Examples of epic literature include "Beowulf," "Paradise Lost," and "Jerusalem Delivered." "Epic of Gilgamesh" is also a piece of epic literature.
In order to be considered epic literature, a piece of writing must meet certain criteria. Epic literature is almost always poetry, although some novels fit the description. Epic literature must be a long narrative about something serious, and it usually has over-the-top language. It always features a hero, god, or demi-god and this person must represent a set of rules and values of a culture, race or religious group. The hero's fate often decides the fate of the culture or race represented in the book or poem. The setting in an epic tale is vast, encompassing a large area, and the tale has feats of unbelievable strength and courage that involve gods or supernatural beings. Epic literature is often filled with important characters like warriors and kings, and fails to tell the story of commoners. An epic tale usually begins in the middle of the story, not at the beginning like other works. This is called beginning the story "in medias res" which is Latin for "in the middle of things." The beginning of the story is told though memories and flashbacks and the story can hop from beginning to middle to end.