epics comparison

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at unice.fr
Thu Jun 5 00:24:25 UTC 1997

At 23:06 +0200 4/06/97, J. Randall Groves wrote:
>Dear Indologists: I have been reading a translation of the Ramayana
>lately, and I am quite familiar with the Greek epics, THe Illiad and
>Odyssey. Has anyone done much in the way of a serious comparison of the
>two sets of epics? (Ramayana and Mahabarata vs. Illiad and Odyssey). I
>know Toynbee sees epics as the result of a certain stage in the
>distintegration of a civilization, but I am thinking more about a more
>specific comparison of the two sets of epics. I came across a reference
>to a bow that was difficult to bend in the Ramayana (Shiva's bow), and
>got to thinking of Odysseus' bow, and then to the comparison in
>general.Any thoughts or r eferences? Thanks in advance.  Randy Groves,
>Associate Prof. Of Humanities, Ferris State University

	That's exactly my actual research, a comparaison beetwen the Trojan
cycle and the Mahabharata. But nothing is yet publied. The comparaison is
not just based on narrative but mainly on the rapports between the heroes
(and the Gods linked to). And the work is not a symmetric one because the
Mahabharata is well known, not the Trojan War myths: I must add other Greek
myths who appears as fragments of lost variants and that cause many trouble
in the methodology. I've perhaps found a third degraded version in
Lituanian folklore, so I begin to learn Lituanian.
	I have yet some spectacular results but you must wait 2 or 3 years
to obtain a coherent publication because too many Heroes and Gods are

	But, in my sense the comparaison between Ulysse's and Rama's bows
is fruitless, because that's a natural strength test and moreover the two
persons nor the circonstances are'nt parallel: without common function AND
structure two isolated facts can't be a proof.

	As an example, I can compare the two triads:
married: Menelaus + Helene ; brothers: Menelaus - Agamemnon
married: Arjuna + Draupadi ; brothers: Draupadi - Dhrstadyumna
	1) Menelaus is diwogenes, Arjuna is son of Indra, two Gods of
Thunder and both heroes won their wives in a svayamvara.
	2) Agamemnon and Dhrstadyumna are both generals of the army.
	3) Helene is daughter of Nemesis and Dhrstadymna and Draupadi born
for the vengeance of Drupada.
	4) Helene is a gift of Aphrodite and Draupadi the daughter of Sri,
and Aphrodite and Sri are born from agitated see (shell and lotus are
similar symbols: pure white in the mud).
	5) Draupadi and Helene have five husbands (Theseus, Menelaus,
Paris, Diphobos and Achilleus for the last one).
	6) Agamemnon kill Thyestos and is killed by Egisthos, son of
Thyestos; Dhrstadyumna kill Drona and is killed by Asvatthaman, son of

	Yet I can return to the Greece and search about the problem of
Agamemnon and Menelaus: brother-in-law > brother (in the Lituanian version
that's bother-in-law as in India). And facts are coming: Atreus is without
any consistance (not in the Seven against Thebai, in Argonauts, Calydon's
hunting, Pelias funeral games, &c.); Pausanias give many testimonia of
Agamemnon in Laconia but none in Argolida (except a tomb), he is said to
conquer a kingdom in Argolida by killing a son of Thyestos and married the
widow Clytemnestra. And Helena, giving birth in Argos to Iphigenia,
daughter of Theseus, send her to Agamemnon.=> probably, in an ancient
version of the myth, Agamemnon and Helena were brother and sister! But, if
you compare with the miraculous birth of Draupadi and Dhrstadyumna
(ayonisambhava), the word 'adelphos' can't be used because it is the same
word than 'samagarbhas' (*sm-gvelbhos). Moreover the crime of Agamemnon
sacrifying Iphigenia is greater if she is his sister's daughter (same
blood) than if she is his own daughter (doubt exist). All is more coherent.

	That was just an example of the method I'm using.

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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