Michael Ward’s landmark discovery, as outlined in Planet Narnia, unlocked the hidden structure of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Ward persuasively demonstrated that Lewis used the seven planets of medieval cosmology as an organizing principle for the Narnia series. Each of the seven planets provides significant inspiration for the environment, plot, themes, and characters in one of the seven books in the Narnia series. For example, Jupiter provides structure for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mars for Prince Caspian, Sol for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Mercury for The Horse and His Boy.
As an example, Ward says that Father Christmas seems out of place in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until you realize that the organizing planet for the book is Jupiter, for whom joviality is a primary characteristic! Then you can’t imagine Santa not making an appearance.
In this article, I would like to suggest that C.S. Lewis named Cor and Corin after the books of First and Second Corinthians in The Horse and His Boy, as these names are a perfect fit with the character of the planet Mercury.
On the face of it, the clearest connection is that Cor and Corin are grammatically contained within the word Corinthians. In other words, both boys’ names can be derived from the same word. This is significant because, as Michael Ward has shown, the principle of cohesion for The Horse and His Boy are the qualities of Mercury, which Lewis describes as “meeting selves, same but sundered” in his poem “The Planets.” Grammatically, that is precisely what Cor and Corin are: the same but separate. Of course, that is what they are biologically as well: Twins. Ward writes, “Under Mercury, the meanings and spellings of words bifurcate and ramify but equally intertwine and overlap” (emphasis added).
Then there is the fact that there is a First and a Second Corinthians in the Bible. And as we know, King Lune has a firstborn son named Cor and a secondborn son named Corin: “’But if we’re twins we must be the same age,’ [said Cor]. ‘Nay,’ said the King with a laugh. ‘One must come first. Art Corin’s elder by a full twenty minutes.’” (emphasis added). In other words, Cor is First Corinthians, and Corin is Second Corinthians, so to speak. If you were looking for inspiration for children’s names that summed up the idea of twins and the spirit of Mercury, which presumably Lewis was, you could do no better than First and Second Corinthians.
There is also something Paul alludes to in Corinthians, which took place every two years in Corinth, that strongly suggests Lewis named Cor and Corin after Corinthians.
Do you remember what sporting event took place every two years in Corinth? The Isthmian games. And do you know what one of the contests at the Isthmian games was? Boxing! Corin was a legendary boxer in Narnia (ole “Thunder-Fist”). This detail alone would make Corinth a great word to derive Corin’s name from, but, more importantly, the only place in the Bible where boxing is mentioned is in 1 Corinthians 9:26. Do you remember what other sporting event is mentioned in this verse, which was also an event at the Isthmian games? Running (1 Corinthians 9:24-26). Swiftness of foot is a chief characteristic of Mercury and of major importance for Cor, who races on horse to escape lion(s) and on foot to bring a message to King Lune (“he had only to run”). As it turns out, Corinth is a great word to derive Cor’s name from as well. It is highly unlikely that this connection between Corinthians, boxing, running, and Cor and Corin’s names is a coincidence.
And, of course, it is the Apostle Paul who wrote Corinthians, which is significant because, as Ward points out, the Apostle Paul is mistaken for the embodiment of the god Mercury in Acts (Acts 14:12).