What is Sauron? Appearance, Powers, History & FAQs Explained

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As one of the main villains in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sauron is depicted as a central figure in both the books and the movies.

For fans, Sauron is someone you just can’t ignore as the impact he has on the story is just on another level. Along with being an important character in the series, he is one of the most iconic villains who has managed to capture the interests of many audiences.

In this article, we are going to delve deep into the depths of Middle Earth and look further into the origins and many more interesting things about the main antagonist of the series- the Dark Lord Sauron.

Who was Sauron?: Origin

Sauron was created by Illúvatar himself before the Music of the Ainur. In the beginning, Sauron’s real name was Mairon and he was among the Ainur who entered , the Created World.

Eä was the Quenya name for the universe.

After that, he became one of the greatest Maiar of Aulë and the most trusted lieutenant of Morgoth, the former Dark Lord. Even before he took on the title of the Dark Lord after Morgoth was stripped of the title, Sauron was already a mighty force.

Sauron soon became the Dark Lord and sought to conquer Middle Earth. Although Sauron was a devoted servant of Valar Aulë, the god of creation, he was soon corrupted by Morgoth and went into complete darkness.

Using his powers, he eventually created a powerful object known as the One Ring, a corrupted artifact that had control over other Rings of power.

What Sauron wanted was to bring order to the world. However, he chose a violent and unethical way as he wanted to bring everyone under his control.

He believed that enslaving the inhabitants of the world would bring world peace and eliminate any threat of rebellion and resistance.


The history of Sauron the Dark Lord began during the Year of Lamps when he was created by Illúvatar. However, it was only during the later years that he would rise to power and become the Sauron that was feared by the whole of Middle Earth.

First Age

There was not much that Sauron did in the First Age. He played little parts in the events of the First age as he was hiding from Morgoth’s wrath.

It was at this age, a war between Morgoth and the Elves took place. The war between them broke out because, Morgoth had stolen the Silmarils of Fëanor, which were the enchanted gems from the Trees of Valinor.

Later during the Quest for the Silmaril, Sauron was able to capture Beren and also the Finrod King of Nargothrond by defeating him in a duel.

Towards the end, Sauron was defeated by Lúthien. His master, Morgorth was taken to Valinor as a prisoner. Begging for mercy, Sauron pleaded with Eönwë and the victorious Host of the West, but he was unheard.

After that, Sauron decided to never return to the Utter West and went on to hide in the vast lands of Middle Earth.

Second age

It was during the Second Age when Sauron rose to power. After hiding for nearly five centuries, Sauron decided to finally reveal himself to the world.

Sauron began to gather massive armies of Orcs, Trolls, and other creatures that were present from the days of Morgoth.

Using his immense power and wealth, Sauron was able to corrupt many beings including the Elves and the Men. In the Second Age, Sauro gathered great armies and became known as the Dark Lord of Mordor.

It was after he became the Dark Lord that Sauron befriended the Elfs including one of the greatest craftsmen, Celebrimbor. Sauron advised them in the fields of arts and magic and even taught them how to make the Rings of power.

At the end of the Second Age, Sauron once again gained immense power and raised his large armies in an attempt to conquer Middle Earth.

He attained the titles of “Lord of the Earth” and “King of Men”. This greatly offended the Númenóreans, who were the powerful Men.

These powerful Men were mainly descended from those who had fought in the War of Wrath against Morgoth. Some of them were also the descendants of Elros from Beren and Lúthien.

Third age

Sauron was greatly defeated in the Second Age. Yet it was not the end for him. Even though he had no powers, he still existed as he had kept all his powers in the One Ring.

As long as the One Ring existed, Sauron remained in the realm. During the Third Age, he laid low, strengthening himself until he was able to take his physical form back.

At last, he began to rise and occupied the fort of Dol Gudur, the Hill of Sorcery, in southern Mirkwood. It was at that time, he disguised himself as a Necromancer, fooling almost everyone including the Elves.

After years of unsuccessful attempts, during the Third Age, Sauron bred armies of Orcs and even enslaved Men across Middle Earth. While gathering up powers, he even recruited some of his most terrifying servants, the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths.

