In the general sense, epic refers to a long narrative poem whose style of writing is grand, and which is written on a serious subject.

The poem is centered on a heroic or a quasi-divine figure whose actions depend on the fate of the entire nation or his community or in fact on the entire human race. 

The style of writing the poem is formal and elevated. The well-known epics are Paradise Lost by John Milton, Beowulf, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and the like. The key elements of the epic are constant yet various research paper writings have stated an addition to them.

There are certain differences between traditional epic and literary epics. Traditional epics were the written version of the oral poems and stories about the great warriors of a country or a tribe.

The prominent examples of them are Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf, Chanson de Roland, and the like. On the other hand, literary epics were written as a deliberate attempt by the writers who imitated the traditional forms.

For example, Virgil wrote Aeneid, which became a source for Milton’s Paradise Lost which in turn became a source for John Keats’ Hyperion as well as several of William Blake’s prophetic books and epic poems. 

Aristotle ranked epic second to his best-stated form that was a tragedy. In fact, during the Renaissance, several writers and critics said that it was the highest of all literary genres.

The literary epic is considered to be the best form and the most ambitious of all poetic enterprises since it taxes the poet a lot, who in turn has to expand the horizons of his creativity, knowledge, and skills in order to produce a magnum opus. Describing innumerable attempts of the writing of this style, there are not more than a dozen texts that constitute this category.

Deriving from Aeneid and Homer’s two epics, there are various features that an epic has, which the students must remember for assignment help on the topic:

  1. The hero of an epic is a figure of great national importance. His actions impact the country or universe at large. Prominent examples of such heroes are Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost; the Greek warrior and son of the sea nymph Thetis, Achilles in Iliad; the son of Goddess Aphrodite, Aeneas of Virgil as well as William Blake’s ‘the Universal Man’ Albion who incorporates all humanity, cosmos as well as God himself, before his fall. 
  2. The setting of the piece of work is an ample and a grand one sometimes covering the entire world or even beyond that.

 Paradise Lost has its action taking place in the entire universe that is, in heaven, on earth, in hell, and in the cosmic space between. Similarly, in Odyssey, Odysseus wanders over the Mediterranean Basin which was the only world known in Homer's time. Later on, he descends.

  1. The action in an epic invoice a battle comprising extraordinary deeds (similar to Achilles’ feats in the Trojan war) all of long, tiring, and dangerous journeys just like the wanderings of Odysseus while he was going back to his homeland facing opposition from some gods. In Paradise Lost certain rebel angels revolt against God in heaven. The leader of these rebels, Satin journeys from heaven through the chaos into a newly created world and he always tries to outwit God by corrupting mankind.
  2. An epic always has some supernatural machinery functioning, either in the form of Gods or other supernatural beings. For example, Olympian Gods in Homer and Christ and angels in Paradise Lost. In the Neoclassical age, these beings were referred to as machinery since they were a part of the literary contrivances of epic.
  3. An epic is always narrated in a grand style since it’s the depiction of the ceremonial performance. For this reason, it is distanced from ordinary speech and brought in proportion to the formality and grandeur of the heroic subject. This can be seen in Milton’s grand style, his formal diction, and his obeying of Latin poetry putting in a wide range of allusions and imitating Homer’s epic similes and epithets.

Following the example of Paradise Lost by John Milton, there are various other widely used epic conventions and formulas which need to be remembered for assignment help. These are as follows:

  • The narrator starts his epic by stating an argument highlighting his theme. The most popular beginning to an epic is by invoking a muse (Goddess of Poetry) or a guiding spirit that would inspire him in his task. After this, the epic question is addressed to the news, the answer to which is the beginning of the narration.
  • The narrations always start in media res (“in the middle of things”) at a critical point of action. For example, Paradise Lost opens in hell where the fallen angels are gathering their forces and planning revenge on God. The actual beginning of these events is narrated in books 5, 6, and 7 wherein angel Raphael narrates to Adam the things that happened in heaven which led to the fall of these angels. Later on, in further books, one gets to know about the second coming of Christ. Therefore, the epic encompasses everything from the creation of the world to its end. 
  • Catalogs of some of the principal characters are brought out in detail just as Milton describes the procession of falling angels in hell. These angels frequently get long speeches that reveal their attitude as well as temperament.

Sometimes, an epic can also refer to poems that manifest the epic spirit and obey the grand style, dealing with the subjects of great importance like that done in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. 

Several research paper writings have focused on the other styles of writing that can be brought into this category of epic as Georg Lukacs did when he talked about bourgeois epic while referring to all novels which reflected the social reality of the capitalist state in his times.