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Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Series 1-5. Supervising director Dave Filoni, Lucasfilm Ltd., 2008-2013
Date of the First DVD or VHS
starwars.com (accessed: August 17, 2018)
starwars.com (accessed: August 17, 2018)
40th Daytime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Special Class Animated Program; 41st Daytime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Special Class Animated Program
Animated television programs
Computer animation films
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Author of the Entry:
Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, email@example.com
, b. 1974
Dave Filoni (1974- ) studied applied media at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, USA. After graduating in 1996 he worked on the animation staff for King of the Hill (1997-2004), The Oblongs (2001) and as director for the animation, Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005). He worked with George Lucas on the creation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008, see entry in this database), before serving as a writer, director, and supervising director on the series. Filoni was kept on when the Star Wars franchise was purchased by The Walt Disney Company. In 2017, Filoni became executive producer of all the animated Star Wars series, including Star Wars Forces of Destiny (2017, see elsewhere in the database) and Star Wars Resistance (2018).
Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
, b. 1944
George Lucas is a four-time Academy Award nominated film-maker from the USA. He was born in California and attended the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His first feature-length film was THX 1138 (1971); his second was American Graffiti (1973). His third feature film, Star Wars. A New Hope (1977) sparked the beginning of one of the world's most successful film franchises. Between 1977 and 2005, George Lucas was the co-writer and executive producer of all six Star Wars films; he also directed four of the six films. Lucas was heavily involved in the development of a number of further Star Wars projects, including animations, videogames, and novels.
In 1971, George Lucas founded the production company Lucasfilm Ltd (accessed: June 28, 2018). In 1975 he founded Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Through the various research and development projects which Lucas' companies engage in, Lucas has been a pioneer of many production techniques, such as the computer-assisted camera crane, use of computer graphics – including the earliest use of 3D computer character animation, use of digital photography in film production, use of film laser scanners, and the development of industry-standard post-production tools, including sound editing and mixing software. Graphics Group, part of Lucasfilm's computer division, was sold to Steve Jobs and re-named Pixar (now owned by The Walt Disney Company). Pixar remains one of the most influential and successful animation studios. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. George Lucas remains active within film-making and research.
Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Narrator - Tom Kane
Clone Troopers - Dee Bradley Baker
Anakin Skywalker - Matt Lanter
Obi-Wan Kenobi - James Arnold Taylor
Battle Droids - Matthew Wood
Count Dooku - Corey Burton
Ahsoka Tano - Ashley Eckstein
Mace Windu - Terrence 'T.C.' Carson
Padmé Amidala - Catherine Taber
Chancellor Palpatine - Ian Abercrombie
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels, (video game, 2008 for Wii).
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Jedi Alliance, (video game, 2008 for Nintendo DS).
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes, (video game, 2009 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS).
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, (video game, 2011 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, PC, Mac, and Nintendo 3DS).
Clone Wars Adventures, (online PC game, 2010).
Disney Infinity 3.0, (video game, 2015 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, iOS and Android).
Sequels, Prequels and Spin-offs
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2013) developed following an earlier, 2-D cartoon, Star Wars. Clone Wars (2003-2004).
The Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2013) series was cancelled in 2013. Many more episodes had already been planned. A sixth series was released separately in 2014. After that, a project known as The Clone Wars Legacy (2014) adapted unproduced story arcs into other formats. Some episodes were worked on further to become Season 6: The Lost Missions: Crystal Crisis on Utapau (a four-episode arc) and Bad Batch (a four-episode arc). These were released for free on StarWars.com in 2015.
Further spin-offs include:
Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Sony Entertainment, 2010-2014 (online multiplayer game).
Barlow, Jeremy, and Frigeri, Juan, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir 2014 (graphic novel).
Golden, Christie, Dark Disciple, Arrow Books, 2015 (novel).
Johnston, E.K. Ahsoka, Disney–Lucasfilm Press, 2016 (novel).
Miller, Karen, The Clone Wars: Wild Space, Del Rey, 2008 (novel).
Traviss, Karen, The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, Del Rey, 2009 (novel).
Miller, Karen, Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth, Del Rey, 2010 (novel).
Miller, Karen, Clone Wars Gambit: Siege, Del Rey, 2010 (novel).
Parisi, Frank, and Scheppke, Gary, The Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Titan Books Ltd, 2009 (reference work).
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia, DK Publishing, 2010 (reference work).
