Guide to Literary Terms

Start Free Trial

What is the definition of pastoral?

The definition of pastoral is literature that depicts rural life, typically in an idyllic manner.

Pastoral

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 123

Pastoral - an artistic composition dealing with the life of shepherds or with a simple, rural existence. It is also a work of art representing the idealized life of shepherds to create an image of a peaceful and uncorrupted existence. In addition, the term is used to describe simplicity, charm, and serenity attributed to country life. Currently, it applies to any literary convention that places kindly, rural people in nature-centered activities.

Writing an essay?
Get a custom outline

Our Essay Lab can help you tackle any essay assignment within seconds, whether you’re studying Macbeth or the American Revolution. Try it today!

Start an Essay

The term is from the Latin pastor, meaning “shepherd.”

The rural settings and characters originate from folk songs and ceremonies that honored the pastoral gods. Theocritus (316 – 260 B.C.) first used the convention in his Idylls. As You Like It, written by Shakespeare in 1600, is also considered a pastoral.


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Explore all literary terms.

Homework Help

Latest answer posted August 18, 2010, 10:20 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Parody

Next

Persona