September 24, 2004
Persona Shines Over Sovereignty
Every war has been littered with men who are facing strong moral dilemmas.
obvious issue would be to continue with battle or withdraw and let others do the work.
conflicts have survived since the ancient epics of Ireland, Greece, and India; even to present day
war in Iraq.
are both ancient epics that contain numerous
examples of heroism, controversy, moral uncertainty, love, and pride.
The characters of these
epics are faced with like situations.
While Arjuna in The Mahabharata and Cuchulainn in The
Tain have similar aspects in their lives, they inexorably differ in their actions.
similar paths; however, others go another way.
Both being either born or raised into heroism,
Arjuna and Cuchulainn face great moral ambiguity and are both faced with a decision in the
midst of war; Arjuna chooses the path of disgrace, while Cuchulainn acts with honor.
Arjuna’s lineage makes him an instantaneous hero; however, Cuchulainn is destined for
greatness then guided to it by his mentors.
During the conception and birth of the sons of Pandu,
Indra took a liking to Kunti. “The illustrious Kunti invoked Indra, the lord of the celestials, who
came to her and begot Arjuna,” (NAWL, 962). When Arjuna is referred to as a prince, “As soon
as the prince was born” (962), it is solely due to the fact that Indra is his ‘father’.
His fame of
birth comes with a certain destiny: “This child will be as strong as Kartavirya and Sibi,
invincible in battle as Indra himself.
He will spread your fame everywhere, and will acquire
many celestial weapons” (963).
Because this is prophesized only when Arjuna is born, and not
about any of Pandu’s other sons, it foreshadows that Arjuna will be the greatest of all of the five
Even though Cuchulainn is not born into royalty, he is also fated to greatness.