Sunday, October 20, 2013


This is coolbert:

As listed by John Sutherland from his book, "50 literature ideas you really need to know", Chapter # 8 Epic".

"The ten all-time greatest poetic epics."

* The Epic of Gilgamish.
* The Odyssey.
* Mahabharata
* The Aeneid.
* Beowulf.
* The Song of Roland.
* El Cantar de Mio Cid.
* Niebelungenlied.
* Divina Commedia.
* The Lusiads.

Additional listings by other authorities will result in other epics as being considered to be included into the "top ten".

To that list I might suggest adding:

* The Iliad.
* Manas.
* The Battle of Kosovo.

At least four of those top ten the subject matter the waging of war or the feats, daring, bravery, courage and valor of warriors. The Iliad, Manas and The Battle of Kosovo exclusively descriptions of war and "the feats, daring, bravery, courage and valor of warriors".

The epic poem considered to be that most difficult and arduous of all literary forms. The number of successful epics minuscule, even when considered within the span of four thousand years!

Indeed, in over three hundred years now NO epic poem "worthy of the name" having been written!

"There were attempts to keep the genre' alive with Milton's Christian epic,. 'Paradise Lost' [1667], and mock-epics such as Pope's 'The Dunciad' . . . in the early modern period, but since then, nothing worthy of the name."

And this is why?

"[an] impediment to the modern epic is that modern life lacks 'heroes' - - at least, in the epic definition of the term . . . 'the special place those men who live for action and from the honour which comes from it'"

Honor as that term understood in the epic in many instances usually involving the vanquishing of the adversary on the battlefield. Killing!

"Heroic heroes, and 'honour', make today's reading public uneasy"

"Typically epic belongs to a great age that has passed and at which later ages look back nostalgically - - with the sad sense that such greatness is gone for ever."

Quite often a nostalgia misplaced from the modern standpoint. That utter destruction of Troy as described in the Iliad barbarism by current standards of comportment.

Those epic poems too intended for an illiterate society, the recital of which confined to a small group of bards, their word-for-word-perfect memory astonishing and generating envy among the literate of any age.

Those heroes of the epic poem to include El Cid, Roland, Beowulf, King Lazar, Achilles obviously never had to endure the hunt, peck and snipe of the modern written, audio and visual media, the "hero" in the industrial, mechanical, mass-assembly by-the-numbers, small cog in a big wheel age of modern life making that "hero" an anachronism we will never see again?


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