The epic poetry is a literary genre consisting of a long narrative poetic, serious and on a significant event, often starring a hero. Before the invention of writing, this genre was strictly oral. In this sense, the term “epic” is derived from the Greek word epos , which means “what is told.” In this article we will let you aware that What Are the Characteristics of an Epic Poem ?
For all practical purposes, ancient cultures recorded as epic poems only that which deserved to be remembered. Before the development of writing, epic poems were memorized, and they played an important role in keeping a record of the great deeds and history of a culture.
The authors made the stories, called epic poems or epics, using metrics that were easy to remember. For their part, those who told them tried to respect their original form. In its beginnings, epic poetry was designed to be performed with music.
History of epic poetry
However, some elements found in Homer’s poetry seem to indicate that its origins date even before that period.
The Iliad and Homer’s Odyssey are the best known of the epic genre. However, the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Indian Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are cited as the earliest works of epic poetry.
Over time, the epic evolved to accommodate changing languages, traditions, and beliefs. Poets such as Lord Byron and Alexander Pope used this genre to create comic works such as Don Juan and The Stolen Curl.
Characteristics of epic poetry
Epic poetry has a number of characteristics:
Likewise, they framed the actions of that hero within his lineage. That is, the actions of this character were typical of his ethnic group.
He was a figure of great national or even cosmic importance. By representing the heroic ideal of a culture, he was a role model.
Narration in the past
The very intentionality of the genre —review historical events— forces the use of verbs in the past tense.
Exaltation of values
The epic poems were made to be heard by ordinary townspeople. To capture their attention, the events had to represent high values in the protagonists. With this they stimulated the imagination of the listeners or readers.
In these great actions the gods and other supernatural beings took a particular interest or were an active part. Sometimes they took both positions.
Ceremonial style of narration
Relationship of epic poetry with myths
Epic poetry has been used to formally document mythological traditions in many cultures. Such is the case with Norse mythology in Edda, Germanic mythology in Nibelungenlied, and more recently Finnish mythology with Elias Lönnrot’s Kalevala .
Outstanding Works of Epic Poetry
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Several authors participated in the composition of this enormous Indian poem (110,000 stanzas). The work was completed between 400 BC. C. and 400 of d. C. It is considered a true encyclopedia of Indian civilization.
Homer’s Iliad is often considered the earliest work in European literature . It tells part of the state of siege of the city of Troy and the war that took place there. This story had a very important place in Greek mythology.
This poem recounts the advance of the Greeks, enraged by the taking of Helen of Sparta and led by Achilles, to destroy their adversary.
Also composed by Homer, it chronicles Odysseus’ 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War. During that time he fights mystical creatures and faces the wrath of the gods.
This is a Persian work composed in the 5th century AD. Throughout history all the struggles that the Persian people had to go through to spread the religion of Zoroastrianism are told.
The poem of mine Cid
This masterpiece of the Spanish epic tells the life and adventures of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid Campeador. This was a nobleman from Castile who lived in the second half of the 11th century.
The song of the Nibelungs
It is a Germanic work written in the 13th century. It tells the story of Siegfried, a dragon hunter.
This epic poem, composed at the end of the 11th century, narrates the defeat of Charlemagne’s army at the battle of Roncesvalles (778). In the framework of history, the death of Roldán, nephew of Charlemagne, is also told.