Epic Poetry/Heroes

epic poem AKA heroic poem
long narrative poem on serious subject; centered on action of heroic figure; actions affect the fate of a nation/race

hero
figure of great national/international importance

setting
large in scale (sometimes worldwide), at least the known world

plot
involves heroic deeds in battle or long/arduous journey

gods
immortals, supernatural beings take an interest & active part in action

invocation of the muse
poet begins by stating his theme, invoking the muses to help him w/ his undertaking

narration
usually begins “in medias res”; at mid-point of action and at crucial point

flashback
events that happened before narrative opening introduced later on

catalogues
lists of warriors, ships, armies, etc

structure
episodic, non-linear, narrator switches

three main sections of hero’s journey
departure, initiation, return

Stage 1: Departure
call to adventure, refusal of the call, supernatural aid, crossing of the 1st threshold, belly of the whale

call to adventure
*part of Departure* call to head off into unknown

refusal of the call
*part of Departure* refuses call b/c fear, duty, obligation, etc

supernatural aid
*part of Departure* once hero heeds the call, guide/magical helper appears

crossing of the 1st threshold
*part of Departure* leaves limits of known world, ventures into unknown

belly of the whale
*part of Departure* final separation from known world; symbolized by something dark/frightened; person is willing to undergo metamorphosis, to die to him/herself

Stage 2: Initiation
road of trials, meeting with goddess, temptress, atonement w/ father, apotheosis, ultimate boon

road of trials
*part of Initiation* series of tests, tasks, trials that often occur in threes; hero often fails 1+ tests

meeting w/ goddess
*part of Initiation* replaces supernatural figure; powerful female who offers help, gifts

temptress
*part of Initiation* hero meets temptation (often in female form); short-term gratification, but threatens to derail the mission

atonement w/ father
*part of Initiation* must beat, persuade, gain approval from father-figure (could be god or immortal); symbolic

apotheosis
*part of Initiation* hero transcends, achieving higher place, > understanding; symbolized by change in appearance; resolved/ready for more difficult part of adventure

ultimate boon
*part of Initiation* achievement of goal (something transcendent like Holy Grail)

Stage 3: Return
refusal of the return, magic flight, rescue from without, crossing of the return threshold, master of 2 worlds, freedom to live

refusal of the return
*part of Return* hero gives up or wants to stay in place where he found enlightenment

magic flight
*part of Return* sometimes, hero escapes w/ boon; return may be just as adventurous as journey

rescue from without
*part of Return* hero rescued by unexpected source; intervention may be from gods

crossing of the return threshold
*part of Return* hero returns to home turf; may face 1 last challenge

master of 2 worlds
*part of Return* usually represented by transcendental hero (Jesus, Buddha); human hero now master of both domestic/alien worlds; passes between the two

freedom to live
*part of Return* hero earned right to live life as he/she chooses; becomes rulers, advisers, teachers