… or in other words, my favorite vampires in the whole series, for two reasons.
- They want to kick Bella and Edward’s pasty asses.
- They act like actual vampires.
The equivalent of royalty in the vampire world,
the Volturi coven consists of five core members: Aro; Caius; Marcus; Aro‘s wife, Sulpicia; and Cauis‘s wife, Athenodora. Marcus‘s wife (and Aro‘s sister), Didyme, was also a member of the Volturi before she died.
The Volturi reside in their city—Volterra, Italy—which they have secretly controlled for three thousand years, since the time of the Etruscans. They prefer to stay indoors, out of sight of humans, using other vampires as subordinates to serve their coven. Occasionally, they also use human minions.
Between 400 and 500 A.D., the Volturi launched an offensive against the most powerful coven in the world, the Romanians. Rather than simply attack the Romanians, the Volturi first cleverly demanded that the Romanians conform to laws that the Volturi claimed benefited all vampirekind. When the Romanians scornfully refused, the Volturi were able to categorize (and publicize) their strike as a move for the good of all vampires, rather than a standard territory dispute.
The main portion of the war lasted for nearly a century and—due to the fact that there are still two remaining survivors of the original Romanian coven—was never officially concluded. In the end, the Volturi were able to defeat the Romanians because of Aro‘s intentional creation of talented vampires. The Romanians had created vampires for their empire with less foresight, and their physical skills were not a match in the long term for Aro‘s psychically gifted choices. Aro called his soldiers ―the Volturi guard,‖ making it clear that they were subservient to the actual coven of five.
After the Volturi had defeated the greater part of the Romanian coven, they began spreading their doctrine throughout the world. Their basic operating premise was that keeping the existence of vampires a secret was beneficial to all; anyone who would not keep this secret was an enemy to the vampire public.
While many vampires questioned the validity of this premise at the time (after all, what could a human do to a vampire, despite any knowledge that human might have), none of them wanted to take on the Volturi fresh off their victory over the Romanians. As time passed, more vampires were born into a world where the Volturi existed as benevolent governors, and slowly the Volturi became accepted by their own positive, self-created definition. Many of these new vampires were created by the Volturi themselves, indoctrinated, and then let loose into the world. This was the first incarnation of the Volturi‘s human recruitment program; they found humans who sought the power and immortality of vampire lore and introduced them into that world with a set of preconceived ideas about vampire society—ideas that those new vampires eventually introduced to their own ―offspring‖ and other covens they came in contact with. After the Volturi became an accepted force, they continued with the human recruitment on a smaller scale; they utilized humans hopeful of becoming vampires as servants in order to create a human façade for their ancestral home. The majority of these humans were eventually killed for their blood, and only those with potential for useful psychic talents were transformed.
―There aren‘t very many bad guys in my novels. Even the bad guys usually have a pretty good reason for the way they are, and some of them come around in the end. I don‘t
see the world as full of negatives.‖ —Stephenie As time passed, the Volturi became more and more powerful as Aro d iscovered morehumans and vampires with formidable gifts and added them to his ―collection.‖ In the twentieth century, the advances in human weapons technology came to be viewed by many vampires as a validation of the Volturi‘s now inspired-seeming laws.
The present-day Volturi guard stands at nine permanent members and ten to twelve additional transitory members. The foremost members are Jane and Alec, twins changed around 800 A.D. Jane and Alec had psychic abilities as humans that were greatly intensified in their vampire forms. After their inclusion, the Volturi‘s power became virtually unassailable.
Rank in the guard is decided by power; the guard members who are merely physically strong do not rank as high as those with extra abilities. Rank is marked by the color of the individual‘s cloak; the darker the cloak, the higher the vampire‘s rank. Jane and Alec wear the darkest cloak, outside of the true black of the actual coven members. The only guard who wears a darker cloak is Chelsea.
If a human were to discover the truth about vampires and remain silent, it is probable that the Volturi would never know.
Generally, the Volturi do not keep the vampires of the world under close supervision. If a human were to discover the truth about vampires and remain silent, it is probable that the Volturi would never know and would leave the vampire responsible—and the human who possessed the newfound information—alone. The Volturi are concerned only with breaches that lead to widespread awareness in the human world. Certain news stories, books, or movies about vampires occasionally pique the interest of the Volturi. Members of the guard then trace the information to its source, assess the threat, and silence it if need be.
Many vampires around the world aspire to be accepted into the Volturi, as vampires are drawn to power. However, most of them have nothing to offer the Volturi that the Volturi don‘t already have. Vampires with powerful skills unmatched in the Volturi‘s current coven are invited to take the place of older, less skilled vampires. Depending on the circumstances, a demoted vampire might go off on his or her own, join another coven, or be executed.
―AS I STARED AT THE ANCIENT SIENNA WALLS AND TOWERS CROWNING THE PEAK OF THE STEEP HILL, I FELT ANOTHER, MORE SELFISH
KIND OF DREAD THRILL THROUGH ME.‖
—Bella, on her arrival in the city of Volterra (New Moon, Chapter 19)