Terrouge E-zine Archives
Most of you could probably guess that Cap'n Clogg got his name from his clogs. You may know that Verdauga is Latin for "green eyes." A slim few of you may even be aware of the fact that there was a real, live, medieval Abbot Bernard. It's things like these that show us that Brian Jacques frequently gives hidden meanings to his characters' monikers, which show off their true personalities. Some may be coincidental; others are more than likely intended. But some of them are so mind-boggling that one is absolutely stumped as to whether or not the Master Storyteller knows of the connection. In this article, I'll give you a short tour of some of the more startling similarities.
That clumsy, bumbling novice who soon learned the way of the Warrior and followed in Martin's pawsteps, replacing his hero as Abbey Champion at the end of Redwall. Not only does Matthias's name contain the anagram "am that is," but this mousewarrior also has something of an alter ego in the Bible. When Judas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus (the Son of God), betrayed Jesus and died a particularly gory death as a consequence, the remaining eleven disciples were in need of another member. After praying and drawing straws, the group filled Judas's empty shoes with a man named-you guessed it-Matthias. This man, in the Catholic religion, is also the patron saint of alcoholics-which, in itself, would not be remarkably interesting … if St. Martin wasn't the patron of drunkards. Another Matthias, Matthias Corvinus, who was made king of Hungary in 1458, was allegedly a great fighter, having defeated many forces during his reign-and, as those who have read Redwall and Mattimeo know, Matthias the Warrior falls right into that category.
Swartt Sixclaw's poisonous Seer-this vixen's name is almost definitely intentional, at least partly so. Deadly nightshade, also called belladonna, is a particularly peculiar plant that is indeed toxic. However, both the leaves and the roots on the nightshade can be applied as an agent for relief from pains and spasms. Just like her namesake, Nightshade is a lethal healer, one who can use her powers both for death and to ease the aches that plague her master.
The evil, slithering adder whose name holds the low hiss of cunning and a demonic background. This name, however, was not a coincidence: Brian Jacques was paging through the Bible one day, and came across his adder's title-Asmodeus, one of the many names of Satan, who is well-known in several religions as the ultimate evil. Sometimes personified as an intensely revolting demon (well, only if you think having body parts of multiple animals is unsightly), Asmodeus is about as vile as evil comes-which is good for Jacques's snake, because, as he reminded us, that serpent is fully devoid of any decency.
The Bellmaker appears to us in Mariel of Redwall and The Bellmaker as a hardworking, fatherly mouse. He cares strongly for his daughter, taking strides to ensure her safety during her childhood and worrying about her as an adult, and he is an expert in the creation of melodious bells. Once more, a Biblical parallel for a Redwall character arises, this time in the form of Joseph, stepfather of Jesus. Christians hail this human as the ideal father, protecting his family with great enthusiasm, even hurrying them miles from home when an emperor took it into his head that the new-born Jesus should be sent right back where he came from. Not only a patriarch, Joseph was also said to have been a skilled-and determined-worker, although his profession was carpentry instead of metalworking.
His name rings with the sound of "slaver"-which alone is highly appropriate. But if you really feel like stretching your imagination, ponder this: According to Encarta World English Dictionary, the word "slag" is derived from an ancient Germanic word that happens to mean "to strike." Also intriguing, the definition of the suffix "-ar" is "of, relating to, or resembling." The combined elements' ultimate meaning can be taken different ways. If you were to say "Slagar" meant "relating to striking," you would be reminded strongly of such things as Halftail's punishment when he back-talked to his master. Yet if you read the definition as "resembling striking," the masked fox's harsh voice and even crueller words are speedily brought to mind.