What Does Epic Mean in World History?

Epic is an adjective that is often used to describe events, stories, or adventures that are grand in scale and heroic in nature. The term has been used throughout history to describe a variety of significant events, from epic poems like the Iliad and the Odyssey to historical battles and conquests. In this article, we will take a closer look at what epic means in world history.

What is an Epic?

An epic is a long narrative poem that typically tells the story of a hero’s journey or adventure. Epics often feature larger-than-life characters who embody virtues such as courage, loyalty, and honor. These heroes must overcome formidable obstacles and face great challenges along the way.

The Iliad and the Odyssey

Perhaps the most famous examples of epics come from ancient Greek literature. The Iliad and the Odyssey, both written by Homer in the 8th century BCE, tell the stories of heroes like Achilles and Odysseus and their quests for glory and honor.

The Iliad focuses on the Trojan War, an epic conflict between the Greeks and Trojans that lasted for ten years. The poem chronicles the battles, alliances, betrayals, and tragedies that occur during this time.

The Odyssey follows the journey of Odysseus as he attempts to return home after fighting in the Trojan War. Along the way, he faces numerous challenges such as monsters, gods, and treacherous humans.

Other Examples of Epics

While ancient Greece is perhaps best known for its epics, other cultures have also produced notable examples throughout history. The Epic of Gilgamesh, written in ancient Mesopotamia around 2100 BCE, tells the story of a king who embarks on a quest for immortality.

In India, there are two major epics: The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. The Ramayana tells the story of the prince Rama and his journey to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. The Mahabharata is a much longer epic that tells the story of a great war between two families.

In medieval Europe, epics such as Beowulf and The Song of Roland celebrated heroic deeds and epic battles.


In conclusion, an epic is a long narrative poem that tells the story of a hero’s journey or adventure. These stories have endured throughout history because they speak to universal themes and values such as courage, loyalty, and honor. Whether it’s the Iliad or Odyssey from ancient Greece or epics from other cultures around the world, these stories continue to captivate audiences with their grandeur and heroism.