Adopting the Eye symbol, Sauron finally revealed himself and was in full preparation for his attempt to conquer Middle Earth.

What did he look like? : Appearance

Although his physical appearance is not described in detail, he is more often described as a shapeshifter, with the ability to transform into any being that he liked.

Sometimes he appears as a vampire, a snake, and sometimes even a wolf. To most of the men and elves, Sauron appears as an attractive human-like form of Annatar.

Details about his looks and appearance are not talked about enough in the books. However, in the movies, he is described as a giant, fiery eye, which symbolized his immense power.

Sometimes he is also famously known for being a gigantic and armored figure with a flaming sword. Many rumors regarding his appearance have circulated throughout Middle Earth.

Some said Sauron gave off tremendous heat, which made his entire body black as if it was burning from his heat.

Gollum, who saw Sauron described him as a creature having only four fingers with a black hand. In addition to his physical appearance, he also had this dreadful evil aura around him.

Well, whatever his appearance was, it was more of the evil deeds that made him a central figure of the story.

What kind of personality did Sauron have?

As the main antagonist of the trilogy, Sauron’s personality was straight-up evil. Even though he was a servant of god in the beginning, it didn’t take long for him to become corrupted.

His behavior and personality were mainly shaped by his hunger for power and bringing peace to the world by enslaving its inhabitants.

Depicted as a manipulative and heartless ruler, he used his powers to create fear among the others and intimidate them to get his way.

Even though he was evil, to the men, Sauron was great. However, they still felt intimidated and feared even the faintest light of his eyes.

Sauron was a being of great knowledge and was respected by all other creatures. Yet, this made Sauron so full of himself that his pride became boundless as he influenced those around him very easily.

Depicted as a cunning and deceptive being, Sauron was a ruthless leader, who would do anything and everything to get the things that he wanted.

To fulfill his ultimate goal of ruling Middle earth, Sauron used all his power and cunning ways to use others. He had no regard whatsoever for the well-being of others and had a narcissistic approach to life.

It was his selfish nature and lack of empathy that made him a cruel leader and a symbol of evil in the lands of Middle Earth.

What was the Eye of Sauron?

Sauron was not only famous as the main antagonist of the trilogy but he was widely known for his symbol. His symbol was called the Eye of Sauron, which he got after he rose in Mirkwood at Dol Guldur.

In the movies, the Eye of Sauron had many names. It was called names such as the Great Eye, the Red Eye, the Eye of Barad-dûr, the Evil Eye, and the Lidless Eye.

The origin of the eyes

The eyes first originated during the Third Age. After the downfall of Númenor, Sauron’s physical form was heavily destroyed. When he got back to Mordor, he had no choice but to take a different form.

He took on the form of an eye, later becoming the Eye of Sauron that only a few could endure. The piercing Eye looked westwards in the direction of Mount Doom through the Window Of the Eye.

In the movies, the Eye appeared many times and was also featured as a physical object. During the War of Rings, Sauron’s physical form was depicted to be the eye.

In preparation for the final battle, Sauron adopted the symbol of a lidless eye and soon the Eye of Sauron became a symbol of power and fear.

Hence, the eye is just a symbol of Sauron’s power of all-seeing and all-knowing nature making him one of the most powerful foes in Middle Earth.

What were his powers and abilities?

Sauron was depicted as a formidable foe. So just strong was he and what made him so feared across the lands of Middle Earth?

First, let’s talk about his powers and abilities:

As a creation of Illuvatar and a Maiar, a supernatural angelic being, Sauron had access to a great range of magical powers and sorcery.

Sauron was ranked amongst the mightiest of the Maiar and had gained scientific knowledge about the world and the usage of different substances.

Sauron was a master of dark magic and because of his wisdom, he was able to reign as the Dark Lord of Middle Earth. Using his skills and powers, he was able to create the most powerful One Ring.

His immense powers allowed him to create and control massive armies of orcs and other dark creatures. Sauron was also able to take control of their mind and manipulate them into doing his evil deeds.

