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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama

_Far, far from here ...
The sunshine in the happy glens is fair,
And by the sea, and in the brakes
The grass is cool, the sea-side air
Buoyant and fresh._

Matthew Arnold.

Pastoral Poetry & Pastoral Drama

A Literary Inquiry, with Special Reference to the Pre-Restoration Stage in

By Walter W. Greg, M.A.


Oxford: Horace Hart
Printer to the University



Some ten years ago, it may be, Mr. St. Loe Strachey suggested that I
should write an article on 'English Pastoral Drama' for a magazine of
which he was then editor. The article was in the course of time written,
and in the further course of time appeared. I learnt two things from
writing it: first, that to understand the English pastoral drama it was
necessary to have some more or less extensive knowledge of the history of
European pastoralism in general; secondly, that there was no critical work
from which such knowledge could be obtained. I set about the revision and
expansion of my crude and superficial essay, proposing to prefix to it
such an account of pastoral literature generally as should make the
special form it assumed on the English stage appear in its true light as
the reasonable and rational outcome of artistic and historical conditions.
Unfortunately perhaps, but at least inevitably, this preliminary inquiry
grew to ever greater and more alarming proportions as I proceeded, till at
last it swelled to something over half of the whole work. Part of this
bulk was claimed by foreign pastoral poetry, the origins of the kind; part
by English pastoral poetry, and the introduction of the fashion into this
country; part by the pastoral drama of Italy, the immediate parent of that
of England. The original title proved too narrow to cover the subject with
which I dealt. Hence the rather vague and perhaps ambitions title of the
present volume. I make no pretence of offering the reader a general
history of pastoral literature, nor even of pastoral drama. The real
subject of my work remains the pastoral drama in Elizabethan
literature--understanding that term in the wide sense in which, quite
reasonably, we have learnt to use it--and even though I may have been
sometimes carried away by the interest of the immediate subject of
investigation, I have done my best to keep the main object of my inquiry
at all times in view. The downward limit of my work is a little vague. The
old stage traditions, upon which all the dramatic production of the time
was at least in some measure, and in different cases more or less
consciously, based, were killed by the act of 1642: the new traditions,
created or imported by a company of gentlemen who had come under the
influence of the French genius during the eleven years of their exile,
first announced themselves authoritatively in 1660. During the intervening
eighteen years a number of works were produced, some of which continued
the earlier traditions, while some anticipated the later. My treatment has
been eclectic. Where a work appeared to me to belong to or to illustrate
the older school I have included it, where not, I have refrained from
doing so. Fanshawe's _Pastor fido_ (1647) will be found mentioned in the
following pages, T. R.'s _Berger extravagant_ (1654) will not.

Some explanation may be advisable with regard to my method of quotation.
Where a satisfactory modern edition of the work under discussion was
available I have taken my quotations from it, whether the spelling of the
text was modernized or not. Where none such existed I have had recourse to
the original. This explains the perhaps alarming mixture of old and modern
orthographies which appear in my pages. Such inconsistency seemed to me a
lesser evil than making nonce texts to suit my immediate purpose. I have,
however, exercised the right of following my own fancy in the matter of
punctuation throughout, and also in that of capitalization, though I have
been chary of alterations in the case of old-spelling texts. This applies
to English works. I have found it necessary myself to modernize to some
extent the spelling of the quotations from early Italian in order to
render it less bewildering to readers who may possibly, like myself, have
no very profound knowledge of the antiquities of that tongue. I have been
as sparing as possible, however, and trust I may have committed no
enormities to shock Romance scholars. Lastly, the italics and contractions
which are of more or less frequent occurrence in the original editions
have been disregarded, and certain typographical details made to conform
to modern practice.

My indebtedness is not small to a number of friends who, during the
progress of my work, have helped me more or less directly in a variety of
ways. A few have received specific mention in the notes. Alike to those
who have, and to the far greater number, I fear me, who have not, I desire
hereby to confess my debt, and humbly to beg them to claim their share in
the dedication of this volume. More specifically I should mention Mr. R.
B. McKerrow, who was the first to read the following pages in manuscript,
and to make many useful suggestions, and Mr. Frank Sidgwick, to whose
careful revision alike of manuscript and proof and to whose kind and
candid criticism I am indebted perhaps more than an author's vanity may
readily allow me to acknowledge. Lastly, it would argue worse than
ingratitude to pass over my obligation to the admirable readers of the
Clarendon Press, whose marvellous accuracy in the most diverse fields and
whose almost infallible vigilance form a real asset of English

W. W. G.
Park Lodge, Wimbledon.
_December_, 1905.


Chapter I. Foreign Pastoral Poetry

I. The origin and nature of pastoral
II. Greek pastoral poetry
III. The bucolic eclogue in classical Latin
IV. Medieval and humanistic eclogues
V. Italian pastoral poetry
VI. The Italian pastoral romance
VII. Pastoral in Spain
VIII. Pastoral in France

Chapter II. Pastoral Poetry in England

I. Early pastoral verse
II. Spenser
III. Spenser's immediate followers
IV. The regular eclogists
V. Lyrical and occasional verse
VI. Milton's _Lycidas_ and Browne's _Britannia's Pastorals_
VII. The pastoral romances

Chapter III. Italian Pastoral Drama

I. Mythological plays containing pastoral elements
II. Evolution of the pastoral drama (see Appendix I)
III. Tasso and his _Aminta_
IV. Guarini and the _Pastor fido_
V. Minor pastoral drama

Chapter IV. Dramatic Origins of the English Pastoral Drama

I. Mythological plays
II. Translations from the Italian
III. Daniel's imitations of Tasso and Guarini

Chapter V. The Three Masterpieces

I. Fletcher's _Faithful Shepherdess_
II. Randolph's _Amyntas_
III. Jonson's _Sad Shepherd_

Chapter VI. The English Pastoral Drama

I. Plays founded on the pastoral romances
II. The English stage pastoral

Chapter VII. Masques and General Influence

I. Pastoral in the masques and slighter dramatic compositions
II. Milton's masques: _Arcades_ and _Comus_
III. General influence. Pastoral theory. Conclusion.

Appendix I. On the origin and development of the Italian pastoral drama
Appendix II. Bibliography


Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama

Chapter I.

Foreign Pastoral Poetry

In approaching a subject of literary inquiry we are often able to fix upon
some essential feature or condition which may serve as an Ariadne's thread
through the maze of historical and aesthetic development, or to
distinguish some cardinal point affording a fixed centre from which to
survey or in reference to which to order and dispose the phenomena that
present themselves to us. It is the disadvantage of such an artificial
form of literature as that which bears the name of pastoral that no such
_a priori_ guidance is available. To lay down at starting that the
essential quality of pastoral is the realistic or at least recognizably
'natural' presentation of actual shepherd life would be to rule out of
court nine tenths of the work that comes traditionally under that head.
Yet the great majority of critics, though they would not, of course,
subscribe to the above definition, have yet constantly betrayed an
inclination to censure individual works for not conforming to some such
arbitrary canon. It is characteristic of the artificiality of pastoral as
a literary form that the impulse which gave the first creative touch at
seeding loses itself later and finds no place among the forces at work at
blossom time; the methods adopted by the greatest masters of the form are
inconsistent with the motives that impelled them to its use, and where
these motives were followed to their logical conclusion, the resuit, both
in literature and in life, became a byword for absurd unreality. To live
at all the ideal appeared to require an atmosphere of paradox and
incongruity: in its essence the most 'natural' of all poetic forms,
pastoralism came to its fairest flower amid the artificiality of a
decadent court or as the plaything of the leisure hours of a college of
learning, and its insipid convention having become 'a literary plague in
every European capital,' it finally disappeared from view amid the
fopperies of the Roman Arcadia and the puerile conceits of the Petit

Wherein then, it may be wondered, does the pastoral's title to
consideration lie. It does not lie primarily, or chiefly, in the fact that
it is associated with names of the first rank in literature, with
Theocritus and Vergil, with Petrarch, Politian, and Tasso, with Cervantes
and Lope de Vega, with Ronsard and Marot, with Spenser, Ben Jonson, and
Milton; nor yet that works such as the _Idyls_, the _Aminta_, the
_Faithful Shepherdess_, and _Lycidas_ contain some of the most graceful
and perfect verse to be found in any language. Rather is its importance to
be sought in the fact that the form is the expression of instincts and
impulses deep-rooted in the nature of humanity, which, while affecting the
whole course of literature, at times evince themselves most clearly and
articulately here; that it plays a distinct and distinctive part in the
history of human thought and the history of artistic expression. Moreover,
it may be argued that, from this point of view, the very contradictions
and inconsistencies to which I have alluded make it all the more important
to discover wherein lay the strange vitality of the form and its power of
influencing the current of European letters.

From what has already been said it will be apparent that little would be
gained by attempting beforehand to give any strict account of what is
meant by 'pastoral' in literature. Any definition sufficiently elastic to
include the protean forms assumed by what we call the 'pastoral ideal'
could hardly have sufficient intension to be of any real value. If after
considering a number of literary phenomena which appear to be related
among themselves in form, spirit, and aim we come at the end of our
inquiry to any clearer appreciation of the term I shall so far have
attained my object. I notice that I have used the expression 'pastoral
ideal,' and the phrase, which comes naturally to the mind in connexion
with this form of literature, may supply us with a useful hint. It
reminds us, namely, that the quality of pastoralism is not determined by
the fortuitous occurrence of certain characters, but by the fact of the
pieces in question being based more or less evidently upon a philosophical
conception, which no doubt underwent modification through the ages, but
yet bears evidence of organic continuity. Thus the shepherds of pastoral
are primarily and distinctively shepherds; they are not mere rustics
engaged in sheepcraft as one out of many of the employments of mankind. As
soon as the natural shepherd-life had found an objective setting in
conscious artistic literature, it was felt that there was after all a
difference between hoeing turnips and pasturing sheep; that the one was
capable of a particular literary treatment which the other was not. The
Maid of Orleans might equally well have dug potatoes as tended a flock,
and her place is not in pastoral song. Thus pastoral literature must not
be confounded with that which has for its subject the lives, the ideas,
and the emotions of simple and unsophisticated mankind, far from the
centres of our complex civilization. The two may be in their origin
related, and they occasionally, as it were, stretch out feelers towards
one another, but the pastoral of tradition lies in its essence as far from
the human document of humble life as from a scientific treatise on
agriculture or a volume of pastoral theology. Thus the tract which lies
before us to explore is equally remote from the idyllic imagination of
George Sand, the gross actuality of Zola, and the combination of simple
charm with minute and essential realism of Mr. Hardy's sketches in Wessex.
Nor does the adoption of the pastoral label suffice to bring within the
fold the fanciful animalism of Mr. Hewlett. By far the most remarkable
work of recent years to assume the title is Signor d'Annunzio's play _La
Figlia di Iorio_, a work in which the author's powerful and delicate
imagination and wealth of pure and expressive language appear in matchless
perfection. It is perhaps scarcely necessary to add that there is nothing
in common between the 'pastoral ideal' and the rugged strength and
suppressed fire of the great modern Italian's portrait of his native land
of the Abruzzi.


