It seems apart from Saruman, Sauron doesn't pay much attention to the Istari and doesn't do a great deal to try and counter them (aside from corrupting Saruman for his own needs) which comes to my assumption that he may have not been aware they were of the same order as him.

So was Sauron aware his enemies were in fact his equals (albeit they were of a lower order of maiar)?

  • 3
    It's pretty obvious he did, see scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/83698/…, or scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/74434/…
    – Mithoron
    May 10, 2015 at 14:21
  • 4
    The Istari are not from a lower order of the Maïar from Sauron, that doesn't exist. They are simply less powerful beings, that is a degree of talent within the same race. But then again, Gandalf is said to be the wisest of the Maïar, both in the Silmarillion and in Unfinished Tales, so in that aspect he is actually much wiser than Sauron, Saruman and even Morgoth the Vala who didn't take notice while singing in the music of the Ainur that in the end, Eru always wins ;-)
    – Joel
    May 10, 2015 at 15:07
  • Tolkien himself says when Saruman was ensared by Sauron, that Sauron was a higher order of maia. I shall find the quote
    – user31546
    May 10, 2015 at 17:23
  • @user31546 I would like to see it. It would be the first time I hear about specific degrees of the Maïar other than degrees of talent and knowledge. But Tolkien's quote could also mean just that. But one thing is clear: Sauron IS more powerful in witchcraft than Saruman or Gandalf.
    – Joel
    May 10, 2015 at 21:46