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Does Sauron represent "Order" or "Chaos"?


Sep 27 2008, 3:10am

Post #1 of 5 (1561 views)
Does Sauron represent "Order" or "Chaos"? Can't Post

At first, a simple question: does Sauron represent/embody "Order" or "Chaos"?

Because when I thought on it, Morgoth really represents Chaos. His heraldy is sable, unblazoned. Morgoth is the abyss, he represents nothingness. He wants to reduce everything to nothingness, because in his hubris, he is angry that he couldn't create anything on his own, that only Eru Iluvatar has that power. All he can do is twist and corrupt. He lusted after Light but created only Darkness.

So I think it fairly clear that Morgoth represents Chaos, not Order.

Sauron, however, is a bit of a different case:

Sauron was, originally, a Maiar serving Aule. Aule was the great Smith-worker of the Valar. And it is said that Aule was the closest in temperment of all the Valar to Morgoth; but the difference is that Aule wanted to create things but he just did it for the sake of creating them; he never tried to master things. As soon as he created a thing he'd leave for a new project and forget about it, with no thought to mastery. Morgoth ultimately only wanted to create because he wanted mastery. ***but when he couldn't (fundamentally) do that, he turned towards a philosophy of Chaos and Entropy. Aule even made the Dwarves, but simply for friendship/students basically and when confronted he didn't even want to "rule" them.

Nonetheless, Aule...and presumably his workers....were concerned with Creating things, with fashioning "Form" out of raw materials, with bringing "Order" to things.

*****And indeed, Tolkien I think describes at several times that Sauron even after his fall kind of retained some imprint of his old thinking, that he wanted to bring Order to things.

(consequently I always think it interesting how things to turn to evil still retain a warped shadow of what they used to be; like in the DVD commentaries when the writers like PJ say that the books have wonderful descriptions of how Minas Morgul is evil, but it used to be Minas Ithil, and while massively altered you can still tell when looking at it that the fundamental foundations of its shape are still recognizable as old Gondorian architecture...but they were worried that they didn't have time to do these wonderful descriptions justice. Or like, how in Star Wars, Darth Vader is evil but he still believes in "The Force" and strangles an Imperial commander on the Death Star for saying that its just "old sorcerer's ways", etc. Or how there are hints of Hobbit mentality in Gollum)

So even though Sauron became Morgoth's lieutenant and right-hand servant, he still kind of believed in the mindset of "bringing Order to Chaos" he had in the days when he worked for Aule.

So when Morgoth is thrown out of the world, Sauron becomes the new Dark Lord.

but is the power of the new nation of Mordor that he founds, philosophically, centered on "Order" or "Chaos"?

That is to say, in Dungeons and Dragons terms, is it "Chaotic Evil" or "Laweful Evil"? (actually that's not directly comparable)

Morgoth represented Chaos, because he is literally the Devil of Tolkien's legendarium, the Lord of Decay, Beelzebub: "The Lord of the Flies"

but Sauron used to be basically an Angel of Smithcraft, devoted to bringing Order and shaping things.

****Sauron CREATED the Rings of Power, well he helped make many of them and then made the One Ring himself.

***I like the film's decision that Second Age Sauron's armor should reflect his past as a great craftsman; that it is incredibly well made and ornate and filled with intricate filigree.

***my point is, Morgoth did create an "empire" in Middle-earth but only because he was using it as a tool to destroy his enemies; most of the time he was breeding twisted monsters and unleashing them on the world.

I think Tolkien said that officially, if one were to compare Morgoth and Sauron, Morgoth was more powerful than Sauron and more powerful both in raw strength and sheer force of will, but Sauron was a lot more cunning and intelligent than Morgoth. He says directly that Sauron was only less evil than Morgoth in that for long he served another and not just himself. However, when Morgoth was defeated he begged for mercy from the Valar, and "many held that he did indeed repent, if only out of fear"...that is, he honestly would have surrendered, with no ulterior motive (unlike later with Numenor) if he was granted leniency but he feared a worse sentence when told he'd have to be judged in Valinor, so he fled....and after several centuries rallied together the other survivors of Morgoth's own regime and started to rebuild.