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a 3D CGI animated television series set during the period between the Star Wars films Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005). The Star Wars stories are set in a distant galaxy which includes a great number of planets and which is inhabited by an enormous range of sentient, non-sentient, and robotic life-forms. A powerful energy known as "the Force" binds the galaxy together and can be channelled by "Force sensitive" living beings. Those on the "light" side of the Force use it to help others and typically belong to the Jedi Order, a religious group affiliated with the Galactic Republic, a democratic union of star systems and planets. Those on the "dark" side of the Force use it selfishly, channelling hatred and rage. Dark side Force users typically serve the master and apprentice of the Sith Order, Sheev Palpatine, who is secretly the Sith lord, Darth Sidious, and his apprentice, Count Dooku, who is the Sith lord Darth Tyrannus. The Clone Wars were fought between the long-standing Galactic Republic and a Separatist movement which sought to destroy the Republic. Both sides were manipulated by Sheev Palpatine, who led the Republic as its Chancellor and secretly led the Separatists as Darth Sidius. Palpatine orchestrated the war as a means of turning the Republic into a fascistic empire. As Revenge of the Sith and the original trilogy of Star Wars films were released prior to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the ultimate outcome of the war is known to most viewers, which adds an underlying pathos to the animation series. The series follows members of the Jedi Order, particularly Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, and his Jedi Padawan (trainee) Ahsoka Tano, as they lead the clone army against the Separatists to restore peace to the galaxy.
The Star Wars universe is a synthesis of many traditions, including science-fiction, traditional Far Eastern spiritualty, the American Wild West, and classical antiquity. Star Wars: The Clone Wars reflects this variety of influences in its own aesthetic and social dynamics. The classical influence upon the animated series is profound and wide-ranging, as it is throughout the Star Wars films.
The ancient past is a persistent trope in the Star Wars universe. To some extent, the modern world's own relationship with antiquity is explored through the Star Wars universe's relationship with its ancient past. The action is explicitly set, "A long time ago..." and there are frequent evocations of the ancient past. At one point, the Jedi receive a Jedi distress call of a sort that has not been used in 2000 years, yet the Jedi are still able to recognise and respond to it (S03E15). The war that rages is understood through reference to the battles of the ancient past. One Jedi remarks, for example, "There have not been battles like this since the days of the Old Republic" (S03E20). When a great festival is held, Chancellor Palpatine reminds the public: "847 years ago Naboo joined the Republic". He is reminding the people of the occasion for the festival, urging them to remember their past even as they celebrate the future (S04E18). A droid helping to train young Jedi asserts his worth by noting, "I've lived on this ship for a thousand years" (S05E7), and that he has helped "a thousand generations of Jedi" (S05E8). The droid is a Chiron-like mentor, multi-generational, frequently monstrous (he spends a lot of time monstrously decapitated or without his limbs), and a store of Jedi lore. This emphasis on the existence of an ancient past adds depth and richness to the Star Wars universe which makes it all the more powerful when that cultural continuity and cultural wealth is swept away by the fall of the Republic and destruction of the Jedi.
Antiquity and Star Wars Philosophy
Greco-Roman antiquity is expressed in Star Wars: The Clone Wars through a variety of explicit and implicit ways. Each episode begins with an epigrammatic moral lesson of the kind that has accompanied Aesop's Fables since the medieval period, following in the tradition of moral education within children's culture and storytelling. The moral lessons vary, partly to fit the stories that they accompany and partly because the series' moral code is not that clearly defined, yet the epigrams frequently reflect ideas familiar from stoicism combined with a more modern emphasis on being kind and being true to oneself. Some of the more stoic-style morals are reminiscent of Hercules' mythical choice between a hard, virtuous life and a soft, decadent one (see esp. Xenophon, Memorabilia, 2.1.20 - 2.1.34): "It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness," (S01E19); "Choose what is right, not what is easy" (S02E18).
A further aspect of classical philosophy informs one of the main themes of the Star Wars universe, the fall of the gifted Jedi, Anakin Skywalker. Anakin's story threads throughout the Star Wars saga, from his first mention in A New Hope (1977) as a skilled pilot who fought in the Clone Wars, through the revelation in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) that he became the evil Darth Vader, his redemption in The Return of the Jedi (1983), and then through the prequel trilogy which charts his childhood (The Phantom Menace, 1999), adolescence (Attack of the Clones), and fall into evil (Revenge of the Sith). Set as it is within the prequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Anakin as a major protagonist. He is a gifted and skilled young man, yet most viewers are aware that they are watching him veer towards evil. Anakin has what Plato and Plutarch would have regarded as a megalopsychia – a greatness of soul, or great nature (see e.g. Plato, Republic, 491b-495b; Crito, 44d; Plutarch, Demetrius, 1.7-8). This means that he has enormous innate gifts and, with that, the potential for great evil as well as great good. Properly educated, he should exhibit positive greatness, but mistakes and mischances may (and will) lead him to do terrible things. While ancient morals do not exactly coincide with Jedi values, they do share a common rejection of excessive anger, hatred, and extreme cruelty. As the viewer is assumed to be aware of Anakin's destiny, they are encouraged to reflect on where Anakin and those around him go wrong. In a sense, this line of thinking can be applied to all of the Jedi; it is known that some of them turn evil and the viewer is invited to consider how that can be prevented and how naturally powerful people can be kept "good". This aspect of Star Wars: The Clone Wars arguably contributes more to the series' moral educational value than the epigrams.
