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Exploring the Minds of Two Suicidal Maniacs: How George Lucas Resembles Virgil in Star Wars

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Virgil’s Aeneid is one of the greatest poems to have been written in the history of literature. Virgil’s poetry is unique because the poet manages to tell his story with the minimal amount of assistance from character dialogue. Instead, he uses setting, inner feelings, actions and of course, various poetic techniques to convey his message. In this way, the Aeneid is a poem in its own class. Despite the fact that Virgil is accused on multiple occasions of taking some ideas from other poets, such as Homer, the poem is still effective and remains one of the most commonly read poem by classicists today. Virgil’s technique even lives on in modern literature and film. One great example would be the Star Wars series. George Lucas, the director of the famous science fiction series, writes his story similar Virgil’s style. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith especially bears a resemblance to Virgil’s poem. With fate being a major theme in both Star Wars and the Aeneid, Lucas draws many parallels with Virgil’s style using elements like setting, dialogue, and personal conflicts.


Star Wars Episode III was essentially the last piece of the puzzle in the six-part series. Being the third movie, but also the final one created, allowed viewers and fans to completely understand the idea of the series. The story follows a war between the Jedi and the Sith, which centered around Anakin Skywalker, and his son, Luke Skywalker. However, the series more closely followed Anakin Skywalker, the so-called Chosen One, whose fate was supposed to be to “bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith.” However, after the Master Jedi declared that Anakin was not the actual chosen one after he turned to the Dark Side, Luke was believed to be the chosen one. Fate and destiny are the biggest themes of the series and George Lucas definitely takes fans on a roller coaster ride to understand what destiny really is.



Although they were in almost completely different circumstances, Dido from the Aeneid and Anakin Skywalker, from Star Wars, are very similar characters. Both are victims of fate, as Dido falls in love with Aeneas and then loses him to fate, while Anakin is destined to be the one to save the universe. However, in order to describe the darkness Anakin fell into, George Lucas takes a very Virgilian approach.


Dido underwent a very significant transformation from being the kind Phoenician to being a frenzied suicidal maniac. Virgil denotes her transformation with, "at non inflelix animi Phoenissa, neque umquam /soluitur in somnos oculisue aut pectore noctem/accipit: ingeminant curae rursusque resurgens /saeuit amor magnoque irarum fluctuat aestu” (IV.529.532). In these lines, Virgil explains that Dido did not sleep, her passion raged, and she swelled in anger. These lines show us what kind of frenzy Dido has been put into. Virgil also uses the repetition of “furens” throughout all of book four to burn this idea into his reader’s minds. Yet, what truly makes this approach unique is how Virgil doesn’t exactly use dialogue as his biggest weapon. Describing is a priority over actual dialogue and thus Virgil stands out. Often, when we are troubled, we are devoid of sleep, just like Dido is in the poem. Using this, we can relate to Dido and understand how she really feels. George Lucas, depicts Anakin Skywalker almost exactly the same way. Toward the end of the movie, Anakin, after turning to the dark side, looks upon the horizon as he awaits further orders from his new master. It is in this scene, Anakin eyes are noticeably yellow for the first time. He is crying, but at the same time, his expression is anger. Looking at the horizon, Anakin sees the sun, but it only barely penetrates the dark clouds attempting the cover it. This scene, allows viewers of the film to understand what is going on in Anakin’s mind. We understand that hatred and sadness are present in him and that his “light” is slowly being covered by darkness. Using the setting, Lucas is able to truly explain what is going on without actual words being said.


Yet, while Virgil uses some dialogue to show how extreme Dido becomes, Lucas uses only action to show Anakin has changed into Dark Vadar. Dido, when her anger has heightened, contemplates burning and destroying Aeneas and his fleet. She takes the situation to the extreme by believing that if she can not get what she wants, she will not let Aeneas get what he wants either. She says, “non potui abreptum diuellere corpus et undis / spargere? non socios, non ipsum absumere ferro / ' 'Ascanium patriisque epulandum ponere mensis?” (IV.600-603). Besides contemplating whether to tear the body of Aeneas apart, Dido also contemplates suicide, which is her ultimate fate.

Anakin however, kills, well everyone. He kills young Jedi, innocent people, almost killed the mother of his child, and was even willing to kill his master, because he believed they betrayed him. He took no opportunity to understand the situation and the movie gave no indication that he thought any of it through. Yet, Lucas’ approach is not entirely un-Virgilian. Virgil would not shun this idea of action to tell the story instead of actual conversation, as there are multiple other occasions of this exact technique. For example, Dido’s death is depicted with, “dixerat, atque illam media inter talia ferro' / 'conlapsam aspiciunt comites, ensemque cruore' / 'spumantem sparsasque manus.” (IV. 663-665). Dido dies extravagantly as the sword was frothed with blood and her hands were stained. Thus both, Lucas and VIrgil communicate the same mindset of the character but in very different methodologies.


