Fundamental LOTR Question

You can all snicker behind your pipe smoke, but something just occurred to me about this whole Ring business.

I believe it’s in the books and it’s said by Aragorn in the film: “It is an army bred for one purpose–to destroy the world (race?) of men.” (and Viggo does a great job delivering that line, btw)

Ok, so Sauron is one pissy immortal kind of dude. Got it. But here’s my question:

This mystical being (god? overlord? magical critter–what IS he, anyways?) has um, talents and qualities that no mortal man can match. Not even the Dunadein (sp?). Even if this whole debacle was spite based and just for evil’s sake-what’s in it for Sauron POST the death of Man? What’s he going to do? Torture hobbits on Thursdays for fun and profit? Tweak the elves ears? (and they’re so moving out of the neighborhood anyway–talk about [good] Wight Flight!). The dwarves–what, use them for lawn ornaments?
So, let’s say Sauron succeeded–what then? He gets to play with all the toys, but to what end? There ain’t no one to subjugate anymore.

So, I ask–WHY did he want to destroy the race of men? Would we not then have “this” world we all live in now? (ok, that’s getting a bit metaphysical and trippy, but you know what I mean. I hope).

Self preservation? He considers Men a threat. Afterall they did deprive him of his physical body.
Just my WAG as a complete LOTR Non-expert.

He didn’t want to kill all humans. he wante to enslave them. As well as everything else.

Sauron was basically an angel… or a demon. he was a creature of the same order as Gandalf, but naturally more powerful and who had then gained even more from his dark master (a a Satan figure who goes by Morgoth). Morgoth eventually got his butt kicked but good, but Sauron calculated the powers of good wouldn’t interfere again in the same manner.

As to exactly why he wanted to do so… well, there’s no good answer to it. Much like Stalin, or Hitler, or Mao, or Pol Pot, he wanted power for its own sake. IIRC, Gandalf explains that Hobbits, for instance, did nothng at all to anger him or offend him. It was simply that the very idea of anyone or anything outside his control was intolerable to him. he wanted to control the orld and make it into his own image, and force everyone, everywhere to do as he wanted them to do.

It’s not said in the books, to clear up that one point. As to the spelling, it’s “Dunedain” (“West-men”; “Dunadan”, “West-man” is Bilbo’s nickname for Aragorn). And I guess after Men were eradicated from the Earth, Sauron would hold dominion over all the world, peopling it with his evil creatures.

But wasn’t Aragorn talking of the Uruk-hai, Saruman’s creations, anyway?

What is Sauron? A demigod, a rather bigger and tougher one than Gandalf, but some way short of his forerunner Morgoth (ne Melkor), who along with his erstwhile fellows the Valar would be lesser gods themselves far below the One greater God, Eru.

This is literally true only of Sauron’s intent regarding the Men of Numenor, with whom he held a significant and understandable grudge.

As for the race of men more generally, he was perfectly happy to enslave or merely corrupt them (via his nine rings or what have you.) Southrons, Easterlings, etc. He wasn’t after them. He wanted to take down what was left of the Numenoreans.

Nitpick: wasn’t that line in the movie given about Saruman’s orc army? I forget whether it’s actually stated as such in the novels.

I don’t have the book handy, but somewhere in FOTR in the Council of Elrond chapter they describe what Sauron was up to when he made the ring, this is an approx quote: “into the ring he poured all his malice and will to dominate others”. This is very important to understanding Sauron’s motivation. He wants to enslave everyone to his will.

Yeah, yeah–it’s Saruman’s army, but we all know he was but the arm of Sauron, so I thought I’d cut to the chase (forgetting this is LOTR fandom I’m dealing with).
Long standing grudge against the Numenor. Check.

But I’m still not getting it–Sauron has to produce something. Even if he enslaves men (after killing off the Numenor) and has a torture rota, surely there must be some Grand Scheme. Afterall, if he gets to where he controls it all, then there is nothing left to control or fight or subjugate, right? I am assuming he managed to enslave or kill Gandalf and the Brown Wizard etc in this scenario.