The religious-mystical elements of the Star Wars universe owe more to the ancient East than to ancient Greece (unlike Ulysses 31, created in the wake of Star Wars' success, see elsewhere in this database). This is most apparent in the emphasis on the "Force", a power running through the galaxy akin to the Tao. Nonetheless, the exploration of the Force frequently displays the influence of classical antiquity, particularly in how characters access it to find out more about themselves and their destinies. In one story arc (S03E15-17) the Jedi Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka visit a Force strong planet. Shades appear to all three of them in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus in the Underworld (see esp. Odyssey, book 11). The shades offer guidance and warnings, although it is not clear whether they should be fully trusted. Jedi lore is explored. The viewer discovers that Anakin has been brought there by a Force wielder called 'The Father' to discover if Anakin is the "Chosen One" of prophecy. Anakin dismisses it as "just a myth", but a confrontation (in an amphitheatre) apparently reveals that he is the Chosen One. Anakin attempts to defy his prophesised destiny, a trope familiar from Greek mythology (see e.g. Sophocles' Oedipus Rex). Even when Anakin is troubled by his decision and returns to speak to The Father, the viewer is left as uncertain as Anakin about what the prophecy refers to – must Anakin restore balance here or in the wider universe (as appeared to be the case in Return of the Jedi)? "The Son", a Dark-side Force wielder, bids Anakin "Know Yourself", (akin to the Delphic maxim), before unleashing visions that reveal aspects of Anakin's future. Anakin's attempts to prevent prophecies from being fulfilled seem inadvertently to bring them about (a trope again familiar from Greek thought). These themes reflect Greek ideas about fate and prophecy as things which are powerful yet hard to interpret or control. They add spirituality to the Star Wars universe without being dogmatic about how spiritual matters work.
In one further example of the supernatural at work in a manner familiar from antiquity, the ability of sympathetic magic to genuinely harm enemies can be seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This magic stands outside the Force, wielded by witches. It is worked through a mannequin in a manner made famous in modern world through Voodoo, but widely practiced in classical antiquity (S04E19).
Antiquity and Star Wars Politics
The political dynamics of Star Wars: The Clone Wars carry over from the films and, as such, continue many of the films' uses of classical antiquity – particularly ancient Rome. The Galactic Republic has a structure in which each planet or system is represented by a senator. The senators meet in the Senate, on the planet Coruscant, an urban metropolis. The Republic's problems with corruption and self-interest amongst senators are discussed throughout (see e.g. S03E05). Echoes of the rise of Julius Caesar can be heard in Chancellor Palpatine's increasing grip on power, power achieved in part through his manipulation of the war (although, unlike Caesar, he is not openly a military leader). The Senate is divided over whether to increase the army or pursue peace; Palpatine, the emperor to-be, resents attempts at peace (esp. S03E10-11). The Republic's impending transformation into an empire develops the Rome theme further. Much of the action of Star Wars: The Clone Wars revolves around whether planets will leave the Republic for the Separatists, or which side neutral planets will align with (see e.g. S03E04; S04E01-04; S04E11-14; S05E02-05; S05E14-17). When planets do join the Separatists, they are often managed through client kings in a Roman manner (e.g. Onderon, S05E02-05). Many of the planets (particularly Coruscant and Mandalore) engage in popular triumphal parades and festivals which extend the classical vibe of Star Wars' political culture (e.g. S03E05; S04E15-18; S05E15).
In further exploration of political culture, the droids R2D2 and C3P0 become involved in series of power struggles (S04E06). They stumble amongst some pixie-like creatures and, when R2D2 accidentally kills their cruel tyrant, C3P0 helps them to elect a new leader via a nascent democracy. As a Republican droid, C3P0 automatically thinks that this is the right thing to do. On a second planet, R2D2 exposes a droid who has been fraudulently ruling through an imposing hologram. This draws on the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, but has older roots in the false Smerdis story from Herodotus (Histories, 3.30; 3.61-78). This trope addresses anxieties about the performative nature of power and the possibilities that this creates for deception.
