Sauron ~ Sauron in the First Age ~ Sauron in the Second Age ~ Sauron in the Third Age ~ Important Dates ~ Names and Titles
The History of Sauron Stretches into the Far Past!
Originally a Maia of Aulë’s people, Sauron was early corrupted by Melkor and became his most trusted lieutenant.
In the Wars of Beleriand, Sauron was the most feared of Morgoth’s servants, but after the War of Wrath and the expulsion of the first Dark Lord, Sauron rose to become the greatest enemy of Elves and Men in the Second and Third Ages.
Sauron’s History Before the First Age
Sauron was one of the mightiest (perhaps the mightiest) of the Maiar, and in the beginning of days he served Aulë the Smith. From Aulë he learnt much of forging and making, knowledge that he would make use of many thousands of years later when he built the Barad-dûr and forged the One Ring.
In the earliest days, Melkor seduced Sauron and took him to his own service, and Sauron became the greatest and most trusted of his followers. While Utumno still stood in the dark north of the world, Sauron was given command of his lesser fortress of Angband. At length, the Valar assaulted Melkor and took him in chains back to Valinor, but Sauron escaped, and remained in Middle-earth.
Sauron’s History in the First Age
While Melkor was captive in Aman, Angband was made ready for his return, and it must be assumed that Sauron had a large part in this work. After the Darkening of Valinor, Melkor returned indeed to Middle-earth, and took up his abode in Angband. Soon after, he travelled for a while into the eastern lands to seek the newly-awakened Men, and once again left Sauron in command of his forces.
Though Sauron doubtless continued his evil works in the service of his lord, we hear nothing of these for many centuries after the return of Morgoth, until the days after the Dagor Bragollach. For two years after the Dagor Bragollach itself, Finrod’s tower of Minas Tirith had guarded the Pass of Sirion against Morgoth’s forces. In 457 (First Age), Sauron himself came against the tower; he cast a spell of fear upon the Elves who held it, and they were slain or fled back to Finrod in
Sauron then took Minas Tirith to dwell in, and watched the Pass of Sirion himself from its topmost tower. The isle on which it stood, which had been called Tol Sirion, was renamed Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves.
After the Dagor Bragollach, the last remnant of the House of Bëor became a scattered people. Barahir, its lord, took shelter in the uplands of Dorthonion at Tarn Aeluin with his son Beren and eleven others, and was hidden for a while from Morgoth. Sauron was sent to find and destroy this desperate band of outlaws. This he did by capturing Gorlim, one of Barahir’s followers, and using his sorcery he discovered the outlaws’ camp, and destroyed all of Barahir’s band but his son Beren.
Beren himself fled southwards through the treacherous paths of the Ered Gorgoroth, and Sauron’s army of werewolves failed to capture him. Fate drove Beren into Sauron’s hands eventually, though: some years later as a he travelled through the with on the Quest of the Silmaril, Sauron captured him with Finrod and their companions and imprisoned them in Tol-in-Gaurhoth.
Sauron knew nothing of Beren’s quest; sensing some danger to himself or his master, he sent wolves out throughout the lands of the Elves, and meanwhile he flung Beren, Finrod and their companions into a deep pit. There they were devoured one after the other by one of his werewolves, and eventually all were lost but Beren. As the werewolf slew Finrod, though, Lúthien came upon Sauron’s Isle with Huan, the Hound of Valinor. Sauron sent wolf after wolf to investigate Lúthien’s song, and each was slain in turn by Huan. At last, he sent Draugluin, the mightiest wolf that had then lived, and he too was mortally wounded by Huan, but with his dying breath he returned to Sauron and warned him of the danger.
So Sauron went himself to one of his greatest defeats. He took the form known as Wolf-Sauron, the shape of a mighty werewolf, and went out to meet his foes. First, he attacked Lúthien, but under her enchantment he stumbled, and Huan sprang upon him. Though he shifted shape and struggled, he could not escape; at last he yielded the tower to Lúthien and Huan released him. He fled eastward then to Dorthonion, where he dwelt in the dark pine forests of Taur-nu-Fuin.
