Epic Heroes Compared: Achilles, Sundiata And Rama

894 words - 4 pages

Introduction
Who is a hero? In contemporary times, usage of the term has become somewhat of a cliché. Over the years, the term “hero” has become representative of a wide variety of individuals, each possessing differing traits. Some of the answers put forth by my colleagues (during our in-class discussion on heroism) as to whom they consider heroes pointed to celebrities, athletes, teachers and family members. Although the occupations differed, each of their heroes bore qualities that my classmates perceived as extraordinary, whether morally or physically. Nonetheless, Webster’s defines “hero” as “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.” Thus, it is worth considering that individuals become heroes relative to the situation with which they’re faced.
Using the above definition of hero and heroism, this essay attempts to assess three famous heroic characters portrayed in arguably the three greatest literary epics known to humankind, Achilles of Ancient Greece, Sundiata Keita of Ancient Mali and Rama of Ayodhya in what is today Modern India. With references to Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, D.T. Niane’s Sundiata and R.K. Narayan’s translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana, this essay seeks to compare and contrast the attributes of these heroes, the morals associated with their heroism and their reasons for engaging in battle.
Achilles
The Greek army’s greatest warrior during the Trojan War, Achilles was born of the goddess Thetis and the mortal Peleus. (Murnaghan, 1997, p.xxv)“Strong, swift and godlike” as Lombardo translating Homer puts it (1997, p.5), his presence on the battlefield reverberated fear through his enemies. Being a general in the Achaean army, his original rationale as to engagement in the Trojan War was aligned with that of the entire Greek army and their allies; i.e.; recovery of the beautiful Helen from Paris’ grasp. However, his pride was threatened by his accomplice Agamemnon whom he referred to as a “greedy glory-hound.” (Lombardo, 1997, p. 5). Agamemnon’s seizure of Achilles war prize sparked an indiscernible rage in the latter, thus prompting his withdrawal from battle for an indefinite period. The ensuing events which culminated in his ultimate return to arms, cemented his status as hero of the Trojan War. Morally, his mutinous behavior conjures mixed reaction; however his gallant decision of choosing death over dishonor further assures his intrepidity. (Lombardo, 1997, p.392)

Sundiata

Faced with adversity even from the periods predating his birth, the son of monarch Maghan Kon Fatta and the hunchbacked Sogolon Kedjou grew up to become “great amongst kings and peerless amongst men.” (Niane, 2006, p.2). Like Achilles, Sundiata was a talented warrior and fate played an important role in establishing his heroic status; however, his path to...

Find Another Essay On Epic Heroes Compared: Achilles, Sundiata and Rama

Odysseus and Churchill: Epic Heroes Essay

1458 words - 6 pages Courageous, noble qualities, leadership, bravery, physical and mental strength, outstanding wisdom, and risking his life are just a few characteristics that would describe a Homeric hero. Looking at the nature and work of Odysseus and Churchill, both have essential characteristics that qualify them as heroes. Odysseus’ and Churchill’s many triumphs and courage, intelligence, and leadership skills repeatedly reveal their heroic nature and bravery

Epic Heroes: Sir Gawain and Beowulf

1733 words - 7 pages During the Middle Ages, both “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” were epic stories that were chanted aloud to the public. Each story told about epic heroes who went on a long journey to face or conqueror someone or something. “Beowulf” is a poem about a young man, Beowulf, who slays a monster and his mother with his bare hands to protect the people he loves. As the years go by Beowulf becomes king and a dragon begins to stir. In

Heroes in The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Ballad of Mulan, and the Film Saving Private Ryan

3093 words - 12 pages collection of relating texts, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh,’ and ‘The Ballad of Mulan,’ and the film ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ A hero can be anyone. The modern day hero does not need physical strength or have super human powers, nor do they need to be of royal decent or obtain a high-flying place in the government. Bernard Malamud explains, “Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don't know how far we can go,” suggesting that heroes are simply

Archetype Paper-Loyal Retainers Made Heroes compared between Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings, and current leaders in today's society

807 words - 3 pages , archetypes of loyal retainers appear as underlying roles of a greater picture. From the literary piece Beowulf to the box office hit The Lord of the Rings to even the current leaders of today's society, archetypes of loyal retainers portray similar comparisons to each other based on a model that their heroism is revealed through the bravery and loyalty they provide the hero at their greatest time of need.In the epic poem Beowulf, translated by

Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali Vs. The Odyssey

1104 words - 4 pages , conquer evil, and deliver the threatened and oppressed” (Shunnaq). Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali and The Odyssey can be compared and contrasted in different ways. Both of these literary pieces are epics that contain heroes who precisely mirror the values of their respective ethnicities. While some values displayed in the epics are similar to each other, there are also disagreeing values between the two pieces of literature. Based on the examples

The Theme Of Destiny In Sundiata

813 words - 4 pages Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali, is an epic that’s narrated by a griot, an African story teller, that tells the story of Maghan Kon Fatta’s son, Sundiata, who grows up to be the “seventh star” or the savior of Mali. But, before Sundiata is praised we must travel back to his childhood. During his childhood he was belittled and made fun of because of his appearance and inability to walk. Until the age of seven he gains ability to walk and he

The appeal of epics

764 words - 4 pages people to do well. The Ramayana is a Hindu epic, in which characters follow a set of rules. Each of these particular actions or decisions are considered proper according to their dharma, or principles. The principles which they represent may be followed per the religious dogma and out of common courteously. The king is about to end his reign and give it to his eldest son Rama. However, the king is forced to keep his word to a jealous wife who demands

The Epic of Batman

890 words - 4 pages . Gilgamesh is similar to Bruce because he is also born to royalty, and becomes the king of Uruk. All heroes have flaws, nobody is perfect. Batman and Achilles both have their child-like moments and pout. Achilles and Bruce also determine the face of their cities. If Achilles leads the Greeks in conquering the Trojans, he will become a true hero, just like Batman must defeat the Joker to keep his city safe from harm and corruption. Heroic heroes, Batman

TROY: A heroic Tale

1809 words - 7 pages mythology is the tale of how Thetis attempted to make her son immortal. When Achilles was a young boy, his mother held him by the ankle and dipped him into the sacred waters of the river Styx. Everything that the water touched on the boy became immortal, unable to be harmed. Unfortunately, the ankle that Thetis held him by remained dry, therefore becoming Achilles only weakness.The story of the epic Greek battle at Troy and the heroes who fought in

Hospitality and Destiny in the Odyssey and Sundiata

1743 words - 7 pages not the only one whom hospitality rules. His son Telemachus also is affected by his hospitality towards others. In Niane's Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali, the theme of hospitality runs thick throughout the narrative, as Sundiata is greatly affected by how the other characters receive him. If it were not for the hospitable acts shown to both of the weary travelers, Odysseus and Sundiata may not have been able to return to their homeland.The

Qualities of a Hero Illustrated in Homer’s Epic Poem, The Iliad

645 words - 3 pages The Ancient Greeks idealized and worshiped their heroes, this is portrayed in Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad. To become a hero in ancient Greece, one would have to live and die in pursuit of glory and honor. Both Achilles and Hector seek victory in battle to become the “true hero.” Although both characters possess many hero-like qualities, Hector proved to be the genuine hero. Heroes are viewed differently today as the average person

Similar Essays

Epic Heroes: Gilgamesh And Achilles Essay

1138 words - 5 pages From the days of ancient Greece and before, epic heroes have had their lives chronicled and their stories passed on from generation to generation all the way to present day. Two of the greatest heroes have been Gilgamesh from the epic named after him and Achilles from Homer's Iliad. While the two men's stories transpired in vastly different eras, their lives shared a surprising number of commonalities. Of course, with resemblances come

Heroes: Achilles And Antigone Essay

1131 words - 5 pages Heroes: Achilles and Antigone Homer and Sophocles are two great classical writers whose stories open windows into the lives of ancient Greek society. Achilles and Antigone are two protagonists that clearly show what Homer and Sophocles considered to be important traits for heroes in their time. Through these authors it is possible to see what values the ancient Greeks held in highest regard. First by comparing and contrasting these two heroes

Mythological Heroes: Achilles And Hercules Essay

1285 words - 5 pages Mythological Heroes: Achilles and Hercules      The subject of mythology deals mainly with the notion of battle, or good versus evil. In this struggle many individuals are singled out for either the evil they cause, or from the good they bring to people. When you mention heroes in mythology, there are two distinct names that a majority of people bring up, those names are Achilles and Hercules.    &nbsp

Sassouma Berete And Sogolon Kedjou In The Epic Of Sundiata

862 words - 3 pages Mothers play a very influential role in a young mans life. Even though Sogolon Kedjou and Sassouma Bérété both had an impact on there son's life, their character traits were at different ends of the maternal spectrum. Despite minuscule similarities Sogolon Kedjou and Sassouma Bérété were depicted in direct contrast in the epic Sundiata. When comparing the two Sogolon Kedjou and Sassouma Berete both did what they thought would help to get