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The Elements and

Reality of Poetry



Indiana Department of Education

8.RL.3.1 Compare and contrast the structure of two
or more related works of literature, and analyze
and evaluate how the differing structure of each
text contributes to its meaning and style
8.RL.3.2 Analyze a particular point of view or
cultural experience in a work of world literature
considering how it reflects heritage, tradition,
attitudes, and beliefs

Learning Objectives
1. Students will be able to identify and utilize
literary devices without any help
2. Students will be able to summarize the
differences and similarities between structures in
epics without any mistake
3. Students will be able to identify the historical
significance in several texts without any mistake

1. Use the arrows to move through the activities
2. Click on the highlighted words to view terms and
other activities
4. Take notes on terms and concepts that you find
difficult to understand
3. Make sure to work through all of the activities
Lets begin!


Meet the Greeks

20th Century


Introduction to the Greeks and

their Literature
Greek literature is the basis for later western literature that
was developed
Some examples can be found in certain plays by
Shakespeare, epics by Matteo Maria Boiardo, and even
referenced in modern poetry such as Ezra Pound

Homer and Greek Literature

Homer was a major Greek poet who scholars do not
know much about
However, what we do know is that he wrote the two
major epic poems, the Illiad and the Odyssey which
were really influential in western literature

What is an epic?
According to Dictionary.com, noting
or pertaining to a long poetic
composition, usually centered upon a
hero, in which a great series of great
achievements or events is narrated in
elevated style.

Homer and epithets

Epithets are names that give the reader an
idea of what the gods of Greek mythology do
such as:
Zeus, shepherd of the clouds..
So what does this epithet tell us?


This epithet tells us that Zeus is in control of
the sky and clouds which could mean a
number of things such as:
Rainmaker, storm maker, presider of Mount

Each god and goddess also have

more than just one epithet!
Zeuss epithets: Zeus Xenios (protector of guests),
Zeus Ktesios (Zeus, guardian of possessions in a
Poseidon: Poseidon Hippios (creator of horses),
Poseidon Soter (savior of sailors)
And the list goes on and on with multiple gods!

Now its your turn!

What does the epithet Poseidon, the great
earth shaker imply?
A. God of earthquakes
B. God of thunder
C. God of houses

You are getting closer, try again!

Back to

You are correct!!


If you guessed that he is a god of

earthquakes then you are correct!
If you did not have that answer just
Epithets usually have something to do
with the gods power pertaining to the
natural world!


Why were these epithets

important to the ancient Greeks?
The ancient Greeks worshipped the gods that
writers, like Homer, referred to.
They would throw festivals and ceremonies in
honor of them, too!

What would your epithet be??

For example, mine would be: Greg, master of books because of my skill in literature
You can make it anything you want!

Euripides and Personification

In Euripides play Alcestis, he personifies death as
an actual character who comes to take away the
Kings wife. Heracles then wrestles with Death to
get his wife back for him

Heracles fighting Death

What is personification?
Personification is when an author attributes
human characteristics to intangible
ideas/things or animals

Back to

Which one these is an example of

A. The sun was as bright as a candle
B. The barn stared at me solemnly, like I had
done something wrong

Sophocles and Greek Society

In Sophocles play Oedipus the King, he portrays how the
Greeks felt in relation to their Gods
First, lets get a synopsis of the play:

Sophocles and Greek Society

Now that you know a little more about Oedipus,
lets look at how Sophocles portrayed the
relationship between the ancient Greeks and their

Take a look at these two short passages:

Tiresias: I serve Apollo. I dont need Creon to speak for me
in public
Oedipus: Drive me out of Thebes, in exile
Creon: Not I. Only the gods can give you that
Think about what this passage means in terms of how
Greeks saw their relationship with the gods.

What does it mean?

What this portrays is a society that took what their
gods said very seriously.
It also means that they took extreme precautions
when it came to getting advice and instruction
from their gods (the most popular god to get
advice from was Apollo!)


That is not correct,

Keep trying!
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That is correct!

Intro to the Renaissance

The Renaissance was essentially a
comeback for Classical Literature
The Renaissance also developed a new way
of playwriting and poetry (such as the

Matteo Maria Boiardo Similes

Orlando Innamorato, an epic written by Boiardo,
uses many similes, such as:
He rode back- happy, confident- like one whod
been released from prison
He hissed as if he were a serpent

Write your own simile!

