The Legend of Epic!

By: Ashley Green and Yesenia Sanchez

What is Epic?

An epic is a long, often book-length, narrative in verse form that retells the heroic journey of a single person, or group of persons. Elements that typically distinguish epics include superhuman deeds, fabulous adventures, highly stylized language, and a blending of lyrical and dramatic traditions. -

"Poetic Form: Epic." Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Epic History!

The central figure of ancient epic poetry is the hero. In the 3 major ancient classical epics, the heroes are

  1. the Greek Achilles, in the Iliad,
  2. the Greek Odysseus in the Odyssey, and
  3. the Trojan Aeneas in the Aeneid.
  4. Lesky says the speeches might be a throwback to the oral tradition of epic, where the epic story was passed down, from master storyteller to pupil, possibly within a family. The storyteller or "rhapsode" played a lyre as he sang his improvised epic song. The epic song was composed of elements from myth and folklore welded into place by means of the rhapsode's skilled insertion of formulaic elements.
  5. Epic heroes come from the heroic era, which precedes the Archaic Age in ancient Greece and the founding of Rome by the legendary king Romulus.
  6. The heroes of epic literature are bound by a code of honor.
  7. The form of the epic is verse -- Dactylic Hexameters -- marking it immediately as poetry.
  8. The language of epic poetry is often formulaic.
  9. The material of epic poetry is elevated; it does not dwell on the banal details of life.
  10. Epic poetry tends to have catalogues. Catalogues (of things like ships or booty) tend to be long.
  11. Speeches are frequent.
  12. Albin Lesky, A History of Greek Literature, translated by James Willis and Cornelis de heer. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell Company. 1966.

  • "Epic Literature: A Classic Combo of Narrative and Drama." About. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

What's the point?

They are associated strongly with preliterate societies and oral poetic traditions. In these traditions, poetry is transmitted to the audience and from performer to performer by purely oral means. World folk epics are those epics which are not just literary masterpieces but also an integral part of the world view of a people. They were originally oral literatures, which were later written down by either single author or several writers.
  • "What Is Epic Poetry and What Is the Purpose of It?" Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo!, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.