The CHS is pleased to announce the online publication of Theocritean Pastoral: A Study in the Definition of Genre by Amy Edith Johnson. This thesis was presented by Johnson to the Department of Comparative Literature in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 1, 1980.
From the Preface
The emergence of the essay in its current form is due entirely to the loyalty and energy of Gregory Nagy, with his magical helpers Leonard Muellner, Noel Spencer, Laura Slatkin, and Holly Davidson. I accept with humility their faith in this work and in the beautiful poems of Theocritus. Although Vergil’s Georgics, which were modeled on the Idylls and recast them dramatically, provided the principal model for pastoral as a genre in Italy, England, and modern verse, Theocritus has more to offer than originality. His account of the pastoral landscape is so meticulously that of the Cos of his youth that botanical works have been based on it. When this essay was written, the stability of that landscape could be taken for granted. Now Cos is identified mainly as a landing place for the desperate—refugees from Asia Minor—and for their corpses. Indeed, no natural landscape can now be considered stable. To love the particularities of earth may not be to save them; but humans preserve their treasures in attention and in memory.