When used to ancient Greek literature, the term "epic" refers to a group of writings that can be roughly characterized as narrative poetry about the exploits of gods and heroes. This, to a significant measure, reflects Homer's authority as the most famous epic poet. However, other authors also are included in this category: epics on the lives of men that lack divine intervention (such as those by Anonymous and Theocritus) exist alongside works that deal primarily with deities (as does much of Homer's material).
In modern usage, the word "epic" has been extended to describe any large-scale work in verse composed by a single author or team of authors. Although many elements common to all epics can be found in ancient Greek literature, none of these elements alone would suffice to classify a work as epic. By definition, an epic must include both heroic and divine themes.
In conclusion, an epic is a long poem about heroic deeds and adventures. Ancient Greeks called this kind of poem "mythological" because it dealt mainly with gods and men but sometimes also included events from classical history. Modern readers may refer to these poems as "heroic" or "mythical"; either term is acceptable.
The Homeric Epics were the most important works of early Greek literature. These were epic poetry that recounted the heroic exploits of renowned Grecian heroes. Epic poems are extended, non-rhyming poems that explain a serious issue that is generally essential to a society. The Iliad and the Odyssey are the best-known examples of this genre. They tell the stories of the conflicts between the Greeks and the Trojans over possession of a temple in what is now southern France.
Other major genres include lyric poetry, which deals with personal love affairs or feelings; dithyrambs, which celebrate or lament important events in mythology or history; and comedies, which deal with everyday life in Athens or other cities. Comic poets often used obscene language and mocked everything about their opponents, but they always did it in a fun way.
Ancient Greek literature has been important in helping us understand aspects of Greek culture including religion, politics, and art. It's also interesting to note that many classic novels such as Achilles' Daughter, Electra, Pandora, and The Trojan War begin with a poem that serves as a prelude explaining the context and setting of the story.
An epic is a lengthy narrative poetry with a dignified topic, tone, and style. Epic is derived from the ancient Greek phrase epos, which means "story, word, or poem." In modern usage, "epic" refers to any large-scale work that uses verse as its main form of composition.
In classical Greece, an epic was any long poetic work that dealt with heroic subjects. The term "epic" comes from the Ancient Greek epos (ἠποστάτης), meaning "one who stands by," "attendant," or "usher." Later use of the word "epic" came to mean "a great poem," originally used of the Iliad and Odyssey.
Epics were usually composed in metered verse, but free verse epics are also found among ancient poets. The Iliad and the Odyssey are examples of metrical epics. Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are examples of ancient Greek poets who wrote freely structured epics.
The genre of epic has been widely influential throughout European literature. From the 12th century on, many French writers treated themes from the Iliad and the Odyssey as part of the foundation for medieval literature.
An epic poem is a large work of poetry that tells a story. The incredible feats and adventures of heroes from the distant past are generally detailed in these epic poems. The name "epic" is derived from the Greek phrase "epos," which means "story, word, or poetry." Thus, an "epic poem" is a long narrative poem about human passions, struggles, and achievements.
Ancient epics were often composed in metered verse, which is measured lines of poetry containing specific metrical patterns such as iambic pentameter or trochaic tetrameter. These meters have certain stress points within each line of the poem where there are height differences between words, usually at the end of lines. This difference in tone or pitch can be achieved by varying the length of syllables or by using short and long vowels. For example, in iambic pentameter, one type of meter, each line ends with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable: /-iamb -accent -syllabic -unstressed -stress -iamb -accent -syllable -unstressed -stress -iamb -accent -syllable/.
In addition to telling stories, some ancient epics also serve as historical documents describing real people and events.