Journal • What makes a hero? What are four qualities a hero must possess?
What is an epic? • A long narrative (story) in poem form. • An epic has a hero. • The epic is the story of the hero’s travels and his deeds, or actions, regarding obstacles and monsters.
Characteristics of an epic • Begins in medias res (Latin for “it begins in the middle of things”), then flashes back to explain action leading up to that point • Begins with an invocation or prayer to a god or gods • Begins with a statement of theme • Contains many epithets • Contains long, formal speeches by many characters
More about epics • Epics were originally sung, often accompanied by a harp. • Epics contain information about the culture that created them: religion, dress, homes, weapons and war, roles of men and women, values and moral standards. • Epics contain clues to what the people who created them feared or did not understand: natural disasters, death, heavens, storms, etc.
Traits of an epic hero • Has larger than life qualities, possibly supernatural powers • Is a natural leader (of men) • Is appealing to the opposite sex but rarely has an extended relationship • Defeats monsters (bad guys) and/or fights gods • Has “good” on his or her side • Often stands alone in battle
Traits of an epic hero • Is smarter than everyone else, generally a problem solver. • Odysseus tricks the Trojans by hiding inside a “gift horse” and surprising them. • Has weakness that often destroys him or her • Makes long journeys, always on the move, travels to find adventure • A skilled fighter
Hero cycle • Hero is usually male, often of lowly birth, but may secretly have special powers or a high birthright he is unaware of. • The hero’s parents are often dead, absent, or uncaring. A hero usually can’t begin a journey to become a man if his father figure is still present. • A hero is judged by a nobility of purpose, the things he does, and he must be willing to risk his life for his ideals.
Hero cycle • The call to adventure • Refusal of the call • Supernatural aid • Crossing the threshold into the unknown“The hero is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died.” – Joseph Campbell
Hero cycle • Initiation1) Trials (dragons slain, barriers crossed, etc)2) Meeting with the goddess (or any strong female force)3) Woman as temptress (metaphor for physical/material temptations) • Atonement – “at-one-ment” – with “father” (biological or strong male presence or just anything with incredible power)
Hero cycle • Rebirth – all previous steps have prepared and purified the hero. • Return – He may have to be pulled back into society because the hero is having too much fun. • Master of two worlds – powerful in insight, free in action