Definition of Epic poetry<br />Poetry is piece of literature written by a poet in meter or verse expressing various emotions which are expressed by the use of variety of techniques including metaphors, similes and onomatopoeia. The emphasis on the aesthetics of language and the use of techniques such as repetition, meter and rhyme are what are commonly used to distinguish poetry from prose. Poems often make heavy use of imagery and word association to quickly convey emotions.<br />
Metaphor / simile = comparison, likeness, parallel “like”, similar, resembling
Onomatopoeia =the coining of a word in imitation of a sound
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry (both are professors from Harvard University) have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form. Nonetheless, epics have been written down at least since the 70 B.C. <br />“A long narrative poem in elevated stature presenting characters of high position in adventures forming an organic whole through their relation to a central heroic figure and through their development of episodes important to the history of a nation or race.”Parry and Lord defined epic as;<br />Anonymos;<br />Epic Poems are long, serious poems that tells the story of a heroic figure. <br />Structure of Poetry<br />The structure used in poems varies with different types of poetry and can be seen in the above example of Epic Poems. The structural elements include the line, couplet, strophe and stanza. Poets combine the use of language and a specific structure to create imaginative and expressive work. The structure used in some Poetry types are also used when considering the visual effect of a finished poem. The structure of many types of poetry result in groups of lines on the page which enhance the poem's composition.<br />Characteristics<br />There are 9 key characteristics of an Epic Poem:<br />
It opens in medias res. (in the middle of the storylines)
The setting is vast, covering many nations, the world or the universe.
Begins with an invocation to muse (epic invocation).
"Star" heroes that embody the values of the civilization.
The hero generally participates in a cyclical journey or quest, faces adversaries that try to defeat him in his journey and returns home significantly transformed by his journey. The epic hero illustrates traits, performs deeds, and exemplifies certain morals that are valued by the society the epic originates from. Many epic heroes are recurring characters in the legends of their native culture.<br />Conventions of epics:<br />Praepositio ••► Opens by stating the theme or cause of the epic. This may take the form of a purpose, of a question or of a situation.<br />Invocation ••► The act or form of calling for the assistance or presence of some superior being; earnest and solemn entreaty; esp., prayer offered to a divine being.<br />In medias res ••► narrative opens "in the middle of things", with the hero at his lowest point. Usually flashbacks show earlier portions of the story.<br />Enumeratio ••► Catalogues and genealogies are given. These long lists of objects, places, and people place the finite action of the epic within a broader, universal context. Often, the poet is also paying homage to the ancestors of audience members.<br />Epithet ••► Heavy use of repetition or stock phrases: e.g., Homer's "rosy-fingered dawn" and "wine-dark sea."<br />Actions<br />Actions appropriate to the epic include:<br />Deeds of heroes like Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Prometheus<br />Battles against great odds, like Roland<br />Wars between individual heroes as in the Iliad<br />Real voyages as in the Odyssey; or allegorical voyages through a different terrain as in The Divine Comedy<br />Initiation of great enterprises, as the founding of a new city in the Aeneid<br />The performing of exploits, great and important; admirable actions accompanied by difficulty, temptations, and danger<br />Primary Epic<br />The primary epic comes from an oral literary tradition as a possible accumulation of lays or episodes. They are shaped by a literary artist from historical and legendary materials which had developed in the oral traditions of his nation during a period of expansion and warfare. These epics were composed without the aid of writing, sung or chanted to a musical accompaniment. Thus the composition of the oral epics is looser because it was composed for recitation. They are also more episodic in structure — the episodes can be detached from the whole and may be enjoyed as separate poems or stories. The heroic ideal suggests that the epic heroes in the oral epic are more concerned with their own personal self-fulfilment. The work focuses on the personal concept of heroism, and the self-fulfilment and identity of the individual hero. The national concept is secondary. The language in the oral epics is formulaic: repetitious use of stock phrases and descriptions to aid in oral recitation. Tends toward pleasing the ear rather than the eye. Focus on the spoken word. The movement tends to be cyclical, the theme of the return. The primary epics were developed in cultures that have not yet attained a national identity or unity. Greek city-states, etc. Examples of the primary epic include: the Iliad, the Odyssey, Beowulf, Gilgamesh.<br />Secondary Epic<br />Secondary epics are also called literary epics and were composed by sophisticated craftsmen in a deliberate imitation of the traditional form. Their efforts is attempt to use again in new circumstances what has already been a complete and satisfactory form of literature. The literary epics are composed more for readers in their structure and language. The concern is with the perfection of the word; sentences are carefully fashioned; words and phrases are more carefully chosen. There is less use of formulaic repetition. The heroic ideal: the hero is more concerned with national or universal duty than with personal happiness or self-fulfilment (e.g., Aeneas leaves Dido to continue his nation’s destiny). In a highly organized society, the unfettered individual has no place. The hero is inspired by service to his nation, world, or cosmos, not by individual prowess. Social ideal replaces personal identity. The hero becomes a symbol for the nation or world as a whole. The language suggests a written ceremony — a deliberate distancing from ordinary speech and proportioned to the grandeur and formality of the heroic subject matter and epic architecture. The “grand,” “ornate,” and “elevated” style. The epic’s movement is toward rebirth. Aeneas leaves old Troy to found new Troy (Rome). The secondary epic is a product of highly structured cultures and societies, like Rome. Examples: the Aeneid, Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy.