"He is not a tame Lion."

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"He is not a tame Lion."

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jul 12, 2014 4:53 pm

So said King Tirian in The Last Battle. Many other characters indicated the same thing at other points in the series. What do you think they mean when they say that Aslan is not "tame"? Has there ever been a time when you, as a reader, felt uncomfortable because of something Aslan said or did?

I remember reading the scene at the beginning of The Silver Chair where Jill asks Aslan if he eats girls, and his response was, "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms." If I recall correctly, I do believe my reaction to that line was somewhere in between "Wow, that escalated quickly" and "That was really dark."

As I've grown older, though, and read the books more and more times, I've come to view the exchange a bit differently. After she nearly killed heroic Eustace with her pride and recklessness, Jill then compounded the awful situation by refusing to own up to the fact that the accident was her own fault. It's not surprising to me that Jill would find herself in a situation where she feared for her life, just as Eustace must have feared for his when he tried to save Jill.

It's actually quite similar to Aravis and her attitude about her servant... while Jill was unwilling to accept that she was at fault (and even blamed Eustace!), Aravis was unrepentant for causing her servant to be beaten—she actually said she was glad for her to be whipped. Jill did not own up to what she had done until she had feared for her life, as Eustace had feared for his, and had gone to the Lion. Aravis did not repent for her wrongdoing until Aslan had clawed her on the back, just as her servant had been beaten, and Aravis had gone to the Lion. There are a lot of parallels.

In many ways, I think that Aslan is really only as "tame" as our choices, and our attitudes about them. :-? What do you guys think?
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby Meltintalle » Jul 12, 2014 5:13 pm

My favorite part of the 'swallowed' scene is the bit where the narrator says "and he sounded neither glad nor sorry". It works not because Aslan is unemotional but because the action is one traditionally associated with lions.

I think it's deft characterization: someone else might have made Aslan a man in a lion skin, but Aslan does...lion-y things.
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jul 17, 2014 9:27 pm

Meltintalle wrote:My favorite part of the 'swallowed' scene is the bit where the narrator says "and he sounded neither glad nor sorry". It works not because Aslan is unemotional but because the action is one traditionally associated with lions.

I think it's deft characterization: someone else might have made Aslan a man in a lion skin, but Aslan does...lion-y things.


That's true! I remember glumPuddle saying on the podcast that he took it not as a metaphor, but rather that Aslan had physically swallowed these things. Still, it would be interesting to see Aslan swallow an entire realm. :-?

I also got the impression from "neither glad nor sorry" that it was something that had to be done, from the standpoint of justice. It's very intriguing to ponder.
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby DiGoRyKiRkE » Jul 18, 2014 6:03 am

Yeah, we had a HUGE discussion last year (I think it was) in a topic called "Did Aslan eat?" about whether or not the "consumption" of realms, children, adults, etc.... was metaphorical or not.

You can probably find it by searching some of the older topics in TAN

(If it's locked, and you want it reopened, shoot me a PM and I can take care of that ;) )
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby SummerSnow » Jul 22, 2014 10:20 am

I always thought it to be metaphorical, but perhaps not, then. It is an interesting thing to think about it, though.

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:I also got the impression from "neither glad nor sorry" that it was something that had to be done, from the standpoint of justice. It's very intriguing to ponder.

That's the feeling I was getting as well.
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jul 27, 2014 1:58 pm

DiGoRyKiRkE wrote:Yeah, we had a HUGE discussion last year (I think it was) in a topic called "Did Aslan eat?" about whether or not the "consumption" of realms, children, adults, etc.... was metaphorical or not.

You can probably find it by searching some of the older topics in TAN.


Thanks, I found it! It's strange to think of Aslan eating people for sustenance. It's always seemed like more of a justice-related thing to me. Still, the question of Aslan eating at all is very interesting. We don't know what he did on his "time off" so to speak. I'm rather tempted to think that he went back to his own country for dinner, but who knows?
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby LadyBessofWistry » Nov 15, 2017 8:04 pm

I actually wrote a 20 page essay for school on this exact subject a year ago and would be happy to share the main points sometime if anyone was still interested. (Not the eating, but the "not a tame lion" repeated theme). Only came across the forum post because I'm looking for discussion topics on a new paper I'm writing.
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Nov 17, 2017 11:38 am

^I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this, LadyBessofWistry! It continues to be an interesting topic, especially with The Silver Chair moving into pre-production soon and a new interpretation of the character on the horizon. :)

(This is really belated considering you joined in 2010, but since this is your first post on the forum... welcome to NarniaWeb!)
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby Reepicheep775 » Nov 17, 2017 6:37 pm

I also think of Aslan swallowing up "girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms" as being about justice. We never see Aslan eating for sustenance (correct me if I'm wrong), but if he did I don't think he would eat a rational being just because he was hungry. Doing so would certainly make him unsafe, but I think it would show that he isn't good. Mr. Beaver makes it pretty clear that Aslan is unsafe and good. In some ways I think it's his goodness that makes him scary. A good and powerful lion is a terrifying thing when you have a guilty conscience.

As for Aslan eating those things literally... I've always thought of the "girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors" part as being literal. He has a mouth, and teeth, and presumably a stomach, so I don't see why not. The "cities and realms" part though... probably not literal. But what do I know? :-??
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Re: "He is not a tame Lion."

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Nov 18, 2017 7:44 pm

Reepicheep775 wrote:I've always thought of the "girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors" part as being literal. He has a mouth, and teeth, and presumably a stomach, so I don't see why not. The "cities and realms" part though... probably not literal. But what do I know? :-??


When pondering this in the past, I feel like I probably haven't been considering the creation of Narnia enough. Aslan sang Narnia into existence, and if you play that scene in reverse, it is kind of like he's swallowing up a realm. So perhaps Lewis was thinking along those lines with that last part... it does make a bit more sense to me than the thought of Aslanzilla chowing down on a city. ;))

One other thought that comes to mind is the way that Aslan's gigantic shadow swallows up all those who reject him when night falls on Narnia in The Last Battle... that is more of a metaphorical interpretation, but I think it seems like a more terrible fate than the literal one.
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