Characteristics of an Epic

What is an Epic? Discuss about the Features of an Epic.

Definition of Epic: An epic is a long narrative poem on a great and serious subject related in an elevated style and centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whose actions depend on the fate of tribe or nation or the human race.

Features or characteristics of Epic:  

a. Hero: The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic (universe) importance. The epic hero has super human strength, common character or intellect fighting for national or collective interest.

In Paradise Lost Adam represents the entire human race and Christ is regarded as both God and man.

b. Setting: The setting is ample in scale and may be national, worldwide or cosmic because its action takes place on earth, in heaven and in hell.

c. Action: The action involves super human deeds in mighty battles. Paradise Lost includes the war in heaven.

d. Supernatural Machinery: In these great actions the goods and other supernatural beings take an active part. We find it in Paradise Lost where God, Satan and Angels are seen.

e. Style: The style is objective, elevated and dignified. Here Milton’s grand style is clearly found.

f. Epic Simile: An epic simile or Homeric simile is an extended simile developed in a lengthy descriptive passage consisting of fifteen or twenty lines often beginning with ‘as’ or ‘as when’.

There are some conventions of epic writing:

a. Argument (an abstract or summary of a plot prefacing of a word): The narrator begins with an argument. Each book of Paradise Lost is presided by explanation of what is going to happen.

b. Invocation (an appeal for inspiration): In Paradise Lost, Milton invokes the heavenly Muse that inspires the Moses on the hidden talk of Sinai.

c. In Medias Res (In the middle of the things): The narrator starts in the middle of the things at the critical point of the action. Paradise Lost opens with the fallen angels in hell gathering in their forces and determining on revenge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.