The following terms or concepts help characterize epic poetry
. Try to find them when you read the Iliad
, or Aeneid
- Aidos: shame, can range from a sense of respect to disgrace
- Aition: cause, origin
- Anthromorphism: Literally, turning into a human being. Gods and goddesses are anthropomorphized when they take on human qualities
- Arete: virtue, excellence
- Aristeia: a warrior's prowess or excellence; a scene in battle where the warrior finds his (or her) finest moment
- Ate: blindness, madness, or folly that the gods may impose with or without the fault of the human.
- Dactylic Hexameter: the meter of epic has 6 dactylic feet in a line. A dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short. In English this meter winds up sounding sing-songy. Daktylos is a word for a finger, which, with its 3 phalanges, is like a finger.
- Dolos: trickery
- Geras: a gift of honor
- In medias res into the middle of things, the epic story begins in the middle of things and reveals the past with narratives and flashbacks
- Invocation: at the start of epic, the poet calls upon the Goddess or Muse. The poet either believes or adopts the stance that the poem couldn't be composed without divine inspiration.
- Kleos: fame, especially immortal, for a deed. From a word for that which is heard, kleos is renown. Kleos can also refer to praise poetry.
See Reading Epic: an Introduction to the Ancient Narratives," by Peter Toohey
- Moira: portion, share, lot in life, destiny
- Nemesis: righteous indignation
- Nostoi: (singular: nostos) return voyages
- Penthos: grief, suffering
- Timē: honor, should be proportionate to arete
- Xenia (Xeinia): bond of guest-friendship (xenos/xeinos: host/guest)
- Personification: treating an abstract or inanimate object as if it were living