Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 695
Clorin, who buries her sweetheart in a woodland arbor, vows to forsake all of the pleasures of a shepherd’s life and devote herself to chaste vigil over his grave, relinquishing it only to cure sick people and beasts through her knowledge of the secret virtues of herbs. So great is the power of her virginity that nothing in the woodland can harm her; her mere presence tames a rough and brutish satyr, who becomes her servant. Among the other shepherds and shepherdesses, however, love affairs of various kinds are progressing. The beautiful Amoret agrees to meet her sweetheart Perigot that night in the wood so that they can plight their troth beside a sacred well. Amarillis, a rejected admirer of Perigot, also has plans for the evening. Hoping that Perigot might accept her if he can only be parted from Amoret, she promises the Sullen Shepherd her love if he will break up the meeting. The Sullen Shepherd, who wants only to satisfy his lust, agrees to carry out any plan she might propose.
Cloe is also seeking a partner for the evening. First she approaches Thenot, but he declines her advances because he is in love with the unattainable Clorin. Daphnis, whom she next meets, agrees to meet her in the wood, but his modest bearing promises so little that Cloe also makes an engagement with Alexis, a youth who is much livelier.
After nightfall, Amarillis and the Sullen Shepherd prepare to deceive Perigot. Following a magical formula, the Sullen Shepherd lowers Amarillis into the sacred well, and when he draws her out again she takes on the form of Amoret. In this shape, she meets Perigot and attempts to seduce him, but he is so offended by her conduct that he attempts to kill her. Seeing her danger, the Sullen Shepherd uses another charm to change her back into her true appearance. Perigot rushes off into the dark wood to find and kill the supposedly lustful Amoret.
Cloe, meanwhile, meets Daphnis and finds his intentions to be purer than she hoped. Making an appointment to meet him later at a certain hollow tree, she goes in search of Alexis. This swain’s desires are in perfect accord with hers, but their embraces are interrupted by the Sullen Shepherd, who attacks and wounds Alexis. Undoubtedly, Alexis would have been killed but for the arrival of Clorin’s satyr, who frightens both Cloe and the Sullen Shepherd away and bears Alexis off to his mistress to be healed. Perigot during this time finds the true Amoret, stabs her, and leaves her for dead. She is discovered by the Sullen Shepherd who, wishing to make sure of his bargain with Amarillis, throws her into the sacred well to drown. From this fate she is saved by the river god, who also heals her wounds.
Perigot, thinking Amoret dead, is about to take his own life when Amarillis, seeing that things have gone much too far, attempts to explain her deception. In order to convince him, she asks only an hour in which to reappear in Amoret’s shape. She hardly leaves him, however, when she comes upon the true Amoret. Realizing that virtuous love cannot be frustrated, she directs the unfortunate shepherdess to the place where Perigot waits; but when Amoret arrives, her sweetheart takes her to be Amarillis transformed and, wishing to be revenged, he again stabs her. Once more the satyr arrives opportunely. As the frightened Perigot flees, the satyr bears Amoret off to Clorin’s arbor.
There Clorin nearly effects Alexis’s cure by purging him of lust, but her treatment of Amoret is interrupted because of intemperate influences in the atmosphere. Seeking them out, the satyr finds Daphnis and Cloe in the hollow tree. Being innocent of lechery, the young man is dismissed, but Cloe fails the test of chastity to which she is put and is kept for Clorin’s ministrations. Perigot, meanwhile, arrives to be cleared of the blood he shed and to his astonishment finds Amoret alive and well. The two are happily reunited. Alexis and Cloe, purged of lust, also swear a chaste love to each other.
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