Not only was Sauron good at mind games, but he was also physically very strong, with immense strength and endurance.

With such impressive physical strength, he was a great warrior and a master at hand-to-hand combat. He was already very strong, but by using his dark powers, he became nearly invincible. 

As a user of sorcery, Sauron was able to use his magic to get what he wanted. He would use his powers to summon creatures and enslave others.

These all powers and abilities made Sauron a worthy and powerful foe. However, there were other villains, who were much more powerful than Sauron.

His own master, Morgoth, the original Dark Lord was believed to be more evil and powerful than Sauron himself. Nevertheless, since Morgoth was defeated, Sauron became the primary antagonist and the most powerful villain of the trilogy.

How did he create the One Ring and what power did it hold?

Sauron’s powers were great but his thirst for getting more power and conquering the world was even greater. So to achieve his goals, he felt a need to create something powerful and evil enough to make the world bow to him.

Thus came the existence of the most infamous and corrupting object, One Ring.

It was during the Second age when Sauron started to make his move toward his goals. As he was gathering up powers, he wanted to bring the Elves into his service as well.

As the Elves were more powerful, Sauron knew it would be a difficult task to bring them to his service. So, he took on the alias, Annatar, the Lord of Gifts.

He first befriended the elves and counseled them in the fields of magic and arts. Not all Elves trusted him. However, to those who followed him, Sauron taught them the art of making the Rings of Power.

Sauron might have been perceived as having good intentions for the Eleves, but Sauron had something else going on in his evil mind.

While he was encouraging the Elves to forge the Rings of Power, Sauron was keeping his hands busy making the One Ring but in secret.

With the One Ring, he wanted to rule over the Elves. After forging the Ring, Sauron engraved an inscription written in Tengwar the Black Speech.

The inscription went, “Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.”, which translates to,” One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” 

As soon as Sauron’s evil plans were revealed, the Elves removed their rings and hid them. Sauron’s only purpose in creating the ring was to bring all of Middle Earth under his control.

So just how powerful was this one-of-a-kind artifact?

The One Ring had some great powers. One of the most prominent powers of the One Ring was that it was the master ring. The One Ring had the power to control other Rings of Power that were created with the help of the Elves.

As the master of the rings, those who had the One Rings were able to control and exert their wills over the mind of those who had the Rings of Power.

Sauron was able to manipulate and control the bearer of the other rings with his One Ring. This allowed him to control the rulers of Middle Earth who wore the rings of power.

As if the One Ring didn’t give enough powers, it also granted the power of immortality and invisibility to its bearer. With the One Ring, Sauron was able to live for thousands of years. It was the powers of the ring that helped Sauron to escape his enemies.

The creation of the ring with such impressive powers was also considered to be a crucial turning point in the history of Middle Earth.

Remaining a central part of the “Lord Of The Rings”, it was the One Ring that helped Saurong to rise to power and become one of the greatest threats the world had ever seen.

Was Sauron defeated?

Yes. The most powerful Dark Lord of Middle Earth, Sauron was eventually defeated. Although he was the strongest villain, he was not invincible.

He was ultimately defeated by the unified efforts of free peoples. The group was led by Frodo Baggins and at his aid was the wise wizard, Gandalf.

It was during the War of the Rings, Sauron launched his armies of orcs and other deadly creatures to conquer Middle Earth. First, his armies were stopped by the combined efforts of Gandalf and others.

Later, when  Frodo caves into the power of the One Ring, he immediately put it on. Sauron found out Frodo had the ring and as he tried to send the Ringwraiths to retrieve it, he was too late.

Gollum had already taken the ring. Unfortunately, he slipped and fell to his death. Since he fell right into the Cracks of Doom, the One Ring was unmade.

With the One Ring destroyed, Sauron’s source of power was gone. He along with his armies was defeated. Even his physical form was destroyed after he was defeated, leaving nothing but an evil spirit hovering over Mordor.

How has Sauron’s character been portrayed in different adaptations?

In the different adaptations of the Lord of the Rings, Sauron’s characters have been portrayed in different ways. Some changes in his appearance meanwhile in some adaptations, his personality changes.

