Slavery in VDT [and other books]

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby Lilygloves » Oct 25, 2011 2:45 pm

I think skilletfreak291 presents a good point. Really, there is no slavery in Narnia, it's mostly in Calormen. Although I do recall that there is slavery in the Lone Islands, which is technically a part of Narnia. But Lewis does display the negative aspects in almost all cases of slavery, so he does not support it. For them to have presented that theme in the film (we now know that it's not even an issue now) would not be extremely important to me, but I don't think we would even have to worry about them presenting a positive view of slavery. No one would do that.
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby Lady Rosalia » Feb 05, 2012 11:16 pm

I think that most of the times when someone suffered slavery (or Aravis being chastised by Aslan for her callousness towards her stepmother's slave girl), it was someone in power (or who one day would be) who "needed to know what it felt like." as Aslan said to Aravis.
He knew that Prince Cor (Shasta) would rule Archenland, Aravis would be queen, and that perhaps King Caspian with his tendency to have his crown go to his head needed a dose of empathy for others.
As for Eustace, perhaps it was a "wake-up" as to how nice he had it on board the Dawn Treader.
Speaking from experience, I sometimes have needed to go through something that I had previously been unsympathetic about: not slavery or anything of that sort, but being judged harshly by an old friend, etc.
But Aslan knows what we need, and that just as each of those characters needed the experiences for the mosaic of their lives, and so have I.
P.S. So sorry to have double posted :( I hadn't read that part of the rules. Now, I've pasted the content from the 2nd post into this one. My sincere apologies.
Are there any paralells between Caspian being kidnapped, sold, and then saving so many others from misery, and Joseph in the Bible? Just an idea, please tell me what you think :)
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"Aslan's instructions always work, there are no exceptions."
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Mar 24, 2012 7:28 pm

There is actually. How did Joseph get into slavery in the first place? Well there was the tale of Joseph and his brothers, the sons of Jacob (AKA Israel). This is one dysfunctional family, if ever there was one. Read all about it in Genesis, from the point of when Rebecca, the wife of Isaac finds out she is expecting twins. By the way, Edom, which later got merged with Israel, were traditionally the descendants of Esau, Jacob's twin brother. Later on, during the Roman Empire the Edomites adopted Judaism, but later on, first the Persians then the Arabic followers of Mohammed invaded Palestine, forcing many to convert to Islam and speak Arabic as they usually did.

So this is definitely one part of the Bible which is important right up until this very day.

But getting back to the story. Jacob cheated Esau to steal the birthright, but Laban tricked Jacob, in turn, by giving him the wrong sister in marriage: Leah instead of his beloved Rachel. Because of Laban's thereby tricking Jacob into working for him for an extra seven years, Jacob ended up with two wives and two concubines, the handmaids Bilhah & Zilpah, whose four sons had been the surrogate children in the baby-production contest between Rachel and Leah. Rachel had always remained Jacob's favourite wife, but for a long time she was unable to have children. It appears that at one stage she had had some treatment with mandrakes and so she finally gave birth to Joseph. Sometime afterwards, Rachel had a second son, But died giving birth to him. This was Benjamin, the son of the right hand. Funnily enough, Benjaminites were famed for being left-handers.

But Joseph grew up a very spoiled boy. He was given a coat of many colours, because his father, Jacob, treasured him above his ten other brothers, who hated him. Benjamin was still a small child at that stage. At one stage Joseph had a dream that his parents and brothers, or maybe their sheaves of wheat bowed down to his sheaf of wheat. Furthermore Jacob had been snitching on his brothers to Jacob, telling him what they got up to.

So the next time Jacob sent Joseph along to see how they were getting along, they conspired to kill him. Reuben, the eldest, whose mandrakes had helped Rachel so much, said just imprison him, hoping to release Joseph later. But Judah said don't kill the boy, sell him into slavery instead. The rest of the story, and someone else can tell it better, I am sure, is taken up about how Joseph went to Egypt, how he was put into prison and how his dream interpretation enabled him to be the powerful ruler that the brothers met when the food in Canaan ran out.

