Epic Poetry/Epics

From Gerald R. Lucas

Epic Journeys Through Time: The Greatest Epic Poems

Epic poetry has been a staple of literary tradition for thousands of years, telling stories of heroes, gods, and monsters that captivate and inspire us. From ancient Greece to medieval Europe, from the Middle East to the Americas, epic poems have provided us with a glimpse into the great adventures and struggles of our ancestors.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Mesopotamian epic poem that tells the story of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his adventures with his friend Enkidu. Written in cuneiform script on clay tablets, the epic is considered one of the earliest surviving works of literature, dating back to around 2100 BCE. Learn More »

The Iliad

Dating from the 8th century BCE, the Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to the poet Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the poem tells the story of the conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans over the city of Troy. At its center is the rage of the Greek hero Achilles, whose anger and pride lead him to withdraw from battle and allow his comrades to suffer heavy losses. Learn More »

The Odyssey

The Odyssey is an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to the poet Homer, and is one of the two major surviving works of Greek epic poetry, along with the Iliad. It tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his ten-year journey home to the island of Ithaca after the end of the Trojan War. Learn More »

The Metamorphoses

An anti-epic dating from 8 CE, Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a Latin narrative poem in 15 books that recounts a history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar, focusing on the theme of transformation. The work is a compilation of many earlier myths and stories, told in a chronological order, centering on characters who undergo physical or spiritual transformations. The work had a significant impact on later literature, inspiring writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. Learn More »


Set in the 6th century CE, Beowulf is an epic poem that tells the story of Beowulf as he battles and defeats three supernatural monsters: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a dragon. Beowulf is a symbol of courage and strength, and his battles reflect the values of the Anglo-Saxon society in which the poem was created. The poem also explores themes of loyalty, honor, and the fleeting nature of life. Learn More »

The Divine Comedy

Dating from early in the 14th century, Dante’s Divine Comedy is an epic poem written in the early 14th century. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The poem is a journey through the afterlife, with Dante as the protagonist, guided by the Roman poet Virgil and his beloved Beatrice. The Divine Comedy is notable for its vivid depictions of Hell and its lasting impact on Western literature and culture. It is considered one of the greatest works of Italian literature and has been translated into numerous languages. Learn More »

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is an epic poem written by John Milton and first published in 1667. The poem tells the story of Adam and Eve, the first humans created by God, and their temptation and fall from grace by Satan, the fallen angel. It is considered one of the greatest works of English literature and has had a profound influence on subsequent works of literature, art, and culture. Learn More »