Antiquity and Star Wars Design
Design features throughout Star Wars: The Clone Wars demonstrate the pervasive influence of classical antiquity. Some of these features are carried over from the films while others have been specially created for Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Jedi symbol combines features of a laurel wreath and a Phoenix, with classical iconography functioning as a conveyer of excellence and hope. The symbol was created only in 2002, when the Star Wars consumer division decided that it would be beneficial to have one. The symbol made its first appearance not in film, but in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where it appears throughout on Jedi materials. It was then picked up for use in the film Star Wars. The Last Jedi (2017) and beyond (see here, accessed: August 17, 2018). The classically-themed Jedi symbol is contrasted with the Sith's industrial cog-like symbol, which suggests their harsher, more brutal outlook.
A further prominent use of classical design can be seen in the Jedi Council Chamber. There, carried over from the films, a classical palm design can be seen repeated around the highly decorated chamber floor (S02E01-04; S03E07-08; S03E14-15; S05E02; S05E17-20). One of the major Jedi characters, Jedi Master Plo Koon, bears the same palm design on his wrist cuffs (S01E02 and 04; S02E22; S03E19-22; S05E19-20). Plo also wears a cloak trimmed with a Greek key design (S03E19-21), a design also favoured by the inhabitants of other planets (S05E03-04).
The Jedi share the galaxy-wide taste for classical features in their architecture. The Jedi Temple on Coruscant is a vast complex contained within a large pyramid structure. Inside the pyramid are huge colonnaded walkways, a library, also featuring great colonnades (e.g. S02E01; S02e21; S05E17-20), and a classical-style circular tholos structure (S02E04). An ancient Jedi temple on Ilum is shaped like the Pantheon in Rome; a circular building with layers of columns building up towards a domed, sun-lit roof (S05E06-07). The Sith also employ ancient-style architectural features. Darth Tyrannus, for example, trains an apprentice in an avenue of obelisks outside his palace (S03E14). Other planets also employ classical-style architecture in their centres of power, such as the large circular hall for senatorial meetings on Mon Calamari (S04E01), and the long stoas and columned halls of Naboo (S04E18). The ruler of the planet Mandalore resides in a great palace decorated with Roman-style busts (S03E05), and huge statues and friezes depicting Mandalore's ancient military past – scenes which come into focus when the planet undergoes a military coup (S05E15-16). The city of Isis on the planet Onderon features an enormous ziggurat and several colonnaded stoas inside (S05E02-05). There is a large public statue of a horse and rider which appears to be based on the Hellenistic Artemision Jockey sculpture in National Museum of Athens (ref. X 15177, accessed: August 17, 2018). Elsewhere on the planet we see a ruined temple complex of broken columns and paved court-yards.
Ancient-style architecture is also used to evoke some of the harsher aspects of the Star Wars universe. When the Jedi visit Geonosis (S02E05), the events of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones are recalled. Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Captain Rex that he was tied-up and attacked by "humungous"' creatures. "Entertaining", Rex replies. "It was for the Geonotians" says Kenobi, an oblique reference to the fact that it took place as part of gladiatorial games in an amphitheatre.
On further occasions, classical features combine with ancient Near Eastern design to create environments for oppressive regimes. Rather than antiquity symbolising power and civilised learning, this is more akin to antiquity as decadent, hierarchical, and sophisticated yet cold and brutal. This is evident in a visit to the slavers planet, Zagaria (S04E12). Its capital city features huge city walls with a giant blue-tiled gate in a Babylonian style. The queen rules from a huge pyramid intersected by layers of gardens, reflecting the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. There are long avenues, colonnaded stoas, and slave markets. A slave sale is held in a huge amphitheatre amidst baying crowds. The queen herself wears ancient-style gold ornaments which include a Greek key on her armbands. Anakin is given a dagger with a golden Greek key inlaid on black; in design and proportion it looks much like Mycenaean daggers.
One of the strongest areas of classical design influence is in military equipment. The clone troopers wear hoplite-like space helmets throughout. Senior clones often wear skirts or tunics over their armour. Some are promoted to "arch-trooper", reflecting classical Greek language of seniority (αρχω "I lead", "I govern" etc. see esp. S3e2). On Coruscant, Senate Commandos (the origin of the Imperial Guard) have a more elaborate plumed ancient-style helmet (S01E09; S01E22; S02E15; S02E19; S03E7). Bounty hunters step into hologram Senate Guard suits in preparation for an attack on Chancellor Palpatine in what is essentially a Homeric arming scene (S04E18).
