Virgil, The Eclogues

Brian Breed (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
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Virgil’s

Eclogues

are a collection of ten short poems that represent the beginning of the European tradition of pastoral poetry. Pastoral poetry is, first of all, poetry about herdsmen (

pastores

in Latin), and the

Eclogues

feature a cast of characters made up largely of herdsmen, along with other occupants of rural Mediterranean landscapes. The work which in English is most commonly known as the

Eclogues

was called by Virgil

Bucolica

, “the bucolic poems”. The term “eclogue” derives from the Greek

ek-loge

, meaning “selection”, and was conceived in antiquity to describe one poem in a collection of poems. The ten poems that make up the book of the

Eclogues

can thus each be referred to as “an eclogue”, while the collection as a whole might most properly be called the

Bucolics

3171 words

Citation: Breed, Brian. "The Eclogues". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 June 2006 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=994, accessed 21 June 2024.]

994 The Eclogues 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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