Name: Saeros (replaced Orgof)
Meaning: May contain element saer, bitter
Dates: Age of the Trees - First Age 484
Parent(s): Ithilbor (father)
Saeros, son of Ithilbor, is the enemy of Túrin, son of Húrin, throughout the entire mythology. He appears for the first time in The Book of Lost Tales II (HoMe 2), in the Tale of Turambar and the Foalókë. Here, his name is still Orgof, but his function in the story: precipitating Túrin's departure from Doriath by taunting him and getting killed by him, is essentially the same. In the earliest Silmarillion version in The Lost Road (HoMe 5) the name Saeros definitely replaces Orgof. In The War of the Jewels (HoMe 11), we read he is one of the Nandorin Elves who took refuge in Doriath after the death of Denethor, son of Lenwë. Saeros is the son of the Nandorin leader, in UT identified as Ithilbor.
It is only in Unfinished Tales that the full version of the story is told. Saeros, a friend of Daeron the minstrel and also skilled in song, is a counsellor of King Elu Thingol. He is 'proud, dealing haughtily with those whom he deemed of lesser state and worth than himself.' Disliking mortals in general and Túrin, a kinsman of Beren, in particular, he 'looked askance on Túrin and all that he did, saying what ill he could of it; but his words were cunning and his malice veiled. If he met with Túrin alone, he spoke haughtily to him and showed plain his contempt; and Túrin grew weary of him, though for long he returned ill words with silence.'
One evening Túrin, who hasn't been paying much attention to his appearance, enters the great Hall of Doriath with unkempt hair and in a stained cloak, and seats himself inadvertently in Saeros' place. Saeros starts taunting him. He throws a comb on the board before the young man, makes a remark about his unkempt hair, and finally insults the women of Túrin's people: 'If the Men of Hithlum are so wild and fell, of what sort are the women of that land? Do they run like deer clad only in their hair?' At that, Túrin throws a drinking cup at Saeros, who is hurt, but when the young Man draws his sword, Mablung intervenes. Túrin leaves the hall, but Mablung speaks warning words to Saeros, telling him he has brought his injury upon himself.
His words fall on deaf ears: the next day Saeros waylays Túrin in the woods, trying to kill him. But the mortal gets the upper hand, strips the Elf and chases him through the woods like a deer, threatening him with his sword. In the end Saeros falls over the edge of a cliff on a great stone in the river Esgalduin and dies, 'and long would Mandos hold him.' Túrin, refusing to be called to account, leaves Doriath, and Thingol officially banishes him. Later the truth is found out because the maiden Nellas has witnessed Saeros' attack. Túrin receives the King's pardon, but refuses to return to Doriath.
In HoMe 11, in the essay Quendi and Eldar, Saeros' unpleasant character is related to the fact that as a Nando, he belonged to the Avari, the Elves who refused the journey to Aman. The Eldar believed them to be 'weaker in resistance to the pressures or lies of Morgoth'; Mablungs words to Saeros that he should take care not to do the work of Morgoth seem to echo this.
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