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English Epic Poetry Essay

March 29th, 2010 No comments

One distinctive characteristic of Old English Literature is the role of heroic epic poetry. According to, epic poetry is defined as “a broadly defined genre of poetry, which retells in a continuous narrative the life and works of a heroic person or group of heroic persons either historical or mythical.” In Medieval literature, the role of the hero has played a constant role in the works surfacing from that time period. The hero role is a man or woman who usually possesses powers far beyond that of a standard human being. In most cases, one of the ongoing themes from the work is the struggle between Man vs. Evil. An excellent example of an epic piece that includes the role of the hero is the literary work, Beowulf.

The Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf is probably the most important work of Old English Literature. It tells the story of a hero named Beowulf and his exploits fighting the evil Grendel’s mother and a Dragon. The storyteller uses many elements to build a certain depth to the characters. According to, a few of the important character elements in Beowulf are “wealth and honor, biblical and paganistic, and man vs. wild themes.”

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