What are some examples of epic hero, epic simile, and epithet in Books 10 and 11 of The Odyssey?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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An epithet is a nickname or an adjective phrase that expresses a quality or characteristic of the noun attached.

  • Epithet: "Aeolus son of Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods. "

Here, there are two epithets for Aeolus: 1) "son of Hippotas" and 2) "dear to the immortal gods"

And epic hero is a national, legendary hero--the protagonist of the epic poem

  • Epic Hero: Odysseus, recognized by Agamemnon in Book XI thusly: "'Odysseus,' he answered, 'noble son of Laertes,"

An epic simile is a simile that runs several lines in the epic

  • Epic SimileThey were like pigs-head, hair, and all, and they grunted just as pigs do; but their senses were the same as before, and they remembered everything.

"Thus then were they shut up squealing, and Circe threw them some acorns and beech masts such as pigs eat, but Eurylochus hurried back to tell me about the sad fate of our comrades. He was so overcome with dismay that though he tried to speak he could find no words to do so; his eyes filled with tears and he could only sob and sigh, till at last we forced his story out of him, and he told us what had happened to the others.

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favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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When Odysseus reaches Aeaea, Circe's home, he refers to her as "fair-haired Circe"; fair-haired is an example of an epithet.  When Odysseus describes how Hermes approached him as he went toward Circe's house to see what had become of his men, he refers to Hermes as "Hermes of the golden wand," and the words, of the golden wand, also constitute an epithet.  Further, one epithet often used to describe Odysseus, which Circe uses as well, is "High-born son of Laertes."  

Circe's language toward Odysseus helps to demonstrate his position as an epic hero.  She says, "'Surely you are adventurous Odysseus, who the god of the golden wand, the killer of Argus, always declared would come upon his way from Troy—he and his swift black ship."  Odysseus is clearly already legendary if immortals are speaking to one another of him and prophesying his movements, and so forth.  (Also, "the killer of Argus" is another epithet to describe Hermes.)

In Book XI, King Alcinous tells Odysseus, "you have a grace of word and a noble mind within, and you told your tale as skillfully as if you were a bard, relating all the Argives' and your own sore troubles."  In this epic simile, Alcinous compares Odysseus to a singer or poet, like Demoducus (or even Homer!): quite talented as a story-teller who can engage his audience and make them feel the emotions of the characters.

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