Terms From Epic

Technical terms in Greek or Latin Epic poetry: 

  • Aidos: shame, can range from a sense of respect to disgrace
  • Aition: cause, origin
  • Anthromorphism: Literally, turning into a human being. Gods and goddesses are anthropomorphized when they take on human qualities
  • Arete: virtue, excellence
  • Aristeia: a warrior’s prowess or excellence; a scene in battle where the warrior finds his or her finest moment
  • Ate: blindness, madness, or folly that the gods may impose on a human.
  • Dactylic Hexameter: the meter of epic has 6 dactylic (long/short/short) feet in a line. Daktylos is a word for a finger, which, with its 3 phalanges, is like a finger. See: Ancient Meter.
  • Unknown Statue of a Muse, about 200, Marble with polychromy 95.3 × 31 × 23 cm (37 1/2 × 12 3/16 × 9 1/16 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
    Unknown
    Statue of a Muse, about 200, Marble with polychromy
    95.3 × 31 × 23 cm (37 1/2 × 12 3/16 × 9 1/16 in.)
    The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Dolos: trickery
  • Geras: a gift of honor
  • In medias res: into the middle of things, the epic story begins in the middle of things and reveals the past with narratives and flashbacks
  • Invocation: at the start of epic, the poet calls upon the Goddess or Muse. The poet’s persona believes it requires divine inspiration to compose.
  • Kleos: immortal fame for one’s actions. From a word for that which is heard, kleos is renown. Kleos can also refer to praise poetry.
  • Moira: portion, lot in life, destiny
  • Nemesis: righteous indignation
  • Nostoi: (singular: nostos) return voyages
  • Penthos: grief, suffering
  • Timē: honor, should be proportionate to one’s arete
  • Xenia (Xeinia): bond of guest-friendship
  • Xenos (Xeinos): host/guest
  • Personification: imbuing an inanimate object or an abstract with living, particularly human characteristics

[Information partly from Reading Epic: an Introduction to the Ancient Narratives, by Peter Toohey]