Aslan

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Bio Info

Titles: The Great Lion, the Son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea (or Over-the-Sea), the King Above All High Kings, the great Bridge Builder, "Myself" (He is said to have nine names, but not all of them are given in the Chronicles)

Age: Eternal, as Aslan has knowledge of the Deeper Magic from before the Dawn of Time

Species: Talking Lion, though He can appear in any form that He wishes (such as an albatross, a lamb, and a cat in Narnia)

Home: Aslan's Country, beyond the sea, the eastern end of the world

Physical Description: Aslan looks like a regular lion, but His size varies at will

First Appearance: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. 12 (1950), first referenced in Ch. 7


Appearances

~ The Magician's Nephew ~ (1955)

Digory, Polly, Frank, Uncle Andrew, and Queen Jadis have the honor of witnessing Aslan's creation of Narnia. They come to an empty world, but it does not remain empty for long. The Lion appears and sings Narnia into being. Horrified by the song, Jadis throws the bar of a lamppost from London at the Lion's head, but it has no effect. Aslan then gives the gift of speech to some of the creatures He has created. He bequeaths to them the land of Narnia and instructs them to treat the Dumb Beasts gently. And yet all is not perfect in this new creation. Uncle Andrew is terrified of the animals and especially the Lion, as he cannot understand their speech and hears only the sounds that animals make in our world. Aslan finally puts Uncle Andrew to sleep, as it is "the only gift he is still able to receive." Aslan tells Digory that he must undo the wrong he had done (bringing evil, Jadis, into Narnia). He gives Digory instructions about where he could find an apple to provide the seed for the Tree of Protection, and then turns Strawberry into the winged horse Fledge for Digory to ride. When Digory returns, he plants an apple near the river and it quickly grows into the Tree of Protection. As long this Tree flourishes, Aslan tells the Narnians, the Witch will not be able to come within a hundred miles of it. When Digory humbly asks to take an apple home to cure his sick mother, Aslan grants his request. After the Tree is Planted, Aslan crowns Frank and his wife Helen the first king and queen of Narnia.

~ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ~ (1950)

When the Pevensies hear the name of Aslan for the first time, they experience feelings of awe, joy, excitement, and (in Edmund's case) horror. An old Narnian prophecy says that "Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight / At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more / When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death / And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again." After one hundred years of the White Witch's winter, Aslan's coming heralds spring as the snow begins to melt. The Pevensies and the Beavers first meet Him at the Stone Table, where Aslan knights Peter after he kills the Wolf Maugrim. After Edmund is rescued, the White Witch requests an audience with Aslan and tries to claim Edmund by citing the Deep Magic (which states that all traitors belong to her). Aslan negotiates with her privately and offers his own life in return for Edmund's. The Witch accepts this offer and renounces her claim on Edmund's blood. Late that night, Aslan sets out for the Stone Table once again, and Susan and Lucy accompany Him. There, Aslan is bound on the Table and killed by the Witch. After she and her army have gone, the girls weep over the dead Lion's body. But as the sun rises, the Table cracks and Aslan returns to life. He explains that there is a Deeper Magic that says "when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." The girls ride on Aslan's back as He runs to the White Witch's house. There, Aslan breathes on the statues and restores them to life. Then He leads them to Beruna, where the Narnians are battling the Witch's army. With a roar that shakes all Narnia, Aslan leaps upon the Witch and kills her. After the battle, He makes Edmund a knight for his heroism. Days later, in Cair Paravel, Aslan crowns the Pevensies kings and queens of Narnia. In the middle of the celebration, He slips away, and is not seen again for a number of years.

