Aeneid the Ramayana Bacchae Agamemnon Greek Tragedies the Bhagavad Gita Book Report

Excerpt from Book Report :

Aeneas' detachment differ from Rama's?

The French philosopher Simone Weil once wrote that, "There is no detachment where there is no pain. And there is no pain endured without hatred or lying unless detachment is present too." In the Aeneid and Ramayana a central issue is how each text's protagonist detach themselves from the consequences of their actions. The greatest juxtaposition can be seen in how the two men respond to the decision to take decisive action. In the 4th book of the Aeneid, as Aeneas is preparing his fleet to set sail from Carthage in secret, Queen Dido, his lover, suspects his ploy and confronts him. In a rage, she insults him and accuses him of stealing her honor. Aeneas responds with fatalist detachment that, "I am seeking Italy not of my own accord." This quote suggests that Aeneas views his action and the incredible suffering he is causing Dido as flowing from the pre-determined path of history. In contrast, in the Ramayana Lord Rama when asked to accompany the sage Vishwamitra refuses stating philosophically, "Who am I? What is the nature of this world? What is the purpose of human existence? I refuse to do anything till I get satisfactory answers for all these doubts. My mind is unprepared to make any decisions or undertake any actions." From this passage we can see that Rama decides to detach from the world in an effort to understand it and his place in it better before taking any further actions. In comparing the two texts it is important to understand how the two characters view the actions they are compelled by other to undertake before engaging in them. Ethical action is the one that provides the most good or does the least harm, or, to put it another way, produces the greatest balance of good over harm. In understanding Rama's detachment, his story can be seen as an allegory to demonstrate the righteous path or dharma in Hindu theology. In contrast, Aeneas is detaching himself from life's pleasures in his pursuit of Italy is not written by Virgil to provide a theological example of the moral life and therefore does not question the gods' will in telling him to leave Carthage.

2) How does Euripedes portray the relationship between the human and divine in the Bacchae?

In Euripides' play The Bacchae, human beings and divinity are presented in a unique relationship that can be merged through rapturous group activities featuring dancing, costumes, music, wine and ecstatic release out in nature. The divine is presented to us as a primarily (but not exclusively) a female experience, one which takes women of all ages away from their homes and their responsibilities and confers on them amazingly irrational powers, beyond the traditional controls exercised by men, represented by Penthus. This contact with the divine brings these human females into harmony with wild nature (most obviously symbolized by the dancing in bare feet). In the drunken merrymaking of the Bacchic celebrations, the traditional lines of division between human beings and animals and between different groups of human beings (social and gender differences) break down and are transformed. The play stresses the beauty, energy, creativity and communal joy of the Bacchic ritual. This point is reinforced when the Messenger states, "Dionysus' powers are manifold; he gave to men the vine to cure their sorrows," the reader is able to understand how the entire play is a form of worship. By illustrating how the Bacchic ritual is an avenue to the melding of the human and the divine, the play itself would have held significant religious significance for its original intended audience. In summary, Euripedes portrays the relationship between the human and the divine as an illusory barrier than can be overcome through worship of Dionysus and the Bacchic ritual.

3) If Virgil and Aeschylus had a conversation about women, how would it go based on the Aeneid and Agamemnon?

The way women are presented in the Aeneid and Agamemon varies significantly. In the Aeneid, from Juno to Venus, and Penelope to Lavinia, women are consistently portrayed in a negative light. Indeed, the women in the poem, whether mortal or immortal, seem doomed to the same fate of being characters whom are negatively portrayed as irrational, motivated by selfish desires, and entirely ruled by their emotions. We see an example of this "irrationality" of women in one of the very first scenes. In the beginning of the poem as Troy is burning down and being attacked, Aeneas sees Penelope and has the opportunity to kill her. She was the one who had come with Paris to Troy in the name of love not of duty. She had chosen to shirk her responsibilities and duties and left Greece for Troy, thereby causing this whole war between Troy and the Greeks. He does not end up killing her but the more important thing here is that it introduces the major theme of women and irrationality into the story.

In contrast, Aeschylus' play revolves around the question of the ethical rightness of Clytemnetra's decision to kill Agamemnon. Clytemnestra tells us early on that she has suffered terribly in her life, and mentions the loss of her daughter Iphigenia. After Agamemnon arrives, Clytemnestra wraps him in a huge royal robe not to welcome him but to make it difficult for him to fight against her. Once trapped, she stabs him three times. Killing a king is a very public act, and Clytemnestra makes no effort to hide what she has done. Rather, she comes out into the public square outside the palace, bearing the bloodstained robe and tells the Chorus that she has killed their king and clearly explains her reasons.

In short, the two texts differ as Virgil presents women as irrational beings who only cause trouble while Aeschylus presents women as rational actions who seek justice.

4) How does the Ramayana portray or illustrate precepts from the Bhagavad Gita? Choose at least 4.

Mahatma Gandhi once wrote that, "The object of the Gita appears to me to be that of showing the most excellent way to attain self-realization" and that this can be achieved through following four main precepts, "Desireless action; by renouncing fruits of action; by dedicating all activities to God and by surrendering oneself to Him body and soul." In the Ramayana these four precepts are illustrated through the actions of Rama. The first virtue of desireless action can be seen in his decision to give up his rightful claim to the throne and agree to go into exile for fourteen years in order to fulfill the vow that his father had given to Kaikeyi, one of King Dashratha's wives. This is in spite of the fact that Kaikeyi's son, Bharat, begged him to return back and said that he did not want to rule in place of Rama. But Rama considered his dharma as a son above that of his own birthright and his life's ambition. The second virtue of renouncing the fruits of his actions can be seen in Rama's heroics at Janasthana, where he uses his exceptional prowess to single-handedly kill over fourteen thousand demon hordes led by the powerful Khara yet does not boast to his friend Lakshmana about his feats. The third virtue of dedicating oneself to God is illustrated by Rama's assertion before the battle with Ravana when trying to make peace with him that he is utterly dedicated to his dharma and will take up his sword against him whatever the cost. This commitment to religious principles can be understood as Rama committing himself to the heaven's will. Lastly, the fourth principle of surrendering one's body and soul to destiny can be understood in the scene where Rama worships Lord Aditya, the Sun, and then invokes Prasvapna.…

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