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Sauron and Morgoth are some of the strongest beings in Tolkien’s universe of Middle-earth, but between those two main villains, who was the stronger?
Morgoth was stronger being then Sauron, but not by so much as people would assume.
We will tell you a few words about Sauron, and a few words about Morgoth, and why we think that even thou Morgoth was stronger then Sauron, the difference between them wasn’t so big as one would assume.
Sauron, the eponymous Lord of the Rings, was a fallen Maia, creator of the One Ring, a gifted student of Aulë the Smith and the greatest lieutenant of Melkor (Morgoth). After Melkor’s defeat by the Valar, Sauron in time became the second Dark Lord and strove to conquer Arda by creating the Rings of Power.
In the Second Age, he was defeated in the War of the Last Alliance by Elves and Men united under kings Gil-galad and Elendil. In the final battle, Isildur managed to cut off the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, dismantling Sauron’s corporeal form and power. After lying dormant and regaining strength for centuries, Sauron returned to power late in the Third Age and would be permanently crippled in the War of the Ring by the destruction of the One Ring by Frodo Baggins.
Despite being the title character of The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is notable in that he never directly appears during the events of the trilogy. Nowhere is any detailed description given of what he looks like, other than in vague terms.
In The Silmarillion, however, Sauron is described as being a shape changer and took many forms, including that of a serpent, a vampire, and a great wolf. After Morgoth’s fall, Sauron appeared in fair form as “Annatar”, the Lord of Gifts, and maintained this appearance until the Fall of Númenor, in which he was unable to ever take fair form ever again.
The History of Middle-earth includes a passage vaguely describing how the Númenoreans saw him: “Upon that ship which was cast highest and stood dry upon a hill there was a man, but greater than any even of the race of Numenor in stature…And it seemed to men that Sauron was great; though they feared the light of his eyes. To many he appeared fair, to others terrible; but to some evil.”
A few clues are given as to Sauron’s appearance as the Dark Lord after he lost his ability to take a fair form: Tolkien described Sauron in one of his letters as having the form of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic, and as an image of malice and hatred made visible. He apparently gave off great heat, so much so that Gil-galad was burned to death by his mere touch, and Isildur described Sauron’s hand as black, yet burning like fire, suggesting that his entire body was blackened from fire and heat.
Gollum, having apparently once seen Sauron directly, described him as having only four fingers on his black hand, suggesting that Sauron was unable to regenerate the finger from which Isildur took the One Ring, similar to how the wounds Morgoth took from Fingolfin never healed.
In addition to his physical appearance, Sauron also apparently had an aura of incredible malevolence. A passage in The Silmarillion describes him as having a “dreadful presence,” and daunting eyes.
Regarding Sauron’s personality, Tolkien had this to say from his letters:
In my story Sauron represents as near an approach to the wholly evil will as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants: beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of the Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit. Sauron desired to be a God-King, and was held to be this by his servants, by a triple treachery: 1. Because of his admiration of Strength he had become a follower of Morgoth and fell with him down into the depths of evil, becoming his chief agent in Middle-earth. 2. when Morgoth was defeated by the Valar finally he forsook his allegiance; but out of fear only; he did not present himself to the Valar or sue for pardon, and remained in Middle-earth. 3. When he found how greatly his knowledge was admired by all other rational creatures and how easy it was to influence them, his pride became boundless.— J.R.R. Tolkien
Philosopher Peter J. Kreeft proposes that Sauron is in fact the main character of The Lord of the Rings, inasmuch as he has the largest significance to the work of good and evil in the story, given his shared essence with the Ring; and given the title’s referral to him.
Saurons weapons and powers
Sauron was among the mightiest of the Maiar. Originally of Aulë’s people, he acquired great “scientific” knowledge of the world’s substances and how to use them. He would retain this knowledge throughout his tenure as the Dark Lord in Middle-earth, using it to forge the One Ring and construct his fortress of Barad-dûr. Sauron also seemed primarily linked to the use of fire, and as Morgoth’s chief lieutenant, his ability to tap into the fires in the Earth was of great value.
Among Sauron’s chief powers were deception and disguise: In the First Age Sauron took on many forms. His battle against Luthien and Huan in The Silmarillion has him taking on no less than four separate shapes: his “normal” shape, presumed to be that of some kind of terrible dark sorcerer, a great wolf, a serpent, and finally a vampire “dripping blood from his throat upon the trees” (“Of Beren and Lúthien,” The Silmarillion). At the end of the First Age, Sauron took on a fair form to appeal to the Captain of the Hosts of the Valar and ask for pardon.
In the Second Age, Sauron took up that fair form again and used it under the alias “Annatar” to deceive the Elves into creating the Rings of Power. The level of deception required to fool the Elves of Eregion must have gone beyond simply taking on a fair form.
Sauron was literally instructing the Elves to make artifacts that while capable of great good, were ultimately purposed for his own domination and were imbued with the power to arrest the natural order of the world. The Elves were unaware of who they were dealing with until the eleventh hour, and only narrowly escaped his trap.
Centuries later, Sauron was able to deceive the Númenóreans and steer them directly to their own destruction under promises of eternal life. Such destruction is a testament to Sauron’s manipulative nature and the ability to twist the perceptions of his enemies.
An interesting dichotomy is set up between his deceptive nature and his symbol. While rarely appearing personally and deceiving all but the wariest, he represented himself as an all-seeing eye that could pierce all disguises. He himself was able to disguise himself by changing shape and taking a fair form.
