Alright, you’ve got a solid grasp of the elves of Middle Earth now. You know all about The Silmarillion. But now, it’s time to find out about Sauron’s mentor and just how gay this all is.
Look, I’ve been trying super hard to make this month’s discussion posts academic (sort of) and less flying by the seat of my pants than usual, and I’d like to think I did a pretty good job. Last week’s Silmarillion post was a little chaotic, but it was mostly to the point and cohesive and generally not full of profanity. But if we’re going to wrap up this celebratory month honestly, we should probably do it with me just screaming about my favorite disaster boys.
And I feel like I should drop a disclaimer somewhere because I’m sure someone’s going to be like but they’re VILLAINS—yes, we all know, Morgoth & Sauron are the absolute Worst, and they deserve their hellish endings, but I am not here to talk about the murdering they did. I’m here to talk about their undying love for each other.
I don’t think you realize, I could put fanart in between literally every paragraph and still have dozens more waiting in the wings.
Okay, let’s start from the beginning of this epic soap opera.
So Ilúvatar creates the world, right, but he doesn’t really want to rule it, so he creates the Valar and gifts them Middle-earth and is like, “Here, have a blast.” The Valar are like sweet bro thanks, and they quickly get to work doing what gods & goddesses do best—creating things and then destroying them with their impossible standards.
(Yes, this is just the Bible in the beginning.)
Aulë is a smith, and Melkor is not, but he’s good friends with Aulë, and they hang out a lot. Aulë kind of feels like a father figure to Melkor even though they’re both generally the same age and Melkor’s definitely more powerful than him. Everyone kind of feels this way about Melkor, though. He seems young, and he’s got this bright, innocent interest in literally everything, so they see him as a sort of child gallivanting around, sticking his nose into everything.
Eventually, though, the Noldor are awakened, and Middle-earth has its first elves. The Noldor basically hero-worship the Valar, but Melkor is unsure about all that because the Valar have these huge lamps, which are the only lights of the world, and he thinks they should be sharing them. Manwë, Melkor’s closest bro, is all nahhhhhh, so Melkor gets pissed, knocks down the lamps, and extinguishes all light on Middle-earth.
(Yes, he’s a super drama queen.)
In that ensuing darkness, something occurs to Melkor. He doesn’t really like the other Valar. I mean, he totally does, they’re his family, but he’s not so sure about their motives and their ideas. He thinks the Noldor deserve their help. He doesn’t like how they sit, all high and mighty, above everyone. When the darkness eventually clears, Melkor is not quite the same person anymore.
Enter the Maiar.
The Noldor are not enough, the Valar decide. They don’t meet their impossible standards, and they’re starting to have thoughts on their own, so they turn to what are considered “lesser” versions of themselves—the Maiar. If Ilúvatar is God, the Valar are the archangels, and the Maiar are just all the rest of the general angels.
Aulë, in particular, takes a liking to one of them more than the others. Mairon is an exceptional smith, and he produces work unlike anything any of the Valar have ever seen. He’s not quite the smith that Fëanor, one of the Noldor, is, but since the Valar are currently whatever about the Noldor, Aulë’s pretty excited about Mairon. He becomes something of a mentor to Mairon, and he’s insanely proud of the work that he produces.
Melkor notices Aulë’s growing excitement since they’re such close friends, and he starts paying attention to Mairon. Nothing more than the occasional visit, but he makes sure that Mairon knows that he’s noticed him, as well.
And then, when all might seem like it’s settling down, when Manwë’s no longer pissed at Melkor for the lamp thing, Fëanor does something that will change the fate of everyone.
The Noldor still miss the light of the lamps, and even though the Valar have created these beautiful trees of light to replace them, Fëanor wants to capture that light somehow so that they can always remember it. Thus, he creates the Silmarils, the three most exquisite jewels ever created. They shine with the light of the Valar’s trees, the light of the world, and everyone is awed by them.
Here’s the thing. Melkor is definitely just jealous of everyone. When the Noldor are created, Manwë’s attention strays away from him, so he destroys the lamps. When the Silmarils are created, Aulë’s attention strays away from him and to Fëanor, so he steals the Silmarils and rides off into the sunset on his spider. When, eventually, he gets lonely and Fëanor’s pledged his oath to take the Silmarils back, Melkor realizes that he’s pushed everyone away and decides he’s going to take one last thing so that they might always have their eye on him.
With Angband now his fortress, the Silmarils hidden away, and everyone hating him, Melkor slinks back to the Valar, sneaks into Aulë’s forge, and drops an elbow on the nearest table, startling the Maiar working diligently there.
“So,” Melkor says, grinning up at Mairon’s disbelief, “You come here often?”
And if you think I’m reading between the lines (I am, I so am), Tolkien’s words are that Melkor “seduces” Mairon, so READ THAT AS YOU WILL.
“Go away, Melkor,” Mairon says, scowling. He returns to his work, intent on ignoring the hated Valar.
