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In the shadowy world of the Twilight saga, Aro stands as a figure of intrigue and power. As one of the three leaders of the Volturi, the dominant coven of vampires, Aro is often perceived as the mastermind behind the coven’s formidable influence. Born in Greece around 1340 B.C., he was transformed into a vampire in his mid-twenties and quickly rose to prominence. Aro’s enigmatic personality blends a cheerful demeanor with a deeply manipulative nature, often masked by his polite and composed facade.
He is renowned for his unique ability of tactile telepathy, allowing him to read every thought and memory of any individual he touches. This power, combined with his strategic mind, positions Aro as a central figure in the vampire world, navigating complex relationships and enforcing the laws that govern his kind. His role in the series, portrayed with chilling effectiveness by Michael Sheen in the film adaptations, cements him as a pivotal character whose actions and decisions significantly impact the narrative arc of the Twilight saga.
Aro’s journey into the night began in ancient Greece, circa 1340 B.C. His transformation into a vampire occurred in his mid-twenties, a turning point that set the stage for his eventual ascent as a leading figure in the vampire world. In the nascent years of his new life, Aro allied himself with two other powerful vampires, Marcus and Caius. This alliance was the foundation of what would become the Volturi, a name that would grow to be synonymous with authority and order among vampires.
The early days of the Volturi were marked by strategic expansions and consolidations of power. Aro played a crucial role in this, driven by his vision and ambition. A pivotal moment came a decade after his own transformation, when he decided to change his younger sister, Didyme, hoping she would develop an ability akin to his. Instead, she manifested the power to make people happy, an ability less strategically useful to Aro’s plans. Didyme’s presence, however, had an unexpected consequence: she and Marcus, Aro’s close ally, fell deeply in love.
This romance, while genuine, posed a threat to Aro’s vision for the Volturi. Didyme and Marcus’s growing desire to leave the coven and explore the world conflicted with Aro’s plans, particularly the need to retain Marcus, whose talents were invaluable. In a chilling decision that revealed the depths of his ambition and ruthlessness, Aro secretly murdered Didyme, ensuring Marcus’s loyalty to the Volturi through deception and manipulation. Chelsea, another vampire with the power to alter loyalties, was instrumental in binding Marcus to the coven after Didyme’s death.
As centuries passed, the Volturi’s influence expanded, eventually usurping the Romanian coven’s control over the vampire world. By 500 A.D., Aro, Marcus, and Caius had established themselves as the primary enforcers of vampire law, punishing those who threatened to expose their kind to humanity. Aro’s leadership was characterized by a mix of charisma, strategic cunning, and a willingness to do whatever was necessary to maintain order and secrecy within the vampire community.
The discovery and recruitment of Jane and Alec, twin vampires with formidable psychic abilities, further solidified the Volturi’s dominance. Aro’s timely intervention saved them from execution by their superstitious village, and their transformation into vampires under his guidance made the Volturi nearly invincible.
Aro’s relationships with other influential figures, such as Carlisle Cullen, further shaped his journey. While he initially doubted Carlisle’s ‘vegetarian’ lifestyle, Aro grew to respect his friend’s convictions over time. Their relationship, however, was not without its complexities, as Aro’s ambitions often stood in contrast to Carlisle’s more compassionate approach.
Aro’s appearance is as distinctive as his role in the vampire hierarchy. He is described as having an almost otherworldly physical presence, marked by his translucent, onion-skin-like white skin. This ghostly pallor, so delicate and unique, contrasts starkly with his long, jet-black hair, framing his face in a manner that only enhances his vampiric aura.
Standing at an average height of 5’10”, Aro’s build is typical for a vampire, neither overly muscular nor slender. However, it’s his skin that often draws the most attention. Bella Swan, upon her first encounter with Aro, is struck by the texture of his skin. She muses whether it is soft like Edward’s or Alice’s, or powdery like chalk. Her observation that it feels more like shale than granite highlights the distinctive nature of his vampire form. Despite this unusual texture, Aro, like all vampires in the Twilight saga, possesses the same indestructible quality.
