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Epics Unit 5: Folk Literature Lecture Notes Outline

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1 Epics Unit 5: Folk Literature Lecture Notes Outline
[Mirrors & Windows logo] Literary Analysis Unit 5: Folk Literature Epics Level IV NOTE: This presentation contains slides with fields for recording student responses. Any text you insert will remain in the fields until you delete it manually.

2 What is folk literature?
Folk literature refers to a body of cultural knowledge and beliefs passed from one generation to the next, both orally and in writing. Lecture Notes Outline What is folk literature? Folk literature refers to a body of cultural knowledge and beliefs passed from one generation to the next, both orally and in writing. Extension Options Share with students that folk literature is also known as traditional literature or folklore. 2

3 What are your favorite types of folk literature?
Myths Fairy tales Epics Fables Folk tales Folk songs/spirituals Legends Tall tales Lecture Notes Outline What are your favorite types of folk literature? • Myths • Fairy tales • Epics • Fables • Folk tales • Folk songs/spirituals • Legends • Tall tales Extension Options • Discuss with students their experiences with folk literature, their favorite stories or songs and why they like them, and the hallmarks of memorable folk literature. • Tell students that the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society awards annual Aesop Prizes and Aesop Accolades to outstanding English-language folklore books. These books may be either children’s books or young adult books and may be fiction or nonfiction. Past winners include such notable authors as Tomie de Paola, Mary Casanova, Elie Wiesel, Joseph Bruchac, Aaron Shepard, and Paul Goble. For a complete list of past winners and finalists, go to 3

4 What are the purposes of folk literature?
Folk literature can entertain readers enlighten readers by sharing the human condition or experience provide readers with an escape from reality help readers learn about themselves and others teach readers lessons in morality allow readers to explore diverse cultures Lecture Notes Outline What are the purposes of folk literature? Folk literature can entertain readers; enlighten readers by sharing the human condition or experience; provide readers with an escape from reality; help readers learn about themselves and others; teach readers lessons in morality; and allow readers to explore diverse cultures. 4

5 Characteristics of Folk Literature
Like fiction, folk literature has the elements of characters, plot, setting, and conflict. Folk stories also have their own distinct characteristics, including stereotypical characters (such as good/evil) plots that focus on an initial problem, a quest to solve the problem, and the tasks and obstacles involved in the journey settings in olden times and faraway places supernatural and repetitious elements Lecture Notes Outline Like fiction, folk literature has the elements of characters, plot, setting, and conflict. Folk stories also have their own distinct characteristics, including • stereotypical characters (such as good/evil) • plots that focus on an initial problem, a quest to solve the problem, and the tasks and obstacles involved in the journey • settings in olden times and faraway places • supernatural and repetitious elements 5

6 Early Folk Literature Every early culture around the world created its own folk literature. Learning about these tales and songs can provide insight into the cultures that produced them. Lecture Notes Outline Every early culture around the world created its own folk literature. Learning about these tales and songs can provide insight into the cultures that produced them. 6

7 Early Folk Literature Much of the world’s early folk literature originated as part of the oral tradition. The oral tradition is the passing of a work, an idea, or a custom by word of mouth from generation to generation. Early stories were composed as poems, songs, or prose tales. Lecture Notes Outline Much of the world’s early folk literature originated as part of the oral tradition. The oral tradition is the passing of a work, an idea, or a custom by word of mouth from generation to generation. Early stories were composed as poems, songs, or prose tales. 7

8 Early Folk Literature Some early folk literature stories helped ancient inhabitants of Earth understand the unknown world around them. Other tales told of gods, goddesses, and heroes in their cultures. Still other stories related human experiences, ideas, and emotions to serve as moral lessons. Lecture Notes Outline Some early folk literature stories helped ancient inhabitants of Earth understand the unknown world around them. Other tales told of gods, goddesses, and heroes in their cultures. Still other stories related human experiences, ideas, and emotions to serve as moral lessons. 8

9 Influences of Folk Literature
As centuries passed, these early stories became the inspiration for many writers. These writers borrowed the characters, events, and ideas for their own works. William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet refers to several ancient myths. W. B. Yeats’s ballad “Song of Wandering Aengus” draws on the legends of Aengus, the Celtic god of love. Lecture Notes Outline As centuries passed, these early stories became the inspiration for many writers. These writers borrowed the characters, events, and ideas for their own works. William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet refers to several ancient myths. W. B. Yeats’s ballad “Song of Wandering Aengus” draws on the legends of Aengus, the Celtic god of love. 9

