What epic elements do you find in Homer's Iliad?  

Expert Answers info

athenaia86 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write180 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

The structure and themes of Homer's epic poem the Iliad have become the exemplar for many of the subsequent epic poems in the Western literary canon. For your assignment, consider the following "epic elements" and how they appear in the poem:

1. An epic usually begins in media res, a Latin phrase meaning "in the midst of things." The Iliad opens in the final days of a decade-long war, in the encampment of the Achaeans, who are suffering from a mysterious plague. Homer provides no formal prologue explaining how and why the Achaeans have come to this place, nor when the plague started, nor introductions...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,013 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now



Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,112 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gracie O'Hara eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write6,802 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


tamraa | Student

Homer’s Iliad is a classic example of a literary epic. It is a long and highly detailed narrative poem set in an era long ago, and it celebrates the achievements of the hero Achilles during his adventures fighting in the Trojan War. Literary epics, as a genre, revolve around events of historical and cultural significance. The Trojan War was hugely significant in Greek history, and The Iliad not only confirms its significance, but validates the heroism of the Greeks, with Achilles the perfect model of the brave and honorable Greek warrior. The heroes in literary epics are typically mortal, or at least part-mortal, but like Achilles, they have superhuman qualities: their acts of strength, bravery, and honor are above what mortals can typically achieve. Epic heroes are often protected by the gods and aided in their mission through supernatural intervention, as Achilles was aided by Athena.

Characteristic of the literary epic, the action of The Iliad takes place on a grand scale: Everything about the story is magnified, including the appeal of the hero, the significance of the events, the formality of the language, and the setting. The story spans ten years - the course of the Trojan War, and it covers a large area of the world and extends into the realm of the supernatural. Also, true to form, the story of Achilles’ adventures is related by an omniscient narrator, one who is outside the action of the story but who speaks to readers as if he were present when the action happened and understands its importance firsthand.