The Mythology used in Star Wars

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darth_Dagsy, Feb 10, 2003.

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  1. Darth_Dagsy Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2000
    star 6
    So I figure we need a discussion about the mythology the George Lucas borrowed to use in the SW movies. I love learning about mythology, but I dont know too many things. I know...pretty dumb.

    But the most obvious thing we can see is the immaculate conception. Anakin being born without a father. The is traditionally used to denote someone that is the Messiah, or chosen one.

    We also have the idea of the "fallen angel". the good angel or person that falls from grace, and becomes a figure that causes great evils.

    There is the idea of the 'prodigal son', one that leaves the family after some sort of unhappiness, goes off to perform other deeds, and then comes back.

    We have the temptation. A good person is tempted by someone that would influence them in a negative way. We also have two versions of this, one that is influenced, and one that is not.

    There are others, many more obscure....but I'll leave them for you guys to tell us about. Lets not forget that the mythology is not only applicable to Anakins story, but to others in the Saga too.
  2. Krede Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2000
    star 4
    There are so many... I actually made a CD-Rom project about this.

    The slaying of a monster is a task that almost every mythological hero must perform.
    Example : Perseus of Greek mythology slays Medusa and a Sea dragon, Theseus slays the Minotaur, Hercules slays a great number of monsters, Beowulf of nordic myth kills the Grendel and Luke slays a Wampa and the Rancor.

    Rescuing the a princess is also a typical hero task.

    The appearance of a wise guide is also essential to hero, such as Merlin or Obi-Wan.

    The hero typically receives some kind of magic talisman or weapon - this is a sword or a ring in many stories. Luke gets a lightsaber.

    I could go on and on. Great topic :D

  3. DarthAttorney Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2000
    star 6
    Krede: Feel free to go crazy ;)

    I went along to the Magic Of Myth a while back and it covered a fair bit of this kind of stuff. There's the wise person who sets the hero on their path to destiny but through tragedy is removed from the journey early (ie: Ben Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn). This gives the hero a personal reason to persist with their quest.

    I'm sure there's stacks more I can't think of atm. ;)
  4. Krede Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2000
    star 4
    I've read about most of these things in the book 'power of myth'. But Campbell's 'the hero with a thousand faces' is also very useful.

    A trip to the underworld is often a theme in mythology. In greek myth, Hercules visited the underworld (hell) and killed Hades' dog Cerberus. Luke visits many kinds of dark hellish underworlds to do battle; The Deathstar throneroom, Jabba's palace and Cloud city's freezing chamber.

    Labyrinths are also popular in myths, for example the vast underground labyrinth on Crete Knossos and the Death Star - each has a monster; the Minotaur and the trash compactor's Dianoga.

  5. DARTH_CHINA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Great thread! :)

    I love the mythological aspects of Star Wars. Especially the struggle between good/evil and the very schematic parallels & equality between the two trilogies

    Main theme: duality/balance between ?good? (wins 3 times) and ?evil? (wins 3 times)

    - Episode I-III : theme of ?temptation?: ?evil? wins at the end
    (TPM: good wins / AOTC : evil wins (imo) / Eps.III : evil wins)

    - Episode IV-VI: theme of ?redemption? : ?good? wins at the end
    (ANH: good wins / ESB: evil wins / ROTJ: good wins)

    Then, we can use those themes on 3 aspects:

    1. Politics
    - Episode I-III : how does a 'good' democracy (Old Republic) turn into an 'evil' dictatorship (Empire)
    - Episode IV-VI: how can we return to a new democracy (New Republic)

    2. Religion
    - Episode I-III: how does the ?evil? (Sith) destroy the ?good? (Jedi)
    - Episode IV-VI: how will the good (Jedi) return

    3. Family
    - Episode I-III: how does the good Anakin turn into the evil Darth Vader
    - Episode IV-VI: how can we get Vader back to the good Anakin

    So,as we all know, Star Wars turns all around Anakin Skywalker, he?s the main character of the whole saga. But, IMO, the key characters of the 2 separate trilogies are:
    - PT: Palpatine
    - OT: Luke
    -(SW: Anakin)

    It?s the story of Anakin, but it couldn?t be done without Palpatine (temptation) and Luke (redemption).

