The ECLOGUES (/ˈɛklɒɡz/ ; Latin : Eclogae ), also called the
BUCOLICS, is the first of the three major works of the Latin poet
* 1 Background
* 2 Structure and organization
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links
Taking as his generic model the Greek bucolic poetry of
Virgil created a Roman version partly by offering a dramatic and
mythic interpretation of revolutionary change at Rome in the turbulent
period between roughly 44 and 38 BC.
Virgil introduced political
clamor largely absent from Theocritus' poems, called idylls ("little
scenes" or "vignettes"), even though erotic turbulence disturbs the
"idyllic" landscapes of Theocritus.
Virgil's book contains ten pieces, each called not an idyll but an
eclogue ("draft" or "selection" or "reckoning"), populated by and
large with herdsmen imagined conversing and performing amoebaean
singing in largely rural settings, whether suffering or embracing
revolutionary change or happy or unhappy love. Performed with great
success on the Roman stage, they feature a mix of visionary politics
and eroticism that made
Virgil a celebrity, legendary in his own
STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION
It is likely that
Virgil deliberately designed and arranged his book
of eclogues—in which case it is the first extant collection of Latin
poems in the same meter put together by the poet. (Although it is
Catullus also compiled his book of poetry, it consists of
poems written in different meters).
Several scholars have attempted to identify the
organizational/architectural principles underpinning the construction
of the book. The book is arguably based on an alternation of
antiphonal poems (e.g., dialogues) with non-dramatic/narrative poems.
Beyond this, there have been many attempts (with little consensus) to
identify other organizational principles. Many of these attempts have
been catalogued and critiqued by Niall Rudd. Rudd refuted a number of
cruder organizational theories, including theories that the Eclogues
* in chronological order
* by geographic setting, with Italian settings alternating with
* into two halves, each featuring a movement from lighter, more
peaceful poems to heavier, more emphatic and agitated poems
Rudd also identified more-convoluted organizational theories. While
considering these more plausible than the above, he concluded that
"each system has at least one defect, and none is so superior to the
others as to be obviously Virgil’s own". Such systems include:
* arrangement based on mutually supporting principles, such as
topical and arithmetic correspondences
* arrangement into a series of pairs of poems, bracketing
with the balancing
Eclogue 10 and supported by arithmetical
correspondence (i.e., length of poems)
* arrangement into two halves, with corresponding pairs based on
More recently, Thomas K. Hubbard has noted, "The first half of the
book has often been seen as a positive construction of a pastoral
vision, whilst the second half dramatizes progressive alienation from
that vision, as each poem of the first half is taken up and responded
to in reverse order."
Capping a sequence or cycle in which
Virgil created and augmented a
new political mythology,
Eclogue 4 reaches out to imagine a golden age
ushered in by the birth of a boy heralded as "great increase of Jove"
(magnum Iovis incrementum), which ties in with divine associations
claimed in the propaganda of
Octavian , the ambitious young heir to
Julius Caesar . The poet makes this notional scion of
occasion to predict his own metabasis up the scale in epos , rising
from the humble range of the bucolic to the lofty range of the heroic
, potentially rivaling
Homer : he thus signals his own ambition to
make Roman epic that will culminate in the Aeneid. In the surge of
Virgil also projects defeating the legendary poet Orpheus
and his mother, the epic muse
Calliope , as well as Pan , the inventor
of the bucolic pipe, even in Pan's homeland of
Arcadia , which Virgil
will claim as his own at the climax of his eclogue book in the tenth
eclogue. Biographical identification of the fourth eclogue's child has
proved elusive; but the figure proved a link between traditional Roman
authority and Christianity. The connection is first made in the
Oration of Constantine appended to the Life of Constantine by
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea (a reading to which Dante makes fleeting
reference in his
Purgatorio ). Some scholars have also remarked
similarities between the eclogue's prophetic themes and the words of
Isaiah 11:6: "a little child shall lead".
Eclogue 5 articulates another significant pastoral theme, the
shepherd-poet's concern with achieving worldly fame through poetry.
This concern is related to the metabasis
Virgil himself undertakes
Eclogue 4. In
Eclogue 5, the shepherds Menalcas and
Mopsus mourn their deceased companion
Daphnis by promising to "praise
Daphnis to the stars— / yes, to the stars raise Daphnis".
Daphnis out of compassion but also out of
Daphnis willed that his fellow shepherds memorialize him
by making a "mound and add above the mound a song: /
Daphnis am I in
woodland, known hence far as the stars". Not only are Daphnis’s
survivors concerned with solidifying and eternizing his poetic
reputation, but the dead shepherd-poet himself is involved in
self-promotion from beyond the grave through the aegis of his will. It
is an outgrowth of the friendly poetic rivalries that occur between
them and of their attempts to best the gods, usually Pan or
at their lyric craft. At the end of
Daphnis is deified in
the shepherds' poetic praise: "'A god, a god is he, Menalcas!' / ...
Here are four altars: / Look, Daphnis, two for you and two high ones
for Phoebus." Menalcas apostrophizes
Daphnis with a promise: "Always
your honor, name and praises will endure." Ensuring poetic fame is a
fundamental interest of the shepherds in classical pastoral elegies,
including the speaker in Milton 's "
Virgil caps his book by inventing a new myth of poetic
authority and origin: he replaces Theocritus'
Sicily and old bucolic
hero, the impassioned oxherd
Daphnis , with the impassioned voice of
his contemporary Roman friend, the elegiac poet Gaius Cornelius Gallus
, imagined dying of love in
Virgil transforms this remote,
mountainous, and myth-ridden region of Greece, homeland of Pan, into
the original and ideal place of pastoral song, thus founding a richly
resonant tradition in western literature and the arts.
* The Golden Bough
* ^ Davis, Gregson (2010). "Introduction". Virgil's Eclogues,
trans. Len Krisak. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. p. vii. ISBN
* ^ Rudd, Niall (1976). Lines of Enquiry: Studies in Latin Poetry.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 119.
* ^ Clausen, Wendell (1994). Virgil: Eclogues. Clarendon, Oxford
University Press. p. xxi. ISBN 0-19-815035-0 .
* ^ Goold, G. P. (1999), Virgil: Eclogues, Georgics,
Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 2.
* ^ Rudd, Lines of Enquiry, pp. 121 ff.
* ^ Rudd, Lines of Enquiry, pp. 119 ff.
* ^ Rudd, Lines of Enquiry, pp. 125 ff., citing R. Helm in Bursians
Jahresbericht (1902) and W. Port in Phililogus 81 (1926).
* ^ Rudd, Lines of Enquiry, pp. 121 ff., citing R. S. Conway,
Harvard Lectures on the Vergilian Age (1928), p. 139.
* ^ Rudd, Lines of Enquiry, pp. 121 ff., citing Büchner.
* ^ Rudd, Lines of Enquiry, pp. 141 ff.
* ^ Hubbard, Thomas K. (1998). The Pipes of Pan: Intertextuality
and Literary Filiation in the Pastoral Tradition from