The Epic Poem & Greek Tragedy Every Epic Poem must have a HERO!!! The hero is a figure of imposing stature, of national or international importance, and of great historical or legendary significance. Setting is important for an epic... The setting is vast in scope, covering great nations or the world. The plot is driven by more than the mundane! The actions consist of deeds of great valor or those requiring super-human courage. Heroes can't go it alone... Supernatural forces—gods, angels, and demons—interest themselves in the action and intervene from time to time. The Epic Poet... The epic poet recounts the deeds of the hero with objectivity. Most epic poets employ some common literary conventions (Writing techniques)...stay tuned! Epic Poetry Technique... The poet opens by stating the theme and invoking a muse to inspire the poem. So…what’s a muse? Muses 101... They are nine in number, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, Memory. They help artists to “forget” their troubles so that they can create. There is a muse for history, astronomy, tragedy, comedy, dance, epic poetry, love-poetry, songs to the gods, and lyric poetry.` In the middle of what? The poem opens in medias res—in the middle of the action—and presents necessary exposition in later portions of the epic. Also, epics contain: Catalogs of warriors, ships, and armies. Greek Heroes Share More Than Fame... Greek Hero Structure The Greek nobility valued strength and skill, for these attributes enabled the person who possessed them to achieve glory and honor, both in his lifetime and after he died. This value is known as Arête. What's wrong with being great???? Arête = striving for excellence: Strength, skill, courage, intelligence, insight, ingenuity: Be the best of the best. What is the danger of Arête? What was the danger of Arête Again? The hero forgets his human limitations and thinks he’s greater than he actually is… Which leads to… Hubris = excessive pride. What is the danger of hubris? What is the big-deal danger of hubris? Hero does / says something excessive without thinking of the consequences… Which leads to… Até = blind, rash behavior. Até leads to… What the heck could Até possibly do? I know... It could bring Nemesis=retribution: gods punish hero directly or other humans punish him. Either way the hero brought his fate upon himself through free-will. So What Else do Greek Heroes Have in Common? 1. A fundamental belief in freedom Greek Heroes, cont. 2. A supreme pride (hubris) Greek Heroes, cont. 3. Capacity for suffering Greek Heroes, cont. 4. Strong sense of commitment Greek Heroes, cont. 5. Not too good/ too bad Greek Heroes, cont. 6. Flaw “hamartia” (term used in archery to mean, “near miss”) Greek Heroes, cont. 7. Vigorous protest of limitations, fate, or any reality that doesn't quite fit into the hero's plan. And the hero receives a punishment that is deserved, but is more severe than his crime. Greek Heroes, cont. 8. At some point every hero undergoes a major Transformation as a result of his conflicts and fate. This is called the “Fall.” Greek Heroes, cont. 9. After the Transformation, the hero experiences some Impact (understanding). In other words, the light bulb goes off. So the Fall wasn't all bad, he gains wisdom and knowlege that he never would have gotten otherwise. Greek Heroes, cont. 10. Finally, the hero, at least partially, chooses fate.