chapter  12
28 Pages

Conclusion: Epic Form and Epic Content

WithFrederick Turner

Epic is an art of semantic, economic, moral, and religious memory. And Calliope, the epic muse is not the only muse that is a daughter of Mnemosyne. The effect of meter, moreover, is not just to help us remember, but to help people remember particular kinds of things, things not paraphrasable in prose - those heights and depths not present in the chat and gossip of an ordinary novel. The prose epic often resorts to a heightened and poetic kind of language, or to actual passages of poetry. Knowledge could only be chosen freely if there is indeed something called freedom. So the poem must, essentially, define what freedom is, and whether it could exist, and how it might have been created or generated in the first place. With all its magnitude, however, epic must still respond to Aristotle's demand that the epic plotline must have a fundamental unity: an epic story depicts a single large action.