Joseph put all of these brothers in prison, which would give them all a taste of what being a prisoner and a slave might be like. And because the first time they came to Egypt they did not bring Benjamin, he kept Simeon, the most hating brother, in prison until they returned with Benjamin, Joseph's true full brother. I expect that Joseph wanted to make absolutely sure that little Benjamin, like him a child of Rachel, had not been harmed in any way during this time. It was also a way to test the brothers. Would they leave any of their bretheren, even Joseph, whom they hated, in gaol, especially one that had been entrusted to them?

In the end, the brothers behaved themselves and Joseph, broke down and was reunited with them.

That, by the way, is not the only Biblical story where 'be done by as you did' and 'do as you would be done by' has figured hugely. Try the Genesis story of Tamar, one that would not be mentioned in churches too often.

However, these very famous stories in Genesis don't exactly mirror the Narnia ones, do they? I do agree, by the way, that Caspian, having had a taste of slavery, might be more wary of it, and would remember that particular incident whenever he was tempted to treat his subjects as servants and slaves, Miraz-like.
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby hansgeorg » Mar 26, 2012 1:48 am

Tamar story would probably be read by monks doing a lectio continua (reading a book from one end to another).

You might correct one occurrence of Jacob to Joseph.
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Mar 30, 2012 8:35 pm

How embarrassing would that lectio continua (continuous reading - I do understand Latin) be for the monks! :ymdevil: But it is all about righting an injustice, all the same. Much as Caspian's freeing of the captives in Narrowhaven, or Aslan's visit to the Witch's castle in LWW was also the righting of injustices.

I did correct what I said as you asked and also to make my post more relevant to Narnia. Yes the story is better known as Joseph and his brothers. He did both become a slave and a prisoner, and he did rescue his people from starving in a drought. But by harbouring them in Egypt they eventually became slaves.

If Jacob hadn't played favourites with his wives and children in the first place, they might have been a better behaved lot, and Joseph would not have been sold into slavery. You would have thought that Jacob would have known what favouritism felt like after what happened between him and his own brother, Esau. But no, he didn't.

I don't agree that Caspian was enslaved because he needed advance correction against any tendencies to enslave anyone, however. I see it more as a chance for Caspian to put what he should have learned about Miraz and his own situation in PC into practice. His mission, after all, was to set right an old wrong. It was also a clue to finding the first lord.
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby hansgeorg » Mar 31, 2012 4:40 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote:How embarrassing would that lectio continua (continuous reading - I do understand Latin) be for the monks!


Priests, nuns, anyone having bishop's clearing for reading dangerous stuff also are allowed lectio continua. For laymen key word is allowed: for priests, monks, nuns it is a duty. Usually for monks taken care of between matins and lauds.

PS: in case someone else could have misunderstood: the reading is continuous of each Bible book, typically OT or epistles, from first to last verse.

It is also continuous in the sense that no day should a monk or a nun or a priest not be engaged in reading. I am not sure if spiritual reading of other works than Bible books adds to this as a surplous or sometimes takes its place.
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Apr 01, 2012 2:57 am

hansgeorg wrote:Priests, nuns, anyone having bishop's clearing for reading dangerous stuff also are allowed lectio continua.


Anyone who can read is quite free to read as much or as little of the Bible from cover to cover, regardless of whether or not a bishop gives permission. But I agree that someone waiting for medical help to alleviate an asthmatic condition is hardly the same as a priest or nun who might be required to read aloud Genesis from beginning to end.

To read Genesis is to note just how much emphasis that book of the Bible places on motherhood, and how important it always was, whether it is Sarah laughing because the angels said she would have a son, despite how old she was, or Rachel, whom Jacob wanted to marry because "she was beautiful". Motherhood gave status to any wife in the tribe in those Middle Eastern days, because, whatever the society, healthy children prospering amongst plentiful resources, are surefire indicators of God's favour and His promise of the tribe's continuation. Infertile women really suffered in those days, having little recourse to other acceptable outlets for their skills and well being, within the tribe. And the importance of motherhood also explains why there were so many customs, beliefs and traditions connected with marriage, not only in the ancient Middle East.

