mock epic

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A satirical form that produces ridicule and humour by the presentation of low characters or trivial subjects in the lofty style of classical epic or heroic poems. Almost invariably a poem in heroic couplets, the mock‐epic typically employs elevated poetic diction (which Pope said should generate ‘pompous expressions’), focuses on a single ‘heroic’ incident or action, and incorporates selected elements from the machinery of classical epic. Although the mock‐epic satirical poem, which flourished in the later 17th and 18th cents, portrayed real characters and events (often thinly disguised) in contemporary and local settings, its literary ancestry may be traced back to classical antiquity. The pseudo‐Homeric Batrachomyomachia (‘Battle of the Frogs and Mice’), and Virgil's mock‐heroic aggrandizing of the bees (‘little Romans’) in Georgic IV, though lacking any satirical design, supplied precedents for the display of trivial subjects comically elevated by the heroic manner, and for the heroic manner comically debased by trivial subjects.

Subjects: Literature.

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