Epic Similes

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Epic Similes
Understanding and Analyzing
Epic, or Homeric Similes
Definition
A Homeric simile is an elaborate comparison,
developed over several lines, between
something strange or unfamiliar to the audience
and something more familiar to them.
epic event <-------> everyday event
Epic Similes Use:
Comparing words:
 Like
 As
 So
 Just so
Lets Examine One
Background: In The Iliad the goddess Athena
protects King Menelaus from being struck by an
arrow.
Homer Describes it as…
She brushed it away from his skin as lightly as
when a mother brushes a fly away from her child
who is lying in sleep.
This is an Epic Simile…can you
identify the comparing words?
Now, Break it Apart
She brushed it away from his skin as lightly as when
a mother brushes a fly away from her child who is
lying in sleep.
What two events are being compared?
• A mother brushing a fly away from her child
• Athena protecting King Menelaus from an arrow
• Which is epic and which is an everyday event?
Explain
The point of explaining the Epic, or Homeric Simile
is to ensure that you understand the visual that
Homer is trying to show you.
Explanation: In this epic simile, Homer describes
the way Athena protects King Menelaus from being
injured from an arrow to the way a mother guards
her child from being agitated by flies. Homer
probably uses this comparison to show how
nurturing and protecting Athena is, just as a mother
is with her child.
Let’s Practice
I drove my weight on it from above and bored it home like a shipwright bores
his beam with a shipwright's drill that men below, whipping the strap back
and forth, whirl and the drill keeps twisting, never stopping --So we seized our
stake with it fiery tip and bored it round and round in the giant's eye.
What comparing words are used? like
What two events are being compared? Odysseus putting all his
weight to drive the ax into the Cyclopes eye to a shipwright
drilling with his drill
Explain: Homer compares Odysseus and his men defeating the
Cyclops by putting a stake in his eye using all their might to a
shipwright drilling with a drill that never stops
Its crackling roots blazed and hissed - as a blacksmith plunges a glowing
ax or adze in an ice-cold bath and the metal screeches steam and its
temper hardens - that's the iron's strength - so the eye of Cyclops sizzled
round that stake.
WHAT COMPARING WORDS ARE USED? AS, SO
WHAT TWO EVENTS ARE BEING COMPARED? A HOT AXE
BEING COOLED IN WATER TO THE SOUND AND STEAM THAT
CAME FROM THE CYCLOPES EYE WHEN HE WAS SMITTEN BY
THE SPEAR
EXPLAIN: HOMER COMPARES THE SIZZLING SOUND OF THE
CYCLOPES EYE TO THE SOUND OF METAL BEING COOLED
DOWN BY WATER
Her mind in torment, wheeling like some lion at bay,
dreading the gangs of hunters closing their cunning ring
around him for the finish.
WHAT COMPARING WORDS ARE USED? LIKE
WHAT TWO EVENTS ARE BEING COMPARED? HER MIND
THINKING, OR WHEELING TO A SCARED LION DECIDING
WHAT TO DO WHEN HUNTERS ARE CLOSING IN ON HIM
EXPLAIN: HOMER PROBABLY USED THE COMPARISON OF
THE WOMAN’S WHEELING, INSINUATING THAT SHE IS
THINKING AT A FAST PACE BECAUSE SHE IS ON SOME KIND
OF TIME CONSTRAINT AS A LION WOULD BE WHEN
HUNTERS ARE CLOSING IN TO KILL HIM.
"Weak as the doe that beds down her fawns in a mighty lion's den - her
newborn sucklings - then trails off to the mountain spurs and grassy
bends to graze her fill, but back the lion comes to his own lair and the
master deals both fawns a ghastly, bloody death, just what Odysseus will
deal that mob - ghastly death."
WHAT COMPARING WORDS ARE USED? AS
WHAT TWO EVENTS ARE BEING COMPARED? A WEAK DOE
CROUCHING DOWN IN A LIONS DEN RUNNING AWAY FROM
FAWNS AND THEN THE LION COMING BACK TO HIS CAVE TO
SAVE HER TO ODYSSEUS COMING BACK TO SAVE HIS WIFE
FROM THE SUITORS AND KILLING THEM
EXPLAIN: HOMER PROBABLY COMPARED THE WOMAN TO A
WEAK DEER BECAUSE SHE HAD NO POWER, AND THE MEN
TO FAWN BECAUSE THEY WERE WEAKER THAN ODYSSEUS
THE “LION” BECAUSE HE WAS STRONGER AND WISER THAN
THEM

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