Opar (fictional city)
|Creator||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
Burroughs may have named it for his hometown at the time he wrote the original Opar novels, Oak Park, Illinois. He may also have taken the name from the Biblical reference to Ophir, whence King Solomon supposedly received a cargo of "gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks" every three years, via the Red Sea, which was presumably somewhere in Africa, but of which hardly anything else is known.
The city first appeared in the second Tarzan novel, The Return of Tarzan (1913), and was revisited in the fifth, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916), the ninth, Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1923), and the fourteenth, Tarzan the Invincible (1930). Exiles from Opar also appear in Burroughs' juvenile story "Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins, with Jad-Bal-Ja, the Golden Lion" (1936, later published as the second part of Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins in 1963). The events of this story occur between those of Lion and Invincible.
Opar is located deep in the jungles of Africa. Portrayed as a lost colony of Atlantis in which incredible riches have been stockpiled down through the ages, the city's population exhibits extreme sexual dimorphism caused by a combination of excessive inbreeding, cross-breeding with apes, and selective culling of offspring. Consequently, female Oparians appear perfectly human, while male Oparians are apelike brutes. The ruler and high priestess of the city is Queen La, who on her first encounter with Tarzan falls in love with him, and subsequently carries a torch for him. Tarzan, already committed to Jane Porter, spurns her advances, thus endangering his own life, as the religion of Opar condones human sacrifice. Yet he returns to the lost city time and again to replenish his personal wealth from its hoarded treasure.
Opar is also the setting of Philip José Farmer's novels Hadon of Ancient Opar (1974) and Flight to Opar (1976), which expanded the idea of Opar into a pre-historic world (some 10,000 years ago) in which Africa had two huge linked inland seas, which were the cradle of a pre-Egyptian civilization. This primeval empire was based on an island in the more northern sea, taken to be Atlantis in the Tarzan books; the city of Opar, located on the more southerly sea, is portrayed as having been a small back-water in this much larger realm, called Khokarsa. Farmer's novels mix characters from the Tarzan series (Farmer maintained that the character Sahhindar is the time traveler John Gribardsun from his novel Time's Last Gift, in which it is strongly hinted that Gribardsun is in fact Tarzan) and H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain series ("Laleela" and "Pag", here renamed "Lalila" and "Paga").
In other media
On film, Opar was seen in the early Tarzan movies The Adventures of Tarzan (1921), based on The Return of Tarzan, and Tarzan the Tiger (1929), based on Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, as well as the more recent film Tarzan and the Lost City (1998). Opar also appeared, in the guise of a generic African village, in Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957), in which the Oparians were led by the male chief Chief Ogonooro (played by Orlando Martins) rather than the female queen/priestess La.
Opar has also appeared in some of the television series based on the Tarzan books. Most notably it appeared in the Disney TV adaptation, with La still ruling. However, the city's populace are humanoid leopards called the Leopard Men, who act as La's soldiers and servants. When La's sceptre is destroyed, the Leopard Men are reverted into their original leopard forms, La disintegrates into dust and Opar crumbles into oblivion. Even after the release of the Leopard Men, La's spirit possesses Jane and she (briefly) revives the city and creates statue warriors until Tarzan and a native African shaman interfere. Opar is again destroyed and La's ghost is condemned to be trapped inside a rat's body.
- Farmer, Philip José. "Reply to Wayne Hooks Review of Flight to Opar". The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- Opar by Rick Johnson, ERBzine No. 1547
- The Secret History of Opar by Den Valdron, ERBzine No. 1937
- The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1913)
- Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1916)
- Tarzan and the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1922, 1923)
- Tarzan the Invincible by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1930, 1931)