In an epic, the hero represents the male ideal. He is physically strong and seems almost superhuman. He also tends to receive assistance from the gods. This godly intervention is referred to as "machinery." The epic hero is brave and typically performs feats that require great courage and strength.
When the epic begins, the writer will invoke the Muse, speaking directly to her. Calliope, one of the nine Muses and a daughter of Zeus, is the Muse of epic poetry, and the speaker of the poem essentially prays to her to inspire him to tell the story well. Muses are associated with inspiration in general, and there is one Muse associated with each form of ancient art.
Further, it is standard to have the epic begin in medias res, a phrase that means into the midst of things, instead of at the beginning of the events described. Events from the past are only described later in the epic. We are dropped into the middle of the action rather than starting with a "Once upon a time," expository sort of opening.
Epithets are also quite common in epic poetry. Epithets in this context refer to brief descriptive words or phrases that appear before names or things. For example, in The Odyssey, Athena is often referred to as "grey-eyed Athena," the sunrise is "rosy-fingered dawn," and Odysseus's wife is "heedful Penelope." These epithets would aid with memory and meter.