Use of patronymics (calling son by father's name): "Anchises' son"
Long, formal speeches by important characters
Journey to the underworld
Use of the number three (attempts are made three times, etc.)
Previous episodes in the story are later recounted
Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered
Milton, Paradise Lost
Handout: Elements of an Epic
While reading Beowulf, complete the chart of elements.
Discussion Questions and/or possible essay topics:
1. What stories and movies fit this description / pattern? Hint: Troy – Brad Pitt; Luke/Leia … what
other trilogies have been made popular?
2. Use the Elements of an Epic (chart handout) and map the elements from a contemporary
movie/book that you think is an epic.
3. In the examples you came up with, what is the hero's relationship with his homeland (whether
that place is ancient Greece or the imaginary Middle Earth)?
4. Why would traveling bards localize elements of the stories they told as they traveled from one
city or town to the next?
5. Does changing the time, place, or details such as the style of dress in the "updated" story
affect the main elements of the story, or the story's message?
6. Why do story tellers (including movie directors) change the story to bring it closer in time and
space to its audience?
7. Define "oral tradition" and "literary