The planet Mandalore features extensive classical influences in its military culture and design. Mandalore in the time of the Clone Wars is steeped in a struggle between peaceful modernisers and those (particularly those belonging to the Death Watch movement) who wish to restore the planet's historical culture of extreme militarism. Mandalorian state troops and Death Watch alike have a hoplite aesthetic in their helmet design, some plumed, some not (S02E12-13; S03E05; S04E14; S05E14-16). They use full length shields in emergencies. One episode follows hungry Mandalorian cadets breaking out at night; they are intent on investigating food shortages, but the whole storyline reflects aspects of the Spartan agoge, in which cadets were supposedly encouraged to break out of their barracks at night to obtain extra food (S03E06). Mandalorian medics are identified by Asclepius-style symbols (S03E05). The Death Watch exhibit extreme militaristic values that reflect attitudes familiar from antiquity. A Death Watch officer refers explicitly to his facial scar as proof of his worth and right to lead over that of less militarily experienced Lux Bonteri (S04E14), in a manner reminiscent of Roman rhetoric (e.g. Cicero, De. Orat. 2.194-6, and see Bragg 2008, below).
Elsewhere, the Royal Militia on Onderon have equipment reminiscent of Roman legionaries combined with medieval knights (S05E03 and S05E05). On Mon Calamari, a water planet, a trident-wielding under-water soldier can be seen, while "Hydoid Medusas", half machine, half monster, giant jelly-fish are released as weapons of war (S04E01). The Gungan army of light infantry sport ancient Egyptian-style headdresses (S04EO4). Throughout the series the Separatist's droid army marches in an intimidating phalanx formation (esp. S)2E18; S04E19; S05E02; S05E09) and even receives a pre-battle speech from their organic-machine hybrid leader, General Grievous (S03E10).
Antiquity and Star Wars Peril
The influence of classical antiquity can also be felt in the importance of monstrosity in the storylines, with characters shifting disconcertingly between being attackers and prey, being powerful and powerless. Examples of monsters include a giant eel monster (S01E05); "Mastiff Phalones" - giant bird monsters like harpies, griffins, or the Roc (S01E13); Geonotians, sentient flying creatures, wasp-humanoid hybrids in the Eros/erotes/pyches/harpy tradition (S02E05-07); the Xylobeast (from Greek "wooden" plus "beast") – a creature with extremely hard hide (S02E18-19). There are bird-like dragons (S03E15-16), one of which carries Ahsoka off in an eagle-Ganymede/Roc-like way (S03E16). An enemy cry of "Bring out the Anubis" unleashes savage wolf-dogs with high-pointed ears named after Egyptian jackal-headed deity, Anubis (S03E20). When former Sith, Darth Maul, is found by his brother, Maul is living in a terrifying subterranean labyrinth as a monstrous spider-hybrid having been adapted at some point after being cut in two by Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace (S04E21, with S05E14). Maul is transformed once again; he is brought back from the "rabid animal" he had become to be an organic-droid hybrid (S04E22). Ahsoka uses "Hairless Harpy" as an insult against Sith assassin, Asajj Ventress (S01E09); Ahsoka herself is hairless so "Harpy" is the crux of the insult, appearing alongside "Bog-witch" and "low-life". Monsters can also assist the forces of the light, as seen in the winged beasts of Onderon; anti-Seperatist rebels fight from their backs in the manner of Bellerophon and Pegasus (S05E02-05). In another subversion of expectation, a contemptuous organic repeatedly calls a one-eyed droid under his command, "Cyclops"; once the droid gains an upper hand, he insists on being referred to by his real name, rejecting the "Cyclops" name's implication of monstrosity (S05E10).
Many encounters with monsters and other threats take place in labyrinthine environments of the sort established by the Theseus and the Minotaur myth. Jedi are hunted in these environments (S01E10), at times pursued through a catacomb labyrinth full of zombie Geonotians (S02E06-07). They flee a labyrinth of tunnels and caves beneath a citadel prison, pursued by monsters and droids (S03E18-19). Space ships can become metallic labyrinths (S02E08; S02E21). Ahsoka is kidnapped by pirates and forced to survive in a labyrinthine wild place where she and others are hunted for sport (S03E21-22). The clones also struggle through a labyrinthine environment on Umbara, hunted by monsters which eat them and droids which shoot at them (S04E07-10). Bounty hunters are by a tested in a labyrinth; only the survivors of fatal trials in "The Box" are recruited for a job (S04E17). The Republican droids, C3P0 and R2D2, are also drawn into an adventure in labyrinthine passages underground (S04E05). There they encounter dryad-like talking trees (which show the influence of classical dryads via The Lord of the Rings), and a dryad-like pixie creature who sets a Sphinx-like riddle ("you can run but you can't walk; have a mouth but can't talk – who are you?"). This question also has a Delphic-like quality, and Delphi seems to be evoked in the way that the labyrinth is accessed via a ruined temple which has intoxicating vapours escaping through its floor. The temple at Delphi did not release intoxicating vapours, but people in antiquity thought that it might and this is very much part of the modern popular perception of what happened at that sanctuary.
