Prince Caspian

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Post by Rowena » Sat May 30, 2009 1:26 pm

Hi again! Here’s another essay… :rolleyes I just wanted to write a brief response, but I guess it got away from me again… :)

Early Christianity was deeply influenced by Neo-Platonism and also by the much older Persian faith Zoroastrianism, which also had an enormous influence on Judaism and, later, Islam as well. A multitude Zoroastrian ideas turn up in the Bible—they can be seen in Daniel, Matthew, the three Wise Magi (Zoroastrian priests from the East), Revelations, etc. But the point at which Zoroastrianism and Christianity most sharply differ is also the point that makes it impossible for me to view The Last Battle as a fully Christian analogy. That point is Dualism.

The idea that the material world is divided between good and evil and that humans must choose between them is an ancient one, and it has many levels. Zoroastrianism claims there are two opposing “uncreated” beings, one fully good “creator” and one fully bad “destroyer” – creation vs. chaos. Throughout Christian history, just about every one of the most “dangerous” and most violently cleansed heresies have incorporated that sharply dualistic belief. Two of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) were Manichaenism—a heretical Christian sect which dated from the Roman Empire and disturbed both pagans and Christians—and Catharism, a dualistic faith that took root in medieval France, Italy, and the southern Holy Roman Empire, and launched the Albigensian Crusade.

Mani, the founder of Manichaenism, argued there was a fundamental conflict between Dark and Light, two primordial realms of being that were completely opposite and equal, with neither having created the other. Each of these realms had a king. Humans were created out of the conflict between Light and Darkness and incorporated elements of both. With the help of Emissaries of Light, a list that included Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, and Mani, humans had to purge themselves of their darkness.

Cathars believed the physical world was evil and worshiped the pure spirit. Considered dangerous by both French rulers and the Catholic Church, Cathars renounced earthly power and denied that Jesus could have taken on physical form, since physical matter was evil. The Church launched the Albigensian Crusade to crush the movement before it could spread. The Albigensian Crusade lasted 20 years and helped inspire the Medieval Inquisition that burned Cathars across Europe until 1321.

The big problem with all this dualism stuff is the issue of the Uncreated beings. According to Christian teachings, only God is the creator. God creates everything, including Lucifer. One of the most major heresies that shook the early Church was Arianism. Arianism was dangerous because it claimed Jesus was a Created being, and not Uncreated God at all. He was a Creature. This was the version of Christianity most of the “barbarian” tribes turned to when they first converted to Christianity, which is why Clovis, the Frankish King who converted to Roman Catholicism right off the bat, was able to make such a strong alliance with Rome and the Pope and build up his Merovingian Empire.

The “heretical” belief that Jesus was a Creation of God and not the Word of God—aka God Himself, really messed things up for the Roman Emperor Constantine, who had wanted to convert the divided Empire to Christianity to make it stronger under One Emperor and One God. Rome had to go through the entire Nicene Struggle before the Christian fathers declared God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were a “community” all sharing the same divine substance: Homoousios.

Why does all this relate back to the Last Battle? Because in the Last Battle Lewis sets up such a sharply Dualistic faith – two beings, Tash and Aslan, complete opposites to the point where no good deed can go to Tash and no bad deed to Aslan. This isn’t God vs. Satan, this is Zoroastrian-inspired dualism.

Here’s a quote from C.S. Lewis summing up his interpretation of the difference between dualism and Christianity:
“I freely admit that real Christianity goes much nearer to Dualism than people think. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Harper Collins, 1952, pg 45).

In his imagination, Lewis took that division further and created Tash as the opposite side of the Aslan coin. He drew the parallel to Zoroastrian influence even further by making Tash the “god” of his (rather cruelly stereotyped) Middle-Eastern-inspired Calormens (ancient Persia, perhaps?)

Lewis always said he didn’t mean the Narnia books to be direct allegories for Christian teachings. “I did not say to myself 'Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia': I said, 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen” ('C.S. Lewis, quoted in Walter Hooper, C. S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide). In the Last Battle, he supposes there is an opposite for Aslan the Creator and makes Tash the Destroyer—an agent of Chaos that appears as the world ends in a very Zoroastrian/Revelations-type apocalypse.

So, that’s why I see a Zoroastrian influence when I read The Last Battle. It’s the Dualism that gets me. I mean, Aslan said he was the son of the great Emperor beyond the Sea. If Tash is Aslan’s opposite, he was either created by the Emperor—which implied Aslan was also created (the Arian heresy)—OR Aslan shares the same divine substance as the Emperor (he is God in the same sense the Christian God is One and Three) and Tash is a creation, which makes him a lesser force than Aslan and not his opposite—OR Aslan and Tash are both Uncreated Beings, equal and opposite like the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda and the evil Angra Mainyu / Ahriman. Lewis certainly knew about all this stuff, so he probably used elements of the ideas that shaped Early Christianity when he was making up his imaginary worlds, just as Tolkien used elements from Norse and German mythology, including Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda (from which he pinched all the names of the Dwarves and Gandalf and Frodo…), the Kalevala, and the Nibelungenlied, to name a few. That’s my opinion, anyway. What do you think?


