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From reading the Silmarillion I had thought that Sauron disappeared and ended his service to Morgoth once he lost Tol Sirion to Luthien and Huan. However, after reading through the Lays of Leithian and thinking more about it I've come to the opposite conclusion and I would like to know what is the correct interpretation of events.

From the Lays of Leithian

With gasping breath and shuddering

he spake, and yielded as he must,

and vanquished betrayed his master's trust.

The above quote refers to Sauron yielding his power over the Wizard's Isle to Luthien, and being strangled by the impossible grip of Huan. It says here that he betrayed Morgoth's trust, and I must admit that it's difficult to conceive of Morgoth forgiving anybody of anything, unless of course he feigned forgiveness for evil purposes.

After this he flees and builds a fortress in Taur-na-Fuin. Again from the Lays of Leithian

A vampire shape with pinions vast

screeching leaped from the ground, and passed,

its dark blood dripping on the trees;

and Huan neath him lifeless sees

a wolvish corpse - for Thu had flown

to Taur-na-Fuin, a new throne

and darker stronghold there to build.

It says that his immediate plan was to build a stronghold that was even darker than the one he had twisted out of Tol Sirion. This sounds like he wanted to build the fortress for Morgoth; a fortress that was even darker and more terrible than before, one that Morgoth would appreciate so much that he would forgive his servant of his blunder of losing the Nolderin Tower at Tol Sirion.

I feel that Sauron being found at the end of the War of Wrath further lends credence to this interpretation. Why was Sauron found by Eonwe if he was not fighting Morgoth's war? If he had simply vanished and could not be found by Morgoth then what hope would Eonwe have of finding him? This seems to indicate that Sauron did not end his service to Morgoth after he lost Tol Sirion, and in fact was actively building a fortress in dedication to Morgoth.

Did he or did he not end his service to Morgoth after losing Tol Sirion?

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    It should be noted that this was an older version of the Lay of Leithian and should be considered as being in potential disharmony with later developed concepts. – user8719 Mar 6 '15 at 11:48
  • @DarthSatan Valid point. I think in this case it's likely they both refer to the same set of events. The Silmarillion said that Sauron filled Taur-nu-Fuin with terror, so I think Tolkien probably had similar ideas in mind when he wrote about it in both versions – a_a Mar 8 '15 at 5:06
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No, Sauron never attempted to betray Melkor, nor was he able to.

When Thangorodrim was broken and Morgoth overthrown, Sauron put on his fair hue again and did obeisance to Eonwe the herald of Manwe, and abjured all his evil deeds. And some hold that this was not at first falsely done, but that Sauron in truth repented, if only out of fear, being dismayed by the fall of Morgoth and the great wrath of the Lords of the West. But it was not within the power of Eonwe to pardon those of his own order, and he commanded Sauron to return to Aman and there receive the judgement of Manwe. Then Sauron was ashamed, and he was unwilling to return in humiliation and to receive from the Valar a sentence, it might be, of long servitude in proof of his good faith; for under Morgoth his power had been great. Therefore when Eonwe departed he hid himself in Middle-earth; and he fell back into evil, for the bonds that Morgoth had laid upon him were very strong.

Sauron had been bound by Melkor to his service. Only the fear of the Valar could temporarily sway him, but even then, he would be constrained to return to Melkor's service.

  • "he fell back into evil" implies he fell out of evil prior to that, no? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 6 '15 at 17:21
  • Not really. I read this to mean "actually doing evil". His pride, rebellion and lust for power remained throughout and were only checked by the overmastering might of Eonwe. – WOPR Mar 7 '15 at 2:32
  • I understand what you're saying here but I think there are multiple ways of reading that quote and I don't think that quote alone can establish the answer to the question because I've always read that quote as saying Sauron simply could not resist being drawn back to evil, not that he was literally always under the service of Morgoth. However I think your point could be valid, I'm just not yet convinced. – a_a Mar 8 '15 at 5:02
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In Tolkien's last work on the Tale of Years for the First Age, published in History of Middle-earth 11, the following entry appears for year 509:

Maeglin captured by spies of Melkor (Sauron?).

Since Sauron's defeat at Tol Sirion/Tol-in-Gaurhoth occurred in the year 465 (source: Grey Annals) this event (Maeglin's capture) was therefore later.

This is the only clear evidence I am aware of that establishes that Tolkien was at least entertaining the notion that Sauron was still a loyal (and active) servant of Melkor's after his defeat but before his fall back to evil in the Second Age. Even so, it's also clear that Tolkien was not committed to the idea but merely considering Sauron as being the identity of Maeglin's captor (hence the question mark by his name).

Despite that I would argue that the fact that Tolkien even considered (and certainly didn't reject) the idea of Sauron being Maeglin's captor shows that for Tolkien it was the case that Sauron had remained loyal.

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