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What is the definition of an epic hero?

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Quick Answer

An epic hero is defined as a character in an epic poem who is noble and brave and is affected by great events or admired for his achievements. Two well-known examples of epic heroes are Aeneas and Odysseus.

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What is the definition of an epic hero?
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Epic heroes are generally the main characters in epic poems. They also typically represent their culture by embodying the values that their culture admires. For example, Odysseus is the main character in the Greek epic, "Odyssey". Odysseus was a quick thinker and clever, which Greeks at the time greatly admired. Epic heroes may also possess superhuman strength or military skill.

Epic poems are specifically a genre of poetry in the classical world. These poems are generally long, narrative poems that are concerned with a serious subject. They focus on the exploits of the epic hero and are told in elevated style of language. Finally, the success or failure of the epic hero may be responsible for the fate of the hero's people or nation.

Ancient Greek and Roman texts, such as "Odyssey" and the "Aeneid," most accurately represent epic poetry. Many critics apply the term to other works of poetry from other cultures around the world, however. "Beowulf" is often called an Anglo-Saxon epic, and "Paradise Lost" may be considered an epic of Christian culture.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a modern epic?

    A:

    Also referred to as an epic narrative, a modern epic may be defined as a poem written in the length of a novel that reflects ancient storytelling tradition. Unlike the prose novel, the verse of the modern epic often derives from legends originally delivered and developed through the spoken word.

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  • Q:

    What is a classical hero?

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    A classical hero is a person of noble or divine birth who is almost perfect, performs extraordinary deeds, suffers physically and dies in an unusual manner. This type of hero originated in Greek and Roman literature and heavily influenced Western literary culture.

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  • Q:

    What are characteristics of a mock epic?

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    A mock epic has the superficial trappings of an epic, but it tells the story of something that would be considered trivial in comparison to the topics of conventional epics. For example, "The Odyssey" focused on Odysseus' epic journey to Ithaca over the course of a decade, while the mock epic "The Rape of the Lock" focused on a noblewoman getting revenge for a bad haircut.

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  • Q:

    What are the five characteristics of an epic?

    A:

    The five characteristics of an epic are the inclusion of: supernatural forces interacting with humans; acts of courage or valor; characters who have some type of national importance; a tone and voice that make everything sound important, even if it's not; and a setting that is regional, national or global in nature. An example of an epic would be the "Iliad," the "Odyssey," the "Aeneid" and "Paradise Lost."

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