The Maiar are the name given to the lesser among the Ainur that entered Ea to fulfill the “Song of the Ainur”. The majority of the Maiar work under the direction of the Valar, the fourteen greatest of the Ainur to enter Ea.
There are many notable Maia that enter into the stories of Tolkien.
- Osse – Osse is an assistant to Ulmo, the Valar of the sea. Osse is of a violent temperament and controls the storms and winds of the sea and delights in tumult.
- Sauron & the Balrogs – Sauron was originally a Maia servant of Aule, but was seduced by the evil of Melkor and became his greatest servant. The Balrogs, spirits of fire who were also among the chief servants of Melkor, are also mentioned as Maiar.
- Melian – Melian the Maia fell in love with Elwe, one of the first Elves, and took human form to stay with him. Together they formed the Kingdom of Doriath. Melian is also the mother of Luthien, around whom one of the major tales of Middle Earth, The Lay of Lethian revolves.
- Olorin – Olorin was the “wisest of the Maiar”, according to The Silmarillion. He is also equated in several significant passages with Gandalf, most notably in The Two Towers when Faramir remembers Gandalf saying “Olorin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten” (pg. 279).
- Curunir – Outside of Olorin, Curunir is the most well-known of the Maia to readers of The Lord of the Rings. Curunir is the Maian name of Saruman, meaning “one of cunning devices”. He is originally a Maia of Aule.
- Eonwe – The “Herald of Manwe”. The Valaquenta notes that Eonwe’s “might in arms is surpassed by none in Arda”, not even the mighty Valar Orome or Tulkas (Silmarillion, pg 19).
- Arien & Tilion – Arien is the Maia who guides the sun across the sky, and Tilion, a lover of silver, guides the moon. Tilion, it is said in The Silmarillion, “is wayward and uncertain in speed, and held not to his appointed path; and he sought to come near to Arien, being drawn by her splendour” (Silmarillion pg 94).