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Born some time before III 29511; still extant in III 3019 (in which year he was probably slain)
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  • Updated 9 April 2010
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"The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm..."
The Return of the King V 10, The Black Gate Opens

A Man of great power and importance in the land of Mordor, the ambassador of Sauron. His lineage was Númenórean, and he was descended from those people who came to Middle-earth during the Second Age to learn from Sauron, and who thus became known as the Black Númenóreans. When he heard that the Dark Tower had been rebuilt, he was quick to ally himself with the Lord of Mordor. He committed himself so completely to Sauron's cause that it was later said he had forgotten his own name,2 and he grew in stature to become the Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr by the time of the War of the Ring.

He was sent by Sauron to treat with the Captains of the West at the Black Gate of Mordor prior to the last battle of the War of the Ring. Had his master won that war, he would have been given charge of a rebuilt Isengard, in the place of Saruman. That was not to be, though, and it seems likely that he fell in battle, though strictly his fate after the Downfall of Barad-dûr remains unknown.


‘I am the Mouth of Sauron’

In The Black Gate Opens, the Mouth of Sauron hails the Captains of the West with an introduction: 'I am the Mouth of Sauron'. This is somewhat problematic, because earlier in The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn says of Sauron that 'Neither does he use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken...' (The Two Towers III 1, The Departure of Boromir). The Mouth of Sauron, though, uses the name several times without apparent embarrassment.

All the evidence suggests that Aragorn is simply wrong. Not only does the Mouth of Sauron use his Lord's 'right name' freely, but so does the messenger sent to Dáin in Erebor. Indeed, we hear about Dáin's messenger at the Council of Elrond, at which Aragorn was present: he must have been - to use Gandalf's word - 'inattentive' on this point.

One possible reason for Aragorn's error is that his information is out of date. For most of the Third Age, Sauron had been building his strength, in secret, at Dol Guldur. Given his need to remain hidden, it's natural that he would ban his servants from using his real name. Any detailed information that Aragorn had about him and his ways would date back to Gandalf's spying expeditions in this period.

The Tale of Years entry for the year III 2951 states 'Sauron declares himself openly...' At this point, about seventy years before the War of the Ring, Sauron no longer felt any need for secrecy, and so presumably permitted his name to be used from that point on. Aragorn, of course, would have had no way of knowing about this change, which would explain his mistake.

Did Tolkien intend all this? Probably not - it seems much more likely that Aragorn's words were a casual slip of the author's pen. The explanation given here, though, does make a certain amount of sense within the context of the story.

Notes

1

It is said that the Mouth of Sauron entered the service of Mordor after the Dark Tower was rebuilt, which would have been in III 2951 or soon afterwards. That would be some sixty-eight years before he rode out as ambassador at the Gates of Mordor so, even allowing that he might have been very young when he entered Sauron's service, he would probably have been eighty years old or more during the War of the Ring. The effects of this might have been mitigated by his Númenórean heritage, however, so he may not have appeared quite so aged as this suggests.

2

In early notes made by Tolkien to cover the events involving the Mouth of Sauron, he is in fact apparently named. Tolkien's handwriting is uncertain at this point, but the name is interpreted by Christopher Tolkien as possibly being Mordu (if this is correct, the name seems to have the meaning 'Black Darkness' or 'Black Night'). These notes are reproduced in volume 8 of The History of Middle-earth.

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