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Like Father, Like Son: Poetic Strategies in "The Middle Brother" (Madhyama-vyāyoga) Attributed to Bhāsa

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The one-act Sanskrit drama Madhyama-vyāyoga or "The Middle Brother" attributed to Bhāsa describes an oedipal encounter between the Pāndava hero Bhīmasena and his half-demon son Ghatotkaca. The author utilizes subtle techniques of word choice and strategic repetition of key words, particularly sadrśa 'like, similar,' to hint at the underlying similarity of the superficially unlike pair. This keyword technique, which is found only sporadically in Sanskrit, is compared to similar techniques in other literatures, particularly the Leitwortstil characteristic of Biblical Hebrew.

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