10 Influences of Folk Literature
The characters and events in early folk literature have also inspired artists. Many painters have drawn their subjects from mythology. For example, the fall of Icarus, a character in Greek mythology, is the subject of famous paintings by Pieter Brueghel Pablo Picasso Marc Chagall Lecture Notes Outline The characters and events in early folk literature have also inspired artists. Many painters have drawn their subjects from mythology. For example, the fall of Icarus, a character in Greek mythology, is the subject of famous paintings by Pieter Brueghel, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall. Extension Options Ask students to skim the Folk Literature unit to find other examples of paintings inspired by mythology. Have them discuss the reasons why artists base their works on traditional literature. 10

11 Influences of Folk Literature
The influences of folk literature can also be seen in music, drama, and films. What familiar songs, plays, or movies include characters or events from fairy tales, folk tales, legends, or myths? Lecture Notes Outline The influences of folk literature can also be seen in music, drama, and films. What familiar songs, plays, or movies include characters or events from fairy tales, folk tales, legends, or myths? 11

12 Resurgence of Folk Literature
In the past two centuries, there has been a renewed interest in folk literature. Storytelling spans all cultures, values, and ways of life, and has therefore gained worldwide attention. Lecture Notes Outline In the past two centuries, there has been a renewed interest in folk literature. Storytelling spans all cultures, values, and ways of life, and has therefore gained worldwide attention. 12

13 Epics Epics are a very old form of folk literature, dating back more than 2,000 years. These ancient stories have remained popular for their ability to entertain readers. Epics often contain larger-than-life characters exotic settings suspenseful plots Lecture Notes Outline Epics are a very old form of folk literature, dating back more than 2,000 years. These ancient stories have remained popular for their ability to entertain readers. Epics often contain larger-than-life characters, exotic settings, and suspenseful plots.

14 Epics Epics are long stories that involve gods and heroes and that are often told in verse. Grand in length and scope, epics are portraits of cultures that provide clues about societies’ legends beliefs/values laws arts ways of life Lecture Notes Outline Epics are long stories that involve gods and heroes and that are often told in verse. Grand in length and scope, epics are portraits of cultures that provide clues about societies’ legends, beliefs/values, laws, arts, and ways of life.

15 Epics and Bards Epics began in the oral tradition, long before there were written historical accounts. The people of ancient Greece often turned to the wandering poets, known as bards, to hear tales of the past. Lecture Notes Outline Epics began in the oral tradition, long before there were written historical accounts. The people of ancient Greece often turned to the wandering poets, known as bards, to hear tales of the past.

16 Storytelling of Bards The bards of ancient Greece were masterful storytellers. They would sing or recite long narrative poems about the gods, goddesses, and heroes of days gone by. They would often accompany their tales by playing lyres— small, stringed instruments resembling handheld harps. Lecture Notes Outline These bards were masterful storytellers. They would sing or recite long narrative poems about the gods, goddesses, and heroes of days gone by. They would often accompany their tales by playing lyres—small, stringed instruments resembling handheld harps.

17 Storytelling of Bards The bard often improvised the tale, but typically started with an invocation, or a plea to the Muse (goddess of poetry) for divine inspiration began the tale in medias res, or “in the middle of things,” with the epic hero well into the journey used flashbacks to fill in prior incidents had the epic hero reach a point of defeat but continue on the quest ended the tale by revealing the epic hero’s fate Lecture Notes Outline The bard often improvised the tale, but typically • started with an invocation, or a plea to the Muse (goddess of poetry) for divine inspiration • began the tale in medias res, or “in the middle of things,” with the epic hero well into the journey • used flashbacks to fill in prior incidents • had the epic hero reach a point of defeat but continue on the quest • ended the tale by revealing the epic hero’s fate

18 Epithets and Epic Similes
In telling the tale, the bard used many “word formulas,” such as epithets and epic similes. These phrases helped the bard to memorize the tale. Lecture Notes Outline In telling the tale, the bard used many “word formulas,” such as epithets and epic similes. These phrase helped the bard to memorize the tale.