Some confusion of thought appears to have prevailed among writers as to
the origin of pastoral. We are, for instance, often told that it is the
earliest of all forms of poetry, that it characterizes primitive peoples
and permeates ancient literatures. Song is, indeed, as old as human
language, and in a sense no doubt the poetry of the pastoral age may be
said to have been pastoral. It does not, however, follow that it bears any
essential resemblance to that which subsequent ages have designated by the
name. All that we know concerning the songs of pastoral nations leads us
to suppose that they bear a close resemblance to the type of popular verse
current wherever poetry exists, folk-songs of broad humanity in which
little stress is laid on the peculiar circumstances of shepherd life. An
insistence upon the objective pastoral setting is of prime importance in
understanding the real nature of pastoral poetry; it not only serves to
distinguish the pastoral proper from the more vaguely idyllic forms of
lyric verse, but helps us further to understand how it was that the
outward features of the kind came to be preserved, even after the various
necessities of sophisticated society had metamorphosed the content almost
beyond recognition. No common feature of a kind to form the basis of a
scientific classification can be traced in the spontaneous shepherd-songs
and their literary counterpart. What does appear to be a constant element
in the pastoral as known to literature is the recognition of a contrast,
implicit or expressed, between pastoral life and some more complex type of
civilization. At no stage in its development does literature, or at any
rate poetry, concern itself with the obvious, with the bare scaffolding of
life: whenever we find an author interested in the circle of prime
necessity we may be sure that he himself stands outside it. Thus the
shepherd when he sang did not insist upon the conditions amid which his
uneventful life was passed. It was left to a later, perhaps a wiser and a
sadder, generation to gaze with fruitless and often only half sincere
longing at the shepherd-boy asleep under the shadow of the thorn, lulled
by the low monotonous rustle of the grazing flock. Only when the
shepherd-songs ceased to be the outcome of unalloyed pastoral conditions
did they become distinctively pastoral. It is therefore significant that
the earliest pastoral poetry with which we are acquainted, whatever half
articulate experiments may have preceded it, was itself directly born of
the contrast between the recollections of a childhood spent among the
Sicilian uplands and the crowded social and intellectual city-life of

As the result of this contrast there arises an idea which comes perhaps as
near being universal in pastoral as any--the idea, namely, of the 'golden
age.' This embraces, indeed, a field not wholly coincident with that of
pastoral, but the two are connected alike by a common spring in human
emotion and constant literary association. The fiction of an age of
simplicity and innocence found birth among the Augustan writers in the
midst of the complex and luxurious civilization of Rome, as an
illustration of the principle enunciated by Professer Raleigh, that
'literature has constantly the double tendency to negative the life
around it, as well as to reproduce it.' Having inspired Ovid and Vergil,
and been recognized by Lucretius, it passed as a literary legacy to
Boethius, Dante, and Jean de Meung; it was incorporated by Frezzi in his
strange allegorical composition the _Quadriregio_, and was thrice handled
by Chaucer; it was dealt with humorously by Cervantes in _Don Quixote_,
and became the prey of the satirist in the hands of Juvenal, Bertini, and
Hall. The association of this ideal world with the simplicity of pastoral
life was effected by Vergil, and in this form it was treated with loving
minuteness by Tasso in his _Aminta_ and by Browne in his _Britannia's
Pastorals_[2]. The fiction no doubt answered to some need in human nature,
but in literature it soon came to be no more than a polite convention.

The conception of a golden age of rustic simplicity does not, indeed,
involve the whole of pastoral literature. It does not account either for
the allegorical pastoral, in which actual personages are introduced, in
the guise of shepherds, to discuss contemporary affairs, or for the
so-called realistic pastoral, in which the town looks on with amused envy
at the rustic freedom of the country. What it does comprehend is that
outburst of pastoral song which sprang from the yearning of the tired soul
to escape, if it were but in imagination and for a moment, to a life of
simplicity and innocence from the bitter luxury of the court and the
menial bread of princes[3].

And this, the reaction against the world that is too much with us, is,
after all, the keynote of what is most intimately associated with the name
of pastoral in literature--the note that is struck with idyllic sweetness
in Theocritus, and, rising to its fullest pitch of lyrical intensity,
lends a poignant charm to the work of Tasso and Guarini. For everywhere
in these soft melodies of luscious beauty, even in the studied sketches of
primitive innocence itself, there is an undercurrent of tender melancholy
and pathos:

Il mondo invecchia
E invecchiando intristisce.

I have said that a sense of the contrast between town and country was
essential to the development of a distinctively pastoral literature. It
would be an interesting task to trace how far this contrast is the source
of the various subsidiary types--of the ideal where it breeds desire for a
return to simplicity, of the realistic where the humour of it touches the
imagination, and of the allegorical where it suggests satire on the
corruption of an artificial civilization.

When the kind first makes its appearance in a world already old, it arises
purely as a solace and relief from the fervid life of actuality, and comes
as a fresh and cooling draught to lips burning with the fever of the city.
In passing from Alexandria to Rome it lost much of its limpid purity; the
clear crystal of the drink was mixed with flavours and perfumes to fit the
palate of a patron or an emperor. The example of adulteration being once
set, the implied contrast of civilization and rusticity was replaced by
direct satire on the former, and later by the discussion under the
pastoral mask of questions of religious and political controversy. Proving
itself but a left-handed weapon in such debate, it became a court
plaything, in which princes and great ladies, poets and wits, loved to see
themselves figured and complimented, and the practice of assuming pastoral
names becoming almost universal in polite circles, the convention, which
had passed from the eclogue on to the stage, passed from the stage into
actual existence, and court life became one continual pageant of pastoral
conceit. From the court it passed into circles of learning, and grave
jurists and administrators, poets and scholars, set about the refining of
language and literature decked out in all the fopperies of the fashionable
craze. One is tempted to wonder whether anything more serious than light
loves and fantastic amours can have flourished amid eighteenth-century
pastoralism. When the ladies of the court began to talk dairy-farming with
the scholars and statesmen of the day, the pretence of pastoral simplicity
could hardly be long kept up. Nor was there any attempt to do so. In the
introduction to his famous romance d'Urfe wrote in answer to objectors:
'Responds leur, ma Bergere, que pour peu qu'ils ayent connoissance de toy,
ils scauront que tu n'es pas, ny celles aussi qui te suivent, de ces
Bergeres necessiteuses, qui pour gaigner leur vie conduisent les troupeaux
aux pasturages; mais que vous n'avez toutes pris cette condition que pour
vivre plus doucement et sans contrainte.' No wonder that to Fontenelle
Theocritus' shepherds 'sentent trop la campagne[4].' But the hour of
pastoralism had come, and while the ladies and gallants of the court were
playing the parts of Watteau swains and shepherdesses amid the trim hedges
and smooth lawns of Versailles, the gates were already bursting before the
flood, which was to sweep in devastation over the land, and to purge the
old order of social life.


The Alexandria of the Ptolemies was not the nurse of a great literature,
though the age was undoubtedly one of considerable literary activity.
Scholastic learning and poetic imitation were rife; the rehandling of
Greek masterpieces was a fashionable pastime. For serious and original
composition, however, the conditions were not favourable. That the age
produced no great epic was less due to the disparagement of the form
indulged in by Callimachus, chief librarian and literary dictator, than to
the inherent temper of society. The prevailing taste was for an arrogant
display of rare and costly pageantry. At the coronation of Ptolemy
Philadelphus the brilliant city surfeited on a long-drawn golden pomp,
decked out in all the physical beauty the inheritance of Greek thought and
memories of Greek mythology could suggest, together with a wealth of
gorgeous mysticism and rapture of sensuous intoxication, which was the
fruit of its intercourse with the oriental world. The writers of
Alexandria lacked the 'high seriousness' of purpose to produce an
_Aeneid_, the imaginative enthusiasm needed for a _Faery Queen_. What they
possessed was delicacy, refinement, and wit; what they created, while
perfecting the epigram and stereotyping the hymn, was a form intermediate
between epic and lyric, namely the idyl as we find it in the works of
Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus.

It is interesting to note that the literary _milieu_ in which Theocritus
moved at Alexandria must have abounded in all those temptations which
proved the bane of pastoral poetry at Rome, Florence, and Ferrara. There
were princes and patrons to be flattered, there were panegyrics to be sung
and ancestral feats of arms to be recorded; nor does Theocritus appear to
have stood aloof from the throng of court poetasters. In spite of the
doubtful authenticity of some of the pieces connected with his name, there
appears no sufficient reason to deprive him of the rather conventional
hymns and other poems composed with a view to court-favour. These have
little interest for us to-day: his fame rests on works which probably
gained him little advantage at the time. It was for his own solace,
forgetful for a moment of the intrigues of court life and the uncertain
sunshine of princes, that he wrote his Sicilian idyls. For him, as at a
magic touch, the walls of the heated city melted like a mirage into the
sands of the salt lagoon, and he wandered once more amid the green woods
and pastures of Trinacria, the noonday sun tempered by the shade of the
chestnuts and the babbling of the brook, and by the cool airs that glide
down from the white cliffs of Aetna. There once more he saw the shepherds
tend their flocks, singing or wrangling with one another, dreamily piping
on their wax-stopped reeds or plotting to annex their neighbours' gear; or
else there sounded in his ears the love-song or the dirge, or the
incantation of the forsaken girl rose amid the silence to the silver moon.
Once again he stood upon the shore and watched the fishers cast their
nets, while around him the goats browsed on the close herbage of the
cliff, and the crystal stream leapt down, and the waves broke upon the
rocks below, till he saw the breasts of the nymphs shine in the whiteness
of the foam and their hair spread wide in the weed, and the fair Galatea,
the enticing and the fickle, mocked the clumsy suit of the Cyclops, as she
tossed upward the bitter spray from off her shining limbs. All these
memories he recorded with a loving faithfulness of detail that it is even
now possible to verify from the folk-songs of the south. To this day in
the Isles of Greece ruined girls seek to lure back their lovers with
charms differing but little from that sung by the Syracusan to Lady
Selene, and the popular poetry alike of Italy and Greece is full of those
delicate touches of refined sentiment that in Theocritus appear so
incongruous with the rough coats and rougher banter of the shepherds. For
though the poet raised the pastoral life of Sicily into the realms of
ideal poetry, he was careful not to dissociate his version from reality,
and he allowed no imaginary conceptions to overmaster his art. He depicted
no age of innocence; his poetry reflects no philosophical illusion of
primitive simplicity; he elaborated no imaginary cult of mystical worship.
His art, however little it may tempt us to the use of the term realism, is
nevertheless based on an almost passionate sympathy with actual human
nature. This is the fount of his inspiration, the central theme of his
song. The literary genius of Greece showed little aptitude for landscape,
and seldom treated inanimate nature except as a background for human
action and emotion, or it may be in the guise of mythological allegory.
Nevertheless, it is hard to believe that Theocritus, so tenderly concerned
with the homely aspects of human life, was not likewise sensitive to the
beauties of nature. At least it is impossible to doubt his attachment to
the land of his childhood, and it is at worst a welcome dream when we
imagine him, as the evening of life drew on, leaving the formal gardens
and painted landscapes of Alexandria and returning to Syracuse and his
beloved Sicily once more.[5]

The verse of Theocritus was echoed by his younger contemporaries, Bion
and Moschus.[6] The former is best known through the oriental passion of
his 'Woe, woe for Adonis,' probably written to be sung at the annual
festival of Syrian origin commemorated by Theocritus in his fifteenth
idyl.[7] The most important extant work of Moschus is the 'Lament for
Bion,' characterized by a certain delicate sentimentality alien to the
spirit of either of his predecessors. It is perhaps significant that
Theocritus appears to have been of Syracusan, Bion of Smyrnian, and
Moschus of Ausonian origin.[8] With the exception of this poem, which is
modelled on Theocritus' 'Lament for Daphnis,' there is little in the work
of either of the younger poets of a pastoral nature. Certain fragments,
however, if genuine, suggest that poems of the kind may have perished.
Among the remains of Moschus occurs the following:

Would that my father had taught me the craft of a keeper of sheep,
For so in the shade of the elm-tree, or under the rocks on the steep,
Piping on reeds I had sat, and had lulled my sorrow to sleep;[9]

lines in which we already take leave of the genuine love of the pastoral
life, springing from an intimate knowledge of and delight in nature, and
see world-weariness arraying itself in the sentimental garb of the
imaginary swain.

