Related Terms: Morgoth, Angband, Necromancer, Barad-dûr, Mordor
Other names: Annatar, Gorthaur (the Cruel), Lieutenant of Morgoth, The Black Hand, The Dark Lord, The Dark Power, Lord of Gifts, Lord of Mordor, The Lord of the Rings, The Necromancer, The Red Eye, The Ring-maker, The Sorcerer. Sauron was the name given to him by the High-Elves, and means the "Abhorred".
Sauron was a Maia, created by Ilúvatur in the beginning of the world. At the start, he was not evil, serving Aulë the Smith, and learning great crafts from him. But he soon changed his allegiance to Melkor, and when Melkor began to devise evil in Arda, Sauron was already his most trusted servant. He began to act as cruelly to Elves and Men as did his master.
He became the first Captain of Angband when Angband was first created. When the Valar came to Middle Earth and fought the Battle of the Powers, Morgoth was taken away and imprisoned, but Sauron was overlooked and he escaped. By the time of the Dagor Bragollach, he had great power and was second only to Morgoth in evil.
During the Dagor Bragollach, Sauron's armies of werewolves and Orcs captured the tower of Minas Tirith on Tol Sirion. Sauron lived there for a while as the Lieutenant of Morgoth, and the Elves renamed the isle around the tower, Tol-in-Gaurhoth (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 11 others. 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 fled and Sauron's army of werewolves failed to capture him. Sauron later captured him, along with Finrod Felagund and their companions and imprisoned them in Tol-in-Gaurhoth.
He flung Beren, Finrod Felagund and their companions into a deep pit. There they were devoured one after the other by one of his werewolves. As the werewolf slew Finrod Felagund, however, Lúthien came upon Sauron's Isle with Huan, the Hound of Valinor. Sauron then went 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 shapes (including a serpent and a bat) 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.
Sauron survived the breaking of Thangorodrim though his master Morgoth did not. When he was summoned by Eonwë, the herald of the Valar, to return to Valinor and face judgement for his crimes, Sauron refused. He remained in Middle Earth and after a while, he decided that he should seek a land which he could fortify like the Angband of old. He found Mordor - an empty land whose central volcano had covered the plains around with dark ash. There Sauron built his Dark Tower, Barad-dûr, and there he dwelt through the Second Age.
At that time, Sauron was still able to appear fair of face and form and he used treachery and deceit as his main weapons. He went among the Elves and Men, wearing a fair form, and bearing fair names, including Annatar. Many of these showed reverence to Aulë. Gil-Galad refused all dealings with him, but not so the Elves - Celebrimbor of Eregion made a pact with Sauron and together they began to forge the Rings of Power.
Sauron aided the Elven Smiths in their task, but secretly began to forge the One Ring. Eventually, the Elves realised his treacherous nature, and went to war against him. Eregion was overrun, and Celebrimbor was slain. Only Gil-Galad held out, and even he would have been defeated had not reinforcements arrived from Númenor. In this way, the old alliance between Elves and Men was renewed, and this earned Men the hatred of Sauron, who was forced to withdraw.
The next conflict between Sauron and Númenor came when Pharazôn arrived in Umbar with his great host. The armies of Sauron fled, but Sauron himself was able to twist the situation to use Pharazôn for his own purposes. The King of Númenor was a vain man, and when Sauron humbled himself in front of the King, he was carried back to Númenor instead of being killed. There, Sauron's old gifts of treachery and betrayal reasserted themselves, and he made himself Pharazôn's chief counsellor. He started to enhance the corruption already present in Númenor by introducing a cult of the Dark, while the name of Morgoth began to be spoken with reverence, and sacrifices were made to Sauron's former Master.
After he had been held captive for less than 50 years, at Sauron's instigation, Ar-Pharazôn assembled the Great Armament. In the following downfall of Númenor, Sauron's mortal body was destroyed, but his spirit survived and fled back to Middle Earth.
He was never again able to appear in a pleasant form, but instead became the Dark Lord, terrible of aspect, black and burning hot, with a single lidless Eye that was rimmed in fire. It was as yellow as a cat's and the black slit of its pupil opened onto a window into nothing.
While in Mordor, Sauron learnt that a remnant of the Númenoreans had escaped. He gathered his armies with great speed, wanting to sweep the Men into the Sea. In SA 3429, he came across the pass of Cirith Ungol, captured Minas Ithil and drove the Dúnedain back across the Anduin. However, he had again underestimated Men and Elves - they made an alliance against him and laid siege to Barad-dûr. In a final combat against Elendil and Gil-Galad, Sauron was cast down, and his Ring taken from him.
For the first thousand years of the Third Age, Sauron slept. But slowly he began to take shape once more, though he was still too weak to recapture Mordor, which was being held by the Dúnedain of Gondor.
Instead, he created the smaller fortress of Dol Guldur on a hill in the southern region of Greenwood. When Orcs, Trolls and wolves appeared within the wood, it was renamed Mirkwood, and rumours of a Necromancer living in Dol Guldur became widespread.
Sauron sent his chief servant, the Lord of the Ringwraiths, into Eriador to destroy the kingdom of the Dúnedain. Its destruction freed Sauron and his agents to work on the downfall of Gondor, and the weakening of the South-kingdom allowed Mordor to be reopened and occupied by the Nazgûl.
Through much of the Third Age, Sauron remained in Dol Guldur, creating his grand schemes in the shadows while his servants went out into Middle Earth to put them into practice. He remained so hidden that even the Istari debated whether he had returned or not.
Above everything, Sauron desired the One Ring. He tried to find its location through guile, but eventually he was driven from Dol Guldur and had to return to Mordor and openly proclaim his presence. This time, Sauron decided to be cautious and not attack his enemies until the Ring was in his possession. But his enemies made their own moves while Sauron hesitated, and in their campaign against him, Sauron's armies were defeated, his servants destroyed, and Barad-dûr cast down. The One Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom and Sauron was cast into the Void.