“Okay, but,” Melkor says, “I’ve hidden the Silmarils in my kingdom, and there’s probably about to be a war, and your talents are being wasted here when all they care about is stupid Fëanor, soooooooooooooooo—”
“Fine,” Mairon spits because, really, he’s pissed at a lot of things. He’s pissed that Aulë is fawning constantly over Fëanor when Mairon used to be his “most promising student.” He’s pissed that Manwë is acting like he’s basically Ilúvatar. He’s pissed that the Noldor even exist, the nerve of them. He’s also pissed at Melkor because he keeps getting away with literally everything, but at least he’s doing something, so Mairon throws down his hammer, just barely refrains from spitting on Aulë’s beautiful forge, and storms out.
Melkor skips after him gleefully.
Somewhere in between Mairon packing and Melkor sneaking them both out, the Valar decide that they can no longer associate with their brother, and they rename Melkor to Morgoth, Black Foe of the World. It stings a little, when Melkor hears this, but it would have been an agonizing pain before, when he was still alone. Now, though, he has Mairon at his side, and he’s okay with being Morgoth, king of all darkness.
Mairon hears this, and he’s a little worried. What has he gotten himself into? Black Foe of the World? Will Angband be all doom and gloom? Is Melkor’s giant spider going to be lurking around somewhere?
Despite his fears, Mairon follows him anyway. He’s made his decision to leave the Valar, and he’s not going to turn back now.
When they arrive, Mairon braces himself. Morgoth’s settled into a soft kind of excitement, his smiles slow and curling, his stride long and proud, his very image transforming as they cross over the border into Angband. His dark hair dances in the cold wind. His shoulders are draped in black. An iron crown starts to settle across his brow. Scars line his face. But as he tosses a grin over his shoulder at Mairon, it is an unfettered expression.
“Welcome home,” Morgoth says, and Mairon is starting to believe him.
And so it happens.
Mairon discovers that Angband is quiet. It’s overflowing with possibility. He has space to work and craft at his leisure. Morgoth doesn’t require much of him, at first, other than company. Fëanor has not yet left for Middle-earth to destroy everything in his path, and so it’s just the two of them and their slowly budding creations. Mairon is still in love with metal, and he begins forging weapons of all kinds, honing them into something beautiful and deadly. Morgoth is still lonely, despite the thing kindling in his heart for Mairon, and he starts experimenting. First, with smaller creatures—he wants dogs and wolves, but of a giant stature—and then, with bigger ones—dragons encased in armor and more massive than anything this world has ever even imagined.
For a while, they live a quiet, wonderful life together. War has not yet come. Mairon is content to forge iron, and Morgoth is content to help his dragons grow.
Obviously, war eventually comes to Angband. If you’ve read The Silmarillion, or even last week’s post, you know that Morgoth is The Worst and is responsible for 50% of all deaths in Middle-earth. (Fëanor is responsible for the other 50%.) Morgoth & Mairon’s relationship becomes very strained as the war starts to tear apart Middle-earth. Morgoth sends Mairon out as his lieutenant, and Mairon despises him for it. Morgoth can’t see that this will only end in their destruction, and Mairon left the Valar so that he might live a quiet life where he was respected. Honored, even.
Instead, he is given death.
As all dark things come to pass, Morgoth is vanquished. His power is so great that he cannot be killed, but the Valar seek to banish him to the farthest reaches of the world. They cast him out, and Mairon hides from their wrath. He still encounters much of it, and he is weakened beyond all hope. Still, he clings to life. For him, there is still a small flame sparking deep inside—Morgoth is banished, but not dead, and someday, he is going to find him again.
Wow, okay, so that was way more academic than I planned on. I truly was just going to shout inanely for a thousand words about how obviously in love they were and call it a day, and instead, you got something like a short story. I hope you enjoyed? All of that is mostly true, too! Obviously, there’s no dialogue between them, and we don’t actually get to see them living alone in Angband for a time, but it’s all described enough that we can piece together a larger story.
I have this headcanon, too, that I’ve talked about a few times on here when shouting about these idiots that, when Sauron is eventually defeated, his dying spirit shows up where Morgoth is still waiting in banishment, and they die together. Or, you know, they die, but they really just end up with the Valar again, who allow them to live together, but apart from the rest of the world, and finally find their quiet life with one another.
Look, I have a lot of feelings when it comes to Morgoth & Sauron. Growing up, Sauron was just a super villain to me. He didn’t have any real substance. Reading The Silmarillion completely dismantled all of that. It gave actual history and weight to Sauron’s story, of the person he was before he lost Morgoth and fell into despair and decided he wanted to kill everyone. And don’t even get me started on Morgoth—he is such an interesting, well-rounded individual, and I love him.
And that’s how the cookie crumbles, folks. We’ve reached the end of this month’s Tolkien-themed discussion posts. If you loved having me yell and rant every Monday, don’t worry, there’s more coming! Keep an eye out later this week for an update on where the blog is going in 2020. And if you’re sad this is the last time you’ll read about my over the top love for Morgoth & Sauron, don’t worry, there’s more coming! I’ll be writing a guest post for Pages Unbound for the Tolkien month in March, and it’s all about Sauron and how his story mirrors Morgoth, and how they each influenced one another. (I promise, it will be way more professional than I usually am.) Lastly, we still have two days left of Tolkien-themed posts, so stay tuned!