Epic Characteristics

I Know My Epic Characteristics
Call to the Muse
The poet asks for divine inspiration from
the Muses to help him tell his story
“Tell me the tale, Muse, of that man of
many changes, . . .”
In Medias Res
The action of the epic begins in the middle
of the story
Book 1 of The Odyssey is about
Telemachus, a young man, going in search
of his father who has never returned from
the Trojan War
An interruption of the story to recall an incident
that happened earlier
Odysseus tells King Alcinous about his
adventures after the Trojan War while trying to
return to Ithaca
A listing of a character’s ancestors . . . when a
character’s background is given
“I am Odysseus, great Laertes’ son, . . .”
Hospitality Code
The custom of taking care of guests and warriors
Alcinous takes care of Odysseus, giving him
food and a place to stay
The hero brags about past accomplishments to
gain respect
“If, O Cyclops, a mortal man shall ever ask you
how it befell your eye was blinded so hideously
answer thus: it was Odysseus blinded you . . .”
Divine Intervention
The gods get involved in human affairs
Athena changes Odysseus into a beggar
Visit to Hades
The hero takes a trip to the underworld
Odysseus travels to the Land of the Dead to talk
to a blind prophet
Stock Phrase
Overused, descriptive phrases that help the poet
memorize his work
“And when the dawn came, rosy-fingered”
The hero’s abilities are larger than life,
exaggerated to epic proportions
Only Odysseus himself can string his hunting
Descriptive phrases that characterize a person
“Odysseus, taker of Troy”
Epic Hero Traits
Strength, battle skills
Courage, bravery
Authoritative, leadership
Loyalty, trustworthy
Determination, persistence, dedication
Intelligence, wisdom, cleverness