And oddly...Sauron always remained faithful in his allegience to Morgoth, even during the height of Mordor. Although much is made, even in the films, of Sauron's hubris, of how the Tower of Babel-like dimensions of Barad-dur and how it reflects "trying to set himself up as God in the mortal world"....Sauron did not literally consider himself an all-powerful "God" over both the material and spiritual. Granted, he did consider himself "Lord of the Earth".....but as for outside the Earth, he still believed Morgoth was out there beyond the Walls of Night and that one day he'd probably gain enough strength to get him back somehow. ***In lands he conquered in the South and East, Sauron's official "state religion" was actually Morgoth-worship, not Sauron-worship, and the lands of the Easterlings and Haradrim are filled with temples to Morgoth dedicated to human sacrifice, etc.

*****Nonetheless, many also see Sauron as a metaphor for the forces of Industrialization and Fascism. I, like Tolkien, do not believe that Sauron is a one-for-one analogy for Nazis and Hitler, but Sauron really generally encapsulates "totalitarianism" and the social factors of the 20th century as a whole such as those that led to World War I : he's really more an embodyment of "Industralization and Militarism" and Totalitarianism than any one person or state.

But these forces represent "Draconian Order"...."Order", not Chaos.

And Sauron's "Mordor Empire" extending over Rhun and Harad.....really seemed like a very well-organized political empire, a vast machine dedicated to producing the tools of war:

in short, Morgoth used his empire as a tool, but he was better at creating twisted monsters and magical powers with Balrogs, etc. Anband wasn't much of an "empire" anymore than Hell can be said to be.

Sauron was for lack of a better term, much more of a "secular ruler" (comparatively)....of course, he kind of has to be: he's not magically as strong as Morgoth was and he kind of has to rely more on "Cunning" and "Strategy"....but then again he was always better at using those tools than Morgoth ever was. He's a grand chessmaster, playing the gamepieces until "the board is set and the pieces are moving".

Morgoth was just the blind rage of the Devil railing against God. Sauron is the peer of Caesar of Napoleon more than he is Morgoth; he's a lord of lies and master strategist.

Sauron likes "Order" so much and even running an efficience "Mordor Empire" that he even developed his own "esperanto"....an artificial constructed language as a "lingua franca" to unite his diverse slaves like the Orcs and barbarian Men who served him. the Black Speach never really caught on throughout his realm, but it was apparently his "official" language, i.e. the Nazgul use it, forms bases of words in other words the Orcs use, etc. But that's really geared towards "Order" not "Chaos"....and interestingly, he even based Black Speach on his original language, Valinorean, though he debased it and made it uglier on purpose and harsher, the structural relationship cannot be denied. Again, the little tinges of his former modes of thought still seeping through; not that this represents "a glimmer of good left in him" no of course not; just that his desirve for "Order" etc. is a logical tinge of his old thought modes; nothing starts out utterly evil ex nihlio....as Gandalf summed it up: "nothing is evil in the beginning, even Sauron was not so". it makes him more psychologically complex as a character to see his current mindset as an.....evolution of his old desire for Order.

That is, Saruman obviously represents Order and not Chaos: he wants to RULE Middle-earth in a New Order. As he explains to Gandalf, "our goals would not change, only our methods" (rhetoric which is lifted right out of Fascist propaganda by Tolkien). Saruman was given a grant to help bring Order to Middle-earth, to help defend the Free Peoples and restore peace; but this turned into outright RULING to forcibly bring Order, his Order.

....but I digress

I could go on at length with more evidence but I'd rather here what you folks have to say, because I honestly don't know:

Does Sauron embody Order, or Chaos?

Because Morgoth really just embodied Chaos, but Sauron, who nonetheless really admired and was always faithful to Morgoth even after his defeat, seems to be more concerned with Order.

Morgoth wanted to destroy the world, only maintaining the 'order' of armies, etc. as a tool to achieve that goal.

Sauron's goal was seemingly to create a dark empire across Middle-earth in which he nonetheless ruled an *organized* empire.

So thus, does Sauron represent... "Order"? (on the same level that Fascists and the Industrial Revolution represented it) or does he represent "Chaos" like his old master Morgoth, the literal Devil of Middle-earth?

"Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name, but what's puzzling you, is the nature of my game"

Formerly known on TORN as "Draug the Unspeakably Violent"


Sep 27 2008, 12:43pm

Post #2 of 5 (821 views)
great post ! [In reply to] Can't Post

I would, if I may, offer this: I think that Sauron, Morgoth represent the archetypal tyrant/monarch of old. Rule by power (Morgoth), cunning (Sauron) or technlogy (Saruman) but the world is "my preciouss" to borrow from Gollum for a bit.

As opposed to Gandalf, Aragorn, hobbits, Gondor, Rohan etc that are more in line with the modern concept of democracy. Oppose evil and tyranny, not to rule yourself, but to free the world. Work together, led by the greater cause, not by the leader (as opposed to forces of evil). Don't act for the present, but the future (directly opposite of a tyrant or a king that is very much involved with the present).

Saruman to me is what we would call today, a politician. A good, smart man, great at rhetoric, (literally) elected/chosen to improve things. Unfortunately, as with most if not all politicians, power corrupts and this happened to him. The movie is more straightfoward than the book in his motives - I don't doubt in the end he would, in the event of defeat of Gondor and Rohan, rise up against Sauron.

If I remember right Tolkien said somewhere that second age Sauron, with the Ring, was stronger than Morgoth.


Sep 27 2008, 2:07pm

Post #3 of 5 (849 views)
One man's order another man's chaos? [In reply to] Can't Post

Good post! I think 'order' and 'chaos' are pretty loaded words, with various meanings like 'creation and destruction', 'control and anarchy', 'dominance and passivity', 'technology and nature' and so on, depending on your point of view.

We explore several different kinds of order in LotR. Life in the Shire follows a romantic natural order, living in tune with the seasons, humble and settled. King Elessar's return represents a slightly different kind of order- the restoration of a great civilization, with its enlightened learning and epic architecture. (Not much indication of any democracy around mind you! Wink). And lastly, like you say, Sauron represents a totalitarian order, desiring absolute power over the whole world and even over nature itself, as he twists lifeforms into monstrous creatures, and his ring wraiths overcome death.

So Sauron definitely represents order, of the most cruel domineering kind. And in seeking this totalitarian order he destroys the natural order, bringing death and destruction which to many people's eyes is chaos. So Sauron represents order and chaos! Confused? Crazy

     View my Hobbit Film Adaptation Discussion


Sep 28 2008, 5:27am

Post #4 of 5 (842 views)
what kind of 'order'? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, V, one of the most thought provoking posts I've read in awhile...hmmm...I think the idea of 'order' is expressed in many philosophies, with their different results....industrial order being different from agricultural order being different from hunter's order....each way of life has its order, its work ethic, and philosophical ideals, but which one is best for a society, for the average person, for the life/health of the planet (Middle earth)?? Tolkien obviously preferred the hobbit's ordered life and then that of elves/Aragorn over Sauron's and Saruman's...rural farm life and hunting vs. factories....

I think you are right on with your analysis of Sauron's version of 'order'...and your comparison to Morgoth's desire to destroy the creation of Middle earth. I'd love to hear Tolkien speak on this theme! I have sat here contemplating the nature of good and evil and where order and chaos fit into these ideas, thanks for kicking my brain into gear tonight!


Sep 30 2008, 2:26pm

Post #5 of 5 (793 views)
*mods up* Excellent! Do you think [In reply to] Can't Post

that given Saurman's study of Morgoth/Saruon and knowing how the power changed hands, do you think Saruman thought that he could follow the same path and ultimately throw down Sauron and take his place?

I think Tolkien said that officially, if one were to compare Morgoth and Sauron, Morgoth was more powerful than Sauron and more powerful both in raw strength and sheer force of will, but Sauron was a lot more cunning and intelligent than Morgoth. He says directly that Sauron was only less evil than Morgoth in that for long he served another and not just himself.

So, we could say that Morgoth was pure evil, and Sauron was refined evil... evolved. He made the Rings to bring the others together; but, for him, if something exists, it must be dominated/controlled/ordered.

Given your fantastic study... I'd agree that Morgoth was Chaos and Sauron was Order(ed Chaos ;)



"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.

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