~ The Horse and His Boy ~ (1954)

During the Golden Age of Narnia when the four Pevensies are reigning in Cair Paravel, the baby Prince Cor (Shasta) of Archenland is kidnapped by a former advisor of his father, King Lune. When King Lune's ships catch up to them, Shasta is set in a boat with a knight to escape, and Aslan Himself pushes the boat so that it comes to the country of Calormen where a fisherman sits to receive it. This simple act sets in motion events that will eventually save Archenland. As Shasta and the Talking Horse Bree make their escape from Calormen to Narnia, they encounter what they believe to be multiple lions (but which are actually just one). In this way Aslan causes them to meet Aravis, a Calormene princess, and her companion, the Talking Horse Hwin. After Shasta gets through the city of Tashbaan and has to spend the night at the Tombs of the Ancient Kings, the Lion roars to keep the jackals away. He also takes the form of a cat and comforts Shasta that night. Later in the journey, as the company struggles to reach Anvard to warn them of Rabadash's attack, Aslan chases them once again and gives the horses the new strength of fear so that Shasta can reach King Lune in time. Shasta feels that he is the most unfortunate person in the entire world, but the Lion appears to him and explains the purposes behind the events in his life. Aslan also appears to Bree, Aravis, and Hwin who are staying with the Hermit. Aslan tells Hwin that great joy would be hers since she came willingly to Him. He corrects Bree's belief that He is not a real Lion, and explains to Aravis why He gave her the scars on her back. Aslan appears at Prince Rabadash's trial and, after giving him many chances to repent, changes him into a donkey.

~ Prince Caspian ~ (1951)

Hundreds of years after the defeat of the White Witch, many Old Narnians wonder if Aslan and the Pevensies ever existed. Narnia is now ruled by the Telmarines, a race descended from pirates from Earth who found one of the entrances to Narnia. As the Pevensies and the Dwarf Trumpkin travel through the Black Woods trying to reach Aslan's How, Lucy sees Aslan leading them in a different direction. But Lucy is the only one who can see Him, and only Edmund believes her. That night, Lucy meets Aslan and He tells her that she must follow Him, even alone if necessary. The others cannot see Aslan, but they reluctantly agree to follow Lucy. Aslan becomes visible to them one by one as He leads them to the Stone Table where Caspian and the Old Narnians wait. Before the boys go in to the How, Aslan tosses Trumpkin up in the air several times (catching him carefully each time) to convince the Dwarf of His reality. After this experience, Trumpkin never reverts to his cynicism about Aslan or any of the old stories again. Aslan roars (causing quite a stir in the Telmarine camp), and calls Bacchus and Silenus to begin the Romp. The next morning, Aslan tells Lucy and Susan to ride on His back as they had so long ago. Aslan begins the renewing of Narnia by ordering Bacchus to destroy the Bridge of Beruna and free the River-God (cutting off the Telmarines' escape). Aslan and His followers sweep through Narnia, liberating all in their path, until they come to the place where Caspian's old nurse lay dying. Aslan cures her and she joins their forces. After the second Battle of Beruna, the Mice bring their wounded leader, Reepicheep, to Aslan. After seeing what "great hearts" the Mice have, Aslan grants Reepicheep a new tail. Then Aslan commands Peter to bestow the Knighthood of the Order of the Lion upon Caspian. The next day, Aslan gives the remaining Telmarines a choice to either stay in Narnia or go back to Earth if they do not wish to stay. He also tells Peter and Susan that they are now too old to come back to Narnia.

~ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ~ (1952)

Aslan does not appear in this story until Eustace is transformed into a dragon on Dragon Island and needs the Lion to restore him. Aslan leads Eustace in his dragon-form to a pool and tells him to undress (remove his dragon skin). Eustace is unable to do this, so Aslan digs His claws deep into Eustace's scales, rips them off, and throws him into the water. When Eustace surfaces, he is again in his human form. It was not until he talks to Edmund that Eustace realizes it was Aslan that he had seen. When the Dawn Treader reaches Deathwater Island, the group sights Aslan as they are quarrelling over the water that could change objects into gold. The Lion suddenly appears, even bigger than they remember Him, and the quarrel is forgotten. When they come to the island of the Duffers, Lucy recites a spell to make things visible, and suddenly Aslan appears behind her. He introduces her to Coriakin the Magician and then disappears once again to visit Trumpkin the Dwarf at Cair Paravel. When Lucy cries out to Aslan for help in the Dark Island, He comes to them in the form of an albatross and leads them out of the darkness. When the Dawn Treader reaches the world's end, King Caspian wants to go with Reepicheep to Aslan's Country, but Aslan appears to him in his cabin and tells him he must return to Narnia. The Pevensies, Eustace, and Reepicheep must go on. Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace row to shore where they see a Lamb. It changes into the Lion, Aslan. He tells Edmund and Lucy that they will not be returning to Narnia, but that there was a way into His country from all worlds.