    Anyway, just my interpretation! :)
  6. g3op4s Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2002
    star 1
    trip to the underworld is often a theme in mythology. In greek myth, Hercules visited the underworld (hell) and killed Hades' dog Cerberus


    Actually Hercules took Cerberus to Euristheas,king of Terentha and then return him to Hades.
  7. Padawan915 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2002
    star 6
    I'd like to think that there is also a strong Christian element to Star Wars. I brought this up back in the AOTC forum a while ago, but the story of Anakin, Obi-Wan, Luke and Qui-Gon is very similar to the stories of Samuel, Saul, David and Soloman in the Old Testament.

    If you read the two books of Samuel, you'll see a great deal of similarity between the story of Saul and Anakin. Saul fell astray to temptation by evil and was eventually replaced by David as the King of Israel. It's not perfectly representative of what I'm trying to say, but looking at the first book of Samuel you will see three central character representations:

    Samuel = Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan
    Saul = Anakin
    David = Luke

    The best best to see the similarities is to look at 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. But that struck me greatly when I took a religion course last year. :)
  8. ForceHeretic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2002
    star 4
    And the entire story of the OT is from Greek mythology. Zeuss's father, what was his name, chronic or something like that, if I'm wrong sorry but anyways. Chronic; who in the movies is Vader; was the leader of the gods but he was not just, and his children(Luke and Leia), led by Zeuss (Luke) had no choice but to lead a revolt against him otherwise the people of Earth would be forced to live with an evil god as their master

    I'm pretty sure that's how it goes, correct me if I'm wrong
  9. Seigiryu Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2002
    star 2
    Star Wars is George's story, and George was a student of various myths, religions, and of course Joseph Campbell.

    I too am a student of myth, and I'll post a few things I've already posted months ago on this discussion, since they've all been about myth in Star Wars. If anyone's interested in more areas of this, let me know.

    I think a primary myth I see retold in the story of Anakin's fall throughout Episodes I and II is his reluctance to let go of the past and move one.

    This reminds us not only of Buddhist notions of not becomign to attached to things (the Jedi Code is based on this), but of the Greek tale of Orpheus. Orpheus' wife Eurythes (spelling) was killed right after they were married, but Orpheus went down to Hades to bring her up. While this was very uncommon, he was allowed to, and warned not "to look back."

    But his desire to see his wife overcame him, and on the steps leading back up to Earth he looked back and saw her, this destroyed her and brought her back to Hades permenantly.

    In TPM, when Shmi is saying goodbye to Anakin for the final time, she tells him "don't look back, don't look back". This shows the allusion to the myth. Anakin's inability to seperate (Yoda recognized in in Anakin's fear of losing his mother in TPM that turned into anger in AOTC) will lead him to the evil eventually.

    This is not limited to his mother. There is a Buddhist notion that life is change and flux and that if you try to hold on to reality and not accept its natural change you'll never be happy.

    This is what Anakin does. He is too afriad of letting go, and this fear leads him to anger, hate, and later to evil. He ends up going to the dark side not out of pure malice and greed (like Palpatine) but because of his want to protect people he loves and stop bad things from happening ("I will even stop people from dying!") he ends up playing God, which is never good (Absolute power corrupts absolutely!)

    So, by looking back he is not letting go of his past and is attempting to do the impossible adn freeze frame reality to his purposes. This destroys everything, as Orpheus did when he looked back.

    Thoughts anyone?
  10. Epicauthor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 2002
    star 4
    China,


    That's an interesting point you brought up regarding the characters and their respective roles in the saga. What drives home that point to me is ROTJ. Anakin/Vader has to make a choice in that final moment between Palpatine (Temptation and evil) and Luke (Redemption and good).

    This is what I have been saying for months. By choosing Luke, Anakin redeemed himself. Both seides had presented their cases and Anakin made the choice to become a Jedi again.
  11. ForceHeretic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2002
    star 4
    And the whole giving in to temptation is kinda like the greek myth of Pandora's Box

    She was given the box and told never to open it, but curiosity got the better of her and when she opened it to see what was inside demons and monsters and everything of the sort poured out and all that was left in the box when that happened was hope

    Kinda like Anakin disobeying the code by falling in love and getting married, it only helped him fall by giving in to emotion, and once he fell to the dark side all that the galaxy had left was hope because pretty much everything else was gone
  12. DrewskiAMK Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 10, 2003
    additionally, some of the names and a lot of the location names are taken from various religions and mythological legends in real life
  13. JediHPDrummer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 23, 2002
    star 3
    I posted this a while back. But it fits in this thread.