[Edited on 30/5/2009 by Rowena]
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Post by Angelique » Sat May 30, 2009 4:09 pm

Except for one thing- you are assuming that opposites must be equal by definition, when that's not necessarily the case. Lewis did say Aslan and Tash are opposites. He never said they were equal. Christianity at its most basic teaches that good and evil are opposites, but most definitely not equal. Good will win not because more people choose to be on the good side thereby tipping some cosmic balance in its favor, but because quite simply (and obviously), goodness is better and in and of itself more powerful.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Sun May 31, 2009 12:25 am

the same way Star Wars fans generally take, "It's just a movie,"
Ah, there's the catch... it is just a movie. :D

And Ange, I beg to differ on our perspective of the opposite of good and bad. To me, personally, a lot of the time what society or some religions or cultures deem to be evil is usually in the eye of the beholder.
An example of this is some Christians believe that you should not eat meat during Lent. This is considered bad.

Personally, I think not eating an important substance that your body needs without properly substituting it is not only bad for your body, but just says a lot about your character. (Again, this is solely in my perspective.)

An though I agree goodness in stories, in the monomyth, in theology, does always triumph... it does not always win. We cannot assume one is more balanced than the other especially once one comprehends that most of the "evil" in the world is based on perspective.

Also, to quote Mark Twain:
Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
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Post by Angelique » Sun May 31, 2009 2:27 am

That wasn't my point, however, but that the Last Battle was not influenced by Zoroastrianism and why.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Sun May 31, 2009 5:06 am

Well you pick and chose what you wanted to discuss, so I did the same.

Naturally I'm not knowledgeable enough in the areas that Rowena appears to be, so I simply stated what I felt I was knowledgeable on, which is anthropology/philosophy/logic.

That said, Last Battle, and the other Narnian tales, are a wonderful read, but I think when you apply religion to a novel, everyone takes it a little too seriously.

Lord of the Flies for instance.
I know a lot of Christians who get all upset and bothered by that novel. Not too sure why, being it's more critical of humanity than any religion.
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Post by Angelique » Sun May 31, 2009 8:03 pm

Heh. Lord of the Flies was required reading in the Catholic schools I attended.
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Post by Rowena » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:39 am

Hi again! :wave

The Lord of the Flies is a really fascinating book, and I actually liked the movie too. Poor Piggy! Poor Simon! Poor Ralph! The end is my favorite part...there's no real rescue. I like Animal Farm too, and 1984, and All Quiet on the Western Front... These are amazing, thought-provoking stories, and they really make readers question themselves, their local socio-political-family order, and all the other rules and authorities most kids tend to take for granted before they get to high school. Maybe that's why some people feel the need to ban them? :?

Brazil is awesome too. And Catch-22. :read

Back to the debate above, though, here’s the thing: According to Christian teaching, evil is evidence of the existence of Free Will. Satan is evil, he’s a creation of God and therefore a lesser force, but he is not exactly the opposite of God. He’s an Adversary. That’s what “Satan” means. He is an adversary of God’s love and His creations (humanity); an alternate philosophy existing fully within and dependent on God’s reality. Satan’s own pride in his talents and beauty (Greek tragedy-style hubris) led him to rebel against God’s order and choose a selfish path in an attempt to achieve self-determination: like Milton said, he’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. But according to Christian teachings, evil is only absence; the absence of love, the creative spirit, etc. It’s self destructive, and it’s an opposing force, but it isn’t a full opposite because without it there is no choice, no free will, and no real redemption, and all those things are good.

Christianity teaches that Evil is a perversion of God’s creation, but it only entered the world with Satan’s fall. It was a decision freely made by a creation...and that creation tempted other creations to make similar decisions (Adam and Eve...). Human beings use their free will to make life choices—sometimes bad choices—and these choices spread evil around the world like weeds in a wheat field. In the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew, Jesus explains that God tolerates weeds (evildoers) in his wheat field (our world) until the weeds and wheat are both ripe enough to be fully differentiated. Until that moment, the weeds have the choice of repenting, and ending up wheat. If they don’t, they’re pulled up as weeds, tied into bundles, and burned. According to this parable, it’s God’s grace that lets evildoers roam over the world, not His lack of justice or power, so they can have the chance to repent and return to a personal relationship with Him. And according to Gregory of Nyssa’s Great Catechism, “no evil of any kind lies outside and independent of the will” (http://www.comparativereligion.com/evil ... ristianity).

