Biography of Theocritus
Theocritus was an Hellenistic Greek poet. The history of the pastoral begins with him, and in him the form seems to have reached its height.
Theocritus was probably born in an early decade of the third century,
or, according to Couat, about 315 B.C., and was a native of Syracuse,
'the greatest of Greek cities, the fairest of all cities.' So Cicero
calls it. He was the son of Praxagoras and Philinna.
Most of what is known of Theocritus comes from his Idylls. His poetic style is filled with the characters and nature which surrounded him. The existence
he loved best to contemplate, that of southern shepherds, fishermen, rural people, remains what it always has been in Sicily and in the isles of Greece. The habits and the passions of his countryfolk have not altered, the echoes of their old love-songs still sound among the pines, or by the sea-banks, where Theocritus 'watched the visionary flocks.'
Theocritus has been widely imitated by such poets as Vergil and Spenser.
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The Psalm Of Adonis - from Fifteenth Idy...
O Queen that loves Golgi, and Idalium, And the steep of Eryx, O Aphrodite, that playes with gold, Lo, from the stream eternal of Acheron
When Cypris saw Adonis, In death already lying With all his locks dishevelled, And cheeks turned wan and ghastly,
Art come, dear youth? two days and nights away! (Who burn with love, grow aged in a day.) As much as apples sweet the damson crude Excel; the blooming spring the winter rude;
Where are the bay-leaves, Thestylis, and the charms? Fetch all; with fiery wool the caldron crown; Let glamour win me back my false lord's heart! Twelve days the wretch hath not come nigh to me,
Epitaph of Hipponax
Behold Hipponax' burialplace, A true bard's grave. Approach it not, if you're a base And base-born knave.
Love Stealing Honey
Once thievish Love the honeyed hives would rob, When a bee stung him: soon he felt a throb Through all his finger-tips, and, wild with pain, Blew on his hands and stamped and jumped in vain.
A Countryman's Wooing
THE MAIDEN. How fell sage Helen? through a swain like thee. DAPHNIS. Nay the true Helen's just now kissing me.
Once on a time did Eucritus and I (With us Amyntas) to the riverside Steal from the city. For Lycopeus' sons Were that day busy with the harvest-home,
Epitaph of Eusthenes
Here the shrewd physiognomist Eusthenes lies, Who could tell all your thoughts by a glance at your eyes. A stranger, with strangers his honoured bones rest; They valued sweet song, and he gave them his best. All the honours of death doth the poet possess: If a small one, they mourned for him nevertheless.
Heracles the Lion Slayer
To whom thus spake the herdsman of the herd, Pausing a moment from his handiwork: 'Friend, I will solve thy questions, for I fear The angry looks of Hermes of the roads.
The Death of Adonis
Cythera saw Adonis And knew that he was dead; She marked the brow, all grisly now, The cheek no longer red;
'Sincerity comes with the wine-cup,' my dear: Then now o'er our wine-cups let us be sincere. My soul's treasured secret to you I'll impart; It is this; that I never won fairly your heart.
I pipe to Amaryllis; while my goats, Tityrus their guardian, browse along the fell. O Tityrus, as I love thee, feed my goats: And lead them to the spring, and, Tityrus, 'ware
BATTUS. Who owns these cattle, Corydon? Philondas? Prythee say. CORYDON. No, AEgon: and he gave them me to tend while he's away. BATTUS. Dost milk them in the gloaming, when none is nigh to see?
The Battle of the Bards
Goats, from a shepherd who stands here, from Lacon, keep away:
Sibyrtas owns him; and he stole my goatskin yesterday.
Hi! lambs! avoid yon fountain. Have ye not eyes to see
Cometas, him who filched a pipe but two days back from me?