~ The Silver Chair ~ (1953)

Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole have just been calling to Aslan to allow them to enter Narnia when they are discovered by the bullies of Experiment House, their boarding school. While they are trying to escape, they open a door that is usually locked and are amazed to see another world stretching before them. They plunge into that world, where Eustace accidentally falls from a high cliff. The Lion suddenly appears and blows him to Narnia. Aslan then tells Jill that they would not have been calling to Him if He had not been calling to them, and He has brought them into Narnia to find the lost Prince Rilian. He gives Jill four Signs to guide them and blows her to Narnia as He did Eustace. By the time Jill, Eustace, and the Marshwiggle Puddleglum reach Harfang (home of the Gentle Giants), Jill has forgotten the Signs. Aslan appears to her in a dream and tells her to repeat them. When she cannot, He carries her to the window to see the words "UNDER ME" carved on the hillside, showing them that they must look for the prince underneath the ruined city. After Rilian is found and his father, King Caspian X, dies, Aslan tells Eustace and Jill that He would send them home. But first He takes them to His own country where they see Caspian lying dead. After a drop of blood from the Lion's paw falls over him, Caspian awakens, looking like his younger self. Aslan then opens the door into Experiment House, and the sight of Him terrifies the bullies and teachers there. When the police come and see nothing but the Headmistress panicking and talking about a lion, there is an inquiry into the whole business. The Headmistress is removed, ten people are expelled, and Experiment House becomes a decent school.

~ The Last Battle ~ (1956)

In the last days of Narnia, Shift the Ape starts a rumor that Aslan is in Narnia. Using a lion-skin and Puzzle the Donkey, he manages to persuade most of the Narnians that this is true, and that Tash (the Calormene god) and Aslan are actually the same person — "Tashlan." When King Tirian meets Tash face-to-face inside the stable, Tash is commanded to leave "in the name of Aslan." Aslan later appears to the friends of Narnia and shows them that the Dwarfs "would not be taken in." Then, so loudly that it could have shaken the stars, Aslan shouts that it is TIME. He calls all the creatures of that world to the doorway. When some of them look upon Aslan, fear comes into their faces, and they cease to be Talking Beasts. But others see Aslan's face and love Him, and come inside. Then the sun is put out, and Narnia (or, "the shadowlands") is ended. Aslan tells all the Narnians that, at last, they have come to stay with Him forever. And after that, He no longer appears as a Lion to them. As Lewis writes at the end of the tale, "And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."


About Aslan

Who's Aslan? Why, don't you know? He's the King—the King of the whole wood, and the Son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. He's wild, you know. If there's anyone who can appear before him without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly. He isn't safe... But he is good. He'll often drop in, only you musn't press him to stay. He's not like a tame lion. Yes, Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.
— The Chronicles of Narnia

