Home Ancient Civilization Questions What is epic poetry, and what topics does it address?

What is epic poetry, and what topics does it address?

What is epic poetry, and what topics does it address?
What is epic poetry, and what topics does it address?
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An epic poem is a long poem narrated by a story or subject. An epic poem is a long poem related to a story or topic. Poets in epic cities often express the extraordinary deeds of the people of different regions (Meyer, 2005).

Epic poetry and general information about it

Only a few great epic poets have written better than other poets about ancient and contemporary times, the rise and fall of civilizations, and narrate various epic stories in their poems.

Epic poetry of heroic poetry is a poem that medieval poets have named after it. Epic poets follow a specially tested formula for composing poetry and excellent representations of heroes and their followers.

Before composing their epic poems, some epic poets first ask the gods to give them great power. In this way, they can tell the stories in their minds with a specific ability.

A man lecturing to a large number of people in ancient times in the town square
A man lecturing to a large number of people in ancient times in the town square

Epic poetry and its theme and meaning

Some epic poets describe the scenes of the great battle in their poetry. Thus, in their poetry, extensive similes and ambitious analogies are seen. Most of the time, the expression of these scenes is due to the imagination of epic poets. Their purpose in bringing creativity to their poems is to make their epic poems glorious.

Many of the poems of the great epic poets show the power of armies in lengthy wars with weapons of war.

If you search and research ancient literary works, you will find that there are always many fans in the world of epic poetry, and usually, they are very long. Gilgamesh is based on the real Assyrian king by Homer. With many of the themes addressed in his epic poetry, we see human issues, God, mortality, seduction, heritage, and so on.

Lots of people at the party and the start of the war
Lots of people at the party and the start of the war

If we want to name the eight main features of the epic briefly, we can mention the following:

  1. Prominent heroes are present in epic poetry. They may be the primary and vital characters of the story, Or they may be historically or mythologically significant.
  2. In most epic poems, there are many countries or the world-known.
  3. In epic poetry, things are done with courage, or we see superhuman courage in the poems.
  4. Usually, supernatural forces, gods, angels, and demons come into action in epic poetry.
  5. Epic poetry has an exceptional style.
  6. The hero and villain of epic poems are considered supernatural.

Features of epic poems

Most epic poems begin with the subject or subjects that tell the story.

In most epic poems, there are also genealogies. Sometimes we see long lists of epic poems introduced by objects, places, and people.

In epic poems, poets also pay homage to the audience’s ancestors. The main characters give long formal speeches during an epic poem. The use of epic metaphors is widespread in epic poetry.

Poets of epic poems also use many repetitive phrases in their lyrics. There are heroic ideals in epic poetry. Some of the principal heroic standards in epic poems are:

  • Courage
  • Sacrifice
  • Patriotism and kindness

There is a clear picture of social and cultural patterns in epic poems.

For example, if you read Beowulf’s epic poem, you will notice themes like the love of wine, celebration, war, adventure, and voyages.

A man with a young boy in ancient times
A man with a young boy in ancient times

How were epic poems preserved before the invention?

Early epic poems, such as Homer’s epics, were written before people invented calligraphy. Still, they used sophisticated strategies to preserve them to preserve and teach them to their children without change.

Later poets, such as Virgil, Apollonius Rhodes, Dante, Camis, and Milton, adopted and adapted Homer’s style and subject matter, But writing had become more common at the time, and these poets used tools for writing. It is interesting to note that these tools were only available to those who wrote.

The oldest known epic poem

Gilgamesh’s epic poem dates back to around 2500 to 1300 BC.

In this epic poem, the details of Gilgamesh’s works, such as King Uruk, are discussed. Many people know Gilgamesh as a historical figure, but in his epic poetry, he is a legendary figure (Lawall & Mack, 1999).

The longest epic poem

The Mahabharata epic poem of ancient India, which dates back to the third century BC to the third century AD, contains 100,000 ślokas or more than 200,000 verse lines. The epic poem of the ancient Mahabharata of ancient India with 1.8 million words is almost twice the length of the Shahnameh (Lochtefeld, 2002).

If we compare it with the Ramayana, it is four times the length of the Ramayana. Read the epic poetry of the Iliad and the Odyssey (Sharma et al., 2000).

You will find that the epic poetry of the ancient Mahabharata of India is almost ten times that of the Iliad and the Odyssey (Spodek, 2005).

Famous examples of epic poems

Epic poetry is less common now than it was in the past. Of course, from the past to the present, we see poems that narrate long and wide stories and have a romantic theme.

In the following, we will introduce some examples of some of the greatest epic and literary poems in history.

If someone asks you about the most famous epic poems, the subconscious epic poem of the Iliad and Homer’s Odyssey may form in your mind.

Both of these epic poems detail the events of the Trojan War and King Odysseus’s trip home from Troy. These two epic poems are written in epic Greek, sometimes Homeric Greek.

Although the exact date of the poems can not be determined, most classical scholars believe that Homer lived between 850 and 650 BC and that his poems were published long after his death.


Mahabharata is an ancient Indian epic poem written by the poet in Sanskrit. This epic poem dates back to 400 BC.

 But researchers believe that this epic poem is thousands of years older than it looks. According to scholars, it may date back to the eighth or ninth century BC.

With more than 200,000 verses, this poem is the longest epic poem ever written. It is interesting that it is an epic poem and contains prose mixed with poetry.

A man was studying the Mahabharata.
A man was studying the Mahabharata.


This epic poem was written in Latin by the Roman poet Virgil. According to historians, the poet wrote this poem between 29 and 19 BC.


that an old English epic poem composed between 975 to 1025 AD. There is no specific poet for this beautiful epic poem that pits the Scandinavian hero Beowulf against the monster Grandel.


 It is a long narrative and epic poem written in German around 1200 AD. This poem is about Siegfried, the hero of German mythology. It is interesting to know that this epic poem came true again and again in later works such as The Wagner Ring Cycle.

The Divine Comedy

that is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri. It has taken more than twelve years to compose this poem. Finally, writing this poem was completed in 1320.

In this poem, the poet travels to hell, purgatory, and finally to heaven and writes poetry in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

Paradise Lost John Milton

The story of this poem is about the Bible of Adam and Eve and a fallen angel named Satan. This poem also deals with their expulsion from the Garden of Aden.

A man standing on a giant dragon
A man standing on a giant dragon


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  1. Meyer, M. (2005). The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. Bedford Books.
  2. Lawall, S. N., & Mack, M. (1999). The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces: Literature of Western culture through the Renaissance. Norton.
  3. Lochtefeld, J. G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. Rosen.
  4. Sharma, T. R. S., Seshdri, C. K., Gaur, J., & Sahitya Akademi. (2000). Ancient Indian Literature: Classical Sanskrit, Prakrit, and apabhramsa. Sahitya Akademi.
  5. Spodek, H. (2005). The World’s History. Prentice Hall.
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