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Theocritus

idyls, greek, ed and wrote

THEOCRITUS, the-olc'ri-tils, Greek bu colic poet: b. Syracuse, according to others at Cos, and flourished about 280 B.C. He was a pupil of Philetas at Cos. Having gone to Egypt, he was treated with much distinction by Ptolemy Philadelphus, in whose praise he wrote Idyls 14, 15 and 17, but afterward returned to Syracuse, where he appears to have been on terms of some intimacy with Hiero II. We have under his name 30 idyls, or pastoral poems, of which, however, several are probably by other authors. The most doubtful are 12, 23, 26, 27, 29. He is to be considered the creator of this species of poetry as a branch of Greek literature, though the elements of it existed be fore his time among the Dorians both of Sicily and Greece. Most of his idyls have a dramatic form and consist of the alternate sponses of musical shepherds. They present fresh and vivid pictures ( Ei6)7./a, little pic tures) of common life in Sicily, and are marked by considerable comic and, though to a less extent, tragic power. They are of a different sort from the affected compositions represent ing the ((imaginary shepherds of a fictitious Arcadia.'" Writing generally in the Doric, though in two cases (Idyls 28, 29) in the .Folic, dialect, which is peculiarly adapted to the sim plicity of rural life, his language is strong and harmonious. His metre is chiefly the heroic

hexameter. Besides the idyls he wrote a poem called 'Berenice,' of which only five lines and a word are extant and 22 epigrams in the Greek Anthology. He was imitated by Virgil (q.v.) in the 'Eclogues' ; Tennyson's indebted ness to him has been well shown by Stedman in a chapter of the 'Victorian Poets' (1876). (See THEOCRITUS, BION AND MOSCHUS, IDYLS OF). The best editions of his works (which are usually joined with those of Moschus and Bion) are those of Meineke (1856) ; Paley (1863); Wordsworth (new ed. 1877) and Fritzsche (3d ed. by Hiller, Leipzig 1::1). There are renderings into English verse by Chapman (1866) and Calverley (Cambridge 1869) and into prose by Lang (with introduc tion, New York 1880). The 7th and 11th idyls are translated in verse by Leigh Hunt CA Jar of Honey,' 1848). Consult, besides the above mentioned works, Christ-Schmid, (1882) ; Wright, W. C., 'A Short History of Greek Literature' (New York 1907).