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"Ages ago, we ancient Sages built the Temple of Time to protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm..."
Rauru

The Ancient Sages are a recurring group in the Legend of Zelda series. Members are often seemingly immortal, surviving in some form since ancient times. They are always seen on the roof of the Arbiter's Grounds.

Appearances

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Rauru, one of the Seven Sages, reveals that he is also one of the Ancient Sages who long ago built the Temple of Time to protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm from evil.

A Gossip Stone claims that Kaepora Gaebora is the reincarnation of an Ancient Sage. Previously due to in-game hints, some believed him to be the same being as Rauru, despite his not being deceased. When Hyrule Historia was released, Kaepora Gaebora was confirmed to be the reincarnation of Rauru.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

"A dark entity lurks in the twilight... It houses an evil power... You who are guided by fate... You who possess the crest of the goddesses... Hear us. At the command of the goddesses, we sages have guarded the Mirror of Twilight since ancient times."
— Sage of Shadow

Since long ago, the Ancient Sages have protected the Mirror of Twilight, located atop the Arbiter's Grounds. They are strange, ethereal beings that move in a graceful, poetic manner. While mostly identical, each of the Ancient Sages bears a symbol of one of the Six Medallions from Ocarina of Time.

The Sages present themselves to Link after he defeats Stallord in the Arbiter's Grounds and makes his way to the Mirror Chamber. They explain to him the entire story of Ganondorf's failed execution; the Ancient Sages were the ones that were set to execute Ganondorf and sentenced him to death at the Arbiter's Grounds. They chained him to a boulder and impaled him with the Sword of the Six Sages; however, he survived (implied to be due to the Triforce of Power). Ganondorf broke his chains and killed the Sage of Water; in a hasty act, the surviving sages activated the Mirror of Twilight and banished Ganondorf to the Twilight Realm.

The Ancient Sages also tell Link that Zant tried to destroy the mirror completely, but could not, as only the true ruler of the Twilight Realm may destroy it. Link is then given the task of collecting the remaining mirror shards and entering the Twilight Realm. The Ancient Sages already have a piece of the Mirror of Twilight which they give to him.

Afterward, when Auru is approached in Telma's Bar, he will reveal that the Ancient Sages once served the royal family and were appointed as the tutors of a young Princess Zelda. Auru also says that he first heard tales of the Mirror of Twilight and its place within the Arbiter's Grounds from the Ancient Sages.

After the Mirror of Twilight is restored, the sages apologize to Midna, as they were in part responsible for ruining the Twilight Realm when they overestimated their abilities when sealing away Ganondorf, and ask for her forgiveness, also revealing, to her shock, that they knew that she was the Twilight Princess. Midna states that she was hardly qualified to forgive them, because she had to flee from her people due to Zant's rise to power. They then fade away.

Princess Zelda claims that the Master Sword was crafted by the wisdom of the Ancient Sages, though it is never explicitly stated that the sages seen in the Arbiter's Grounds are the ones she is referring to. This statement is potentially retconed however, since in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the origins of the Master Sword are clearly shown during the course of the game, but no sages are involved in any stage of its creation. However, it could be that the Ancient Sages were involved in creating the original Goddess Sword found in the beginning of Skyward Sword which is later on upgraded into the Master Sword.

It is possible that the sages seen in Twilight Princess, the ones mentioned by Princess Zelda in the same game, and Rauru, along with the other ancient sages he mentions in Ocarina of Time, are all the same group of Ancient Sages. All three groups are either referred to as "ancient sages" or as "sages" who have existed "since ancient times", though it is also possible each reference is to a separate group of sages, who are simply being described as existing since long ago.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

"The Six Sages are said to have forged this longsword to seal a demon king in the world where the hero fought against the beasts of twilight. The blade shines with a holy luster."
Sword of the Six Sages description

In Breath of the Wild they are known as The Six Sages and the sword used in their failed attempt to execute Ganondorf and used by him to kill the Ancient Sage of Water, appears under the name Sword of the Six Sages which can be obtained by Link by using the amiibo Rune with the Ganondorf amiibo. This marks the first time the sword can be wielded by an incarnation of Link. Link can even use it against Calamity Ganon and Dark Beast Ganon thus technically fulfilling its intended purpose as a weapon created by the sages to be used against the Demon King as Ganon was originally Ganondorf.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

Theory

Theory warning: This section contains theoretical information based on the research of one or several other users. It has not been officially verified by Nintendo and its factual accuracy is disputed.

Master Sword's Origins

Since the events of Skyward Sword, Zelda's statement about the Master Sword being created by the wisdom of the Ancient Sages in Twilight Princess has as been called into question. One possible explanation, is that over the years the Master Sword itself has been re-forged, to maintain its evil destroying power and it should be noted some games allow Link to re-forge it showing it is possible to re-forge the Master Sword if one is powerful or an exceptionally skilled blacksmith. Another more likely possibility is that the true origins have been forgotten or distorted over the years and that Zelda was simply repeating the Master Sword's currently accepted origin story (that it was created through the wisdom of the Ancient Sages). However, it seems unlikely that the Ancient Sages would have told Zelda (who was once their student) a story they would have known to be false (as they would have known this origin story of their involvement in the Master Sword's creation was wrongly attributed to them). Of course, it is possible that they did not tell Zelda what they knew about the Sword's origins and she learned the story from another source and simply accepted it as fact and never consulted the Sages on its validity.

Additionally Breath of the Wild implies they did create a holy sword, the Sword of the Six Sages to execute and seal Ganondorf. Presumably the story of that sword's creation may have caused Zelda to assume they created the Master Sword as well or heard of them forging a holy sword which she assumed was the Master Sword unaware it was an entirely different blade which unfortunately Ganondorf himself could actually wield unlike the Blade of Evil's Bane.

It would not be the first time in the series that an origin story for the Master Sword in a game created before Skyward Sword, would contradict it as the Master Sword was said to have been forged during the Imprisoning War in A Link to the Past. Additionally knowledge being lost or distorted overtime is an ongoing theme in the series such as the Triforce being mistranslated by modern Hylians as "Triumph Forks" in The Wind Waker and knowledge of ancient Sheikah technology being lost and rediscovered in Breath of the Wild.

Sword of the Six Sages

The Sword of the Six Sages is one of several items referencing items and characters from Twilight Princess in Breath of the Wild along with the Hero of Twilight's Clothes, Midna's Helmet, Zant's Helmet, and the Twilight Bow (the Bow of Light from Twilight Princess). Though they may just be references it is possible Breath of the Wild takes place in the Child Timeline and these items are artifacts from long ago with the Sword of the Six Sages falling back into the hands of the forces of good after Ganondorf was slain only to later reincarnate as Ganon whom continued to plague Hyrule for centuries to come. Presumably the ancient Sheikah collected the sword, Twilight Bow, and Hero of Twilight's Clothes making them accessible through the amiibo rune. Meanwhile Midna's and Zant's Helmets where apparently collected by the Royal Family as part of a collection of historically significant outfits though were later stolen by a bandit. Additionally the Sheikah somehow managed to access the otherworldly plane of Ghostly Ether and developed a method to summon the Hero of Twilight's spirit in the form of Wolf Link to aid the next Hero as a familiar and companion similar to Wolf Link's ancestor the Golden Wolf.

Theory warning: Theories end here.