In literature, an epic is a long narrative poemwhich is usually related to heroic deeds of a person of an unusual courage and unparalleled bravery. In order to depict this bravery and courage, the epic uses grandiose style. The hero is usually the representative of the values of a certain culture, race, nation or a religious group on whose victor of failure the destiny of the whole nation or group depends.
The term 'the Augustan Age' comes from the self-conscious imitation of the original Augustan writers, Virgil and Horace, by many of the writers of the period.
|Keep Exploring Britannica||From his earliest youth, Milton had determined to write a great epic. At first, the story of King Arthur came into his mind.|
Dryden forms the link between Restoration and Augustan literature; although he wrote ribald comedies in the Restoration vein, his verse satires were highly admired by the generation of poets who followed him, and his writings on literature were very much in a neoclassical spirit.
But more than any other it is the name of Alexander Pope which is associated with the epoch known as the Augustan Age, despite the fact that other writers such as Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe had a more lasting influence.
This is partly a result of the politics of naming inherent in literary history: The literature of this period which conformed to Pope's aesthetic principles and could thus qualify as being 'Augustan' is distinguished by its striving for harmony and precision, its urbanity, and its imitation of classical models such as Homer, Cicero, Virgil, and Horace, for example in the work of the minor poet Matthew Prior.
In verse, the tight heroic couplet was common, and in prose essay and satire were the predominant forms. Any facile definition of this period would be misleading, however; as important as it was, the neoclassicist impulse was only one strain in the literature of the first half of the eighteenth century.
But its representatives were the defining voices in literary circles, and as a result it is often some aspect of 'neoclassicism' which is used to describe the era. These works, forming the basis for modern English literary criticism, insist that 'nature' is the true model and standard of writing.
This 'nature' of the Augustans, however, was not the wild, spiritual nature the romantic poets would later idealize, but nature as derived from classical theory: The literary circle around Pope considered Homer preeminent among ancient poets in his descriptions of nature, and concluded in a circuitous feat of logic that the writer who 'imitates' Homer is also describing nature.
From this follows the rules inductively based on the classics that Pope articulated in his Essay on Criticism: Those rules of old discovered, not devised, Are nature still, but nature methodized. Particularly influential in the literary scene of the early eighteenth century were the two periodical publications by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, The Tatlerand The Spectator Both writers are ranked among the minor masters of English prose style and credited with raising the general cultural level of the English middle classes.
A typical representative of the post-Restoration mood, Steele was a zealous crusader for morality, and his stated purpose in The Tatler was "to enliven Morality with Wit, and to temper Wit with Morality. The essays are discussions of current events, literature, and gossip often written in a highly ironic and refined style.
Addison and Steele helped to popularize the philosophy of John Locke and promote the literary reputation of John Milton, among others. Although these publications each only ran two years, the influence that Addison and Steele had on their contemporaries was enormous, and their essays often amounted to a popularization of the ideas circulating among the intellectuals of the age.
With these wide-spread and influential publications, the literary circle revolving around Addison, Steele, Swift and Pope was practically able to dictate the accepted taste in literature during the Augustan Age.
In one of his essays for The Spectator, for example, Addison criticized the metaphysical poets for their ambiguity and lack of clear ideas, a critical stance which remained influential until the twentieth century.
The literary criticism of these writers often sought its justification in classical precedents. In the same vein, many of the important genres of this period were adaptations of classical forms: A large part of Pope's work belongs to this last category, which exemplifies the artificiality of neoclassicism more thoroughly than does any other literary form of the period.
In his satires and verse epistles Pope takes on the role of an English Horace, adopting the Roman poet's informal candor and conversational tone, and applying the standards of the original Augustan Age to his own time, even addressing George II satirically as "Augustus.
The Dunciad is a mock epic, a form of satiric writing in which commonplace subjects are described in the elevated, heroic style of classical epic.
By parody and deliberate misuse of heroic language and literary convention, the satirist emphasizes the triviality of the subject, which is implicitly being measured against the highest standards of human potential.
In The Rape of the Lock, often considered one of the highest achievements of mock epic poetry, the heroic action of epic is maintained, but the scale is sharply reduced.
The hero's preparation for combat is transposed to a fashionable boat ride up the Thames, and the ensuing battle is a card game. The hero steals the titular lock of hair while the heroine is pouring coffee. Although the mock epic mode is most commonly found in poetry, its influence was also felt in drama, most notably in John Gay's most famous work, The Beggar's Opera The Beggar's Opera ludicrously mingles elements of ballad and Italian opera in a satire on Sir Robert Walpole, England's prime minister at the time.
The vehicle is opera, but the characters are criminals and prostitutes. Gay's burlesque of opera was an unprecedented stage success and centuries later inspired the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht to write one of his best-known works, Die Dreigroschenoper The Threepenny Opera, One of the most well-known mock epic works in prose from this period is Jonathan Swift's The Battle of the Booksin which the old battle between the ancient and the modern writers is fought out in a library between The Bee and The Spider.
Although not a mock epic, the satiric impulse is also the driving force behind Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travelsone of the masterpieces of the period. The four parts describe different journeys of Lemuel Gulliver; to Lilliput, where the pompous activities of the diminutive inhabitants is satirized; to Brobdingnag, a land of giants who laugh at Gulliver's tales of the greatness of England; to Laputa and Lagoda, inhabited by quack scientists and philosophers; and to the land of the Houhynhnms, where horses are civilized and men Yahoos behave like beasts.
As a satirist Swift's technique was to create fictional speakers such as Gulliver, who utter sentiments that the intelligent reader should recognize as complacent, egotistical, stupid, or mad. Swift is recognized as a master of understated irony, and his name has become practically synonymous with the type of satire in which outrageous statements are offered in a straight-faced manner.
The Nature and Graveyard Poets Neoclassicism was not the only literary movement at this time, however. Two schools in poetry rejected many of the precepts of decorum advocated by the neoclassical writers and anticipated several of the themes of Romanticism.
The so-called nature poets, for example, treated nature not as an ordered pastoral backdrop, but rather as a grand and sometimes even forbidding entity.Epic Movie-- Watch an epic movie from an approved list and write an essay analyzing its epic qualities (50 points) Modern Writing -- Write a modern version, analyze the epic’s relationship to modern terrorism, or apply concepts from the epic to your own life (50 points).
"Portraits of the Artist" is a Fall Swarthmore College English Literature seminar of mine for first-year undergraduate students introducing them to literary and cultural studies—and analytical writing skills—at the college level.
Examples of epic literature include "Beowulf," "Paradise Lost," and "Jerusalem Delivered." "Epic of Gilgamesh" is also a piece of epic literature.
In order to be considered epic literature, a piece of writing must meet certain criteria. Epic literature is almost always poetry, although some novels. Posted by Rakesh Patel under English Literature, epic, poetry | Tags: milton's paradise lost, paradise lost as an epic poem | Leave a Comment Milton’s Paradise Lost was published in From his earliest youth, Milton had determined to write a great epic.
We now present the ten best English writers who would have ensured England’s place at the top of the literature league, even without including the Bard of Avon. It was no easy task as there have been so many English writers over the years, and the list ends up being very subjective.
4. Throughout Book I, Milton interposes elaborate epic similes comparing Satan to the Leviathan (), to Pharoah's flooded cavalry (), to northern barbarians invading the Roman empire (), to all the heroic armies of western literature (), and finally to bees and elves ().