Vergil's Poetry



It was not until 39-38 BC that his first of three works was published: The Ecologues, which means, "selections (from a larger corpus)" (OCD) was formerly known as The Bucolics, which means, "cowherd songs" (OCD). These consisted of ten short poems written in the dactylic hexameter (which Vergil had perfected more than any other Classical poet of the Roman era). These poems are also what is called: pastoral poetry. Pastoral poetry, simply put, was poetry that combined the ideas of love and song. There is some historical significance to these poems because in 42 BC, young Octavian took land away from people in order to pay and satisfy his army for their defeat of the assassins of G. Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Some of this confiscated land was said to have belonged to Vergil's father, thus Vergil's writing about his loss in The Ecologues. It is also in The Seventh Pastoral of The Eclogues that Arcadia, a creation of Vergil's, is first mentioned. Arcadia is mostly regarded as a place "for lovers' plaints and for song" (OCD). This description somewhat parallels the whole setting of Tom Stoppord's Arcadia. This following selection from The Seventh Pastoral The Eclogues is translated by Mr. John Dryden:

Beneath a holm repair'd two jolly swains

(Their sheep and goats together graz'd the plains),

Both young Arcadians, both alike inspir'd

To sing, and answer as the song requir'd.

Daphnis, as umpire, took the middle seat,

And fortune thether led my weary feet;

For, while I fenc'd my myrtles from the cold,

The father of my flock had wander'd from the fold.

I am well aware that I am leaving two thirds of Vergil untouched, but if one should like any more information, then he or she ought to have a look at our link site. The Perseus Project is possibly the finest Classics site on the Internet, so I strongly encourage one to go have a look.

*The Internet is not by any means a substitute for good, old-fashioned books. No matter what your school says in praise of the Internet, please take the time to read a book on your interest instead of relying on what could be hollow, unlearned material. -Ted Karanikolas

*I would also like to add that without my trusty Oxford Classical Dictionary, I would be at a great loss. So thanks to all the scholars who have contributed to the marvelous Third Edition. If any one is curious as to where to get information regarding most any Classical topic, the OCD is an excellent place to get started. -Ted Karanikolas


Vergil's Cover Page

Vergil's Life

Vergil and Arcadia

Vergil Links


Picture of the gardens at Stour
Back to the Arcadia homepage.


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