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Star Wars and History: Divine Conception in Myth

January 23, 2016

~ This is the fifth of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. (See below for a list of the six titles.) ~

Alexandre_Jacques_Chantron_(1891)_Danae

Perseus’ mother, Danae, and the golden rain

In The Phantom Menace, we learn that the Force conceived Anakin Skywalker in his mother’s womb, without a father. That divine conception puts him in company with the Buddha, according to some stories, and of course with Jesus Christ, along with a long list of pagan heroes. For instance, in The Secret History of the Mongols, a radiant being descends through the roof of a lady’s yurt and fathers Bodonchar Munkhag, founder of Genghis Khan’s dynasty. And in Greco-Roman myth, Zeus conceives the hero-king Perseus by descending on a virgin as golden rain — while Mars conceives Rome’s Romulus and Remus when his phallus emerges from a sacred fire tended by a virgin priestess.

Anakin’s divine conception (immaculate conception) is an odd plot choice Star Wars, since fate usually has cosmic plans for these miracle children. Prophecy suggests that Anakin will “bring balance to the Force,” but all he really does (as Darth Vader) is assassinate the Emperor, ending a brief period of tyranny. He doesn’t even fully restore the Republic or galactic peace, since civil war continues in The Force Awakens. Anakin’s destiny doesn’t seem to put him up there with the Mongols’ ancestral khan or with Perseus or Romulus, who founded Mycenae and Rome — much less with Jesus Christ or the Buddha. Still, Anakin’s origins make him a mythic hero.

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If you like fantasy + history, you’ll love my book, The Jericho River, A Novel About the History of Western Civilization!

Below are the six posts in this series, Star Wars and History:
1. Roman Republic and Empire
2. Fall of the Knights Templar
3. Joseph Campbell and the Urban Myth with a Thousand Faces
4. Father vs. Son in Myth
5. Divine Conception in Myth (above)
6. Samurai and Nazis

See also, Why Sounds Yoda So Archaic?

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Image: Alexandre Jacques Chantron, Danae, 1891

© 2016 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.

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