12

Three times in the chronicles of Narnia, Lewis describes a character cleaning or drying his sword. In none of them is it necessary to the rest of the plot.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe:

Peter, still out of breath, turned and saw Aslan close at hand.

"You have forgotten to clean your sword," said Aslan.

It was true. Peter blushed when he looked at the bright blade and saw it all smeared with the Wolf's hair and blood. He stooped down and wiped it quite clean on the grass, and then wiped it quite dry on his coat.

"Hand it to me and kneel, Son of Adam," said Aslan. And when Peter had done so he struck him with the flat of the blade and said, "Rise up, Sir Peter Wolf's-Bane. And, whatever happens, never forget to wipe your sword."

The Last Battle:

The King was still so angry that he hardly noticed the cold of the water. But of course he dried his sword very carefully on the shoulder of his cloak, which was the only dry part of him, as soon as they came to shore.

Also The Last Battle:

Then he inspected Eustace's sword and found that Eustace had put it back in the sheath all messy from killing the Calormene. He was scolded for that and made to clean and polish it.

(All the quotations are from copies I found on the Web and may be somewhat inaccurate.)

Why did Lewis include these? Why the obsession with this topic? To the extent, even, that Aslan — the Jesus-like character — attaches such importance to it in the first thing he says after one of the battles. Yes, of course, characters should clean and dry their swords, but I don't recall other books stressing it so, nor do the Narnia books stress other things that are part of every battle or everyday life (for example, I don't recall that any character ever had to use the restroom).

(Of course, many aspects of the Narnia stories are an analogy to concepts in Christianity; perhaps this is one such? Does Christianity attach some especial value to clean, dry swords, or to something analogous?)

15
  • 27
    sometimes a clean and dried sword is just a clean and dried sword
    – NKCampbell
    May 7, 2019 at 15:30
  • 28
    Because if you don't clean and dry your sword, it'll go rusty in the scabbard and then it's just a filthy blunt stick
    – Valorum
    May 7, 2019 at 16:01
  • 13
    Keeping your sword(s) clean is important. darksword-armory.com/a-guideline-for-proper-sword-maintenance May 7, 2019 at 16:27
  • 10
    I always saw this as a life pro tip, just like the horse riding advice: hold on with your knees.
    – Laurel
    May 7, 2019 at 16:27
  • 10
    I think Aslan's emphasis is best understood in light of the fact that he immediately knighted Peter, something one simply doesn't do when Rhindon is covered in wolf innards. The other quotes seem like pretty reasonable references to a fairly important task.
    – Nolimon
    May 7, 2019 at 17:15

3 Answers 3

38

I doubt there's any particular significance to three mentions of cleaning swords across several hundred pages. There's a number of other passages that talk about how to care for weapons and armor, such as when the Pevensies recover their gifts in Prince Caspian:

"Won't the string be perished, Su?" said Peter. But whether by some magic in the air of the treasure chamber or not, the bow was still in working order... In a moment she had bent the bow and then she gave one little pluck to the string...Then she unstrung the bow again and slung the quiver at her side.

Next, Peter took down his gift-the shield with the great red lion on it, and the royal sword. He blew, and rapped them on the floor, to get off the dust.

Or several other parts of The Last Battle:

The bow strings were there in their coverings of oiled silk, the swords and spears greased against rust, and the armor was kept bright in its wrappings.

grease out of the jar of grease which was kept for rubbing on swords and spear-heads

If you must weep, sweetheart" (this was to Jill), turn your face aside and see you wet not your bow-string.

This sort of practical advice isn't limited to the care of arms, either. Consider to Bree's assorted advice on how to ride horses, asides noting that dresses are not good attire for fleeing from giants, calling out the best bedding material, or the description of how Edmund releases Trumpkin:

and Edmund was busily engaged in cutting the bonds with the pocket-knife. (Peter's sword would have been sharper, but a sword is very inconvenient for this sort of work because you can't hold it anywhere lower than the hilt.)

Considering how much Lewis elaborates on how and why things are done, the quotes are probably no more than advice on preventing swords in the state that Peter fears after knocking the dust off his:

He was afraid at first that it might be rusty and stick to the sheath.

1
  • 9
    It's possible a lot of these are things CS Lewis had drummed into him during his time as an officer in the army before and during WW1. He would probably have been issued a sabre.
    – evilscary
    Apr 2, 2020 at 10:28
12

There is a parallel in scripture to this... see this link:

I was taken aback by this passage and stopped to ponder why Aslan made such a big deal about Peter wiping his sword. As I reflected on my own spiritual battles, it occurred to me that, sometimes, when I’ve experienced victory over temptation and sin, I sit there and brood, or I may even gloat over my “success,” thus letting my guard down.

When Peter wiped down his sword, he removed all traces of the battle he had just been through, eliminating any evidence he had conquered his enemy. That took humility. It was only when he had cleaned his weapon and knelt before Aslan that the king knighted him. Even then, even after being raised up, he was instructed again to always wipe his sword.

That’s a good reminder to never get comfortable or overly confident when things seem to be going well in my spiritual life. God exalts those who humble themselves (Luke 14:11). The enemy tries to humiliate us, and even friends and loved ones may unknowingly keep us feeling down about ourselves. But true humility is simply acknowledging that any strength or success in our lives is from God and He deserves all the glory.

Cleaning the blood and fur off the blade also prepared it for the next battle. We must always keep our spiritual armour and weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18) sharp, polished, and ready for action.

3
  • 3
    And here I thought that Aslan was just being considerate enough not to smear Peter with Wolf's guts when knighting him.
    – DavidW
    Apr 1, 2020 at 16:52
  • 3
    Would you mind editing your answer to include the relevant excerpts from the linked article? Link only answers are not good, as the site or article linked may go down in the future
    – fez
    Apr 1, 2020 at 16:55
  • 5
    Less a scripture parallel and more a general reflection on spirituality, but I added a quoted block.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 1, 2020 at 17:27
-1

As a Christian, I believe this is a reference to Ephesians 6:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...

Ephesians 6:10-17

In fact, through the story, once each of them were given their weapons, there are references to this section as well as verses that cross-reference to it.

1
  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. I'm not sure this really applies; it says it's not about fighting enemies of flesh and it doesn't seem to talk about keeping weapons clean.
    – DavidW
    Dec 12, 2021 at 23:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.