This is true of any society worldwide. Long before Jerusalem was ever built, the NSW Dharruk nation, who practised a system of arranging marriages which was meant to avoid inbreeding, had their own ideas about that modern concept called a honeymoon. They would arrange a suitable bushland bridal chamber to which a newly married couple would be banished for a week. If either bride or groom emerged before the week was up, they might be speared for shaming their families or their mob. In the Spare Oom I have also pointed out that some Canaanite fertility customs mentioned in Leviticus promoted disease.

Tamar's story is not the most lurid story to be found in Genesis, but it does link into Joseph's story and Narnian ideas of justice, retribution and be done by as you did, moreso than is the case with Joseph, himself. Do you remember from my previous post that Joseph was taken captive by his brothers, and then sold to slave traders? And that it was Judah, the fourth of Joseph's brothers, who suggested this scheme? The brothers pretended that the missing Joseph had been killed, using a goat and his coat of many colours as evidence. This lie caused Jacob the most heart-rending grief to lose the son of his beloved Rachel.

Tamar's story began with this same Judah, whose wife had died, leaving him with three sons, the youngest of which was Shelah, still a child. Let us see how Judah might feel about the loss of any of these sons, even if they deserved it. For Judah organised that Tamar would be the wife of the eldest son, called Er (um?), but whatever he, er, got up to, Er offended God. I expect whatever he did involved something unsanitary or offensive to the tribe, and most likely to Tamar, herself, who the first time wasn't blamed for anything. Judah then suggested that his second son should marry Tamar instead, which would ensure she remained in the tribe as the mother of Judah's grandson. But the second son was a selfish sort who didn't care about his brother's memory, the honour of the tribe, or Tamar's station in it. So he, too, died.

So Judah, who had poured so much grief on his father, was to learn what it was like to lose a child. Traditionally he was to give Tamar to Shelah, once this youngest child was of age. But no, Judah, probably like most of the tribe, thought it was something to do with Tamar, herself, and so kept Shelah at home, even after he did grow up. Therefore, seeing as Judah wasn't going to honour his word to Tamar, she took matters into her own hands. She disguised herself and waylaid Judah outside a city she knew he would visit, to offer him the sort of hospitality that had not interested his two sons. Judah, according to custom, paid the disguised Tamar with a staff and ring he had at the time.

But then the tribe found out that Tamar was expecting a child, after all. So they wanted to burn her as a witch, with Judah's full approval. The justice bit comes in when Tamar produced Judah's staff and ring to declare who was the father of the child she was expecting. And it was not just one child, but twins. This is how Tamar proved her innocence and repaid Judah for the sons he had lost. Why was it all important? Well, one of those twins was the ancestor of Jesus Christ.

And Judah's experience might also explain his change of attitude when he took charge of Benjamin, in a solemn oath to their father, when all Joseph's brothers, excepting Simeon, returned to Egypt because of the famine. It might even explain why it was Judah, the fourth son, not Simeon or Levi, or even Reuben, who got the right to lead Israel, in particular, the later kingdom of Judah.

How does Narnia come into it? Apart from family feeling, that is. Aravis, like Judah, did learn 'what it felt like', and yes, she did go on to become Cor's Queen of Archenland. And while I hesitate to draw any other analogy, missing sons, friends, wives, plus what became of them, are recurring themes in Narnia.

So is slavery, in particular Calormene slavery. Would it be drawing a long bow to suggest that Rilian, kidnapped and dragged down into Underland, had also been just as enslaved as Caspian was at Narrowhaven?
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby hansgeorg » Apr 01, 2012 10:46 am

" But the second son was a selfish sort who didn't care about his brother's memory, the honour of the tribe or Tamar's station in it. So he, too, died."

Not quite that. He was selfish and therefore resorted to an abomination. He resorted to an abomination and was therefore smitten dead by the Lord. The abomination remains abominable, even if motive is not that exact selfish one in relation to one's brother.

So much about the moral sense of the particular verse.

Then there is the mystical or prophetic sense of some passages. Motherhood in Genesis points forward to the Mother of God.

