Battlestar Galactica revealed as the new Virgil’s Aeneid
Adama is Aeneas, fleeing Troy to find the prophesied new home for his people...
Before I embark on this blog, can I point out that I am a box-set person, not a Sky person, so I am at only the halfway point of the final series of Battlestar Galactica – and really don’t want to know what happens next?
Right, that’s done.
Now, am I the only person who regards the sweep of the story of the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica as a kind of re-reading of Virgil’s Aeneid? I am talking, of course, of the great Roman epic poem that recounts the flight of Aeneas and his followers from their conquered city of Troy to Italy, where, it is prophesied, their descendants will found Rome.
For a moment, let’s forget about the Cylons (although whenever I see one on the screen, I am reminded that the original, real-life Cylon was a wannabe tyrant of Athens, a failed coup leader in 632 BC, but surely that really is a coincidence. If you don’t know the series, these are the enigmatic attackers of the humans’ home planets, a race of cybernetic workers turned aggressive).
Let’s think about the humans for a moment. A leader leaves the destroyed wreck of his former civilisation (Troy/Caprica), which has been blasted into smithereens by an invading force (Greeks/Cylons). You might even see Gaius Baltar as a sort of Trojan horse. That leader is accompanied by his son: it’s Adama as Aeneas, and Apollo as Ascanius, if you follow me.
On they forge, guided by prophecies that the leader is initially unwilling to accept, towards their fated new home (Adama, like Aeneas in Aeneid book two, needs some persuasion that the various portents pointing the way are of any value.)
Need I remind you that we’re constantly getting heavy hints as to the classical origins of our story via the theology of the humans of Battlestar Galactica, who worship the Olympian pantheon of Zeus, Hera et al?
Tentatively, I’d suggest Starbuck’s return to Caprica to collect the arrow of Apollo as akin to the visit to the Underworld in Aeneid book six. The arrow of Apollo as the golden bough?
The unsuccessful stay in New Caprica, of course, recalls the settlement the wandering Trojans found on Crete in book three, in the mistaken assumption that this is the fated new land. (And it is also reminiscent of the section in book five where the comrades build a settlement on Sicily for those who are weary of the journey).
One might argue that Helena Cain is a kind of reversed Dido (Aeneid book four); the eventually destroyed Pegasus might be seen as her funeral pyre.
I could go on. I have my own ideas about how the second part of the final series is going to pan out (please don’t ruin it for me). As long as our friends remember “parcere subiectis et debellare superbos”.