Another striking feature of Aro’s is his eyes. They carry the typical red hue of a vampire who consumes human blood, but with a milky, clouded appearance that sets them apart from his peers and adds to his unsettling demeanor. This cloudiness in his eyes prompts speculation about its effect on his vision, though it does not seem to hinder his abilities.
Aro’s movements contribute to his ethereal presence. He moves with such grace that he appears to be floating rather than walking, an elegance that belies the strength and power beneath his surface. This combination of his delicate appearance, graceful movements, and inherent vampire strength forms an intriguing contrast, making Aro a figure who is as captivating as he is intimidating.
Transformed into a vampire in his mid-20s, Aro retains the handsomeness characteristic of his age at transformation, adding to the complexity of his appearance which combines youthful beauty with an ageless, almost ancient, quality.
Aro’s personality is a study in contrasts, blending affability with a deep-seated ambition and cunning. Outwardly, he often presents a cheery disposition, marked by a politeness that seems unshakeable even in the most challenging situations. This affable exterior, however, masks a more complex and darker nature. Beneath this veneer of optimism and gaiety, Aro is fundamentally power-hungry, smart in his strategic decisions, and highly manipulative in achieving his ends.
A key aspect of Aro’s personality is his fascination with unique abilities, particularly those of other vampires. He finds Bella Swan’s immunity to mental powers, including his own, deeply intriguing. This interest extends to an almost obsessive desire for Alice Cullen’s power after Bella becomes a vampire. Aro’s approach to inviting Bella, Edward, and Alice to join the Volturi demonstrates his persistence and relentless pursuit of what he values. Despite their repeated refusals, Aro continues to extend the offer, hoping to eventually secure their talents for the Volturi.
Aro’s leadership of the vampire world is characterized by a belief in the necessity of secrecy and control. He views the Volturi’s laws and enforcement as crucial to the survival of vampires, especially in the face of advancing human technology. His strategies are aimed at preserving the mystery of vampire existence, turning them into the stuff of legends and myths rather than recognized realities. To this end, Aro is willing to go to great lengths, including manipulation and murder, as evidenced by his decision to kill his sister, Didyme, to maintain Marcus’s loyalty.
Despite his willingness to use ruthless methods, Aro is not entirely devoid of compassion or the capacity to value relationships. His interactions with Carlisle Cullen, whom he considers a friend, reveal a degree of respect and even admiration for Carlisle’s values and way of life, despite their stark differences. However, this does not prevent Aro from viewing Carlisle and his family as potential threats or assets, demonstrating his ability to separate personal sentiments from strategic considerations.
Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, envisioned Aro as a character bordering on insanity, a result of his millennia-long existence. This aspect of his character adds a layer of unpredictability and depth, making him a complex antagonist whose actions and motives are as intriguing as they are formidable.
Aro’s most defining power is his unique form of tactile telepathy, an ability that sets him apart even among the extraordinary talents of the vampire world. This power allows him to read the mind of any person he touches, delving into their every thought, feeling, and memory they have ever experienced. It is an ability that far surpasses the mind-reading skills of Edward Cullen, as Aro can access the entirety of a person’s mental history, not just their current thoughts. This depth of insight makes him an exceptionally formidable figure in gathering information and uncovering secrets.
However, Aro’s gift comes with a limitation: he must be in physical contact with his subject to access their mind. This requirement, while a minor hindrance, does necessitate direct interaction with others to fully employ his power. In the context of interrogations or uncovering hidden intentions, Aro’s ability is unparalleled, allowing him to ascertain truth and loyalty with a single touch.
Aro’s power extends to a unique form of vicarious experience. By reading the minds of others, he can also access the minds they have read. For instance, by touching Edward, Aro can experience the minds Edward has read, and similarly, he can access Alice’s visions through her memories. This aspect of his power amplifies its effectiveness, as it enables Aro to gather second-hand information from a wide range of sources.
