Sunday, 27 April 2014

Describe briefly the features of Epic

An epic or heroic poem is a  long verse narrative which deals with a serious subject. It is told in an elevated style. John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” is an example. Epics may be traditional or literary.  Traditional epics are called folk epics.  Among these are the Iliad and Odessey that are attributed to Homer, the Greek poet.  Literary epics were composed in imitation of the traditional epics. Virgil’s Latin poem ‘The Aeneid’ is an example. This epic later served as a model for  Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. The hero of an epic is a person of great national importance. In the ‘Iliad’ the hero is the Greek warrior Achilles, who is the son of the sea nymph Thetis, and Virgil’s Aeneas is the son of the goddesses Aphrodite (Venus).  The action involves superhuman deeds in battle such as Achilles’ methods of fighting in the Trojan war, or a long and dangerous voyage as the wanderings of  Odysseus on his way back to his homeland in the face of the opposition by some ofthegods.
The Epic Conventions:The narrator begins by stating his argument for epic theme, invokes a muse or guiding spirit to inspire him in his great undertaking.  The narrative starts in media-res or in the middle of the story.  There are catalogues of some of the principal characters introduced in a formal detail. The term epic is often applied to narratives which differ in many respects from this model, but manifest the epic spirit and grandeur in the scale, the scope and the profound human importance of their subject. Examples are Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and Edmund Spencer’s “The Fairie Queene”
Character of Odysseus  The hero of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey is Odysessus.  The poem is a sequel to the Iliad written by Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon and is the second oldest extant work of Western literature, the Iliad being the oldest. The poem mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus also known as Ulysses in Roman myths and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten year Trojan war. In his absence, everyone believed that Odysseus has dead, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres or Proci, who want to marry Penelope.  Odysseus’ name means “trouble” in Greek, referring to both the giving and receiving of trouble. This is true of his wanderings, when Odysseus hunts the boar, it gives him the scar. But the scar helps Eurycleia recognizes him. Odysseus is injured by the boar and responds by killing it. Odysseus’ heroic trait is his “cunning intelligence”. Trojan horse is an example. Odysseus is often described as the “Peer of Zeus in Counsel”.  This intelligence is most often manifested by his use of disguise and deceptive speech.  His disguises take forms both physical and  verbal, such as telling the Cyclops Polyphemus that his name is “Nobody”and then escaping after blinding Polyphemus.  When asked by other Cyclopes why he is screaming, Polyphemus replies that “Nobody” is hurting him.  The most evident flaw that Odysseus bears is that of his arrogance and pride or hubris. As he sails away from the island of Cyclopes, he shouts his name and boasts that nobody can defeat the “great Odysseus”. The Cyclops then throws the top half of a mountain at him and prays to his father Poseidon, saying that Odysseus has blinded him. Hearing this, Poseidon is angry and delayed Odysseus’ homecoming voyage for a very long time.
The Trio in Greek Drama   Aesculus, Sophocles and Euripides were the trio in Greek drama.  Sophocles was born in the village of Clonus near Athens and although he belonged to a rich family, he had no formal education. Aesculus was the most prominent Greek playwright of the time and Sophocles must have watched his plays.  Sophocles had great zest for music. In a naval battle the Greeks defeated the Persian army and they celebrated the victory dancing in which Sophocles was the hero. He was then only 16 years of age. Ten years later Sophocles became greater than  Aesculus.  In dramatic performances conducted as a part of religious festival every year, Sophocles used to win the first or second rank for a continuous period of 40 years. Out of his more than 100 plays, only 7 survived ages.
 The most famous plays of Sophocles are those which deal with the three stages of the same story – the story of King Oedipus who happened to marry his own mother.  According to Aristotle, “Oedipus Rex” was the one which fulfils all the features of a good tragedy. It  is from this play that Aristotle developed his poetics.  “Oedipus of Clonus” was the perfect play of Sophocles. It deals with the last moment of Oedipus’ life. The third is the”Antigone” which was one of the earliest plays written by Sophocles.

The Reunion                                                                         Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The poem “The Reunion” is written by the great German poet Johann Wolfgangvon Goethe. It speaks about the joy of God in creating the world and the reunion of man with God. The narrator of the poem says that it is incredible for him that he can embrace God to his heart.
  Long, long ago when the unfashioned earth was kept hidden on God’s eternal breast, God decided the hour of the birth of the world. With great creative joy in His heart, He ordered that the earth and everything on it should be created. Then with a heavy sorrow every element of creation came out of God’s breast. The creation was full of joy and sorrow at the same time because God had to part with all his dear children – the flora and fauna including mankind. Light was created out of His breast. Then darkness disappeared from the earth. Slowly, birds, animals, trees, mountains, hills and valleys, rivers and oceans were created one by one. At first everything was dead and silent and dumb. For the first time God was alone! Then he formed the beautiful, colourful morning and began to flow like a stream God’s kindness to every creature.  Everything was created from the waste including man from the soil! Every object was beautifully shaped and put them into practice, the great scientist God.  Green carpeted meadows, hills, fruit trees, flowers of thousand colours and fragrance appeared on the earth.
 The purpose of this creation by God was that man should continue to do the joy of creation started by God. With this idea in His mind, God has put Man in His mouth. At once the mysterious, creative power of God began to flow to Man and he started his manly creations and man was given power to do research, experiments, explorations and man began to do God’s creative work. In the creation, of course, there are sufferings, pain and agony. God Himself has suffered the joy and pain of creation. It was painful for Him to part with his children who had been kept on his breast for long, long, infinite ages.  
 Man began to compose great epics, dramas, short stories, developed all forms of art, literature, music and also made scientific discoveries and inventions. He invented Railways, aeroplanes, computer and developed medical science and he reshaped this world with civilisation and built great cities and dams and roads.  Thus Man is re-united with God; The Creature is re-united with the Creator.
The Repentant Sinner                                                                                           Leo Tolstoy
“The Repentant Sinner” is a thought-proving, beautiful short story written by Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian novelist. The story is based on the teachings of the Bible. The Bible says that God is love. The Bible also teaches that God’s mercy touches every sinner, because God knows the weaknesses of human beings. Once there was a man who died at the age of seventy. He lived in sin all the time and he did not repent. But when he was on death bed, he repented, wept and begged god to forgive all his sins as Jesus forgave the thief upon the cross. Then he died. His soul reached the gate of the Heavenly Kingdom. The voice of Peter said to him that sinners were not allowed to enter Heaven. Then the soul of the sinner told Peter that Peter was taught the Bible teachings by Jesus Christ. Yet Peter disobeyed and even betrayed Jesus many times. In spite of all his sins, God’s mercy forgave him and allowed his soul to enter Heaven. On hearing this, the voice of Peter was silent. So the sinner again knocked at the door. This time the voice of King David asked him to get out because sinners were not allowed in Heaven. The sinner said that King David committed a number of crimes. In spite of all his wealth, wives, children and honour, David took the wife of Uriah, a poor and even murdered him. Finally when David repented, God’s mercy allowed him to enter Heaven. So the sinner asked David to forgive his sins and let him enter the Heavenly Kingdom. But the voice was silent. But the sinner was not disappointed. He knocked the gate for the third time. This time another voice said that the sinners are not allowed in Heaven. In reply to the question, the voice said that he was John the Divine, the beloved disciple of Christ. On hearing this, the sinner rejoiced and said that the voices of Peter and David were silent because they knew man’s weaknesses and God’s mercy.  John the Divine said in the Bible “God is love.” At once the gates of Paradise opened and John embraced the repentant sinner and took him into the kingdom of heaven.               Kjt/24-03-201

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