This paper provides a comparison of the communicative/rhetorical functions of important episodes from two literary works namely, The Odyssey by Homer and The Ramayana by Valmiki, specifically, the story of bow contest involving Odysseus from the Odyssey and the Bow Contest from Book I (Bala Kanda) of the Ramayana. These texts will be analyzed to explore their rhetorical significance for their cultures of origin along with a detailed discussion of how these texts and their rhetoric or communication functions are used in the cultural context. Hence, these two cultural epics are explored through their respective selected texts, reflecting the heroic context and customs of a particular culture or a society’s past and/or its present concerns.
The Odyssey is a Greek epic poem, attributed to Homer, and was published around the 7th century B.C. Similarly the Ramayana is an Indian epic poem, ascribed to the Sanskrit poet Valmiki, and is dated back to the 5th century B.C. The story of Odyssey centers on the encounters of the Greek hero, Odysseus, who returns home after ten years, following the fall of Troy in the Trojan War. In his long absence, his wife, Penelope, and his son, Telemachus, stave off the proposals of insistent suitors of Mnesteres, who were vying to conquer the throne, perhaps assuming that Odysseus was dead in the war. Instead, Odysseus had survived the war, but was held as a captive at Calypsos Island after the destruction of his ship. However, on his return to Ithaca as a disguised beggar, he proves his identity by winning the bow contest and slaughters all the suitors. The story ends on restoring his power to the throne of Ithaca and reuniting with his family after a long ordeal. Odyssey addresses the situations and heroic portrayals of the characters from the point of view of the Greek society. Hence, the text determines the attitudes, actions, and power position of the