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Epic Tradition & The Epic Hero

Epic Tradition & The Epic Hero

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Epic Tradition & The Epic Hero

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  1. Epic Tradition & The Epic Hero

  2. The Epic Tradition • Written in poetic verse, usually very long, and were called epic poems • Detailed the deeds of heroes and reflected the brutality of the times • Given in a mead hall, large centers of celebration • A scop, or professional poet, would bring the poem to life • The scop told stories of how a true hero should behave • Contains the following elements • Epic Hero • Grand setting • Lengthy timeline of events • Elements of the supernatural • Climatic battles of good versus evil

  3. Epic Hero • Usually a male figure • Rises to greatness and eventually falls • Becomes the hero because of a climactic event • May possess the following qualities: • Courage • Arrogance • Larger than life status • Supernatural abilities • Good looks • A fatal flaw (pride)

  4. Epic Conventions • Stock epithets – adjectives that point out special traits of particular persons or things. • Ex—”swift-footed” • Kennings -- poetic synonyms found in Germanic poems. A kenning is a descriptive phrase or compound word that substitutes for a noun. • Ex—”sin-stained demon” • Setting – vast in scope, often involving more than one nation. • Plot – complicated by supernatural beings or events and may involve a long and dangerous journey through foreign lands.

  5. Epic Conventions • Dialogue – often includes long, formal speeches delivered by the major characters • Theme – reflects timeless values, such as courage and honors, and encompasses universal ideas, such as good and evil or life and death. • Style – includes formal diction and a serious tone.

  6. Beowulf – pgs 40-54 in textbook