<br />Mock Epic<br />A mock epic, or mock heroic, poem imitates the elaborate form and ceremonious style of the epic genre, and applies it to a commonplace or trivial subject matter; the high brought low. The term mock heroic is often applied to other dignified poetic forms which are purposefully mismatched to a lowly subject; for example, to Thomas Gray’s comic “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat.”<br />Epic Similes<br />Also called Homeric or extended similes, epic similes are formal and sustained similes in which the secondary subject, or vehicle, is developed far beyond its specific points of parallel to the primary subject, or tenor, becoming the more important aesthetic object for the moment. Essentially, the epic simile is an involved, elaborated comparison imitated from Homer by Virgil, Milton, and other writers of literary epics who employed it to enhance the ceremonial quality of the epic style.<br />“And swift Achilles kept on coursing Hector, nonstop as a hound in the mountains starts a fawn from its lair, hunting him down the gorges, down the narrow glens and the fawn goes to ground, hiding deep in brush but the hound comes racing fast, nosing him out until he lands his kill.”An outtake from the Iliad provides an example of an epic simile:<br />Epic Spirit<br />In addition to its strict use, the term epic is often applied to works which differ in many respects form this model, but manifest, suggests critic E.M.W. Tillyard in his study The English Epic and Its Background, the epic spirit in the scale, the scope, and the profound human importance of their subjects; Tillyard suggests these four characteristics of the modern epic: high quality and seriousness, inclusiveness or amplitude, control and exactitude commensurate with exuberance, and an expression of the feelings of a large group of people.<br />Epics Through the Ages<br />The Epic of Gilgamesh (Sumerian)<br />The Ramayana (Indian — Hindu)<br />Homer: the Iliad and the Odyssey (Greek)<br />The Mahabharata (Indian — Hindu)<br />Virgil: the Aeneid (Italian — Roman)<br />Beowulf (Anglo-Saxon)<br />La Chanson de Roland (French) (The Song of Roland)<br />Dante Aligheri: La commedia (The Divine Comedy) (Italian)<br />Nibelungenlied (German)<br />Ludovico Ariosto: Orlando Furioso<br />John Milton: Paradise Lost<br />Beowulf (Medieval age from 8th to 10th century)<br />B<br />eowulf an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.<br />It survives in a single manuscript known as the Nowell Codex. Its composition by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet is dated between the 8th and the early 11th century. In 1731, the manuscript was badly damaged by a fire that swept through the building which housed a collection of medieval manuscripts that had been assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (an English politician). It fell into obscurity (anonymity) for many decades, and its existence did not become widely known again until it was printed in 1815 in an edition prepared by the Icelandic scholar Grímur Jónsson Thorkelin. <br />In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, battles three antagonists: Grendel, who has been attacking the resident warriors of the mead hall of Hroðgar (the king of the Danes), Grendel's mother, and an unnamed dragon. After the first two victories, Beowulf goes home to Geatland in Sweden and becomes king of the Geats. The last fight takes place fifty years later. In this final battle, Beowulf is fatally wounded. After his death, his servants bury him in a tumulus (barrows or burial mounds) in Geatland.<br />Beowulf is considered an epic poem in that the main character is a hero who travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible odds against supernatural demons and beasts. The poem also begins in medias res ("into the middle of affairs") or simply, "in the middle", which is a characteristic of the epics of antiquity. Although the poem begins with Beowulf's arrival, Grendel's attacks have been going on for some time. The poet, who composed Beowulf, while objective in telling the tale, nonetheless uses a certain style to maintain excitement and adventure within the story. An elaborate history of characters and their lineages are spoken of, as well as their interactions with each other, debts owed and repaid, and deeds of valour (bravery or spirit).<br />16764001905<br />The first page of the Beowulf manuscript<br />The differences between haiku and limericks:<br />Haiku is a non-rhyming poem of three lines. Always use of kego (season) words. Use of a cut or kire (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to compare two images implicitly.<br />Limericks A limerick is a kind of a witty, humorous, or nonsense poem, especially one in five-line anapaestic (verse) or amphibrachic (long and short syllable) meter (1st, 2nd and 5th lines rhymes) with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA), which is sometimes obscene with humorous intent. The form can be found in England as of the early years of the 18th century. Edward Lear popularized it in the 19th century, although he did not use the term.<br />♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥♪♥♫♥<br />Bibliography<br />Jan de Vries: Heroic Song and Heroic Legend .<br />Cornel Heinsdorff: Christus, Nikodemus und die Samaritanerin bei Juvencus. Mit einem Anhang zur lateinischen Evangelienvorlage, Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 67, Berlin/New York 2003.<br />Fallon, Oliver. Bhatti’s Poem: The Death of Rávana (Bhaṭṭikāvya). New York 2009.<br />Bob Yantosca’s Epic Poetry Quiz — Not updated in a while, but then neither have the epics. How many can you get?<br />Discourses on Satire and on Epic Poetry — by John Dryden from Project Gutenberg.<br />Poetry: Epic — a definition from Archaeonia.<br />Poetry Portal Epic Poetry — a well designed site full of information on the epic genre.<br />Yahoo! Directory Epic Poetry — Links to sites on all the major epics.<br />Epic Poetry entry in Wikinfo.<br />Bakhtin, Mikhail. Dialogical Imagination: Four Essays. Trans. Caryl Emerson & Michael Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1981.<br />