Conventions of Epic Poetry An epic poem has a hero who embodies national, cultural, or religious ideals a hero upon whose actions depends the fate of his people a course of action in which the hero performs great and difficult deeds a recognition of -- or intercession by -- divine or supernatural powers a concern with eternal human problems
a dignified and elaborate poetic style Important Primary Epics Iliad* (Greek) / Aeneid (Latin) Odyssey (Greek) / Ulysses (Latin)
Gilgamesh (Babylonian) Exodus (Hebrew) Beowulf * (Anglo-Saxon) What do these primary epics have in common? Each began as part of a cultures oral tradition ORAL TRADITION socio-/cultural values transferred generation-to-generation by traveling poets/bards who sang songs
about cultural heroes and values POETRY because rhyme/meter is easier to memorize and more stable as passed-on The Iliad written by Homer around (c.) 720 B.C. Homer did not invent the story, but transcribed it into its longest-lasting form
All versions we read are translated from ancient Greek language Translations can vary greatly Called Iliad because Ilium was the Greek name for Troy where the war took place. Iliad = about Ilium The Trojan War (c. 1250 Causes
A WOMAN! Helen of Troy The face that launched a thousand ships Legend says that the Trojan War began when Paris Prince of Troy and son to the Trojan King Priam
stole the wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. Why would Paris do something that stupid? Legend says that Paris a desirable man because of his attractiveness, wealth and power was approached by the goddess Eris. Eris asked Paris to give The Golden Apple, inscribed
To the Fairest to Athena, Hera, or Aphrodite. Why would Paris do something that stupid? The three goddesses were arguing over who was the most beautiful and powerful. Eris chose Paris to settle their dispute. Eris, in Greek, means Chaos.
Tough Choice. Hera, wife of Zeus Aphrodite/goddess of love, beauty and sexuality, daughter of Poseidon Hera/Wife of Zeus
Athena/goddess of wisdom, daughter of Zeus Which would you choose? Paris, of course, selects Aphrodite. Menelaus promptly launches a thousand ships in an effort to reclaim Helen and punish Paris.
As King of Sparta, Menelaus has many allies. Troy (aka Ilium) Trojan War c. 1250-1200 BC Spart a
A less sexy reason for the real Trojan War? Black Sea Bosporus Trojan WarSeac. 1250-1200 BC Aegean Dardanelles Line-ups: The Achaeans (aka Spartans, aka Greeks)
Menelaus, the King Agamemnon, brother to Menelaus; battlefield leader of the Achaeans Ajax Odysseus Patroclus, cousin to Achilles Line-ups: The Achaeans (aka Spartans, aka Greeks)
ACHILLES the central character the hero of The Iliad. a phenomenal warrior; leader of a special detachment fighting with Menelaus and the Spartans the Myrmydons. Achilles mother, Thetis
Thetis was a Nereid, a minor goddess who gave birth to Achilles, a mortal. Because of her connection with Olympus as a Nereid, Thetis was permitted access to the magical river, Styx, which separated the Earth from Hades. Thetis dipped her newborn son into the Styx, ensuring
his protection against all mortal weapons, except Line-ups: The Trojans Priam, King of Troy Hecuba, his wife Hector, his son; prince of Troy and the Trojans most valiant warrior Paris, younger brother of Hector
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