If you enslave someone, it’s usually for something. Slaves sitting around starving and cluttering up the place are costly and irksome. So, they must serve a purpose of some sort (besides his private collection of ones he chooses to keep as pets or whatever). Would he try to then attack the Gray Havens?
And is Sauron well and truly dead once the Ring is destroyed? So ME will never know hardship again etc? I find that :dubious:

Start with “The Music of the Ainur”: Eru Iluvatar, the One, is the Creator, in overall charge of everything – God with a Quenya accent. To fulfill his purposes, he made the Ainur, the heavenly host, and caused them to make music. Melkor, the #2 Ainu (after Manwe, the ‘Elder King’), introduced a dissonant countertheme to that expounded by the others. Iluvatar then introduced a third theme which wove the two dissonant melodies together.

Then Iluvatar acted, and transformed the Music into a physical Creation, placing many of the Ainur in it as demiurges. shapers of the world-to-be. Manwe and Varda Elbereth his consort were the leaders of the Faithful, of whom the top 15 or so were the Valar, the Powers. Melkor was included in this, and became Morgoth, the Evil Power.

Many of the lesser members of the Ainur also were taken into Creation, where they became the Maiar, the angels helping shape the world. Among these were Thu, Curumo, and Olorin. After the War of the Great Jewels at the end of the First Age, Morgoth was defeated and got booted out of Creation altogether. Eventually, Thu, now called Sauron, took his place as Chief Honcho of Evil. After the fall of Numenor (Atlantis with an Elven accent), which defeated Sauron but was then corrupted by him, Curumo and Olorin were sent to combat him, or more properly to foster the resistance to him rather than themselves acting in power – becoming Saruman and Gandalf.

Sauron is doing what he’s doing because that’s his job, as viceroy for the absent Morgoth – and because he’s been corrupted by the taste of power (a major theme for Tolkien). And, it might be noted, Aragorn is the Dunadan (singular of Dunedain), the Man of the West, as the heir of the loyalist branch of the Royal Family of Numenor, who founded Gondor and the now-defunct realm of Arnor (including the Shire, Bree, and all the surrounding vacant lands. Weathertop used to be a fortress of Arnor, destroyed in the war with the Witch King (now the #1 Ringwraith).

Which, incidentally, is why PJ’s one great revision to the Tolkien Canon works so well – HIS Aragorn is justifiably less than enthusiastic about trying to reunite: (1) a kingdom that’s been extinct about as long as the Western Roman Empire has in our own with (2) a surviving kingdom firmly in the hands of the Stewards, the present occupant of the throne of which hates his guts, in order to (3) fight an immortal power who had a big deal to do with creating the world, had a lot to do with the deaths of his ancestors Beren and Luthien (which he and Arwen are doomed to live out a remake of), and brought about the downfall of Atlantis. Talk about your tough job descriptions!

IIRC, the Valar include the Aratar (Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, Mandos, Nienna, and Oromë) who are far more powerful than Sauron, being of Melkor/Morgoth’s rank (albeit not quite as powerful as him). As a lesser Valar, a Maiar, Sauron was not as great as the Aratar, although of a “far higher order” than Olórin (Gandalf) and Curunír (Saruman).

Nitpick, for which PJ should be held down and assaulted with a Shire Scouring brush: Saruman is not in league with Sauron; as someone with equal powers with Sauron and Gandalf, he’s got hit with the lust for power too, and is conning Sauron into believe he’s his ally – or at least thinks he is. Tolkien carefully leaves unclear who is really pulling the wool over whose eyes in that little game.

My take is much less well informed (I’ve only read the Trilogy, only a few times).

Sauron was a poorly developed character, with only a shell of motivation. He was just a big card-board cut-out stamped “Bad Guy”.

In fact, now that I think about it, he wasn’t any kind of character, was he? Did he ever take the stage in the book? (I know he didn’t in the movie?)

Sauron was not a character, but just the hinge for the conflicts, so he couldn’t really have motivation, could he?

I don’t think he leaves it as unclear as all that, really. I’m sure there’s some commentary by Gandalf to the effect that Saruman was a much paler imitation than he’d like to think - and had it ever come to a showdown, Saruman would have been stomped, innovative ideas on improving Orcs or not.

