7 terms

Epic Poetry


Terms in this set (...)

Criteria of an Epic (Heroic) Poem
Long, narrative poem on a great and serious subject

Elevated style

Centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whose actions depends the fate of a tribe, nation, or human race
Traditional Epics
Derive from historical and legendary materials developed from the oral tradition of a nation during expansion or war

Examples: Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf
Literary Epics
Sophisticated imitations of the traditional form

Example: The Aeneid, Paradise Lost
Features of a Literary Epic
Hero is figure of great national or cosmic importance (Example: Achilles or Adam)

The setting may be worldwide or beyond

The action involves superhuman deeds in battle (Example: Trojan War or War in Heaven)

The gods or other supernatural beings take an active role; sometimes they are referred to as the "machinery" of the epic

An epic is a ceremonial performance and narrated in a style different from ordinary speech, grand and formal—therefore, the term "grand style" because of extensive allusions, imitation of Homer's epithets and epic similes
Structure of an Epic Narrative
The narrator begins by stating his argument or theme, invoking a muse or guiding spirit to inspire him in his great undertaking

Then the narrator addresses the muse with the epic question, which begins the narrative story

The narrative begins in media res ("in the middle of things") at a critical point in the action, i.e. in Paradise Lost, at the opening the fallen angels are in hell gathering their forces to determine revenge against God.

Principal characters are catalogued, introduced in formal detail. Often these characters are given formal speeches which reveal their personalities
Epic Simile
Formal simile in which the comparative object is developed more than the secondary

Example: Bees in Book I of Paradise Lost
Adjective or adjective phrase used to define a special quality of a person or thing

Example: Prudent Penelope in Odyssey

Can also be part of a designation, such as Alexander the Great, Lorenzo the Magnificent, etc.