985: Lord of the Rings: Game One:
- Sauron is mentioned by Gandalf in the beginning of the game.
- Sauron is mentioned in the beginning of the game, when Gandalf explains the history of the One 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".
- 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.
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 hand 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.
2012: Guardians of Middle-earth:
- Sauron is a "guardian".
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.
- Sauron is pronounced "sour-on" (sour as in not sweet).
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c. S.A. 1600 – 3441
|Valar||Lords|| Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · |
|Queens||Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa|
|Maiar||Arien · Eönwë · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Salmar · Tilion · Uinen|
|Wizards||Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · Blue Wizards|
|Úmaiar||Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs|
|Almaren · Aratar (indicated in italics) · Creation of the Ainur · Fana · Máhanaxar · Music · Second Music · Timeless Halls · Valarin · Valinor · Valmar|
|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)|