The Epics “The Ramayana” by Valmiki and “Medea”

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Literary works of various cultures and historical epochs are an exciting topic to study. Hence, this scientific paper aims to examine two texts and discern what significant meaning is generated by their differences. Moreover, the work denotes similarity that allows the difference to highlight a meaningful idea. Thus, The Ramayana of Valmiki and Medea were chosen for the study, the main similarity of which is the excellent ability of history to convey the development of a character through the events that he goes through. Among the differences between these works, origins and the time of creation and an excellent transfer of the relationship between spouses can be highlighted.

Redemption Violence

This work will consider both epic works taking into account the theory of the myth of Redemptive Violence. Research showed that “is the case of the victory of order over chaos by means of violence” (Wink 3). This worldview is considered in the work of Wink, who highlights the importance of understanding how much this myth is deeply rooted in the public consciousness and literary works. This concept is well exemplified by the literary works “The Ramayana” and “Medea,” two main characters. Both experienced quite traumatic events and went on about emotions. Thus, their characters turned entirely upside down and took control of their mind.

The Origins of Epics

Henceforth, the first difference that was outlined in the thesis of this academic paper is the difference in the origin of the two studied papers. Both literary works represent the epic genre, which “conveys the message of heroism, patriotism or strong attachment to motherland connected with human’s destiny which cannot be altered by human power” (Gabriel p. 63). However, the Ramayana is one of the most valuable narratives of Indian culture. It contains historical data about how the worldview and traditions of India were arranged in ancient times. It is worth noting that until now, scientists have not been able to establish the exact date of the creation of the Ramayana, which does not diminish its importance for the study of customs and culture of India in distant times and how such works reflected the trends of society.

Further, Ramayan is an epic written by Valmiki in Sanskrit with elements of mythology as the basis of the work. This language was often used in the literary works of Buddhism and Hinduism, and other publications of the Indian culture (Ruppel 1). The feature of epic stories of India, as well as other epic works, is the presence of historical and instructive subtext that is passed down from generation to generation (Puchner 10). Thus, there is a constant exchange of extremely valuable experience through this kind of work. In addition, some of them are oral. However, the peculiarity of the Ramayana is that it is one of the only documented literary mythical works. The main topic that is considered by Ramayana Valmiki, in addition to defining the cultural characteristics of ancient Greece, is human life. Therefore, it explores the life and concerns of individuals, values, and worldviews. Another feature of this analyzed work is the presence of inclusions of ancient Indian teachings, which present instructive morals in a narrative and easily perceived form.

Historians define Ramayan as a literary representation of Bardic culture and traditions. It is transmitted between generations and affects both the Indian people and the Western world as a whole. As already mentioned, there is no exact date of creation of this epic, but it is assumed that Valmiki wrote the poem, possibly in the first year of our era. Over time, an abridged version of the work appeared, which was called Kamba Ramayana.

The second epic work under study is called “Medea” and was created by the Roman playwright Euripides. It is a brilliant example of the works of Ancient Greece. One of the differences from the “Ramayana” is the Greek origin of this literary work. However, like the Indian epic, the exact date of writing “Medea” is unknown. There is evidence that the text of the work was lost and found first in the first century AD and then in the sixteenth in Europe. The text written by Euripides has been adapted by multiple authors and adapted into theatrical productions.

Despite the recognized value and importance of “Medea” in modern literature, the play did not gain such popularity among its contemporaries. One of the reasons for this was the complexity of the perception of history, due to the fact that the author resorted to violating the traditional way of forming an epic work. Among the distinctive characteristics of this work is also the presence of criticism of Athenian society and showing disrespect for the gods, which was unthinkable in those days.

In the play, on which Euripides worked hard, a whole variety of substantial and weighty topics rises. Among them, relations of opposite sexes, revenge of the main character, who is ready to do anything to take revenge, greatness, and pride can be distinguished. The latter is manifested in the fact that the author completely reverses the concept of the tremendous and unsurpassed character traits of the Greeks. Hence, greatness, arrogance, and pride, which exalt a person, in this case, are presented as destructive features. Especially acutely, the play also shows a non-standard representation of the female character, which emphasizes the alienness, aggravated by the status of the protagonist’s exile.

