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Sauron was a Maia, an Ainu of lesser degree than the Valar, originating in Aman. Each Maia was associated with usually one or two Valar, living under them; in Sauron's case it was AulŽ (I think).

Maiar are, in essence, as are the Valar, spirits, with no permanent physical form; they could exist without ever taking shape if they so wished. Sauron, like most other Ainur, choose a human form when he could. (It aided him greatly in bringing about the Downfall of Numenor and corrupting Men to his cause.) At the time of LOTR, Sauron still didn't have enough energy from his and Morgoth's last defeat to take a physical form, which leads me to believe that the Eye was not a physical manifestation of Sauron, but merely a seeing tool that he used, like a Palantir (although he also possessed one of them).

So there's your answer: He was a spirit, choosing the form of a man when he needed it; the eye was not him. Winking Smilie
You posted that one just as I was about to write an answer myself, Peredhil. I agree pretty much with everything you have mentioned there. The only thing I would add is that although a Maiar can theoretically take any form, after the fall of Numenor, Sauron was unable to take any form that was fair.
Thanx Pat! *hugs him*
LOL, Val. that happens all the time. Dont ya hate it?
Well yes indeed Delidia! That traitor Sauron was a maia beneath me....I taught him A LOT OF THINGS!!! But he just took that knowledge with him and turned over to my darned brother Melkor!!! So Angry Smilie
*bows infront of AulŽ
dont hurt me sire. I grovel at your feet!
*grovelgrovel* see?
Wasen't Sauron once a elf?
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Wasen't Sauron once a elf?

Nope! Refer to Peredhil's post above (its the first one!). That'll answer your question. Sauron is a spirit, a Maia, and he was able to take any form before the Ring was cut from his hand in the Battle of Dagorlad. He could have taken the form of an elf sometime in hid lifetime but essentially he was just a morphing spirit!
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At the time of LOTR, Sauron still didn't have enough energy from his and Morgoth's last defeat to take a physical form, which leads me to believe that the Eye was not a physical manifestation of Sauron, but merely a seeing tool that he used


Isn't the giant eye just another mickey mouse, gimick PJ added to the movies? I don't remember reading about the eye in the books. Frodo may sometimes refer to feeling as if an great eye was upon him, but it was actually nothing in a physical form.
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the Eye was not a physical manifestation of Sauron, but merely a seeing tool that he used, like a Palantir (although he also possessed one of them).

Well, I believe that the Eye is the Palantir and the Palantir is the Eye. The Palantir which the Sauron possessed was obviously used by Sauron to have a free tour of Middle-Earth sitting right there in his home, the Barad-Dur.

So what I think is that the Palantir through which Sauron watched has been symbolised as the Eye. Explains why he only kept "an eye" on the world and not two. He had only one Palantir with him.
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Isn't the giant eye just another mickey mouse, gimick PJ added to the movies? I don't remember reading about the eye in the books.

Well, yup. The flaming cat-like eye is how PJ had visualised the spirit of Sauron to be. Tolkien obviously had not wanted us to visualise as if a huge Eye was staring at us out of the top of the Barad-Dur. Just a visual effect!
This is what JRRT wrote about Sauron in Letters :

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Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic. In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power (as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding figure of great strength of body and supremely royal demeanour and countenance

Hence, no huge floating eye indeed.

QED
Thank you Lord Aragorn 86 for the info. *feels embarresed dat he got info wrong*Got The Blues Smilie o well. lol

Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie
Virumor's just above quote about Sauron's body is correct, but there was still an Eye. Tolkien's description of the Eye in 'The Mirror of Galadriel' , Chapter 7, Book II, FotR is what PJ moved from the palantir to the top of the tower and let everyone see it.
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But suddenly the Mirror went altogether dark, as dark as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness. In the black abyss there appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror. So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.

Then the Eye began to rove, searching this way and that; and Frodo knew with certainly and horror that among the many things that it sought he himself was one.
Super Scared Smilie
That being so, the Eye that Frodo felt when he was wearing the Ring on Amon Hen (the 'Hill of the Eye of the Men of Numenor), was most likely Sauron looking through the palantir; the one that had been transferred from Osgiliath to Barad-dur. And this Eye could only be perceived from afar, if one was using a magically endowed object such as another palantir, Galadriel's mirror, or the Ring.
...I think maybe Frodo ate the wrong kind of mushroom, and hallucinated he was seeing an eye. As for Galadriel's "magic" fountain... it was just a plain, old, bird bath!
I think that Saurons eye was indeed the palantir of Mordor, which means he was constantly looking through the palantir which is why whenever anyone else used a palantir he was seen within it
Elessar you are speaking metaphorically, right? Because the eye itself is more of an illusion, it only exists when you look into a palantir, and not on top of Barad-dur; like PJ made it look like in the movies.

I don't think that Sauron was constantly looking in the Palantir when his Eye was searching. I think Sauron just found a way to use a Palantir by not looking in it, but by means of his will. So that he didn't have to look into the Palantir constantly. The Eye would then be some sort of "mental avatar" Sauron uses when using the Palantir.

Anyway, it's beyond any doubt that Sauron was NOT a huge eyeball tossing and turning on top of a tower. My previous JRRT quote already proved that. Sauron had the form of a human of tall stature.

He wasn't some sort of cyclope.

from ROTK:

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One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed. The Eye was not turned to them: it was gazing north to where the Captains of the West stood at bay, and thither all its malice was now bent, as the Power moved to strike its deadly blow; but Frodo at that dreadful glimpse fell as one stricken mortally. His hand sought the chain about his neck.


