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Sauron ( : sɑʊɻɒn, : sAUr\\`Qn) (creation by Eru Ilśvatar – 3019 T.A), a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth universe, is the Dark Lord of Mordor, a potent spirit of evil and the major character against whom the protagonists struggle in The Lord of the Rings. He also appears as a relatively minor character in The Silmarillion.

Warning: Plot details follow.

Before and during the First Age, Sauron was in origination an "angelic" spirit called a Maia in Tolkien's invented mythology. He was at first a powerful servant of Aulė, the Smith, a greater angelic spirit, one of the Valar, or ruling powers of the world. However, Sauron was among those soon subverted by Morgoth, an evil Vala, and Sauron himself turned to evil. Ever after, Sauron served Morgoth faithfully, and even in later days, after Morgoth was defeated and locked outside the confines of the world, Sauron encouraged and coerced Men to worship Morgoth as god. Sauron, in a way, was wiser than Morgoth - he had never fallen as low as his master did. While Morgoth wanted to either control or destroy the very matter of Arda itself, Sauron's desire was to dominate the minds and wills of its creatures.

During the First Age, the Noldorin Elves left the Blessed Realm of Valinor in the Utter West (against the counsel of the Valar) in order to wage war on Morgoth, who had stolen the holy Silmarils, enchanted gems that glowed with light, from them. In that war, Sauron served as Morgoth's Chief lieutenant, surpassing all others in rank save Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. Known as Gorthaur the Cruel, Sauron at that time was a master of illusions and changes of form, and werewolves were his servants. When Morgoth left Angband to corrupt the newly awakened Atani, Sauron directed the War against the Elves. He conquered the Elvish isle of Tol Sirion, so that it became known as Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves. There later Finrod Felagund, the elven king of Nargothrond, died protecting Beren in captivity; soon afterward Lúthien; and Huan the Wolfhound defeated Sauron in that place and rescued Beren from the dungeons into which Sauron had thrown him. After his defeat by Lúthien, Sauron played little part in the events of the First Age, and after his master Morgoth was defeated and cast out by the Valar, Sauron repented and pled for mercy. But he was unwilling to return to the Utter West for judgement, and he fled and hid.

During the Second Age, Sauron put on a fair visage, and calling himself Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, he befriended the Elvish smiths of Eregion, and counseled them in arts and magic. Then the Elves forged Rings of Power, but in secret Sauron forged the One Ring to rule the Elvish rings, investing most of his own power into the Ring as he forged it. By doing so, he became more powerful than his master Morgoth at the end of the First Age, whose fėa, while stronger, was dispersed into the matter of Arda. When Sauron put on the One Ring and tried to dominate the Elves, they resisted, and Sauron came upon them in the War of the Elves and Sauron and defeated them. In this time Sauron became the Dark Lord of Mordor, raising his fortress of the Barad-Dur near Mount Doom, where he had forged the One Ring, constructed the Black Gate of Mordor to prevent invasion, and raised massive armies of Orcss, Trolls, Werewolves, and Men, chiefly Easterlings and Southrons. Because of this, towards the end of the Second Age, Sauron assumed the titles of Lord of the Earth and King of Men. This offended the Númenóreans, the powerful Men descended of Beren and Lúthien, who lived on the island of Númenor in the sea between Middle-earth and Valinor. The Númenóreans, who were then proud, came to Middle-earth with astounding force of arms. Sauron's forces fled, and Sauron was taken as hostage to Númenor by king Tar-Calion. There, he quickly grew from captive to advisor; he converted many Númenóreans to the worship of Morgoth, and raised a great temple in which he performed human sacrifices. Finally, he convinced the king of Númenor; to rebel against the Valar and attack Valinor itself. Eru, that is, the supreme god, then directly intervened -- Númenor was drowned under the sea, and the great navy of Númenor was destroyed. The world was bent, so that thereafter only Elven-Ships could sail into the Utter West. Sauron was diminished in the flood of Númenor, and fled back to Mordor, where he slowly rebuilt his strength. A few faithful Númenóreans were saved from the flood, and they founded Gondor and Arnor in Middle-earth. These faithful Númenóreans, Elendil and his sons, allied with the Elven-king, Gil-galad, and together fought Sauron and, after long war, defeated him, although both Elendil and Gil-galad were slain. Isildur, son of Elendil, cut the One Ring off Sauron's finger and claimed it. But later the Ring betrayed him, so that Isildur was slain by Orcs, and the Ring was lost for centuries.

In the Third Age, Sauron rose again, at first in a stronghold called Dol Guldur, the Hill of Sorcery, in southern Mirkwood. There he was known as the Necromancer, and the Elves did not realize at first that it was actually Sauron returned. Gandalf the wizard stole into Dol Guldur and discovered the truth; then the White Council of Wizards and Elves put forth their might and drove Sauron out. But the White Council was led by Saruman, who wanted the Ring for himself. Sauron simply moved back to Mordor and raised again Barad-dûr;. He fortified Mordor and prepared for war against Gondor and the Elves, with Saruman now his servant.

Sauron bred immense armies of Orcs. He allied with and enslaved Men from the east and south. He gathered his most terrifying servants, the Black Riders, or Ringwraiths, each wearing one of the nine rings designed for mortal men. Sauron 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.

But he was defeated when his One Ring, found by Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit, was cast into the Crack of Doom in Mordor where it had been made. Had Gollum not been tracking Frodo closely, the One Ring would most likely not have been thrown into the Cracks of Doom as Frodo had at this point now succumbed to the Ring's overwhelming power, though many believe Samwise Gamgee would have stopped him. Gollum, however, leapt out from the shadows in a last bid to claim his former possession (his "precious" as he called it) from Frodo, and he bit off Frodo's ring finger, complete with Ring. In the excitement of reclaiming it, Gollum fell backwards into the Cracks of Doom and inadvertently fulfilled the original quest to destroy the Ring of Power. Then Sauron's power was unmade, and his corporeal power in Middle-earth came to an end. Sauron's spirit towered above Mordor like a malevolent black cloud, but was blown away by a powerful wind from the west, and Sauron was now permanently crippled, never to rise again. (Saruman was soon to suffer a lesser version of this fate.)

Names and Titles

Sauron (originally Thauron) was Quenya, and can be translated as the Abhorred or the Abomination; in Sindarin he was called Gorthaur, the Abhorred Dread. He was also called the Nameless Enemy, which was hardly accurate, where as Morgoth was the Dark Enemy. His two most common titles, the Dark Lord of Mordor and the Lord of the Rings, appear only a few times in the books.

See also Akallabêth;, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.

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 Luthien in The Book of Lost Tales. Tevildo later (but still in the Book of Lost Tales period) was transformed into Thū, the Necromancer. The name was then changed to Gorthū, and finally to Sauron. Gorthū, in the form Gorthaur remained in the Silmarillion.

External links

Ainur of Middle-earth

Music of the Ainur | Ainulindalė

Lords of the Valar
Manwė | Aulė | Oromė | Irmo | Mandos | Tulkas | Ulmo
Queens of the Valar
Varda | Yavanna | Vįna | Estė | Vairė | Nessa | Nienna
The Enemy
Morgoth (a.k.a. Melkor)

Eönwė | Ilmarė | Ossė | Uinen | Curumo (a.k.a. Saruman) | Sauron | Aiwendil (a.k.a. Radagast) | Olórin (a.k.a. Gandalf)| Alatar | Pallando | Melian | Arien | Tilion | Salmar | Gothmog | Durin's Bane