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Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the possibility of a shared poetic and narrative diction distinct to epic within battle scenes in the two primary Indo-European epics: the Mahabharata and the Iliad. I use the Rig Veda and the Hesiodic corpus (the Theogony and the Shield of Heracles) as control texts, given that they derive from the same culture but belong to different genres. This investigation will attempt to (a) use quantitative methods to corroborate the longstanding hypothesis of literary and cultural Indo-European lineage, and (b) explore uncharted territory in mining structural similarities within large battle books that are difficult to hand-code. I used noun-adjective pairing frequencies and cosine similarity scores generated through SentenceBERT models to uncover poetic and narrative similarities in battle terminology shared between the texts. My overall findings suggest that patterns in poetic diction relating to battle terminology reveal both a stronger commonality of usage between the Indo-European texts as compared with the Near-Eastern influenced control corpus, and deeper commonalities between the two epics poetic diction concerning these battle terms than they share with other texts from within their separate cultures.

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