19 Epithets Epithets are brief descriptive phrases that emphasize an important characteristic of a person or thing. In The Odyssey, Homer repeatedly refers to “versatile Odysseus,” “divine Calypso,” and “rosy-fingered dawn.” Lecture Notes Outline Epithets are brief descriptive phrases that emphasize an important characteristic of a person or thing. In The Odyssey, Homer repeatedly refers to “versatile Odysseus,” “divine Calypso,” and “rosy-fingered dawn.”

20 Epic Similes Epic similes are extended comparisons that go on for several lines. Epic similes are also known as Homeric similes. Like epithets, epic similes were memorized and repeated by the bards each time they told the story. Lecture Notes Outline Epic similes are extended comparisons that go on for several lines. Epic similes are also known as Homeric similes. Like epithets, epic similes were memorized and repeated by the bards each time they told the story.

21 Example of an Epic Simile
The epic simile below compares the turning of Odysseus’s hot spike in the Cyclops’ eye to the turning of a shipwright’s drill in planking. I drew it from the coals and my four fellows gave me a hand, lugging it near the Cyclops as more than natural force nerved them; straight forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it deep in his crater eye, and I leaned on it turning it as a shipwright turns a drill in planking, having men below to swing the two-handled strap that spins it in the groove. —from The Odyssey, by Homer Lecture Notes Outline The epic simile below compares the turning of Odysseus’s hot spike in the Cyclops’s eye to the turning of a shipwright’s drill in planking. I drew it from the coals and my four fellows gave me a hand, lugging it near the Cyclops as more than natural force nerved them; straight forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it deep in his crater eye, and I leaned on it turning it as a shipwright turns a drill in planking, having men below to swing the two-handled strap that spins it in the groove. —from The Odyssey, by Homer

22 Bards and Their Audience
As the ancient Greeks listened to the tales of the bards, they were filled with awe and fear. They strongly believed that the gods and goddesses in these stories exerted a powerful influence in their own lives—for better or for worse. Lecture Notes Outline As the ancient Greeks listened to the tales of the bards, they were filled with awe and fear. They strongly believed that the gods and goddesses in these stories exerted a powerful influence in their own lives—for better or for worse.

23 The Ancient Bard, Homer According to legend, the greatest of the ancient bards was Homer. Homer produced two famous works: The Iliad and The Odyssey. These are considered the most important epics in the Western tradition of folk literature. Lecture Notes Outline According to legend, the greatest of the ancient bards was Homer. Homer produced two famous works: The Iliad and The Odyssey. These are considered the most important epics in the Western tradition of folk literature.

24 Homer’s Epics The Iliad and The Odyssey provide us with insight into the world of the ancient Greeks. These exciting stories are told in memorable, poetic language. Their plots raise questions about humankind’s relationship with the world. Lecture Notes Outline The Iliad and The Odyssey provide us with insight into the world of the ancient Greeks. These exciting stories are told in memorable, poetic language. Their plots raise questions about humankind’s relationship with the world.

25 The Iliad The Iliad tells the story of the Trojan War, a battle fought in around 1200 BCE by the Greeks and the Trojans. The Trojans were inhabitants of Troy, which is now part of Turkey. For ten years, the Greeks attempted to conquer Troy but could not penetrate the city walls. Finally, one of the soldiers—Odysseus—devises a plan to defeat the Trojans. Lecture Notes Outline The Iliad tells the story of the Trojan War, a battle fought in around 1200 BCE by the Greeks and the Trojans. The Trojans were inhabitants of Troy, which is now part of Turkey. For ten years, the Greeks attempted to conquer Troy but could not penetrate the city walls. Finally, one of the soldiers—Odysseus—devises a plan to defeat the Trojans.

26 The Iliad Odysseus and his companions erect a Trojan horse and place it outside the city walls. Believing the horse is a gift from the Greeks, the Trojans bring the horse into the city. The Greek soldiers hidden inside the horse unlock the gates of Troy. The soldiers then let in their comrades, who eventually defeat the Trojans. Lecture Notes Outline Odysseus and his companions erect a Trojan horse and place it outside the city walls. Believing the horse is a gift from the Greeks, the Trojans bring the horse into the city. The Greek soldiers hidden inside the horse unlock the gates of Troy. The soldiers then let in their comrades, who eventually defeat the Trojans.

