2An epic or heroic poem A long narrative poem on a serious subject; Written in a grand or elevated style with a larger-than-life hero.Epics also tend to have the following characteristics:An opening in medias res;An invocation to the Muse;A concern with the fate of a nation or people;The intervention of supernatural figures, who are interested in the outcome of the action (the system of gods, demons, angels)Extended similes, generally called epic similes;Long catalogues, whether of ships, characters, or places;Extensive battle scenes;
3Elements of the Epic Style 1. Repetition: directions and reports are repeated, later incidents seem to echo earlier incidents;2. Long, formal speeches such as challenges, inset narratives, flashbacks, and points of debate occur within the midst of the action; characters are commonly revealed in dialogue.3. The manner of address between characters is circumlocutious and courtly; characters often address one another in patronymics such as "Son of Peleus" (Achilles).4. The pace is stately, the rhythm ceremonious. Catalogues (lengthy lists, particularly of leaders and their military contingents) create a sense of grandeur.5. Aristocratic bias: peasants and servants (unless of aristocratic birth) are insignificant.
4Characteristics of the Epic Hero 1. The hero is introduced in the midst of turmoil,2. The hero is not only a warrior and a leader, but also a polished speaker with eloquence and confidence.3. The hero possesses distinctive weapons of great size and power, often heirlooms or presents from the gods.4. Whatever virtues his race most prizes, these the epic hero as a cultural exemplar possesses in abundance.5. Hero's near-invulnerability (Achilles' heel, the spot on Seigfried's back);6. Fighting without conventional weapons (as in Beowulf's wrestling Grendel);7. the hero's inglorious youth (again, Beowulf affords an example);8. transference of the deeds and events associated with one hero to another of similar name
5Did you see this in Beo? Oral Traditions formulas.redundanciesinvocationin medias res A Latin expression meaning “in the middle of things.”aristeia (ah ri STAY a), which in Greek means “the bestthings,” is a cameo or vignetteof a secondary character.catalogues epic simile An epic simile is an extended comparison, which in English usesExaggerationsoriginally intended to be sung or recited to musicThe poem often has national interest and biasSince the same kind of activities often recurred in the story, thepoet would memorize a few battle scenes, a given description of acity or of an act of sacrifice, or other routine event and use it eachtime that kind of activity occurredSometimes the poet would restate things in order to fill out a lineof hexameter. Consequently, we often find a hero “seeing with hiseyes” or “hearing with his ears.”The composition of poetry was seen as an inspired creation.Therefore the poet always began his work with a prayer to the godsfor guidance, usually addressed to nine daughters of Zeus calledthe Muses, whose area of expertise covered all artistic and creativeendeavors.For instance, at eachplace he stopped, he might add that place or a famous person fromthat place to a list of kingdoms or heroes that he recited at somepoint in his epic.
6Meter not Rhyme Epics are typically dactylic hexameter. line comprises six measures (hexameter means “six feet” or “six measures”).Each measure consists of a dactyl, one long and two short syllables (or sometimes two long syllables).try beating out the rhythm.
7Primary vs Secondary Epics Primary or Folk EpicNo single author (each is a product of the oral tradition)Written down after centuries of oral transmission — e. g., Beowulf and the IliadSecondary or Literary EpicA single, gifted poet composes a work that imitates a folk epic. Paradise Lost,
8Definition of a Modern Elegy An Elegy is a sad and thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a person. An example of this type of poem is Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
9Historical / Old Elegy1. the poem (a)starts with an explanation of why or when it is being written, and (b)ends with a return to the speaker's situation.2. the poem expresses not merely grief, but a sense of shock and anger because (a) the death was premature, pointless, or otherwise "unnatural" and/or (b) the person who died was so special3. the speaker indicates how the person died and uses the material of the means of death, e.g., drowning, as a source of imagery in the poem.4. the speaker sees or recollects other mourners for the last person, in a literal or figurative procession5. the speaker digresses into a criticism of some fault of society, related to what the lost person did or might have done6. the speaker meditates on the nature of death, especially in comparison or contrast to the nature of life