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But he himself went up alone into the secret room under the summit of the Tower; and many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then flashed and went out. And when Denethor descended again he went to Faramir and sat beside him without speaking, but the face of the Lord was grey, more deathlike than his son's.


If you compare this two quotes, it indeed seems plausible that Sauron's Eye has to do with a Palantir, as Frodo sees a red beam of light which could originate from a Palantir : at least the one Denethor had transmits light.

But the top quote seems to point out that the Eye could indeed be something visible, some kind of "window" in the form of a huge Eye maybe (this window-thingy can be seen in a Ted Nasmith painting of the Dark Tower) : it's described that Frodo sees a flicker of a 'piercing Eye'. Maybe the Eye of Sauron is a kind of mental telescope, an instrument of Sauron's will used to continually search for his Ring and look at what his enemies are doing.
I was just browsing some pictures done by Ted Nasmith, click on the link to check this one out.

http://www.aumania.it/fa/nasmith/056.jpg

There appears to be an eye peering out the window at the top of Barad-dur, so i presume Ted had the impression of an actual physical form of this giant eye. It's easy to notice the influence Ted Nasmith had on LOTR movies. PJ mimics a quite a few of his pictures.
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That being so, the Eye that Frodo felt when he was wearing the Ring on Amon Hen (the 'Hill of the Eye of the Men of Numenor), was most likely Sauron looking through the palantir; the one that had been transferred from Osgiliath to Barad-dur.


Umm, small correction here, the palantir that resided in Osgiliath is listed as being lost in T.A. 1437 in the Anduin when Osgiliath was burned during the civil war of the Kin-strife (appendices of ROTK, page 405). The palantir that Sauron used was called the Ithil-Stone, and was captured in T.A. 2002 by Sauronís forces in the fall of Minas Ithil.

Btw, if anyone reading this is interested in more on the Palantiri, check out this link,
Tracking the Palantiri

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Hence, no huge floating eye indeed.


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Anyway, it's beyond any doubt that Sauron was NOT a huge eyeball tossing and turning on top of a tower.


Before I go any further, I would like to say specifically to Virumor that I am in no way trying to attack your opinion, or single you out. I just donít agree with some of the statements made, and I would be posting the following response anyway regardless of who had made the statements.

Now with that said, I donít think that the Eye was sitting there on top of Barad-dur all "lighthouse" style either (like in the films), but Iíve personally done a tremendous amount of research on Sauron (more than anyone else I have yet to come across), and there is a incredible amount of information to support that Sauronís main physical form during the Third Age was that of a gigantic eye.

I think there is conclusive proof of this in many parts of the texts in Lord Of The Rings, The Silmarillion, and in other credible, documented published sources, and Iíll list a few here. The best example probably comes from FOTR, on pgs. 408-409, in The Mirror Of Galadriel chapter,

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In the black abyss there appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror. So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a catís, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.


A little further down on the same page is the classic quote,

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and one who has seen the Eye
.

Itís interesting to note that Tolkien always used capitalization when referring to the Eye. To me, the constant use of capitalization throughout the texts by the Author in this case, somewhat implies a physical form, although I realize this point is debatable.

Hereís what some other sources who have all published works on Tolkien have to say in regards to Sauronís shape, this first one comes from Robert Fosterís Complete Guide To Middle Earth,

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After the ruin of his body in the destruction of Numenor, Sauron had the form of a man, his skin was black and burning hot. In the Third Age he most frequently appeared as a fearsome ever searching Eye.


Here is another bit from The Magical Worlds Of The Lord Of The Rings by David Colbert,

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Although there are a few references in LOTR to Sauron having a body (less the finger that was cut off when the Ring was taken from him), he generally appeared in the frightening form of one all seeing Eye.


Another one from The Tolkien Companion by Tyler,

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but instead became The Dark Lord, terrible of aspect, black and burning hot, with a single lidless eye rimmed with fire, glazed yellow as a catís, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.


Hereís another example from David Dayís Tolkien The Illustrated Encylopedia,

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Yet his spirit fled to Mordor, and with the One Ring made himself into the Dark Lord- a fearsome warrior with black armour on burnt black skin, and terrible raging eyes. However, even this form was destroyed at the end of the Second AgeÖIn the year 1000 of the Third Age, he manifest himself in the form of one great, lidless Eye.


Again, all of the definitions listed here support that the Eye was Sauron in physical form. For anyone who wishes to read more on this subject there is a great thread on Sauron in this section already. Hereís the link,

Sauron

Also included in that thread is a thoroughly researched essay that I did a few years back on Sauronís physical form where I set out to offer conclusive proof that the Eye was in fact Sauron manifested into physical shape, and not just a palantir, or some kind of tool of Sauronís, and also to at least prove conclusively that Sauron, (from the end of the Second Age on) could not take physical shape until around 2060 of the Third Age.

Anyone wishing to read that can find it by following this next link, and then scroll down to the second post. Word of warning though, it is a long post, and will probably take you 10 to 20 minutes to read depending on how fast you are, but itís well worth it for anyone wanting to examine this issue a bit further.

shortcut to Elfstone post on Sauron

Elf Smilie
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Now with that said, I donít think that the Eye was sitting there on top of Barad-dur all "lighthouse" style either (like in the films), but Iíve personally done a tremendous amount of research on Sauron (more than anyone else I have yet to come across), and there is a incredible amount of information to support that Sauronís main physical form during the Third Age was that of a gigantic eye.