27 The Odyssey Homer’s other epic, The Odyssey, picks up where The Iliad leaves off. This story describes the ten-year voyage of Odysseus and his men from Troy back to Ithaca. In this epic, the characters confront vicious monsters and deadly temptations as they make their journey. Lecture Notes Outline Homer’s other epic—The Odyssey—narrates the ten-year voyage of Odysseus and his companions as they make their way from Troy back to Ithaca. In this epic, Odysseus and his men confront vicious monsters and deadly temptations on their journey.

28 Characteristics of Epics
Epics share certain characteristics, including larger-than-life heroes, or characters with superhuman strength and courage diverse, exotic settings plots that focus on the hero’s difficult journey or quest to achieve a goal conflicts involving struggles with gods or monsters that test the hero’s strength and wit themes that impart wisdom or morality to humankind Lecture Notes Outline Epics share certain characteristics, including: • larger-than-life heroes, or characters with superhuman strength and courage • diverse, exotic settings • plots that focus on the hero’s difficult journey or quest to achieve a goal • conflicts involving struggles with gods or monsters that test the hero’s strength and wit • themes that impart wisdom or morality to humankind

29 Epic Hero Central to the narrative of an epic is the main character, known as the epic hero. An epic hero is an archetype, or type of character, that has been appearing in the literature of the world since ancient times. Lecture Notes Outline Central to the narrative of an epic is the main character, known as the epic hero. An epic hero is an archetype, or type of character, that has been appearing in the literature of the world since ancient times.

30 Qualities of an Epic Hero
Historically, an epic hero is a male of royal lineage who possesses certain qualities that help or hinder him in his quest. These traits include courage arrogance or pride resourcefulness intelligence faithfulness vulnerability Lecture Notes Outline Historically, an epic hero is a male of royal lineage who possesses certain qualities that help or hinder him in his quest. These traits include • courage • arrogance or pride • resourcefulness • intelligence • faithfulness • vulnerability

31 Epic Hero Although an epic hero possesses these human characteristics, he also has extraordinary or supernatural abilities. These abilities allow him to conquer monsters and other demonic creatures. Lecture Notes Outline Although an epic hero possesses these human characteristics, he also has extraordinary or supernatural abilities that allow him to conquer monsters and other demonic creatures.

32 Contemporary Epic Hero
Through the centuries, the definition of an epic hero has changed. Contemporary epic heroes may be male or female emerge from any social status undergo a spiritual, emotional, or physical journey Lecture Notes Outline Through the centuries, the definition of an epic hero has changed. Contemporary epic heroes can be male or female, can emerge from any social status, and may undergo a spiritual, emotional, or physical journey.

33 Epic Hero Cycle The structure of an epic follows a distinct pattern known as an epic hero cycle. In an epic hero cycle, the hero is charged with a quest that tests his or her worthiness. This quest typically involves a battle with an evil force. Lecture Notes Outline The structure of an epic follows a distinct pattern known as an epic hero cycle. In an epic hero cycle, the hero is charged with a quest that tests his or her worthiness. This quest typically involves a battle with an evil force.

34 Epic Hero Cycle Along the journey, the epic hero often enters a supernatural world and is assisted by many mythical creatures. Just when the hero feels defeated, he or she gathers resolve and eventually succeeds. In the end, the epic hero often ascends to the throne. Lecture Notes Outline Along the journey, the epic hero often enters a supernatural world and is assisted by many mythical creatures. Just when the hero feels defeated, he or she gathers resolve and eventually succeeds. In the end, the epic hero often ascends to the throne.

35 SUMMARY: Epics Ancient epics are still relevant in contemporary society. After reading an epic, ask yourself: How does this epic offer insights into ancient cultures? How does it forge connections among diverse cultures? What aspects of humanity are shown in the choices and actions of the characters? What lessons in virtuous behavior are evident? Ancient epics are still relevant in contemporary society. After reading an epic, ask yourself: • How does this epic offer insights into ancient cultures? • How does it forge connections among diverse cultures? • What aspects of humanity are shown in the choices and actions of the characters? • What lessons in virtuous behavior are evident?


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