When the Lord of the Rings animated film was released back in 1978, the dark lord was depicted as a giant, dark and terrifying creature. This version was closer to the one depicted in the original novel.

Sauron’s character in this movie was believed to be more human-like than the other depictions. He had a human-like face and body, making him more like an actual human being.

However, in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of The Hobbit, Sauron was portrayed as a humanoid figure. He was believed to have a powerful and armored body with a dark aura surrounding him.

In the movie adaptations, he was depicted as an eye symbol known as the Eye of Sauron. No matter how he was portrayed by different adaptations, Sauron’s character always emphasized his immense powers and dark magic.

How is Sauron different in the books and the movies?

Often when novels or any literary works are adapted into movies, there are always slight differences between them.

If we were to look into Sauron’s case, his character also has slight variations. In the books, Sauron is depicted as an unseen powerful force.

He is not present in the story but he makes his minions do all his work for him. His infamous One Ring also plays a vital role in influencing the events of the story without Sauron making an appearance.

In the movies, Sauron is depicted as a gigantic creature with fierce eyes and multiple arms. Sauron can shape-shift and takes the form of different beings; often fooling people and using them.

However, neither in the books nor in the movies, Sauron’s true form is described in detail. Till now, his most known form is the terrifying monster or the lidless eyes.

Although the movies and the novel have their variations, it doesn’t change the fact that Sauron is one formidable opponent. Furthermore, this mystery regarding his appearance also helps to create a dark and mysterious theme in the story.

Also, not only appearances, some visual representations, and Sauron’s involvements in the events are also slightly different in the movies from that in the novel.

In conclusion, Sauron was no ordinary villain. Playing a crucial part in the events of Middle Earth, Sauron served as the main antagonist of the Lord of the Rings.

Despite being a dark lord with an evil nature, Sauron’s dark presence has made him one of the greatest villains of all time. His dark and mysterious aura still captures the imagination of many.

Here are some FAQs about the Dark Lord that you might find interesting. 

1. Was Sauron a mortal or immortal character?

Sauron was an immortal character because he had the power of immortality granted by the One Ring. However, with the destruction of the One Ring, his power to become immortal also got destroyed.

He was defeated and killed. It was believed that at the time of his death, Sauron was almost 10,000 years old. Also, since he belonged to the house of Aulë and was later corrupted, he was probably 50,000 years old.

2. How did Sauron change his appearance?

When Sauron served Melkor, he often took the form of a werewolf or a vampire. Sauron had the power to change himself into the creatures that he wished.

He took on the disguise of an Elf Lord, a lidless eye, and even a gigantic monster with a burned body.

3. Why is Sauron often considered one of the greatest villains?

Sauron is considered to be one of the greatest villains of all time because of his influential presence. The events of Middle-earth all take place thanks to the Dark Lord himself.

4. Did Sauron have any allies or followers in Middle-earth?

Sauron did have many enemies yet he also got some loyal allies by his side. Some of his followers were evil creatures such as the Nazgul, orcs, and Ringwraiths.

5. Why did Sauron appear as an eye?

When his physical form was destroyed, Sauron had no choice but to take the form of an eye. He also insisted his followers referred to him as the Eye. He went by the name Eye because he didn’t allow his name to be written or spoken.

6. How big was Sauron’s army?

For years and years, Sauron gathered men and orcs and managed to bring them to his service. Surprisingly, he had about 150,000 armies at his service.

7. What was Sauron’s ultimate goal in the “Lord of the Rings”?

Sauron’s ultimate goal was to conquer Middle Earth and control all of its inhabitants by enslaving them to his will.

8. What personality type is Sauron?

Interestingly, Sauron is an ENTJ (Extraverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging).  With the traits of natural leaders, Sauron is good at leading people, even though it meant manipulating them and enslaving them.

Sauron is excessively driven by his desire for power and control over his surroundings, making him a relatable character for many ENTJs out there.

TMI: Some of the most iconic villains like Voldemort, Patrick Bateman, and Saruman are also ENTJs.

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