I think there is conclusive proof of this in many parts of the texts in Lord Of The Rings, The Silmarillion, and in other credible, documented published sources, and Iíll list a few here. The best example probably comes from FOTR, on pgs. 408-409, in The Mirror Of Galadriel chapter,

Eh, excuse me but i posted a quote from JRRT's letters in which he literally says that Sauron's form is that of a man of more than normal stature, but not gigantic. JRRT was also referring in that letters to Sauron himself coming to Sammath Naur to face Frodo, etc. So it's pretty clear that Sauron's physical form was not the Eye. If you disagree with that, you disagree with JRRT. But that's your right, of course.

You were quoting various ppl with various opinions on LOTR, but i quoted JRRT himself. Who do you think knows LOTR best? Furthermore, those various ppl just mention that Sauron took the form of an Eye without providing any backing for that statement.

I appreciate the research you have done, but i feel those quotes you have given are no conclusive proof at all, but very open for interpretation. When JRRT says " Sauron took the form of a Man " and nowhere " Sauron took the form of an Eye", the situation is very clear to me.


Anyway, here's JRRT's letter again (246 From a letter to Mrs Eileen Elgar (drafts) September 1963) :

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Until Sauron himself came. In any case a confrontation of Frodo and Sauron would soon have taken place, if the Ring was intact. Its result was inevitable. Frodo would have been utterly overthrown: crushed to dust, or preserved in torment as a gibbering slave. Sauron would not have feared the Ring! It was his own and under his will. Even from afar he had an effect upon it, to make it work for its return to himself. In his actual presence none but very few of equal stature could have hoped to withhold it from him. Of 'mortals' no one, not even Aragorn. In the contest with the PalantŪr Aragorn was the rightful owner. Also the contest took place at a distance, and in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when actually physically present. Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic. In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power (as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding figure of great strength of body and supremely royal demeanour and countenance. note by Virumor : Sauron's earlier incarnation JRRT is referring to, was the one of Annatar, the form he used to confront the Elves in Ost-in-Edhil


So to me, after reading JRRT's letter, it's simple : Sauron never took the form of a huge Eye, as he chose the form of a man of more than human stature. And this is not opinion, it's a fact given by JRRT himself. This quote should end this discussion once and for all. How can you disagree with that?!

I think the Eye is not something physical, i think it is an instrument of his will, most likely something connected to the Palantir which was in Sauron's possession.

Now, i will look into LOTR to see if there's support for the "Sauron = Eye" theory.

Af first glance, there appears to be some support for Nasmith's interpretation for which Turin Turambar provided a link (http://www.aumania.it/fa/nasmith/056.jpg)

from ROTK :

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One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed. The Eye was not turned to them: it was gazing north to where the Captains of the West stood at bay, and thither all its malice was now bent, as the Power moved to strike its deadly blow; but Frodo at that dreadful glimpse fell as one stricken mortally. His hand sought the chain about his neck.

If you look at Nasmith's painting, you'll see that Nasmith's interpretation is almost identical to the book.

from ROTK :

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But far worse than all such perils was the ever-approaching threat that beat upon them as they went: the dreadful menace of the Power that waited, brooding in deep thought and sleepless malice behind the dark veil about its Throne. Nearer and nearer it drew, looming blacker, like the oncoming of a wall of night at the last end of the world.


It would be strange for an Eye to sit on a Throne, don't you think?

a quote from TTT :

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'I tried to get away, because I thought it would fly out; but when it had covered all the globe, it disappeared. Then _he_ came. He did not speak so that I could hear words. He just looked, and I understood.
'"So you have come back? Why have you neglected to report for so long?"
'I did not answer. He said: "Who are you?" I still did not answer, but it hurt me horribly; and he pressed me, so I said: "A hobbit."
'Then suddenly he seemed to see me, and he laughed at me. It was cruel. It was like being stabbed with knives. I struggled. But he said: "Wait a moment! We shall meet again soon. Tell Saruman that this dainty is not for him. I will send for it at once. Do you understand? Say just that!"
'Then he gloated over me. I felt I was falling to pieces. No, no! I can't say any more. I don't remember anything else.'
'Look at me!' said Gandalf.

To me, this quote already made it clear that Sauron's form was not that one of an Eye, but just as a Dark Lord, like Morgoth once took, although not that gigantic. Pippin doesn't refer to a huge Eye, does he?

Various quotes which point out at Sauron=Man:

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`Yes, He has only four on the Black Hand, but they are enough,' said Gollum shuddering. 'And He hated Isildur's city.'
'What does he not hate? ' said Frodo. 'But what has the Tower of the Moon to do with us? '

What's this? An Eye with a Hand?

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They came within cry of the Morannon, and unfurled the banner, and blew upon their trumpets; and the heralds stood out and sent their voices up over the battlement of Mordor.
'Come forth!' they cried. 'Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth! Justice shall be done upon him. For wrongfully he has made war upon Gondor and wrested its lands. Therefore the King of Gondor demands that he should atone for his evils, and depart then for ever.

That would've been a funny scene in the movie!!! A huge eyeball floating over the Morannon to squish Gandalf and Co. Splendid. (and yes, that line was used in the movie)


Conclusion : when i look into LOTR, i find no conclusive proof anywhere for the statement that Sauron's physical form was the Eye. On the contrary : it seems more likely that his physical form was that of a man; and JRRT himself says that Sauron took the form of a man in his letter #246. And what JRRT himself writes about his works, i accept.

QED
Personally, I uphold Virumor's point of view about Sauron's appearance. Sauron was definitely not in the form of a huge fireball-ish eye. He had the stature of a man, a normal person being during the later years.

