What is an Epic?

Topics: Homer, Epic poetry, Odyssey Pages: 2 (639 words) Published: January 9, 2014
What Is Epic
An epic (from the Ancient Greek adjective ἐπικός (epikos), from ἔπος (epos) "word, story, poem"[1]) is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation.[2] Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form. Nonetheless, epics have been written down at least since the works of Virgil, Dante Alighieri, and John Milton. Many probably would not have survived if not written down. The first epics are known as primary, or original, epics. One such epic is the Old English story Beowulf.[3] Epics that attempt to imitate these like Milton's Paradise Lost are known as literary, or secondary, epics. Another type of epic poetry is epyllion (plural: epyllia), which is a brief narrative poem with a romantic or mythological theme. The term, which means 'little epic', came into use in the nineteenth century. It refers primarily to the erudite, shorter hexameter poems of the Hellenistic period and the similar works composed at Rome from the age of the neoterics; to a lesser degree, the term includes some poems of the English Renaissance, particularly those influenced by Ovid.[citation needed] The most famous example of classical epyllion is perhaps Catullus 64. In the East, the most famous works of epic poetry are the Ramayana and Mahabharata, with the Iliad and the Odyssey, which form part of the Western canon, fulfilling the same function in the Western world When we refer to epic poetry in the context of ancient literature, we usually refer to the two Greek poems attributed to I. Homer,

1. The Iliad (about the role of Achilles in the Trojan War), and 2. The Odyssey (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), II. and the derivative one in Latin by Vergil,

• The Aeneid...
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