the epic poem
The word epic comes from the Greek noun ‘epos’, which means the oral exposition of poets or epic poem.
The 2 major epic poems in Western tradition are The Iliad and the odyssey written (or better attributed to) by Homer (a Greek poet); later there are Aeneid of Virgil and Anglo-Saxons Beowulf.
The epic poem is a long narrative poetical composition, that talks about the national history of a country, the praise of the great, brave deeds of heroes and the death of a hero. The epics poems describes an aristocratic and military society. The narrative is based on ‘type-scenes’(formulae), such as the banquet, the battle, the funeral, the voyage, and they are a meditation upon event rather than its description.
The epic poem is an objective narration; neither the poet nor his characters criticise the ideals or customs of the country.
The thematic is the nature of heroic life, the function and character of leadership in heroic society.
The style is elevated, the vocabulary is very rich and various.
the pagan elegy:
Another type of epic poems was the (pagan) elegy, lyrical poem, generally in form of dramatic monologue, where the speaker expresses his loss of friendship and favour, and past glory.
the reasons of this dramatic situation are implied (not described);the personal experience and philosophic reflection are reconciled to provide a moving view of human condition.
One of the themes is the exile(or wracca), obsession of Anglo-Saxons imagination and constant fear of a dissolution of the clan by internal or external conflict.
To lost a place in the community means to deprive a person of his life, so outside the clan is most difficult to make a new relationship.
Thence the hero of the elegy is a lone wanderer(with whom the audience may identify),that is away from his homeland ,he’s vulnerable and for this he admit the truth of his condition.
the vivid and descriptive language gives a melancholic and dramatic mood at the poem, while the frequent use of alliteration underline the oral aspect