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What Is an Epic Tale?

Updated March 07, 2017

Elements of the Epic

Based on the example of Homer's works, epics traditionally use elevated language and poetic form to tell of heroes who represent the values of their nation. The hero traditionally encounters significant conflicts along a journey of some sort, accomplishing tasks that affect their entire civilization. The hero's actions usually have a deeper meaning or message about life.

Examples of Epics

The earliest known epic poem is "The Epic of Gilgamesh," from Ancient Sumeria. Homer's works, the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," established the genre, which was continued by Virgil's "The ├ćneid" and Dante's "The Divine Comedy." Modern epic tales include J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and films such as "Avatar."

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About the Author

Bethany Richardson has been an educator in Texas public schools since 2007. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English rhetoric with a professional writing certificate from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.