Characteristics of Epic Poetry

1.) The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance, and represents a culture’s heroic ideal.

2.) The setting of the poem is ample in scale, and may be worldwide, or even larger.

3.) The action involves superhuman deeds in battle.

4.) In these great actions, the gods and other supernatural beings take an interest or an active part.

5.)An epic poem is a ceremonial performance and is narrated in a ceremonial style which is deliberately distanced from ordinary speech and proportioned to the grandeur and formality of the heroic subject matter and the epic architecture.



There are also some commonly adopted conventions in the structure and in the choice of episodes of the epic narrative; prominent among them are these elements:

1.)  The narrator begins by stating his argument, or theme, invokes a muse or guiding spirit to inspire him in his great undertaking, then address to the muse the epic question, the answer to which inaugurates the narrative proper.

2.)  The narrative starts in medias res, i.e., "in the midst of things," at a critical point in the action.

3.)  There are catalogs of some of the principle characters, introduced in formal detail.