An Introduction to English Literature Dr. AHMED ABD ALHADI Epics By ABDALSALAM K. BADAWI
Quick review What is literature? • it`s a fine art whose main purpose is to give pleasure by providing the representation of nature or reality by means of words. • Fine arts are those which go beyond mere usefulness and express feeling and imagination. • Fine arts are: literature (words), music (sound), painting (color), sculpture (nature), architecture(different material). There are two recognizable methods of writing poetry: • The poets speaks in his own voice, appearing to utter personal sentiments. • He writes in an impersonal way depicting what others might have felt or suffered, without providing a clue to his own feelings.
Epics • They are long narrative poems written in a particular style in which an account is provided of the mythical origins of a people or of their past rulers and heroes. • Epics are part history, part legend, and part pure myth. • Epics are two kinds, primary (epics of growth) and secondary (literary epics).
1. Primary Epic • The term primary is applied to those epics which are the oldest and whose origins are shrouded in mystery. • The fact is that these ancient poems appear to have taken shape by gradual stages over many centuries. Even when they are attributed to one single author. • Scholars are able to trace different layers of composition. • Some of them cannot be attributed to any author at all.
An important characteristic of primary epics is the primitive nature of the life they depict. Their background is largely pastoral. And there is a world were men and animals live in kinship (ex. There is a dog mentioned in the Odyssey who recognises his master Odysseus on his return home after an absence of twenty years and is so overjoyed that his heart bursts).
Iliad and Odyssey • These epics believed to be the work of a blind Greek poet, Homer – who belonged probably to the eighth century B.C. • Their language and style led scholars to doubt whether there was really any person called Homer who wrote them. • Some think that the stores were put together by different writers. • Even those who believed in the authorship of one single person maintain that he must have drawn upon the work of previous generations of writers.
2. Secondary Epic • It’s kind of epic consists of those poems written by historically known author on the model of primary epics. • They are imitation in form and technique of primary epic such as Aeneid by Virgil the best known of these imitation. • The best known secondary epic is Milton`s “Paradise Lost” which is a long narrative poem based on biblical story of the fall of the man.
Aeneid • It’s written by the roman poet Virgil. • He wished to do for Rome what Homer had done for the Greeks • He constructed out of old myths a fascinating account of the origins of the city. • He was conscious of what he was doing, building up his poem element by element on the Greek model epics.
Conclusion Secondary Epic Primary Epic Some cannot be attributed to any author at all written by historically known author Natural Artificial (imitated) Ex. “Aeneid” by Virgil Ex. “Iliad and Odyssey” by Homer “Beowulf” “Paradise Lost” by Milton