Survival of many of the labyrinthine or otherwise dangerous environments frequently places reflects rites-of-passage narratives, with characters needing or wanting to prove themselves. This often involves the younger Jedi, Anakin and Ahsoka, although it can include clones, droids, or bounty hunters, or more senior Jedi such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luminara, or Mace Windu. The rite-of-passage dynamic is most explicit in the episodes involving Jedi children (known as "younglings"). In The Gathering (S05E06), younglings must descend into a labyrinth beneath a temple to collect the crystal that will power their lightsabre. During the process, they each learn profound self-improving lessons. Over the course of this story arc (S05E06-09), the rite-of-passage goes astray, reflecting the chaotic state of the galaxy. The younglings are ultimately rewarded for going against instructions in a dynamic that reflects modern American more than classical values. Nonetheless, once their extended challenge is completed and the younglings arrive back on Coruscant, a short ritual is enacted which marks the completion of the rite and their promotion into a new phase of life (S05E09).
Antiquity and Star Wars Names
The names of characters, planets, and objects are frequently drawn directly from Greco-Roman names, or are "classical-sounding". Ahsoka (S01E02 and then throughout) has the name of a 3rd century BCE king of the Mauryan Empire (Asoka or Ashoka), who ruled much of ancient India and who renounced war to become a proponent of Buddhism. Captain Rex (S01E05 and then throughout) is the most senior Clone Trooper, leader of the elite 500 First Legion; his name comes from Latin "Rex", meaning "king", making him effectively the "King Clone". Jedi Master Jocasta Nu, Chief Librarian of the Jedi Temple (S02E0e1; S03E07), has a name which combines the mother of Oedipus in Greek mythology (Jocasta) and "Nu", a letter in the Greek alphabet. Jedi Master Luminara (S01E09, then throughout) has a name informed by Latin lumen/lumina, meaning "light". Lux Bonteri (S03E10; S04E14; S05E02-05) also has a name drawn from Latin 'light'. Hera Syndulla makes her first appearance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (S01E21), albeit as an unnamed child. She appears with her father, who also bears the family name "Syndulla", a compound formed with the Greek "syn" meaning "together". Hera, named after the Greek goddess, would go on to become a main character in Star Wars: Rebels (see elsewhere in this database), with her Greek-style named son, Jacen Syndulla. More dubious characters with classically influenced names include Cato Parasitti, the changeling bounty hunter (S02E01), Castus the bounty hunter (S02E20-22), Charis (from Greek "charm", "charisma") a witch (S04E19), and Agruss who runs a slave mine on Zagaria (S04E13, "Argos/Argo" variants occur frequently throughout Star Wars). Count Dooku's Sith name, Darth Tyrannus, is drawn from Greek tyrannis meaning "tyrant", "master"; he appears throughout and is sometimes referred to by this title (e.g. S03E12). An ancient Egyptian pharaonic name, Ramses, features in the series. King Ramsis of Onderon is restored to the throne after struggling with the imposed client king, Sanjay Rash (S05E02-05). The use of a famous royal name in this case helps to express Ramsis' legitimacy in contrast to his rival. These examples have been included at length in order to offer a sense of how pervasive they are within the series. The use of classical style names adds a sense of plausible otherness to the universe and maintains an explicit association with myth and the atmosphere of "long ago".
Planet names with classical influence include Rhodia (S01E08, from the Greek island, Rhodes); Pantora (S01E15; S03E04); Orto Plutonia (S01E15); Christosis (S01E16; S02E16); Millius Prime (S01E17); Scipio (S02E04); Cato Nimoidia (S02E04; S05E17. Clovis says that he will "Put the fear of Scipio" into Cato); Geonosis (S02E05-07); Phalucia (S02E17); Florum (S02E22; S05E01; S05E08-09); Kiros (S04E11), and Seluket (S05E18). In most cases, the use of Greek or Latin style planet names seems, much like character names, to be intended to add strange-sounding names which retain plausibility, drawing on the existing practice of naming real planets from figures in classical mythology and the importance of Greek in scientific terminology. The name of Mandalore's moon, Concordia, is more loaded than most, carrying a deep irony (S02E12; S05E14-15). The name means, "concord", "harmony", "agreement". Concordia was the place to which the Mandalorians exiled their soldiers during the move to renounce militarism. There was no true "concord" however, and it was there that the Death Watch movement was born.
