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AH 275 Art In Context

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Ramayana is known in the west as an Indian epic, and while India has a good claim to be the source of the story, like all great tales, it began orally. It was probably not written down until the Hindu sage Valmiki authored a version between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, written in 50,000 lines of strict meter. Homer’s Odyssey and Valmiki’s Ramayana are both ancient epics and are the products of oral tradition.
The Ramayana and the Odyssey were both headed by tales of war, whereas they themselves focus on the journey of their main character; Odysseus of The Odyssey and Rama in The Ramayana. Both the Odyssey and the Ramayana feature a hero who suffers a series of misfortunes. Both heroes also undertake a journey. These books have a remarkable resemblance both in content and context.
They also contrast sharply in some areas. For example, both of these poems contain the existence of supernatural powers and are based on famous and brave characters, both heroes are separated from their wives by inevitable circumstances, and have ideal wives depicted through the story.
In an initial comparison of both epics, it’s interesting to see that their titles hold some sort of similarity.
The Ramayana literally means, The Journey of Rama, while The Odyssey, according to Merriam Webster, has come to refer to a long adventurous voyage. Rama himself is God, who was incarnated as the son of Dasharath to destroy the evil Ravana. Ramas journey starts as his wife Sita is taken away by Ravana. Rama was Prince of Ayodhya while Odysseus was the ruler of island kingdom, Ithaca, thus the reader has specific expectations of both characters given their social upbringing. Odysseus, on the other hand was not of a divine origin, but he was aided by the Gods of Ancient Greece.
When comparing both heroes, we can tell their personalities vary a lot, for example : Rama was a very modest person and lived his life by following dharma and Odysseus would gloat that he had great treasures. Another difference in their journeys is that Odysseus had a much harder time getting home, he would keep getting shipped wrecked and held captive on islands.
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