The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

Conventions of the Epic - In Media Res

Some additional conventions of the epic have developed over time.  These conventions are listed below: The action begins in media res –in the middle of things The gods are involved in human activity and often take sides The poem begins with an invocation to the muse for inspiration Make use of catalogs = long recitations of lists, i.e. the catalog of Grecian ships sailing for Troy Use epithets for describing things – “rosy-fingered dawn,” “much enduring Odysseus,” “Athena, weaver of plans.” Make use of extended similes – the dying fighters are compared to autumn leaves Heroes who are great men, often with a character flaw Religious rituals or observances The Odyssey employs many of these conventions, and adds some additional conventions which are shown below: Men have patronymic titles - Odysseus, son of Laertes; Neoptolemus, son of Achilles; Orestes, son of Agamemnon; Telemachus, son of Odysseus. Honorary names reflect the attributes of the heroes:  godlike Achilles; Nestor the old chariot driver; Odysseus, mastermind of battle The Greeks knew the story of Odysseus before homer composed the poem.  Homer’s job was to make the poem interesting and consistent with the myths that were in existence about Odysseus.  Homer’s job was similar to that of the classical playwrights who composed plays based on myths that the general populace already knew.
Minerva and the Nine Muses