Antiquity and Star Wars Slavery
A persistent theme throughout Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the exploration of the slavery. This is explored in part through an ongoing examination of the similarities and differences between clones and droids and ongoing questions about the limits of clone and droids' value, freedom, and uniqueness, and the responsible way to source labour. The clones show a greater capacity for creative thought and individuality than the droids, but there are anxieties throughout about how far this extends, born largely from the clones' knowledge that they were specifically bred by the Republic to serve in the Clone Wars. This examination of the philosophy of slavery, military service, and the boundaries between individualism and communal effort all reflect questions explored in antiquity by writers such as Thucydides, Herodotus, and Aristotle. The presence of these questions in Star Wars: The Clone Wars encourages young people to consider philosophical issues raised in antiquity and still pertinent in the modern world.
The viewer is guided to value the clones' right to individuality by an opening scene (S01E01) in which the revered Jedi Master Yoda speaks with a group of clones and asserts the value that they hold and their individual connections to the Force. This sets the moral tone for the rest of the series, but does not define the limits of the clones' independence within society. The clones are physically identical and they wear identical space-hoplite uniforms, but they are permitted to customise their armour and they extend this individuality by styling their hair differently, getting tattoos, and going by nicknames rather than by their serial numbers. As the series progresses, the viewer learns more about the clones' development; how they initially live as equals (akin to Spartan homoioi) on the cloning planet of Kamino. Clone Youth Brigades live and train together, somewhat in the manner of the Spartan agoge (S02E20). During one story arc (S03E01-02), the viewer sees the creation of an elite squad. Initially they are failing, but help from a member of the maintenance crew, a disabled clone, helps them to learn self-worth and cooperation. This maintenance worker, known as 99, looks significantly like the 2007 film 300's depiction of the traitor, Ephialtes. But while 99 is barred from service for the same reasons as 300's Ephialtes, 99 proves loyal, encourages the other clones, and dies in action when Kimino is attacked. It seems likely that this storyline was created in dialogue with 300, offering a more positive depiction of disability and the social contribution that disabled people make.
One clone shares the opinion that being a good soldier means doing what you think is right, adding, "That's what makes us superior to droids" (S01E09). But if free-will and individuality can mean true loyalty, it can also mean disloyalty. It is revealed that a clone can desert (S02E10). Clones can lose their sense of identity through trauma-induced amnesia (S05E12) – an idea that shocked Romans when they learned that enslaved legionaries could lose their sense of being Roman. One clone betrays the Jedi to the Sith complaining that the Jedi have enslaved the clones (S01E16); the viewer is left unsure how to interpret this accusation. The story are known as the Umbara Cycle (S04E07-10) takes an arguably more positive view of the clones' position in an exploration of the implications of regarding them in different ways. Jedi Master Pong Krell temporarily takes over Anakin's unit. He expresses surprise when Captain Rex uses the term "honour", suggesting that clones cannot understand it. He refuses to use the clones' names, using only their numbers. He wastes the clones' lives recklessly, regarding their deaths as meaningless. The clones struggle with the demands of obedience in the face of poor leadership and planning. One clone insists, "We are not droids. We are men!" Krell is ultimately arrested for treason and revealed to be siding with the Separatists and the Sith. The implication of this is that contempt for the clones as clones is a Sith (i.e. hateful) attitude. Despite the resolution achieved in this situation, the clones wonder for the first time what will happen to them after the war (S04E10), another major anxiety which the Roman state faced regarding its legionaries.
The Star Wars galaxy is rife with slavery. Slaves are held on the planet Mortis (S03E15). The Jedi's role in dismantling a slave empire on Zagaria is revealed when they are forced to address its resurgence there (S04E11-13). During this mission, Anakin struggles with his resentment at having been enslaved alongside his mother during his childhood. Yoda refers to slavery as a "tool of the Sith". Ahsoka wonders how a society so civilised could engage in slavery (S04E12). Obi-Wan calls the slavers "scum", a loaded term in the Star Wars universe. He also leads a slave revolt in brutal mine. On another occasion it is Ahsoka who finds herself enslaved as a participant in gladiatorial games; she too leads a revolt (S03E22). She is enslaved a second time, this time by the pirate, Hando (S05E08-09). Hando refers to his desire to make profit from Ahsoka. He expects a good price as she is a Jedi, "and a female Jedi at that", hinting at the sexual exploitation inherent in slavery. The series also asks whether the use of droids constitutes slavery. Pirates force droids to participate in gladiatorial games and the droids they reject for the games are melted down, crying out in fear for their lives (S04E06). The Death Watch reveal their cruelty by torturing captured droids for fun. One droid laments, "We are battle droids no longer. Now we are slaves." The droids ultimately help each other across military lines, essentially leading another slave revolt (S04E14). Aristotle wondered if human slaves are thinking machines; this series reverses that question and wonders if thinking machines are therefore slaves (Politics, book 1).
