Why Would CS Lewis use a Turkish Word for the Character who Symbolizes Jesus Christ in his Novel, “The Chronicles of Narnia”?

I attended a Baptist parochial school growing up.  During one of my classes in sixth grade, I believe it was, our English teacher read to us from CS Lewis’ classic books, The Chronicles of Narnia.  They tell the story of a family of children who enter a wardrobe in an old house in the English countryside to suddenly find themselves in a magical land called Narnia.  This land is ruled by a lion king, named…Aslan.

“Aslan?  What kind of a name is that?”  I remember asking myself as a kid.

The story is steeped in Christian metaphors.  (Spoiler Alert!) The pinnacle of the story is that the lion king, Aslan (representing Jesus Christ), sacrifices his life for his people.

A few weeks ago, I and my wife were watching a Turkish movie on Netflix entitled, “Magnificent Century”.  It is about the greatest of all sultans of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, Suleyman the Great.  In the movie, Suleyman’s mother, the “Queen Mother” refers to him as “my lion”.  Since the movie is in Turkish, I heard what she said in Turkish.  She said, my …”Aslan“!

“Aslan???”  I said to myself.  Where have I heard that word before?  In seconds it came to me:  The Chronicles of Narnia!

Why would CS Lewis use a Turkish word (a Muslim country) as the name of the character in his novel which symbolizes Jesus Christ?  How very odd!

If only Lewis were alive to ask!



4 thoughts on “Why Would CS Lewis use a Turkish Word for the Character who Symbolizes Jesus Christ in his Novel, “The Chronicles of Narnia”?

  1. I always assumed it was to draw a parallel with the Turkish Delight Edmund accepts from the White Witch. Lewis was of the view that sin was a paltry substitute for what he believed to be the true source of fulfilment, Christ. So in the books the Turkish Aslan is the real thing while the Turkish Delight is the sickly, sinful imitation.


  2. 10 seconds break from reading all the histo-crit books you read, you could have found the answer in a jiffy.

    “Aslan is a Turkish word meaning Lion. [C. S. Lewis] came up with the name when [he] was on a trip to the Ottoman empire (modern-day Turkey), where he was impressed with the Sultan’s elite guards also called Aslan because of their bravery and loyalty.”


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