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Anglo-Saxon Literary Elements. The Epic and the Epic Hero Qualities and Characteristics. Defintion. A long narrative poem told in elevated style about the actions of a noble or semi-divine person. Qualities of Epic Poetry.

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the epic and the epic hero http www youtube com watch v gln2r1jvvic

The Epic and the Epic Hero

Qualities and Characteristics


A long narrative poem told in elevated style about the actions of a noble or semi-divine person

qualities of epic poetry
Qualities of Epic Poetry

The main character is of noble birth

Action is on a huge scale

God(s) come to the aid of the hero

It is written in elevated style

En Medias Res (Action starts in the middle of things)

Literary inventories (long family histories)

Descriptions of battle and weapons

Long speeches

the epic hero
The epic hero

Definition: the central character of an epic who has superior qualities and risks personal danger for the greater good.

qualities of the epic hero
Qualities of the epic hero

Is important and glorified

Is on a quest

Has superhuman strength, intelligence and/or courage

Is ethical

Risks death for the good of society and for personal glory

Performs brave deeds

Is a responsible leader

Reflects the values of the culture

literary elements
Literary elements

A few new ones and one you’ll recognize

a reminder about a s poetry
A reminder about A-S poetry

Composed extemporaneously by scops

structure and conventions
Structure and Conventions

Kennings=formula phrases that substitute for a noun

They are types of metaphors used to create alliteration and striking imagery

types of kennings
Types of kennings

Compound words, like “ring-giver”

Prepositional phrases, like “winters of grief”

Possessives, like “ocean’s face”

more on kennings
More on kennings

Poets needed kennings (noun replacement words) to meet the alliteration needs of the poetry.

Remember: kennings are nouns, not adjectives!


Definition: a break or long pause in a line of poetry.

more under caesura
More under caesura

The poetic line in Anglo-Saxon poetry is broken in half

The metrical unit is the half line.



repetition of similar consonant sounds at the beginning of words in a line of poetry

more on alliteration
More on Alliteration

Used in place of rhyme

Used to unify ideas

Sally sold sea shells at the sea shore

rules that govern anglo saxon poetry
Rules that govern Anglo-Saxon poetry

1. Each half line must contain 2 stressed syllables and any number of unstressed syllables.

2. Either 1 or 2 stressed syllables in the first half line must alliterate with 1 stressed syllable in the 2nd half line.


u / u / u / u / u

He wove his words in a winsome pattern.