The Emperor-Over-the-Sea is referenced at several points during the series. The Stone Table, Deep Magic and the Deeper Magic were all set in motion by him, and he is the father of Aslan.

At the same time, he does not directly enter the series; he does not appear to be present in Aslan's Country during The Silver Chair or the events of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and doesn't appear to directly intervene. He doesn't even seem to be present at the creation of Narnia during The Magician's Nephew or the Final Judgment in The Last Battle - the entire country was sang into existence by Aslan.

Given that C. S. Lewis was not a deist, why is this? Why was the Emperor-Over-the-Sea such a remote figure?

  • 1
    I'm not going to post an answer because I know way too little about the theological background here, but could it be that the world of Narnia was sort of Aslan's personal project, something he could handle without intervention from his father? "All right, Son, you've done pretty well with this world. 9/10: just one mark off for that Telmarine period. Much better than your brother who created Charn."
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 20:56
  • The Emperor Over the Sea is Aslan's father. Aslan is comparable to Jesus. Jesus' dad is...God the Father, the other part of the Holy Trinity. So, why does he play such a small role? In the New Testament it's all about Jesus, and God the Father doesn't play as much of a part. Likewise, in Narnia.
    – auden
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 0:08

3 Answers 3


He is a hero of another story.

In works of fiction, it often seems like the world revolves around the Main Characters, that nothing interesting happens unless one of them is in the middle of it. And sometimes that’s true; sometimes the main cast are so important that nothing big can happen without their involvement. But other times, it’s not that the Main Characters are the only ones that stories happen to; it’s that we only see the stories that happen to the Main Characters. It turns out the supporting characters have their own adventures going on off-screen, where they’re the stars and the Main Characters only make cameo appearances. These characters are the Heroes of Another Story: we may not see much of their adventures, but it adds something to the fictional world if we know these people continue to lead interesting lives even when the Main Characters aren’t around.

  • 5
    Sorry, but I have to downvote this answer because it consists of nothing but a block-quote from TV Tropes, without any explanation of how this trope applies to the Narnia books or any attempt to explain in your own words.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 21:54
  • The answer was edited by Marthin Schroder. Also, check the other question by the same poster that he posted at the same time: literature.stackexchange.com/questions/3594/…
    – jo1storm
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 5:49
  • 1
    Martin Schroder's edit was just to improve your formatting - what does that have to do with anything? And yes, I've seen that other question, but again it doesn't really seem to have anything to do with the quality of this answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 10:59
  • You're correct, I didn't see what the edit was about. I was talk ooma sort of speak. The problem was there were two similar questions and I replied to both of them, this answer was shorter but together with the answer on the other question makes one whole.
    – jo1storm
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 13:00
  • 4
    How can this answer be accepted? It doesn't answer anything.
    – TGar
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 20:32

The emperor-over-the-sea is the Narnian equivalent of the Father of the holy Christian trinity and Aslan is of course the son. The emperor acts indirectly through Aslan and is in that sense extremely active. Aslan is always doing something even if it doesn't look like it and by extension, the emperor is always doing something.

  • 2
    Hey, welcome to Literature Stack Exchange! Good answers here always provide some backup for their claims; adding some quotes from the books that support this theory would greatly improve your answer, as well as perhaps some quotes from the Christian sources for those of us who aren't so familiar with them ;)
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 10:03
  • Your answer is 100% correct. It like asking why does Jesus play such a big role in the new testament.
    – fundagain
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 18:21

As your question implies, Narnia is a Christian allegory, where Aslan is a stand-in for Christ, and his father, the Emperor, represents God the Father.

With that in mind it's fairly common and orthodox in the Christian church to view Christ as the human face of God, the aspect of the divine that we can understand and interact with. God the Father may seem remote and unknowable, but is considered to be real and present through Christ, and the same can be said of the Emperor through Aslan.

Compare this passage from the Gospel of John ("Chapter 14"):

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?..."

With appropriate substitutions, this could easily be dialog from the Narnia series.

With reference to the specific question of why Aslan is the one who sings Narnia into existence, it's a clear reference to John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ... 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

The Word is identified with Christ, and therefore with Aslan (the fact that Aslan is singing is likely a conceptual pun on the idea of the Divine "Word").

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