The Corinthian Twins: The Big Idea Behind Naming King Lune’s Sons in The Horse and His Boy

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This article is part of a series called Art Month. We'll highlight more on the intersection of faith and art during December.

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.[1]

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![2] 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.

Grammatical Connections

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”[3] 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).[4]

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).[5] 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.

Content Connections

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”[6]). 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”[7]). 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).[8]

Lewis teaches us that great Christian art doesn’t have to be explicitly Christian. After all, God didn’t write Bible verses on the sun, moon, and stars.

Thematic Connections

Corinthians and The Horse and His Boy have several thematic parallels, which suggests that Paul used Corinthians as a source of inspiration. We will examine two such mercurial themes: unity/division and marriage.[9]


In First Corinthians 1:11, Paul writes, “For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you.” (emphasis added). Paul’s opening concern in First Corinthians is dominated by what we may characterize as “family squabbles,” which have caused division where, in Christ, there should be unity (1 Corinthians 1:10). The Corinthians are the “same but sundered.”

At the end of The Horse and His Boy, there are two rather humorous depictions of the mercurial pattern of falling out, followed by coming back together again between Cor and Corin and Cor and Aravis. Lewis writes, “Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently” (emphasis added).[10]

It is not surprising that Lewis, a man of deep biblical convictions and learning, would find in Corinthians a mercurial influence to tap for his writing. The parallel themes and the common use of “quarreling” in multiple texts suggest he did just that.[11]


Paul writes in First Corinthians, “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:39-40).

In this passage, Paul dignifies singleness and gives agency to women concerning marriage and remarriage. Strikingly, we see Pauline teachings regarding marriage applied in The Horse and His Boy. In the book, Aravis, a young Calormen noblewoman, was being forced by her father to marry a significantly older man. She ran away, intending to end her life, but, with these words of hope, Hwin convinced her to travel to Narnia instead: “If you were in Narnia, you would be happy, for in that land, no maiden is forced to marry against her will.”[12]


Taken together, these clues make the conclusion that Lewis used First and Second Corinthians as his inspiration for naming Cor and Corin highly probable. Lewis teaches us that great Christian art doesn’t have to be explicitly Christian. After all, God didn’t write Bible verses on the sun, moon, and stars. Nevertheless, the sun, moon, and stars “declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Art, whatever its subject matter, should do likewise.

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[1] Michael Ward, Planet Narnia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

[2] Ibid., Chapter 3. Also, see this talk Ward gave at SEBTS.

[3] C.S. Lewis, The Collected Poems of C.S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Fount, 1994).

[4] Ibid., 142.

[5] C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (New York: HarperCollins, 1954), 121.

[6] Ibid., 122.

[7] Ibid., 83.

[8] Fascinatingly, there are several parallels between Paul and Cor. Both escape through an opening in a wall in Arabia (Acts 9:25), serve as a messenger of life-saving news (Acts 9:15), and end up off their horse after encountering the Lord of Creation and Providence (see Caravaggio’s painting of Paul’s conversion). Again, these similarities seem too significant to be accidental.

[9] First Corinthians evidences additional mercurial themes, such as speech and learning. For example, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:5, emphasis added).

[10] Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (New York: HarperCollins, 1954), 122.

[11] “It would be nice to end the story by saying that after that the two brothers never disagreed about anything again, but I am afraid it would not be true. In reality, they quarreled and fought just about as often as any other two boys would” (emphasis added).

[12] Susan’s rejection of Prince Rabadash reinforces the distinctiveness of the Narnian approach to marriage.

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Jonathan Darville

Jono Darville is a former Global Master Trainer with The Center for Leadership Studies and Co-Leader of the New York branch of Models for Christ (an international non-profit bringing the gospel to the fashion industry). Due to a decade-plus long battle with chronic illness, Jono almost lost his life in 2017. After spending a number of years bed-bound, God graciously intervened in 2020, using UNC Hospital to restore Jono’s health. Jono is now finishing an M.A. in the Philosophy of Religion at SEBTS, while serving as a Ruling Elder and Youth Director at Peace Church in Cary, NC. He and his wife, Jillian, have one son, Jono Jr.

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