Anakin and Obi Wan - Achilles and Odysseus

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Brobu, Apr 21, 2005.

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  1. Brobu Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2002
    star 2
    There has been some circular debating concerning who is more powerful: Anakin or Obi Wan. It might be a pointless argument, but it's a fun one.

    It's not a secret that Joseph Campbell had a large influence on Lucas's universe building when it concerned mythical influences; the book of Campbell's to look at is The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It's an all right book - sometimes a bit iffy on his historical accuracy, but as far as storytelling goes, it's very useful.

    Anyway, I'm getting off the topic.

    If one wants to go for a mythical parallel then I think the one Lucas was going for (or one that influenced him, at least on a superficial level) is that Anakin is an Achilles type character: a seemingly unbeatable warrior: a fighting machine whose raw talent and birth (Achilles's divine birth; Anakin's immaculate conception) make him a foe to be reckoned with; THE weapon of whoever's side he chooses to fight on; and most importantly, Achilles has the great weakness that bears his name, and Anakin has one great weakness also: his emotion and, perhaps, his wisdom.

    Obi Wan, in contrast, is Odysseus. He is not seen a fighting machine, as Achilles is: his weapon is his intellect and his wisdom. These two things coupled together mean that, while it is possible to defeat Odysseus, it is near impossible to kill him: he is the master of improvisation and quickwit. An entire epic poem is dedicated to Odysseus's travels, where he fights hydras, gets enchanted by Circe, is shipwrecked, fights a large group of suitors in Ithaca to regain his wife, Penelope. Odysseus is the great fighter, but also the great adventurer. Furthermore, he does not have the advantage of birth that Achilles has: he is a man with no natural advantages achieving mythical strength. I find more to admire in that than a whiney Chosen One (sorry, couldn't help myself!) As James Joyce said when he was looking for a classical text to base his masterpiece on, Odysseus is the "most complete character in all of literature" (paraphrasing). Achilles is the better fighter, but Odysseus is the more complete man. He is the classic hero. Beatable but immortal.

    Anyway, just thought I'd throw that comparison in here. Anakin and Obi Wan are very, very different heroes, and their powers come from different places.
  2. lightsaber_wielder Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2002
    star 4
  3. Saberwielder315 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2004
    star 4
    Its funny because when I first read the subject of your post, I was like, there is no way that these two are alike. But after I read the post I completly agree. Anakin is very much the Achilles and Obi-Wan Odysseus. But at the same time you could also compare Obi-wan to Hector in many ways. But I do like they way you put it. very well done.
  4. AaronKenobi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2004
    star 2
    Never thought about that but it makes sense. if BEn is Odessyus and Anakin achilles then I guess you can say yoda is Nestor(the wisest and oldest of the greeks at troy, who like Odyessus(Obiwan) surived the journey home.
    Also Obi wan is Merlin, who guides first a powerfull but fatally flawed king(Uther/Anakin) and then his son who redemms the land(Arthur/Luke)
  5. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    How ironic that Anakin and Achilles begin with the same letter, as do Obi-Wan and Odysseus.
    Great topic!



    Anakilles and Obisseus
    /LM
  6. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    I do like that take on the characters. A bit of a divergence in that Achilles kills Odysseus, however.
  7. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Well, it may be a moot point now, but I will be the obligatory person to say that Lucas's original intentions for the story have been altered. However, I think they've been altered for the better. More influences have been brought in and more depth has been added to the characters, especially these two.

    But as the story stands now, yes, I can definitely see those parallels being drawn. I just am not too quick to suggest those are intentional sources. GL draws from a wide range of things, though, so that could be part of it. But one of the things I like about SW is that it can't be confined simply as a copy of something else, because it's its own entity.

    I think Anakin draws the Achilles parallel very well. But I find your phrasing of your opinions on Odysseus to be interesting. You say he can be defeated but never killed. Is that really how Obi-Wan is? I would almost say it's the other way around, because even in his death, he's never defeated. True, he is pretty hard to kill, too :p

    -sj loves kevin spacey
  8. Ker-Soth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2004
    star 3
    A very interesting topic. The parallels between the SW heroes and the Ancient Greek heroes are trully very clear.

    If I might add a little something bout Odysseus ( and Obi-Wan). Neither has a supernatural heritage. (it is disputable bout Odysseus, but I'll commend about it later), but Odysseus is favoured by the Gods. Both Athena -MAJOR deity-, Aiolos and a couple of others are helping him during the Odyssey, and Poseidon himself helps him in the Iliad, despite the fact that he later hunts Odysseus' throught the next Epic.

