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General Characteristics of an Epic

General Characteristics of an Epic

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General Characteristics of an Epic

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  1. General Characteristics of an Epic

  2. long narrative poem

  3. retelling important events in the life of a central hero who is usually seen as representative to his culture

  4. opens with an invocation to the gods or muse of epic poetry

  5. begins in medias res (in the middle)

  6. catalogue of warriors

  7. arming the hero

  8. journey to the underworld

  9. intervention of the gods in human endeavors

  10. single combat

  11. apotheosis (means glorification, usually to a divine level, coming from the Greek word apotheoun, "to deify".)

  12. combination of original narrative with stock formulaic phrases

  13. episodic (Episodic memory relates to the types of memory that result from specific incidents in a life time)

  14. elaborate similes

  15. extended digressions

  16. enhances our belief in the worth of human achievement and in the dignity and nobility of man

  17. Epic Style • The style is marked by repetition, a pronounced use of epithets and a variety of names for the main characters. The speaker often refers to events, places, and characters outside the main narrative, giving the poems a feeling of great scope and comprehensiveness.

  18. The style (usually called high style) is elevated and formal. All the epics begin with an epic invocation, involving an announcement in the first person of the subject (or argument) of the work (The Iliad and The Aeneid announce a double subject) and an extremely brief description of the main action of the work, in the course of which the speaker calls upon a muse to inspire the speaker and give him strength to carry out his weighty undertaking and to answer an epic question about the causes of the main action.

  19. Classical epic begins in medias res (in the middle of things), at a critical point in the action, rather than at the beginning of the story