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Luke Skywalker was wielding his father's lightsaber, whose light played across the ceiling of Obi-Wan Kenobi's hut, when the old hermit said:

“An elegant weapon for a more civilized time”

Was Obi-Wan referring to a particular time in the history of the Galaxy that he was visioning or that he had lived or heard about? If so, what time was this?

Obi-Wan's remark on civilized times came back to my mind after watching a scene, from The Book of Boba Fett, where Garsa Fwip tells Krrsantan:

...in a more civilized place, in this more civilized times, what was once celebrated in the bloodlust of the arena, is now seen as horror and cruelty.

The above made me wonder if Obi-Wan was referring to civilized times from a personal or from a galactic point of view.

Still picture of Star Wars A New Hope

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    Umm... Before the Clone Wars and the whole Republic-falls-apart thingy? (Not to mention all his friends getting massacred!)
    – DavidW
    Jan 19 at 19:34
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    Doesn’t he say “before the dark times. Before the Empire” right after that? If so, that seems like at least a partial answer right there. Before the empire was the old republic and the Jedi order. That’s the more civilized era. Jan 19 at 22:30
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    "....for over a thousand years the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic" - so, probably sometime then. Also - given that there is now canon representation of the High Republic (which is the era prior to Phantom Menace) - it can reasonably said retroactively to be referring to that period and before
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 19 at 23:08
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    @Moo - don't shoot the messenger - at least not with a clumsy random blaster :)
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 20 at 4:35
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    @NKCampbell if I did, it wouldnt really be clear if I shot first, or if I shot second, or if I was the only person to actually shoot, or whether in some versions it was an entirely different character shooting…
    – Moo
    Jan 20 at 4:42

2 Answers 2

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In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace we see the Galactic Republic, the society in which Obi-Wan was raised and trained. We see the grand Temple of the Jedi Order on Coruscant, where generations of Jedi live, meet, and train, the Senate that governs the Republic, and evidence of a safe, inclusive, and prosperous civilization. Even Naboo, a remote planet subject to a blockade and invasion, is clean, safe, and fairly well-off.

In stark contrast we are shown the world of Tatooine, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Republic, where there is visible poverty, slavery is accepted, and crime and random violence, or at least threats of violence, is unremarkable.

In a fairly short period of time the Republic and its society falls apart, with the Clone Wars erupting and leading to the collapse of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. (The Empire being militaristic, human-chauvinistic, and repressive.) In parallel, there is the destruction of the Jedi Order, starting with Order 66, and continuing with the Purge.

So Obi-Wan was born and trained in a period of relative peace and prosperity, only to survive the destruction of everything he was trained to value and protect. The "more civilized time" is the era they did not know was ending when he and Qui-Gon were dispatched to Naboo.

You can even take his previous comment:

Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster.

as a direct commentary on this as well; blasters - in sufficient quantity - being responsible for the deaths of a great many of his fellow Jedi.

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    Also General Grievous. "So uncivilized."
    – Derek
    Jan 20 at 0:56
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He's referring generally to the period before the Empire.

The full dialogue from this scene makes this clear.

OBI-WAN: Your father's lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilised age. For over 1,000 generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.

Clearly, he doesn't mean a particular era within the pre-Empire period. He's referring to the 1,000 generations when the Jedi were, as he put it, guardians of peace and justice. This is in contrast to the dark times they were currently in.

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    Specifically, wielders of green lightsabers: Jedi Consulars ... more or less: Interpol. Guardians (blue) are basically soldiers. Sentinels (yellow) are like special forces. - Consulars get it done, doing it right. Violence is a last resort, and 'by any means necessary' is never an option. But, pull a gun on a dude 20y out of the game and you might get your arm chopped off. Sorry, not sorry.
    – Mazura
    Jan 21 at 7:16
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    @Mazura: To my knowledge, that chromatic distinction between Jedi roles was pure EU, and decanonized with the rest of it. In the real world, the original intent was that all Jedi used a blue lightsaber (and all darksiders red), but it turns out blue looks kinda washed out against a desert background, so they switched to green. Jan 21 at 21:20

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