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Mouth of Sauron

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The Mouth of Sauron
Black Númenórean[1]
John Howe - The Mouth of Sauron 01.jpg
"The Mouth of Sauron" by John Howe
Biographical Information
Other namesMordu[2]
TitlesLieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr, Messenger of Mordor
BirthBefore T.A. 2951[1]
DeathProbably 25 March T.A. 3019[3] (aged 68+)
Notable forNegotiating with Aragorn and Gandalf
Physical Description
RaceBlack Númenórean[1]
Clothing"robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm..."[1]
SteedBlack horse
GalleryImages of the Mouth of Sauron

The Mouth of Sauron was the Dark Lord Sauron's servant and representative at the end of the Third Age. He had the title Lieutenant of Barad-dûr, since he was so strongly devoted to the Dark Lord. The Mouth of Sauron was one of the Black Númenóreans.[1]




The Mouth of Sauron had served Sauron all his life; a Man of great stature, he was potentially the equal of the Dúnedain but had fallen into darkness. It is stated that "he entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first rose again".[1][note 1]

He had learned much sorcery during his time under Sauron and knew many of the Dark Lord's plans. Being crueller than an Orc and cunning, he rose in power and favour. In any case, the Mouth had even forgotten his original name.[1]

Late Third Age

The Mouth of Sauron briefly appeared when he haggled with the army of the west in front of the Morannon, trying to convince Aragorn and Gandalf to give up and let Sauron win the battle for Middle-earth. Though he came before Aragorn and his men as an ambassador, he used quite insolent speech when he dealt with them. He tried to intimidate the army into surrendering by showing them the mithril coat of Frodo Baggins to make them think that the Ring-bearer had been captured. When Gandalf turned down his proposal, the Mouth of Sauron set all the armies of Barad-dûr upon them.[1]

The Mouth's fate is nowhere recorded, but it is probable he died in the assault before the Morannon.[4] If he had survived, it is likely that he would have been one of the leaders in the retreat of Sauron's evil servants after the fall of Barad-dûr.


The name of the Mouth of Sauron itself poses an inconsistency in the narrative. Aragorn mentions that the name "Sauron" (meaning "Abominable") is the name used by his enemies, and according to Aragorn, Sauron himself did not permit it pronounced.[5] Therefore it would be strange for a servant of Sauron to have a title that includes the word "Sauron".

In an early manuscript, the name of the messenger is said to be Mordu,[2] apparently meaning "Black Darkness" or "Black Night".[6]

Other versions of the Legendarium

In drafts of the Lord of the Rings the Mouth had been envisioned as having been a child snatched by Sauron, and later a Gondorian renegade.[7]

Portrayal in adaptations

Mouth of Sauron in adaptations

1980: The Return of the King:

The Mouth of Sauron briefly appears at the Black Gate. He was here portrayed by Don Messick.

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

The Mouth of Sauron's role is expanded. He is portrayed as the person who tortures Gollum into telling Sauron of "Baggins" and "Shire", though he is not named until the credits.[8] John Rye provided the voice of the Mouth of Sauron, symbolising the function of the Lieutenant of Barad-dûr.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Mouth of Sauron does not appear in the theatrical cut of the movie, but he does appear in the extended version, played by an unrecognizable Bruce Spence. His helmet, with the words "LAMMEN GORTHAUR" (Sindarin for "Voice of (Sauron) The Abominable") in Cirth written on it, covers his entire face except for his mouth, which is horribly diseased and disfigured by all the evil he has spoken, and disproportionately large, creating an unsettling effect. In fact, much of this spectacle is a result of CGI effects. Actually Jackson conceived this idea long after the footage had been shot and asked his special effects team to create the effect digitally.
The extended DVD cast commentary mentions that Jackson considered different depictions of the character, such as having Kate Winslet (who starred in Heavenly Creatures, another Jackson film) play the role, partially to emphasize the temptations Aragorn was facing.
In the movie itself, Aragorn decapitates the Mouth of Sauron with his sword. This sequence is often criticized by purist and outsider alike; through human history, it was considered a crime of war to execute messengers or heralds. In the book, the Mouth actually specifically points out that as an ambassador he is protected by the laws of war, and Gandalf acknowledges this:
"...though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow. "I am a herald and an ambassador, and may not be assailed!" he cried. "Where such laws hold," said Gandalf, "it is also the custom for ambassadors to use less insolence. But no one has threatened you. You have naught to fear from us..." -- Book V, Chapter 10, "The Black Gate Opens"

See also


  1. It has been noted that this reference is difficult to interpret; according to Appendix B the Dark Tower arose first some time after S.A. 3320 and again in T.A. 2951. If the Mouth lived in the Second Age, he would be one of the King's Men of Númenor, and probably prolonged his life with sorcery (cf. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 274); in the second interpretation he would serve Sauron only for 68 years, and this would make him a Black Númenórean of Umbar or Harad. The second interpretation is more feasible (and supported by Michael Martinez) but both have been considered.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "Minas Tirith", pp. 256, 267 (Christopher Tolkien notes that the reading is uncertain.)
  3. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 274
  4. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 274
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Departure of Boromir"
  6. Mark Fisher, "Mouth of Sauron", Encyclopedia of Arda (accessed 14 December 2013)
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "The Black Gate Opens"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Bakewell, Brian Sibley (eds.) The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series), "The Long Awaited Party"

External links