11Work Cited http://hccl.byu.edu/classes/edhuntsman/handouts/epic.PDF Primary or Folk EpicNo single author (each is a product of the oral tradition)Written down after centuries of oral transmission — e. g., Beowulf and the IliadSecondary or Literary EpicA single, gifted poet such as Virgil or Milton composes a work that imitates a folk epic. The Æneid and Paradise Lost, for example, involved considerable research and have the style of earlier epics (particularly in setting, dignified speeches, and extended similes.General Characteristics1. Primary epics were originally intended to be sung or recited to music: "Sing, Muse "2. In primary epics, deities and other supernatural agencies are often involved in human affairs: "What god was it ?" asks Homer in the famous epic question that opens the Iliad.3. The poem often has national interest and has a national bias: "and brought low the souls of so many Acheans" (Iliad, Book I).4. Primary epics seem generated by periods of upheaval, of struggle and adventure, such as the Trojan War for Homer's epics and the Moslem invasion of Europe in the Song of Roland.5. Often, the principal characters are larger-than-life demigods (descendants of deities) or heroes of immense stature and strength. They represent such cultural ideals are endurance and cunning (Odysseus), all-round virtue or arte (Achilles), fair play and selflessness (Beowulf), chivalric self-sacrifice (Roland), or Christian love (Adam).6. In both kinds of epic, single combat is a common plot device; if the warriors are equals, such as Achilles and Hector, they fight with sword and spear; if the adversaries are not equally heroic, as in the case of Odysseus and the suitors, the protagonist may use lesser weapons such as a bow. The hero often has a special weapon (e. g., Achilles' Pelian ash spear) or quality (e. g., Odysseus's ability to adopt disguises).7. The subject of the poem is announced in the opening lines, in an invocation (in which the poet calls for divine assistance to tell his tale) and epic question in classical epics.8. As opposed to the epyllion (such as the 892-line "Sohrab and Rustum" and Paradise Regained), the true epic is long (the Iliad and the Odyssey each contain 24 books) and dignified (courtly address and epithet are common).9. Geographical and temporal settings are wide: the action of the Odyssey, for example, occurs across all of the known world of the Greeks over a twenty-year period. However, the action may be compressed into a matter of days (as in the case of the Iliad) or even hours (as in the case of the Song of Roland). The Odyssey takes roughly forty days.10. Such great issues as the founding of the Roman race and the state (the AEneid) are at stake.Elements of the Epic Style1. Repetition: directions and reports are repeated, later incidents seem to echo earlier incidents; stock epithets are constantly applied to certain proper nouns such as "rosy-fingered Dawn" and "horse-taming Hector." Names are symbolic: e. g., Odysseus = "Man of Woe," for he both gives and receives suffering.2. The Epic or Homeric Simile is a protracted comparison beginning with "like" or "as"; the figure, loaded with description, often holds up the action at a crucial point to produce suspense. There is a general absence of this device in Beowulf, but later English writers such as Milton and Arnold have deliberately incorporated such protracted comparisons into their works to give them weight and dignity.3. Long, formal speeches such as challenges, inset narratives, flashbacks, and points of debate occur within the midst of the action; characters are commonly revealed in dialogue.4. Speeches are often followed by such phrases as "thus he spoke" to emphasize that the words are those of a character and not of the narrator.5. Elevated, literary language is the norm-even servants speak in dignified verse.6. The manner of address between characters is circumlocutious and courtly; characters often address one another in patronymics such as "Son of Peleus" (Achilles).7. The pace is stately, the rhythm ceremonious. Catalogues (lengthy lists, particularly of leaders and their military contingents) create a sense of grandeur.8. Epic machinery includes bardic recapitulations (e. g., the Phaeacian poet Demodocus in the Odyssey recounts the story of the Trojan Horse), a chief god's balancing the scales of fate, a long and arduous journey for the hero, weapons of supernatural origin (such as Achilles' shield, fashioned by Hephaestus, smith of the gods), a descent into the Underworld, and nephelistic rescues (from "nephele" [Greek, "mist"] in Greek).9. The opening of the epic will involve an invocation and an epic question. The poet opens in the midst of the action ("in medias res") rather than at the beginning.10. Epic conventions include the simile, the in-medias-res opening, the invocation, the epic question, the epithet, the climactic confrontation between mighty adversaries, and hand-to-hand combat; these were established by Homer and emulated by Virgil.11. Since epics were composed to honour the deeds of heroic ancestors, such poems often have an aristocratic bias: peasants and servants (unless of aristocratic birth) are insignificant. For example, the churl who discovers the Firedrake's cave in Beowulf is unnamed and is given no dialogue.12. The action occurs in an heroic past, generations earlier, when deities freely interacted with humans. The events of the poem permeate