Once again, five centuries later,[10] the spirit of Greece shone for one
brief moment in a work of pastoral elegance that has survived the
changing tastes of succeeding generations. The 'romance of _Daphnis and
Chloe_ is the last word of a world of sensuous enervation toying with the
idea of vernal freshness and virginity. It is a genuine picture of the
purity of awakening love, wrought with every delicacy of sentiment and
expression, and yet in such manner as by its very _naivete_ and innocence
to serve as a goad to satiated appetite. It has been suggested that the
work should properly be styled the _Lesbiaca_, a name which recalls the
_Aethiopica_ and _Babylonica_, and reminds us that the author, though a
student of Alexandrian literature, belonged to the school of the erotic
romanciers and traditional bishops, Heliodorus and Achilles Tatius. Of his
life we know nothing, and even his name--Longus--has been called in
question. The story, unlike those of most later pastoral romances, is of
the simplest. The author, however, was no longer satisfied with the
natural refinement of popular love poetry; the central characters are
represented as foundlings nurtured by the shepherds of Lesbos, and are
ultimately identified, on much the same conventional evidence as Ion and
others had been before, as the children of certain rich and aristocratie
families.[11] The interest of the story lies in the growth of their
unconscious love, which constitutes the central theme of the work, though
relieved here and there by wholly colourless adventure.

A Latin translation made the book popular after the introduction of
printing, and the renaissance saw the French version by Amyot, a work of
European reputation. This was translated into English under Elizabeth; an
Italian translation followed in the seventeenth century,[12] and a Spanish
is also extant. There is no doubt that it was widely read throughout the
sixteenth and following centuries, but it exercised little influence on
the development of pastoral literature. By the time it became generally
known the main features of renaissance pastoral were already fixed, and in
motive and treatment alike it was alien to the spirit that animated the
fashionable masterpieces. The modern pastoral romance had already evolved
itself from a blending of the eclogue with the mythological tale. The
drama was developing on independent lines. Thus although, like the other
romances of the late Greek school, it supplied many incidents and
descriptions to be found in later works, it played no vital part in the
history of pastoral, and left no mark either on the general form or on the
spirit that animated the kind. Longus' romance finds its true descendant,
as well as its closest imitation, in a work that achieved celebrity on the
eve of the French revolution, that masterpiece of unreal and sentimental
simplicity, Saint-Pierre's _Paul et Virginie_.


A faithful reproduction of the main conditions of actual life was the
characteristic of Theocritus' poetry. It was subject to this ever-present
limitation that his graceful fancy exercised its power of idealization. He
took the singing match, the dirge, and the love-song or complaint as he
found them among the shepherd-folk of Sicily, and gave them that objective
setting which is as necessary to pastoral as to every other merely
accidental form of poetry; for the true subjective lyric is independent of
circumstances. The first of his great successors made the bucolic eclogue
what, with trifling variation, it was to remain for eighteen centuries, a
form based upon artificiality and convention. I have already pointed out
that the literary conditions at Alexandria did not differ materially from
those of Rome; it follows that the change must have been due to the
character of Vergil himself. That intense love of beauty for its own sake
which characterized the Greek mind had little hold over the Roman. Nor did
the latter understand the charm of untaught simplicity. It is true that to
the Roman poets of the Augustan period we owe the conception of the golden
age, but it remained with them rather a philosophical mythus than the
dream of an idyllic poet. To writers of the stamp of Ovid, Lucretius, and
Vergil the Idyls of the Syracusan poet can have possessed but little
meaning, and in his own Bucolics the last named seems never to have
regarded the pastoral form as anything but a cloak for matters of more
pith and moment. Although he followed Theocritus in his use of the several
types of song and stamped them to all future ages in pastoral convention,
though he may have begun with fairly close imitation of his model and only
gradually diverged into a more independant style, he at no time showed
himself content with the earlier poet's simplicity of motive.[13] The
eclogue in which he followed Theocritus most closely, the eighth, is
equally, perhaps, the most pleasing of the series. It combines the motives
of the love-lament and incantation, and the closeness with which it
follows while playing variations on its models is striking. One instance
will suffice. Take the passage in the second Idyl thus rendered by

Hail, Hecate, dread dame! to the end be thou my assistant,
Making my medicines work no less than the philtre of Circe,
Or Medea's charms, or yellow-haired Perimede's.
Wheel of the magic spells, draw thou that man to my dwelling.

Corresponding to this we find the following passage in the Latin poem:

Song hath power to draw from heaven the wandering huntress,
Song was the witch's spell transformed the mates of Ulysses....
Home from the city to me, my song, lead home to me Daphnis.

Vergil was the first to begin the dissociation of pastoral from the
conditions of actual life, and just as his shepherds cease to present the
features and characters of the homely keepers of the flock, so his
landscape becomes imaginary and undefined. This peculiarity has been
noticed by Professor Herford in some very suggestive remarks prefixed to
his edition of the _Shepherd's Calender_. 'The profiles of the Sicilian
uplands,' he writes, 'waver uncertainly amid traits drawn from the Mantuan
plain. In this confusion lay, perhaps, the germ of those debates between
highland and lowland shepherds which reverberate through the later
pastoral, and are still loud in Spenser.' The gulf that separated Vergil
from his predecessor, in so far as their treatment of shepherd-life is
concerned, may be measured by the manner in which they respectively deal
with the supernatural. In the Greek Idyls we find the simple faith or
superstition as it lived among the shepherd-folk; no Pan appears to sow
dismay in the breasts of the maidens, nor do we find aught of the mystical
worship that later gathered round him in the imaginary Arcadia. He is
mentioned only as the rugged patron of herds and song, the wild indweller
of the savage woods as he appeared to the minds of the simple swains, who
hushed their midday piping fearful lest they should disturb the sleep of
the god. It is true that Theocritus introduces mythological characters in
the tale of Galatea, but it should be noticed that this merely forms the
theme of a song or the subject of a poetical epistle to a friend.
Moreover, it is open to more than one rationalistic interpretation.
Symonds treats it as an allegory in harmony with the mythopoeic genius of
Greek poetry. It is equally possible to regard the Cyclops as emblematic
merely of the rough neatherd flouted by the more delicate
shepherd-maiden--the contrast is of constant occurrence in later
works--for, alike in one of his own fragments and in Moschus' lament, Bion
is represented as courting this same Galatea after she has rid herself of
the suit of Polyphemus. Vergil was content with no such simple mythology
as this. He must needs shake Silenus from a drunken sleep and bid him tell
of Chaos and old Time, of the infancy of the world and the birth of the
gods. This mixture of obsolescent theology and Epicurean philosophy
probably possessed little reality for Vergil himself, and would have
conveyed no meaning whatever to the Sicilian shepherds. Its introduction
stamps his eclogues with that unreality which has been the reproach of the
pastoral from his day to ours. The didactic homily was one fresh
convention introduced. Far more important was the tendency to make every
form subserve some ulterior purpose of allegory and panegyric.[15] For the
Roman its own beauty was no sufficient end of art. That the _Aeneid_ was
written for the glorification of Rome cannot be made a reproach to the
poet; the greatness of the end lent dignity to the means. That the
pastoral was forced to serve the menial part of a vehicle of sycophantic
praise is less easily pardoned. In Vergil's hands a conversation between
shepherds becomes an expression of gratitude to the emperor for the
restitution of his villa, a lament for Daphnis is interwoven with an
apotheosis of Julius Caesar, and in the complaint of the forsaken
shepherd, whom Apollo and Pan seek in vain to comfort, we may trace the
wounded vanity of his patron deserted by his mistress for the love of a
soldier. The fourth eclogue was written after the peace of Brundisium, and
describes the golden age to which Vergil looked forward as consequent upon
the birth of a marvellous infant, perhaps some offspring of the marriages
of Antonius and Octavianus, celebrated in solemnization of the treaty. The
poem achieved considerable fame, which lasted as late as the time of
Dryden, owing to the belief that it contained a prophecy of the birth of
Christ drawn from the Sibylline books, and won for Vergil throughout the
middle ages the title of prophet and magician. Whether this belief was
well founded or not may be left to those whom it may interest to inquire;
it is sufficient for our purpose to note that in the poem in question
Vergil first introduced the convention of the golden age into pastoral

The first of the long line of imitators of whom we have any notice was a
certain Calpurnius. His diction is correct and his verse smooth, but the
suggestion that he belonged to the age of Augustus has not met with much
favour among those competent to judge. He followed Vergil closely, chiefly
developing the panegyric. His poems, however, include all the usual
conventions, singing matches, invocations, cosmologies, and the rest, in
the treatment of which originality never appears to have been his aim.
Some of his pieces deal with husbandry, and belong more strictly to the
school of the _Georgics_ and didactic poetry. The most interesting of his
eclogues is one in which he contrasts the life of the town with that of
the country, the direct comparison of which he appears to have been the
first to treat. The poem likewise possesses some antiquarian interest,
owing to a description of a wild-beast show in an amphitheatre in which
the animals were brought up in lifts through the floor of the arena.
Calpurnius is sometimes supposed, on account of a dedication to Nemesianus
found in some manuscripts, to have lived at the end of the third century,
but even supposing the dedication to be genuine, which is more than
doubtful, it does not follow that the person referred to is that
Nemesianus who contested the poetic crown with Prince Numerianus about the
year 283[16]. This Nemesianus was probably the author of some eclogues
which have been frequently ascribed to Calpurnius (numbers 8 to 11 in most
editions), but which must be discarded from the list of his authentic
works on a technical question of the employment of elision[17]. The
_editio princeps_ of these eclogues is not dated, but probably appeared in
1471, so that they were at any rate accessible to writers of the
_cinquecento_. It is not easy to trace any direct influence, unless, as
perhaps we should, we credit to Calpurnius the suggestion of those poems
in which a 'wise' shepherd describes to his less-travelled hearers the
manners of the town.

A few pieces from the _Idyllia_ of Ausonius appear in some of the bucolic
collections, but they cannot strictly be regarded as coming within the
range of pastoral poetry.


Events conspired to make Vergil the model for later writers of eclogues.
The fame of the poet was a potent cause among many. Another reason why
Theocritus found no direct imitators may be sought in the respective
methods of the two poets. Work of the nature of the _Idyls_ has to depend
for its value and interest upon the artistic qualities of the poetry
alone. Such work may spring up spontaneously under almost any conditions;
it is seldom produced through imitation. On the other hand, any scholar
with a gift for easy versification could achieve a certain distinction as
a follower of Vergil. His verse depended for its interest not on its
poetic qualities but upon the importance of the themes it treated.
Accidental conditions, too, told in favour of the Roman poet. During the
middle ages Latin was a universal language among the lettered classes,
while the knowledge of Greek, though at no time so completely lost as is
sometimes supposed, was a far rarer accomplishment, and was restricted for
the most part to a few linguistic scholars. Thus before the revival of
learning had made Greek a possible source of literary inspiration, the
Vergilian tradition, through the instrumentality of Petrarch and
Boccaccio, had already made itself supreme in pastoral[18].

