Later in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the forces of Gondor, the elves, Aragorn, etc. go up against human mercenaries from distant lands. Did the mercenaries have any inkling that they were fighting for a supernatural force, or did they think Sauron was just a rich lord who could afford their services?

  • 4
    The dividing line between 'natural' and 'supernatural' is not really that clear in Tolkien's works. Jul 7, 2017 at 21:39
  • 2
    "Have you looked at our caps recently?"
    – void_ptr
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:03
  • 2
    Show some evidence that there were actual "mercenaries" and not just Men gone over to worshipping Morgoth.
    – Spencer
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:14
  • So you're asking whether Sauron's Men knew he was a Maia?
    – Voronwé
    Jul 8, 2017 at 1:50
  • @Voronwë- Maia, or anything more than human.
    – Nu'Daq
    Jul 8, 2017 at 2:13

2 Answers 2


They knew who Sauron was.

During the Second Age, Sauron was ruling over a bunch of Men, who were the ancestors of the Third Age's Haradrim.

Men he found the easiest to sway of all the peoples of the Earth; [...]

Now Sauron's lust and pride increased, until he knew no bounds, and he determined to make himself master of all things in Middle-earth, and to destroy the Elves, and to compass, if he might, the downfall of Númenor. He brooked no freedom nor any rivalry, and he named himself Lord of the Earth. A mask he still could wear so that if he wished he might deceive the eyes of Men, seeming to them wise and fair. But he ruled rather by force and fear, if they might avail; and those who perceived his shadow spreading over the world called him the Dark Lord and named him the Enemy; [...]

Elsewhere Sauron reigned, and those who would be free took refuge in the fastnesses of wood and mountain, and ever fear pursued them. In the east and south well nigh all Men were under his dominion, and they grew strong in those days and built many towns and walls of stone, and they were numerous and fierce in war and aimed with iron. To them Sauron was both king and god; and they feared him exceedingly, for he surrounded his abode with fire. [...]


Sauron then had not lost the ability to change into a fair form. Afterwards, when the One Ring was lost and the Third Age began, many of Sauron's servants still survived and these Men became known as the Haradrim, who continued to make war with Gondor.

Thus began the Third Age of the World, after the Eldest Days and the Black Years; and there was still hope in that time and the memory of mirth, and for long the White Tree of the Eldar flowered in the courts of the Kings of Men, for the seedling which he had saved Isildur planted in the citadel of Anor in memory of his brother, ere he departed from Gondor. The servants of Sauron were routed and dispersed, yet they were not wholly destroyed; and though many Men turned now from evil and became subject to the heirs of Elendil, yet many more remembered Sauron in their hearts and hated the kingdoms of the West.


Being descendants of the original Men under Sauron, these Men would have remembered who or what Sauron was, and why they served him in the first place.


Frodo and Sam, who were, in universe, the principal authors of The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King, did not know much of anything about what Sauron's human servitors knew and what they did not.

The key quote is this famous one from "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit":

It was Sam's first view of a battle of Men against Men and he did not like it much. He was glad he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies and threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not rather have stayed there in peace.

So there is no firm picture in the books of what motivated the Easterlings and Haradrim, or what they really knew about Sauron, or much of anything about how they came to be fighting in the War of the Ring.

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