In my opinion, this Christian description of the nature of evil does not entirely fit with Lewis’s description of Tash. What fits better is the description of evil as it’s depicted in Dualism, in which there are two antagonistic and coeternal deities who were both involved in the creation and in governing the destiny of humans. Dualistic faiths, like Zoroastrianism and many of the Christian “heresies,” view Good and Evil as being essentially twins, one fully good and one fully evil—just like C.S. Lewis describes Aslan and Tash. Here’s a quote from one of the oldest known Zoroastrian manuscripts, a lawbook called the Videvdad, that reminds me very much of The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Last Battle:

“The first of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was Paradise, by the good river Araxes. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the serpent in the river and winter, a work of the devils.

The second of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was the plains in Samarkand. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the fly Skaitya, which brings death to the cattle.

The third of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was the strong, holy Merv. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft sinful lusts....” (Videvdad 1,3-5).

Lots of this sounds very Narnian to me. What’s your opinion?

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Post by Angelique » Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:08 am

Well, what you said is not evidence that the Last Battle had a dualistic cosmology and doesn't represent Christianity, but actually supports what I said- that evil is opposite of good, but not equal. That there is no evil that isn't just a cheap and perverted ripoff of goodness, and that there is a possibility for redemption (and that even in the real world, there is no evil so powerful that no good whatsoever arise out of it) shows that goodness is simply more powerful.

Lewis never claimed that Tash ever created anything in the Narnian world, and again, while saying Aslan and Tash were opposites, never said they were equal. Newtonian physics- equal and opposite actions/reactions- don't exactly apply to fictional demons and messiahs.
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Post by Nandireya » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:39 am

I know this is a fairly deep and meaningful discussion, but I always have a fit of giggles when watching Prince Caspian, in a scene where I shouldn't be laughing...

You know that scene where he's got his sword at his uncle's throat? I always think of how Ben Barnes said he based his Spanish accent, for his audition at least, on Mandy Patinkin's in The Princess Bride. So every time it gets to that scene I just hear in my head...

"Hello. My name is Prince Caspian. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"

...and I just can't take it at all seriously :D

It's on cable tonight. 10:15. I'll probably watch it. And have another fit of giggles.
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Post by Elfdame » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:24 pm

Great. I'll never see Caspian the same way again.

We had a pastor once who had never seen "Princess Bride." So a bunch of us had a party at one girl's house and sat around watching it -- it was almost like a clean version of a Rocky Horror night, everyone quoting lines and ambling in and out with junk food etc -- and put the Spanish subtitles on since he was learning Spanish.

Several weeks later, I was at choir practice. The pastor came down the aisle as I was singing; he left a little piece of folded paper on my open hymnal. As I warbled the Psalm, I opened the note, and then collapsed in laughter, b/c he had written in Spanish, Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Yeah, I"m the off-topic queen, ain't I though? Back to our Prince Caspian discussion.....
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Post by Nandireya » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:41 pm

I don't know...it followed on somewhat from mine...

I'm reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The language of it has me laughing my butt off...all so proper and English...and I can't help but hear Caspian with a Spanish accent now...

So. The movie of that is due about this time next year. How many changes do you think they'll make?
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Post by Angelique » Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:16 am

I could see them making a couple of minor changes that I wouldn't mind at all, but any more, and they'll have to have a point. Making Prince Caspian Spanish was a pointless change and one that made the movie quite unnecessarily politically incorrect

The Chronicles of Narnia is politically incorrect enough without the movies making it more so.

I'm really not as worried about the Voyage of the Dawn Treader as I'd be about the Horse and his Boy and the Last Battle. If they hear the complaints about one movie being politically incorrect, they might go too far the other way, with those two stories suffering the most in the adaptations.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:44 am

I wasn't too upset about the accent.

In fact, I didn't notice it.

After Dawn Treader, the rest of the books don't interest me much anyways, so I'm not too concerned.

But hey, how about that last Harry Potter film! :toothy (JK, please ignore my derailing)
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Post by Nandireya » Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:34 am

I'm wondering if they'll even go beyond Dawn Treader. It'll be a whole new cast of characters, more or less (IIRC), and movie trilogies do seem to be the norm. And I don't think any adaptation has bothered with the remaining books in the past.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:32 pm

I thought BBC did them all?
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Post by Angelique » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:32 pm

Ult_Sm86 wrote:I thought BBC did them all?
I think they did. At any rate, I have a copy of The Silver Chair with Warwick Davis playing one of the owls.
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Post by Nandireya » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:25 pm

Really? I only saw part of the Dawn Treader...and I only vaguely recall that...
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Sun Jul 26, 2009 2:41 am

I thought Warwick Davis was Ripacheep? (spell check)
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Post by wizardelfgirl » Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:34 pm

Wow, I never thought this thread would be so fascinating and, um, deep and phylosophical and stuff. I find it all so interesting because I researched a lot of what has been said about good and evil for an essay on LOTR that I did in University, but I didn't expand so much nor went so deep into it (my essay focused on Free Will and the rest was used just as a basis for the analysis of the book). If I had a little more time I'd discuss all that has been said, but since I don't, I'll go straight to what brought me here.

