Epic Simile - Cloudfront.net

Folk literature refers to a body of cultural
knowledge and beliefs passed from one generation
to the next, both orally and in writing.
Fairy tales
Folk tales
Folk songs/spirituals
Tall tales
Folk literature can
 entertain readers
 enlighten readers by sharing the human condition or
 provide readers with an escape from reality
 help readers learn about themselves and others
 teach readers lessons in morality
 allow readers to explore diverse
Like fiction, folk literature has the elements of
characters, plot, setting, and conflict.
Folk stories also have their own distinct
characteristics, including
– stereotypical characters (such as good/evil)
– plots that focus on an initial problem, a quest to solve the
problem, and the tasks and obstacles involved in the journey
– settings in olden times and faraway places
– supernatural and repetitious elements
Much of the world’s early
folk literature originated as
part of oral tradition
 Oral tradition is the passing of a
work, an idea, or a custom by
word of mouth from generation
to generation.
Early stories were
composed as poems, songs,
or prose tales.
Epics are a very old form of folk literature, dating
back more than 2,000 years.
These ancient stories have remained popular for
their ability to entertain readers.
Epics often contain
 larger-than-life characters
 exotic settings
 suspenseful plots
Epics are long stories that involve gods and
heroes and that are often told in verse.
Grand in length and scope, epics are portraits of
cultures that provide clues about societies’
– legends
– beliefs/values
– laws
– arts
– ways of life
The bards of ancient Greece were masterful
They would sing or recite long narrative poems
about the gods, goddesses,
and heroes of days gone by.
They would often accompany
their tales by playing lyres—
small, stringed instruments
resembling handheld harps.
They start with an invocation, or a plea to the
Muse (goddess of poetry) for divine inspiration
The tales begin in medias res, or “in the middle of
things,” with the epic hero well into the journey
Flashbacks are used to fill in prior incidents
The tale is ended by revealing the epic hero’s fate
Epic Poetry: An extended narrative poem recounting
actions, travels, adventures, and heroic episodes and
written in a high style (with ennobled diction, for example).
Epic Hero: a larger-than-life figure from history or legend
 The Hero undertakes a dangerous voyage, demonstrating traits (such
as courage, loyalty, and honor) that are valued by the society in which
the epic originates
Epic Simile: an elaborate comparison that may extend
for several lines (like, as, just as, so)
The main character or protagonist is heroically
larger than life, often the source and subject of
legend or a national hero
 The deeds of the hero are presented without favoritism,
revealing his failings as well as his virtues
 The action, often in battle, reveals the more-than-human
strength of the heroes as they engage in acts of heroism and
The setting covers several nations,
the whole world, or even the universe
The gods and lesser divinities play an
active role in the outcome of actions
All of the various adventures form an organic
whole, where each event relates in some way to
the central theme
Frequent use of epithets
Use of patronymics (calling son by father's name)
 “Laertes' son"
Long, formal speeches by important characters
And of course… Epic Similes
In telling the tale, the bards used
many “word formulas,” such as
epithets and epic similes.
These phrases helped the bard
memorize the tale.
Epithets are brief descriptive phrases that
emphasize an important characteristic of a person
or thing.
In The Odyssey:
 “versatile Odysseus”
 “divine Calypso”
 “rosy-fingered dawn”
Epic similes are extended comparisons that go on
for several lines
 They are also known as “Homeric similes”
I drew it from the coals and my four fellows
gave me a hand, lugging it near the Cyclops
as more than natural force nerved them; straight
forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it
deep in his crater eye, and I leaned on it
turning it as a shipwright turns a drill
in planking, having men below to swing
the two-handled strap that spins it in the groove.
—from The Odyssey, by Homer
Lived in the 8th Century BC
 Wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey
 Many recent scholars believe he is not real
 A series of writers… or just one?
Traditionally thought of as blind… but may not have
 The name “Homer” can be translated as “blind”
The Greeks and the Trojans are at war!
Apollo was angry at Agamemnon over a girl
 Agamemnon gives up the girl but forces Achilles to give his girl
up too
Achilles is angry and tells his mom (Thetis) and
refuses to fight for Agamemnon and the Greeks
 Thetis gets Zeus involved and he sides with the Trojans
Athena, Apollo, Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, etc. get
involved at various stages…
Known for being a great soldier
Gets his girl back - still refuses to fight for the Greeks
 Odysseus is currently on the frontlines for the Greeks
After his best friend, Patroclus, is killed in
battle he decides to fight
 It was his fault – Patroclus was wearing Achilles’ armor
After Achilles reconciles with Agamemnon, Zeus
allows the gods and goddesses to fight for the
The story begins after the 10 year Trojan War
 Odysseus has been away from his family for 20 years!!
 His son was an infant when he left… his wife has been waiting
for him
 Stay tuned to find out what happens….