The idea of an Eye is basically (in my opinion) connected to the palantir through which Sauron used to gain news about the happenings in the Middle-Earth. Whenever he needed to see something he looked into the palantir and at that time it can be said that the palantir can be thought of as an "eye" of Sauron.

So if Frodo thought that he saw a great "eye" looking at him when he had worn the ring on the hill top of Amon Hen (was that its name?), he probably perceived Sauron trying to locate the rings position while looking through the palantir. I hope that serves as an explanation!
I also side with Sauron being the shape of a man. When did he regain his manifest form, whatever it may be, in the Third Age? It's clear that Sauron used the palantir in his possession, and maybe when he was using it, he would appear as a great eye to other users during that same period of time. i don't think he had to use it inorder see everything. I'm sure he had some other power of sight, such as Morgoth had. Gandalf even seem to possess a similar power
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The Two Towers - The White Rider
'He rose and gazed out eastward, shaing his eyes, as if he saw things far away that none of them could see. Then he shook his head. "No," he said in a soft voice, "it has gone beyond our reach. Of that at least let us be glad. We can no longer be tempted to use the Ring. We must go down to face a peril near despair, yet that deadly peril is removed.'


This is the only time I can recall reading about Gandalf using his powers to perceive things from afar, but clearly it demonstrates he has that ability. Maybe when Gandalf used that power a big blue eye appeared.... kidding, don't rip my head off!
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If you disagree with that, you disagree with JRRT.


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JRRT himself says that Sauron took the form of a man in his letter #246. And what JRRT himself writes about his works, i accept.


I donít disagree with what JRRT says in the quote you mentioned from Letter #246, I believe it wholeheartedly! In fact, I donít ever disagree with anything JRRT says about his Ea, period! Also, the topic of whether or not Sauron could assume the form of a man has never been in question with me. If you look at exactly what I said in my previous post, I said I disagreed with some of the statements that were being made, some not all, and I also never said that the Eye was the only form he took.

For the record, in conclusion of all the research Iíve done on this topic, various sources Iíve studied, a couple of years of reflection since my initial research, and other peopleís perspectives and insights, here is exactly what I personally believe to be true regarding Sauronís physical form from the Third Age on (more or less);

After Sauronís body was destroyed at the end of the Second Age, he did not have enough power to take a new physical shape until sometime around T.A. 2060.

The Eye was Sauron manifested into physical shape, and not just a palantir, or some kind of tool of Sauronís.

When Sauron was gazing into the Ithil stone, he was most likely in the form of the Eye, located about three feet from the stone, thereby disproving the notion that the Eye was Sauronís actual eyeball (see UT).

I believe it to be highly likely (from the Third Age on, because there is absolutely no debate about it up until that point) that in addition to Sauron being able to assume the manifest form of the Eye, that he also had the ability to assume the shape of a man (terrible, with black, burning skin), and that Gollum probably saw him personally during his captivity in Barad-dur.

I also believe that generally in the Third Age Sauron appeared in the form of the Eye, but if one was brought before his physical presence (as Gollum most likely was), that he appeared in the man form.


Now these are just my personal beliefs, and if anyone wants to know what my reasoning and backing for all of these beliefs are then you need to go back and look at my post on Sauronís physical form from a couple of years ago that I left a link to in my previous post.

Look, Iím not trying to convince anyone that they have to agree with me that the Eye was Sauron in a manifested physical form. Itís just my personal opinion through many hours of research that the Eye was one of the physical forms he took. Anyone else can believe whatever they want for all I care. Again, all Iím saying is that there was an Eye, and the reason I posted was because I felt that there was an awful lot of other information that was being omitted/ignored in this thread. I also personally disagree with some of the statements made that there was no Eye, or that the Eye was the palantir, or something that was only connected with the use of the palantir, etc.

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So to me, after reading JRRT's letter, it's simple : Sauron never took the form of a huge Eye, as he chose the form of a man of more than human stature. And this is not opinion, it's a fact given by JRRT himself. This quote should end this discussion once and for all. How can you disagree with that?


Again, I donít disagree with what JRRT wrote in Letter #246, however, in that statement JRRT does not say exclusively that was the only form Sauron took, or could take does he? He also does not say definitively what time period he was referring to. If Tolkien would have said in Letter #246 that Sauron only took the form of a man throughout his entire existence until the destruction of the One, and thatís it, nothing else, then that statement would be definitive, and I would have accepted that three years ago when I first read that letter, end of story!

The problem I personally have with trying to take that statement and turning it into this all encompassing, generalized blanket statement is that unfortunately we donít have the luxury of knowing the exact question Mrs. Elgar asked?

For example, how do we know that she didnít say something like, ďwhat was the form Sauron took before he was slain by Elendil and Gil-galad, etc?Ē Or how do we know that JRRT wasnít making a generalized statement on how Sauron appeared for the majority of his existence? Maybe thatís just how JRRT wanted us to think about Sauron for the most part, and that was the easiest way to explain?

Sauron appearing in the physical form of a man for the majority of his existence would certainly be the correct way to think of him because the majority of his existence was between his creation by Eru as one of the Ainur, and the end of the 2nd Age, and during that time he did indeed appear most often in the form of a man. Again though, that has never been in question, itís the Third Age, and the Third Age only that Iím specifically talking about. There is no doubt about anything before that. Itís my belief that when JRRT made that statement, he was speaking specifically about the form Sauron took when it was something more akin to a man.

