The world’s oldest epics

Most of the oldest written literary works are epics. These epics describe important events, myths and beliefs in mankind’s past. The oldest known epics in history are the epics of the Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations, which have existed since 2000 BC. However, many cultures around the world have their own unique epics.

Ancient Greek and Roman, Viking, Indian, Persian and Turkish cultures all have great epics. In this article, we take a closer look at the world’s oldest epics and their cultural significance.


The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest known written works written in Sumer, Mesopotamia. Believed to have been written about 4,000 years ago, this epic tells the adventures of the Sumerian king Gilgamesh and his quest for immortality.

The epic is written in 12 tablets and each tablet tells a different adventure. In the first tablet, a series of events is described as a result of the goddess Inanna falling in love with Gilgamesh. The second tablet describes Gilgamesh’s meeting and relationship with his friend Enkidu. The third and fourth tablets describe Gilgamesh and Enkidu fighting and defeating the giant Humbaba.

In the fifth and sixth tablets of the epic, Gilgamesh and Enkidu battle the bull god and are victorious. In the seventh and eighth tablets, Enkidu dies from Inanna’s curse, and Gilgamesh fears his death. In the ninth and tenth tablets, Gilgamesh goes on a quest for immortality and meets a man named Utnapishtim. Like the story of the flood, Utnapishtim survived a flood and became immortal. Gilgamesh searches for the plant of immortality, but fails and returns without finding immortality.

Gilgamesh’s aging and death are described in the final two tablets of the epic. At the end of the epic, the message is given that instead of seeking immortality, people can live on in their memories.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered one of the most important works of world literature. This epic, which has both historical and literary value, is still read with interest, as it deals with themes such as the quest for immortality, friendship, courage and love.

Iliad and Odyssey

The Iliad and the Odyssey are two of the most important epics of ancient Greek literature. These epics, written by Homer, were written about 2,500 years ago and have survived to this day.

The Iliad is about the Trojan War. In the epic, the war against Greece began due to the kidnapping of a woman named Helen from the city of Troy. Characters like Achilleus, Hector, Agamemnon, who are among the heroes of the war, are central to the epic. The Iliad deals with the destructive power of war, the heroism and weakness of people, and themes of love and friendship.

Odyssey, on the other hand, tells the 10-year adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus. After the Trojan War, Odysseus and his crew encounter a series of formidable obstacles as they try to get home. In addition to fantastic characters such as giants, monsters, gods, witches, the epic also features his faithful friend Eurylochus and his family, who helped Odysseus return home. In addition to the quest to return home, the epic is about the struggle of people with difficulties, loyalty and family values.

The Iliad and the Odyssey are considered the most important works of ancient Greek literature. These epics not only reflect the history and culture of Greece, but also capture the attention of today’s readers by addressing the universal themes of man. The Iliad and the Odyssey are also one of the most important works of world literature, as they deal with themes such as human heroism and frailty, love, friendship, loyalty, family and homecoming.


The Ramayana is one of the most important epics of Indian literature. It was written about 2500 years ago by Valmiki, who lived in India. The epic tells of the kidnapping of King Rama’s wife Sita and Rama’s struggle to save her.

The Ramayana is an epic divided into seven parts. The first part describes Rama’s childhood and marriage. In the second part, it is narrated that Rama’s father Dasaratha gave the royal throne to Rama and Rama went into exile at his father’s request. The third part describes the abduction of Sita by the evil king Ravana. In the fourth part, Rama gathers his army to save Sita and saves Sita. In the fifth part, Sita’s loyalty is tested and she is imprisoned in a mud statue. The sixth chapter describes Rama’s takeover of Sita. In the seventh and final part, the reign and kingdom of Rama are narrated.

The Ramayana is considered an important cultural heritage in India. The epic is considered one of the sacred books of Hinduism and is still popularly read and celebrated in India. The Ramayana is considered an important work of not only Indian but also world literature as it deals with universal themes of human love, loyalty, fairness, justice and royal conduct.


The Mahabharata is one of the sacred books of Hinduism and one of the most important epics of Indian literature. Written nearly 2,000 years ago, the Mahabharata is an epic of 100,000 verses and deals with the Battle of Kurukshetra, one of the greatest battles in Indian history.

