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  • Updated 12 July 2021
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King of Kings

A title given to Ar-Pharazôn by Sauron

"...King of Kings, Ar-Pharazôn, mightiest of the sons of Earth, to whom Manwë alone can be compared, if even he."
Words of Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn
Akallabêth

King Ar-Pharazôn of Númenor claimed himself to be the greatest of all the rulers in the world, and in pursuit of that claim he sailed to Middle-earth to confront his most powerful rival, Sauron. Sauron saw that it was hopeless to challenge the Númenóreans in battle, and was forced to submit himself and travel to Númenor as a hostage. The Dark Lord, however, took advantage of his situation to pursue his own goals of revenge against the Númenóreans for defeats earlier in history.

Sauron gradually gained Ar-Pharazôn's trust and at last became his chief counsellor. As the King felt himself beginning to grow old, Sauron spoke to him of the Undying Lands in the West, falsely claiming that if Ar-Pharazôn could conquer those lands, he would gain unending life for himself. Speaking in flattering tones, Sauron gave Ar-Pharazôn the title King of Kings,1 comparing him to the Elder King Manwë himself. This comparison was ridiculous, even for the King of Númenor, but nonetheless Ar-Pharazôn accepted Sauron's words and set out to wrest Aman from the Valar. The result was utter disaster, and the hopeless invasion not only failed, but brought about the Downfall of Ar-Pharazon's entire realm of Númenor.


Notes

1

Probably in 1951, Tolkien wrote a densely detailed letter that included an outline of the story of Númenor, and in that letter he mentions that the title 'King of Kings' actually had more of a resonance than the published text might suggest. In that source (Letter No 131 to Milton Waldman in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien) it's explained that it was actually Sauron who first claimed the title during the time he was ruling over much of Middle-earth. It was this claim by Sauron to be 'King of Kings' that helped drive the proud Ar-Pharazôn to challenge the Dark Lord. So, when Sauron later granted the title to Ar-Pharazôn, he was not only flattering the King, but implicitly surrendering the title that had initially caused the conflict between the two.

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About this entry:

  • Updated 12 July 2021
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