Across all Tolkien’s works, primarily Lord of the Rings, Sauron has been known as one of the primal evils, a second-hand to Morgoth, and an ultimate deceiver. As a powerful Maia, Sauron threatened the peace and existence of other races through his desire to control and manipulate everything. It’s no wonder then that the people of Middle-Earth had many names for him.
Originally he was named Mairon, eventually, the whole world came to know him as Sauron. Since there have been many names in-between today’s post is going to be dedicated to them. Let’s see all of Sauron’s names and explain them in more depth.
Mairon – The first name
Sauron’s first name when he was created as Maia was Mairon. That name can be translated as “the Admirable”. He lost that name when he joined forces with Morgoth. However, he adopted the modification of it “Tar-mairon” which could be translated from Quenyan to “King Excellent”. It was a short-lived name since most of the Middle-earth populace came to know him as Gorthaur
Gorthaur- Terrible Dread
Gorthaur is the name attributed to Sauron after he joined forces with Morgoth. The name can be broken down into gor which translates to horror and thaur which translates to abominable or abhorrent. The name is Sindarin in origin and was mostly used between Sindarin elves during the first age. The Quenya equivalent of the name Gorthaur would be Ñorsus.
Annatar – The Lord of Gifts
After Morgoth’s defeat in the First Age. Sauron was ordered to return to Valinor and receive judgment from Manwë. Since his pride and ego wouldn’t let him do that, he decided to hide somewhere in Middle-Earth. He soon sensed that the tides have turned and decided to bring the world under his influence once again. He started by tricking elves in hope that they would fall under his influence.
To do that he adopted a new identity and new guise as well as many other names. He was known as Artano (meaning “high smith”) and Aulendil (the servant of Aulë). But the most famous name that he adopted was Annatar, the Lord of Gifts.
And while most elves managed to evade his schemings and influence, the Jewel-smiths populating Eregion were less aware of his potential past. Among them was Celebrimbor that unknowingly helped set Sauron’s plan in motion. This period of Sauron’s life directly resulted in the Rings of Power being created.
Zigûr – The Wizard
Sauron’s yearning for power and control eventually led him to Númenor, where he tried to spread his influence as well. There he adopted many titles associated with royalty driven by his arrogance. But the most recognizable name from this era is the one given to him, Zigûr, meaning the Wizard.
After Sauron’s defeat at the hands of Isildur, and the loss of the One Ring. It didn’t take long until Sauron became restless again. As soon as he was able to manifest physically on Middle-Earth again he attained the title of Necromancer and Sorcerer of Dol Guldur.
He remained relatively anonymous for a few centuries, even the Wise Ones did not know his true identity. Everybody just assumed that it was Nazgûl, spreading its dark influence. Necromancer’s identity was eventually confirmed when Gandalf visited his fortress of Dol Guldur.
Other notable names and titles
The following names and titles attributed to Sauron weren’t used to a such large extent as the names explained above. But still, we consider them worthwhile enough to mention them.
In his great arrogance, Sauron used “King of Kings”, “King of Men”,” Lord of the Earth”, and even Lord of the World to refer to himself. Those titles were abandoned quickly as they greatly insulted the Númenóreans he was trying to seduce. Especially Ar-Pharazôn.
Sauron was called The Eye in some instances. This is due to his symbol that took the form of a sinister fiery eye ever-watchful and ever-vigilant.
People of Gondor referred to Sauron as The Nameless during the third age. Several different versions of this name were used by Faramir and Boromir.
One more notable title for Sauron was The Lord of the Ring or simply the Master of the One Ring. These titles stem from Sauron’s association with the Rings of Power he helped to create during the second age when he tried to bring elves under his command.
Another title related to his association with the Rings of Power was Ring-maker, alluding to his part in creating powerful rings that in part helped destroy him.
We’ve mentioned his name Necromancer and Sorcerer of Dol Guldur, but briefly, in that period he was known simply as The Shadow as well. Since the origin of the evil influence that struck Greenwood the Great couldn’t be identified from the start. Some centuries would pass before Sauron decided to reveal himself to the people in the Third Age.
Another less-known name for Sauron is Wolf-Sauron. There’s quite the story behind that name and it involves Sauron taking a form of a wolf in order to battle Huan the Hound of Valinor. There was a legend stating that the Hound of Valinor will not die until he has faced the greatest wolf of all. Sauron in his great arrogancy decided to take on a form of a wolf and face Huan. Sauron was not of course the most powerful wolf, Carcharoth of Angband was. After Sauron’s defeat in his wolf form, he fled in another form resembling a vampire.
We’re going to finish our guide through Sauron’s names with the nickname The Deceiver. It’s probably the one most fitting at least when it comes to the elves. The name Deceiver was given to Sauron by Amandil, a Númenórean Faithful. Amandil called Sauron the Deceiver right before he asked Valar to free them from Sauron’s corruption.
And that’s it. As you can see Sauron had many names throughout history. It seems somehow fitting that the character that has “deceit” as its core personality trait never has a singular stable identity to claim.