Yes (as far as ME is concerned - the still unkilled fraction of Sauron is completely unable to take shape or act in the world again) and no. Gandalf explicitly says that other evil powers may arise, and that all the present generation can do is bequeath fertile soil to their heirs; it is not in their gift to determine what the weather will be like.

Not quite. At the top of the hierarchy is Eru Illuvatar, the One, who is omni-whatever. Then there are the Ainur, the Blessed Ones, created directly by Eru before the World, and who participated in the creation of the World. The Ainur are divided into two tiers, the more powerful Valar, and the less powerful Maiar (who are still much more powerful than we Children, of course). Melkor AKA Morgoth was originally the most powerful of the Valar, and it’s implied that Sauron was originally the most powerful of the Maiar, but Olorin (Gandalf) was still on the same tier as Sauron, and was in fact the wisest of them.

Other notable Maiar include the other wizards, the Balrog, Melian the ancestress of Aragorn and Elrond, and Arien the charioteer of the Sun.

Don’t have the books handy for an exact quote, but he is rendered so powerless that it is essentially impossible for him to ever arise again.

Gandalf specifically states though that other powers could/would arise to trouble Middle Earth. His mission was only to help the Free People take out Sauron.

God love you and I know you want to help, but so help me, I can’t read more than one sentence and my eyes glaze over. It’s the Simarillon all over again–a book I have tried to read at least 4 times and have now eschewed all ambition to do so. Or as the immortal Josephine Tey puts it via her protagonist, Alan Grant: “history deprived of personality is dull.” (paraphrased) But thanks!

This I can mull over–thanks. I like the film Aragorn better, anyway. Re Morgoth–where he at? Can he return and wreak havoc? It sounds like Sauron was only a steward for him–which makes a nice symmetry between him (on one level) and Denethor, steward of Gondor. Could Gandalf the White take on Sauron, unaided? I take it Gandalf is lesser than Morgoth. Who is the equal of Morgoth–Galadriel? What are the names of those powers for good–we seem to know the names of the powers of evil. (and isn’t that interesting, all by itself)

He was actually seen as a character in the Silmarillion…at one point he won a spell-duel against Finrod during the Quest for the Silmaril. He fled from the Valar after the War of Wrath. And he was captured bodily in the Akkalabeth by Ar-Pharazon and taken back to Numenor, which was the catalyst for the slide down the slope to destruction.

That I am aware of there are three letters in which Tolkien refered to the motivations of Sauron.

I believe the intent to “destroy the world of men” is an addition to the movie. At least I certainly don’t remember it from the books. He ceratinly wanted to destroy the Elves and the Westernesse. But I think that has more to due with the fact that they had killed him twice. Any other beings were welcome to stick around as long as they were willing to submit fully to his rule and worship him as God.

I always thought that Morgoth’s original impulse was to “one-up” Eru. He wanted to take Eru’s creation and improve upon it and make it his own. It was vanity and pride that motivated him initially, and then when he failed, spite.

Sauron continues in the same vein. Back in the beginning when he was Morgoth’s lieutenant they thought they were fighting for a superior vision of the world. But over the millenia that vision has receded to a distant dream. Now all he cares about is spoiling Eru’s creation. Spite.

There is at least a hint in the Akalabeth that Sauron was working to bring Morgoth back from the void…

Although Sauron appears in some of the action during the Silmarillion, it is basically as a cameo in Beren’s & Lúthien’s story, and while more central to the action of the downfall of Númenor, he’s still kind of a cipher. He has motives attributed to him – often, by folks whose guesses are probably pretty good – but Tolkien never has him demonstrate what he wants by his actions or words.

I don’t think Tolkien was writing the kind of story where the Bad Guy monologues his backstory, though.

I suspect that having been willfully under Morgoth’s domination for so long, by the time Sauron is “free” because of Morgoth having been cast out into the void, Sauron is still basically fulfilling Morgoth’s goals. Which is spite, to be sure, but it is Morgoth’s spite.