During the middle ages the stream of pastoral production, though it
nowhere actually disappears, is reduced to the merest trickle. Notices of
such isolated poems as survive have been carefully collected by
Macri-Leone in the introduction to his elaborate but as yet unfinished
work on the Latin eclogue in the Italian literature of the fourteenth
century. As early as the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth
century we find a poem by Severus Sanctus Endelechius, variously entitled
'Carmen bucolicum de virtute signi crucis domini' or 'de mortibus boum.'
It is a hymn to the saint cross, and in it for the first time the pastoral
suffered violence from the tyranny of the religious idea. The 'Ecloga
Theoduli' alluded to by Chaucer in the _House of Fame_[19] appears to be
the work of an Athenian writer, and is ascribed to various dates ranging
from the fifth to the eighth centuries. While preserving as its main
characteristic a close subservience to its Vergilian model, the eclogue
participated in the general rise of allegory which marked the later middle
ages. Pastoral colouring of no very definite order had shown itself in the
elegies of Alcuin in the eighth century, as also in the 'Conflictus veris
et hiemis,' traditionally ascribed to the Venerable Bede, but more
probably the work of one Dodus, a disciple of Alcuin. Of the tenth century
we possess an allegorical religious lament entitled 'Ecloga duarum
sanctimonialium.' About 1160 a Benedictine monk named Metellus composed
twelve poems under the title of _Bucolica Quirinalium_, in honour of St.
Quirinus and in obvious imitation of Vergil. Reminiscences and paraphrases
of the Roman poet are scattered throughout the monk's own barbarous
hexameters, as in the opening verses:

Tityre tu magni recubans in margine stagni
Silvestri tenuique fide pete iura peculi!

It would hardly be worth recording these medieval clerks, the
undistinguished writers, 'de quibus,' Boccaccio said, 'nil curandum est,'
were it not that they show how the memory at least of the classical
pastoral survived amid the ruins of ancient learning, and so serve to lead
up to one last spasmodic manifestation of the kind in certain poems which
else appear to stand in a curiously isolated position.

It was in 1319, during the bitter years of his exile at Ravenna, that
Dante received from one John of Bologna, known, on account of his fame as
a writer of Latin verse, as Giovanni del Virgilio, a poetical epistle
inviting him to visit the author in his native city. His correspondent,
while doing homage to his poetic genius, incidentally censured him for
composing his great work in the base tongue of the vulgar[20]. Dante
replied in a Vergilian eclogue, courteously declining Giovanni's
invitation to Bologna, on the ground that it was a place scarcely safe for
his person. As regarded the strictures of his correspondent, his
triumphant answer in the shape of the _Paradiso_ lay yet unfinished, so
the author of the _De Vulgari Eloquio_ trifled with the charge and
purported to compose the present poem in earnest of reform. There is a
tone of not unkindly irony about the whole. Was it an elaborate jest at
the expense of Giovanni, the writer of Vergilian verse? The Bolognese
replied, this time also in bucolic form, repeating his invitation and
holding out the special attraction of a meeting with Mussato, the most
regarded poet of his day in Europe. Dante's second eclogue, if indeed it
is correctly ascribed to his pen, introduces several historical
characters. It is said not to have reached Bologna till after his death.
These poems were not included in any of the early bucolic collections, and
first appeared in print in the eighteenth century. They seem, from their
purely occasional nature, their inconspicuous bulk, and lack of any
striking characteristics, to have attracted little notice in their own
day, and to have been ignored by later writers on pastoral as forming no
link in the chain of historical development. Given, indeed, the Bucolics
of Vergil, they are imitations such as might at any moment have appeared,
irrespective of date and surroundings, and independent of any living
literary tradition[21]. It is therefore impossible to regard them as in
any way belonging to, or foreshadowing, the great body of renaissance
pastoral, a division of literature endowed with remarkable vitality and
evolutionary force, which must in its growth and decay alike be studied in
close connexion with the ideas and temperament of the age, and in
relation to the general development of the history of letters[22].

The grandeur of the Roman Empire, the background against which in
historical retrospect we see the bucolic eclogues of Vergil and his
immediate followers, had vanished when Italian literature once more rose
out of chaos. The political organism had resolved itself into its
constituent elements, and fresh combinations had arisen. Nevertheless,
though the Empire was hardly now the shadow of its pristine greatness, men
still looked to Rome as the centre of the civilized world. As the seat of
the Church, it stood for the one force capable of supplying a permanent
element among the warring interests of European politics. Nothing was more
natural than that the poetic form that had reflected the glories of
imperial Rome should bow to the fascination of Rome, the visible emblem on
earth of the spiritual empire of Christ. To the medieval mind, so far from
there being any antagonism between the two ideas, the one seemed almost to
involve and necessitate the other. It saw in the splendeur of the Empire
the herald of a glory not of this world, a preparation as it were, a
decking of the chamber against the advent of the bride; and thus the
pastoral which sang of the greatness of pagan Rome appeared at the same
time a hymn prophetic of the glory of the Church[23].

Moreover, during the centuries that had elapsed since the days of Vergil
the term 'pastoral' had gained a new meaning and new associations. In the
days of Augustus Pan was a boorish anachronism; it was left to medieval
Christianity to create a god who was in fact a shepherd of men[24] and so
to render possible a pastoral allegory that should embody the dearest
hopes and aspirations of the human heart. That Christian pastoralists
availed themselves successfully of the possibilities of the theme it would
be difficult to maintain. It is a singular fact that, at a time when
allegory was the characteristic literary form, it was yet so impossible
even for the finer spirits to follow a train of thought clearly and
consistently, that it was only when a mind passed beyond the limitations
of its own age, and assumed a position _sub specie aeternitatis_, that it
was able to free itself from the prevalent confusion of the imaginary and
the real, the word and the idea, and to perceive that success in allegory
depends, not on the chaotic intermingling of the attributes of the type
and the thing typified, but on so representing the one as to suggest and
illuminate the other.

In the early days of renascent humanism, the first to renew the pastoral
tradition, broken for some ten centuries, was Francesco Petrarca. It is
not without significance that the first modern eclogues were from the same
pen as the sonnet 'Fontana di dolore, albergo d'ira,' expressive of the
shame with which earnest sons of the Church contemplated the captivity of
the holy father at Avignon; for thus on the very threshold of Arcadia we
are met with those bitter denunciations of ecclesiastical corruption which
strike so characteristic a note in the works of the satirical Mantuan, and
seem so out of place in the songs of Spenser and Milton. In one eclogue
the poet mourns over the ruin and desolation of Rome, as a mother deserted
of her children; another is a dialogue between two shepherds, in which St.
Peter, under the pastoral disguise of Pamphilus, upbraids the licentious
Clement VI with the ignoble servitude in which he is content to abide; a
third shows us Clement wantoning with the shameless mistress of a line of
pontifical shepherds, a figure allegorical of the corruption of the
Church[25]; in yet a fourth Petrarch laments his estrangement from his
patron Giovanni Colonna, a cardinal in favour at the papal court, whom it
would appear his outspoken censures had offended. Petrarch's was not the
only voice that was raised urging the Pope to return from the 'Babylonian
captivity,' but the protest had peculiar significance from the mouth of
one who stood forth as the embodiment of the new age still struggling in
the throes of birth. When 'the first Italian' accepted the laurel crown at
the Capitol, he dreamed of Rome as once more the heart of the world, the
city which should embody that early Italian idea of nationality, the ideal
of the humanistic commonwealth. The course urged alike by Petrarch and by
St. Catherine was in the end followed, but the years of exile were yet to
bear their bitterest fruit of mortification and disgrace. In 1377 Gregory
XI transferred the seat of the papacy from Avignon to Rome, with the
resuit that the world was treated to the edifying spectacle of three
prelates each claiming to be the vicar of Christ and sole father of the

These ecclesiastical eclogues form the most important contribution made by
Italy's greatest lyric poet to pastoral. Others, one in honour of Robert
of Sicily, another recording the defeat of Pan by Articus on the field of
Poitiers, follow already existing pastoral convention. Some few, again, of
less importance in literary history, are of greater personal or poetic
interest. In one we see Francesco and his brother Gherardo wandering in
the realm of shepherds, and there exchanging their views concerning
religious verse. A group of three, standing apart from the rest, connect
themselves with the subject of the _Canzoniere_. The first describes the
ravages of the plague at Avignon; the second mourns over the death of
poetry in the person of Laura, who fell a victim on April 6, 1348; the
third is a dirge sung by the shepherdesses over her grave. One, lastly, a
neo-classic companion to Theocritus' tale of Galatea, recounts the poet's
unrequited homage to Daphne of the Laurels, thus again suggesting the
idealized source of Petrarch's inspiration. This poem is not only the gem
of the series, but embodies the mythopoeic spirit of classical imagination
in a manner unknown in the later days of the renaissance.

The, eclogues, twelve in number, appear to have been mostly composed
about the middle of the fourteenth century. In the days of Petrarch the
art of Latin verse was yet far from the perfection it attained in those of
Poliziano and Vida; it was a clumsy vehicle in comparison with the vulgar
tongue, which he affected to despise while setting therein the standard
for future ages. Nevertheless, Petrarch's Latin poems bear witness to the
natural genius for composition and expression to which we owe the
_Canzoniere_. The _editio princeps_ of the pastorals appeared in the form
of a beautifully printed folio at Cologne in 1473, ninety-nine years after
the poet's death. They were entitled _Eglogae_[26] (i.e. _aeglogae_), by
which, as Dr. Johnson remarked, Petrarch, finding no appropriate meaning
in the form _eclogae_, 'meant to express the talk of goatherds, though it
will only mean the talk of goats.'

No two men ever won for themselves more diverse literary reputations than
Petrarch and his friend Boccaccio. The Latin eclogue is one of their few
points of literary contact. The bucolic collections contain no less than
sixteen such poems from the pen of the younger writer[27], which, though
not devoid of merit as poetical exercises, show that as a metrist
Boccaccio fell almost as far short of his friend in the learned as in the
vulgar tongue. They were composed at various dates, mostly, it would
appear, after 1360, though some are certainly earlier; and it would be
difficult to say whether to him or to Petrarch belonged the honour of
reviving the form, were it not that, both in the poems themselves and in
his correspondance, he explicitly mentions Petrarch as his master in the
kind[28]. In any case the dates of composition must cover a wide period,
for the poems reflect varions phases of his life. 'Le Egloghe del
Boccaccio,' says an Italian critic, 'rappresentano tutta la vita
psicologica del poeta, dalle febbri d'amore alle febbri ascetiche.' The
amorous eclogues, to which in later life Boccaccio attached little
importance, are early; several are historical in subject and are probably
of later date, though one may be as early as 1348; there are others of a
religions nature which belong to the author's later years. The allusions
in these poems are so obscure that it would in most cases be hopeless to
seek to unravel the meaning had not the author left us a key in a letter
to Martino da Signa, prior of the Augustinians. Many of the subjects are
purely conventional, such as those of the early poems on the loves of the
shepherds, the historical panegyrics and laments, and the satire on rich
misers. The same may be said of a dispute on the respective merits of
poetry and commerce, and of a poem in praise of poetry; although the
former has an obvious relation to the author's own circumstances, and the
latter appears to be inspired by genuine enthusiasm and love of art. The
forces of confusion that have dogged the pastoral in all ages show
themselves where the poet tells a Christian fable in pagan guise; the
antithesis of human and divine love, while suggesting Petrarch's influence
over his life, is a theme that runs throughout medieval philosophy and was
later embodied by Spenser in his _Hymns_. One poem stands out from the
rest somewhat after the manner of Petrarch's _Daphne_. In it Boccaccio
tells us, under the thinnest veil of pastoral, how his daughter Violante,
dead in childhood many years before, appeared to him bearing tidings of
the land beyond the grave. The theme is the same as that of the almost
contemporary _Pearl_; and in treating it Boccaccio achieves something of
the sweetness and pathos of the English poem. One eclogue, finally, the
_Valle tenebrosa (Vallis Opaca)_, which appears to owe something to
Dante's description of hell, is probably historical in its intention, but
the gloss explains _obscurum per obscurius_, and we can only suppose that
the author intended that the inner sense should remain a mystery.

