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Odyssey by Homer. An Epic Poem. Epic Poem. A long narrative poem that tells of the adventures of a single hero, who in some way embodies the values of his civilization. Epic Characteristics and Conventions.

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Odyssey by homer

Odysseyby Homer

An Epic Poem

Epic poem
Epic Poem

  • A long narrative poem that tells of the adventures of a single hero, who in some way embodies the values of his civilization

Epic characteristics and conventions
Epic Characteristics and Conventions

  • The setting is vast in scope, covering great geographical distances or even visiting the underworld, other worlds or other times

  • There is an epic hero – a physically impressive man with superhuman qualities who is of national or historical importance; he is glorified at the end

  • It contains epic similes, speeches, and battles

  • A quest or journey is undertaken in search of something of value

  • The style of writing is elevated, even ceremonial

  • There are supernatural forces involved

Epic characteristics and conventions1
Epic Characteristics and Conventions

  • There is an opening statement of theme

  • There is an epic question asked

  • There is an invocation to a Muse, one of the nine daughters of Zeus, in order to ask for inspiration

  • It begins in media res (in the middle of things)

    • Earlier portions of the story appear later as flashbacks

  • There is an objective narrator

  • Catalogs and genealogies are given

    • These long lists of objects, places, and people place the finite action of the epic within a broader, universal context

    • Oftentimes, the poet is also paying homage to the ancestors of audience members

Epic hero
Epic Hero

The epic hero:

  • Is a figure of great national importance from history or legend

  • Has superhuman qualities – including strength, bravery, and physical stature

  • Is a warrior, leader, and polished speaker

  • Must undertake a long, perilous journey facing trials and enemies that test his endurance and courage

  • Not only possesses the virtues and qualities that his people value, but is the cultural ideal of those values

  • Must face the final task of his epic journey alone

  • Returns home, a leader of his people

Homeric or epic similes
Homeric or Epic Similes

  • Extended comparisons that compare heroic or epic events to simple and easily understandable everyday events – events the audience would recognize instantly

  • They are often based on images from nature (lions, storms, deer, rivers) and everyday activities (fishing, herding)

  • They are lengthy and may continue for several lines

    • Fun fact – The Odyssey is 12, 110 lines


  • Traditional stories, rooted in a particular culture, that usually explain a belief, a ritual, or a mysterious natural phenomenon

  • They are essentially religious because they are concerned with the relationship between human beings and the unknown or spiritual realm