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An epic (from the Ancient Greek adjective ἐπικός (epikos), from ἔπος (epos) "word, story, poem"[1]) is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation.[2] Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form. Nonetheless, epics have been written down at least since the works of Virgil, Dante Alighieri, and John Milton. Many probably would not have survived if not written down. The first epics are known as primary, or original, epics. One such epic is the Old English story Beowulf.[3] Epics that attempt to imitate these like Milton's Paradise Lost are known as literary, or secondary, epics. Another type of epic poetry is epyllion (plural: epyllia), which is a brief narrative poem with a romantic or mythological theme. The term, which means 'little epic', came in use in the nineteenth century. It refers primarily to the type of erotic and mythological long elegy of which Ovid remains the master; to a lesser degree, the term includes some poems of the English Renaissance, particularly those influenced by Ovid. One suggested example of classical epyllion may be seen in the story of Nisus and Euryalus in Book IX of Aeneid.

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