Despite its potency, Aro’s telepathy has its limitations. Notably, it can be blocked by mental shields, as demonstrated by Bella Swan’s ability to shield herself and others from psychic powers, including Aro’s. Bella’s immunity to such powers, even before her transformation into a vampire, intrigued Aro and became a point of significant interest for him.
Outside of his telepathic abilities, Aro’s physical prowess is not as prominently displayed. In the movie adaptation of Breaking Dawn, he demonstrates considerable strength and combat skills, such as beheading Carlisle and engaging in a direct fight with Edward and Bella. This portrayal suggests that Aro, while not often engaging in physical confrontations, possesses a level of strength and combat ability that is notable even among vampires. However, his reliance on his telepathic abilities and the Volturi guard typically precludes the need for him to engage in physical battles.
Sulpicia is not only Aro’s wife but also an integral part of his long-term plans and vision for the vampire world. Aro’s decision to transform Sulpicia into a vampire was strategic; he chose her specifically to fulfill his criteria for an ideal mate, preferring to create a mate rather than find one among existing vampires. Their relationship is marked by mutual loyalty and devotion, with Aro placing immense value on Sulpicia’s safety and well-being, often ensuring she is heavily guarded and protected.
Didyme, Aro’s younger sister, played a poignant role in his life. Aro transformed her with the hope that she would develop a useful ability akin to his. Instead, she gained the power to make those around her happy. When Didyme and Marcus, a member of the Volturi, fell in love and planned to leave the coven, Aro, prioritizing the Volturi’s strength over familial bonds, murdered her to retain Marcus’s valuable loyalty. This act underscores the depth of Aro’s ambition and his willingness to sacrifice personal relationships for power.
Marcus, Aro’s brother-in-law and co-leader of the Volturi, is bound to Aro not just by their shared leadership but also through complex personal history. Aro’s deceitful action in murdering Didyme to keep Marcus tied to the Volturi reveals a darker aspect of their relationship. Despite this, Marcus remains unaware of Aro’s role in Didyme’s death, his loyalty artificially secured by Chelsea’s powers.
Caius, another co-leader of the Volturi, shares a more business-like relationship with Aro. Their partnership is largely centered around maintaining order and discipline within the vampire world. While Caius may not always agree with Aro’s decisions, he remains compliant, a submission that is partly maintained through Chelsea’s manipulative abilities.
Chelsea holds a special place in the Volturi, particularly in Aro’s strategic plans. Her ability to manipulate relationships and loyalties makes her indispensable to maintaining the coven’s internal stability and Aro’s control. Aro’s reliance on Chelsea to bind members to the Volturi, including in the case of Marcus after Didyme’s death, highlights her crucial role in his regime.
Jane and Alec
Jane and Alec, twins with formidable psychic abilities, are among Aro’s most valued members of the Volturi guard. Aro’s timely intervention to save them from execution by their village, and his subsequent decision to transform them into vampires, demonstrates his investment in their abilities. Their loyalty and the power they bring to the Volturi are key to Aro’s confidence in the coven’s strength.
Aro’s relationship with Carlisle Cullen is perhaps the most complex of his associations. Despite their differing ideologies, Aro holds a deep respect and a semblance of friendship for Carlisle. This relationship, however, is strained by Aro’s ambitions and his view of the Cullens as both a threat and a potential asset. Aro’s interest in Carlisle’s ‘vegetarian’ lifestyle and his family’s unique dynamics reflects a blend of curiosity, respect, and strategic consideration.
In the Twilight saga, Aro’s role is pivotal, with his actions and decisions significantly impacting the series’ narrative. As the de facto leader of the Volturi, the most powerful vampire coven, Aro is a central figure in enforcing the laws of the vampire world, particularly the law against exposing vampires to humans.