Judah selling his brother tells us of Judas taking thirty coins. The brothers claiming Joseph was dead tells us in part of the death and resurrection of Christ, in part of the Jews still denying his resurrection and calling him dead.

B t w did you notice there is a change here?

On top we read Hobbitweb.com and under that:

Board index ‹ General Hobbit Discussion Forums ‹ Middle-earth & Christianity

Neat for a April Fools joke.
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Apr 04, 2012 5:10 am

hansgeorg wrote:Not quite that. He was selfish and therefore resorted to an abomination. He resorted to an abomination and was therefore smitten dead by the Lord. The abomination remains abominable, even if motive is not that exact selfish one in relation to one's brother.


There are all sorts of abominable abominations, some of them enslaving, and none of them discussable here. Hence my referring to Dharruk tradition. The Bible doesn't say how Er erred but it says heaps about his brother's unbrotherly, and very pointedly disobedient Um'ing about what he was required to do, regardless of how others were affected. A straight reading of the entire story also shows that in those polygamous times that the arrangement was not necessarily permanent. :D

But then Judah, their grieving father, was also the one who was so unbrotherly as to send his own brother into prison and slavery. And all Judah's woes happened after Simeon, Judah's full brother, had been left in an Egyptian prison when they went down to Egypt to get food for everyone. I think that Judah was also being made to understand his father Jacob's grief over now two sons being missing, just like Aravis was made to understand the unfairness of drugging her maid during Aravis' escape from marrying Ahoshta. And I also think that Judah was being reminded that he also had to keep promises to Joseph & Simeon regarding Benjamin, Joseph's full brother.

hansgeorg wrote:Between 7 and 14 boys used to go only in minorities to school: many farmed along pa, most in cities were apprentices.

If a boy was unhappy with that métier he begged his pa to make him apprentice of another.

You are confusing two situations, an ordinary parent having an ordinary relation to his own son, and using his ordinary freedoms including that to child labour in an ordinary way,


I think you said also on the other thread that Arsheesh wasn't a proper guardian for Shasta, since he sold Shasta to Anradin? It looks like Arsheesh behaved like a proper gentleman compared to some of these Biblical types who were blood relations, don't you think?

From Arsheesh's point of view it made perfect sense, since Shasta was by then of an age to become an apprentice and showed he wasn't happy with fishing for a living. Did you know that apprentices could be imprisoned for breaking their indentures, even the first time?
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby hansgeorg » Apr 05, 2012 1:36 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote:I think you said also on the other thread that Arsheesh wasn't a proper guardian for Shasta, since he sold Shasta to Anradin? It looks like Arsheesh behaved like a proper gentleman compared to some of these Biblical types who were blood relations, don't you think?

From Arsheesh's point of view it made perfect sense, since Shasta was by then of an age to become an apprentice and showed he wasn't happy with fishing for a living. Did you know that apprentices could be imprisoned for breaking their indentures, even the first time?


"Compared too" *grin*

Apprentice breaking indenture, with or without father's consent?

And indenture, is that really for apprentices rather than journeymen?

At least on the continent a father had as much liberty to take a son out of an apprenticeship as out of a school.

Case in point, I think Joseph Haydn was for a short time wainwright's apprentice (his father was a wainwright) before getting to Wiener Saengerknaben. But then he asked his father, rather than running off on his own, and it was certainly while he was just apprentice rather than as a journeymen. You see, he had to quit Wiener Saengerknaben when voice broke.

Here are his Seven Last Words, anyway, I post part one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNa7AUPXZtw
and part final, in another orchestra:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZsYL_Xic_4
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Re: Slavery in VDT [and other books]

Postby Lady Arwen » Apr 05, 2012 12:50 pm

Ahem....

Quick mod note. This thread seems to be veering off from the topic at hand as outlined in the opening post (slavery, specifically the anti-slavery theme in VDT), and into a new direction. If you wish to open a new thread to discuss apprenticeships and Shasta's choice to run away, you are more than welcome to do so, but I think it is getting a little out of the topic range of this thread. ;)
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