    In many ways Ben seems to be carrying some lucky charm during the movies. Dex, like Aiolos, points him to the right direction when he doesn't know what to do, and generally he seems to get away out of every situation intact. How many people do you know that were shot by Jango's missile, Slave 1 (repeatedly) and lived to talk about it? Dooku chooses not to dismember him for some reason, Maul suddenly goes dumb and let's Ben kill him yada yada. That guy appears to be extravagantly lucky, even if doesn't believe in luck. Don't you think that some unseen...Force appears to be protecting him? Like, I don't know, the equivelant of Athena maybe? In a more Force oriented fashion of course.

    Now about the divinity of Odysseus, there are some indications that his father was Sisifus (sp?). It is not a widely accepted theory and there are not many scripts to back it up, but Sisifus was the smartest most cunning and backstabing demi-god EVER. He even managed to cheat Death for a time. And he just happened to be Poseidon's son. If that is true then Odysseus' greatest nemesis was his..grandaddy. Now that would be a twist wouldn't it?

    Ben -You are evil Palpatine!
    Palps -Now that's not a way to talk to your grandfather is it?

    Naturally, ages don't match up, and it would be toooooo soapy/cheesy/whatever for GL to do that, but hey, as I said it's not a widely accepted theory.
  9. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    Interesting take on the Saga. If Anakin in Achilles, then Luke is Aeneas or possibly Telemachos. I wonder if that means that Artoo plays the role of the gods then since he always seems to pull the characters chestnuts out of the fire just when they are about to be roasted just as the gods are always appearing in The Iliad and The Odyssey to bail characters out of situations that should lead to their deaths.
  10. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Haha, I like the idea of Artoo in the role of the gods. He is quite the Deus ex Machina :p

    Obi-Wan definitely has unusually good fortune, but he doesn't believe in luck. Which leaves it to the Force as well as to kind of making your own luck by being smart and such. In the ANH annotated screenplays, GL described him as having the James Bond quality of being able to make it out of every situation. It's kind of a combination of providence and cunning.

    -sj loves kevin spacey

  11. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    I like the idea of Artoo in the role of the gods. He is quite the Deus ex Machina

    Actually, I was being quite serious. Artoo saves the day at least once in every film.
  12. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 6
    Well, seeing as creator-of-the-GFFA-universe Lucas sent R2 into those scenes to save everyone, I'd say he's more of a Machina ex Deus.

    ::Ducks rotten tomatoes::

    It's been a *long* time since I read the Odyssey, but the thing that always sticks with me about Odysseus is that he spends all his adventuring years yearning for this home and other life he can't get back to, and then when he finally gets what he wants, he has to reject it. The home he's been dreaming of in his head no longer exists--if it ever did. He's caught between worlds--niether happy as an adventurer or a family man.

    Considering that, I'd say that Anakin is Odysseus, Padmé is Penelope, Luke is Telemachus, and I'm going to get thrown out of this thread. :p
  13. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    No, Anakin is more like Achilles. He's the one of the best swordsmen in the Jedi Order at the time of Ep.III and a seething cauldron of emotion. I like the idea of Luke as Aeneas, since he charged with rebuilding the Orderm, just Aeneas is charged by the gods with saving the Trojan people after the sack of Troy.
  14. Brobu Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2002
    star 2
    The comparisons aren't perfect, of course. I never expected them to be, because it is fair to say that Lucas never had these exact parallels in mind. It's just something that seemed to have happened and, on some general levels, makes sense.

    I don't know about Luke being Telemachus, however. Aeneas is a bit more sensible, but even then, the link is weak (Aeneas does escape Troy to found Rome, but that is not a Homeric Myth, it is a Roman one (The Aeneid by Virgil)) and the similarities stop there.

    But, all in good fun.

    I just thought that the comparison, as far as strength and weaknesses go, is useful when trying to compare the two Star Wars characters.
  15. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    ophelia posted on 4/21/05 7:10pm

    ::Ducks rotten tomatoes::

    />

    *Throws more* Booo, that was terrible! :p You have puns to match my history teacher, which is really scary.

    I was being serious, too Chancellor. I just also think the idea of Artoo being the gods is a bit ironically funny ;) Kind of meant to be so, though, I suppose.

    My ability to talk about these things is limited by not having read the Illiad :(


    -sj loves kevin spacey

    />/>
  16. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    See now this is an interesting discussion... We need more like this in the PT forum.

  17. Brobu Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2002
    star 2
    "I do like that take on the characters. A bit of a divergence in that Achilles kills Odysseus, however. "

    Achilles kills Hector, but not Odysseus. The Odyssey concerns Odysseus's travels directly AFTER the Trojan War of the Iliad. Unless you're referring to Anakin killing Obi-Wan. (But I don't think he did, see. Obi-Wan did, indeed, become more powerful than Vader could possibly imagine. He became complete in the Force. He wasn't so much killed by Vader as he resigned to a higher existence. He just needed someone to get rid of his body for him, and, well, Vader was right there....)
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