New Moon: Aro first appears in New Moon, where his encounter with Edward Cullen and Bella Swan sets a series of events into motion. Edward seeks the Volturi’s help to end his life, believing Bella to be dead. Aro, intrigued by Edward’s mind-reading ability and Bella’s immunity to it, attempts to recruit Edward to the Volturi. He is fascinated by Bella’s immunity to both his and Jane’s powers, leading him to permit their return to Forks with the condition that Bella be transformed into a vampire, as Alice Cullen’s vision suggests.
Eclipse: In Eclipse, Aro’s influence is felt when he sends Jane and other Volturi members to deal with an army of newborn vampires in Seattle. Edward speculates that Aro might have intended this action to weaken the Cullens’ numbers. Aro’s decision-making here is reflective of his strategic approach, balancing his relationship with Carlisle Cullen against his own ambitions.
Breaking Dawn: Aro’s role becomes more pronounced in Breaking Dawn. After Bella and Edward’s wedding, he sends Bella an ornate necklace as a wedding gift, a sign of his continued interest in her transformation. The climax of the saga occurs when the Volturi, under Aro’s command, confront the Cullens over the alleged creation of an immortal child, Renesmee. Aro, upon discovering Renesmee’s half-human, half-vampire nature and witnessing Bella’s powerful mental shield, opts to avoid conflict, recognizing the potential threat the Cullens and their allies pose.
Throughout the series, Aro is portrayed as a character of depth and complexity. His actions are driven by a desire to maintain the Volturi’s power and the secrecy of the vampire world, often leading to morally ambiguous decisions. His interest in special abilities among vampires, such as those possessed by Edward, Alice, and Bella, underscores his strategic mindset and his willingness to use others to strengthen the Volturi’s dominance. Despite his often ruthless tactics, Aro is not a one-dimensional villain; his interactions with characters like Carlisle reveal a capacity for respect and perhaps a semblance of friendship, albeit overshadowed by his overarching ambitions.
Aro’s leadership of the Volturi is characterized by a combination of charisma, strategic vision, and an unwavering commitment to the laws governing the vampire world. As the primary enforcer of these laws, Aro ensures that the vampire community remains hidden from human society, a task he views as vital for the survival of vampires. This necessity becomes increasingly significant with the advancement of human technology, which Aro believes could eventually pose a substantial threat to vampires.
Under Aro’s guidance, the Volturi usurped control of the vampire world from the Romanian coven by 500 AD. Alongside Marcus and Caius, Aro sets and enforces the laws that all vampires must follow, particularly the law against exposing their existence to humans. Aro’s methods of governance are often ruthless, as seen in his willingness to eliminate any threats to the Volturi’s rule, including his own sister, Didyme, to maintain control.
One of Aro’s key strategies is the recruitment of vampires with special abilities, which he views as essential in strengthening the Volturi’s power and influence. His discovery and subsequent transformation of Jane and Alec, twins with powerful psychic abilities, exemplify this approach. Their addition to the Volturi significantly bolsters the coven’s strength, rendering them nearly invincible and further cementing Aro’s leadership.
Aro’s rule is not without challenges, as seen in his interactions with the Cullens, particularly with Carlisle, whom he respects but also views as a potential threat due to their strong familial bonds and unique capabilities. His handling of the situation with Renesmee in “Breaking Dawn” demonstrates his ability to adapt and make calculated decisions to avoid unnecessary conflict while maintaining the Volturi’s authority.
Throughout the saga, Aro’s leadership is marked by a balance of fear and admiration among his followers. His use of Chelsea’s ability to manipulate relationships ensures unwavering loyalty within the Volturi, further solidifying his control. Aro’s rule is defined by his belief in the necessity of the Volturi’s existence for the survival of vampires, a conviction that drives his every decision and action as a leader.
Aro’s legacy within the Twilight saga is defined by his role as a central antagonist, one who brings complexity and depth to the narrative. As a character, Aro encapsulates the themes of power, morality, and the consequences of eternal life, making him a figure of fascination both within the story and among its audience. His strategic mind, combined with his unique abilities, positions him as a formidable force in the vampire world, influencing the events of the saga significantly.
