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The Ainur were created in the beginning by Ilúvatar. Many of these chose to live in the world they created. The chief of these were the Valar and the Valier. Many others also assisted the Valar and became known as the Maiar. The Valar may be considered to be the gods in Tolkien's story while the Maiar may be considered to be lesser or demi gods. Together they directed the affairs of Middle Earth with a minimum of direct intervention.

Melkor, the mightiest of the Ainur rebelled against Ilúvatar and tried to become Lord over Middle Earth. He was known after that time as Morgoth. This lead to many wars between him and the inhabitants of Middle Earth until the Valar finally became involved and defeated Melkor for good.

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