In literature, an epic is a long narrative poemwhich is usually related to heroic deeds of a person of an unusual courage and unparalleled bravery. In order to depict this bravery and courage, the epic uses grandiose style.
Originating before the invention of writing, primary epics were composed by bards who used complex rhetorical and metrical schemes by which they could memorize the epic as received in tradition and add to the epic in their performances.
The oldest epic recognized is the Epic of Gilgamesh c. The poem details the exploits of Gilgameshthe king of Uruk. Although recognized as a historical figure, Gilgamesh, as represented in the epic, is a largely legendary or mythical figure.
Early twentieth-century study of living oral epic traditions in the Balkans by Milman Parry and Albert Lord demonstrated the paratactic model used for composing these poems. What they demonstrated was that oral epics tend to be constructed in short episodes, each of equal status, interest and importance.
This facilitates memorization, as the poet is recalling each episode in turn and using the completed episodes to recreate the entire epic as he performs it. Parry and Lord also contend that the most likely source for written texts of the epics of Homer was dictation from an oral performance.
Milman Parry and Albert Lord have argued that the Homeric epics, the earliest works of Western literature, were fundamentally an oral poetic form. These works form the basis of the epic genre in Western literature. Classical epic poetry employs a meter called dactylic hexameter and recounts a journey, either physical as typified by Odysseus in the Odyssey or mental as typified by Achilles in the Iliad or both.
Epics also tend to highlight cultural norms and to define or call into question cultural values, particularly as they pertain to heroism. Harmon and Holman  An attempt to delineate ten main characteristics of an epic: Begins with an invocation to a muse epic invocation.
Begins with a statement of the theme. Includes the use of epithets.
Contains long lists, called an epic catalogue. Features long and formal speeches. Shows divine intervention on human affairs. Features 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 traitsperforms 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.
Opens by stating the theme or cause of the epic.
Writer invokes a Museone of the nine daughters of Zeus. The poet prays to the Muses to provide him with divine inspiration to tell the story of a great hero. The Epic of Gilgameshfor example, or the Bhagavata Purana do not contain this element. Usually flashbacks show earlier portions of the story.
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. Heavy use of repetition or stock phrases: Ancient Sumerian epic poems did not use any kind of poetic meter and lines did not have consistent lengths;  instead, Sumerian poems derived their rhythm solely through constant repetitionwith subtle variations between lines.
Italian, Spanish and Portuguese long poems were usually written in terza rima  or especially ottava rima. The French alexandrine is currently the heroic line in French literature, though in earlier periods the decasyllable took precedence.In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, The monomyth concept has been very popular in American literary studies and writing guides since at least the s.
Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood film producer and writer. In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.
The World Through Literature; Foodways in World History; Monomyth: Hero's Journey Project. (also spelled Sunjata, Sundjata, or Soundjata) is an oral epic celebrating the life of Sundiata, the founder of the thirteenth-century Mali Empire of West Africa.
There are written versions of the epic (just as there are written summaries of. Students will be able to define epic hero, list epic heroes from works of literature, film, or television, and take away the effects of an epic hero on plot.
What students should know and be able to do before starting this lesson: Students should be able to list heroes and villains from popular works of literature or movies and television. Often through great literature, there is an epic hero. In the Odyssey, Homer tells the journey of one man’s journey home from the Trojan War.
The protagonist of the epic poem Odysseus is often regarded as a .
Great for an intro to Epic stories and other litterary archetypes. Literary archetypes and the hero’s journey 1. 4. a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, etc An archetype is a term used to describe a universal symbols or stereotypes.