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Throughout The Chronicles of Narnia the humans are referred to as "Son of Adam" for a male, and "Daughter of Eve" for a female. I'm assuming that the characters in Narnia don't think that females only descend from a female but not a male, and males only descend from a male but not a female. I.e. technically, a male would be a son of Adam and a son of Eve; likewise, a female would be a daughter of Eve and a daughter of Adam.

If this is indeed correct, is there a reason why they always refer to males as "Son of Adam" and not "Son of Eve" or "Son of Adam and Eve"? And, similarly, is there a reason why they always refer to females as "Daughter of Eve" and not "Daughter of Adam" or "Daughter of Adam and Eve"?

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  • Probably irrelevant, but it says here that the Yazidis believe that they are descendants of Adam but not Eve, while the rest of humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. As for C. S. Lewis, I doubt that he coined the expressions "Sons of Adam" and "Daughters of Eve", and I wouldn't try to ascribe any great significance to them. – user14111 Dec 13 '18 at 0:04
  • @user14111 I thought that it might just be a general use, but a very cursory search didn’t turn up anything useful. – Alex Dec 13 '18 at 0:13
  • I was just re-reading these recently, and Rand's answer strikes me as correct. (It is primarily stylistic/poetic, with reference to religious texts.) – DukeZhou Dec 16 '18 at 22:14
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As well as its more literal meaning of a (direct or indirect) male descendant, the word "son" can also be used to mean "A man considered in relation to his native country or area" or "A man regarded as the product of a particular person, influence, or environment" (definitions 1.4 and 1.5 in the online Oxford Dictionary). Metaphorically, the word can be used in a metonymous way, suggesting a thematic connection. Calling someone a "son of Norfolk" makes it sound as if they somehow personify Norfolk. Calling someone a "son of < famous figure >" makes it sound as if they're made in the image of that figure.

Under this interpretation, a "son of Adam" could mean, not just a literal descendant of Adam, but someone who's made in the image of Adam - in other words, a male human, as opposed to the other citizens of Narnia. Similarly, a "daughter of Eve" would be interpreted as someone made in the image of Eve - the closest thing to the real Eve that one would be likely to find in Narnia. Talking about a "son of Eve" or a "daughter of Adam" doesn't make so much sense then.

Besides, you have to choose one pairing or the other. Poetically, it makes more sense to say "son of Adam" and "daughter of Eve" than "daughter of Adam" and "son of Eve". Why mix the genders up together when you don't have to? It just sounds aesthetically better to match them in the 'right' gender order.

See also:

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Not a definitive answer, but Google Ngrams is helpful here. The first book in the Narnia series was published in 1950, but a search reveals the phrase in fairly common use from the 1820's onward. The earliest match is in a poem, The Trial of Cain, the First Son of Adam by W. Sutcliff. There is a big an increase in the 1900's, still many years before Narnia.

"Daughter of Eve" is rarer, as you might expect (Adam and Eve's children would traditionally have been described as "belonging" to Adam, not Eve). But it's still not unheard of and was first used in the mid-1800's as the title of a novel and a Balzac short story.

There are zero results for "son of Eve" or "daughter of Adam".

So: neither phrase originated with Lewis, and as a well-read man, it is reasonable to assume he would have seen them before, elsewhere. His particular usage as a way to refer to male and female humans might be unique, but there are good reasons for his choice.

It's a great way to signal the "otherness" of the folk of Narnia compared with their human visitors which doesn't demand the reader learn an invented fantasy vocabulary. And its religious overtones suits the pro-Christian message he wanted to convey.

As for why he didn't go with "son of Eve" or "daughter of Adam": those phrases are not in familiar usage. And the gender confusion is slightly jarring for the reader.

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    You might be interested in "Son of Man as Son of Adam", an academic article about the use, religious context, and linguistic history of the phrases "son of man" and "son of Adam". – Rand al'Thor Dec 13 '18 at 16:49

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