Idylls Additional Summary



(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Haber, Judith.“Bringing It All Back Home: Bucolic and Heroic in Theocritus’ Idylls.” In Pastoral and the Poetics of Self-Contradiction: Theocritus to Marvell. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Analyzes how Theocritus and other poets have handled the inherent contradictions in the pastoral genre.

Halperin, D. M. Before Pastoral: Theocritus and the Ancient Tradition of Bucolic Poetry. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983. Discussion of the possible antecedents and followers of Theocritus. Useful for understanding the development of the pastoral genre in its earliest form.

Hunter, Richard. “Reflecting on Writing and Culture: Theocritus and the Style of Cultural Change.” In Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece, edited by Harvey Yunis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Examines how the reading, writing, and distribution of texts in ancient Greece led to new forms of thought, expression, and behavior. The chapter on Theocritus focuses on the meeting and song exchange of Lycidas and Smichidas in Idyll 7, analyzing how this encounter marked a changing fashion in Greek poetics and culture.

Lawall, Gilbert. Theocritus’ Coan Pastorals: A Poetry Book. Cambridge, Mass.: Center for Hellenic Studies, 1967. Presents a persuasive argument for viewing idylls 1 through 7 as a self-contained poetry book, intended as such by Theocritus. Offers valuable insights into structural and thematic interconnections among these poems.

Payne, Mark. Theocritus and the Invention of Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Argues that Theocritus’s pastoral poetry was the first literature to create a fully fictional world that is an alternative to reality. Examines ancient and modern concepts of fiction in the work of Theocritus and other writers, with special attention to idyll 7.

Rosenmeyer, Thomas G. The Green Cabinet: Theocritus and the European Pastoral Lyric. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. Reprint. London: Bristol Classical, 2004. Traces the evolution of the pastoral genre in later European literature. Provides a valuable discussion of the concept of pastoral poetry and its later manifestations.

Segal, Charles. Poetry and Myth in Ancient Pastoral. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981. A collection of interpretative essays that shed light on the poetic qualities of Greek and Roman pastoral poetry. The discussion of some individual poems is invaluable.

Walker, S. F. Theocritus. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Treats the entire canon of Theocritus’s poetry. Highly recommended for the reader interested in a basic introduction to Theocritus.