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The Epic

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  1. Myth—contains supernatural elements to explain the natural world; gods and goddesses interact with humans

  2. The Epic • epic poemwith epic hero, epic setting (vast in scope), supernatural forces, epic theme (dealing with respect for gods); two types of epics: • literary—meant to be read and • oral—meant to be spoken or sung

  3. Epic poem • —long narrative poem about a hero and his adventures (The Odyssey and The Iliad)

  4. Epic hero—protagonist of an epic poem (Odysseus) • Glorified (celebrated, almost worshipped), • On a quest (adventure/journey) • Ethical (makes the right choices) • Strong (to a non-human level)

  5. Epic simile • —extended comparison of two unlike things using like or as (also called Homeric simile)

  6. Epithet—descriptive phrase used so frequently that we always associate it with a certain person (Alexander the Great) • Symbol—one thing is used to represent another (white = innocence, surrender, death, peace)

  7. Theme—message conveyed by a work of literature; universal, arguable complete sentence in third person • In media res—“in the middle of things” (Epics start in the middle of the action. For example, Odysseus is returning from fighting in the Trojan War.)

  8. Invocation of the muse—asking for blessing/inspiration for the speaker of the epic (first section of The Odyssey) • Religion = polytheism (many gods)

  9. Gods = live on Mt. Olympus and interact with/control humans • Zeus = main god; thunder • Hades = god of the Underworld • Poseidon = god of the sea • Athena/Athene = goddess of wisdom and war

  10. Death = people become immortal through epics • Guests = Greeks believed in hospitality because they might be entertaining gods without realizing • Origins of the Trojan War = Helen kidnapped by King Paris of Troy; war fought by Greeks trying to get her back for their King of Sparta

  11. Trojan horse = Odysseus’ idea. Men hid in a big horse; when brought into Troy, Greeks jumped out and attacked • Homer – first one to write down The Odyssey, but the epic had been oral tradition for years