What Is an Epic in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, an epic was a long narrative poem that told the story of a hero’s journey. These poems were typically written in an elevated style and often focused on the adventures of gods and heroes.

The Structure of an Epic

Epics were typically divided into several sections, each of which would focus on a specific part of the hero’s journey. The first section would often introduce the hero and set the stage for their adventure. Subsequent sections would then follow the hero as they faced various challenges and obstacles, ultimately leading to their ultimate triumph.

The Role of Gods and Heroes

In many ancient cultures, gods played a prominent role in epics. These deities would often intervene in the hero’s journey, either to help or hinder them. The heroes themselves were often larger-than-life figures who possessed incredible strength, courage, and skill.

  • Homer’s “Iliad”
  • Virgil’s “Aeneid”
  • Beowulf

The Significance of Epics

Epics were more than just entertaining stories; they also served important cultural functions. In many cases, epics were used to teach moral lessons or reinforce cultural values. They also helped to preserve important historical events and figures.

Homer’s “Iliad”

One of the most famous epics in history is Homer’s “Iliad.” This epic tells the story of the Trojan War, focusing on the conflict between Achilles and Hector. Along with its companion piece, “The Odyssey,” “The Iliad” is considered one of the foundational works of Western literature.


While epics have largely fallen out of favor in modern times, they remain an important part of our cultural heritage. From Homer’s tales to Beowulf’s battles, these stories continue to captivate and inspire readers today. And with their use of gods, heroes, and larger-than-life adventures, it’s easy to see why!