What do the Illiad and Mahabharata Have in Common?
Mahabharata is an ancient epic from India dating back to the 6th century B.C. Illiad was written in ancient Greece between the 6th and the 8th centuries B.C. Even though written in two separate countries, there are many similarities between them. The common points of Illiad and Mahabharata are discussed here.
The Mahabharata and The Illiad are both about wars started mainly because of kings or princes and their flawed characters. The Mahabharata war began due to Duryodhan’s jealousy of the Pandavas. One other reason that started this war was the disrespect suffered by Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, on the hands of Durshashan, brother of Duryodhan.In The Illiad, the Trojan War began because Paris, a prince of Troy, stole King Menelaus’s wife, Helen. One other reason was the greed of the powerful and fearsome king Agamemnon.
Both these stories contain important moral lessons. The Mahabharata shows the consequences of jealousy, a trait of Duryodhan. The Illiad shows the consequences of greed and selfishness, characteristics of both Paris and Agememnon.
The importance of prophecies
Both The Mahabharata and The Illiad possess religious aspects and stress on the importance of prophecies. In Mahabharata, it was foretold that Duryodhana would bring the destruction of the entire universe. In The Illiad, the prophecy foretold that Paris would be the cause of Troy’s destruction.
The hand of Gods
In both these epics, religion and God is interlinked with the characters. In Mahabharata, Karna is the son of Kunti and the Sun God. Krishna is the lord of universe who was born in human form to protect good and destroy evil. In Illiad, Achilles is the son of a Godess and a mortal king. When he wants to kill Agamemnon, he is stopped by the Godess of war Athena.
Women as trophies
In both stories it is displayed that women are used as prizes that other men can do anything with if they win. In Mahabharata, Draupadi is presented as a prize that Duryodhana wins in the game of dice. In Illiad, captured women are given as a prize to brave soldiers. For instance, Briseis, a Trojan, is awarded to Achilles during the Trojan war.
The importance of war
Both in The Mahabharata and in The Illiad, dying while fighting is depicted as honorable and glorious. In Mahabharata, Bheesma addresses his troops before war saying,” A warrior should die only on the battlefield.” In Illiad, Helen is ashamed when Paris does not want to battle in war as it is viewed as a sign of weakness and cowardice.
Another similarity between The Mahabharata and The Illiad is the great emphasis placed on beautiful women. In Mahabharata, Draupadi is described as extremely beautiful. She was so beautiful that a tough competition was organized where the person who won would get to marry her. In Illiad, Helen is considered the most beautiful woman in the world and is the love interest of both Agamemnon and Paris.
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