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Aratar ('The Exalted'; arat = high, -r = plural suffice) were the eight greatest of the Valar; Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, Mandos, Nienna and Oromë. Though Manwë was held to be the High King of Arda, all these eight were held in equal reverence, and were said to possess a majesty that surpassed even the other Valar.

It seems clear from the quotation above that the Aratar were originally nine, and included Melkor (probably as the greatest of them), but he was removed from this 'order' after his rebellion.