When Boccaccio wrote, the eclogue had not yet degenerated into the
literary convention it became in the following century; and, though he was
no doubt tempted to the use of the form by Vergilian tradition and the
example of Petrarch, he must also have followed therein a natural
inclination and no mere dictate of fashion. Even in these poems the
humanity of the writer's personality makes itself felt. While Laura tends
to fade into a personification of poetry, and Petrarch's strongest
convictions find expression through the mouth of St. Peter, we feel that
behind Boccaccio's humanistic exercise lies his own amorous passion, his
own religious enthusiasm, his own fatherly tenderness and love. His
eclogues, however, never attained the same reputation as Petrarch's, and
remained in manuscript till the appearance of Giunta's bucolic collection
of 1504.

* * * * *

As humanism advanced and the golden age of the renaissance approached,
Latin bucolic writers sprang up and multiplied. The fullest
collection--that printed by Oporinus at Basel in March, 1546--contains the
poems of thirty-eight authors, and even this makes no pretence of giving
those of the middle ages. The collection, however, ranges from Calpurnius
to Castalio (i.e. the French theologian Sebastien Chateillon), and
includes the work of Petrarca, Boccaccio, Spagnuoli, Urceo, Pontano,
Sannazzaro, Erasmus, Vida, and others. There is a strong family likeness
in the pastoral verse of these authors, and the majority are devoid of
individual interest. A few, however, merit separate notice.

It was in the latter half of the fifteenth century that the renaissance
eclogue, abandoning its last claims to poetic inspiration, assumed its
definitive form in the works of Battista Spagnuoli, more commonly known
from the place of his birth by the name of Mantuanus. His eclogues, ten in
number, were accepted by the sixteenth century as models of pastoral
composition, inferior to those of Vergil alone, were indeed any
inferiority allowed. Starting with the simple theme of love, the author
proceeds to depict its excess in the love-lunes of the distraught Amyntas.
Thence he passes to one of those satires on women in which the fifteenth
century delighted, so bitter, that when Thomas Harvey came to translate it
in 1656 he felt constrained, for his credit's sake, to add the note,
'What the author meant of all, the translater intends only of ill
women[29].' There follows the old complaint of the niggardliness of rich
patrons towards poor poets, and a satire on the luxury of city life. The
remaining poems are ecclesiastical. One is in praise of the religious
life, another describes the simple faith of the country folk and the joys
of conversion; finally, we have a satire on the abuses of Rome, and a
discussion on points of theological controversy. None of these subjects
possess the least novelty; the author's merit, if merit it can be called,
lies in having stamped them with their definitive form for the use of
subsequent ages. Combined with this lack of originality, however, it is
easy to trace a strong personal element in the bitterness of the satire
that pervades many of the themes, the orthodox eclogue on conversion
standing in curious contrast with that on ecclesiastical abuses.

It is not easy to account for Spagnuoli's popularity, but the curiously
representative quality of his work was no doubt in part the cause. His
poems were what, through the changing fashions of centuries, men had come
to expect of bucolic verse. They crystallized into a standard mould
whatever in pastoral, whether classical or renaissance, was most obviously
and easily reducible to a type, and so attained the position of models
beyond which it was needless to go. They were first printed in 1498, and
went through a number of editions during the author's lifetime. As a young
man--and it is to his earlier years that the bulk of the eclogues must be
attributed--Spagnuoli was noted for the elegance of his Latin verse; but
his facility led him into over-production, and Tiraboschi reports his
later writings as absolutely unreadable. He was of Spanish extraction, as
his name implies, became a Carmelite, and rose to be general of the order,
but retired in 1515, the year before his death.

Three eclogues are extant from the pen of Pontano, a distinguished
humanist at the court of Ferdinand I and his successors at Naples, and a
Latin poet of considerable grace and feeling. His poems were first
published by Aldus in 1505, two years after his death. In one
characteristic composition he laments the loss of his wife, to whom he was
deeply attached; another introduces under a pastoral name his greater
disciple Sannazzaro[30].

Jacopo Sannazzaro, known to humanism as Actius Sincerus, disciple of the
'Accademia Pontana,' and editor of his master's works, the greatest
explorer, if not the greatest exponent, of the mysteries of Arcadia, was
born of parents of Spanish origin at Naples in 1458. His boyhood was spent
at San Cipriano, but he soon returned to Naples, where he fell in love
with Carmosina Bonifacia. His passion does not appear to have been
reciprocated, but the lady has her place in literature as the Phillis of
the eclogues. He attached himself to the court of Frederick of Aragon,
whom he followed into exile in France. Returning to Naples after his
patron's death in 1503, he again fell in love, this time with a certain
Cassandra Marchesa, to whom he continued to pay court, _more Platonico_,
till his death in 1530. He is said to have died at her house.

To his Italian work I shall have to return later; here it is his five
Latin piscatory eclogues that demand notice. There is nothing in the
subject-matter to arrest attention--they consist of a lament for
Carmosina, a lover's complaint, a singing match, a panegyric, and a poem
in honour of Cassandra--but the form is interesting. Of course the claim
sometimes put forward for Sannazzaro, as the inventor of the piscatory
eclogue, ignores various passages in Theocritus, notably the twenty-first
Idyl, whence he presumably borrowed the idea. But it is certainly
refreshing, after wandering in an unreal Sicily and an imaginary Arcadia,
and listening to shepherds discourse of the abuses of the Roman Curia, to
dive into the waters of the bay of Naples, or wanton in fancy along its
sunlit shore from the low rocks of Baiae to the sheer cliffs of Sorrento,
and to feel that, even though Jacopo was no Neapolitan fisher-boy, and
Carmosina no nymph of Posilipo, yet the poet had at least before him the
blue water and the dark rocks, and in his heart the love that formed the
theme of his song[31].

Sannazzaro also wrote a mythological poem entitled _Salices_, in which
certain nymphs pursued by satyrs are changed by Diana into willows. The
tale was evidently suggested by Ovid, and cannot strictly be classed as
pastoral, though it may have helped to fix in pastoral convention the
character of the satyr; who, however, at no time enjoyed a very savoury
reputation. The Latin works were first published at Naples in 1536, and
though far from rivalling the popularity of the _Arcadia_, went through
several editions.

The Latin eclogues of the renaissance are distinguished from all other
forms of allegory by the obscure and recondite allusions that they
affected. There were few among their authors for whom the narration of
simple loves and sorrows or the graces of untutored nature possessed any
attraction; we find them either making their shepherds openly discuss
contemporary affairs, or more often clothing their references to actual
events in a sort of pastoral allegory, fatuous as regards its form and
obscure as regards its content. Tityrus and Mopsus are alternately lovers,
courtiers and spiritual pastors; Pan, when he does not conceal under his
shaggy outside the costly robes of a prince, is a strange abortive
monster, drawing his attributes in part from pagan superstition, in part
from Christian piety; a libel upon both. The seed sown by Petrarch and
Boccaccio bore fruit only too freely. The writers of eclogues, either
debarred from or incapable of originality, sought distinction by ever more
and more elaborate and involved allusions; and their works, in their own
day held the more sublime the more incomprehensible they were, are now the
despair of those who would wring from them any semblance of meaning.

The absurdities of the conventional pastoral did not, indeed, pass
altogether unnoticed in their own day, for early in the sixteenth century
Teofilo Folengo composed his _Zanitonella_ in macaronic verse. It consists
of eclogues and poems in hexameter and elegiac metre ridiculing polite
pastoralism through contrast with the crudities of actual rusticity. In
the same manner Berni travestied the courtly pastoral of vernacular
writers in his realistic pictures of village love. But though the satirist
might find ample scope for his wit in anatomizing the foible of the day,
fashionable society continued none the less to encourage the exquisite
inanity, and to be flattered by the elegant obscurity, of the allegorical


In 1481 appeared an Italian translation of the Bucolics of Vergil from the
pen of Bernardo Pulci. The same volume also contained a collection of
eclogues in the vernacular by various authors, none of which have any
particular interest beyond what attaches to them as practically heading
the list of Italian pastorals[32]. It will be noticed that these poems
correspond in date with the later school of Latin bucolic writers,
represented by Mantuan; and the vernacular compositions developed
approximately parallel to, though usually in imitation of, those in the
learned tongue. But the fourteenth-century school of Petrarch had not been
entirely without its representative in Italian. At least one poem included
by Boccaccio in his _Ameto_ is a strict eclogue, composed throughout in
_terza rima_, which was destined to become the standard verse-form for
'pastoral,' as _ottava rima_ for 'rustic,' composition. The poem is a
contention between an upland and a lowland shepherd, and begins in genuine
pastoral fashion:

Come Titan del seno dell' aurora
Esce, cosi con le mie pecorelle
I monti cerco sema far dimora.

It is chiefly differentiated from many similar compositions in Latin--and
the distinction is of some importance--in that the interest is purely
pastoral; no political or religious allusions being discernible under the
arguments of the somewhat quarrelsome swains[33]. This peculiarity is on
the whole characteristic of the later vernacular pastoral likewise, which,
after the appearance of the collection of 1481, soon became extremely
common, Siena and Urbino, Ferrara, Bologna and Padua, Florence and Naples,
all alike bearing practical witness to the popularity of the kind[34].

In 1506 Castiglione[35] and Cesare Gonzaga, in the disguise of shepherds,
recited an eclogue interspersed with songs before the court of Duke
Guidubaldo at Urbino. The Duchess Elizabeth was among the spectators. The
_Tirsi,_ as it is called, begins with the simple themes of pastoral
complaint, whence by swift transition it passes to a panegyric of the
court and the circle of the _Cortegiano_. It was not the first attempt at
bringing the pastoral upon the boards, since Poliziano's _Orfeo_ with its
purely bucolic opening had been performed as early as 1471; but
Castiglione's _ecloga rappresentativa_ was the first of any note to depend
purely on the pastoral form and to introduce on the stage the convention
of the allegorical pastoral. Some years later a further step was taken in
the dramatization of the eclogue by Luigi Tansillo in his _Due pelegrini_,
performed at Messina in 1538, though composed and probably originally
acted some ten years before. It is through these and similar poems that we
shall have to trace the gradual evolution of the pastoral drama in a later
section of this work. Tansillo was likewise the author, both of a poem
called _Il Vendemmiatore_, one of those obscene debauches of fancy which
throw a lurid light on the luxurious imagination of the age, and of a
didactic work, _Il Podere_, in which, as his editor somewhat naively
remarks, 'ci rende amabile la campagna e l'agricoltura[36].'

The practice of eclogue-writing soon became no less general in the
vernacular than in Latin, and the band of pastoral poets included men so
different in temperament as Machiavelli, who left a 'Capitolo pastorale'
among his miscellaneous works, and Ariosto, whose eclogue on the
conspiracy contrived in 1506 against Alfonso d'Este was published from
manuscript in 1835. The fashion of the piscatory eclogue, set by
Sannazzaro in Latin, was followed in Italian by his fellow-citizen
Bernardino Rota, and later by Bernardino Baldi of Urbino, Abbot of
Guastalla, in whose poems we are able at times to detect a ring of simple
and refreshing sincerity.

Though, as will be understood even from the brief summary given above, the
allusive element is not wholly absent from these poems, it is nevertheless
true, as already said, that it appears less persistently than in the Latin
works, the weighty matters of religion and politics being as a rule
avoided. The reason is perhaps not far to seek, since, being in the vulgar
tongue, they appealed to a wider and less learned audience, before whom it
might have been injudicious to utter too strong an opinion on questions of
church and state.

So far the pastoral poetry of Italy had been composed exclusively in the
literary Tuscan of the day. To Florence and to Lorenzo de' Medici in
particular is due the honour of having first introduced the rustic speech
of the people. His two poems written in the language of the peasants about
Florence, _La Nencia da Barberino_ and a canzonet _In morte della Nencia_,
possess a grace to which the quaintness of the diction adds point and
flavour. A short extract must suffice to illustrate the style.

