Epic Poetry

An epic (from the Ancient Greek adjective ἐπικός (epikos), from ἔπος (epos) "word, story, poem") is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. The earliest epic were undoubtedly passed down by oral tradition, only later being written down.

The hero generally participates in a cyclical journey or quest, faces adversaries that try to defeat him in his journey and returns home significantly transformed by his journey. The epic hero illustrates traits, performs deeds, and exemplifies certain morals that are valued by the society from which the epic originates. Many epic heroes are recurring characters in the legends of their native culture.

[From Wikipedia]

20th to 10th century BC:

  • Epic of Gilgamesh (Mesopotamian mythology)
  • Atrahasis (Mesopotamian mythology)
  • Enuma Elish (Babylonian mythology)

8th to 6th century BC:

5th to 4th century BC:

  • Mahābhārata, ascribed to Vyasa (Hindu mythology) (5th to 1st century BC)
  • Ramayana, ascribed to Valmiki (Hindu mythology) (5th century BC to 4th century AD)

3rd century BC:

2nd century BC:

  • Annales by Quintus Ennius (Roman History)

1st century BC:

1st century AD:

2nd century:

  • Buddhacarita by Aśvaghoṣa (Indian epic poetry)
  • Saundaranandakavya by Aśvaghoṣa (Indian epic poetry)

2nd to 5th century:

  • The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature:
  • Silappadikaram by Prince Ilango Adigal
  • Manimekalai by Seethalai Saathanar
  • Civaka Cintamani by Tirutakakatevar
  • Kundalakesi by a Buddhist poet
  • Valayapati by a Jaina poet

3rd to 4th century:

  • Posthomerica by Quintus of Smyrna

4th century:

  • Evangeliorum libri by Juvencus
  • Kumārasambhava by Kālidāsa (Indian epic poetry)
  • Raghuvamsa by Kālidāsa (Indian epic poetry)
  • De Raptu Proserpinae by Claudian

5th century:

  • Dionysiaca by Nonnus

7th century:

  • Táin Bó Cúailnge (Irish)

8th to 10th century:

  • Bhaṭṭikāvya, Sanskrit courtly epic based on the Rāmāyaṇa and the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini.
  • Beowulf / translated by Francis Gummere
  • Waldere, Old English version of the story told in Waltharius (below), known only as a brief fragment
  • David of Sasun (Armenian language)

9th century:

  • Bhagavata Purana (Sanskrit "Stories of the Lord") written from earlier sources

10th century:

11th century:

12th century:

  • The Knight in the Panther Skin by Shota Rustaveli
  • Alexandreis, Latin epic by Walter of Châtillon
  • De bello Troiano and the lost Antiocheis by Joseph of Exeter
  • Carmen de Prodicione Guenonis (Latin version of the story of the Song of Roland)
  • Architrenius, satirical Latin epic by John of Hauville
  • Liber ad honorem Augusti by Peter of Eboli, Latin narrative of the conquest of Sicily by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor
  • The Tale of Igor's Campaign and Bylinas (11th-19th centuries)

13th century:

  • The Nibelungenlied
  • Brut by Layamon
  • Chanson de la Croisade Albigeoise ("Song of the Albigensian Crusade"; Occitan)
  • Sirat al-Zahir Baibars (Arabic epic literature)
  • Epic of Sundiata
  • El Cantar de Mio Cid, Spanish epic of the Reconquista
  • De triumphis ecclesiae, Latin literary epic by Johannes de Garlandia
  • Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach
  • The Secret History of the Mongols

14th century:

15th century:

16th century:

17th century:

18th century:

  • Eliza by Richard Blackmore (1705)
  • Columbus by Ubertino Carrara (1714)
  • Redemption by Richard Blackmore (1722)
  • Henriade by Voltaire (1723)
  • La Pucelle d'Orléans by Voltaire (1756)
  • Alfred by Richard Blackmore (1723)
  • Utendi wa Tambuka by Bwana Mwengo (1728)
  • Leonidas by Richard Glover (1737)
  • Epigoniad by William Wilkie (1757)
  • The Highlander; by James Macpherson (1758)
  • The Works of Ossian by James MacPherson (1765)
  • O Uraguai by Basílio da Gama (1769)
  • Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire** by Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill (1773)
  • Der Messias by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1773)
  • Rossiada by Mikhail Matveyevich Kheraskov (1771–1779)
  • Vladimir by Mikhail Matveyevich Kheraskov (1785)
  • Athenaid by Richard Glover (1787)
  • Joan of Arc by Robert Southey (1796)

19th century:

20th century:

  • Lahuta e Malcís by Gjergj Fishta (composed 1902-1937)
  • The Ballad of the White Horse / G. K. Chesterton (1911)
  • Mensagem by Fernando Pessoa
  • The Hashish-Eater; Or, The Apocalypse of Evil by Clark Ashton Smith (1920)
  • Kurukshetra (1946), Rashmirathi (1952), Urvashi (1961), Hunkar (epic poem) by Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar'
  • Savitri by Aurobindo Ghose (1950)
  • Astronautilía-Hvězdoplavba by Jan Křesadlo
  • The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek verse, composed 1924-1938)
  • The Cantos by Ezra Pound (composed 1915-1969)
  • Dymer by C. S. Lewis (1926)
  • A Cycle of the West by John Neihardt (composed 1921-1949)
  • "A" by Louis Zukofsky (composed 1928-1968)
  • Paterson by William Carlos Williams (composed c.1940-1961)
  • Victory for the Slain by Hugh John Lofting (1942)
  • The Maximus Poems by Charles Olson (composed 1950-1970)
  • Aniara by Harry Martinson (composed 1956)
  • Libretto for the Republic of Liberia by Melvin B. Tolson (1953)
  • Mountains and Rivers Without End by Gary Snyder (composed 1965-1996)
  • Helen in Egypt by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1974)
  • The Changing Light at Sandover by James Merrill (composed 1976-1982)
  • Genesis: An Epic Poem by Frederick Turner (1988)
  • Omeros by Derek Walcott (1990)
  • The Levant by Mircea Cărtărescu (1990)
  • The Descent of Alette by Alice Notley (1996)
  • Overlord: The Triumph of Light 1944-45 by Nicholas Hagger (1995-7)
  • Cheikh Anta Diop: Poem for the Living by Mwatabu S. Okantah (1997)
  • The Dream of Norumbega: Epic on the U.S. by James Wm. Chichetto (c. 1990; p. 2000- )
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