Ramayana and Odysseus are epic literatures (poems) from India and Greece respectively. Odysseus mainly deals with the Greek hero Odysseus and explores his encounters as he returns home after the Trojan War, where he was assumed to have died. Due to his long absence, his wife back home was being persuaded by different suitors to marry them as her husband was believed dead. Regardless of his son’s efforts to throw his mothers suitors away, he is unable because of his tender age and inexperience in war. Odysseus delay was caused by being held hostage at Calypsos Island, destruction of his ship, and the princess of this island who is in love with him (Homer 23). This story recounts his experiences at the Calypso Island, the trouble he undergoes when trying to return home, his welcome at home of the Phaeanicians where he revealed his identity after his sheep was destroyed and he was forced to swim to the shore. After telling of his story, he is helped to go back home; Ithaca disguised as a beggar where he finds he kills all his wife’s suitors. The story ends after he has reunited with his family and settled which ends his long ordeal.
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Ramayana on the other hand is an Indian epic highly regarded for its spiritual depth, psychological insight, full of practical wisdom and just a wonderful tale. This epic is about the story of Rama, whose wife is snatched by a demon king (Narayan 5). This epic has much influence to the Indian culture, their life and extensively explores human experiences, existence and the perception of dharma. One of the most important topics it explores is the duty of relationship, for example the perfect wife, the perfect brother, king and the ideal servant. Divided into several books, this epic describes the life of Rama from childhood, his marriage to Sita, his coronation and the subsequent exile into the forests, the life he spend at those forests, how his wife was kidnapped by the king of Ravana, up to his final departure from the world.
These books have a remarkable resemblance both in content and context. They also contrast sharply in some aspects. For example, both of these poems are epic. Based on famous and brave characters, these poems occur in different sections or books. Odysseus is written and translated from book 1 up to book twenty four. The same case applies to Ramayana which is written in different Kandas describing the life of Rama. These are named as Ayodhya Kanda, Bala Kanda, Aranya kanda, Sundara Kanda, Kishkinda Kanda, Uttara Kanda and Yuddha Kanda. Al these books describe different aspects of Rama’s life which explain the bravery of Rama. Both books are also based on the lives of heroes. Odysseus was a hero in Greek history who fought the Trojan War and embarked on his journey after the fall of Troy. Ramayana is also based on the heroic life of Rama who escaped to the forests, survived there for extended period of time and fought the Ravana army which had some super natural powers. Both heroes are separated from their wives by inevitable circumstances like Odysseus who is separated his wife by war while Rama’s wife is kidnapped (Narayan 10). At the end of both poems, they are re united to their spouses, and live happily after.
Another similarity between these poems is the existence of supernatural powers. The Ramayana explains about Ravana, the demon king who kidnapped Rama’s wife. In Odyssey, the witch goddess Circe also had some supernatural powers. She was able to turn Odysseus men into swine by feeding them on wine and cheese (Homer 34). Odysseus was only able to escape this wrath because of a type of medicine he had used called moly. It took this goddess to fall in love with Odysseus, to release his men, who remained in the island for over a year. Both heroes were also faced with difficulties and wars in their existence. Odysseus fought with the suitors who wanted to take his wife while Rama fought with kidnappers of his wife. It is also important to point out that both heroes believed in existence of spirits and constantly sought guidance from them.
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These two poems also depict women as ideal temptresses and wives. Regardless of goddess circe seduction, and turning men into pigs, we understand that, Odysseus wife Penelope remained obedient and royal to her husband. Odyssey tells us that, there were so many suitors who remained at her home trying to convince her to marry them, she remained optimistic of her husbands return which eventually happened. The same case is seen with Sita, Rama’s wife who chooses to remain at her husband’s side regardless of Soorpanaka, who was known for stealing other women’s spouses and sleeping with them, constant tries. Soorpanaka had seen Rama on the course of her wonderings and had sworn to seduce him with all what she had (Narayan 7). These books show a few contrasts like the destiny of both heroes. Odysseus settles down with his wife while Rama departures this world.
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