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Top 100 Famous Epics of the World

Kumar Paral is a writer, a culture enthusiast, and a bibliophile.

Top 100 Greatest Epics of All Time

This article ranks the greatest epics of the world based on their literary value, subject matter, importance, popularity and universal appeal. The list was prepared after a long research and cross-referencing with similar evaluations and earlier authentic studies. Please feel free to share your criticism and opinion by commenting below.

Homer

Homer

1. The Iliad

Iliad is one of the most celebrated epics of the world. It is believed to be written by Homer in 9th century BC. Iliad means the tale of Ilios or the tale of troy. It is based on the legend of Trojan war and narrates the story of the Greek struggle to rescue Helen from Trojans, and subsequent destruction of Troy.

2.The Mahabharata

Mahabharata is one of the greatest Indian epics with more than100,000 Shloka or over 200,000 verse lines in Sanskrit. This longest epic poem of the world, compiled around 8th century BC, is ascribed Ved Vyasa. This epic poem shares a great message that seeds of wars and conflicts grow up in the mind of an individual due to envy, greed, passion, and intense desire, ends in great tragedies.

The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata

3. The Aeneid

Aeneid is a great epic which is based on the legend of Aeneas. It is Roman nationalistic and patriotic epic poem which narrates evolution of great Roman Empire. This poem shows great dramatic skill of high order and power of description.

4. The Ramayana

Ramayana, is the oldest Indian epic, written in Sanskrit in 5th century BC, is ascribed to Valmiki. It has 2400 couplets in seven sections. Various versions of Ramayana exist in different parts of Southeast Asia. 'Ramayana' means journey of Rama, the God incarnated, through various trials and tribulations.

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5. The Odyssey

Odyssey is believed to be written in 9th century B.C by Homer, the great Greek poet. It describes the exploits of Odysseus during his homecoming after the fall of Troy. The poem describes the obstacles faced by Odysseus, various divine trails he had undergone, his affair with nymph Calypso and his return to his kingdom.

6. The Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is one of the greatest English literary epic based on the theme of fall of man given in the Old Testament and it was written in 17th century by John Milton. The great poet wrote it “to justify the ways of God to man”. This epic is celebrated for Milton's grand style, his interpretation of Biblical myths and Christian doctrines.

7. The Shah Name

Shah Name is a great Persian epic based on the historical and mythical accounts of Persian kings. Shah Name means “book of kings”. The epic begins with the mythical creation of Persia and ends in the narration of the stories of kings. The most famous story of Shah Name is about the legendary king of Rostam and Sohrab, his son.

top-100-famous-epics-of-the-world

7. The Buddhacharita

Buddhacharita is considered as an authoritative work on Buddha's life. It describes the birth, early life, renunciation, and teaching of Buddha. It is written in Sanskrit and has originally 28 cantos in which only 13 have been properly preserved.

8. The Divine Comedy

Divine Comedy is a celebrated epic poem written by Dante in 14th century. The narrator is lost in a forest, and he meets Virgil who guides him through Hell. Then Beatrice guides him to the ultimate Heaven. The poem ends with his moments of illumination and vision of trinity.

9.The Orlando Furioso

Orlando Furioso is a renowned epic with full of supernatural, allegorical and romantic adventures. The main theme of the epic is war between Christians and pagans. It is a great epic poem due to his fine-textured versification, technical adroitness, vigorous and brilliant narration.

10. The Raghuvamsa

Raghuvamsa describes the lives of kings of solar dynasty. It consists of 19 cantos. The epic chronicles life of Rama and his ancestors. Sanskrit epics have attained perfection in Raghuvamsa.

11. The Tale of Heiku

This is one of the most renowned Japanese epic poem based on the Buddhist law of impermanence. It recounts the feud between two Japanese clans in traditional folk narrative structure. Taira and Minemoto are the two clans mentioned in this great classic of medieval Japanese literature.

12. The Theogony

Theogony is a Greek epic poem which describes mythical cosmogony. It tells about the origin of cosmos and its evolution It can also be used as a source book of Greek mythology.

13. The Jewang Ungi

The Jewang Ungi, which means "Rhymed Chronicles of Sovereigns", is a historical epic poem composed by Yi Seung-hyu in 1287, in the late Goryeo period. It depicts the history of Korea from Dangun to King Chungnyeol.

14. The Faust

The Faust, written by Goethe, narrates a man's desire to transcend his physical limitations and his search for answers to eternal questions about mankind.

top-100-famous-epics-of-the-world

15.The Beowulf

Beowulf, one of the earliest epics of the world, is based on a Scandinavian legend. It was written around 750 AD by an anonymous writer and it has about 3000 lines.

16. The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest epic poems of the world. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, the ruler of Uruk and his companion Enkidu whose exploits are the described. The epic is equally fascinating for the window it opened to the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian cultures.

17. The Fairie Queene

The Fairie Queene is considered as the first epic poem in modern English literature. This allegoric poem is arranged as a story for a twelve-day feast, held by the queen of the fairyland. It is a national epic of England aimed at glorifying Queen Elizabeth.


18. The Don Juan

Don Juan is a most effective and vigorous satire in the English literature. This poem reviews the social, political and economic condition of the Europe. It is a kind of picturesque novel written in verse. The hero, don Juan ,wanders from one place to another and records his six adventures.

19. The Pharsila

The pharsila is a celebrated Roman epic poem based on the Battle of Pharsalus which was occurred in 48 B.C. It depicts the civil war between forces led by Julius Caesar and the forces of Pompey, the Great. This historical poem is considered as one of the greatest epic poem in the Latin literature.

