The Epic

Heroic, Long, Grand, Monumental and Homeric!

What is it?


  • An Epic is a long narrative work recounting heroic deeds.
  • A work relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic
  • A work extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope

In Literary usage, the term encompasses both written and oral works.

Books, poems, and stories can be considered to be epics.

Epics are characterized by the combination of drama with a narrative (According to Plato)

The best known Epics are Homer's Iliad and The Odyssey

The Iliad deals with the role of Achilles in the Trojan War (the conflict pits the Aecheans against the Trojans and results in the grisly death of many skilled soldiers.


The Odyssey deals with the the misadventures of Odysseus trying to return from the Trojan War and the shenanigans of the suitors trying to usurp his place back in Ithaca (The Odyssey is a more fanciful, supernatural tale which involves mythical beasts and menaces such as Sirens and the Cyclops).

Other Examples

The Aenid- about the misadventures of Odysseus trying to return from the Trojan War and the shenanigans of the suitors trying to usurp his place back in Ithaca.


Dante's Inferno- about Dante's journey through the 9 circles of Hell guided by the Roman poet Virgil


Paradise Lost- Concerns Adam and Eve, the biblical story of the Fall of Man, and Satan.

Characteristics of Epic Works

  • The Heroes have a strict code of right and wrong.
  • They have a consistent moral code that they use.
  • The material is not trite and focused on subtleties but is more quixotic, imaginative, and grand.
  • Speeches hold special significance and make up a large part of dialogue.

Your turn!