We already know with absolute certainty that Sauron could assume other forms (from events contained in The Sil.), and the only thing we know for sure after the downfall of Numenor is that he completely lost the ability to assume any form that was fair. Also in the Third Age we only know of a handful of people that saw him in whatever form he was in, we have Frodo, Galadriel, Pippen, Aragorn, and probably Denethor and Gollum. We have no way of knowing what Pippen, Aragorn, or Denethor saw because what they saw exactly is not described. I do personally believe though from what I like to refer to as the ďblackĒ statements, that in Gollumís case, while captive in Barad-dur he probably saw Sauron in man form, but this is still a highly debatable topic. However, in Frodo and Galadrielís case we know that they both saw the Eye for sure!

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You were quoting various ppl with various opinions on LOTR, but i quoted JRRT himself. Who do you think knows LOTR best? Furthermore, those various ppl just mention that Sauron took the form of an Eye without providing any backing for that statement.


The people I quoted Foster, Colbert, Tyler, Day, etc. are all people who are considered to be Tolkien experts. All of these people are recognized, accomplished, and have published major works concerning Tolkienís writings. I used these sources as examples to apply some outside perspective, and to prove a point. That point (whether anyone agrees or not) was just to make anyone reading this to be aware of the fact that the general consensus out there in the world amongst recognized and accomplished Tolkien scholars is that most agree that Sauron did take the physical form of the Eye. Their collective backings for the reasoning that Sauron did take the form of an Eye are from the numerous references contained throughout Tolkienís writings, and through their own individual research. Anyone wishing to examine further at just how these sources arrived at his or her conclusions on Sauronís physical form during the Third Age will have to reference the works I cited on their own as it would be absurd, and far too lengthy to explain each persons reasonings, and resources here.

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maybe when he was using it, he would appear as a great eye to other users during that same period of time


Thatís essentially exactly what Iím saying, and why I believe that the main form he took during the Third Age was that of the Eye.
Elf Smilie
well lets all just agree to disagree, shall we? The more i think about it, the more absurd it seems that Sauron manifests into an eye, period. The thought that Sauron took shape into a big floating eye seems to comical for such an evil-doer. The eye is just what Sauron wanted people, who looked into a palantir, to see. Remember, unless the user had unbelievable strong will power, Sauron could choose what he wanted them to see. His eye was a way of saying "My eye is on you!"

i'm not really in the mood to rant on and on about this, so I'm going to reflect on the initial question of this topic, "What is Sauron?" Sauron was just a big meany, The End!
I have already given my point of view twice, with large amounts of documentation. Hence, I will not participate in any further discussion, as there shouldn't be any, really.

And yes, Turin, perhaps the biggest reason why Sauron never ever took the form of a huge Eye, is that he would completely ridiculous : instead of bowing for him in fear, every Orc and dork in Mordor would laugh their arse off.

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Thatís essentially exactly what Iím saying, and why I believe that the main form he took during the Third Age was that of the Eye.

I don't say it's impossible that Sauron ever took the form of a huge Eye - although i don't believe that -, i only say it's impossible that the Eye was his main form -- i come to this conclusion by what JRRT wrote in letter #246. As JRRT didn't speak about Sauron taking the form of an Eye, i believe it wasn't his main form.




My feeling, as I read the books, is that Sauron is seen as an eye in the minds of those he could reach, in particular Frodo in Lothlorien. Eyes are the windows to the soul so to me this is a poetic means to impart the strength, will and evilness of Sauron. I always feel Sauron is holding his corporeal self together by sheer will and sometimes that wavers and he becomes shadowy. But the eye is his mind's eye - ever watchful, seeking the Ring, bringing fear to his enemies.
That's good, Vee. Very true. From a psychoanalytic point of view, the eye could be seen as the harbinger of death, making us feel both immortal and mortal at the same time through our own understanding that we have a soul that may live on beyond our own mortal being (the eye seeing beyond our physical being), yet reminding us that this outer shell will die and we will no longer exist in the way we know (his threats of death and destruction). That's where the paranoid feeling comes from with the ever watchful eye. Very interesting. Hmmm...something to build on for my thesis. Thanks!
When Frodo looked into the Mirror of Galadriel in FOTR movie, the song "Eye of the Tiger" should've been playing in the background.

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From a psychoanalytic point of view, the eye could be seen as the harbinger of death, making us feel both immortal and mortal at the same time through our own understanding that we have a soul that may live on beyond our own mortal being (the eye seeing beyond our physical being), yet reminding us that this outer shell will die and we will no longer exist in the way we know (his threats of death and destruction).

I doubt it, but it's as good as any applicability, i guess.

I for me think JRRT has his 'Eye' thing based on all those catholic posters which were common in any European household in the 19th-early 20th century : God's eye in a triangle, with the words "don't swear, god sees thee" underneath.

Cyclopes have always been scary, since Homer introduced us to Polyphemos.

And about "his threats of death and destruction" : Sauron only threatened Frodo in the movie. That never happened in the books.
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And about "his threats of death and destruction" : Sauron only threatened Frodo in the movie. That never happened in the books.


Did I say Frodo? I didn't mean Frodo. The threats of death and destruction are beyond Frodo in the book, which is what I am looking for (but it comes to incorporate Frodo as well). It's the destruction of Man and Middle Earth the way the inhabitants know it (the crisis of the self). Of course, with or without the "destruction" of Sauron, Middle Earth would never go on existing the way it used to anyway, which is good, for it's what happens to a human's life or a community's life once he/she/it faces his/her/its suppressed thoughts and deals with them.

