Other Common Features of Epic Poems"

"High Style"--the poet uses long verse lines and extremely formal meters to emphasize the stateliness and importance of the subject

"Type Scenes"--structural formulas for establishing heroes' stature, antagonists' danger, ordinary characters' amazement, fear, joy, etc. (Beowulf and his war-band on the beach, the same group at the threshold of Hrothgar's hall; Byrhtnoth boasting to the Vikings, his loyal vassals boasting to remain loyal to him after he has fallen)

Epithets--main characters are often named by prominent characteristics ("Hector of the loud war-cry," "Achilles, breaker of men," "the man whose name was known for courage" [Beowulf]) or by kin association or clan allegiance, to recall famous lineage and to link sons or vassals deeds to their fathers' or leaders' fame ("Hygelac's thane" [Beowulf as H's vassal], "Halfdane's Son" [Hrothgar by lineage to his father]).

Extended simile--scenes are described in terms of elaborate comparisons, or in chains of comparisons, by which the ordinary world is "braided" into the heroic world of the epic plot

"Litotes" or epic understatement--in a complement to extended simile, the poet understates the most important fact about a scene, as when the "Battle of Maldon" poet describes Byrhtnoth, bleeding to death from massive sword blows and spear thrusts, thus: "He might no longer stand firm on his feet" (107).

Slow-motion battle-action descriptions--a fusion of the extended and understatement styles, in which the poet describes with clinical detachment the process by which one man kills another: "Then he quickly stabbed another, breaking through the mail-shirt: in the breast, quite through the corselet, was this one wounded; at his heart stood the deadly point" ("Maldon" 107).