After the War of Wrath and the defeat of his master Morgoth, Sauron fled for a time into the east of the world. A period of one thousand years followed in which Sauron was not seen in the west of Middle-earth. As the first millennium of the Second Age turned, Sauron came back. He took the fenced and mountainous land of Mordor, and there began building his mighty Dark Tower of Barad-dûr.
The beginning of Sauron’s reign as Dark Lord can be dated from this time: he set himself no less a goal than the conquest of Middle-earth, and perhaps even of Númenor itself.
For six hundred years, he pursued a dual strategy. In the guise of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, he tutored the Elves of Eregion, teaching them the secret things that only a Maia of Aulë’s people could know. From his lore, the Rings of Power were forged, but while he worked with the Elves, he continued the fortification of Mordor to make it an unassailable stronghold.
In the fire-mountain of Orodruin, he secretly forged the One Ring. This was to be the first stroke in his conquest of the west – a device by which he could know, and control, the thoughts of the bearers of the other Rings. His plan failed, though: the Elves became aware of his malevolent presence, and took off their Rings.
Angered by this setback, Sauron loosed the hordes of Mordor, six hundred years in the building, and overran Eriador, destroying the land of Eregion where the Rings were made. The Elves called on Númenor for aid, though, and the army of Tar-Minastir put Sauron’s forces to rout. After this reverse, Sauron sought instead to build power in the eastern countries, and left the Westlands in peace for many centuries.
When Ar-Pharazôn usurped the throne of Númenor in 3255 (Second Age), he saw Sauron’s growing eastern kingdom as a threat. Building and equipping a mighty fleet, he sailed for Middle-earth, and landed at Umbar, to the south of the Mouths of Anduin. Ar-Pharazôn demanded that Sauron submit to his authority and, seeing that the might of the Númenóreans far outstripped his own, Sauron agreed.
The Shapes of Sauron
All of the Ainur had the ability to change their form, but none held so many different shapes as Sauron. During the First Age, his accustomed form seems to have been that of a dark sorceror, commanding a host of evil things, and especially werewolves and their kind. He shifted form many times in his existence, though, especially during his duel with Huan; among the shapes he wore were:
This was the monstrous wolf-shape he chose when he went forth from his fortress on Tol-in-Gaurhoth to battle with Huan. During the battle, he changed his form to that of a serpent in his struggles to escape. Finally, after Huan released him, he became a great vampire,and fled into the east, ‘dripping blood from his throat upon the trees’2.
Sauron was the greatest enemy of the free peoples of Middle-earth in the Second and Third Ages. He was once a servant of Morgoth, but after Morgoth’s defeat, Sauron became a Dark Lord himself and sought to conquer all of Middle-earth. He forged the One Ring to exert his will over others, but in the end it was the instrument of his downfall.
Ancient Times & The First Age:
Sauron was one of the Maiar – spirits who helped and served the Powers known as the Valar. He came into existence before the creation of the world. Sauron was not evil in the beginning. At first he was a Maia of Aule, the Vala whose domain was the substances of which the earth was made. Aule was a smith and a master of crafts and works of skill, and Sauron learned much from him about making, forging, and creating.
But Sauron was drawn to the strength and might of Melkor – a Power who desired dominion over the entire world. Sauron craved order and wanted to arrange things according to his will, and he believed that following Melkor was the best way to achieve this end. Melkor became known as Morgoth – the Dark Enemy – and Sauron became his most powerful minion and performed many evil deeds in his service.
Morgoth dwelt in the stronghold of Utumno in the far north of Middle-earth. Sauron was given command of another stronghold called Angband that had been built near the coast to defend against attack by the Valar from the Undying Lands across the Sea. When the Valar learned of the awakening of the Elves in Middle-earth, they decided to wage war against Morgoth. In the Battle of the Powers, Morgoth was taken prisoner, but Sauron hid deep in the caverns beneath Angband and escaped
Morgoth was imprisoned by the Valar for three ages. After Morgoth was released, he stole the jewels called the Silmarils that had been made by the great Elf-craftsman Feanor and he returned to Middle-earth. Feanor and many of his kinsmen the Noldor followed Morgoth in order to retrieve the Silmarils, and the War of the Jewels began which lasted most of the First Age.