Thanks, Vir. You got me thinking more beyond what I said, which is getting me more into thinking about this from a theoretical point of view and just how much this relates to the crisis within us all. Of course, fairytales in general prompt us to face and overcome many of our greatest fears, which is why it may be argued that the violence in them is not necessarily bad for children (now please don't pick up on this last line and think that I am promoting the violent video games and movies that are out there right now).
Yup! Maybe the Eye was Sauron's way of telling the free people of middle earth that "Watch out! The Big Brother is watching you!"
Sauron was a Maiar true, and he served Morgoth, the strongest of the Vaiar and was only second to him. Balrogs are also in his "family" and are one of his most feared servants. Sauron has a mass history that you can find out at the www.coucil-of-elrond.com, which has a bio on almost all characters of Middle Earth. Sauron I think, not 100% sure was a mortal man, and lost his mortal form. He taught the elves the ability to forge the ring of power, and so betrayed the elves. Sauron was defeated i think in the 3-4 age. Late 3 age probably.

MI: Sauron once was tied for second to Morgoth with a Balrog know as "The Lord of Balrogs" until that guy was slain.
Ummmmm, huh?

I didn't think the post was that hard to understand. Sounds like Hiliathime is telling us what she (he?) knows about Sauron.

Hiliathime, if you read what has been posted earlier in this thread, I am sure you will find some things becoming a bit more clear.
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Sounds like Hiliathime is telling us what she (he?) knows about Sauron.
And this would be a good occasion to remind those of you who will wish to upgrade Hiliathime's knowledge with the more correct information, to do so in a non-judgmental fashion. Happy Elf Smilie
I had always wondered what Sauron was. My friends would ask me and i would say i don't know, so i am glad i have finally found out, and i will tell them if they still want to know, i dout it though. Irima-Arwen
I have been a bit busy of late, and have not had time to join in this very interesting discussion. I haven't done the extensive research into this subject that Virumor or Elfstone have done, but I do have my own opinions on the subject and a few thoughts. As I was reading through Elfstone and Virumor's reasonings, something struck me... a few posts later, I saw Vee had posted something similar to what had come to my mind...

Vee's post

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My feeling, as I read the books, is that Sauron is seen as an eye in the minds of those he could reach, in particular Frodo in Lothlorien. Eyes are the windows to the soul so to me this is a poetic means to impart the strength, will and evilness of Sauron. I always feel Sauron is holding his corporeal self together by sheer will and sometimes that wavers and he becomes shadowy. But the eye is his mind's eye - ever watchful, seeking the Ring, bringing fear to his enemies.


My own train of thought was similar.

In the beginning, Valar and Maiar could take any form they wished. Their form was something they clothed their essence in, just as we clothe our bodies. Even the Valar have limitations, however. Many took Elven/human form because they were facinated by the thought of Iluvatar's children, and wished to take the form they imagined the Children would look. However, the few descriptions we have of individual Valar and maiar, give the impression their forms were also a function of their persona. When Tuor sees Ulmo, for instance, first he sees a huge wave shrouded in mist from which Ulmo's form emerges. The colours used to describe Ulmo though, are very akin to the sea. In HOME, there is a description of Yavanna appearing as a huge, majestic tree, her branches reaching into the heavens. The Valar could take many forms, but often appeared as shapes which were close to their hearts.

Taking that point on a little, in the Silmarillion it says...

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And Arien Morgoth feared with a great fear, but dared not come nigh her, having indeed no longer the power; for as he grew in malice, and sent forth from himself the evil that he conceived in lies and creatures of wickedness, his might passed into them and was dispersed, and he became ever more bound to the earth....


The above is the effect of what is known as Morgoth's Ring, where Morgoth dispersed his own power across Middle Earth, and in doing so, lost much of the power contained within him. He became bound to the earth. He became fixed in the form he had taken, and could no longer change out of it.

As has been quoted in previous posts in this thread, something very similar happened with Sauron. After the downfall of Numenor, he could no longer take on a fair form, and after his defeat to Isildur, it took him long into the Third Age before he could take any form. With particular reference to the part about not being able to take "fair form", why is this? Who would have the power to ordain that Sauron could not take Fair form?

I think the answer to that lies in my original thought. Valar and Maiar tend to take forms which mirror their persona. Maybe this form comes easy to them, and taking other forms requires more effort or power. Each defeat of Sauron was costing him more of his power. He was becoming weaker, particularly after he had placed so much of his original power into his ring. By the Third Age, perhaps he could only take on the forms which mirrored his persona.... dreadful, malign, hateful beings... and perhaps, when his mind was focused so intently (to the point of distraction) on searching for his ring, maybe an eye.

Without doubt, during the War of the Ring Sauron did appear to a few (eg. Gollum) as a Human. And as a side point, why with only four fingers? This was a new form, why only four fingers unless the knowledge that Isildur had chopped one of them off in his old form was still eating at his thoughts so strongly.

The book is less clear about the eye manifestation, however. Flickerings at windows, visions through magic mirrors etc. All a little vague, and nothing close to anyone actually physically seeing Sauron, in the flesh, in his eye form. I am not saying Sauron did not take the form of an eye, because on occasions I believe he did, but there are no accounts that definitely state he did.

