Was Sauron Always Evil? What Corrupted Him?

When we look at the biggest antagonist of The Lord of the Rings, it’s hard to think of anyone else who has done more harm in the storyline than Sauron himself because he was the evil that the main characters have sought to destroy from the very start of the storyline. But while we look at Sauron as an evil dark lord that only wants power, some might think that he wasn’t always that way. So, was Sauron always evil?

Sauron was created by Eru Ilúvatar to be good and pure. However, he was obsessed with order and coordination, and that was what led him to desire pure order in the world. His desire to control things made him admire the dark lord Melkor, who he thought could help him achieve his designs quickly.

In a way, it was Sauron’s own personal obsession with order that turned him into the evil dark lord that followed after his master, Morgoth. He wasn’t always evil but was simply evil due to his own personal desires and perspectives about how things should be done. That is why Sauron eventually became the evil that the people of the Middle-Earth sought to defeat.

Sauron’s Origin Story

We all know that when it comes to the greater narrative of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the evil dark lord that the people of Middle-Earth have fought hard to defeat for thousands of years was Sauron, who was the one who created the One Ring so that he could corrupt the entire world and place it under his control and governance. He sought to rule Middle-Earth through the power of the One Ring, which was basically created to “rule them all,” as that was what he always desired.

But while Sauron became the biggest evil that the people of Middle-Earth needed to defeat during the storylines of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, his story actually goes back to the dawn of time when he was created.

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Eru Ilúvatar, the supreme creator god of Tolkien’s Legendarium, created the Ainur through his thoughts. The Ainur are divine spirits that are godlike in terms of their powers and are divided into two types: the Valar and the Maiar. Associated with the powers of the world, the Valar were the mightiest and most powerful of the Ainur. Meanwhile, the Maiar are the ones who are second only to the Valar and are associated with specific Valar.

It was when Eru Ilúvatar created the Ainur that Sauron was also created, as the creator god manifested all of the Ainur at the same time. At that time, he was known as Mairon, who was said to be the strongest of the Maiar. As such, in terms of hierarchy, Mairon was second only to the Valar among the Ainur because he was stronger and more gifted than the rest of the Maiar.

Mairon by Maureval

As a Maia, Mairon was associated with the Vala named Aulë, who was known to be the Smith himself because of his gifts as a designer, creator, and inventor. Mairon learned and grew under Aulë, as he was able to hone his skills as a designer and inventor himself. Among all of the Ainur, Mairon was the best craftsman other than Aulë.

Due to his status as a Maia working under Aulë, Mairon was associated with the virtues of order and design. Among all of the Ainur, he hated chaos and disorder as he wanted things to be coordinated and controlled. Mairon eventually became so obsessed with order and coordination that it became the sole object of his entire existence. It eventually overshadowed his love for all of the other beings in the world, as the Ainur were supposed to admire everything intelligent that Eru Ilúvatar created.

His obsession with the fact that he wanted everything to be in order was what led him to admire Melkor, who was the most powerful out of all of the Ainur. Melkor, the dark lord that wanted to corrupt everything, eventually became Morgoth, as it was his power that drew Mairon to him due to the fact that he believed that only Morgoth’s power was capable of helping him achieve his designs in a quick and masterful manner.

As such, after he joined Morgoth, Mairon became the strongest and most trusted of all of the original dark lord’s followers. He quickly became Morgoth’s chief lieutenant, as he eventually earned the name Sauron by those who were against Melkor’s darkness. And after Morgoth’s defeat at the end of the First Age, Sauron was the one who carried his master’s legacy as the next dark lord.

Was Sauron Always Evil?

While we do know that Sauron became one of Morgoth’s followers and even became the dark lord that followed in the footsteps of the first evil entity in the world, he was never as evil as he was when he succeeded his master during the Second Age. In fact, he wasn’t even created by Eru Ilúvatar to be evil.

When Eru Ilúvatar created the Ainur, they were given their own unique personalities and will. But they were never created to be evil by the supreme creator god. Instead, they were simply made good and pure but had the freedom to do what they wanted to do. 

Some Ainur, of course, were closer to Eru Ilúvatar’s own thoughts than others, while some were more likely to sway from the will of the creator because they had their own desires. But they were all created with no hint of evil within them.

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Believe it or not, even Melkor (Morgoth) wasn’t always evil when the Ainur were created, as Eru Ilúvatar wouldn’t create entities that were inherently evil from the very beginning. But it was the fact that Melkor had his own personal desires that eventually turned him into an evil entity.

That means that Sauron when he was still known as Mairon, was not as evil as he was during the height of his powers. He began his existence as a Maia that had no desire for evil as his only desire was for things to be in order. 

What Corrupted Sauron?

As mentioned, Sauron was inherently good when he was created. He was simply a Maia that had an obsession with order and coordination. But it was this personal obsession that made him want to put things under his control so that he could eradicate all hints of disorder and chaos in the world.

In a sense, no one corrupted Mairon when he became Sauron. He was the one who personally chose to follow Melkor because he realized that he could only achieve his designs quickly if he followed the dark lord as his servant and lieutenant. But he was not even as evil as Melkor.

Morgoth and Sauron by Eric Faure-Brac

Melkor, who became Morgoth, was not always inherently evil as well, but his desire to have the same power of creation that Eru Ilúvatar possessed was what drove him to evil. As such, Morgoth wanted to destroy and corrupt the world. On the other hand, Sauron’s desire was to simply control the world and do whatever he wanted to do with it.

But it was Sauron’s obsession with order and coordination that made him want to control things that he wasn’t supposed to control. He wanted the very world to be under his power, and that’s why he sought to rule Middle-Earth through the power of the One Ring to Rule Them All. And that was what drove him to become the evil entity that he eventually became during the height of his campaign to rule and control the world.

  • Ysmael is a self-professed geek that loves anything related to fantasy, sci-fi, video gaming, and anime. Spends his free time watching movies, TV shows and gaming, a lot.