Star Wars and History: Divine Conception in Myth

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

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.

Alexandre_Jacques_Chantron_(1891)_Danae
Perseus’ mother, Danae, and the golden rain

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Star Wars and History: Father vs. Son in Myth

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

In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker fights his father, Darth Vader. Revenge of the Sith repeats this father vs. son theme when Darth Sidious (Palpatine) reveals that Sith apprentices often kill their masters: their figurative fathers. That aligns Star Wars with a common theme from myth. Many mythic heroes confront and kill their fathers. Mordred, for instance, kills his father, King Arthur (and is killed by him). And of course, the Greeks’ Oedipus kills his father and takes his place as king of Thebes. Gods battle their fathers too, including the titan Cronus, who overthrows — and castrates — his father, Ouranos, the sky god. But a similar fate awaits Cronus; he’s later overthrown by Zeus, his own son.

Mordred -- cropped
Mordred and King Arthur

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Star Wars and History: Fall of the Knights Templar

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

In Revenge of the Sith, the Chancellor/Emperor orders the sudden liquidation of the Jedi Order, including an assault on the Jedi Temple. The story models the fall of medieval Europe’s Knights Templar. The Templars were a religious order whose key members were both knights and monks (kind of like the Jedi). They fought in the Crusades and were among Christendom’s most feared warriors. They also became wealthy as pioneers in banking.

The Knights Templar
Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon — a.k.a. Templars

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Why Sounds Yoda so Archaic?

Says Yoda things like: “Powerful have you become; the dark side I sense in you.” Sounds it like speaks he an old dialect of English. Yet uses not Yoda “thou hast” or “erstwhile” or “thee” — or any other word or phrase found no longer in English. Old English does not speak Yoda, nor even Middle English. Speaks Yoda Modern English, except that one rule he breaks. Alters Yoda noun-verb order. That same one rule this post breaks too (more consistently than Yoda). Continue reading “Why Sounds Yoda so Archaic?”

Snow White May Have Begun as a Sexy Goddess

Freya_by_Penrose
“Freyja and the Necklace,” by J. Doyle Penrose (1862-1932), c. 1913

In the myths of the Norse and other Germanic peoples, Freya is the beautiful goddess of sex, love, and fertility — and of war and death. She drives a chariot pulled by cats, treasures the pig as her sacred animal, and wears a powerful golden necklace called Brisingamen. According to one story, Brisingamen is the work of a troop of dwarves. While visiting the dwarves’ cave, Freya sees the beautiful necklace and begs to buy it. But the misshapen smiths already have plenty of treasure, so they demand a higher price. In exchange for the necklace, Freya stays in the cave until she’s slept with each dwarf. Continue reading “Snow White May Have Begun as a Sexy Goddess”

The English Are Celtic (or Something)

It looks like the Celtic hero, King Arthur, couldn't keep his people from going English (assuming he even existed).
It looks like the Celtic hero, King Arthur, couldn’t keep his people from going English (assuming he even existed).

Traditional histories say that when the English migrated to Britain during the 400’s A.D., they almost completely replaced the native Celtic population. In other words, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes — the Germanic peoples who became the English — wiped out the Celts or herded them all into Wales and Cornwall. The result: England’s people are almost completely Germanic, and so is the English language.

But a recent linguistic analysis tells a different story. Continue reading “The English Are Celtic (or Something)”

See the Face of Richard III

This is cool.

King Richard III has been a subject of mystery for more than 500 years. Did he really murder his little nephews, “the Princes in the Tower”? Did he really have a hunchback? Was he as evil as the lead character in Shakespeare’s Richard III? The king’s death in 1485 put an end to the Plantagenet line, which had ruled since the 1154 coronation of Henry II — and opened the way for the Tudors and the modern English state. But it did little to end the controversy. In fact, there’s a Richard III Society to this day, founded in 1924 to un-blacken the king’s name — and there’s a word in the English language, “Ricardian,” for people who defend his  honor. Continue reading “See the Face of Richard III”

Lighten Up, Francis

Today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church elected a new pontiff: Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who chose to be known as Pope Francis. Most modern Popes pick the name of a prior pontiff, so this is a departure from tradition — choosing a name never held by a Pope. The new Bishop of Rome instead chose to be named after one of Catholicism’s most revered saints: Francis of Assisi — a.k.a. San Francisco — who lived from around 1180 to 1226. As I pointed out in a recent post, Popes usually choose the name of someone they admire, so the name offers a preview of the new Pope’s plans and priorities. Below are a few of Saint Francis’ personality traits. It’s anyone’s guess which the new Pope plans to imitate. Continue reading “Lighten Up, Francis”