Epic Essay examples

1251 Words Oct 5th, 2015 6 Pages
Epic Conventions
Epic conventions are things that most epic poems have in common. Structurally, they aren’t necessarily
identical, but they share these common characteristics. Alexander Pope, like the true rationalist that he is, also
employs these conventions in The Rape of the Lock. However, while he does use them, because the poem is a
mock epic, meaning that it is poking fun satirically not only at epics but also at the subject (the “rape” of the
hair, as in Belinda’s vanity and the heroine of the poem) and also of the people of the time—the upper class
who took sides during the dispute. Be sure to read Pope’s letter to Arabella Fermor in the notes for Canto 1.
Some EPIC CONVENTIONS are as follows:
1. In medias res. In Medias Res is
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That way, everyone could focus and appreciate, not so
much WHAT was being said, but the WAY THAT IT WAS PRESENTED. We are no stranger to that
concept: we go to concerts where we may already know all of the songs. So, we go to hear the presentation
of the songs, which add to our concepts of the meaning and significance of those songs.
4. Stock epithets. The story has many epithets. These epithets are re-namings of the characters, gods, or
things by stock phrases. An example is the re-naming of Agamemnon and Menelaus as "Atreus' two sons"
or "the twin eagles." It is important for us to notice these epithets, first,because they add description, and
second, because we get confused about who is doing what if do not recognize the epithets as well as the
names.
5. Cataloguing. The story uses catalogues of things and characters; there are many lists, both long and short.
Just as the Old Testament has catalogues of genealogies--you remember all those begets--just so do ancient
epics keep track of the lists of history. In one book of THE ILIAD, for example, there is a list of the ships
that sailed from Greece to Troy.
6. Long, formal speeches. There are long and formal speeches by many characters. You will not have any
trouble spotting these. Sometimes they happen in the heat of battle and other seemingly inappropriate…

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