Ben si potra tener avventurato
Chi sia marito di si bella moglie;
Ben si potra tener in buon di nato
Chi ara quel fioraliso senza foglie;
Ben si potra tenersi consolato
Che si contenti tutte le sue voglie
D' aver la Nencia, e tenersela in braccio
Morbida e bianca, che pare un sugnaccio.

* * * * *

Nenciozza mia, vuo' tu un poco fare
Meco a la neve per quel salicale?--
Si, volentier, ma non me la sodare
Troppo, che tu non mi facessi male.--
Nenciozza mia, deh non ti dubitare,
Che l' amor ch' io ti porto si e tale,
Che quando avessi mal, Nenciozza mia,
Con la mia lingua te lo leveria.

This form of composition at once became fashionable. Luigi Pulci[37]
composed his _Beca di Dicomano_, which attained almost equal success and
passed for the work of Lorenzo. It is, however, a far inferior production,
in which the quaintness of the model is replaced by coarse caricature and
its delicate rusticity by a cruder realism. Other imitations followed, but
none bear comparison with Lorenzo's poem[38]. It is in thought and
expression rather than in actual language that these poems distinguish
themselves from the literary pastoral. More noticeably dialectal is an
anonymous _Pescatoria amorosa_ printed about 1550. It is a Venetian
serenade sung in the persons of fishermen, and possesses a certain grace
of language:

Cortese donne, belle innamorae,
Donzelle, vedovette, e maridae,
Ascholte ste parole, che le no se cortelae,
Che intendere la causa del vegnir in ste contrae[39].

Symonds and D'Ancona alike remark, with perfect truth, that Lorenzo's
rustic style, in spite of its sympathetic grace, is not altogether
dissociated from burlesque. While free from the artificiality of court
pastoral, it is equally distinct from the natural simplicity of the
Theocritean idyl. Its flavour depends upon the half cynical, half kindly,
amusement afforded by the contrast between the _naivete_ of the country
and the familiar and conventional polish of town life. This theme had
already caught the fancy of the song-writers of the fourteenth century,
who produced some of the most delightful examples of native and
unconventional pastoral anywhere to be found[40]. Franco Sacchetti the
novelist, for example, gives us a series of charming vignettes of country
life and scenery, but always from the point of view of the town observer.
One poem of his in particular gained wide popularity, and a modernized and
somewhat altered version was iater printed among the works of Poliziano.
It was originally a _ballata_, but I prefer to quote some stanzas from the
traditional version:

Vaghe le montanine e pastorelle,
Donde venite si leggiadre e belle?--

Vegnam dall' alpe, presso ad un boschetto;
Picciola capannella e il nostro sito;
Col padre e colla madre in picciol tetto,
Dove natura ci ha sempre nutrito,
Torniam la sera dal prato fiorito
Ch' abbiam pasciute nostre pecorelle.--

Ben si posson doler vostre bellezze,
Poiche tra valli e monti le mostrate,
Che non e terra di si grandi altezze
Che voi non foste degne ed onorate.
Ora mi dite, se vi contentate
Di star nell' alpe cosi poverelle?--

Piu si contenta ciascuna di noi
Gire alla mandria, dietro alla pastura,
Piu che non fate ciascuna di voi
Gire a danzare dentro a vostre mura;
Ricchezza non cerchiam, ne piu ventura,
Se non be' fiori, e facciam ghirlandelle[41].

Other writers besides Sacchetti produced songs of the sort, but in all
alike the strictly pastoral element was accidental, and merged insensibly
into the more delicately romantic of the _novelle_ themes. The following
lines touch on a situation familiar in later pastoral and also found in
English ballad poetry. They are by Alesso Donati, a contemporary of
Sacchetti's. A nun sings:

La dura corda e 'l vel bruno e la tonica
Gittar voglio e lo scapolo
Che mi tien qui rinchiusa e fammi monica;
Poi teco a guisa d'assetato giovane,
Non gia che si sobbarcoli,
Venir me n' voglio ove fortuna piovane:

E son contenta star per serva e cuoca,
Che men mi cocero ch' ora mi cuoca[42].

But if pastoralism made its appearance in the lyric, the lyric equally
influenced pastoral, for it is in the songs of the fifteenth century that
we first meet with that spirit of graceful melancholy sighing over the
transitoriness of earthly things, the germ of the _volutta idillica_ of
the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor fido._ This vein is strong in Lorenzo's
charming carnival songs, which at once recall Villon's burden, 'Ou sont
les neiges d'antan?' and anticipate Tasso's warning:

Cangia, cangia consiglio,
Pazzerella che sei;
Che il pentirsi dassezzo nulla giova.

The 'triumph' of _Bacchus and Ariadne_, introduced with amorous nymphs and
satyrs, has the refrain:

Quant' e bella giovinezza,
Che si fugge tuttavia!
Chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
Di doman non c' e certezza.

The flower of lyric melancholy is already full blown. So, too, in another
carnival song of his:

Or che val nostra bellezza?
Se si perde, poco vale.
Viva amore e gentilezza!

_Gentilezza, morbidezza_--the yielding fancy in the disguise of pity, the
nerveless languor that passes for beauty--such is the dominant note of the
song upon men's lips in the troublous times of the renaissance[43].

Another of the outlying realms of pastoral is the mythological tale, more
or less directly imitated from Ovid. The first to introduce it in
vernacular literature was Boccaccio, who in his _Ninfale fiesolano_ uses
a pagan allegory to convey a favourite _novella_ theme. The shepherd
Affrico loves a nymph of Diana, and the tale ends by the goddess changing
her faithless votary into a fountain. It is written in somewhat cumbrous
_ottava rima_, and seldom shows any conspicuous power of narrative.
Belonging to the same class of composition, though of a very different
order of poetic merit, is Lorenzo's wonderfully graceful tale of _Ambra_.
The grace lies in the telling, for the plot was probably already stale
when Phoebus and Daphne were protagonists. The poem recounts how the
wood-nymph Ambra, beloved of Lauro, is pursued by the river-god Ombrone,
one of Arno's tributary divinities, and praying to Diana in her hour of
need, is by her transformed into a rock[44]. Lorenzo's _Selva d'amore_ and
_Caccia col falcone_ might also be mentioned in the same connexion.

Less pastoral in motive and less connected in narrative, but of even
greater importance in the formation of pastoral taste, is the famous
_Giostra_ written in honour of the young Giuliano de' Medici. I have
already more than once had occasion to mention its author, Angelo
Ambrogini, better known from the place of his birth as Poliziano or
Politian[45], the contemporary, dependent, and fellow-litterateur of
Lorenzo il Magnifico, and the greatest scholar and learned writer of the
Italian renaissance. As the author of the _Orfeo_ he will occupy our
attention when we come to trace the evolution of the pastoral drama.
Though he left no poems belonging to the recognized forms of pastoral
composition, his work constantly borders upon the kind, and evinces a
genuine sympathy with rustic life which makes the ascription to him of the
already quoted modernization of Sacchetti not inappropriate. He left
several other pieces of a similar nature, some of which at least are known
to be adaptations of popular songs[46]. Such, for instance, is the
irregular _canzone_ beginning:

La pastorella si leva per tempo
Menando le caprette a pascer fuora,
Di fuora, fuora: la traditora
Co' suoi begli occhi la m' innamora,
E fa di mezza notte apparir giorno.

The _Giostra_ is composed, like its predecessors, in the octave stanza,
and presents a series of pictures drawn from classical mythology or from
the poet's own imagination, adorned with all the physical beauty the study
of antiquity could supply and a rich and refined taste crystallize into
chastest jewellery of verse[47]. This blending of luxuriance and delicacy
is the characteristic quality of Poliziano's and Lorenzo's poetry. It is
admirably expressed in the phrase of a recent critic, 'the decorum of
things exquisite.' After the lapse of another half-century, during which
the renaissance advanced from its graceful youth to the full bloom of its
maturity, appeared the _Ninfa tiberina_ of Francesco Maria Molza. 'The
_volutta idillica_[48],' writes Symonds, 'which opened like a rosebud in
the _Giostra_, expands full petals in the _Ninfa tiberina_; we dare not
shake them, lest they fall.' Like the earlier poem it possesses little
narrative unity--the taie of Eurydice introduced by way of illustration
occupies more than a third of the whole--but every point is made the
occasion of minute decoration of the richest beauty. It was written for
Faustina Mancina, a celebrated courtesan, whose empire lay till the day of
her death over the papal city. The wealth of sensuality and wit that made
a fatal seduction of Rome for Molza, scholar and libertine, is reflected
as it were in the rich cadences and overwrought adornment of his verse.
Such compositions as these had a powerful influence over the tone of
idyllic poetry. I have mentioned only a few out of a considerable list.
The _Driadeo d'amore_ earlier--a mythological medley variously ascribed in
different editions to Luca and to Luigi Pulci--and Marino's _Adone_ later,
were likewise among the works that went to form the courtly taste to which
the pastoral drama appealed. The detailed criticism, however, of such
compositions lies beyond the scope of this work.


We must now return to an earlier period in order to follow the development
of the pastoral romance. When dealing with _Daphnis and Chloe_ I pointed
out that the Greek work could claim no part in the formation of the later
prose pastoral. Between it and the work of Boccaccio and Sannazzaro there
exists no such continuity of tradition as between the bucolics of the
classical Mantuan and those of his renaissance follower. The Italian
pastoral romance, in spite of its almost pedantic endeavour after
classical and mythological colouring, was as essentially a product of its
age as the pastoral drama itself. So far as any influence on the evolution
of the subsequent Arcadia was concerned, Longus might as well never have
written of the pastures of Lesbos. Indeed, were we here concerned in
assigning to its historical source each particular trait in individual
works, rather than in tracing the general development of an idea, it would
be casier to distinguish a faint and slightly cynical reminiscence of
_Daphnis and Chloe _ in the _Aminta_ and _Pastor fido_ than in the _Ameto_
or the _Arcadia_.

In his pastoral romance, 'Ameto, ovvero Commedia delie ninfe fiorentine,'
Boccaccio set a fashion in literature, namely the intermingling for
purposes of narration of prose and verse[49], in which he was followed a
century and a half later by Pietro Bembo, the Socrates of Castiglione's
renaissance Symposium, in his dialogue on love entitled _Gli Asolani_, and
by Jacopo Sannazzaro in his still more famous _Arcadia_. The _Ameto_ is
one of Boccaccio's early compositions, written about 1341, after his
return from Naples, but before he had gained his later mastery of
language. It is not unfairly characterized by Symonds as 'a tissue of
pastoral tales, descriptions, and versified interludes, prolix in style
and affected with pedantic erudition.' It is, however, possible to
underrate its merits, and it would be easy to overlook its historical
importance. Ameto is a rude hunter of the neighbourhood of Florence. One
day, while in the woods, he discovers a company of nymphs resting by a
stream, and overhears the song of the beautiful Lia. His rough nature is
touched by the sweetness of the music and he falls in love with the
singer. Their meetings are interrupted by the advent of winter, but he
finds her again at the feast of Venus, when shepherds, fauns, and nymphs
forgather at the temple of the goddess. In this company Lia proposes that
each of the nymphs present, seven in number, shall narrate the story of
her love. This they in turn do, each ending with a song of praise to the
gods; and Ameto feels his love burn for each in turn as he listens to
their tales. When the last has ended a sudden brightness shines around and
'there descended with wondrous noise a column of pure flame, even such as
by night went before the Israelitish people in the desert places,' Out of
the brightness cornes the voice of Venus:

Io son luce del cielo unica e trina,
Principio e fine di ciascuna cosa,
Del quai men fu, ne fia nulla vicina.

