Epic (genre)

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An epic is traditionally a genre of poetry, known as epic poetry. [1] In modern terms, epic is often extended to describing other art forms, such as epic theatre, films, music, novels, television series, and video games, [1] wherein the story has a theme of grandeur and heroism, [2] just as in epic poetry. Scholars argue that the epic has long since become "disembedded" from its origins in oral poetry, appearing in successive narrative media throughout history. [3]



There are many genres of epic (exclusive of epic poetry): epic fantasy describes works of fantasy, such as in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings . [4] Epic fantasy has been described as containing three elements: it must be a trilogy or longer, its time-span must encompass years or more, and it must contain a large back-story or universe setting in which the story takes place. [4] Epic fantasy is not limited to the Western tradition: for example, Arabic epic literature includes One Thousand and One Nights ; and Indian epic poetry includes Ramayana and Mahabharata. [5]

The epic film genre encompasses historical epics, religious epics, and western epics, [6] although it has split into many other genres and subgenres.[ which? ] [7] [8]

The female epic examined ways in which female authors have adapted the masculine epic tradition to express their own heroic visions. [9] There are chivalric epics from the Middle Ages, national epics, and pan-national epics. The real-life stories of heroic figures have also been referred to as being epic; examples include Ernest Shackleton's exploration adventures in Antarctica. [10]


  1. 1 2 Paul Merchant (June 1971). The Epic. Routledge Kegan & Paul. ISBN   978-0-416-19700-6.
  2. Dictionary.com
  3. Arnott, Luke (2016-12-01). "Epic and Genre: Beyond the Boundaries of Media". Comparative Literature. 68 (4): 351–369. doi:10.1215/00104124-3698457. ISSN   0010-4124.
  4. 1 2 Derek M. Buker (2002). "The Long and Longer of It: Epic Fantasy". The Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers' Advisory. ALA Editions. p. 118.
  5. John Grant & John Clute. "Arabian fantasy". The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.
  6. Timothy Corrigan (2012). The Film Experience: An Introduction. Macmillan. p. 329.
  7. Constantine Santas (2008). "Table of Contents". The Epic in Film: From Myth to Blockbuster. Rowman & Littlefield. p. v.
  8. Robert Burgoyne (2011). The Epic Film. Taylor & Francis.
  9. Schweizer, Bernard (2006). Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, 1621–1982. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  10. Raymond Briggs (1969). Shackleton's Epic Voyage; Lennard Bickel (2001) Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic; Frank Arthur Worsley (1931), Endurance: An Epic of Polar Adventure