Heroic couplet

Term Tuesday
A study of literary
and rhetorical
Heroic couplet
 Heroic
couplets are lines of
iambic pentameter that rhyme
in pairs (aa, bb, cc).
 The
couplet forms a rhetorical unit;
it is written in an elevated style
In class example
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Historical Background
 Though
this verse form was
introduced into English by
Chaucer in the fourteenth
century, its name derives from
its use in seventeenth-century
"heroic" (epic) drama and
Why is it called heroic?
by the middle of the seventeenth century it
was regarded as the proper form for dealing
with "heroic" subjects--deeds of high
accomplishment and matters of public
interest and admiration.
Dominance of the form
For 150 years (1630’s—1780’s), the heroic
couplet was the dominant verse form in the
English language
never has any single poetic form before or
since dominated the English language so
insistently and so thoroughly
Literary Example
In Wit, as Nature, what affects our hearts
Is not th' exactness of peculiar parts;
`Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call,
But the joint force and full result of all.
Pope’s “Essay on Criticism”
Personality of heroic couplets
I am heroic couplets; most precise
And fond of order. Planned and structured. Nice.
I know, of course, just what I want; I know,
As well, what I will do to make it so.
This doesn't mean that I attempt to shun
Excitement, entertainment, pleasure, fun;
But they must keep their place, like all the rest;
They might be good, but ordered life is best.
Pope’s translation of the ILLIAD
On the plumed crest of his Boeotian foe
The daring Lycon aim'd a noble blow;
The sword broke short; but his, Peneleus
Full on the juncture of the neck and head:
The head, divided by a stroke so just,
Hung by the skin; the body sunk in dust.
Write your own
Write a heroic couplet about your hero on an
epic journey
Mrs. O’Brien’s Heroic couplet
U / U /
/ U
The Pyranees Lance Armstrong triumphed o’er.
U / U / U / U / U /
To be a part of famous biking lore.
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