How did Ancient Rome affect Star Wars?

How did Ancient Rome affect Star Wars?
how did ancient rome affect star wars? 7

We all heard of Star Wars, one of the global hits that shaped and still shapes generations from 1977. Space adventure that made us all buy lightsaber toys or at least mimic the sound with our air lightsabers. There are nine movies in the saga and two stand-alone films. Besides that, there are also TV shows like Mandalorian and Ahsoka and my favorite cartoon series, The Clone Wars. Since Disney took over in 2012, there has been a lot more material, which is welcomed with mixed reviews.

Some say there is significantly less quality, and others are happy because there is more Star Wars to read, watch, or play on your console. Ok, but this a website dedicated to the Roman Empire, and what on Earth does Star Wars have in common with the ancient superpower? The answer may come as a surprise, a lot.

Star Wars Empire – Origin

For this part, we will stick to the original films from the late seventies and early eighties. So, in the original trilogy, there is a vast Galactic Empire that our heroes fight against. That Empire is the main power in the Star Wars universe, with Emperor Palpatine ruling over the galaxy with an iron fist. But how did he manage to climb so high up the government ladders?

For that answer, we have to go back to the era of the prequels. Or forward since these movies were released around the beginning of the new millennium. Basically, there was the Galactic Republic that one man (sith) took control of via manipulation and strategic planning. Also, his senatorial powers became much larger during the war. So, there was a transformation from a republic to an Empire. A similar thing happened to Rome.

How did Ancient Rome affect Star Wars?
Emperor Palpatine cosplay Source: Roger Murmann from Eppertshausen, Deutschland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Star Wars Empire – Politics

Emperor Palpatine’s rule over the Galactic Empire was through political manipulation and authoritarian control. Central to Palpatine’s rule was the absolute authority he wielded. With the dissolution of the Galactic Senate, power became concentrated in the hands of the Emperor, with regional governance delegated to loyal Moffs and governors. This hierarchical structure ensured direct control over systems and sectors while fostering a culture of fear and obedience.

The Imperial military under Palpatine’s command was a force to be reckoned with. Expanded and fortified during his reign, the Imperial Navy and Army enforced imperial law with ruthless efficiency. The construction of superweapons like the Death Star symbolized not just military might but also the Empire’s willingness to wield unimaginable destructive power to quash dissent. Propaganda played a pivotal role in maintaining the Emperor’s grip on power. The glorification of the Empire and demonization of rebels as terrorists served to unify citizens under imperial rule.

Rise to power through war and military fame may look like Caesar’s rise to power in the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC. Creating a powerful army loyal only to his leader, Caesar took control over Rome, but he couldn’t maintain it for long because of the assassination in the Senate. Augustus continued his legacy and transformed the Republic into the Empire, with governors ruling over provinces all across the Empire.

One more similarity represents the army capable of frightening any enemy, outside or inside the borders. Besides that, the Empire, Galactic and Roman, were able to conquer new territories by applying political or economic pressure on any land they wanted to. 

How did Ancient Rome affect Star Wars?
The Most Loved Villian Ever


There are a lot of similarities between the Roman Republic and the Galactic Republic from Star Wars, especially in political structures, and their ultimate fate. Despite their temporal and fictional disparities, these republics share striking similarities that resonate across epochs and galaxies.

The Roman Republic, emerging from the ashes of the kingdom, represented an era of senatorial governance. The Galactic Republic in Star Wars also virtues democratic ideals, with a Senate representing diverse star systems and species, imitating the inclusive nature of Roman citizenship and representation. In both Republics, the Senate held considerable authority where senators debated laws and policies. Yet, behind that democracy lay intricate webs of alliances, rivalries, and political machinations.

The Roman Republic faced corruption, power struggles, and ambitions that tested its democratic foundations. The Galactic Republic faced internal dissent, corporate influence, and separatist movements and both republics relied on military prowess to safeguard their interests and expand their influence. The Roman legions represented disciplined might, mirroring the clone armies of the Galactic Republic. Wars, whether against external foes or internal dissent, shaped the destinies of these republics.

Despite their strengths, both republics faced internal fractures and external pressures. The Roman Republic succumbed to civil wars, dictatorial ambitions, and social unrest, paving the way for imperial rule. In a parallel narrative, the Galactic Republic witnessed the rise of Chancellor Palpatine’s authoritarian regime, catalyzed by galactic conflict and Sith machinations.

Other Historical Inspirations for Star Wars

George Lucas drew inspiration from historical events to create Star Wars, and for the prequel era, there was a story about the queen Genepil. She was the last queen of Mogolia, who suffered a terrible faith. After the death of her husband, the monarchy was abolished, and Mongolia became a communist republic. During Stalin’s purges, she was arrested and executed in 1937. She was only 33 years old and pregnant.

How did Ancient Rome affect Star Wars?
Mongolian Lady

Ironically, the person in the picture above isn’t Genepil but some other Mogolian lady who was mistaken for Genepil. These two stories combined could be the inspiration for one of the heroes of the prequel era.

How did Ancient Rome affect Star Wars?
Padme Amidala Cosplay Credits: Lunchbox Photography, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


George Lucas had many inspirations and Roman Empire is one of them. These parallels highlight how Star Wars draws inspiration from ancient Rome, to create a rich and immersive universe with themes and narratives that resonate across different cultures and time periods. In these parallels, we get insights into the complexities of governance, the fragility of democratic ideals, and the enduring echoes of history across civilizations and galaxies. The echoes of the Roman Republic resonate in the halls of the Galactic Senate, reminding us that among the stars there are parts of Ancient Rome.

People Also Ask:

Is Star Wars inspired by Rome?

George Lucas has stated in many interviews that he took a lot of inspiration from the series of books “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. So, there were inevitably parallels between Star Wars and the Roman Empire.

Who inspired Palpatine?

Senator Palpatine – played by Ian McDiarmid, who would later become the tyrannical Emperor – was based on former US President Richard Nixon. In the ‘Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III: 1999-2005’, George wrote: “He was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name.