Sauron once again became Morgoth’s lieutenant. Morgoth rebuilt Angband as his primary stronghold, and he left Sauron in command when he was away.
Sauron had become wise and strong and cruel. All feared him and the torment he wrought. He was a powerful sorcerer who could change into many forms and could appear fair and pleasing if he wished. Sauron created werewolves by imprisoning dreadful spirits in the bodies of terrible beasts. Another of his minions was the vampire Thuringwethil, whom Sauron used as a messenger.
Around the year 457 of the First Age, Sauron attacked the Elven stronghold on the island of Tol Sirion. The Elves were overcome by fear and were forced to flee. Tol Sirion
was renamed the Isle of Werewolves and Sauron took control of the watchtower. From that vantage point, he commanded the passage through the mountains, allowing the forces of Morgoth entry into Beleriand.
Morgoth commanded Sauron to kill Barahir, a Man who led a group of followers who resisted Morgoth. Sauron tricked Gorlim – one of Barahir’s followers – by agreeing to reunite him with his missing wife. After Gorlim revealed Barahir’s location, Sauron revealed that his wife was dead, and he kept his promise by slaying Gorlim as well.
Sauron sent his minions to kill Barahir and his followers. Sauron’s captain cut off Barahir’s hand which bore the Ring of Barahir to show Sauron that the mission had been completed. But Barahir’s son Beren pursued them and slew the captain and retrieved his father’s ring.
Beren wandered for four years pursuing and slaying the servants of Morgoth. Sauron led an army of werewolves after him, but Beren eluded them. Beren entered the hidden realm of Doriath, where he saw Luthien and fell in love with her. Beren agreed to her father Thingol’s demand that he retrieve one of the Silmarils from Morgoth’s crown in exchange for Luthien’s hand.
Beren set out with Finrod Felagund and ten companions. When they ventured into the pass near the Isle of Werewolves, Finrod used his arts to disguise them as Orcs. But Sauron perceived that they were not what they seemed and he came down from his tower to challenge them. Sauron and Finrod strove in a duel of songs of power, and in the end Sauron was triumphant. He cast Finrod and Beren and their companions into a pit, and one by one they were devoured by werewolves until only Beren remained.
Luthien came to the Isle of Werewolves with Huan the Hound to rescue Beren. Sauron heard her singing and he sent wolves to capture her, but Huan slew them all including the greatest, Draugluin, who reported back to Sauron before he died. Then Sauron himself came in the form of a terrible werewolf. Huan leaped aside in fear, but Luthien cast her enchanted cloak over Sauron’s eyes and Huan attacked him.
During the long struggle, Sauron changed his shape from a werewolf to a serpent and back to his own form. But Huan pinned him down and Luthien demanded that he surrender the Isle of Werewolves to her or she would send him bodiless back to Morgoth. At last Sauron gave up. Luthien rescued Beren and they continued the quest for the Silmaril, ultimately succeeding at great cost.
Sauron fled the Isle of Werewolves in the form of a vampire. He had been wounded by Huan and blood dripped from his throat. Sauron went to the forest of Taur-nu-Fuin and dwelled there for a time, filling it with horror.
At the end of the First Age, the Valar waged the War of Wrath against Morgoth and utterly defeated him. Morgoth was banished from the world forever and was cast into the Void.
Sauron’s role in the War of Wrath is not known. After the war, Sauron feared the wrath of the Valar and he came forth in a fair form and renounced his evil deeds to Eonwe, the herald of the Vala Manwe. Eonwe told Sauron that he must go to the Undying Lands to be judged by Manwe. But Sauron was ashamed and humiliated and he wanted to escape punishment, so he fled and continued his evil ways.