Aslan is the creator of Narnia and the only character to appear in all seven of the Chronicles of Narnia. In some of the books, He only has a few brief appearances, but He is referenced in almost every chapter and is always a significant player in the story. His very name causes people to experience intense emotions. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the sound of Aslan's name gives the traitor Edmund a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter feels suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan feels as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. Lucy gets the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer. After her winter is destroyed, the White Witch threatens to kill the next person who mentions the name of Aslan. Before he becomes a dragon, Eustace hates the name. When Jill first hears it, she says, "What a curious name!" But Eustace replies, "Not half so curious as Himself." One of the most interesting aspects of Aslan's character is that He can be both loving and terrifying. In Ch. 12 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis writes, "People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan's face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn't look at him and went all trembly." Nothing has ever harmed the Great Lion except with His consent. When Jadis throws a metal bar from a lamppost at Aslan, it bounces off and falls harmlessly to the ground. After King Caspian X dies and enters Aslan's Country, the Lion asks Eustace to drive a thorn into His paw, and a large drop of blood splashes over the King and awakens him. And of course, Aslan allows Himself be bound on the Stone Table where the White Witch kills Him with her stone knife. But even then, Aslan does not remain dead. He has knowledge of a Deeper Magic which the White Witch did not know. As it says in The Last Battle, it was by His blood that all Narnia was saved.


Inspiration

In the late 1940s, C. S. Lewis began to have nightmares about lions (one in particular with a "big personality"). When Lewis first began writing the Chronicles, he admits that he did not know where the story would go. But then, "Aslan came bounding in." (Aslan is the Turkish word for lion.) Lewis says, "When I started The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I don't think I foresaw what Aslan was going to do and suffer. I think He just insisted on behaving in His own way." An 11-year-old girl named Hila wrote to Lewis and asked what Aslan's other name in our world was (mentioned in VDT). Here is Lewis' response: "As to Aslan's other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else's fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb... Don't you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!" Of course, a widely discussed topic is the similarities between Aslan and Jesus Christ. In a letter to a young girl named Sophia, Lewis writes, "I don't say. 'Let us represent Christ as Aslan.' I say, 'Supposing there was a world like Narnia, and supposing, like ours, it needed redemption, let us imagine what sort of Incarnation and Passion and Resurrection Christ would have there.'"


Quotes

  • "Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters." (MN, Ch. 9)
  • "Rise up, Sir Peter Wolf's-Bane. And, whatever happens, never forget to wipe your sword." (LWW, Ch. 12)
  • "Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!" (LWW, Ch. 17)
  • "I tell no one any story but his own." (HHB, Ch. 11)
  • "Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast." (HHB, Ch. 14)
  • "Ah! You have conquered me. You have great hearts." (PC, Ch. 15)
  • "You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth." (PC, Ch. 15)
  • "But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder." (VDT, Ch. 16)
  • "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there." (VDT, Ch. 16)
  • "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms." (SC, Ch. 2)
  • "You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you." (SC, Ch. 2)
  • "Now it is time! Time! TIME. " (LB, Ch. 13)
  • "Come further in! Come further up!" (LB, Ch. 14)
  • "The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning." (LB, Ch. 16)


Portrayals

  • Liam Neeson (voice): Disney/Walden The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 2005; Prince Caspian, 2008; Fox/Walden The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 2010

Born: 7 July 1952 "The character of Aslan was probably the hardest to cast. He's an omnipotent character, he has to be, you know, powerful, untouchable, and at the same time be sympathetic and vulnerable. You don't want Him to be so strong and so omnipotent that at the point where He gives over Himself and gives His life, you don't feel sympathy for Him. Liam is just someone who has one incredible resonance and depth to his voice. I mean he has a voice that you can see coming out and hear coming out of a lion. He had the warmth in his voice that would draw you to him. When he turns fierce and shouts at the White Witch, it is a roar. It is a danger that he's able to project, that's why I think he was perfect for this character." — Director Andrew Adamson



  • David Suchet (voice): Focus on the Family Radio Theater, 1999 – 2002


  • Ronald Pickup (voice): BBC TV series, 1988 – 1990







  • Ailsa Berk/William Todd Jones/Timothy M. Rose (puppeteers): BBC TV series, 1988 – 1990


  • Stephen Thorne (voice): BBC Radio Tales of Narnia


  • Stephen Thorne (voice): LWW TV animated film, 1979







  • Bernard Kay: LWW TV series, 1967
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