The epic literary form
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The Epic Literary Form. NOTES. The Epic Plot. 1. The setting is historical but remote in time and place; it is in a period of great achievement, a heroic age. 2. The narrative is long. a. A series of adventures involving a central figure of heroic proportions.

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The Epic Literary Form

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The epic literary form

The Epic Literary Form

NOTES


The epic plot

The Epic Plot

  • 1. The setting is historical but remote in time and place; it is in a period of great achievement, a heroic age.

  • 2. The narrative is long.

    • a. A series of adventures involving a central figure of heroic proportions.

    • b. A series of episodes important in the development of a nation or a race

  • 3. The epic plot is an imitation of great exploits, great in the sense that they are immensely difficult and of great consequence.

  • 4. The outcome of the plot is different from that of tragedy in that it is carried to a successful conclusion regardless of the hero. As has been pointed out, the hero’s personality is not overthrown by his death.*


The epic character hero

The Epic Character/Hero

  • 1. Central figure great in rank, great in character

  • 2. His friends and fellows are of like stature


The epic literary form

  • 3. His enemies are “worthy of his steel”

  • 4. He has a great soul, immense energy, and the capacity for great exploits.

  • 5. His personality must be so stable that the blows of fortune can do nothing to him. He cannot be turned aside from the pursuit of his goal.


The epic literary form

  • 6. He can be utterly ruthless and pitiless if such actions are countered by virtues. (The tradition of the tribal chieftain, who, if he were strong and had due regard for the duties of leadership in times of peril, was accepted as a rallying point by the tribe despite other shortcomings such as cruelty, existing in the person of the epic hero.)


The epic literary form

  • 7. The epic hero is extremely tenacious in the pursuit of any end. To illustrate this, his actions must be large ones in the sense that they involve enterprises of great scope and that he be opposed by seemingly insurmountable odds. The greater the forces aligned against him, the greater is his accomplishment.


Epic devices and motifs

Epic Devices and Motifs

  • Foreshadowing of events through prophecy

  • Visions of the future allowed to the hero

  • The visit to the underworld

  • The journey

  • The supernatural weapons of the hero

  • The individual combat

  • The visit with the gods.

  • The invocation of the muse

  • The statement of the epic purpose

  • Orations before events

  • Verbal contests

  • Descriptions of warfare in general and of specific battles

  • The intervention of supernatural characters


Diction in the epic

Diction in the Epic

  • 1. Dignified and majestic language

  • 2. Poetic—rhythmic, melodious – MUCH Figurative Language is used

  • 3. Formal speech by characters before big events

  • 4. Epic similes can be found throughout

  • 5 Static epithets are used throughout

  • 6. Words were meant to be spoken by a bard/storyteller...heard by audience (not read silently)


Genre classification

Genre Classification

  • The Iliad and The Odyssey are considered folk epics, because they seem to be compilations of scattered legendary material, rather than the conscious literary production of one author.

  • A skillful master of poetry has molded them into a unified whole, but rather as a naïve story-teller than as a man of letters setting out to create an epic.

  • The master story-teller is believed to be the legendary bard, blind Homer.


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