Sauron was Morgoth's servant and pursued his ends while Morgoth was unable to. What level of autonomy was he granted to do this?

  • 3
    Can you be more specific? What Age are you talking about in particular?
    – Micah
    Dec 10, 2012 at 17:21
  • 1
    Why the downvotes? Is the premise of the question just wrong or something? (Definitely not a Tolkien expert over here)
    – Windle
    Dec 10, 2012 at 19:56
  • 3
    He got his own MyFirstFortress(TM) Angband (Maia 4+) from the very beginning of the First Age... A rather large level of autonomy, I would say.
    – Eureka
    Dec 10, 2012 at 23:22
  • 1
    Not a real question
    – WOPR
    Dec 11, 2012 at 3:11
  • 1
    @me. That in itself is an answer
    – AncientSwordRage
    Dec 12, 2012 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


In the Silmarillion, Sauron is referred to as a "lieutenant of Melkor" (Silmarillion. ch.3) and was given charge of Angband, a fortress and armory that Melkor had made. This seems to me to imply that Sauron worked directly under Melkor as a military commander. This is strengthened by this quote, from Chapter 17

But it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when Men awoke in Hildórien at the rising of the Sun the spies of Morgoth were watchful, and tidings were soon brought to him; and this seemed to him so great a matter that secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband, and went forth into Middle-earth, leaving to Sauron the command of the War.

On the one hand, Sauron is a trusted enough lieutenant to be given complete control of the war in Beleriand. However, this also implies that his goals are totally aligned with Melkor's at this point, and that he isn't really a free agent with his own agenda.

Later on, in Chapter 18:

[Sauron] took Minas Ithil by assault, for a dark cloud of fear fell upon those that defended it; and Orodreth was driven out, and fled to Nargothrond. Then Sauron made it into a watchtower for Morgoth.

Again, his actions are ever in the service of Melkor. As an aside, it seems that places named Minas Tirith have followed him around. After he took Minas Ithil in the third age, Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith ("Tower of Guard") too. I wonder if he felt the irony.

After Melkor's fall and the end of the first age, of course, Sauron was a completely free agent, for the very first time. We know how that worked out for him in the end.

  • Probably a bit more disciplined than the Balrogs. Who knows what they got up to during their downtime.
    – Spencer
    Jun 30, 2021 at 9:54
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    The edit changing "Minas Tirith" to "Minas Ithil" should be rolled back. The confusion is perfectly understandable, but there was as earlier Minas Tirith on the isle of Tol Sirion. It is true that much later the Nazgul took Minas Ithil (and it was then renamed Minas Morgul), but the reference in the Chapter 18 quote is to the earlier Minas Tirith.
    – J W
    Jun 30, 2021 at 13:57
  • Sauron also apparently worked independently for a very long time while Melkor was imprisoned in Mandos, but that wasn't exactly autonomy "granted" by Melkor... Sep 22, 2021 at 11:00

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