Slavery also serves as a potent political metaphor in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It is used in accusation against both enslavers and the enslaved, depending of the outlook of the accuser. When Mandalore is occupied, the new arrivals tell the people, "You are now all slaves of the Black Sun Clan" (S05E15). The Zagarian slavers despise the Jedi as "slaves" of the Republic. Their queen says that serving the Republic of even having friends is "slavery", while her overlord, Count Dooku, calls her his slave (S04E12). Between series 2 and 5, Dooku holds a grudge against the slaver-pirates who held him captive. He eventually sends forces to wipe them out in retribution, much as Caesar did against the pirates who held him (S05E09; with, e.g. Plutarch, Caesar, 2). Overall it is made clear in Star Wars: The Clone Wars that slavery is wrong and that one should have compassion for the enslaved. These are Jedi views and the viewer is encouraged to concur. Nonetheless, an uneasy uncertainty remains about the Republic's use of clone soldiers and droids. They are to some extent valued, but the extent of their freedom is in doubt. Much as moderns should recall that classical civilisation relied on slave-labour, the Republic's assertion of ethical superiority over the Separatists is undermined by its reliance on un-free labour. The series draws on antiquity and more recent examples of slave-owning societies to encourage young people to consider how labour can be arranged fairly and how independent or individual anybody really is. Even more specifically, with cloning and artificial intelligence rapidly developing in sophistication, the status of clones and intelligent machines is a social issue that young people are likely to be confronted with at some point in their own lives.
Extra Aspects of Antiquity in Star Wars
One or two further aspects of antiquity appear throughout the series. There is a repeated echo of the Spartans' famous "Come and get them" line from the Battle of Thermopylae (Plutarch, Moralia 225D, Sayings of the Spartans). General Grievous, armed with lightsabres, tells the Jedi "Come and get me" when he is told to surrender (S01E10). Likewise, when a pirate demands that Ahsoka hand over weapon power sources, she challenges him, "Come and get them!" (S05E07).
Star Wars: The Clone Wars features a planet (Dathomir, S03E12-15; S04E19) with a highly gender-divided society in which males and females live separately. Females belong to an Amazon-like sisterhood called the Night Sisters. They are witches and warriors skilled in the use of the bow (S03E14-15; S04E19). A male, Saváge Opress, is transformed by the Night Sisters in order to undertake quests. His transformation is reminiscent of Enkidu and the woman in the Epic of Gilgamesh, although the Night Sisters use magic rather than sex to change him (see Gilgamesh, tablet 1.4). This episode is called Monster and also contains hints of the Prometheus and "modern Prometheus" myths (S03E13). When the Separatists invade to destroy the Night Sisters, there is an Iliad-like pause in the battle for a duel between the champions, Asajj Ventress and General Grievous (S04E19, Iliad, book 3). In a DVD extra feature, Witches and Monsters, it is revealed that George Lucas' daughter, Katie Lucas, participated in writing and developing the Dathomir episodes. She cites the samurai-influenced Tank Girl as an influence on the scenes of teen Ventress, as well as Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilmour (1915), a novel which was itself influenced by myths of the Amazons. Kilian Plunkett, lead designer, talks about the design of Saváge Opress. They chose a simpler look for Opress than that used for Opress' brother, Darth Maul. The males of Dathomir, he says, "are living a Spartan existence", which is why a simple tunic was chosen. It was a deliberate choice to have a shooting star pass through the sky as Opress is transformed, marking a key change in the galaxy. This is the sort of portent which would have been regarded as significant in antiquity.
Lastly, the final series of Star Wars The Clone Wars features a three-episode story arc in which a group of seven (six droids, one organic) go on a dangerous mission together (S05E10-12). This trope of the seven adventurers draws on the myth of the seven against Thebes, a myth mostly known from Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes, and continued in modern culture through stories such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and, more strongly through the films Seven Samurai (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1954) and The Magnificent Seven (dir. John Sturges, 1960; dir. Antoine Fuqua, 2016). By including mostly droids in this storyline, the series continues the exploration of artificial intelligence by placing droids in traditional heroic roles.
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Greece: Ο πόλεμος των άστρων: Ο πόλεμος των κλώνων
Croatia: Ratovi zvijezda: Ratovi klonova
Hungary: Star Wars - A klónok háborúja
Poland: Gwiezdne wojny: Wojny klonów
Serbia: Zvezdani ratovi: Ratovi klonova
Russia: Звёздные войны: Войны Клонов
Turkey: Star Wars: Klon Savaslari
Ukraine: Зорянi Вiйни: Вiйни клонiв