Pssstt Remember to use like or as

Boiardo and Imagery

Boiardo wasnt just good at similes, he was also
wonderful at imagery especially in the fourth
canto (chapter) in Orlando Inammorato

Click to see
what I

In canto 4 of Orlando Innamorato, Boiardo

describes the images in a fierce battle that
include elephants and giraffes that soldiers
ride on and heres an idea of how that
would have looked:

What is a simile?
A simile is a figure of speech
comparing two things using like
or as


Boiardo and the Epic

The epic, in the Renaissance, was not the most used form
of writing. However, the comparisons in structure of
Boiardos Orlando Innamorato and Homers Illiad is pretty


What is imagery?
Imagery is visually descriptive or figurative


Shakespeare and Allusion

Shakespeare is sometimes referred to as the
master of allusion!
For example, in numerous plays, Shakespeare
loves to allude to Greek and Roman mythology!

What is an allusion?
An allusion is an indirect reference to a
historical event, novel, poem, parable, etc.


Much Ado About Nothing

Fetch you a hair off the great Chams beard, do
you any embassage to the Pigmies, rather than
hold three words conference with this harpy
In this passage, Benedick (one of the main
characters), compares Beatrice to a harpy which is
a mythological creature

Creatures who have a females head and the body
of a bird. They are especially known for giving
people a hard time

Shakespeare and Scansion

Before we begin, lets learn a little bit about
scansion and the iambic pentameter!

Lets practice with scansion!

Click on the syllables that have a stress in
these lines.
Line 1: I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy
Line 2: The pleasant garden of great Italy
Applause = correct Arrow sound = not correct


Hint: Remember, in iambic

pentameter the stresses go on
the even numbered syllables!


Intro to 20th Century Poets

The 20th century poets have defined modern
contemporary poetry as well as looked for
inspiration in Greek mythology and literature

Ezra Pound and Comparisons

Ezra Pound was part of the imagist
movement in the early 1900s
Although his work is less known than
Shakespeares, Ezra Pound used a similar
element that Shakespeare used in his plays

So what is the element

Shakespeare and Ezra Pound both
The element is allusion!
Remember: An allusion is an indirect
reference to a historical time, another
poem/novel, or just about anything!

Lets take a look at Ezra Pounds

Here let thy clemency, Persephone, hold firm,
Do thou, Pluto, bring her no greater harshness.
So many thousand beauties are gone down the Avernus
Ye might let one remain above with us
Click on the highlighted words to find out the allusion!

Persephone and Pluto

Persephone and Pluto, in Roman Mythology,
are husband and wife who control the underworld.
They have a complex story:


Avernus is a lake in the underworld and
technically the whole underworld in Roman


Calypsos Island
Another famous poet by the name of Archibald
MacLeish uses allusions to Greek literature, like in
his poem Calypsos Island he
refers to Calypso, a nymph
goddess, who seduces
Odysseus to stay with her for
seven years

Calypsos Island
I know very well, goddess, she is not
as you are: could not be. She is a woman,
mortal, subject to the chances
MacLeish puts himself in the shoes of
Odysseus and writes as if he has been
seduced by Calypso to stay with her and
ignore his homecoming!

So why is allusion in important?

Allusion is important because
1. It is a way of understanding a poems
2. In English Literature, allusions are always made





1. How does poetry (or literature in general)

seem to connect historically?
A. It doesnt
B. Poetry can reflect how society felt in
which the time they lived in
C. Through the use of similes and

2. In what ways did Sophocles portray

society in Oedipus the King?
A. He portrayed everyone in ancient Greece
as blind through Tiresias
B. He portrayed all men as common
C. He portrayed how society felt about their
relationship with their gods

3. Why are allusions important to

understanding literature?
A. They make it easier to understand the
context of poetry and plays
B. Allusions are not important
C. They provide emphasis on simile

4. In what ways Boiardos and

Homers epic similar?
A. Structure
B. Metaphor
C. Time period in which they were

5. Short Essay: How does history

and literature coincide with one


You are correct!


You are not correct

But keep trying!