Why were the people of Rhun and Harad allied with Sauron? Did they join him out of fear, or did Sauron say he would give them something if they joined him? I know the men of Dunland were angry at Rohan; did Rhun and Harad have something against Gondor?

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    Because he has cookies.
    – Xantec
    Jun 8, 2014 at 19:18
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    The Lord of the Rings is pro-Elf propaganda.
    – Valorum
    Jun 8, 2014 at 20:23

3 Answers 3


This has origins in the Second Age, so I'm going to quote from Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age here (which, despite it's name, is a major source for the Second Age too):

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.

So it's a combination of both fear and worship, yes.

It's roots however go much deeper, back to the original awakening of Men and their original corruption by Morgoth, as is told in The Tale of Adanel (published in Morgoth's Ring).

Some say the Disaster happened at the beginning of the history of our people, before any had yet died ... But we were in haste, and we desired to order things to our will ... Then one appeared among us, in our own form visible, but greater and more beautiful; and he said that he had come out of pity.

You just know that this one isn't going to end well, don't you? So following this, Men turned from Iluvatar to the worship of Morgoth, started building temples and conducting human sacrifices, and died sooner and in great pain.

Eventually however some rebelled and escaped to the north-west of Middle-earth:

And they came at last to the land's end and the shores of the impassable water; and behold! the Enemy was there before them.

These were the ancestors of the Edain of Eriador and Beleriand, who in turn were the ancestors of the Numenoreans and the Northmen (e.g Rohirrim), but the others left behind retained their Morgoth worship, and were ancestors of the Haradrim and Easterlings, among others.

For the Second Age, Sauron's activity was mostly to the south and east, on account of the fact that the remaining Elven kingdoms were concentrated in the north-west, and that too was where the Numenoreans were most likely to visit.

At this point the whole "was Tolkien a racist" question is bound to come up, and the answer is a clear "no". There is ample evidence of his opinions in his Letters, including statements such as "that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler", "the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine" and "the treatment of colour nearly always horrifies anyone going out from Britain".

Tolkien himself stated in Letter 229) his reasons which correspond with those I have given above, and I'll quote:

The placing of Mordor in the east was due to simple narrative and geographical necessity, within my 'mythology'. The original stronghold of Evil was (as traditionally) in the North; but as that had been destroyed, and was indeed under the sea, there had to be a new stronghold, far removed from the Valar, the Elves, and the sea-power of Númenor.

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    Good answer. But the question of "was Tolkien racist?" is complicated. It's commendable that he opposed Hitler and Nazism. But in Tolkien's mythology, some races are explicity identified as superior to others. Numenorean lineage means you are stronger, smarter, and longer-lived than other humans. Orcs are irredeemably evil; the only good orc is a dead orc. And so on. He was not a Nazi or white supremacist, but he had absorbed racist ideas (in a way inevitable for an English person born in 1892) and I think they are evident in his work. Jun 8, 2014 at 20:30
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    He did spend quite a while (it's somewhere in History of Middle-Earth) trying to reconcile the way he had treated Orcs with his Catholic beliefs embodied in the statement "Nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so." Tolkien didn't want his Orcs to be that way, because he was very decidedly not a racist. Jun 8, 2014 at 23:01
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    @MattGutting - Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed: precisely. Even his "good races" are all kinds of shades of grey: the Numenoreans had plenty of evil dudes among them, and even the Elves had Feanor and his people. Despite all of that I'll grant that he did have some rather odd ideas about language and national identity that don't sit easy with modern readers, but for a man who was a product of his times, he was unusually enlightened overall.
    – user8719
    Jun 8, 2014 at 23:09
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    @JimmyShelter: Basically I agree. But no one forced Tolkien to make the orcs all evil, all the time. That was a conscious choice on his part, as was making all of his "good" races pale-skinned. (Yes, that stems from basing his stories on Germanic mythology, but if you're going to include orcs and hobbits then dark-skinned heroes don't seem so unreasonable.) And I think you've misunderstood me about Numenoreans -- of course some are evil, but all of them are more powerful than other humans, who are referred to as "lesser Men". Jun 8, 2014 at 23:34
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    @RoyalCanadianBandit - Numenorean lineage and knowledge has a well-explained reason in the mythology: they were restored to the "unfallen" state and had contact with the Elves of Eressea. That Numenoreans are all pale-skinned is also not so: maybe people just assume that Aragorn/etc are representative of them all? Not so. Numenoreans were also descended from the house of Beor, of which Of Dwarves and Men notes "many were less fair in skin, some indeed being swarthy". This reads like one of those common "fan assumptions" that actually has no basis in what Tolkien really wrote.
    – user8719
    Jun 12, 2014 at 0:02

In addition to the existing excellent answer, I want to point out that Appendix A makes clear that throughout its history Gondor was at war on an off with Harad and Rhûn. Those people would be predisposed to Sauron ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend").

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    But were they anti-Gondor because they worshipped Sauron, or did they worship him because he was also anti-Gondor?
    – FlaStorm32
    Jun 30, 2022 at 0:37

Morgoth/Malkor was the most powerful of the Valar. Only Eru (God in Tolkien's mythology) was more powerful. During the song of creation Eru led the Valar and Maiar joined in. Malkor sang with pride and disharmony trying to outdo or at least equal Eru by forming his own creation. After this disharmonic singing reality was tainted. Through various forms of twisting these groups of humans by playing upon his song of discord, his show of power, time spent with them, and his snakes tongue he made these groups worship him as the true god. During all of this Sauron was a Maiar that served as Malkors General. After Malkors defeat when Sauron took up the job of amassing his own forces he used this knowledge of those civilizations and his history their plus their already negative views of the other humans and races from their time fighting for Melkor to convince them Melkor had returned or even that he himself was Melkor returned and they quickly fell in line behind their 'god' again

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    ...but how does this answer the question asked?
    – Mithical
    Apr 28, 2017 at 9:11
  • This was their initial connection to between them and the way he rekindled those bonds Apr 28, 2017 at 13:49
  • But can you provide quotes from the books or another canon source, such as Tolkien's letters, to back this up?
    – Mithical
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:05

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