So "Aslan" is the creator of Narnia and a magical powerful lion. When I was reading the books I didn't realize that Aslan was actually the real name of this lion because "Aslan" means "lion" in Turkish and I was reading the books in my native language (which is Turkish) , so I just thought it was direct translation.

After I watched the movies in their own language,I realized the word and searched for it to see if it has a meaning in English. But both wikipedia and narnia.wiki.com state that the word is indeed from Turkish and no further explanation is given.

I tried to find an explanation on why C.S. Lewis used a Turkish word for this character and only found that he never visited Turkey or Ottoman Empire and there is a debate going on whether it is just coincidentally or not. The character is also believed to represent Jesus and it sounds odd to me to choose the name from a non-christian country (whether it is odd or not is not part of the question).

On the question given above (represent Jesus), I have also found this comment saying that Lewis used other Turkish objects too.

Aslan means "lion" in Turkish. Lewis also used "Turkish delight" in his books. In the movie, the tents at Aslan's soldiers' camp bear a great resemblance to Ottoman and Turkish war tents. Peter is known as Peter the Magnificent just like the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman. Lewis used many things from other cultures (mostly Turkish and Middle Eastern), it wouldn't be surprising if Aslan was based on Jesus Christ.

Is there any connection or info on why C.S. Lewis chose a Turkish word or on his interest in Turkish culture?

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    I came in to point out Aslan was Turkish for lion, but it looks like you knew that. Might want to change your title to ask why Lewis used Turkish references, – GGMG-he-him Jul 23 '16 at 2:37
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    Turkish Delight is a well known type of confectionery in the UK. – user23614 Jul 23 '16 at 8:54
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    @HarryJohnston On the other hand, the Calormenes are mostly not presented in a very positive light. There are a few good ones, like Aravis from The Horse and His Boy and Emeth from The Last Battle, but they're regarded as good only because they completely renounce their own culture and adopt Narnian ways. In general the Calormenes are villains, and their god Tash is revealed to be the Narnian equivalent of Satan in The Last Battle. It's a bit odd that Lewis would make the "Middle Eastern" country so villainous if he had such positive feelings towards Turkish and Middle Eastern culture. – Torisuda Jul 23 '16 at 15:50
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    @Torisuda: that's not really what I meant, perhaps "fond" was a poor choice of words. A person can be interested in, even fascinated by a culture - fond of it as a potential setting, subject of study, and/or source of inspiration - without approving of it from either a religious or cultural standpoint. (And of course C.S. Lewis fought in World War I, and the Ottomans were on the other side.) – Harry Johnston Jul 24 '16 at 1:21
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    CS Lewis was a member of the Inklings, a small group of scholars and authors that included philologist JRR Tolkien. Authors borrow words from other languages frequently, and in this respect Lewis and Tolkien resembled each other. I would expect Lewis' use of "Aslan" to be as deliberate as Tolkien's use of names and events from every variant of the Epic of Gilgamesh known to scholarship. – pojo-guy Nov 24 '17 at 8:13

As far as the name "Aslan" is concerned, Lewis explained this directly in response to a letter asking this very question:

Dear Miss Jenkins,

It is a pleasure to answer your question. I found the name in the notes to Lane's Arabian Nights: it is Turkish for Lion. I pronounce it as Ass-lan myself. And of course I meant the Lion of Judah. I am so glad you like the book. I hope you like the sequel (Prince Caspian) which came out in November.

Yours sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

Source: The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy

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    This most directly answers the question – DCOPTimDowd Mar 6 '18 at 19:01

You are starting from flawed assumptions. Turkey is most notable to most of us for, Istanbul, better known as Constantinople, named after Constantine, ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire and made into its capital. Constantine is known for "Christianizing" Rome. So there is your "why use Turkey/Turkish"

Why the Lion? Lions are a common symbol of royalty and symbol of christianity, specifically Jesus, so it makes perfect sense to use a Lion.

This doesn't say why he used Aslan absolutely. Only he knows, but what may have been going through his mind? As someone in the same position as Lewis I can tell you that a lot of the names I choose are chosen by simply thinking of a meaning or symbol in english and then checking in various languages to see what the word for that thing is and if I like the sound I go with it. Lewis was into christian mythology so it is likely that he came across Turkish at some point, liked it and so when he had to come up with the name used it.

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    Yeah. Off the top of my head and get some of this info mixed up a bit. fixed the answer up the bit. As to the top part not answering the question. You question was "Is there any connection as to why Lewis chose the Turkish word for Lion" That Constantine plays this role is the likely reason and connection. regardless of whether Turkey currently secular or not. The top part add info to help explain the bottom part, explaining the likely reason for why Turkish and Lion in particular. – Durakken Jul 23 '16 at 3:14

I wonder if the naming wasn't Lewis' subconscious sense of humor/irony to represent God/Jesus as a lion based on 1 Peter 5:8-9. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him”.

  • But this doesn't explain why Lewis chose the Turkish word for lion. – DavidW Jul 12 '20 at 23:22

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