Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Moschus (MAHS-kuhs) of Syracuse was the middle of the three bucolic poets, between Theocritus of Syracuse and Bion. He probably lived in Alexandria, Egypt, where he studied under Aristarchus of Samothrace. He wrote light verse rather than serious poetry but was influenced by more serious poets, such as Apollonius Rhodius. All his surviving works are in hexameter.

Of Moschus’s three short poems anthologized by Greek anthologist Joannes Stobaios in the fifth century c.e., one extols rustic simplicity and the other two are erotic. Two additional short pastoral love poems, “Eros Drapetês” (n.d.; “The Runaway Love,” 1651) and “Eros the Plowman” (n.d.; translation, 1651), are attributed to Moschus. His mock epic poem, Europa (n.d.; English translation, 1651), is known for its crude humor, suggestive themes, and grotesque imagery. The Megara (n.d.), a mournful dialogue between Heracles’ wife Megara and mother Alcmene, is believed to have been written by either Moschus or one of his near contemporaries.