Lesson - 1

P10411 Epic - A defenition

     In this lesson you will learn about the meaning of Kappiyam known as epic in English, In the form of a long, continuous poem the ancient Tamil literary form provides a lot of information, Definition of epic is stated in Thandiyalankaaram and other Tamil works of ancient times. The core concept dealt with in different forms throughout the epic is called Paavigam. The origin and growth of epic and different classes of epic from olden days to modern times are presented. Information about major and minor epics is also provided in this lessons.

Besides introduction and summarisation there are five units in this lesson. The first of these units explains Kaappiyam or epic with illustration for Kaaviyam and Kaappiyam as in Yesu Kaaviyam, Yasothara Kaaviyam, Karpu Kaaviyam and Kannaki Puratchi Kaappiyam. Epic tradition was established by several poets who adopted this form of literature for expressing their views, observations and experiences in creative styles. Initially, individual poems developed from the stage of collection to significant contribution using story patterns and imagination.

In the second unit the Tamil grammar of literary forms called Thandiyalankaram distinguishes between major and minor epics in terms of four aspects of Aram or ethics, Porul or materials, Inbam or pleasure and Veedu or spiritual attainment. Further, most of the characteristics of an epic would have been followed in major epics. Minor epics may deal with lesser aspects having adopted only a few of the epic qualities. Other works like Veerashozhiam, Panniru Paattiyal, Maaranalankaaram and Thamizh Perakaraathi deal with epics and their forms, subjects and styles.

The third central unit classifies kaappiam into Iymperumkaappiyam or five major epics and Iynchirukaappiyam five minor epics. Cilapathikaaram, Manimekalai, Jeevaga Sinthaamani, Valaiyaapathi and Kundalakesi are the five major epics. Soolamani, Neelakesi, Yasothara Kaaviyam, Naagakumara Kaaviyam and Uthayana Kumaara Kaaviyam are the five minor epics. Besides the western distinction between primitive and art or literary epics, Kaappiyam is classified on the basis of the subject-matter treated in the work.

The fourth unit lists the characteristics of epic as story structure, hero, characterisation and ancillary stories.

The fourth unit highlights Indian Epics against the back drop of World Epics. Present day epics of Bharathiar, Bharathidaasan, Kannadaasan and others are outlined.

By learning about Tamil epics you will understand the classical nature of Tamil language on par with great old languages like Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. The Tamil epic tradition is an important consideration for the classical status of Tamil language.