Activity Overview

Generally, epics are mythological histories, meaning they are a melting pot of famous figures from history and historical events. In the case of The Odyssey, the battle of Troy is the beginning of the epic with the famous Odysseus, warrior of Ithaca, as its hero.

Epics typically begin as oral traditions being passed down for generations before being written down. To this end, 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!

Six Elements of the Epic

A Hero of Legendary Proportions

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.

"You may have heard of me, Odysseus...inventor of the Trojan Horse." In cell one this quote shows Odysseus’s notoriety. He came up with the idea of using the Trojan Horse to infiltrate Troy and seize the city. For this, and acts like it, he was celebrated as a great leader and warrior.

Adventures of Superhuman Strength and Valor

The hero accomplishes feats no real human could, both physically and mentally.

Odysseus shows his strength many times. However, it is his defeat of the suitors that proves his superiority to normal men. After 20 years at sea, he returns home to find his estate overrun with men squandering his storerooms and trying to take his wife. Outnumbered ten to one, he kills them all, and restores his kingdom.

Multiple Settings

The actions of the hero span the continent, other realms, or even worlds.

In the Odyssey, much of the action takes place in the Mediterranean Sea, on various islands. However, the hero also travels to the underworld in search of the prophet Tiresias.

Involvement of the Supernatural

Gods, demons, angels, time/space travel, cheating death, immortality, and other supernatural elements.

The gods play a significant role in this epic. Athena is Odysseus' aide, Poseidon is his enemy, and Zeus...well he doesn't really want to get involved.

Epic Style of Writing

The style of is frequently ornate, drawn out, or exaggerated.

Homer was not always subtle with his poetry.This is expected of an epic story. Some use of exaggerated style includes:

Epic similes and metaphors: Her mind in torment, wheeling like some lion at bay, dreading the gangs of hunters closing their cunning ring around him for the finish.

Epithets: That man skilled in all ways of contending.

Omniscient Narrator

The narrator sees and knows all.

Throughout The Odyssey, the narrator uses third person omniscient. He writes as though from a god’s point of view, witnessing and experiencing everything that takes place in the story.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows the six elements of an epic in The Odyssey.

  1. Identify events or characteristics of the story that fit into the elements of an epic.
  2. Illustrate the examples for each event or characteristic.
  3. Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates The Odyssey as an epic.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/10] By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/9-10/2] Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Elements of an Epic
As we read and discuss, identify and track the six common elements on an epic that appear throughout the story. Create a scene for each element that highlights how it is utilized throughout the work. Add a brief quote or description under each scene that highlights an important piece of the element being depicted. Make sure the art in your scenes is historically and factually accurate to the story. Your scenes need to be neat, eye-catching, and reflect creativity and care. Please proofread your writing and organize your ideas thoughtfully.
33 Points
25 Points
17 Points
Epic Elements
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.
Artistic Depictions
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.
English Conventions
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.

More Storyboard That Activities

The Odyssey

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