Epithet

Topics: Epic poetry, Distinction, Greek loanwords Pages: 2 (507 words) Published: May 21, 2013
it would be expedient to single out two most general semantic categories of epithets: those describing the real distinctive features of objects (colou, material, size, age, etc.), i. e., stating epithets, and characteristics of a moral nature, or evaluating epithets. In contrast to the former, the latter can give extremely opposite characteristics of one and the same object. It is noteworthy that the majority of the so-called stating epithets is distinguished by a more complex content than an outward impression of an object including mythological, emotional, ethical and aesthetic levels, as well as the evaluation and idealization of what is described. The semantics of evaluating epithets which characterize the qualities of the epic hero-warrior and his distinctive features, which are not directly connected with heroism, poetically confirms the thesis about the multidimentionality of the content of the epos.

Speaking about constant epithet it is necessary to take into account its three basic characteristics: the frequency of its being used with a definite object, its constant character, and the importance of the distinction it expresses. The importance of a distinction is determined on the basis of a complex of the traditional ideas expressed in the monument of literature, which were partially conditioned by the theme of heroico-epic genre.

Constant epithet is opposed by situative epithet. Their distinctions are as follows: definiteness—indefiniteness of an object, constancy—Inconstancy of a distinctive feature, importance—particular character of a distinctive feature, generality — concrete character, ordinariness—uniqueness of the state of an object, independence from—connection with a concrete situation. However, despite their clear-cut distinctions, constant and situative epithets cannot be fully opposed to each other, because a definite situation in an epos is described with a definite set of epithets and stereotyped characteristics, with the number...
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