Created By: aurora369 on April 1, 2012 Last Edited By: aurora369 on January 5, 2013

Heroic Epic

A part of a mythology which deals with great heroes, champions and their exploits

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Do we have this? And if we don't, why the hell?

A Heroic Epic is a major part of a mythology. Unlike religious myths, which tell about gods and creation of the world, the heroic epic is noticeably more down-to-earth; its heroes are larger-than-life mortals rather than gods and spirits (those are likely to enter the story as supporting characters in roles like Big Good, mentor or quest-giver), and there are indeed heroic epics based on Christianity rather than old pagan faiths, such as the British Arthurian cycle and the Russian Byliny. Heroic epics are written later than myths, and are more likely to form a consistent narrative rather than a loose bundle of tales. The heroic epic is one of the oldest precursors of the Fantasy genre, and of course is Older Than Dirt. It's usually composed as epic poetry - a poetic narrative belonging to an oral tradition.


Examples:

Needs more Wiki Magic love, better description and examples!
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • April 1, 2012
    Synchronicity
    Do The Iliad and The Odyssey count? What about The Ramayana and The Mahabharata from the other side of the world, despite the involvement of gods in all four?

    Uh, The Epic Of Gilgamesh? Also, Beowolf.

    See also: epic poetry, the medium in which these are usually told.

  • April 1, 2012
    aurora369
    Well, yes they do. A heroic epic does not have to be anonymous/folk-written.
  • April 1, 2012
    aurora369
    As I said in the edit, gods (or God and angels) are likely to enter a heroic epic as side characters (quest-givers, mentors, Big Good and the like). They are just unlikely to be part of the Five Man Band, so to speak.
  • April 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    See also The Icelandic Sagas.

    Monty Pythons Flying Circus gives us "Njorl's Saga," an epic Icelandic Saga produced by the BBC which can't get started because of the Long List of ancestors listed at the very beginning.
    Erik Njorl, son of Hrothgar, leaves his home to seek Hangnor the Elder at the house of Thorvald Hlodvisson, the son of Gudleif, half-brother of Thorgeir, the priest of Ljosavatn. Who took to wife Thorunn, the mother of Thorkel Braggart, the slayer of Gudmund the Powerful, who knew Harold, son of Geirnund, son of Erik from Goddales, son of Arvald Bristlebeard, son of Hakon, who killed Grjotgard in Sognedal in Norway over Gudrid, daughter of Thorkel Long, the son of Ketil Trout, the half-son of Hallbjorn Halftroll, father of Ingvar the Brave, who wed Isenbert of Gottenberg the daughter of Hangbard the Fierce ...
  • April 2, 2012
    Koveras
    We have a page on Russian Mythology And Tales, you can link to it.
  • April 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Would Lord Of The Rings count as a modern version? That seemed to be Tolkien's intention. Not to mention that High Fantasy seems to be largely based on this genre anyway.
  • April 2, 2012
    kjnoren
    Not sure this is a trope. Originally, it was a genre (as in a lengthy narrative poem), but nowadays it just means "large-scale story". I very much doubt Tolkien would have said Lord Of The Rings was a heroic epic, given that he actually wrote and translated such himself, and likely would have held fast to the original definition.

    But in the modern-day use of the term, High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy are used pretty much interchangably.

    And no, most of the The Icelandic Sagas aren't heroic epics in the original sense of the word either. Nibelungenlied and some of the Elder Edda is part of the tradition, however.
  • April 2, 2012
    aurora369
    Lord Of The Rings is not a heroic epic, it's a novel. The Silmarillion, on the other hands... Its initial parts, Ainulindale and Valaquenta, are typical religious myths, but its main part, Quenta Silmarillion, is a perfectly cromulent example of a heroic epic. Tolkien even experimented with epic poetry, but only managed to partially write some of The Silmarillion's tales in verse.
  • April 2, 2012
    aurora369
    2 kjnoren: well, this can be a description of a genre; genres are described, too, on TV Tropes. And I totally don't mean the modern meaning of epic, as in "lengthy" or "epic level".
  • April 22, 2012
    aurora369
    We also have The Epic, but in that trope classical examples are mixed with modern fantasy novels and blockbusters. The purpose of this YKTTW is to split one from another.
  • April 22, 2012
    LordGro
    This may interest you: There is currently a TRS revamping Oral Tradition. We have made a draft for a new page (or several pages) at Sandbox.Myth Legend And Folklore, with a section on Heroic Legend. Feel free to chime in.

    As for "Heroic Epic": You need to make clear(er) what is your definition of "heroic". It's clear enough with The Iliad etc., but what about Paradise Lost or Pharsalia? They are epics in an "heroic style", but they are not grounded in any heroic legend.-- I would also hesitate to classify the Arthurian Cycle as "heroic epics". Most of the King Arthur epics are Chivalric Romances; they are distinctly different in style to the older heroic epics.
  • April 22, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Orlando Furioso, The Aeneid?

    Don't we have a page for Mock Epic or Mock Heroic? If we do, why shouldn't we have this?
  • April 22, 2012
    LordGro
    ^So far, we have only Narrative Poem, with a list of verse epics.
  • January 5, 2013
    LordGro
    I just submitted a draft for Heroic Literature which should cover everything that can be filed under Heroic Epic. Heroic Epic would become a redirect to Heroic Literature.
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