The Greek Bucolic Poets

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Harvard University Press, 1912 - Poetry - 527 pages
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Theocritus of the third century BCE, born at Syracuse, travelled widely in the Greek world. Having studied poetry at Cos with poet and critic Philitas, he composed poetry under patronage, chiefly perhaps at Syracuse and Cos; and then went to Alexandria in Egypt, whose King Ptolemy II (died 246 BCE), pupil of Philitas, befriended him. Here (and at Cos?) he spent the rest of his life. Most lovable of Greek versemakers, Theocritus was the founder of bucolic or pastoral poetry. Of his so-called Idylls, 'Little forms' or pieces (not all are genuine), ten are about pastoral life real or idealised; several are small epics (three are hymns); two are beautiful 'occasional' poems (one about a country walk, one to accompany a gift of a distaff for the wife of his friend Nicias); six are love-poems; several are mimes, striking pictures of common life; and three are specially expressive of his own feelings. The 24 'Epigrams' were apparently inscribed on works of art.

Moschus of Syracuse, 2nd century BCE, came next. As a grammarian he wrote a (lost) work on Rhodian dialect. Though he was classed as bucolic, his extant poetry (mainly 'Runaway Love' and the story of 'Europa') is not really pastoral, the 'Lament for Bion' not being Moschus's work.

'Megara' may be by Theocritus; but 'The Dead Adonis' is much later.

Bion of Phlossa near Smyrna lived in Sicily, probably late 2nd and early 1st century BCE. Most of the extant poems are not really bucolic, but 'Lament for Adonis' is floridly brilliant.

The so-called Pattern-Poems, included in the bucolic tradition, are found also in the Greek Anthology.


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Page 329 - are pure. Thus hath the eagle honour of the Aegis-Bearer. To the children of pious fathers belong the good things rather than to those that come of impious men. All hail to Dionysus, whom most high Zeus took forth from his mighty thigh and laid down in snowy Dracanus ; and all hail to beauteous
Page 181 - You may cry as much as you like ; I'm not going to have you lamed for life,
Page 377 - STAND and look at Archilochus, the old maker of iambic verse, whose infinite renown hath spread both to utmost east and furthest west. Sure the Muses and Delian Apollo liked him well, such taste and skill had he to bring both to the framing of the words and to the
Page 27 - So shine me fair, sweet Moon ; for to thee, still Goddess, is my song, to thee and that Hecat infernal who makes e'en the whelps to shiver on her goings to and fro where these tombs be and the red blood lies. All hail to thee, dread and awful Hecat
Page 103 - and the tree-frog murmured aloof in the dense thornbrake. Lark and goldfinch sang and turtle moaned, and about the spring the bees hummed and hovered to and fro. All nature smelt of the opulent summer-time, smelt of the season of fruit. Pears lay at our feet, apples on either side, rolling abundantly, and the young branches lay splayed upon the ground because of the weight of their damsons.
Page 191 - plashing wave the shore doth lave, and there with locks undight And bosoms bare all shining fair will raise this shrilling lay :— " O sweet Adonis, none but thee of the children of Gods and men
Page 187 - How realistically the things all stand and move about in it ! they're living! It is wonderful what people can do. And then the Holy Boy ; how perfectly beautiful he looks lying on his silver couch, with the down of manhood just showing on his
Page 199 - byres of the Scopads, and ten thousand were the fine sheep that the shepherds of the plain of Crannon watched all night for the hospitable Creondae ; but once all the sweet
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Page 447 - CRY me waly upon him, you glades of the woods, and waly, sweet Dorian water ; you rivers, weep I pray you for the lovely and delightful Bion. Lament you now, good orchards ; gentle groves, make you your moan ; be your breathing clusters, ye flowers, dishevelled for grief. Pray roses, now be your redness sorrow, and yours sorrow, windflowers ; speak now thy writing, dear

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