March 12, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Roundtable: Epic Fail? Comparing Myths, Monsters, and Metaphors Across Cultures, March 12

The Gawande Speaker Series and the Becoming Human Theme Present “Epic Fail?: Comparing Myths, Monsters, and Metaphors Across Cultures,” an interdisciplinary roundtable discussion with Dr. Shubha Pathak of American University, on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in Ellis 111.

This event is free and open to the public.

Becoming Human theme graphicPathak is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at American University. Her work focuses on comparing the Greek Homeric epics (the Iliad and the Odyssey) with the Sanskrit epics (the Mahabharata and the Ramayana). Though they were produced in different times and places and in different languages, both sets of epics tell very similar stories of dynastic wars and heroic quests, and have long been seen as examples of the same genre form: the epic poem. But beyond their similarities, Pathak is interested in what their differences tell us about the larger project of cross-cultural comparisons in general. Is “epic” a useful category in comparing Greek and Sanskrit mythology? For that matter, is “epic” a useful category to talk about similar narratives from other times and cultures?

Pathak’s visit presents an opportunity for Ohio University faculty members to talk across disciplinary boundaries as scholars and teachers of “epic” traditions. Participants from Interdisciplinary Arts, History, English, and Classics will discuss the question of comparing epics from their perspectives as specialists in Classical Greece and Rome, India, Anglo-Saxon Britain, early modern England, West Africa, Russia, and Southeast Asia. The event will be a semi-structured conversation about the issues Pathak raises in her essay “‘Epic’ as an Amnesiac Metaphor: Finding the Word to Compare Ancient Greek and Sanskrit Poems” in Figuring Religions: Comparing Ideas, Images, and Activities (Albany: SUNY Press, 2013).

Ohio University Faculty Featured on the Roundtable




  • Assan Sarr (The West African traditions of Shaka Zulu and Sundiata)

Interdisciplinary Arts

World Religions

Contact Dr. Brian Collins at for more information or to request a copy of the article under discussion.

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