the national consciousness —everyone in the audience already knows most of the details of the story.13. In the time of Homer, emotions and great natural forces are personified as deities.Characteristics of the Epic HeroThe form of the poem suggests that the material dealt with should be "events which have a certain grandeur and importance, and come from a life of action, especially of violent action such as war" (see C. M. Bowra, From Virgil to Milton, p. 1).1. The hero is introduced in the midst of turmoil, at a point well into the story; antecedent action will be recounted in flashbacks.2. The hero is not only a warrior and a leader, but also a polished speaker who can address councils of chieftains or elders with eloquence and confidence.3. The hero, often a demi-god, possesses distinctive weapons of great size and power, often heirlooms or presents from the gods.4. The hero must undertake a long, perilous journey, often involving a descent into the Underworld (Greek, "Neukeia"), which tests his endurance, courage, and cunning.5. Although his fellows may be great warriors (like Achilles and Beowulf, he may have a commitatus, or group of noble followers with whom he grew up), he undertakes a task that no one else dare attempt.6. Whatever virtues his race most prizes, these the epic hero as a cultural exemplar possesses in abundance. His key quality is often emphasized by his stock epithet: "Resourceful Odysseus," "swift-footed Achilles," "pious AEneas."7. The concept of arete (Greek for "bringing virtue to perfection") is crucial to understanding the epic protagonist.8. The hero establishes his aristeia (nobility) through single combat in superari a superiore, honour coming from being vanquished by a superior foe. That is, a hero gains little honour by slaying a lesser mortal, but only by challenging heroes like himself or adversaries of superhuman power.9. The two great epic adversaries, the hero and his antagonist, meet at the climax, which must be delayed as long as possible to sustain maximum interest. One such device for delaying this confrontation is the nephelistic rescue (utilized by Homer to rescue Paris from almost certain death and defeat at the hands of Menelaus in the Iliad).10. The hero's epic adversary is often a "god-despiser," one who has more respect for his own mental and physical abilities than for the power of the gods. The adversary might also be a good man sponsored by lesser deities, or one whom the gods desert at a crucial moment.11. The hero may encounter a numinous phenomenon (a place or person having a divine or supernatural force) such as a haunted wood or enchanting sorceress that he most use strength, cunning, and divine assistance to overcome.Notes on Epic PoetryAn epic or heroic poem falls into one of two patterns, both established by Homer: the structure (and allegory to life) may be either war or journey, and the hero may be on a quest (as Odysseus is) or pursuing conquest (as Achilles is). Features of legend building evident in epic include the following:1. the hero's near-invulnerability (Achilles' heel, the spot on Seigfried's back);2. the hero's fighting without conventional weapons (as in Beowulf's wrestling Grendel);3. the hero's inglorious youth (again, Beowulf affords an example);4. the hero's auspicious birth (for example, Christ's or Buddha's), an attempt at the reconstruction of the early life of a notable adult (ex., stories of Jesus' childhood);5. transference of the deeds and events associated with one hero to another of similar name (for example, Saint Patrick and Sir Gawain). Such events would include the gods' arming a hero (a metaphor for wondrous strength so great it must have seemed to have divine origins) and the hero's descending to the Underworld (a metaphor for facing and overcoming death);6. historical inclusiveness: the poem presents a whole culture in microcosm —although the action is localized (for example, Troy and its environs in Homer's Iliad), flashbacks and inset narratives widen the epic's geographical and chronological scope to include the whole of that race's world and culture heroes;7. the hero is a dramatic protagonist in each scene of a play (notice the emphasis on dialogue and set speeches) that is too big for any stage.Milton employed the epic machinery of Homer
12Notes on Epic PoetryAn epic or heroic poem falls into one of two patterns, both established by Homer: may be either war or journey, and the hero may be on a quest or pursuing conquest.Features of legend building evident in epic include the following:1. the hero's near-invulnerability (Achilles' heel, the spot on Seigfried's back);2. the hero's fighting without conventional weapons (as in Beowulf's wrestling Grendel);3. the hero's inglorious youth (again, Beowulf affords an example);5. transference of the deeds and events associated with one hero to another of similar name6. historical inclusiveness: the poem presents a whole culture in microcosm —although the action is localized, flashbacks and inset narratives widen the epic's geographical and chronological scope to include the whole of that race's world and culture heroes;