The reception of Aro by fans and critics of the Twilight series is marked by a mixture of intrigue and apprehension. His charismatic yet calculating demeanor, along with his morally ambiguous actions, contribute to his standing as a compelling character. Aro’s decisions often serve as catalysts for key plot developments, particularly in the later books of the series, highlighting his importance in driving the narrative forward.
The portrayal of Aro in the film adaptations, particularly by actor Michael Sheen, has been well-received, with Sheen’s performance adding layers of charisma and menace to the character. This portrayal has helped solidify Aro’s place in the pantheon of memorable literary antagonists, ensuring his enduring presence in the cultural conversation surrounding the Twilight saga.
In the broader context of vampire fiction, Aro stands out as a character who represents the archetypal vampire leader, blending traditional vampiric traits with a modern interpretation of vampire lore. His character contributes to the ongoing evolution of the vampire genre, offering a nuanced take on the archetype of the vampire as a figure of power and mystery.
Overall, Aro’s legacy in the Twilight saga is one of complexity and intrigue. His character adds depth to the series’ exploration of the vampire world and leaves a lasting impact on both the narrative and its audience.
In the film adaptations of the Twilight saga, the character of Aro is brought to life by Welsh actor Michael Sheen. Sheen portrays Aro in New Moon, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, and Breaking Dawn – Part 2. His interpretation of Aro is notable for its faithful adherence to the character’s description in the books, capturing Aro’s distinct blend of charm and menace.
Sheen’s performance adds a depth to Aro, infusing the character with a sense of regal charisma and a chilling undercurrent of malevolence. His portrayal effectively conveys Aro’s complex personality, from his outwardly polite and cheerful demeanor to his underlying cunning and thirst for power. Sheen’s Aro is both captivating and unsettling, embodying the character’s nuanced role in the series.
In addition to Sheen’s portrayal, Aro is also depicted by Jeff Riberdy in the short film Consumed. This portrayal contributes to the character’s representation in the Twilight universe, offering another perspective on Aro’s character.
Overall, the film adaptations of the Twilight saga provide a vivid and memorable representation of Aro, with Michael Sheen’s performance standing out as a significant contribution to the character’s legacy in popular culture. The portrayal captures the essence of Aro’s character from the novels, making him a standout figure in the film series.
Fun Fact: One of Michael’s first jobs was flipping burgers at the fast food restaurant Burger Master
Hometown(s): Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK; Los Angeles, CA; London, UK
Career: Studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art opened numerous doors for Michael as he scored his first starring role, opposite Vanessa Redgrave in When She Danced. Sheen quickly established himself as one of the most promising talents on the theatrical scene. He has acted in the BBC drama Gallowglass, Wilde, and the Underworld. Michael as also become well-known for his playing real-life characters: Tony Blair in The Deal, and The Queen, Kenneth Williams in Fantabulosa!, H. G. Wells in H.G. Wells: War with the World, and Emperor Nero in Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. His other hits include Frost/Nixon, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and The Damned Utd due. Michael Sheen was just recently cast to play Aro in the new hit saga Twilight for the sequel New Moon due out in theaters November 2009.
About Them: Michael Sheen was born in Newport, Monmouthshire to parents Irene and Meyrick Sheen. His father, Meyrick, is a part-time professional Jack Nicholson look-alike. Michael has one sibling, a younger sister named Joanne. Being dual talented, Sheen was offered a trial at Arsenal FC for his football talent but chose to pursue an acting career instead. His interest and growing passion in the theatre was gained through both school study and his parents being members of the local amateur dramatic group. After school Michael studied at RADA and had great success there. Michael has one daughter Lily Mo Sheen born in 1999 with long time actress girlfriend Kate Beckinsale. On July 6, 2007 the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), the National Conservatoire of Wales, bestowed upon Michael an Honorary Fellowship at a Ceremony in St David’s Hall.
Quick Quote: “Wherever you come from, you carry the place with you.”