The Mahabharata tells the history of the Bharata dynasty and deals with the civil war of the Kuru dynasty. At the center of the epic is the war of two brother groups named Pandavlar and Kauravlar. As the Pandavs have usurped the rights of their brothers, Kauravs, they declare war and the Kurukshetra War begins. The heroes of war like Arjuna, Bhishma, Karna and Krishna are the important personalities of the epic.

The Mahabharata not only tells the story of a war, but also deals with universal themes such as human nature, justice, fate, friendship, family and loyalty. The epic also deals with dharma, one of the most important concepts of Hinduism. Dharma means maintaining correct conduct and order, and the importance of dharma is often emphasized in the Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata is one of the longest epics in world literature and one of the most important scriptures of Hinduism. The epic forms an important part of not only Indian but also world culture. The Mahabharata is still read with interest today and deals with the destructive power of war, human nature and universal themes.

Beowulf epic

The Beowulf epic is one of the most important epics in English literature. Written about 1,000 years ago, this epic is inspired by Norse mythology and legends.

The saga tells of the hero Beowulf from the kingdom of Geat, fighting against the monster Grendel. Beowulf kills Grendel and then battles Grendel’s mother as well. Finally, Beowulf battles and defeats the dragon, bringing peace to the Geat Kingdom.

The Beowulf epic is an epic that deals with man’s quest for heroism, courage, loyalty and morality. The saga also features characters such as Beowulf’s loyal friends Wiglaf and Hrothgar. In addition, the mythological elements of the epic, monsters, dragons, gods and wizards are among the colorful characters of the epic.

The Beowulf epic is considered one of the most important works of English literature. The epic has maintained its popularity to this day by addressing human heroism, loyalty, and justice. In addition, the grammar and narration of the epic also played an important role in the development of English.

Oguz Kagan epic

The epic, also known as Oguz Kagan, which describes the life of the Hun emperor Mete Han, contains important information for Turkish history and culture. Although the Oguz Kagan epic has not survived in its original form, there are three separate manuscripts: Uyghur, Chagatai, and Persian. The Uyghur manuscript, which is today in the National Library of Paris, is one of the most important sources of the Oguz Kagan epic.

Epic of Kalevala

The Kalevala epic is one of the most important works of Finnish literature and was written in the 19th century by Elias Lönnrot, whose main area of ​​expertise was physics and medicine. This epic poem composed of Finnish folk tales consists of exactly 22,795 lines and 50 poems. The epic, which deals with the lives of the northern peoples, has so far been translated into 49 different languages.

Shahnameh epic

The Shahname Epic, written by Ferdowsi, one of the leading Persian poets of Iranian literature, in the 10th century, consists of 60,000 couplets. Ferdowsi completed his work on Iranian kings in 30 years, covering the periods up to the end of the Sassanid Empire. Shahnameh is accepted as a major source for wars between Iran and Turan, one of the most important events in history.

What is the oldest epic in the world?

Among those considered the world’s oldest epic is the Sumerian epic, Gilgamesh. After the Epic of Gilgamesh, there is the Indian Epic of Ramayana, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Mahabharata and Beowulf, one of the oldest epics in English literature.

Why are epics important?

Epics are an important part of human history and part of the cultural heritage of societies. Epics provide important information about a society’s values, history, and mythology. In addition, epics are an important part of world culture by addressing universal human subjects.

In what period were the epics written?

Epics were written in the oldest periods of history. Some epics date back to 2000 BC. These epics were passed down through oral traditions from generation to generation and eventually written down.

What are the common themes of epics?

Common themes of the earliest epics are heroism, loyalty, supernatural beings, war, love, and personal exploration.

How did the epics reach the present day?

Some epics were passed down through oral traditions from generation to generation and were eventually written down. Other epics were copied as manuscripts in ancient times. Today, many epics reach wider audiences by adapting them to different languages ​​and media formats through techniques such as translation, interpretation, and modernization.

The epics of which cultures are better known?

Epics have existed in many different cultures. However, the most famous epics are the legends Iliad and Odyssey, Beowulf and King Arthur in Western culture, and Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata in Eastern culture.

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