Stories about the struggle between good and evil, heroes and villains, and the intervention of higher powers have been with humanity from the very beginning. Every culture has its own set of such stories and has often been used to depict the war between forces of darkness and those of light. This paper will be examining the similarities as well as the contrast that exist between ancient mythology and star wars. In addition, to understand these two genres of mythology, I will examine an example from each category. Hence, I will look at the ancient myth character; Bellerophon, and a star war actor; Darth Vader.
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All over the world, we have extraordinary stories in various cultures and among diverse people and religion. These stories are usually about the gods and the ancient heroes of those times who saved the people from the villains who sort to destroy them. A task that they accomplished through the help of the gods. Sometimes these stories talk about the origin of a particular people or culture, their religious beliefs, and their general cultural formation. On the other hand, star wars are modern day fiction or the current version of the ancient mythologies. Created by George Lucas for this modern generation, star wars can best be described as a combination of science fiction, comic books, and old movies tale; all put together to form a classical mythology of the twentieth century. It is a matter of giving the old a new look and portrays how the modern days religious believes in higher powers, heroes and villains can be used to recreate a modern version of the ancient myths.
Even though star wars and ancient mythology are set in different eras, and also the heroes are different, both star wars and ancient mythology use the same mythical styles of appealing the audience imagination through their stories. To achieve this, they appeal to the inquisitive nature of man that is always seeking for answers and explanation. This is done through the way they both present their stories; that is, by engaging the nature of their audience that is seeking to understand the world in which they live and trying to find meaning to life. Both Star wars and ancient mythology goes beyond the facts of science to give life a meaning.
The other similarity is found in the scope of the audience; they both appeal to a large scope of the audience. In the ancient myths, the story was taught to the people of a given culture. It almost reached everyone in the culture since it was part of them. The same goes for star war given that it reaches out to the entire generation that is interested in modern day mythology.
Ancient myths and star wars have the similarity of inspiring awe and a sense of recognition. The stories of ancient heroes and how they fought with villains to save their communities from termination would inspire awe into the mind of the audience. It left them with different imaginations and mental pictures of the whole process. It also resulted to respect as well as recognition for the heroes and their heroic acts. The same goes for the star wars heroes who by using their abilities for the benefits of others, are often recognized as mentors.
The ancient mythologies and star wars communicate a certain order of the universe, and they try to depict how people of the universe should live. Both myths; ancient and modern, are concerned with the how the universe came about and how people should live in it doing good without harming it or one another. The myths tell of what happened to those who harmed the universe or tried to harm others, and how the heroes of the days, with the help of the gods, destroyed them and rescued the universe from their evil plans. This, in turn, communicates the need for order in the universe and the need for respect in regards to nature and one another.
Communicating wisdom is the other similarity between ancient myths and star wars. They both communicate the kind of wisdom that everyone in the society needs to have. They bring out the kind of wisdom that is needed to save a society as shown by a hero. While everyone in the society might not be a hero, the truth of the matter is every society has its fair measure of villains. These characters might not be as vile as the ones depicted in these movies, but the society needs wisdom in dealing with them, and this is what these myths bring out.
The other aspect in the list of similarity between ancient myths and star wars is the fact that they both endure for a long period of time. The ancient myths of the old times are still known to the members of those societies many years down the line. The same can be said of the star war series; they are not easily forgotten as compared to other genres of movies. This is because ancient myths and star wars appeal to the depths of humans that really matter to them; that is, the issue of good and bad, light and darkness, and the role of the higher powers or gods in this continued conflict.
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It is important to note that even though they are numerous similarities, there are also areas that there are in contrast between ancient myths and star wars. Star wars utilize technology so as to recreate ancient myths, and goes ahead to utilize scientific technology in mesmerizing the audience, unlike ancient myths that are devoid of technological advances but use ancient imageries and pictures to create a mental visualization of their stories .
The other contrast comes in the area of the portrayal of characters. In ancient myths, the heroes were shown to rely purely on the help of the gods; whereas, in star wars, they are portrayed as mentors. These heroes are meant to appeal to the audience of the new age dawn, who claim spirituality without allegiance to a god, but rather just to a higher power. Star wars are most of the time used to show this kind of scenario as opposed to the ancient myths.
Bellerophon is an ancient myth character while Darth Vader is a star war actor; the two are similar. Both are classical examples of heroes who go out to conquer the villains in their society and bring an end to the suffering of their people. They both show reliance on the gods for help and power. Bellerophon is a story of an ancient Greek Hero who set out on a deliverance agenda after he becomes an outcast for murder. He is famed for killing a monster; one that was imposed to kill because of its ability to breath out fire. However, with the help from the gods, Bellerophon was able to slay this murderous monster. The gods appear to him during the time of prayers and give him the power to overcome the monster. This instance is an example of the point stated earlier that ancient myths tell of how people ought to live in the society; that is, the mortals ought to rely on the immortal for power to overcome evil. The same is true of Darth Vader, popularly known as the Anakin, is shown as a hero. At first, he uses his power to prevent deaths thus depicting the typical character of heroes who use their powers to do well.
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However, the end of both Anakin and Bellerophon is not good. Having been good heroes for using their powers to save lives, they both give to the evil temptation of corrupting their powers. The lesson of wisdom that is passed across by either ancient myths or star wars is portrayed here. Pride is the beginning of a downfall and with power comes great responsibility to use the power well. Bellerophon fell because his pride led him to fight against the gods who had given him the power to become famous. Anakin fell because he could not master his feelings of hate and rage. This brings out the vital lesson that every human being needs to learn; the need to master their emotions.
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- Persall, Steve. Mythology in Star Wars. Accessed April 25, 2017.
- Winkler, Martin M. Classical myth and culture in the cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.