Generally, epics are mythological histories, meaning they are a melting pot of famous figures from history and historical events. In the case of Beowulf, the battle of Grendel is the beginning of the epic with the famous Beowulf, Warrior of the Geats, as its hero.
Epics typically begin as oral traditions, passed down for generations before being written down. Because of this, epics have an order and repetition of the events that made them easier to remember. Due to their length, these works often took days to tell.
The epic hero is typically well known in his time, often reaching superstar status. In ancient legends, the hero often is either partially divine or at least protected by the gods.
"I'm Beowulf! I've killed nine sea monsters." In cell one, this quote shows Beowulf's notoriety. When he first gets to the Denmark, the Dane's throw him a great feast. While there, he brags to Hrothgar about all he's accomplished.
The hero accomplishes feats no real human could, both physically and mentally.
After bragging, Beowulf also tells a story about a swimming match with his friend Brecca. During the match, sea monsters attack, and Beowulf was able to slay the monsters, save his friend, and finish the race.
The actions of the hero span the continent, other realms, or even worlds.
In Beowulf, much of the action takes place in or around Hrothgar's hall of Heorot, but Beowulf also goes to the to kill the swamp hag in her underwater lair, and his fight against the dragon is in his home of Geatland.
Gods, demons, angels, time/space travel, cheating death, immortality, and other supernatural elements.
In this epic tale, our hero encounters monsters, a witch, and a fire-breathing dragon. He uses a sword forged by giants to kill his enemies.
The style of is frequently ornate, drawn out, or exaggerated.
The poem uses traditional "kennings", or compound metaphors, to replace simple objects, and much of the action is relayed at breathless pace, interspersed with digressions about lineage and past deeds. Characters and events are described in a truly epic and poetic manner.
The narrator sees and knows all.
Throughout Beowulf, the narrator uses third person omniscient narration to tell us the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the characters. He writes as though from a god’s point of view, witnessing and experiencing everything that takes place in the story and sometimes even spoiling what's going to happen next!
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a storyboard that shows the six elements of an epic in Beowulf.
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual or Partner
Type of Activity: Elements of an EpicCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
The six common elements of an epic are correctly identified and portrayed from the story. The quotes and/or explanations give context to the scene, and are accurate and appropriate to the element being depicted.
4-5 epic elements are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or some of the elements may not be identified correctly. The quotes and/or explanations give context to the scene, but may be minimal, and are mostly accurate for the element being depicted.
1-3 elements of an epic are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or most of the elements are inaccurately depicted. The quotes and/or explanations are too minimal, or missing altogether.
The art chosen to depict the scenes are accurate to the work of literature. Time and care is taken to ensure that the scenes are neat, eye-catching, and creative.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be accurate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. Scene constructions are neat, and meet basic expectations.
The art chosen to depict the scenes is inappropriate. Scene constructions are messy and may create some confusion, or may be too limited.
Ideas are organized. There are few or no grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas are mostly organized. There are some grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas may be disorganized or misplaced. Lack of control over grammar, mechanics, and spelling reflect a lack of proofreading.