One of the best examples of greek mythology being retold through science fiction. From the original series through Star Trek Enterprise we see stories and plot lines that clearly were inspired by Greek Myth. Star Trek’s basis has many similarities to The Odyssey. In Star Trek we always see an intelligent ,strong, and charismatic leader struggling to keep their crew together as they sail through the depths of space fighting all sorts of aliens and monsters along the way. Just like the Odyssey the crew rarely goes anywhere without an encounter that gets them into conflict.
Before looking at specific examples within the various series there are some notable Greek/Roman Mythology references within Star Trek Mythology that hold true for all of the series. The Vulcans and the Romulans are modern representations of multiple myths.
Vulcans vs. Hephaestus
Gene Roddenberry uses the Vulcans in a very interesting way. Many (if not most) trekkies believe that Vulcans were named after a hypothetical planet that was theorized to exist orbiting between Mercury and the Sun. Although this would make sense I do not believe this is true and will make the case that they really represent the God.
Both the race of aliens Vulcan and their home world Vulcan (both are named the same) are representations of Hephaestus or the roman equivalent of Vulcan. To avoid confusion I will refer to the god as Hephaestus. Hephaestus is the Greek God of technology, fire, volcanoes, and metallurgy. Vulcan the planet (Star Trek) has a surface with many volcanoes and lava fields which seems to be a clear reference to the god rather than the theoretical planet. The Vulcan race is known for their logic and technology. Hephaestus designed the winged sandals and helmet for hermes. Vulcans on the other hand developed advanced warp drives to travel through the cosmos.
Another indication that Vulcans do indeed represent the God is their physiology. In the episode Obsession (TOS) Spock talks about his blood. Vulcan blood has hemoglobin based on copper called hemocyanin. Copper is a metal that would most certainly fall within the realm of Hephaestus because he is the god of metals.
Romulus and Remus: Romulans and Vulcans, the founding of an empire
Romulus and Remus are the twin brothers that are the focus of the Rome creation myth. In the myth Remus and Romulus are raised by a wolf and go on to found the Roman empire. Remus and Romulus disagree on the location for this new empire. They settle the dispute through augury. Both Romulus and Remus believe that the results back their location. The dispute elevates and gets physical and Romulus ends up killing Remus. After Remus’s death Romulus goes on to found Rome.
What does this have to do with Star Trek?
Romulans and Vulcans share a common ancestry. Long ago Romulans and Vulcans both lived on the Vulcan planet (this is why they look so similar) and were one race. This is a very clever way to make two independent species represent the two twin brothers.
A point in Vulcan hero known as the Time of Awakening. Vulcans began to surpress emotions with logic and became more peaceful. At this point a group of Vulcans who disagree with the new changes go to form their own colony. These people become the Romulans who go on to conlonize most of the planets in that area. Including two planets Romulus and Remus. They begin to form the Romulan empire which represents the Roman empire.
Star Trek: The Original Series
James T. Kirk (William Shatner)
Both Odysseus and Kirk are prideful men. Strong leaders that are feared but in several cases
both men exhibit excessive pride that doesn’t only endanger themselves but also their crew
Examples of Greek Myth in the Orignal Series…
Who Mourns For Adonias? (Season 2 episode #33)
In this episode the crew is traveling minding their own business when suddenly the ship is seized by a strange powerful being. The being is Apollo and brings most of the crew down to Mount Olympus. Apollo also makes it clear that Spock is not welcome because of his pointy ears and resemblance to Pan (God of the Wild). Apollo explains that the Gods visited earth once before but people lost faith and they felt they had to leave earth.
This Side Of Paradise (Season 1 episode #24)
The Lotus Eaters
The crew investigates Omicron Ceti III a planet which has been settled by colonists. The crew knows that the planet has been exposed to Berthold Rays a deadly form of radiation. Once arriving on the planet the crew learns that everyone is actually in perfect health but seem to act strangely. The crew is exposed to spores which we later learn are the cause for the colonists survival. The spores have a healing element to them but also cause the infected to have no wants or needs. After the crew is infected no one wants to return to the ship. Spores eventually make it to the ship and infect everyone on board besides Captain Kirk. As a result everyone on board beams down to Omicron Ceti III and leave Captain Kirk marooned aboard the enterprise.
Even Spock’s Vulcan cold logic seems to be compromised after being exposed to this plant.