Ameto, though half blinded by the heavenly effulgence, sees a new joy and
beauty shine upon the faces of the nymphs, and understands that the
flame-shrouded presence is that, not of the wanton _mater cupidinum_, but
of the goddess of divine fire who comes to reveal to him the mysteries of
love. Cleansed of his grosser nature by a baptismal rite, in which each of
the nymphs performs some symbolic ceremonial, he feels heavenly love
replacing human in his heart, and is able to bear undazzled the radiance
of the divine purity. He salutes the goddess with a song:

O diva luce, quale in tre persone
Ed una essenza il ciel governi e 'l mondo
Con giusto amore ed eterna ragione,
Dando legge alle stelle, ed al ritondo
Moto del sole, principe di quelle,
Siccome discerniamo in questo fondo[50].

Various interpretations have been suggested for this work, with its
preposterous mixture of pagan and Christian motives. This peculiarity,
which we have already met with in Boccaccio's eclogues, and in his
_Ninfale fiesolano_, was indeed one of the most persistent as it was one
of the least admirable characteristics of pastoral composition. Francesco
Sansovino, who edited the _Ameto_ in 1545, discovered real personages
underlying the characters of the romance. Fiammetta is introduced by name,
and her lover Caleone can hardly be other than Boccaccio. More recent
commentators are probably right in detecting an allegorical intention. The
seven nymphs, according to them, represent the four cardinal and three
theological virtues, and their stories are to be interpreted symbolically.
This view derives support from the baptismal ceremony, in which after the
public lustration one of the nymphs removes the scales from Ameto's eyes,
while another, 'breathing between his lips, kindled within him a flame
such as he had never felt before.' In these ministrants it is not
difficult to recognize the virtues respectively of faith and love. Ameto
may be taken as typical of humanity, tamed of its savage nature by love,
and through the service of the virtues led to the knowledge of the divine
essence. The conception of love as a civilizing and humanizing power
already underlay the sensuous stanzas of the _Ninfale fiesolano_, while
the later part of the romance was not uninfluenced by recollections of the
_Divine Comedy_[51]. It is true that a modern mind will with difficulty be
able to reconcile the amorous confessions of the nymphs with the
characteristics of the virtues, but in Boccaccio's day the tradition of
the _Gesta Romanorum_ was still strong, and the age that mysticized
Vergil, and moralized Ovid, was capable of much in the way of allegorical

The point to which this allegorical interpretation can legitimately be
carried need not trouble us here. Having set himself to characterize the
virtues, it is moreover likely enough that Boccaccio sought at the same
time to connect his figures more or less definitely with actual persons.
It is sufficient for our present purpose if we recognize in the _Ameto_
something of the same triple intention which, not to put too fine a
metaphysical point upon the parallel, we meet with in Dante and in the
_Faery Queen_. Having fashioned in accordance with these motives the
framework of his book, Boccaccio further concerned himself but little with
this philosophical intention, and the allegorical setting having served
its artistic purpose of linking them together into one connected whole, it
was upon the detail of the narratives themselves that the author's
attention was concentrated. It is, however, just in this artistic purpose
of the setting that one of the chief interests of the _Ameto_ lies; for if
in the mingling of verse and prose it is the forerunner of the _Arcadia_,
in the linking together of a series of isolated stories it anticipates
Boccaccio's own _Decameron_.

While there is little that is distinctly bucolic about the _Ameto_, the
atmosphere is eminently pastoral in the wider sense. Nymphs and shepherds,
foresters and fauns meet at the temple of Venus; the limpid fountains and
shady laurels belong essentially to the conventional landscape, whether of
Sicily, of Arcadia, or of the hills overlooking the valley of the Arno.
The Italian imagination was not careful to differentiate between field and
forest: _favola boschereccia_ was used synonymously with _commedia
pastorale_; _drammi dei boschi_ is a term which covers the whole of the
pastoral drama. But what really gives the _Ameto_ its importance in the
history of pastoral literature is the manner in which, undisturbed by its
religions and allegorical machinery, it introduces us to a purely sensual
and pagan paradise, in which love with all its pains and raptures reigns

The narratives of the nymphs, and indeed the whole of the prose portions
of the work, are composed in a style of surcharged and voluptuous beauty,
congested with lengthy periods, and accumulated superlatives and relative
clauses, which, in its endeavour to maintain itself and its subject at the
highest possible pitch, only succeeds in being intensely and almost
uniformly monotonous and dull. It is perfectly true that the work
possesses some at least of the qualities of its defects. There are
passages which argue a feeling for beauty, none the less real for being of
a somewhat conventional order, while we not seldom detect a certain rich
luxuriance about the descriptions; but it must be admitted that on the
whole the style exhibits most of Boccaccio's faults and few of his merits.
The verse interspersed throughout is in _terza rima_, and offers small
attraction to the ordinary reader: 'meschinissima cosa' is a verdict
which, if somewhat severe, will probably find few to contradict it.

In a certain passage, speaking of Poliziano's _Orfeo_, Symonds remarks
that 'while Arcady became the local dreamland of the new ideal, Orpheus
took the place of its hero.' Without inquiring too closely how far the
writers of the renaissance actually connected the hero of music, as a
power of civilization, with their newly discovered country, it is
interesting to note that the earliest work in the Italian language
containing in however amoebean a state the pastoral ideal opens with an
allusion to Orpheus.

Quella vertu, che gia l'ardito Orfeo
Mosse a cercar le case di Plutone,
Allor che forse lieta gli rendeo
La cercata Euridice a condizione,
E dal suon vinto dell' arguto legno,
E dalla nota della sua canzone,
Per forza tira il mio debile ingegno
A cantar le tue Iode, o Citerea,
Insieme con le forze del tuo regno[53].

Orpheus, however, does not stand alone. Venus, Phoebus, Mars, Cupid, and
finally Jove, are each in turn invoked, to say nothing of the incidental
mention of Aeneas, Mirra, and Europa. This love of mythology in and out of
season is one of the most prominent features of the work. One of the
nymphs describes her youth in the following words:

il padre mio .... visse eccellentissimo ne' beni pubblici tra' reggenti,
e de' beni degli iddii copioso: me a lui donata da loro, nomino Mopsa, e
vedentemi nella giovanetta eta mostrante gia bella forma, ai servigi
dispose di Pallade, la quale me benivola ricevente nelle sante grotte
del cavallo Gorgoneo, tra le sapientissime Muse commise, la dov' io
gustai l'acque Castalie, e l'altezza di Cirra tentante, le stelle cercai
con ferma mano; e i pallidi visi, quelli luoghi colenti, sempre con
riverenza seguii; e molte volte sonando Apollo la cetera sua, lui nel
mezzo delle nove Muse ascoltai[54].

She continues for pages in the same strain with illustrative allusions to
Caius Julius, Claudius, and Britannicus.

At the risk of devoting to the _Ameto_ an altogether disproportionate
amount of the space at my disposai I must before passing on attempt to
give some notion of the kind of narrative contained in the romance, all
the more so as it is little known except to students. With this object I
have translated a characteristic passage from the tale of Agape[55].

I came from my home nigh unto the temple, before whose altars, with due
devotion, I began thus to pray: 'O Venus, full of pity, sacred goddess
whose altars I am joyful to approach, lend thou thy merciful ears unto
my prayer; for I come to thee a young girl, though fairly fashioned yet
ill-starred in love, fearful lest my empty years lead comfortless to a
chill old age; therefore, if my beauty merit that I be counted among thy
followers, enter thou into my breast who so desire thee, and grant that
in the love of a youth not unworthy of my beauty, and through whom my
wasted hours may be with delight made good, I may feel those fires of
thine which many times and endlessly I have heard praised.' I know not
whether while I was thus engrossed in prayer I fell on sleep, and
sleeping saw those things whereof I am about to tell, or whether,
indeed, I was rapt thence in bodily form to see them; all I can tell is
that suddenly I found myself borne through the heavens in a gleaming
chariot drawn by white doves, and that inclining my eyes to things below
I beheld the fruitful earth shrunk to a narrow room, and the rivers
thereof after the fashion of serpents; and after that I had left behind
the pleasant lands of Italy and the rugged mountains of Emathia, I
beheld the waters of the Dircean fount and the ancient walls raised by
the sound of Amphion's lyre, and soon there appeared to me the pleasant
Cytherean mount, and on it resting the holy chariots drawn by the
spotless birds. Whereon having alighted I went straying, alike uncertain
of the way and of the fortune that might await me, when, as to Aeneas
upon the Afric shore, so to me there amid the myrtles there appeared the
goddess I had invoked, and I was filled with wonder such as I had never
known before. She was disrobed except for the thinnest purple veil,
which hid but little of her form, falling in double curve with many
artful foldings over her left side; her face shone even as the sun, and
her head was adorned with great length of golden hair rippling down over
white shoulders; her eyes flashed with light never seen till then. Why
should I labour to tell the loveliness of her mouth and of her snowy
neck, of her marble breast and of her every part, since to do so lies so
far beyond my powers, and even where I able, hardly should my words gain
credence? But whereas she was now at hand I bowed my knees before her
godhead, and with such voice as I could command, repeated my petition in
her presence. She listened thereto, and approaching bade me rise,
saying, 'Follow me; thy prayer is heard, thy desire granted,' and
thereupon withdrew me to a somewhat loftier spot. There hidden amidst
the dense foliage she discovered to me her only son, upon whom gazing in
admiration, I found his beauty such that in all things did he appear
fashioned like unto her, except in so far as being he a god and she a
goddess. O how oft, remembering Psyche, I counted her happy and unhappy;
happy in the possession of such a husband, unhappy in his loss, most
happy in receiving him again from Jove. But even as I gazed, he, beating
the air with his sacred wings that gleamed with clearest gold, departed
with his load of newly fashioned arrows from those parts, and at the
bidding of the goddess I turned to the spring wherein he used to temper
his golden darts fresh forged with fiercest fire. Its silver waters,
gushing of themselves from the earth and shaded along the margin by a
growth of myrtle and dogwood, were neither violated in their purity by
the approach of bird or beast, nor suffered aught from the sun's
distemperature, and as I leaned forward to catch the reflection of my
own figure I could discern the clear bottom free from every trace of
mud[56]. The goddess, for that the hour was already hot, had doffed her
transparent veil and plunged her into the cool water, and now commanded
me that having stripped I too should enter the spring. We were yet
disporting ourselves in the lovely fountain, when, raising my head and
gazing with longing eyes around, I saw amid the leaves a youth, pale and
shy of appearance, who with slow steps was advancing towards the sacred
water. As I looked on him he was pleasant in my eyes, but that he should
behold me naked filled me with shame, and I turned away to hide my
unwonted blushes. And in like manner at the sight of me he too changed
colour and was troubled; he stayed his steps and advanced no further.
Then at the pleasure of the goddess leaving the water we resumed our
apparel, and crowned with myrtle sought a neighbouring glade, full of
finest grass and diapered with many flowers, where in the freshness we
stretched our limbs to rest. Thereupon the goddess, having called the
youth to us, began to speak in these words: 'Agape, most dear to me,
this youth, Apyros by name, whom thou seest thus shy amid our glades,
shall satisfy thy longing; but see that with care thou preserve
inviolate our fires, which in thy heart thou shalt bear with thee
hence.' I was about to make answer when my tender breast was of a sudden
pierced by the flying arrow loosed by the strong hand of the son of her
who added these unto her former words: 'We give him thee as thy first
and only servant; he lacks nought but our fires, which, kindled even now
by thee in him, be it thy care to nourish, that the frost that bound him
like to Aglauros being driven from his heart, he may burn with the
divine fire no less than father Jove himself.' She ceased; and I,
trembling yet with fear, no sooner opened my lips to assent to her
command, than I found myself once more in prayer before her altars;
whereat marvelling not a little, and casting my eyes around in search of
Apyros, I became aware of the golden arrow in my breast, and near me the
pale youth, his intent gaze fixed upon me, and like me wounded by the
god; and so seeing him inflamed with a passion no other than that which
burned in me, I laughed, and filled with contentment and desire, made
sign to him to be of hopeful cheer.

