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How Bucolic are Theocritus’ Bucolic Singers?

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Chapter Summary

Theocritus was already considered by the ancients to have been the inventor of bucolic poetry, in as much as he developed a new literary genre based on a series of contents that we can now understand to have been present in oral performances of a pre-literary character. It is still legitimate to ask ourselves how Theocritus intended to present himself to his public as a bucolic poet. We can actually locate the answer to this question within Theocritus' poetic production, which, as this chapter tries to show, describes an overall set of circumstances in which the new bucolic genre operates as the result of a twofold process: the transposition of an anthropological reality into the literary sphere of pastoral song, and the transposition to the rustic environment of features typical of the urban world, with respect both to its actuality and to its manifestations in the literary sphere.

Keywords: bucolic poetry; bucolic singers; Theocritus



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