As you may or may not know, Prince Caspian didn't do as well in theatres as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and as a result Disney has let the franchise go. Fox picked it up and filming of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has recently begun. I'm thinking, do you think Disney made the right choice? Is the franchise doomed to die? Or do you think Dawn Treader will fare better in theatres and Disney will regret its decision?
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Post by Angelique » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:00 pm

^^Reepacheep didn't appear in The Silver Chair.

^I think Disney will regret its decision. It will be interesting, however, to see what Fox will do with the movies.
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Post by Nandireya » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:45 pm

Prince Caspian (which is, creepily on right now behind me) made $419,651,413...it was hardly a flop. WALL-E was the only Disney film that made more that year. Disney did put a lot of money into both it and its merchandising, so it didn't make a huge profit for them, but it DID make a profit. It's 'M' (in my neck of the woods) rating probably didn't help it...it was probably too dark and violent for a lot of its target audience.

Like I said before...I don't know if they'll go beyond Dawn Treader. I'm not a devotee of the books, and these three are the only ones I really knew about (though my dad gave me the box-set for Christmas a few years back...they're kind of laughable to read as an adult). Not to mention that movie trilogies seem to be the 'done thing' (Harry Potter aside). If it does well I'm sure Fox will continue the adaptations.
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Prince Caspian

Post by wizardelfgirl » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:06 am

Nandireya wrote:Prince Caspian (which is, creepily on right now behind me) made $419,651,413...it was hardly a flop. WALL-E was the only Disney film that made more that year. Disney did put a lot of money into both it and its merchandising, so it didn't make a huge profit for them, but it DID make a profit. It's 'M' (in my neck of the woods) rating probably didn't help it...it was probably too dark and violent for a lot of its target audience.

Like I said before...I don't know if they'll go beyond Dawn Treader. I'm not a devotee of the books, and these three are the only ones I really knew about (though my dad gave me the box-set for Christmas a few years back...they're kind of laughable to read as an adult). Not to mention that movie trilogies seem to be the 'done thing' (Harry Potter aside). If it does well I'm sure Fox will continue the adaptations.
It was not a flop, but LWW made a bit more than 744 million and usually second chapters of a trilogy make more, no less, so I can see why Disney felt somewehat dismayed. I felt that way too, since I thought Caspian was way much better done than Wadrobe, but the audience can be as fickle as that.

I read somewhere that Walden Media wanted to adapt all seven books, so if Fox drops the franchise after Dawn Treader I suppose they will look for someone else. I'm hoping against hope that they stay with Fox and that the next movies are a huge success though, so Disney learns to stop thinking only about PROFITS (they refused to spend much on merchandise for Up cuz they were sure a story about an old man wouldn't do well at the box office. They've had to eat their own words with a lot of ketchup ;) )
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Nandireya
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Prince Caspian

Post by Nandireya » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:53 am

Well...the Gargoyles comic by Slave Labor Graphics was cancelled 'cos Disney got greedy and upped the licensing fee so SLG couldn't afford it. Profit seems to be all they care about...

And I too preferred Caspian to LW&W...not sure why really...maybe it was the sexy Spanish accents :smirk

I hope Dawn Treader does well...though it does lose a bit of the fantasy elements...no native Narnians and only one talking animal (besides Aslan, IIRC)...but it does have dragons...and everything's better with dragons :D
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Prince Caspian

Post by Angelique » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:06 pm

It's got dragons and dufflepuds and the edge of a flat world if they do this correctly!
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Prince Caspian

Post by wizardelfgirl » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:41 pm

Dragons and dufflepuds and flat world, Oh My! :P

Personally I felt that the kids were more mature as actors in Caspian, and the movie, while still fantasy, had more epic elements than LWW, as well as a lot of internal conflict (like Caspian doubting himself, Peter learning to let go, etc.). The plot did have its loops --what epic movie doesn't, really-- like all being too dependant on Aslan saving the day, or why it was never shown if the PEOPLE of Narnia were actually discontent with Miraz's rule (we're shown that he's ruthless with his soldiers and willing to kill a boy, but we're never actually shown how good/bad of a ruler he is, we're never shown if his people are unhappy or not), etc., but overall I thought it was stronger and had a deeper conflict than the first one.
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We are what we are Scott--wishing won't change a blessed thing. Nor will feeling sorry for yourself. I learned very early on that I must either accept what I am, or go mad. And though I am now occasionally crazy, I am not mad. If you keep tearing your guts apart every time you think the world's shafted you, my friend, you'll destroy not only yourself, but those who love you.

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