The oldest epic recognized is the Epic of Gilgamesh c. The poem details the exploits of Gilgameshthe king of Uruk. Although recognized as a historical figure, Gilgamesh, as represented in the epic, is a largely legendary or mythical figure. Early twentieth-century study of living oral epic traditions in the Balkans by Milman Parry and Albert Lord demonstrated the paratactic model used for composing these poems.
Myths and legends number among the most creative and abundant contributions of Christianity to the history of human culture. They have inspired artists, dramatists, clerics, and others to contemplate the wondrous effects of Christian salvation on the cosmos and its inhabitants.
They… The nature, functions, and types of myth Myth has existed in every society. Indeed, it would seem to be a basic constituent of human culture. Because the variety is so great, it is difficult to generalize about the nature of myths.
The study of myth is thus of central importance in the study both of individual societies and of human culture as a whole. Relation of myths to other narrative forms In Western culture there are a number of literary or narrative genres that scholars have related in different ways to myths.
Examples are fables, fairy tales, folktales, sagas, epics, legendsand etiologic tales which refer to causes or explain why a thing is the way it is. Another form of tale, the parable, differs from myth in its purpose and character.
Even in the West, however, there is no agreed definition of any of these genres, and some scholars question whether multiplying categories of narrative is helpful at all, as opposed to working with a very general concept such as the traditional tale.
Non-Western cultures apply classifications that are different both from the Western categories and from one another. If it is accepted that the category of traditional tale should be subdivided, one way of doing so is to regard the various subdivisions as comparable to bands of colour in a spectrum.
Within this figurative spectrum, there will be similarities and analogies between myth and folktale or between myth and legend or between fairy tale and folktale. In the section that follows, it is assumed that useful distinctions can be drawn between different categories.
It should, however, be remembered throughout that these classifications are far from rigid and that, in many cases, a given tale might be plausibly assigned to more than one category.
Fables The word fable derives from the Latin word fabula, which originally meant about the same as the Greek mythos. Like mythos, it came to mean a fictitious or untrue story. Myths, in contrast, are not presented as fictitious or untrue.
Fables, like some myths, feature personified animals or natural objects as characters. Unlike myths, however, fables almost always end with an explicit moral message, and this highlights the characteristic feature of fables—namely, that they are instructive tales that teach morals about human social behaviour.
Myths, by contrast, tend to lack this directly didactic aspect, and the sacred narratives that they embody are often hard to translate into direct prescriptions for action in everyday human terms.
Another difference between fables and myths relates to a feature of the narratives that they present. The context of a typical fable will be unspecific as to time and space—e.
Like myths, fairy tales present extraordinary beings and events. Folktales There is much disagreement among scholars as to how to define the folktale; consequently, there is disagreement about the relation between folktale and myth.
The latter view is taken by the British Classicist Geoffrey S. Kirk, who in Myth: Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures uses the term myth to denote stories with an underlying purpose beyond that of simple story-telling and the term folktale to denote stories that reflect simple social situations and play on ordinary fears and desires.
Examples of folktale motifs are encounters between ordinary, often humble, human beings and supernatural adversaries such as witches, giants, or ogres; contests to win a bride; and attempts to overcome a wicked stepmother or jealous sisters.
But these typical folktale themes occur also in stories normally classified as myths, and there must always be a strong element of arbitrariness in assigning a motif to a particular category. A different and important aspect of the problem of defining a folktale relates to the historical origin of the concept.
As with the notion of folklore, the notion of folktale has its roots in the late 18th century. This definition of folktale introduces a new criterion for distinguishing between myth and folktale—namely, what class of person tells the story—but it by no means removes all the problems of classification.
Just as the distinction between folk and aristocracy cannot be transferred from medieval Europe to tribal Africa or Classical Greece without risk of distortion, so the importing of a distinction between myth and folktale on the later European model is extremely problematic.
Sagas and epics The word saga is often used in a generalized and loose way to refer to any extended narrative re-creation of historical events. A distinction is thus sometimes drawn between myths set in a semidivine world and sagas more realistic and more firmly grounded in a specific historical setting.This webpage is for Dr.
Wheeler's literature students, and it offers introductory survey information concerning the literature of classical China, classical Rome, classical Greece, the Bible as Literature, medieval literature, Renaissance literature, and genre studies. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products.
This includes well known titles like The Odyssey and The Aeneid. Although epics are not limited to Greek culture, they can be argued as some of the most influential to modern day literature and society. An epic poem, epic, epos, or epopee is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the moral universe that their descendants, the poet and his audience, must understand to understand themselves as a people or nation.
Characteristics of Epic Heroes Most epic heroes possess most or all of 7 general characteristics you can use to help you decide if a character is, indeed, an epic hero or .