Rabadash

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Rabadash
Narnia character
Race Human
Nation Calormen
Gender Male
Title Prince (later Tisroc)
Birthplace Calormen
Major character in

Prince Rabadash (The name is derived from Rabadaşı, Turkish for the somewhat blasphemous title, "God-namesake") is a human character and the main antagonist in C. S. Lewis's fantasy novel The Horse and His Boy. Rabadash is the heir to the throne of Calormen, being the eldest son of the Tisroc. In The Horse and His Boy, he attempts to conquer Archenland, the neighbouring country of Narnia, but is thwarted by King Edmund and Queen Lucy of Narnia, with help from a boy named Shasta.

Rabadash goes to war because he is unsuccessful in courting Queen Susan of Narnia. We learn from the books that he and his retinue visited Susan at Cair Paravel, where he impressed the Queen. On Susan's return visit to Tashbaan, the capital of Calormen, accompanied by her brother King Edmund, she learns that Rabadash is a proud and cruel man, and fears (correctly) that he intends to take her by force if necessary. Susan, Edmund and their followers escape from Tashbaan. Rabadash, spoiled, angry, and with an injured pride to nurse, acquires permission from his father to lead a small force of cavalry to Narnia, in order to abduct Susan when she returns to Cair Paravel. This is to be preceded by surprising and capturing Anvard, the capital of Archenland, which, if successful, will also give Calormen a forward base from which to later invade Narnia itself. The Tisroc does not publicly support Rabadash's move, reasoning that it would be diplomatically inconvenient to order an unprovoked attack on a neighbouring country, and also seeing that Rabadash's hot-headedness and ambition are dangerous. The Tisroc would rather see Rabadash expend them abroad than on plotting to seize the throne from him, as has happened to previous Tisrocs.

In the scene where the Tisroc, the Vizier, and Prince Rabadash secretly discuss his proposal for attacking, the Vizier and his father the Tisroc use several proverbs that Lewis created (Unseth 2011). Rabadash, uneducated as well as hot-headed, cannot hold his own in such a conversation and complains, "I have had maxims and verses flung at me all day."

Rabadash proceeds to take his force of cavalry into Archenland. But King Lune and the knights of his house are warned of the invasion by Shasta, and escape into Anvard. Rabadash, rather than recognising that his plan has failed, lays siege to the castle. Shasta meanwhile crosses the mountains into Narnia, where, on hearing his news, Edmund and Lucy lead an expeditionary force to Anvard. Rabadash's army, outnumbered and taken by surprise, is badly defeated, and he himself is taken prisoner to be brought before Lune's judgment.

At the end of The Horse and His Boy, Aslan gives the captured Rabadash a chance to repent and accept the mercy of Lune, who has decided to release him on certain conditions. When Rabadash refuses and begins ranting about the god Tash avenging his indignity, Aslan transforms him into a donkey. Aslan then decrees that Rabadash must return to the temple of Tash in Tashbaan and stand before the altar at the time of the autumn feast, when literally thousands of his subjects will be watching. If this is done, he will regain his former person. However, he must live within a ten-mile radius of the vicinity of the temple. If he were to risk leaving that vicinity, he would risk being transformed into a donkey a second time, with no hope of ever changing back. Because he cannot leave Tashbaan, his reign upon assuming the throne is described as incredibly peaceful; he could not make war himself, and feared that any Tarkaan who won glory in war might try to overthrow him. He was called 'Rabadash the Peacemaker' to his face by his subjects. However, his people never forgot his transformation and embarrassment. So they called him 'Rabadash the Ridiculous' behind his back and after his death, with people perceived as being foolish being called 'a second Rabadash'.

References[edit]

  • Ford, Paul (2005), Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition, SanFrancisco: Harper, ISBN 0-06-079127-6 
  • Lewis, C.S. (1954), The Horse and His Boy, London: Geoffrey Bles 
  • Lewis, C.S. (1956), The Last Battle, London: Geoffrey Bles 
  • Markos, Louis (2000), The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis (audio course), Lecture 10: Journeys of Faith-The Chronicles of Narnia II, Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, ISBN 1-56585-316-4 
  • Schakel, Peter J. (1979), Reading With the Heart: The Way into Narnia, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, ISBN 0-8028-1814-5 
  • Unseth, Peter. (2011.) A culture “full of choice apophthegms and useful maxims”: invented proverbs in C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy. Proverbium 28: 323-338.