Themes Classical epic poetry tells the story of a trip, whether physical (as characterized by Odysseus in the Odyssey) or mental (as typified by Achilles in the Iliad), or both. Epics also have a tendency to emphasize societal conventions and define or dispute traditional ideals, particularly when it comes to heroism. The term "epic" comes from the Greek word for "I will go," and most epics follow one central character during their journey.
Often, but not always, they deal with war, politics, or religion. Some examples are The Iliad by Homer, Beowulf by Geffrey Chaucer, El Cid by Diego Garcia de Herrera, and The Epic of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.
Epics are usually based on real events that happened at some point in time. For example, The Iliad is based on an actual battle between two tribes over a woman. However, many elements in epics can be fictional, such as heroes who don't exist like Achilles in the Iliad. Also, certain details may have been changed to make the story more appealing to a wider audience (such as making Chryses pay ransom for his daughter).
Finally, epics often include other poems or passages written by different authors where they discuss different topics in great detail. For example, Homer's The Iliad includes another poem by Homer's friend and fellow soldier, Busiris, which discusses military tactics.
"An epic is a long narrative poem in a dignified style concerning the actions of a conventional or historical hero or heroes; often a poem like the Iliad or the Odyssey with particular formal qualities," according to Webster's New World Dictionary. The plot frequently includes natural forces and employs lengthy character arcs. Epic poems are usually based on real events or people, but they can be fiction too.
That about sums it up! An epic is a long narrative poem in a dignified style concerning the actions of a conventional or historical hero or heroes; often a poem like the Iliad or the Odyssey with particular formal qualities.
Epic poems are large narrative poems that were popular in ancient times. These poems frequently relate the narrative of a hero and his or her exploits. We may see the cultural standards of the poets who recorded the epic poetry for posterity in each of these cases. The Iliad and The Odyssey are two well-known epic poems from Greece that have survived into modern times.
Narrative poems are poems that tell a story, but they are not always as large as an epic poem. A narrative poem can be as small as a limerick (five lines) or as long as a book (50 or more pages). Most narrative poems are based on actual events or people though some are fictional. For example, Hamlet is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare that relates the story of a young prince who dies after being poisoned by his own father.
Narrative poems and epic poems share many elements including character development, a plot, and themes. However, unlike epic poems which tend to focus on one main character, narrative poems often include several characters who interact with one another as the story unfolds. Also, while epic poems usually take place over a short period of time, narrative poems can cover years or even centuries. Finally, both epic poems and narrative poems often relate important stories that bear repeating for future generations.
An epic is a large narrative poetry that generally deals with major issues such as historical events and heroic exploits. Though technically a poem, they alternate between scenes and include conversation, making them unlike any other kind of poetry in the literary world. EPs are divided into stanzas, which are groups of lines consisting of three feet (dipthongs) plus a final line of four consecutive trochaics (pentameters). Within each stanza, an equal number of iambic pentameter lines (five-foot measures) and dactylic hexameter lines (six-and-a-half-foot measures) compose a complete verse.
Epics were popular among ancient Greek and Roman poets because of their size and scope. An epic could contain many characters involved in various actions across an extensive time period. In addition, epics often deal with serious topics like war or history that non-epics poems do not. For example, Homer's Iliad tells the story of the 10-year war between the Greeks and the Trojans over Helen of Troy. It is believed by some scholars that this was actually one poem that was split into two parts: the first part was probably written by Homer himself and included in some later version of the work; while the second part was probably added much later.
Homer utilizes the majority of the literary and lyrical tropes associated with epics in The Odyssey, including lists, digressions, extensive speeches, voyages or quests, different trials or tests of the hero, similes, metaphors, and divine intervention. In addition to these traditional elements, many other techniques are used to enhance our understanding of the events and people in Homer's story.
The most famous example of a list in The Iliad is when Achilles describes the armor he will wear into battle against Hector. This list, which includes such items as plates for his chest, arms, and head, helps us understand how powerful Achilles is and what role he intends to play in the war between Greece and Troy. In addition to lists, there are several other techniques used by Homer to draw our attention to important details in his story. For example, he often pauses the action to describe the scenery or behavior of the characters.
One technique used many times throughout The Iliad is the comparison. For example, when Priam begs Achilles not to fight because of the fate that has been done to his sons, he tells him that if Achilles kills him too, it will be like killing a man who has no children. In this case, killing Priam would be like killing a man who had no family left to grieve his death.
The length of an epic poem is its most distinguishing feature. The "Odyssey" has 15,000 lines, whereas the "Iliad" has 12,000. The first epics were written orally, and poets used rigorous, tonally melodious rhyme systems to control and order the tale. As time went on, poets began to write down parts of their works, probably because they wanted to read them aloud to an audience (much like modern-day radio plays). Thus, scholars believe that the "Odyssey" was actually written first, and it is this poem that served as the model for all future epic poems.
Like the "Odyssey", the "Iliad" is divided into 24 sections or "books". In fact, many think that Homer wrote both poems simultaneously. The "Iliad" deals with the war between the Greeks and the Trojans, while the "Odyssey" recounts Odysseus' adventures after his return from war. Although these two poems deal with different subjects, many similarities can be found among their content and style. For example, both poems begin with a prelude that gives a brief overview of the story that follows; each prelude is sung or spoken and usually includes a list of names of the main characters that will appear later in the work.
Homer also uses similar techniques to express certain ideas.