The Odyssey - 411 Background info that you need to know to successfully read the epic poem. Boy girl *What is an EPIC POEM?? A long, narrative poem that tells about the adventures of a hero who reflects the ideals and/or values of a nation or race Elements of Epic Poems The main character or protagonist is heroically larger than life, often the source and subject of legend or a national hero. The fate of his people depends on the hero. There is a course of action in which the hero performs great and difficult deeds. *Elements of Epic Poems The deeds of the hero are presented without favoritism, revealing his failings (weaknesses) as well as his virtues (strengths). The action, often in battle, reveals the morethan-human strength of the heroes as they engage in acts of heroism and courage. They cover great distances and/or time. Epic Poem Elements (Con’t.) The episodes, even though they may be fictional, provide an explanation for some of the circumstances or events in the history of a nation or people. The gods play an active role in the outcome of actions. There is a concern with eternal human problems. It is written in a dignified, elaborate poetic style. All of the various adventures form a” whole,” where each event relates in some way to the central theme. What’s the format? A circle! How is it written? Poem begins with a statement Use of patronymics (calling of the theme son by father's name): “Ares’s son” Invocation to the muse or other deity Long, formal speeches by important characters Story begins in medias res (in the middle of things). Journey to the underworld Histories and descriptions of Use of the number 3 significant items (attempts are made 3 times, etc.) Uses epic similes & epithets Previous episodes in the story are later recounted *Similes, Epithets, and Heroes, Oh My! The simile (a directly stated comparison using words like or as) helps the audience—then and now—picture how helpless and unwilling the men are. Homer uses extended similes so masterfully that such comparisons now bear his name. A Homeric simile is an elaborate comparison, developed over several lines, between something strange or unfamiliar to the audience and something more familiar to them. *Examples of Homeric Similes None would attack—oh, it was strange, I tell you— but switching their long tails they faced our men like hounds, who look up when their master comes with tidbits for them—as he will—from table. Humbly those wolves and lions with mighty paws fawned on our men… -- lines 543-547 : 1. What’s familiar? What do you know? 2. What’s unfamiliar? What do you NOT know? 3. So what are the 2 objects being compared? *Epiwhats? Epithets are brief, descriptive phrases that helped to characterize a person or thing. Odysseus is referred to as “master mariner” or “old contender” Achilles is “swift-footed.” The ocean becomes the “wine-dark sea.” How would YOU be described??! *Why do we need epi-thingies? Characterizes a person, place or thing Gives story-teller a“breather” Helps with rhyming and rhythm I wanna be a hero! What do I gotta do? Epic Heroes are usually: larger than life figure from a history or legend favored by or even partially descended from deities, but aligned more closely with mortals. in a cyclical journey or quest, faces adversaries that try to defeat him in his journey, gathers allies along his journey, and returns home significantly transformed by his journey. and… illustrating traits, performing recurring characters in the deeds, and exemplifying legends of their native culture. certain morals that are valued by the society from which the Epic heroes are superhuman in that they are smarter, stronger, epic originates. and braver than average showing cultural and religious humans. An epic hero can also beliefs of the people. be a warrior of some sort who performs extraordinary tasks that most find difficult. In Review: Epic poems are long stories about a hero who must achieve his goal, which takes a long journey &/or a long time, and the fate of his people relies on him to succeed. The larger than life hero wants to reach his goal, but he comes across obstacles and monsters that stop him, so the gods help him and he succeeds, which puts him back where he started. It’s a vicious circle, I mean, cycle! Homeric similes are comparisons using like or as that take a few lines to figure out because you have to see what you know to figure out what you don’t. In Review (Con’t) Epithets are short, descriptive phrases that characterize a person or thing. Heroes, who are the model citizens, are almost god-like in that they are braver, stronger, and smarter than the average human, but their faults are displayed throughout the epic, and they change as a result of the journey.