    The Mythic symbols in Episode II are very dark, foreshadowing of the fall of the republic and the rise of the evil empire. The scene from the movie is in the beginning. The viewers are blessed with what appears to be almost untold beauty with the clouds. In this scene you begin to draw parallels between this and quite a few myths, the first one to come to mind would most likely be Asgard, the realm of the Gods in Norse mythology. While it is not this particular image that stirs the mind to come to this conclusion it is the state in which Coruscant is in.
    A near pre-Ragnarok state if you could call it that, Ragnarok being, in the most simplified terms the end of the world. However, this is not just limited to Earth or Midgard as it was called, rather the end of Asgard itself and all the ruling powers that dwelled within. An interesting parallel that is not really seen in this is how they are both depicted as working societies, in Coruscants case; it is much like a democracy, which is indeed fleeting. In Asgard Odin technically rules over all matters, much like a democracy, however he does leave other gods or goddess to do the more menial of jobs that exist in Asgard, which of course makes Odin a dictator, something Coruscant becomes over time.
    In Norse mythology Ragnarok is brought about by Surt, lord of the fire giants from the fire region known of Muspelheim and will lay waste to Asgard and Midgard. Later in the film the movie reaches it?s climax on the hellish planet Geonosis, this is almost a direct parallel to the battle that is fought is Muspelheim as the Norse gods and their slain warriors compiled by the Valkyries try to push the giants back. Geonosis and Muspelheim have many eerie similarities in that they both are very barren and are typically depicted with fire or the color red. Finally leading to the end of the film you can see the clone troops marching into transports with a very red sky as the backdrop now in Coruscant, again a parallel to Asgard during Ragnarok.
    Referring back to the situation in general it may also be stated that like the gods of Asgard the Jedi really did not have any clue that they had an enemy on their own lines. In the scene where Palpatine is giving his speech to the rest of the representatives of him obtaining emergency powers the scene goes to Yoda and Mace talking about whether or not what is happening is indeed the right thing. In the case of Asgard it is Loki who brings about a terrible downfall to many a god in order to assume power within Asgard through trickery and deceit. In addition to this he also aids the fire giants just as Palpatine plays a dual role as Darth Sidious.
    Whether it is the scene that seems inspired as a prelude to the coming destruction at the beginning or in the end where it seems like they are descending into the bowels of Muspelheim the parallels between Episode II and Norse mythology are strong and seem to play a strong role in its forging and symbolism together.
  14. DarthAttorney Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2000
    star 6
    There's great stuff in this thread already! :eek:

    Keep it coming! :D

    Any other comparisons to the myths of other cultures?
    I hadn't even considered links between SW and the Norse gods.
  15. Naccha Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 1999
    star 3
    Then there's the whole concept of the Force. Many Eastern philosophies have ideas of a cosmic energy that is part of all of us, the earth and the universe. Western religions tend to be more name giving and label the energy God. Lucas chose "The Force" as a means of allowing everyone to interpet in their each individual way. He was trying to inspire people, especially young people, to ask questions about what is "The Force" or an equivilent superior being. In mythology, different gods were used to explain this energy. GL just took it a little further by not making it a god or super-human, but making it an energy field of some type. BTW, great thread...love talking about this type of SW philosphies
  16. JediKnightOB1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 26, 2003
    star 5
    Many people have mentioned the parallels between the new movies and the the "Original Trilogy."

    Here is why Fire would make sense... hold on to your seats because it is obvious and we have seen it in RTOJ.

    Fire is Vaders last step. George said "Fire" twice.

    It would make sense that the same moment that Vader is turned, the first time, is the segway to his dark side. The same as Vader being returned to Anakin as Luke burns his body at the end or RTOJ.

    Anakin is destroyed. He is reborn (like a Phoenix) as Vader. Once he dies, Luke burns his (Vaders) body he is transfered back to Anakin.
    This is an irony because it explaines Anakins burning desires that turned him into Vader.
    It is mythological because of the Phoenix motif.
    It is biblical because of the "Cleansing of the flame" and the "Babtism by Fire."
    The Funeral Pyre is also of Asian background. The hotter the flame the more respect.