Now what is the form of a Valar or Maiar? If it can be changed, is it real or just a facade? You have to remember, here, these beings had incredible power. If they could crush your mind with a thought, what else could they do? Was their form just something they were telling you they appeared to look like? Maybe this power unintentionally "leaked" on occasions. When Sauron is up in his tower (in whatever form), searching the West for his ring, what does it feel like when his tremendous power comes across you for a moment and has a look into your heart and thoughts? Maybe something dark and terrible? Give that feeling a visual element, as in the case of through a Palantir or Galadriel's mirror, and maybe you will see an eye. Scrying devices such as these transmit feelings as well as visions. The visions can be controlled by powerful minds, maybe not even intentially. I think that is why through such devices, Sauron's form appears to be an eye. He is consumed with searching for his ring.... looking. Looking is what eyes do, and that is what those seeing him through such devices will see.

The book does not specifically say so, but I believe on occasions Sauron would snap out of his searching for a moment, and find his form had changed into an eye. In nature that is what he had become; something obsessed with searching. I don't think it is a form he would take intentionally, but nevertheless I think it was a form he took.

So there's my view thrown into the pan. Most of the time Human form, but on occasions when distracted by searching, an eye. Tolkien did not state it directly, but there are too many references to Eyes for it not to be so....
An excellent post Val. Thumbs Up Smilie To bad we council members can't be considered for 'Post of the Whenever'. So, have a jelly baby instead. Baby Girl Smilie
Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
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Sauron I think, not 100% sure was a mortal man, and lost his mortal form. He taught the elves the ability to forge the ring of power, and so betrayed the elves. Sauron was defeated i think in the 3-4 age. Late 3 age probably.


A mortal man? Where'd you get that? How can you be a man and a Maia? And wasn't it the elves who taught HIM to forge the rings of power, and that's why he befriended them? As for his defeat, 'twas the late third age. Then the fourth age began.
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And wasn't it the elves who taught HIM to forge the rings of power, and that's why he befriended them? As for his defeat, 'twas the late third age. Then the fourth age began.


I believe it was Sauron who showed the elves how to forge rings of power. He wanted the elves to create their rings of power so afterwards Sauron would create his own "One ring to rule them all" hence rule them all...
Yes, it was Sauron, disguised as Annatar, who gave the Elves the knowledge to create the rings. Together they made the 14 rings eventually given to the Dwarves and Men, plus some minor rings (no doubt early trials into the process). They then went their separate ways, and while the elves made three more rings, he made the ruling ring.

As for Sauron's defeat. technically that occurred on several occasions. Huan the Hound almost destroyed him in a one to one fight in the First Age. In SA 1700 he was defeated by an alliance of Gil-galad and Tar-Minastir after he had overrun Eriador. In Sa 3262 he was taken prisoner by the Numenorians, and 57 years later lost his form in the destruction of Numenor. In Sa 3441 he was again defeated by the Numenorians and Gil galad when Isildur hacked the ring from his hand. His final defeat came at the end of the Third Age, of course, when Frodo destroyed the Ring.

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His final defeat came at the end of the Third Age, of course, when Frodo destroyed the Ring.
Or to be more precise: when Frodo, Sam, and the rest of the Fellowship, enabled the destruction of the Ring via the ultimate sacrifice by Gollum.
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Yes, it was Sauron, disguised as Annatar, who gave the Elves the knowledge to create the rings. Together they made the 14 rings eventually given to the Dwarves and Men, plus some minor rings (no doubt early trials into the process). They then went their separate ways, and while the elves made three more rings, he made the ruling ring.


I've always wanted to know a bit more about the "minor rings". Indirectly, they play a huge role in the plot, since otherwise, Gandalf would have been in no doubt as to the ring Bilbo found. Actually, I don't believe JRRT was that clear in his own mind on the history of Hollin. For example, the fragments in UT are fairly polished (if unfinished!) except for the history of Celeborn and Galadriel, which has several contradictory accounts of their relationship to Hollin.

Celebrimbor is clearly the key maker of the rings in addition to Sauron. He was the last descendant of Feanor, and JRRT makes clear that he had inherited at least some of his grandfather's supreme skill. That his talents led to the forging of the one ring must have been a further working out of the curse of Mandos.

On the actual subject of this thread (the form of "Sauron the Maia, whom the Elves of Beleriand named Gorthaur"), Virumor's early post was decisive. Thanks for so carefully marshalling the "facts". By the way, does Planet Tolkien have a position on the works that constitute the ME saga? I suggest The H.(3rd edition - certainly not the first) , LOTR (including appendices of course),The Sil. and all of UT except for the aforementioned History of Celeborn and Galadriel (which CT probably shouldn't have included). HOME is of great interest, but is more of the form of early versions of the myths.
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By the way, does Planet Tolkien have a position on the works that constitute the ME saga? I suggest The H.(3rd edition - certainly not the first) , LOTR (including appendices of course),The Sil. and all of UT except for the aforementioned History of Celeborn and Galadriel (which CT probably shouldn't have included). HOME is of great interest, but is more of the form of early versions of the myths.


Planet Tolkien itself, doesn't have a set position on this one. We are all individuals, and all have our own views and opinions, rather than a single "party line". As far as HOME and UT is concerned, much of the early writings were superceeded by later drafts. It is sometimes difficult determining which bits come first and which later, but as far as I'm concerned, I try to go by what is in the Silmarillion, rather than earlier drafts contained in HOME. Much of HOME, however, did not get into the Silmarillion, and was not superceeded by newer versions. If these do not clash with what is in the Silmarillion, I like to accept them. One such story is that of the Final Battle, in which Turin slays Morgoth. This appeared in an early draft which was later re-written omiting this tale. An alternative ending was never written for the End, however, so I like to keep that particular part.

