Star Wars and The Roman Empire: More Similar than you would think

The Empire in Star Wars has similarities to the Ancient Roman Empire. They have closely related stories of their formation. The Star Wars Empire and the Roman Empire were also structured in a similar way organizationally. Also like many empires, they were both the largest organized government in their part of the world or galaxy with the most powerful military.

The formation of the Empire in Star Wars looks a lot like the formation of the Roman Empire. In Star Wars Chancellor Palpatine was originally the leader of the Democratic Republic just as Julius Caesar was a military leader in the Roman Republic. They both gained immense power by using the soldiers under their command to give themselves the head spot of government. Chancellor Palpatine used the powers he had gradually been building up to take over the military and kill all of the Jedi who opposed him and declared himself Emperor. Julius Caesar also took power by military might. He was a General who crossed the Rubicon with his army and won a civil war to become ruler of Rome.

The way the rulers were eventually killed has similarities as well. Both were killed by friends who they trusted. Emperor Palpatine was thrown into the reactor of the second Death Star by his apprentice Darth Vader. By the same token, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by senators including one of his close friends and allies Marcus Junius Brutus. 

Another way the Star Wars Empire and the Roman Empire were similar in that they both had diverse people that were categorized into smaller groups with local leadership. The Roman Empire was split into 2 halves to be more easily controlled consisting of the Eastern and Western parts of the Empire and then divided into even smaller provinces to be managed by an authority appointed to the region. The Star Wars Empire used the same practice of having local leaders. This is seen by the royalty of specific planets. Princess Leia of Onderon was a royal figure on her planet, and other planets had their own local rulers. 

Both of the Empires also maintained huge militaries that were used to conquer more territory for the empire, but also to maintain order and quell rebellions that sprang up inside their borders. The Star Wars Empire maintained huge fleets of starships, an immense amount of stormtroopers, and even a Death Star that was the size of a small moon. In regards to the Roman Empire Augustus wrote “I often conducted wars, civil and foreign, by land and sea across the whole world” (The Ides of March and aftermath 3.1) Although not quite as impressive as the Star Wars Empire the Roman Empire had many Legions that crushed their neighbors as well as stopping civil wars. 

Both of these Empires are very similar even though they are set in different locations and time periods with vastly different technology available. They both had similar formations with a prominent figure of the republic changing the established rules to stay in power longer than they were supposed to and becoming dictator. The dictators were both ultimately betrayed by someone who they truste. Both placed a huge emphasis on their military strength and had similarly structured government over provinces or planets.

-Seth Hanson

Word Count- 545

One thought on “Star Wars and The Roman Empire: More Similar than you would think

  1. 2) In terms of strength, I like the how you mention that they are very similar in those terms. However, I believe the Ancient Roman Empire was more fragile than the Empire. The Empire destroyed a majority of the Jetis, securing a victory over the Republic that has been a constant battle throughout the series. In Ancient Rome, the Empire eventually lost power and was not build on wiping out an entire race. It was built on armies trying to over throw each other, eventually leading to a few successful leaders. The Empire has a solid structure in hierarchy. Sure, there is killing for the head position, but it is not like the Empire is collapsing on itself because many people are trying to claim the Empire’s head position. While I see the similarities you have pointed out – like the fact that key leaders were overthrown – I believe the Roman Empire was less stable than the Empire from Star Wars because there was a lack of an annihilation of an entire race.

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