In ancient times, twins were a subject of curiosity. Perhaps society didn’t understand the science of birthing twins, or perhaps they were an easy comparison to the strange duality of the universe, but they have always been a large part of ancient and modern mythology.
Definition: Twins in Mythology
Another name for twins in mythology is dualistic cosmology, because the twins motif is not restricted to blood twins. In some cases, they are considered twins because of commonalities between them. In some cultures, for example, two people could be considered twins if born on the same day. In mythology, the twins’ relationship is usually complementary; they are different but the same, and almost always rivals or partners. Either way, they are usually portrayed as being two halves of a whole.
Twins in mythology are often used to describe the duality of nature, whether it be the sun and moon, male and female, winter and summer, etc. Mythological twins were often attached to these forces of nature as a way to explain them. Sometimes they are at odds with each other, and sometimes they work together as equal partners. This is the fundamental nature of twins in mythology.
Examples in Mythology
Twins appear in many mythologies. Artemis and Apollo are one example of twins working in unison as the goddess of the moon and the god of the sun. In some mythologies the twins go on adventures together, such as the Amazon myth of Kuat and Iae, who forced the king Urubutsin to give light to the world. Like Artemis and Apollo, Kuat and Iae took on corresponding roles of the sun and moon.
In the oldest story known to man, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” Enkidu is the twin of Gilgamesh in spirit. Enkidu was formed from clay so he has no blood connection to Gilgamesh, but they both represent the mythological concept of dualistic cosmology. Gilgamesh represents civilization, and Enkidu represents chaos, complimentary opposites forming a whole. The Egyptian Osiris and Set, or the Persian Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, are other great examples of twins in opposition.
And these only represent a fraction of the twin motifs found in mythology.
Twins in Star Wars
Let’s take a look at some of the twins that figure prominently in Star Wars.
Luke/Leia: Of course, the twins that first jump to mind are Luke and Leia. They are the perfect example of partner twins. They have the same goals in building the Rebellion, but they have different roles to that end. Leia is the leader and responsible for the more administrative aspects of the Rebellion. Luke’s role is more spiritual as he is responsible for restoring the Jedi, and ending the corruption of the Sith. You could potentially describe Leia as the head, and Luke as the heart of the Rebellion.
The Son/Daughter: In the episode “Overlords” from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we meet the Son and the Daughter. They are the perfect example of twins at odds. One represents the dark side, and one the light. Attaching these twins to the Force is very similar to the mythological use of twins to explain the duality of nature. And yet they are two halves of a whole that can be seen in the above symbol reminiscent of the Yin Yang circle.
Jacen/Jaina: In the Legends canon, Jacen and Jaina are interesting because they start as complementary twins, but soon become rivals. Jacen falls to the dark side and Jaina is forced to face him. They are nearly equal in strength, and both are seen as the future of the Jedi Order, but their methods differ. In the end it is Jaina who survives and continues the Skywalker legacy.
Ahsoka/Barriss: Though not biological twins, Ahsoka and Barriss easily represent the dualistic cosmology found in twins’ relationship. They both acknowledge the faults of the Jedi, but they react differently. Barriss takes the negative approach, attacking the Jedi Order to bring it down from within. Instead of attacking the Order, Ahsoka leaves. Both know there is corruption in the Jedi Order and the Republic, but they both react differently to the situation, demonstrating a classic complementary opposition.
So there are several examples of twins in Star Wars, used in the mythological sense. It will be interesting to see how these relationships continue in the future and what new twin relationships we may see.
Jason is a writer and presenter, working in online marketing. By day he manages company blogs and teaches others how to develop their own websites. By night he is the editor in chief of LordoftheLaserSword.com, and co-host of Far, Far Away Radio, among other podcasts and YouTube channels. Jason has a deep fascination with mythology and recurring archetypes in storytelling that continue to resonate with audiences today. He is always asking the question, what makes ___ popular?