EPIC Epic Conventions or characteristics common to both types include: 1. The hero is a figure of great national or even
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EPIC Epic Conventions or characteristics common to both types include: 1. The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance, usually the ideal man of his culture. He often has superhuman or divine traits. He has an imposing physical stature and is greater in all ways than the common man. 2. The setting is vast in scope. It covers great geographical distances, perhaps even visiting the underworld, other worlds, and other times. 3. The action consists of deeds of valor or superhuman courage (especially in battle). 4. Supernatural forces interest themselves in the action and intervene at times. The intervention of the gods is called "machinery." 5. The style of writing is elevated, even ceremonial. 6. Additional conventions: certainly all are not always present) • Opens by stating the theme of the epic. • Writer invokes a Muse, one of the nine daughters of Zeus. The poet prays to the muses to provide him with divine inspiration to tell the story of a great hero. • Narrative opens in media res. This means "in the middle of things," usually with the hero at his lowest point. Earlier portions of the story appear later as flashbacks. • Catalogs and genealogies are given. These long lists of objects, places, and people place the finite action of the epic within a broader, universal context. Oftentimes, the poet is also paying homage to the ancestors of audience members. • Main characters give extended formal speeches. • Use of the epic simile. A standard simile is a comparison using "like" or "as." An epic or Homeric simile is a more involved, ornate comparison, extended in great detail. • Heavy use of repetition and stock phrases. The poet repeats passages that consist of several lines in various sections of the epic and uses Homeric epithets, short, recurrent phrases used to describe people, places, or things. Both made the poem easier to memorize.
PARADISE LOST AS AN EPIC In literature, an epic is a narrative poem on the grand scale and in majestic style concerning the exploits and adventures of a superhuman hero
(or heroes) engaged in a quest or some serious endeavour. The hero is distinguished above all men by his strength and courage, and is restrained only by a sense of honour. The subject-matter of epic includes myth, legend, history, and folk tale. It is usually set in a heroic age of the past and embodies its country's early history and expresses its values. Battles and perilous journeys play a large part, as do gods, the supernatural, and magic; scenes are often set in the Underworld or in heaven. The high sounding, bombastic and ornate language, war like speeches, ancient and mythical references and the use of supernatural machinery are some of the main features or essential ingredients of the epic writing. The Epic can be defines as: “An Epic is a highest form of poetry i.e. a long narrative poem in which characters and actions are of heroic proportions. It is written in an elevated style with a serious theme at least of national or international level. “
An epic must accord with the technical principles of great epics of classical antiquity set by the classical writers like Homer and Virgil. But when we analyse “Paradise Lost” as an epic, following the set principles, we can aptly say that John Milton, a puritan, and a scholarly person, surpasses even his favourite masters Homer and Virgil in producing a model structure of epic writing for rest of the times. Unlike the national subjects taken up by Homer and Virgil, Milton succeeds in writing an epic having more serious rather universal subject that is the fall of man on the model of the Greek and Latin epics. The subject, whom Aristotle, Tasso, Homer, Virgil and other epic poets took are ancient and their themes are nation but Milton’s subject is more ancient than that of any other epic. He deals with the subject “Of man’s disobedience and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste, Brought death into this work and all our woe With loss of Eden”
Characteristics of Paradise Lost as an Epic