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Epic Poetry

What is an epic poetry?


A long narrative in verse form that retells that
heroic journey of a single person or group

May deal with various subjects: myths,


heroes, legends, histories

Used by ancient people to transmit traditions


from one generation to the other without the
aid of writing
Where do Epics Come From?
- Mythologized histories:Illiad, Odyssey,
Gilgamesh

- Conglomeration of pre-existing stories and


characters
Function of Epics
(1) Moral Code/ Political Propaganda

(1) Heros behavior and the lessons he learns along


the way represent the cultures ideals. The
antagonist represents that taboos of the culture
(2) Common mores in the community:
(1) War
(2) Wealth
(3) Food
Cosmological significance to historical events

(2) Epic as a Cognitive or Spiritual Model


- Culminates the heros journey of self discovery
and maturity
(3) Heroic Age
- Praises the warriors of their exploits and a
glorious recollection of their fame

Odyssey
Did you know?

One of the favorite pasttimes of the people


before was to gather in banquet halls to hear
heroic songs in praise of heroic deeds.

These songs are sung before battles and this


could boost the morale of the warriors.
Classification of Epic

Primary or Folk Epic


- No single author
- Written down after centuries of oral
transmission
Secondary or Literary Epic
- Works of Virgil and Milton
- Imitates a folk epic
- It involved research and has the style of
earlier epics
Characteristics of an Epic poem
1. Long narrative
2. Formal in diction
3. Focused on the exploits of a hero or demigod.
4. Heros success or failure determines the fate
of the entire nation or community
5. Vast setting
6. Supernatural beings take part in the action
and outcome
Characteristics of an Epic
7. Poem begins with an invocation
8. Narrative starts in Media res ( middle of the
action)
9. characters are heroes and important
characters
10. similes
Elements of Epic Style
1. Repetition
2. Long and formal speeches: challenges,
narratives, flashbacks, point of debate,
dialogues
3. Elevated Language
4. The action occurs in the heroic past.
The Epic Hero
The real epic heroes
Who is he?
- main character of an epic poem
- he is introduced in the midst of a turmoil
- warrior, leader, speaker
- can be a demi-god with a distinctive weapon
- someone who undertakes a long journey
- from a noble kin; superior in race