A Comparative Analysis of the Ramayana and the Odyssey

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The Ramayana

and The Odyssey are two poems which were written by exceptional writers many centuries ago. The Ramayana traces its origin back to the Hindu community while the Odyssey has its origin generating from the ancient Greek. The two poetic analyses share many things in common, with most of the themes in the stories appearing to originate from a specific background. For instance, in both poetic stories, war erupts in the course of the story where many people lose their lives and others get injured.  The next point of interest in the analysis of the two poems is provided by the allusion to supernatural powers. The following essay is intended to compare some of the aspects that seem to be common between the two poems. The identified of the shared content will be inclined towards the reinforcement of the theme of marital love.


Marital love, which refers to the love a spouse has against the other in a relationship, seems to be gaining momentum in both books. It plays a critical part in the stories by ensuring that the women involved remain faithful to their husbands despite the difficult moments they are going through. Although at some instances there is a rise in concern by the members of the society about their purity, they prove them wrong by safely performing their cultural rituals including passing through fire.

The two poetic stories depict moral lessons about the entailments and engagements of life that individuals need to attain. In both poems, it can be seen that self-respect is a core factor in establishing a better marriage. The women in these stories display the virtue of self-respect through their actions. In the Ramayana, when Rama's wife is hijacked in the forest by the evil Ravana Sita sticks to her principles.  She rejects her kidnapper’s call of having her as his wife hence distancing herself from him (Narayan 98). Upon being kidnapped, Sita’s love for Rama is projected when Ravana “approached Sita with endearing words. He alternated between frightening and cajoling her into becoming his prime mistress. But she spurned all his advances.” (Narayan 172). Sita’s resistance towards Ravana's actions yield some fruits when he reacts angrily and locks her up in one of the rooms making her lonely, but at least her safety guaranteed. In the process of rescuing Sita, even Rama does not believe that she is clean and pure as before. He chooses to commit Sita to the ritual of purity which required Sita to walk through fire. Therefore, Sita respects herself and does whatever it takes to remain faithful to her only husband, Rama.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus' wife Penelope maintains her self-respect using some tricks despite rumours that her husband has died in the war. She resists attempts to involve in immoral acts with any of the suitors who are currently residing in her house. Her commitment to Odysseus is manifested in the words “I began to weave, and the weaving fine-spun, the yarns endless, and I would lead them on: ‘Young men, my suitors, now that King Odysseus is no more, go slowly, keen as you are to marry me, until I can finish off this web” (Mitchell 196). Although some of her palace servants involve in the sexual acts, she avoids them and hopes that she will reunite with her husband (Mitchell 58). These workers then pay their prices when Odysseus, the king of Ithaca returns. He takes a stiff action against them by slaying the indiscipline women and the suitors who do not recognize him in the first place.

The second lesson that individuals can learn from these stories is that patience pays. In The Ramayana, Sita decides to remain patient and wait for her husband to come to her rescue because of her great affection towards him. She further refuses to leave with Hanuman, even after he shows her Rama's ring, to signify that he has not come for ill intentions (Narayan 104). She decides to wait for her husband in the territory until he comes and destroys Ravana's property and rescues her.

As illustrated in The Odyssey, Penelope remains patient for her husband, who spends many years away from home after participating in the war. Pressure from the community members grows over her that she should find a suitable suitor and ensure that she remarries for the respect of their norms. Suitors flood her homestead seeking her hand in the engagement although she already has a 20-year-old son named Telemachus (Mitchell 101). However, she plays a hide and seek game with them for quite some time until her husband comes back.

Therefore, these stories depict various similarities in the eyes of the reader, while there are also some differences that arise between them. As with the similarities, women have been used as pivotal points in both stories. In the Ramayana, Sita plays a major role from the point where she gets married to Rama, moves with him throughout the process of being in exile until he returns to his home and rules (Narayan 157). Upon interacting with Hanuman, she “She gave him a single piece of jewellery that she had saved (concealed in a knot at her sariend), and requested him to deliver it to Rama as her memento” (Narayan 201). The act was a reflection of her commitment to their union. This is the same with the Odyssey, where Penelope plays a greater role in taking care of the family, for the period when her husband is away till he returns and continues his leadership.

             Another similarity that exists between the stories is that, a family reunion is seen to occur in both of them. In the Ramayana, Rama and his wife Sita stay in exile for fourteen years after which another problem of kidnapping comes into place. When Rama rescues her, they move back to their extended family where they reunite with other members. In the Odyssey, Odysseus stays in exile or in a foreign land for many years (Mitchell 198). Nonetheless, family reunion occurs when he escapes from where he was held hostage, travels across the sea and enters his home in Ithaca.

             Nevertheless, the main difference that exists between the stories is that in the Ramayana,

a prince is involved. This is where Rama who is expected to take over the kingdom from his father is sent into exile, and he obeys. While away, he participates in a war, killing most of Ravana's servants. Regarding the Odyssey, Odysseus is a king but despite this, he commits to his kingship and participates in the Trojan war (Mitchell 269). Additionally, the next difference between the stories is that, the lady Sita in the Ramayana moves with her husband away from their family while in the Odyssey, only Odysseus moves away from the family leaving Penelope and their son behind.

            Regarding the values that can be practised, these ancient texts possess higher values compared to those in the 21st century. This is because, writers and poets in the ancient times possess great levels of knowledge together with the exposure required in these writings. This is in contrast to their counterparts in the current century who lack exposure and experience and hence tend to write from their own mind or opinions, which at times contradicts to the facts in the society. However, writers and even poets in the current century can improve on their writing by making regular references to the ancient works because the latter contain knowledgeable pieces of articles. They can be of importance to any writer, whether whether new or taken time in the industry.


             Both the Ramayana and the Odyssey have clearly outlined the marital love that exists in families. They have also displayed characters and other factors that individuals can learn from or even embrace. Self-respect, which then leads to the respect for others should highly be practised for the realization of success in most marriages if not all.

Works Cited

Narayan, Rasipuram Krishnaswami. The Mahabharata: A shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Mitchell, Stephen. “The Ramayana”. In: Williams, Gareth, Peter Pentz, and Matthias Wemhoff, eds., Vikings: Life and Legend. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014. Paper. Pp. 288

December 12, 2023



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