Epics – The Iliad and The Odyssey

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Last updated: November 28, 2019

What is an epic?
A long story or poem that describes the adventures of a hero who embodies the values of a particular culture and time.

Name the two types of epics
War and Journey

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What is an epic hero?
a leader of courage and wit (brave and smart) who pursues his goals over long periods of time and in the face of many setbacks.

Has human traits and flaws (not perfect) and that is why we love them! They seem real to us and tend to be curious, cocky and tricky.

Which book was the “war epic”? “Journey epic”?
The Iliad- war epicThe Odyssey- journey epic

Why do people think that Homer wrote both epics?
because the plot is unified, characterization is consistent and style is similar.

What is the agreed upon date that the Odyssey was written?
850 B.C. but the actual events occurred 400 years earlier.

Who was Homer?
Credited author of both epics, first European poet. Greeks speak of him as being blind and also think he was from the Greek islands because of his dialect and geographical descriptions.

What theory is behind who wrote the Odyssey?
Although Homer is the credited author, some people think that a female family member helped him write it because in the book all the women were strong and powerful while in Greek culture at the time, women were not important and seen as inferior.

What were song stitchers?
storytellers stitching bits and pieces of stories together. They became a kind of entertainment and went from place to place sharing these stories– the iliad and the odyssey were told through song stitchers.

Describe what happens in the Iliad.
Focuses on the Trojan War (10 year war). Greek island kings- Agamemnon and Menalaus are brothers. Menalaus is married to Helen (most beautiful woman in the world). Paris the prince of Troy is visiting Menalaus and falls in love with Helen and decides to take her back to Troy with him. Agamemnon and Menalaus go out to collect the kings in order to go to Troy and get Helen back.

Go to Odysseus and want him to fight in the war. He doesn’t want to and fakes insanity but it didn’t work, he still had to go fight. War ends 10 years later with the trojan horse.

Describe the trojan horse.
the greeks faked like they were surrendering the war by giving the trojans a big trojan horse but greek soldiers were hiding inside getting ready to attack. when night fell they attacked and the war ended. Odysseus came up with the idea of the horse/ he ended the war but Poseidon helped him.

Odysseus gives himself all the credit and Poseidon gets mad.

What are the four themes in the Odyssey?
1. good is rewarded and evil is punished2. don’t gloat (brag) because it is evil3. Home represents an worthy goal toward which all humanity strives. The path will be blocked by obstacles but they can be overcome with courage, cleverness, and fortitude4. Odysseus must search for his identity

Name the 8 elements of epics.
1.

all epics have a hero who embodies the value of society (greeks valued strength and wisdom)2. all epics begin with an invocation (prayer) to the muse. The muse of epic poetry is Calliope.3. the theme is immediately stated4.

the poem begins in the middle of things (told in flashbacks but eventually catches up to the present)5. Gods, goddesses and supernatural beings may take part and aid one side or the other6. the action is written on an immense scale and may involve the fate of the nation7.

long speeches are often given by the hero praising himself8. the style is noble and majestic (beautifully written)

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