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What is the definition of in media res?

The definition of in media res is a device by which a narrative begins in the middle of a series of unfolding events.

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In medias res

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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

"In medias res" is a Latin term meaning "in the middle of things." It refers to a narrative technique where a story begins in the middle of the plot, skipping over the exposition and starting at a crucial or dramatic moment. This technique is commonly used to engage readers and create a sense of intrigue or suspense.

The Odyssey begins in medias res, as the epic poem starts with the hero Odysseus already on his long and arduous journey back to his home in Ithaca after the Trojan War:

Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys, after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel. Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of, many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea, struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.

- Homer, The Odyssey

This quote above serves as the poem's opening lines and introduces the reader to the protagonist's extensive travels and hardships. By starting the story in the middle of Odysseus' epic voyage, Homer immediately captures the reader's attention, prompting them to wonder about the events that have led to this point and what awaits the hero in his quest for homecoming.

see: narrativestoryepicdramashort story

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