The chapter compares part of the longer Sanskrit epic (the Mahābhārata) with part of the Greek Odyssey. The two languages being cognate, features of the Indo-European proto-language from which both descend can be reconstructed, and I try here to extend the same approach from language to narrative. Does comparison of the stories indicate an early Indo-European oral ‘proto-narrative’?
Both heroes leave their wives at home and return to them after a journey. Late in Mbh. 1, Arjuna visits the four cardinal points; having left Ithaca and fought at Troy, Odysseus in succession visits four locations; and at each of the four, each hero interacts with females. In three of the locations, the hero interacts with a single anthropomorphic female, while in one, he interacts with a plurality of monstrous females. Despite many differences, the four Sanskrit and Greek episodes can be matched: thirty-eight rapprochements are made. However, the fourth location (Western quarter ~ Scheria) presents a complication: the Odysseus–Nausicaa interaction also resembles the Arjuna–Urvaśī interaction during that hero’s next solo journey (Mbh. 3). Finally, the hero’s encounters are related to the Sanskrit list of modes of marriage, itself interpreted as manifesting a fivefold Indo-European ideology.