A Comparative Analysis of the Two Characters of Helen and Sita as Depicted in Their Respective Culture Tropes
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After the European invasion of India in the eighteenth century, scholars observed certain striking parallels between Hellenic and Indian mythologies; parallels which are a point of discussion even after two hundred years. This paper seeks to examine one such parallel, that which exists between the Greek heroine Helen, in ‘The Iliad’, and the Indian heroine Sita, in ‘The Ramayana’ to show that notwithstanding the geographical distance between Greece and India, there are certain central similarities between their principal characters as well as themes, at the same time, retaining specific distinctions.
If we look at the similarities between Helen and Sita, we could begin with their respective births, neither of which is ordinary. Sita was found by Janaka, King of Mithila, in a field, in a furrow dug by his plough; the very name ‘Sita’ means ‘furrow’ in Sanskrit. Helen was conceived when Zeus, in the form of a swan, ravished her mother Leda. Leda’s husband Tyndareus, impregnated Leda that same night, causing Leda to produce two eggs, one which bore Helen and Polydeuces and the other, which contained Castor and Clytemnestra. Whether or not they were goddesses is left to inquiry, but the fact that neither was a mere mortal woman is clear; they are both ayonija, not born of woman. The most fundamental connection between both women should be their beauty, considering they were abducted for it, but here lies the first point of disparity between them. While Helen is the woman whose beauty is so celebrated, that Christopher Marlowe asks, “Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships/and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?” Sita is described only “resembling a goddess in grace, and like unto Sree (goddess of wealth).” Helen’s beauty is the reason she was kidnapped at the age of twelve, by Theseus, which too caused another war between the Dioscuri, her brothers Castor and