    Who is with me on this?
    Who disagrees?
  17. __clairvoyant__ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 10, 2003
    George considers every religion true in a way; the psychic powers are known today but still remain a mystery.
    As for the parallel; I can add the universal energy might be 'ki' or chi in Chinese; as today stated in Feng Shui and Reiki etc...
    Do you think it might be possible that he is trying to market his movies by adding these elements?For example, if you use a child born without a father as a theme; you will get the attention of many christians; or meditation for the JEdi; the Buddhists will watch the movie differently.(Not the monks in Tibet, but you know what i mean)
    The fact that George maybe does not know what to believe in, served him as an effective marketing tool for his star wars saga.
    On the other way; the mythology is a mix of the classical; far eastern concepts with the technology of 1000s of years later.Many things are there; the things that the script writers perceieve as truth in their real lives, who knows?
  18. JediKnightOB1 Force Ghost

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    Jan 26, 2003
    star 5
    I believe that many of GLs ideas are universal. People from all races and religions enjoy the motifs and human struggle. As for mythology, Yes, GL has created modern folklore.
  19. g3op4s Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2002
    star 1
    Zeuss's father, what was his name, chronic or something like that, if I'm wrong sorry but anyways. Chronic


    His name is Chronos(or Kronos).
  20. ForceHeretic Jedi Youngling

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    Dec 8, 2002
    star 4
    Dang now I remember, chronos

    Thx
  21. ForceHeretic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2002
    star 4
    And western philosophy I think has strongly influenced the star wars saga

    The story of Anakin falling to the Dark-side and becoming a king of evil is very much like the fall of Lucifer in the book of Revelations in the Bible

    If Anakin is expelled from the Jedi Order in Episdoe 3, it would be very similar to Lucifer being cast out of heaven. Lucifer was the most powerful angel in heaven, second only to god. Very similar to Anakin; Anakin is considered to have the most potential of any Jedi, and at the time of Episode 2 is among the most powerful, second only it seems to Yoda, the head of the Jedi Council

    And if in Episode 3 Anakin is cast out, and under orders from the council this is carried out by Obi-wan, it would be even more like Lucifer as it was Micheal the arch angel who cast Lucifer out. And when he was cast out Lucifer became the king of evil, and decided to do all he could to destroy heaven and god; just as Anakin decides to do all he can to destroy the Jedi for what he sees as a betrayal

    And the bible states that Lucifer was a lyer from the beginning, just as Anakin has had potential for a fall to the dark side from the beginning. And god; the jedi Council; saw this in Lucifer; just as the Jedi Council saw this in Anakin
  22. ArtisticJedi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 1
    I don't exactly see it as a mythology but you could see Lando as a parallel to Judas.

    Lando betrayed Han as Judas betrayed Christ.

    however, han was never killed, but you do get the picture.
  23. ForceHeretic Jedi Youngling

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    Dec 8, 2002
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    Yea but Lando redeemed himself, Judas on the other hand, well he's a son of perdition, which is the worst thing you can possibly be

    I think if someone were to betray Anakin then it would be more like the story of Judas because Anakin was of virgin birth and meant to be seen as a christ like figure at least in terms of birth and potential
  24. Naccha Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 1999
    star 3
    The fact that George maybe does not know what to believe in, served him as an effective marketing tool for his star wars saga.

    I thought about that too. By trying to appease to a wide spectrum, he added something that was religious without really identifying it. And it probably was in his mind, to get his story out there, to be seen by many. I hope it just wasn't a marketing tool. I kinda like to believe that SW is a cut above that, though with all the toys and other merchandise, it gets harder and harder to see through the marketing machine. <<sigh>> There is something that appeals to me about SW that is more than just a few great movies. And I like to believe that in the future...way in the future...people will come across these films and consider them on the same level as The Odyssey. Just great, great mythology....
  25. DarthStymi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2002
    star 3
    Here's my idea about what the prequel trilogy is about. Anybody who knows about the connection between Star Wars and myth, usually knows that Lucas was greatly influenced by Joseph Campbell. Clearly Campbell's Monomyth hero cycle is what the 1st trilogy follows, almost too closely. Well for this 2nd trilogy I think its different, and not necessarily following the cycle as closely, maybe purposely on Lucas's part.
    What I think the 2nd triogy is following is the 2nd half of Campbell's book, "The Hero With A Thousand Faces." The first half of the book talks about The Adventure of the Hero, and has such things in it like: the call to adventure, supernatural aid in the form of an old man, threshold crossings, belly of the whale, etc. These, I think, clearly parallel Luke, and while they can be found with Anakin, not as well.
    The whole second half of Campbell's book, that people often ignore, talks about The Cosmogonic cycle. Here's a few things that it covers and tell me if it doesn't reek of Anakin: the virgin birth, the mother univers, childhood of the human warrior, hera as warrior, hero as lover, hero as emperor & tyrant, hero as world redeemed, & departure of the hero.
    Well that's my argument and I'm sticking to it.
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