Guide to Literary Terms

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In medias res

In medias res - beginning a narrative well along in the sequence of events. It is a convention used in epic poetry and sometimes novels, short stories, drama, and narrative poetry designed to attract immediate attention from and secure the prompt interest of the reader or audience.

The phrase is Latin and means “in the middle of things.”

The Iliad begins in the final year of the Trojan War, with Homer recounting the beginning of the war later in the epic. Milton used in medias res in Paradise Lost by beginning his narrative in Hell after the rebel angels have fallen.