Top 100 Famous Epics of the World
Top 100 Epics of the World : 1 - 20
The TOP 100 EPICS OF THE WORLD ranks the greatest epics, both traditional and literary, based on their literary value, inherent messages, the epic dimensions, popularity and universal appeal. Some of the books may not follow the epic conventions fully, but they deal with serious plots in long verse narrative form. The list was prepared after a long research and cross referencing with similar evaluations and earlier authentic studies.
1. The Iliad
Iliad is one of the most celebrated and well known epics of the world. It is believed to be written by in 9th century BC by Homer. This poem is based on the legend of Trojan war. Iliad means the tale of ilios or the tale of troy. It narrates the story of the Greek struggle to rescue Helen, from Trojans, the wrath of Achilles and subsequent destruction of Troy.
Mahabharata is one of the great Indian epic with, one lakh couplets in Sanskrit and it can be considered as the longest epic poem of the world, compiled around 8th century BC.
3. The Aeneid
Aeneid is a great epic which is based on the legend of Aeneas. It is Roman nationalistic and patriotic poem which narrates the evolution of great Roman empire. This poem shows great dramatic skill of high order and power of description.
4. The Ramayana
Ramayana, is the oldest Indian epic, written by Valmiki in Sanskrit in 5th century BC.
5. The Odyssey
Odyssey is believed to be written in 9th century B.C by Homer the great Greek poet. It describes the exploits of the Odysseus during his homecoming after the fall of Troy. This great epic follows the Aristotelian conventions of epic poem. The poem describes the obstacles faced by Odysseus, varied tests of gods that he had undergone, his affair with nymph Calypso on the homecoming voyage, and his return to his kingdom.
6. The Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is one of the greatest English literary epic based on the theme of fall of man given in the old Testament and it was written in 17th century by John Milton. The great poet wrote it “ to justify the ways of god to man”. The epic poem begins with the the Satan's devilish plans to to take revenge against god for his expulsion from heaven. Some critics has opined that Milton's Satan is the hero of the epic poem due to the excellent depiction and exposition of that character. This epic is celebrated for Milton's grand style, his interpretation of Biblical myth and Christian doctrine.
7. The Shah Name
Shah Name is great Persian epic based on the historical and mythical accounts of around fifty Persian kings. Shah Name means “book of kings”. The epic begins the mythical creation of Persia and ends in the narration of the stories of historical kings. The most famous story of Shah Name is about the legendary king of Rostam and Sohrab, his son.
7. The Buddhacharita
Buddhacharita is considered as an authoritative work on Buddha's life. It describes the birth, early life , renunciation, and teaching of Buddha. It is written in Sanskrit and has originally 28 cantos in which only 13 have been properly preserved.
8. The Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy is a celebrated epic poem written by Dante in 14th century. The narrator is lost in a forest. The poet narrator meets Virgil who guides him through the world after death. Virgil takes him through Hell. They go through the base of the purgatory and he can see the terraces of it where the sins of those who are ultimately to be saved are cleansed away. Then Beatrice guides him to the ultimate heaven. The poem ends with his moment of illumination and the vision of trinity.
9.The Orlando Furioso
Orlando Furioso is a famous epic with full of supernatural, allegorical and romantic adventures. The main theme of the epic is the war between Christians and pagans. Even though Ariosto, the writer, has depended much on the Graeco -Roman literary tradition of earlier writers for characters and incidents, it is a great epic poem due to his smooth versification and technical facility which make the poem vigorous and brilliant, with ironic and humorous contrasts.
10. The Raghuvamsa
Raghuvamsa describes the lives of the kings of the solar dynasty. It consists of 19 cantos. The epic chronicles the life of Rama and his ancestors. It is considered that Sanskrit epics have attained perfection in Raghuvamsa.
11. The Tale of Heiku
This is one of the most renouned Japanese epic poem based on the Buddhist law of impermanence. It tells the feud between two Japanese clans with elements of traditional folk narrative. Taira and Minemoto are the two clans mentioned in this great classic of medieval Japanese literature.
12. The Theogony
Theogony is a Greek epic poem which describe the mythical cosmogony. It can be used as a sorce book of Greek myhology which tells about the origin of cosmos and it evolution.
13. The Jewang Ungi
The Jewang Ungi is a historical poem composed by Yi Seung-hyu (李承休) in 1287, in the late Goryeo period. It depicts the history of Korea from Dangun to King Chungnyeol. A possible translation in English reads: "Rhymed Chronicles of Sovereigns".
14. The Faust
The theme of this great work is man's desire to transcend his physical limitations and his search for answers for eternal questions of mankind.
Beowulf, one of the earliest epic of the world, is based on a Scandinavian legend. It was written around 750 AD by an anonymous writer and it has about 3000 lines.
16. The epic of Gilgamesh
The epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest epic poem of the world. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, the ruler of Uruk and his companion Enkidu whose exploits are the described. The epic is equally fascinating for the window it opened to the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian cultures.
17. The Don Juan
Don Juan is a the most effective and vigorous satire in the English literature. This poem reviews the social , political and economic condition of the Europe. It is a a kind of picturesque novel written in verse. The hero, don Juan ,wanders from one place to another and records his six adventures. Don Juan has visited Greece, Turkey, Russia, and England.
18. The Fairie Queene
The Fairie Queene is considered as the first epic poem in modern English literature. This allegoric poem is arranged as a story for a twelve day feast, held by the queen of the fairyland. It is a national epic of England aimed at glorifying Queen Elizabeth.
19. The Pharsila
The pharsila is a celebrated Roman epic poem based on the Battle of Pharsalus which was occurred in 48 B.C. It depicts the civil war between forces led by Julius Caesar and the forces of Pompey the Great. This historical poem is considered as one of the greatest epic poem in the Latin literature.
20. The Paradise Regained
The Paradise Regained is an epic poem from the master writer John Milton. It is not a sequel to Paradise Lost. The theme is the story of three temptations as revealed in the gospel of St. Luke. This epic is composed at the suggestion of Thomas Edward.
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© 2013 Kumar Paral