Maiar (Quenya, singular Maia) are spirits that entered Arda to assist the Valar with shaping the world. Many Maiar were not named, but they were supposedly numerous. The Maiar had two leaders known as chiefs. The first chief was Eönwë, banner-bearer and herald of Manwë and Ilmarë, the handmaid of Varda.
Each Maia was associated with one or more Vala. The Maiar were less powerful than the Valar, but they did carry some resemblance. The most powerful of Maiar were capable of opposing a Valar. At one occasion, the Maia Ungoliant managed to overcome Morgoth by draining his power and trapping him into a cage, forcing him to scream for help from the Balrogs. Some of the Maiar sided with Melkor when not much was known about his evil, one of which was Sauron.
BackgroundEditIn about T.A. 1100, the Valar sent several Maiar to Middle-earth to help fight the evil of Sauron. They had skills of hand and mind but were cloaked in the guise of men, seemingly old of great Vigour. Their mission was to guide elves and men by gaining trust and spreading knowledge, not by ruling them with fear and force. They were known as the Istari, or Wizards, and included Gandalf the Grey (Olorin or Mithrandir; later Gandalf the White), Sauruman the White (Curumo or Curunir; he later called himself Saruman) Radagast the Brown (Aiwendil), and two Blue Wizards (Altar and Pallando) who are mentioned, but never appear in Tolkien's narrative.