Epic poems have many distinct characteristics. Many of these are shown in The Odyssey, a long, narrative poem. It was passed down from generation to generation until Homer, a blind poet, wrote it down. This classic was written about the Golden Age of Greece.
The following are the characteristics of epic poems. They are also all related to The Odyssey. One characteristic is that the main character must be male and of noble birth. The Odyssey's main character, Odysseus, is the king of Ithaca. Another is that the main character performs courageous, sometimes superhuman deeds that reflect values of the era. After drinking a magic wine from Circe and failing to turn into swine like the rest of his men he was told, "Never a mortal man drank this cup...
". The poem also deals with universal themes such as life versus death and good versus evil. During the war they are fighting for what they believe is good and also struggling to save their on lives and not to die. On their journey home, they encounter many 'evil' creatures like the Cyclops, Lotus-Eaters and Scylla where they have to fight to save their lives. The fourth characteristic is giving long, formal speeches.
Odysseus does this often when he gives encouragement or has something to tell his crew. An example would be in book IX when he starts off by saying, "Old shipmates, friends, the rest of you stand by; ... " The plot must also be complicated by supernatural beings and involve a long and dangerous journey. The Odyssey is primarily about this journey which starts after the Cyclops prays to Poe sidon and ask, "Oh hear me, lord, ... grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, may never reach his home alive; or if he must get back to his friends at last, let him do so late and in sore plight after losing all his men". The sixth characteristic would be that the setting is vast in scope and often involving more than one nation. Oddyseus after being in war at Troy for ten years sets off on his long journey home visiting many foreign lands.
Some places and / or people he saw included Calypso's island, the Land of the Lotus Eaters, his battle with Polyphemus the Cyclops, his love affair with the witch-goddess, Circe, his temptation by the deadly Sirens, his journey into Hades to consult the prophet Tiresias and his fight with the sea monster Scylla. The last characteristic I will talk about is that the actions of the hero usually determine the face of the nation or people around him. Odysseus' curiousity brings him into different places like the land of the cyclops where many of his men are killed. In the end of the book, the peace is restored. And with Odysseus' power secure and his family reunited, his long ordeal comes to an end.
There are also many more traits of an epic poem in the book. All of the included characteristics prove that The Odyssey is and will always be an epic poem. Hopefully this may have inspired you to read this book, too.