But, after the Fall of Númenor, he was incapable of taking physical form for many years, and then later became a horrific Dark Lord. After losing the Ring, it took even longer for him to regain physical form, although, by the War of the Ring, he had regained it.
The extent, nature, and specifics of Sauron’s power are largely left to the imagination. Like Morgoth, he was capable of altering the physical substance of the world around him by a mere effort of will.
Melkor, later known predominantly as Morgoth, was the first Dark Lord, and the primordial source of evil in Eä.
Originally the most powerful of the Ainur created by Eru Iluvatar, Melkor rebelled against his creator out of pride and sought to corrupt Arda. After committing many evils in the First Age, such as the theft of the Silmarils, which resulted in his name Morgoth, and the destruction of the Two Lamps and the Two Trees of Valinor, Morgoth was defeated by the Host of Valinor in the War of Wrath and cast out of Arda into the Void, where he now waits.
Because Morgoth was the most powerful being in Arda, many “flocked to his banner”. Morgoth’s chief servants were Maiar he corrupted or monsters he created: Sauron, later the Dark Lord of Mordor and his chief servant; the Balrogs, including Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs and High-Captain of Angband; Glaurung, the Father of Dragons; Ancalagon “the Black”, greatest of the Winged Dragons; Carcharoth, the mightiest wolf that ever lived; Draugluin, Sire of Werewolves; and Thuringwethil, Sauron’s vampire messenger.
Morgoth, once the most powerful being in Eä, spent his will on his vast armies and followers, so that in the War of Wrath, as his armies were swept away before the host of Aman, he was captured by Eönwë and cast off his throne. Morgoth’s spirit was cast out beyond the Walls of Night, yet his presence remains as the pervasive corruption of the world, “even until the End of Days”.
Morgoth’s powers and abilities
Melkor in his time was the strongest being of Arda, second only to Eru Iluvatar himself. Initially significantly stronger than the combined power Manwë and all of the Valar, Melkor was mightier than and ruled over Sauron and the Balrogs. At his prime, he spilled enormous oceans and destroyed mountain ranges. Even while greatly weakened, Melkor could create massive firestorms, huge craters, and curse his foes to sorrow and death (e.g. the family of Húrin).
Was Sauron Stronger Than Morgoth In The Tolkien’s Universe?
Even thou many would immediately say no, Sauron was not stronger than Morgoth, and they would be right, it is not that simple, and not that big of a difference between those two iconic villains.
Morgoth’s power far outstripped that of Sauron, at least at the beginning. Morgoth was mightiest of the Ainur, his original name Melkor meaning “He who arises in might”. He had abilities and skills similar to most of the Valar and was able to manipulate Arda on a physical level. He raised the Misty Mountains up to hinder Orome.
He spread his power throughout Arda so that everything contained the capacity for evil (Tolkien said that Sauron was only able to create the One Ring because gold, in particular, had special properties derived from Morgoth that lent it the capacity for enhancing evil).
He created countless evil creatures like orcs, goblins, trolls, and dragons. It took a Vala, Tulkas, to overpower him (although Fingolfin was later able to hurt him by that point, Morgoth had lost much of his power by spreading it into others and also by taking on physical form for so long and also because he alone was actually afraid).
Although the Elves and Edain were able to keep Morgoth contained in Beleriand for several hundred years (thus sparing the rest of Middle Earth), eventually he overpowered them and destroyed all their kingdoms, partly through his own evil but to be fair the Oath of Feanor and the Curse of Mandos also led to the downfall of Elves and Men.
Sauron on the other hand was challenged by Finrod and nearly bested. He lost in combat with Huan. He later lost in combat with Gil-Galad and Elendil. Sauron did not have anywhere near the power to conquer Middle Earth in the Second Age, that was why he tricked the Elves into helping him.
Even when he had the One Ring, he was not able to fully defeat the Elves and once the Numenoreans joined in he was pushed out of Eriador. When Ar-Pharazon challenged him, his army abandoned him. When the Last Alliance arose, he lost again.
It was only once Arnor was gone and Gondor waning and the Elves fading in the Third Age that he had a chance of conquering Middle Earth (and even then he had help from Saruman’s treachery). Sauron also did not really create new evil beings in the way Morgoth did.
He did have great skill in corrupting the work of others though. Because Celebrimbor used his help, he was able to pervert the Rings of Power. He captured a Palantir and made all of them dangerous to use whilst he held one. He turned the Watchers in Cirith Ungol from serving Gondor to serving him.
Gandalf even says that Sauron is not the true evil, only its emissary. Still, without Gandalf’s help and Eru’s interventions, Sauron would have defeated the West, the Elves would have abandoned Middle Earth and all would have fallen to Sauron’s rule which would probably have continued forever.
Whereas Morgoth, according to Tolkien, would probably have gone into a nihilist rage and destroyed anything and everything. Tolkien does say that Morgoth fell and lost a lot of power over time so that by the end, he was in a sense weaker than Sauron.
Morgoth lost the ability to shed his physical form and was trapped in the shape of a tall, giant Dark Lord. Sauron too lost some powers but as long as the One Ring existed, he could never really be killed. If he had regained the Ring, he would have been unbeatable.
So, as you can see from all this, Morgoth was much stronger than Sauron in his beginnings, but his power diminished by his end, and in that time, Sauron was probably stronger then Morgoth.
Also, if Sauron regained the One Ring, he would be unstopable.
Still, our bet is on Morgoth, and if we take his first, real form Melkor in the equation, then we don’t even have anything to speak about here. Melkor is in our opinion the third most powerful character in Middle-earth.
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