Warm Up Question • Have you ever heard someone say that something was of “epic importance?” Have you ever read a history book that labeled World War II as a battle of “epic proportion?” • What do you think the word “epic” means in these phrases? Write down 2-3 sentences in which you try to define the word “epic” as it’s used above. • Be prepared to share your response.
Video Clip • Watch the following video clip. • The scene is considered to be “epic” in many sense of the word. • Why do you think this scene could accurately be described as epic? What about the scene fits your understanding of the word?
The Odyssey Epic Poems
What is an “Epic Poem?” • An epic is a “long, narrative [tells a story] poem about the deeds of a hero or gods.” • Poet begins by announcing the subject and asking a Muse, one of the nine goddesses of the arts, literature, and sciences, for help. • There are several characteristics used to classify and describe an epic poem…
Number 1 • The action involves a long, dangerous journey and fantastic deeds and adventures.
Number 2 • The setting of an epic is large in scale. • Odysseus wanders the entire Mediterranean and even visits the Underworld.
Number 3 • Supernatural beings play an important role in an epic. • For example, the gods and goddesses (such as Poseidon, Athena, and Zeus) are key characters in The Odyssey.
Number 4 • The protagonist (hero) is always a figure of national importance. • Odysseus is the king of Ithaca and a respected leader. • The main characters of an epic (the epic hero) were often held up as examples of people who had ideal human qualities.
Number 5 • An epic is based, in part, on historical fact, but it also uses myths (stories that show the relationship between people and the unknown, or spiritual, realm).
Number 6 • Epics start in media res (in the middle of things) rather than at the beginning. • The Odyssey begins when Odysseus is nearly back at home in Ithaca.
Number 7 • The style of writing is formal and grand to fit the importance of the subject matter.
Number 8 • Epics assign short phrases (epithets) to individual characters to describe them. • For example, Odysseus is called “the master strategist” and “the great tactician.”
Number 9 • Epics usually contain 24 books. • The full version of The Odyssey follows this pattern.