Relationships Between Men and Women

The second distinctive feature, which was mentioned in the thesis, is the difference in the presented relationship between a man and a woman in the works under study. Thus, in the work of Euripides, the relationship between the two characters, Chorus and Medea, is given. Their marital union is far from standard and ideal. Medea is distinguished by the strength of character, which gives her the opportunity to resist her husband, which amazed and frightened the female audience at the same time (Euripides 77). This was due to the fact that in those days, disobeying and following her husband was something unthinkable and impossible. So, Medea was not afraid not only to end the lives of other people, she was able to kill her own two sons out of revenge, which was a shocking act for the whole society. This protagonist was subjected to a lot of criticism, but at the same time, there were people who considered her powerful and fearless.

Thus, the female character in the epic work is the opposite of those found in many other ancient Greek works. Overwhelmed with resentment for her husband’s actions, the woman decides to commit horrific actions. The spouse, in turn, considers it normal to leave his wife, who helped him a lot, and go to another woman. Thus, Medea exposes the order established in the world ruled by men as hypocritical and spineless by her confession.

Moreover, it is worth noting that “Medea” is one of the first ancient Greek works that can be classified as feminist. This opinion is supported by the steadfastness of the actions of the main protagonist, who decided to go against the foundations of a men-led society. Research underlines that “the function of Medea’s madness is determined by her marginal, exiled locations as a woman and an ethnic Other within the domestic space and the nation-space” (Hendrickson 1). In addition, a woman has a remarkable ability to manipulate others. Perhaps her unique intelligence allows her to do this, which allows Medea to read people and turn everything in her favor. Thus, we can talk about a particular perception of gender by the author of this epic. Thus, the speech addressed to Chorus from Medea is one of the most striking and outstanding examples of a monologue that fully conveys injustice towards women.

Therefore, by showing the relationship between men and women, Euripides completely erases gender and moral norms that shock people. This was due to the fact that the author was one of the pioneers of works where a woman occupies such a clear leading position from the beginning to the end of the work. Moreover, the reinforcement of this factor was the performance of such terrifying actions by her, which not every man can pull off. It was the destruction of the vision of the traditionally passive role of women in marriage and family that attracted so much attention to the play.

The main character of the ancient Greek play combines characteristics that are usually inherent in male characters, which distinguishes her from the rest. In addition, it is striking that a woman triumphs and rejoices after the horrific and traumatic actions she has committed when others would suffer from guilt. Furthermore, she evades any consequences of her actions and is presented by the author as a representative of the divine higher power. Thus, the epic simultaneously presents Medea’s claims of sympathy as a devoted woman and a victim of male oppression and the forked terrifying nature of the monster.

The Indian epic “Ramayana” presents an entirely different picture of the relationship between men and women. This literary work has received several adaptations that have had a significant impact on the literary world of India. This is due to the fact that it carefully reveals the characteristics of all the characters. This is especially true of such main characters like Rama, who is distinguished by special devotion, and Sita, who is characterized by meekness, marital fidelity, and femininity. Henceforth, unlike the ancient Greek “Medea”, this work shows a strong and loving union of lovers who were once separated during the abduction of their spouse. Rama, the main male protagonist, has the features of a saint, thanks to going into exile and the desire to help and support any person. However, after the loss of his wife, he becomes an unstoppable and cruel fighter, ready to do anything to save his beloved. As in “Medea”, Horos does not treat Sita favorably at first, but everything changes when he returns after his heroic act.


Another aspect that should be discussed when comparing “The Ramayana” and “Medea” is the difference between the main protagonists. Further, in Medea, a woman becomes the leading actor; it is her story that attracts the most attention. Moreover, what is attractive about this story is the fact that the protagonist’s suffering turned her into a monster instead of strengthening her spirit. The unusual character traits of Medea also distinguish her from the rest of the heroines of ancient Greek narratives.

She has such qualities as pride, cunning, cunning, cruelty, and unwillingness to bend under the world in which a man rules. Moreover, she has a unique flair that allows her to see people through all their hypocrisy and pretended honor. A distinctive feature of Medea, in comparison with the female character in the Ramayana, is the ability to sacrifice everything for the sake of her goal, even if it requires the murder of her own children. She decides on this act not out of a desire to kill but out of a desire to protect her sons from the hands of an enemy who could cause them even greater suffering.