Much of the Elven culture written about in the tales included in Morgoth's Ring are very interesting too, but do not get a mention in the Silmarillion. Had JRR lived longer and actually finished the Silmarillion, would he have included these bits. The Silmarillion, after all, was pieced together by his son. Much of what JRR was working on towards the end of his writing career did not get included, even though they were the direction JRR was obviously taking the story. By this I mean the rewriting of that beautiful Sun and Moon creation theme for one more similar to that of our own world.

That said, I am going way off topic, which I believe was something about Sauron.
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Much of HOME, however, did not get into the Silmarillion, and was not superceeded by newer versions. If these do not clash with what is in the Silmarillion, I like to accept them. One such story is that of the Final Battle, in which Turin slays Morgoth. This appeared in an early draft which was later re-written omiting this tale. An alternative ending was never written for the End, however, so I like to keep that particular part.

This makes me want to explore HOME more than I have. Thanks for the guidance.
I Agree 110% with what Val said about believing in some of the content of the H.O.M.E. series. If it doesn't clash with The Silmarillion, then i like to believe that is what happened. Especially the part about Tķrin defeating Morgoth in the final battle, after all, there aren't too many characters who suffered more, by the hand of Morgoth, as Tķrin and his sister Niniel.
Perhaps we could start a discussion thread about the differences between the versions in each book?

(looks at Val - go on go on go on - you know you want to!)
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I haven't done the extensive research into this subject that Virumor or Elfstone have done, but I do have my own opinions on the subject and a few thoughts.


Maybe so, but Iíd wager a good dollar that you know more than both of us put together, so obviously your opinion carries just as much weight, and is always extremely valued, and welcome (great post btw amigo)!

Again, the only question for me concerning Sauronís form is the time period from around T.A. 2060 to the end of the Third Age (everything else is crystal clear, and definitively answered by Tolkien in various texts). Specifically, how did Sauron generally physically appear during this time period? What were the forms he took? What was the Eye, and was it a physical manifestation of his form or something else? The biggest mystery really though is what was the Eye?

Anyway, Iím actually very open to both of the ideas you and Vee have suggested concerning the Eye. Both reasoningís are logical, and supported by certain elements in the books, so I can accept those as being valid viewpoints to consider. What I canít accept (again) is that there was no Eye, or that the Eye was a palantir etc., all of those theories have been completely disproved.

Maybe the Eye was a physical form, maybe it wasnít? Sadly, probably none of us will ever know with any kind of certainty. I have a feeling that perhaps maybe the only person with any kind of real understanding of exactly what the Eye was is probably Christopher Tolkien. Maybe we all need to make a pact that if any of us ever gets the opportunity to meet him, or ask him a question somehow (which isnít very likely I know), we need to grill him on the question of the Eye!
Serching Smilie
Well, I can't hope to add anywhere near the depth to this discussion as the others, but I did notice an odd omission: I can't recall where it is (possibly in the Ithil/Mordor Orc conflict) wasn't the emblem of the Orcs of Mordor proper (as opposed to those of Saruman or Minas Morgul) the Red Eye?

And now off to seek what I think would be a fascinating discussion of HOME vs. Silm I had pretty much blown off HOME after Christopher Tolkiens comment at the end of LT2 that that was pretty much it in terms of cohesive stories in their entirety. Lays of Beleriand seemed to confirm this and indicate that the rest of HOME would be a study of poetry (for which I then had no appreciation) and languages, while the volumes on the War of the Ring seemed an LT version of the Trilogy story I already had with all the detail I wanted. Various comments I've read here have forced a reassessment, and it seems I'll have to pick them up (right after the complete works of Jung and a new encyclopedia set; oi!)

Overall comment on PT: I never thought I'd find a place with some folks who knew more about Middle-Earth than me (unless I bumped into Christopher Tolkien some time.) I now feel compelled to get the rest of HOME to be able to hold my own, and that's coming from someone whose free response AP English essay was on the Trilogy (perfect score, btw; guess it is a "work of recognized literary merit.") I concur with the above opinions on HOME vs. Silm: where Silmarillion contradicts it supercedes; where Silmarillion is silent HOME is valid. I still recommend it to anyone who wants Trilogy detail in Silmarillion stories (though the change in Beren was startling, to say the least.)
Yes, during the encounter between Ugluk and Grishnak before the Rohirrim did them in, Ugluck said "we are the servants of Sarumen the Wise, the White Hand...". Then Grishnak called Saruman a fool for "setting up on his own with his filthy white badges" and said "the Great Eye" was on Sarumen. Later on by Selobs Lair, Shagrat called Sauron the Eye. These bits are found in TTT. And as he neared the tower of Cirith Ungol, Sam felt "the malice of the Eye of Mordor". Then when he entered and saw the bodies:
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Two liveries Sam noticed, one marked by the Red Eye, the other by a Moon disfigured with a ghastly face of death...
- these last two bits from RotK
i think we missed something here about sauron.

gandalf somewhere, in the book, said that sauron was too powerful for him to face although gandalf was olorin, himself a mair if i'm not wrong. and the mair were peer maybe not all having the same powers but i think having the same overall stenght. i think sauron became powerful as we kow him due to melkor. somewhere in the silmarillion is mentioned that melkor lost his powers through the creatures he created and thus his powers were spread far and wide.

it can thus be deduced that sauron inherited part of melkor powers which thus increased his own powers; (''sauron had now become a great sorceror" somewhere in the sil) which i thinks explain why he became so powerful even when compared to his own brood.

concerning the eye of sauron i think that it may a shadow of his power, and it is pretty impressive considering that he had been able to probe amon hen and amon law(?) the hills of hearing and sight from his seat in mordor.
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