Monday, December 13, 2010

Is it really Epic?

Everyday when I leave my house I hear a teenager or a hipster wanna be declare something to be "epic." In zero of these cases is the thing actually epic. Today I threw something in the trash which is a common thing to do. We all do it every day. I'll admit, with my head bowed in pure humility that it was pretty crazy shot. It was a skill shot and not a luck shot. It was honestly an impressive shot. The girl watching claimed it to be an epic shot. My heart cringed. That shot was in no way epic. You may be thinking, "well some things actually are epic." True. Some things in fact actually are epic. However, if something actually epic were to occur it would change the world. It is extremely unlikely that any reader of this blog with encounter anything epic in their lives. You should stop using the word unless you are describing something that is actually epic.

Actual epics you may have heard of include: Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, the Iliad, Beowulf, King Arthur's search for the Holy Grail, and Paradise Lost.

Of course there are many many more, but again they are, for the most part, made up stories.

Now, a rant without helpful information is useless. I want to help you. So, here are some rules to determine if something was epic or not.

1. An epic will start in the middle or end of the story and will flash back to the beginning.
2. An epic will cover a vast setting. This will include many nations, the world or even the universe. (not the distance form my hand to the trash)
3. the person telling the story will begin by asking a muse to help them and to inspire them to tell the story in a truly amazing fashion worthy of the events of the story
4. It begins with the statement of a theme (think about how the theme of Beowolf was to slay the Grendle, or how Odyssius just wanted to return home)
5. Do you know what an epithet is? Well, you need to know if you're going to claim something to be epic because epics have epithets.
6. An epic will contain long lists (lists of the heros deeds, places he's been, monsters he's defeated, etc. )
7. An epic features long and formal speeches. Gilgamesh has plenty of those if you need examples.
8. Epics will involve the divine intervention in the affairs of our hero or other humans in the story. If there are no Gods or other divine beings in the story it is not an epic. Neither Zeus, Ra or any other god was involved in my trash shot.
9. The hero of your story will embody all the values of a civilization. I believe in these days that no hero from any nation could arise to embody this characteristic of an epic. You'd have to invent one.

1 comment:

Joshua Rowley said...

Rowdy, I'm so very glad that you are blogging a bit again. I missed it a little.

And for the whole epic conversation... I think that this post is epic (kidding kidding, though you're still going to punch me for writing it). No, in all seriousness, I completely agree with you on this one. In fact there is a certain person we both know who I immediately think of when referring to the use of the word 'epic' out of context (in fact I don't believe I've ever heard them use the word epic in the correct context, and they use it daily). Man, now I'm just annoyed.

Merrrrry... Happy!