The Theme of FateEdit

Both pieces of literature have a major theme of fate, but both Virgil and Lucas have differing opinions about what kind of force fate really is. Virgil, essentially takes a bat and beats his readers with the idea that you must adhere to your fate, and you should not stray from achieving it. He explains this through Aeneas, whose destiny is to create the foundation of Rome. There are multiple occasions that Aeneas strays from the path that allows him to fulfill his destiny, yet he is constantly reminded that he must do his duty to his people. During his encounter with Dido, Aeneas almost stayed with the Phoenician Queen because he fell in love with her. However, Juppiter did not allow this and sent his messenger Mercury to remind Aeneas of his fate. Mercury tells Aeneas, “tu nunc Karthaginis altae / fundamenta locas pulchramque uxorius urbem' / 'exstruis? heu, regni rerumque oblite tuarum!” (IV. 265-267). Mercury questions Aeneas’ motives here as he accuses him of being forgetful of his kingdom and his affairs. Aeneas afterwards, understand that the gods are giving this order springs up and decides to leave right away in lines 279-280 of book four. However, Virgil is using this message to show that one must not forget this fate and must abide by the path it provides. However, Lucas allows readers to contemplate how much power fate really has in people’s lives. Anakin is the child of prophecy. His destiny is to help the Jedi and destroy the Sith Lords. This information is widely known to the characters in the movie, Anakin himself, and of course the audience. Yet, the fact that Anakin turns to the Dark Side, allows the viewers to believe that while your fate may be known, there is still choice in the world. One of the last things Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Anakin during their battle is, “you were the chosen one, you were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them!” Lucas’ approach is very different here because he proposes this idea that destiny exists, but choice is still a factor and while you are bound to your fate, you must not always seek to fulfill it. He allows his own viewers to think about what fate really is. This is even more evident as the series ends with Darth Vadar (Anakin Skywalker) killing himself and the Sith Lord to save his son. He ends up completing his destiny, by restoring the balance to the force, even though it seemed his intentions were the opposite before. By indirectly putting this idea in the movie, Lucas is able to craft his own style of including his audience in his story. Meanwhile, at the end of Aeneas’ speech to Dido, he says, “Italiam non sponte sequor. (IV. 361). Clearly, the fact that Aeneas does not proceed to Italy by will, shows that he understands his fate and will spend his life trying to complete it. Virgil successfully transmits his message to his readers by continually discussing fate, and continually reminding his audience that fate is not a force to be reckoned with.


Putting one in the other’s shoesEdit

While both Virgil and George Lucas are more alike then different, each would have their own technique of creating the other’s work of art. Virgil for example, would make an excellent rendition of Star Wars, by making slight tweaks. One major thing that Virgil would put in the movie, are similes. The Aeneid thrives because of the things certain events are compared to. The different similes that Virgil writes, allow the readers to make connections and understand the story without the main characters of the poem actually participating. For example, when the war officially broke out in Revenge of the Sith, both Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda fight fiercely to protest the Republic and were outnumbered. While this massive war was gong on, Virgil would have probably inserted his own simile here that could include how a military crushes their opponent with ease because they are easily outnumbered. Virgil would show some fighting in the actual war but really describe it through a simile or even another metaphor. The movie was probably be slightly more effective because it could give useful insights of to the audience. The original movie, all wrapped up in its special effects is devoid of these similes.


George Lucas of course was at an advantage when he created Star Wars. He had special effects, a large cast and crew, and even one of the greatest musical composers of today, John Williams. However, Lucas would probably make the best Aeneid movie out of any director (besides Vergil). For example, during the scene where Dido resolves to die, Lucas would have added really intense background music to depict how tragic the scene was. However, Lucas wouldn’t stop there. He would definitely use setting to make the scene even more vivid. In Revenge of the Sith, Lucas makes the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi on a volcano-like planet. During this scene, lava was exploding everywhere, and many structures were slowly deteriorating. Adding these effects, showed how the world was thrown into chaos just because one boy destroyed the balance of the Force. In Virgil’s poem, George Lucas would probably have thrown the city of Carthage into chaos for one reason or another. It adds to the effect of the scene, and with it, the audience will be able to draw clear parallels from events that happen and are similar to the situation of the characters.


George Lucas and Virgil are each one of the best artists of their time. In order to tell their stories, they craft their own techniques in order to convey their ultimate message. Virgil’s Aeneid is a great epic poem and contains many different details of setting, dialogue, similies, and other poetic techniques. These techniques brings Virgil’s poetry to life and thus, he is one of the greatest Roman poets. George Lucas, inevitably is similar the great Latin poet. His techniques of using the setting, and conveying the message of fate, mirror Vergil so much even though they worked in different worlds. While some people may disagree, if George Lucas and Virgil teamed up for the latest epic adventure, they would definitely be in the running for the making of one of the greatest movies of all time.

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