There are numerous stories we heard as youngsters, some old and others fresh. The narrative of Beowulf is thought to be the oldest important work of literature composed in the English language. This historic epic was composed during the eighth and eleventh centuries by an unnamed poet. It tells the tale of a Geatish hero who defeats a monstrous dragon to regain his master's treasure and escape with his life.
Beowulf is only one of many ancient poems that have survived into modern times. Another famous example is The Iliad by Homer. It is believed to have been written around 2400 years ago. The Iliad is the foundational text for modern understanding of combat tactics and strategies between armies. It contains over 10,000 lines of verse in dactylic hexameter (a type of meter) divided into 18 books or "epics".
Homer's poem is considered the first ever historical account, since it recounts actual battles that took place around 730 BC. Before this time, historians had to rely on mythological accounts of great warriors, such as those found in the Iliad and Beowulf.
In addition to these traditional narratives, there are other works of fiction that are now regarded as classics. One example is Paradise Lost by John Milton. It was written about 1667 but not published until 1674.
Beowulf is the longest extant Old English poem and the oldest surviving Germanic epic; it was most likely written between 700 and 750. The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Battle of Maldon, and The Dream of the Rood are among the other notable masterpieces of Old English poetry. These poems share many similarities with later European epics such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
Early modern scholars often cited Beowulf as evidence that ancient English poets were capable of producing works of merit comparable to those found in classical antiquity. Modern critics tend to regard the poem as a primitive work lacking innovation or ambition. It tells the story of a Geatish hero named Beowulf, who fights and kills a dragon to win fame and glory for himself and his tribe.
The poem contains several allusions to real-life events and people, including references to Breganing and Cyneheard, two early kings of Wessex; Cualenberc, a warrior who fought at the battle of Edington in 671; and Grendel, a monstrous creature who steals women from under the feet of sleeping men. This last element makes the poem an example of Gothic fiction: a story told by poets about monsters and warriors rather than historians writing about actual people.
Consider the Epic of Gilgamesh, which some experts believe is the oldest surviving example of great writing. The poem is estimated to have been composed about 2100 BC and has origins in ancient Mesopotamia. It consists of a long collection of stories that include battles, voyages, and myths.
Other early examples of great epics include The Iliad by Homer (c. 750 BC) and The Odyssey by Homer (c. 500 BC). They are the most important factors in the development of heroic poetry in general and narrative verse in particular. The Iliad is the best-known Trojan War story and takes place during the reign of King Agamemnon of Mycenae. The Odyssey is about Odysseus's return home after ten years at sea following the war. He encounters many dangers along the way but survives them all.
Epic poems were often used as political propaganda tools in ancient Greece. For example, The Iliad was probably written to justify Agamemnon's decision to go to war against Troy. However, it also contains many other elements, such as descriptions of battle scenes, that had nothing to do with politics but rather serve only to entertain its audience.