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Why is The Odyssey an epic poem?

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kassybt | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 24, 2010 at 11:31 AM via web

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Why is The Odyssey an epic poem?

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

Posted May 24, 2010 at 11:48 AM (Answer #1)

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The Odyssey is an epic poem because of the following:

  • it is a long, narrative poem
  • it focuses on an epic subject: the suffering of Odysseus
  • it champions an epic hero, Odysseus,
  • it characterizes the values and ideals of the Greeks
  • it is passes on orally from a bard, or scop to a live audience over many sittings
  • it contains elements of mythology and the supernatural, but its focus is primarily on humans
  • it begins in medias res: "in the middle of the action"
  • it chronicles many years and settings
  • begins with an invocation of a muse
  • uses formal, lengthy monologues


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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 24, 2010 at 11:40 AM (Answer #2)

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The term epic refers to a long narrative about a hero or god. In this situation the narrative actually takes the shape of epic poetry because it is written in meter.

One regularly comparable epic today is the Star Wars series. However, being in screenplay format, it differs in that it is not a poem.

Odysseus is the hero for whom the epic poem was written to celebrate. The poem is about his adventures from the point at which he finished the Trojan War until he is completely united with his wife.

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