So, I’m a nerd.  When I saw the #LoveBlog prompt “Epic romance,” I didn’t automatically think about romance of epic proportions. I thought”Ohhhh! Those are both literary terms! I’m going to define those terms for my readers, and talk about epic romance in literature!”

Yep. #NerdAlert

But as it turns out, “epic romance” doesn’t exist in literature.

Let’s look at the definitions.

EPIC: An epic in its most specific sense is a genre of classical poetry. It is a poem that is (a) a long narrative about a serious subject, (b) told in an elevated style of language, (c) focused on the exploits of a hero or demi-god who represents the cultural values of a race, nation, or religious group (d) in which the hero’s success or failure will determine the fate of that people or nation. Usually, the epic has (e) a vast setting, and covers a wide geographic area, (f) it contains superhuman feats of strength or military prowess, and gods or supernatural beings frequently take part in the action. The poem begins with (g) the invocation of a muse to inspire the poet and, (h) the narrative starts in medias res (see above). (i) The epic contains long catalogs of heroes or important characters, focusing on highborn kings and great warriors rather than peasants and commoners.

That’s a lot of very specific qualifications.  First of all, since it’s “classical,” it’s coming from a specific time period, but even if you take that away, you’re looking for something…well, epic. It’s long, it’s got higher-level vocabulary words, it’s got a hero, it’s got multiple settings…

…but what you may or may not have noticed is that there is nothing in that definition that mentions anything about romance, or romantic relationships.

Hmmmmm.

Well, let’s look at the literary definition of romance, and see what we can find there.

Romance is a little harder to define, because it does span other time periods (unlike the epic), and it has varying definitions in the various different time periods. But what is especially interesting is that “romance” didn’t always mean “romantic.”

For example, Renaissance romance was…

any lengthy French or Spanish story written in the 1500s and 1600s involving episodic encounters with supernatural or exciting events. The connotations were of wild adventures rather than romantic longing as in the modern meaning of romance.

Medieval romance was slightly more like what we think of romance in that knights were saving damsels in distress, but supernatural challenges were as much an important part as any relationship between a man and woman. Really, it is only “modern romance” that means what we think romance in general means.  It different literary eras, it simply wasn’t the romantic fare we think of.  Heck, the gothic novels are considered “romances.”  Frankenstein and Dracula?  Uhhh, no.

Now, as I was looking up definitions, refreshing myself on the literary terminology, I had my eye out for examples from literature.  Examples of epics, examples of romance…and had in my mind that surely I would find a piece of literature that could be classified as both an epic, and a romance.

I came up empty.

There might be a few that could apply. Some of the medieval romances (Arthurian legends, Sir Gawain) could also be considered epics, but there’s no ROMANTIC elements in these pieces. They fit the romance definition in which the romantic stuff isn’t required.

So. No such thing as an epic romance.  And I think that’s kind of awesome. It’s ironic and fitting.

Why?

Because I don’t think epic romances exist in real life either.

It goes back to the same concepts  I discussed about the “little things” in a relationship; a relationship can’t “live” at that honeymoon stage. Life isn’t going to always be epic, and it’s not always going to be an over-the-top romance.  But the beauty of it is that it’s okay. The beauty is in the simplicity of the little things, and working together through the difficulties.

So don’t worry if your story is not an epic romance, by literary definitions or otherwise; it doesn’t exist, and that’s okay.

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Thank you for reading! The #LoveBlog Challenge is hosted by Belle Brita, introduced to me and co-hosted by my friend Charlene at Enduring All Things. Check out the introductory blog post for the challenge and link-up here.

LoveBlog with Belle BritaReading List: Cozy Reading Spot
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