Therefore, the character of Medea evokes very contradictory feelings, as it is non-standard for such works. A woman allows her feelings to take control of her mind, which can undoubtedly have serious and terrible consequences. Her love and desire to protect her loved ones drive her crazy to such an extent that she erases all facets of these concepts and turns them into self-destructive and boundless hatred. Medea becomes a unique character in the ancient Greek epic, which was initially not positively received by the public. However, over time, she became one of the bravest women who were able to resist the male community and have an impact on the morality and worldview of people.

In contrast to the main protagonist of “Medea,” the hero of “Ramayana” is put, Rama. In this case, the man is the bearer of virtue, thereby being a direct reflection of the morality of the Indian people. This is manifested in all the actions and decisions of a man, through respect for parents and the ruler, love, and loyalty to his wife (Debroy 52). In addition, Rama has such features as reverence for religion, fear of the Almighty, and showing respect also for brahmins and ascetics. He is ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of saving his wife or performing an action for the benefit of others.

It is worth noting that despite these qualities, which extol the main male character, he lacks truly masculine and chivalrous feelings. Hence, Rama is not distinguished by excessive energy, bravery, and absence of fear. At the same time, at the critical moment of the abduction of the spouse, a coup takes place inside the man, and a terrible desire to help ultimately turns everything in him. In this regard, the characters of Rama and Medea are similar as they go about their feelings. However, in the former, this happens in a positive way than in the character of the ancient Greek play. Nevertheless, the brighter and more this difference between the protagonists stands out, the easier it is to make a comparison between them.

A distinctive feature of this work is the fact that it, like “Medea,” is characterized by the presence of unusual elements that were not inherent in those times. Thus, the Indian epic puts war and male bravery in the background. On the contrary, it puts emphasis on such critical human feelings as love, meekness, and selflessness. Thus, the author seems to point out that without these real feelings, it is impossible to acquire all the others. Moreover, Rama is an instrument of the gods, who fully have his will, entrusting him with the duties of fighting impiety (Mathusha and Vijila 153). Therefore, the main protagonist does not have his own desire to fight for the sake of the courage of the feat. All his actions are based on the desire of the gods to raise faith to a new level. Because of this, we can also say that the characters of the play become a reflection of events. It is this fact that causes the unreliability of feats and struggles.


Therefore, this work was an analysis of the literary works “The Ramayana” of Valmiki and “Medea.” Among the differences between these two works, one can distinguish the difference in the main characters and their character, the origin and the basic concept of the stories, and the difference in the relationship between men and women. Thus, this academic paper analyzed the epics on the subjects of similarities and differences. The main of them is the dominance of a female character in a male society, which did not count women as full-fledged individuals.

In addition, the differences include the difference of origin: Ancient Greek and Hindu. This is an important aspect since where a person grew up, and within what framework he was brought up, he will always behave with respect to other members of society. The second difference that is most clearly visible in the work “Medea” is the spirit of feminism, which is not typical for the works of that time. In a society dominated by men, it was difficult to find the place or role for women. Thus, the analysis of these works provided valuable knowledge about how differences such as time and culture affect how epic works are formed. The character of Rama is a direct representation of Indian morality, which is aimed at well-being and tranquility. Medea, in turn, completely contradicts the ancient Greek female heroines, which, however, made her a unique character.

Works Cited

Buck, William. Ramayana. Univ of California Press, 2021.

Debroy, Bibek. The Valmiki Ramayana. Penguin Books India PVT, Limited, 2017.

Euripides. Medea: A New Translation. University of California Press, 2019.

Gabriel, B. A. Z. I. M. A. Z. I. K. I. “Depiction of Human Society through Epic Literary Genres: A Comparative Perspective of the Function of Two African Heroic Epics.” International Journal of English and Literature, vol. 8, no. 5, 2017, pp. 63-73.

Hendrickson, Chloe. The “Mad” Woman in Medea and Decolonial Feminist Revisions: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis of Three Plays. Diss. 2017.

Mathusha, Lara, and K. Vijila. “Re-Discovering the Supernatural Elements of Valmiki’s Ramayana.” Language in India, vol. 18, no. 11, 2018.

Puchner, Martin. The Norton anthology of world literature. W.W. Norton, 2012.

Ruppel, Antonoia M. The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Wink, Walter. “The Myth of Redemptive Violence by.” 2003.