20. The Silapadikaram

Silapadikaram is a famous Tamil epic poem, which is ascribed to Prince Ilango Adigal. It narrates mythical story of Kannagi, an ordinary housewife who became a Goddess. The epic mentions three ancient Tamil kingdoms of South India vividly.

Goddess Kannaki. Silapathikaram

Goddess Kannaki. Silapathikaram

21. The Paradise Regained by John Milton (English)

22. Hermann and Dorothea by Goethe (German)

23. Vladimir by Mikhail Matveyevich Kheraskov

24. Manimekalai by Saathanar (Tamil)

25. Taghribat Bani Hilal (Arabic)

26. Kundalakesi by a Buddhist poet (Tamil)

27. Punica by Silius Italicus (Latin)

28. Thebaid and Achilleid by Statius

29. Saundaranandakavya by Asvaghosa (Indian)

30. Posthomerica by Quintus of Smyrna

31. Evangeliorum libri by Juvencus (Latin)

32. The Bridge by Hart Crane (English)

33. Raghuvamsa by Kalidasa (Sanskrit )

34. De Raptu Proserpinae by Claudian (Latin)

35. Dionysiaca by Nonnus (Greek epic)

36. The Tale of Kieu by Nguyen Du (Vietnamese)

37. Kiratarjuniya by Bharavi (Sanskrit)

38. Shishupala Vadha by Magha (Sanskrit)

39. David of Sasun (Armenian)

40. Ruodlieb (Latin)

41.Digenis Akritas (Greek)

42. Epic of King Gesar (Tibetan)

43. Civaka Cintamani by Tirutakakatevar (Tamil)

44. Basavapurana by Palkuriki Somanatha (Telugu)

45. Alexandreis by Walter of Châtillon (Latin)

46. Ramacharitamanasa by Tulsidas (Hindi)

47. Mahavamsa (Pali)

48. Ādi purana by Pampa (Kannada )

49. Philippide by William the Breton (Latin)

50. Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach - German

51. Sirat al-Zahir Baibars (Arabic)

52. Vikramarjuna Vijaya by Pampa (Kannada)

53. Gesta Regum Britanniae by William of Rennes (Latin)

54. Jewang ungi by Yi Seung-hyu (Korea)

55. Cursor Mundi by an anonymous (Middle English)

56. The Tale of the Heike (Japanese )

57.Valayapati by a Jaina poet (Tamil)

58. Allit erative Morte Arthure (Middle English)

59. Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo (Italian)

60. Shmuel-Bukh (Old Yiddish)

61. Savitri by Aurobindo Ghose (English)

62. Mlokhim-Bukh (Old Yiddish)

63. Book of Dede Korkut (Turkish)

64. La Gerusalemme liberata by Torquato Tasso (Italian)

65. Lepanto by King James VI of Scotland

66. Matilda by Michael Drayton (English)

67. The Barons' Wars by Michael Drayton (English)

68. The Purple Island by Phineas Fletcher(English)

69. Davideis by Abraham Cowley (English)

70. Omeros by Derek Walcott

71. Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni

72. Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz

73. Prince Arthur by Richard Blackmore (English)

74. Kurukshetra by Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' (Hindi)

75. Eliza by Richard Blackmore (English)

76. Columbus by Ubertino Carrara

77. Henriade by Voltaire (French)

78. Alfred by Richard Blackmore (English)

79. Leonidas by Richard Glover (English)

80.Prometheus Bound by Elizabeth Browning (English)

81. Epigoniad by William Wilkie

82. The Highlander; by James Macpherson( Scottish Gaelic)

83. Ramavataram by Kambar (Tamil)

84. O Uraguai by Basílio da Gama (Brazilian)

85. The Odyssey by Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek )

86. Lalita Ke Aansoo by Krant M L Verma (Hindi)

87. Der Messias by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (German)

88. Rossiada by Mikhail Matveyevich Kheraskov (Russian)

89. Athenaid by Richard Glover

90. Joan of Arc by Robert Southey (English)

91. Thalaba the Destroyer by Robert Southey (English)

92. Madoc by Robert Southey (English)

93. Chanson de Roland (Old French)

94. Columbiad by Joel Barlow (English)

95. Phra Aphai Mani by Sunthorn Phu (Thai)

96. Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (English)

97. Bhattikavya by Bhatti (Sanskrit)

98. Canigó by Jacint Verdaguer (Catalan)

99. Lacplesis by Andrejs Pumpurs (Latvian)

100. Lahuta Malcís by Gjergj Fishta (Albanian)

Epic Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who is the author of Iliad ?
    • Homer
    • Ved Vyasa

Answer Key

  1. Homer

The Greatest Epic

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Kumar Paral

Comments

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on May 10, 2020:

Nice research, you corralled many epics together and chose outstanding illustrations.

Rida Fatima from Pakistan on January 30, 2020:

very informative

swati singh on December 29, 2015:

i am heartily thankful of this website for giving the 100 epics

nandhini on September 25, 2015:

I'm very proud to say am a Indian ,such a great epics we have so, I feel proud and I love my country....

Nikhil on July 06, 2015:

i like ramayana and mahabharat both.

and even if i see in puraans they are

Kaalika puraan

shiva puraan

garun puraan

Matsya puraan and

Finally bhavishya puraan.

Chethas D k on June 28, 2015:

I like the epic Ramayana

bhanu on June 13, 2015:

Mahabharat'''''"""world biggest epic

Laxman on March 11, 2015:

I love the great epic Mahabharatham

Raman on March 11, 2015:

I'm proud of my country, my culture and my mother country. because i'm tamizhan

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