Epic Poetry Lit Terms

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Last updated: December 10, 2019

allusion
a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art.

archetype
refers to characters, plots, themes, images, patterns, and stories that recur throughout the history of literature consistently enough to be considered a universal concept or situation.

character
a person, animal, or a natural force presented as a person appearing in a literacy work.

diction
a writers choice of words to convey a particular tone or meaning.

epic
a long, narrative poem that traces the adventures of a larger-than-life hero. They intertwine myths, legends, and history reflecting the values of the societies in which they originate often intervene in the affairs of humans.

epic poetry
a long narrative poem on a serious subject with elevated or formal style.

epic simile
a long, elaborate comparison that continues for several lines. It is a feature of epics, but is found in other poems as well.

epithet
a brief phrase that is used to characterize a person, place, or thing.

foreshadowing
an authors use of clues that hint at events that will occur later in the plot.

hero
the main character in a literacy work, typically one whose character or deeds inspire the admiration of the reader.

hubris
arrogance, excessive self pride and self confidence.

hyperbole
a figure of speech using exaggeration or overstatement for special effect.

imagery
words or phrases that because of their sensory details, appeal to the readers five senses, helping them imagine how things look, feel, smell, sound, and taste.

in media res
the literacy technique of opening a story in the middle of the action and then supplying information about the beginning of the action through flashbacks.

personification
a figure of speech in which something non human is given human qualities.

irony
a contrast or an incongruity between what is stated and what is meant, or between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.

invocation
an address to a deity for aid, a prayer for help.

repetition
a literacy device in which sounds, words, phrases, lines, or stanzas are repeated for emphasis in a poem, a speech, or another piece of writing.

motivation
something that prompts a person to act in a certain way, or that determines the outcome in a situation or story.

myth
a traditional story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heros that informs or shapes the world view of a person as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the customs or ideals of a society.

narrative poetry
a non-dramatic poem which tells a story (such as epics and ballads).

narrator
one who tells a story

sensory details
evocative words that convey sensory experiences – seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling.

suspense
the quality of a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem that makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about the outcome of events.

tone
The attitude a writer takes toward his or her subject, characters, and readers or the manner in which an author expresses his or her attitude.

Connotation
the unspoken or unwritten meanings associated with a word beyond its dictionary meaning or definition

denotation
the literal meaning or (D)ictionary definition of the word.

theme
the general idea or insight about life a writer wishes to convey in a literary work.

dialogue
conversations between two or more characters in a literary work.

conflict
a struggle between two opposing forces or characters in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem.

In a selection, there can be both primary (main/major) and secondary (minor)

characterization
the means by which a writer reveals a person, animal, or natural force in a literary work.

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