The advance in style that marks the transition from the _Ameto_ to the
_Arcadia_ must be largely accredited to Boccaccio himself. The language of
the _Decameron_ became the model of _cinquecento_ prose. Sannazzaro,
however, wrote in evident imitation not of the structural method only, but
of the actual style of the _Ameto_. Something, it is true, he added beyond
the greater mastery of literary form due to training. Even in his most
luxuriant descriptions and most sensuous images we find that grace and
clearness of vision which characterize the early poetry of the
Renaissance proper, and combine in literature the luminous purity of
Botticelli and the gem-like detail of Pinturicchio. The mythological
affectation of the elder work appears in the younger modified, refined,
subordinated; there is the same delight in detailed description, but
relieved by greater variety of imagination; while, even in the most
laboured passages, there is a poetical feeling as well as a more
subjective manner, which, combined with a remarkable power of
visualization, saves them from the danger of the catalogue. Again, there
is everywhere visible the same artificiality of style which characterizes
the _Ameto_, but purged of its more extravagant elements and less affected
and conceited than it became in the works of Lyly and Sidney. Like the
_Ameto_, lastly, but unlike its Spanish and English successors, the
_Arcadia_ is purely pastoral, free from any chivalric admixture.

The narrative interest in the _Arcadia_ is of the slightest. It opens with
a description of the 'dilettevole piano, di ampiezza non molto spazioso,'
lying at the summit of Parthenium, 'non umile monte della pastorale
Arcadia,' which was henceforth to be the abode sacred to the
shepherd-folk. There, as in Vergil's Italy and in Browne's Devon, in
Chaucer's dreamland, and in the realm of the Faery Queen, 'son forse
dodici o quindici alberi di tanto strana ed eccessiva bellezza, che
chiunque li vedesse, giudicherebbe che la maestra natura vi si fosse con
sommo diletto studiata in formarli.'[57] The shepherds, who are assembled
with their flocks, are about to seek their homes at the approach of night,
when they meet Montano playing upon his pipe, and a musical contest ensues
between him and Uranio. Next day is celebrated the feast of Pales, an
account of which is given at length, and is followed by a song in which
Galicio sings the praises of his mistress Amaranta, of whom the narrator
proceeds to give a minute description. After another singing-match between
Logisto and Elpino the company betake themselves to the tomb of Androgeo,
whose praises are set forth in prose and rime. There follows a song by the
old shepherd Opico, on the superiority of the 'former age'; after which
Carino asks the narrator, Sincero--the pseudonym under which Sannazzaro
travelled in the realm of shepherds--to recount his history, which he
does at length, ending with a lament in _sestina_ form. By way of
consoling him in his exile Carino, in return, tells the tale of his own
amorous adventures. Next the reverend Opico is induced to discourse of the
powers of magic as the shepherds proceed to the sacred grove of Pan, who
shares with Pales the honours of Arcadian worship, and to the games held
at the tomb of sibyllic Massilia--a name under which Sannazzaro is said to
have commemorated his own mother. At this point the narrator is troubled
by a dream portending death to the lady of his love. As, tormented by this
thought, he wanders lonely in the chill dawn he meets a nymph, who leads
him through a marvellous cavern into the depths of the earth, where he
beholds the springs of many famous rivers, and finally, following the
course of the Sabeto, arrives at his native city of Naples, where he
learns the truth of his sorrowful forebodings.

The form has been systematized since Boccaccio wrote, the whole being
divided into twelve _Prose_, alternating with as many _Ecloghe_, preceded
by a _Proemio_ and followed by an address _Alla sampogna_, both in prose.
The verse is mediocre, and several of the eclogues are composed in the
unattractive _sestina_ form, while others affect the wearisome _rime
sdrucciole_.[58] The most pleasing is Ergasto's lament at Androgeo's tomb,

Alma beata e bella,
Che da' legami sciolta
Nuda salisti ne' superni chiostri,
Ove con la tua stella
Ti godi insieme accolta;
E lieta ivi schernendo i pensier' nostri,
Quasi un bel sol ti mostri
Tra li piu chiari spirti;
E coi vestigi santi
Calchi le stelle erranti;
E tra pure fontane e sacri mirti
Pasci celesti greggi;
E i tuoi cari pastori indi correggi. (_Ecloga_ V.)

One would hardly turn to the artificiality of the _Arcadia_ for
representations of nature, and yet there is in the romance a genuine love
of the woods and the fields, and of the rustic sports of the season.
'Sogliono il piu delle volte gli alti e spaziosi alberi negli orridi monti
dalla natura prodotti, piu che le coltivate piante, da dotte mani
espurgate negli adorni giardini, a' riguardanti aggradare,' remarks
Sannazzaro at the outset. Elsewhere he furnishes us with an entertaining
description of the various ways in which birds may be trapped, introduced
possibly in pursuance of a hint from Longus.[59] Yet, in spite of his
professed love of savage scenery and his knowledge of pastoral sports, it
is after all in a very artificial and straitened form that nature filters
to us through Sannazzaro's pages. Rather do we turn to them for the sake
of the paintings on the temple walls, of Amaranta's lips, 'fresh as the
morning rose,' of her wild lapful of flowers, and of a hundred other
incidental pictures, one of the most charming of which, interesting on
another score also, I make no apology for here transcribing.

Subito ordino i premi a coloro, che lottare volessero, offrendo di dare
al vincitore un bel vaso di legno di acero, ove per mano del Padoano
Mantegna, artefice sovra tutti gli altri accorto ed ingegnosissimo, eran
dipinte molte cose: ma tra l' altre una ninfa ignuda, con tutti i membri
bellissimi, dai piedi in fuori, che erano come quelli delle capre; la
quale, sovra un gonfiato otre sedendo, lattava un picciolo satirello, e
con tanta tenerezza il mirava, che parea che di amore e di carita tutta
si struggesse: e 'l fanciullo nell' una mammella poppava, nell' altra
tenea distesa la tenera mano, e con l' occhio la si guardava, quasi
temendo che tolta non gli fosse. Poco discosto da costoro si vedean due
fanciulli pur nudi, i quali avendosi posti due volti orribili di
maschere cacciavano per le bocche di quelli le picciole mani, per porre
spavento a duo altri, che davanti loro stavano; de' quali l' uno
fuggendo si volgea in dietro, e per paura gridava; l' altro caduto gia
in terra piangeva, e non possendosi altrimenti aitare, stendeva la mano
per graffiarlo. (_Prosa_ XI.)

I shall make no attempt at translation. Some versions, really wonderful
in the success with which they reproduce the style of the original, will
be found in Symonds' _Italian Literature_[60]. It is probably unnecessary
to put in a warning that the _Arcadia_ is a work of which extracts are apt
to give a somewhat too favourable impression. In its long complaints,
speeches, and descriptions it is at whiles intolerably prolix and dull,
but it caught the taste of the age and went through a large number of
editions, many with learned annotations, between the appearance of the
first authorized edition and the end of the sixteenth century[61], There
were several imitations later, such as the _Accademia tusculana_ of
Benedetto Menzini; Firenzuola imitated the third _Prosa_ in his
_Sacrifizio pastorale_; while collections of tales and _facetiae_ such as
the _Arcadia in Brenta_ of Giovanni Sagredo equally sought the prestige of
the name. A French translation published in 1544 went through three
editions, and another appeared in 1737, while it was translated into
Spanish in 1547, and again in 1578. It may have been due to the existence
of Sidney's more ambitious work of the same name that no translation ever
appeared in English.

* * * * *

Our survey of Italian pastoralism, in spite of the fact that its most
important manifestation has been reserved for separate treatment later,
has of necessity been lengthy. It was at Italian breasts that the infant
ideal, reborn into a tumultuous world, was nursed. The other countries of
continental Europe borrowed that ideal from Italy, though each in turn
contributed characteristics of its own. It was to Italy that England too
was directly indebted, while at the same time it absorbed elements
peculiar to France and Spain. It will therefore be necessary briefly to
review the forms that flourished in those countries respectively, though
they need detain us but a brief space in comparison with the Italian

Before proceeding, however, it may be worth while to pause for a moment in
order to take a general survey of the nature of the ideal, we might almost
say the religion, of pastoralism, which reached its maturity in the work
of Sannazzaro. Its location in the uplands of Arcadia may be traced to
Vergil, who had the worship of Pan in mind, but the selection of the
barren mountain district of central Peloponnesus as the seat of pastoral
luxuriance and primitive culture is not without significance in respect of
the severance of the pastoral ideal from actuality.[62] In it the
world-weary age of the later renaissance sought escape from the
materialism that bound it. Italy had turned its back upon mysticism in
religion, and upon chivalry in love; its literature was the negation of
what the northern peoples understand by romance. Yet it needed some relief
from the very saneness of its rationalism, and it found the antidote to
its vicious court life in the crystal springs of Castaly. What the pietism
of Perugino's saints is to the feuds of the Baglioni, such is the Arcadian
dream to the intellectual cynicism of Italian politics.

When children weave fancies of wonderland they use the resources of the
imagination with economy; uninterrupted sunshine soon cloys. So too with
these other children of the renaissance. Their wonderland is a place
whither they may escape from the pressure of the world that is too much
with them; they seek in it at least the virtue that its evils shall be the
opposite of those from which they fly. They could not, it is true, believe
in an Arcadia in which all the cares of this world should end--the golden
age is always a time to be sung and remembered, or else to be dreamed of,
in the years to come, it is never the present--but if they cannot escape
from the changes and chances of this mortal life, if death and unfaith
are still realities in their dreamland as on earth, they will at least
utter their grief melodiously, and water fair pastures with their tears.
Like the garden of the Rose which satisfied the middle age before it, the
Arcadian ideal of the renaissance degenerated, as every ideal must. The
decay of pastoral, however, was in this unique, that it tended less to
exaggerate than to negative the spirit that gave it birth. Theocritus
turned from polite society and sought solace in his no doubt idealized
recollections of actual shepherd life. On the other hand, to the
allegorical pastoralists from Vergil to Spagnuoli, the shepherd-realm
either reflects, or is made directly to contrast with, the interests and
vices of the actual world; in their work the note of longing for escape to
an ideal life is heard but faintly or not at all. In the songs of the late
fifteenth century and in Sannazzaro there is a genuine pastoral revival;
the desire of freedom from reality is strong upon men in that age of
strenuous living. It has been happily said that Mantuan's shepherds meet
to discuss society, Sannazzaro's to forget it. And yet, after all, these
men are too strongly bound by the affections of this world to be able
wholly to sacrifice themselves to the joys of the ideal. Fiammetta must
have her place in Boccaccio's strange apotheosis of love; the foreboding
of Carmosina's death has power to draw her lover from his newly discovered
kingdom along the untrodden paths of the waters of the earth. And so when
Arcadia ceased to be a necessity of sentiment and became one of fashion,
where poets were no longer content to wander with their mistresses in the
land of fancy, alone, 'at rest from their labour with the world gone by,'
there appeared a tendency to return to the allegorical style, and to make
Arcadia what Sicily had already become--the mirror of the polite society
of the Italian courts. Thus it is that in the crowning jewels of Italian
pastoralism, in the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor fido_, we trace a yearning
towards a simpler, freer, and more genuine life, side by side with such
incompatible and antagonistic elements as the reproduction in pastoral
guise of the personages and surroundings of the circle of Ferrara. Not
content with the pure ideal, the poets endeavoured, like Faust at the
sight of Helena, to find in it a place for the earthly affections that
bound them, and at the touch of reality the vision dissolved in mist.


When we turn to the literature of the western peninsula during the early
years of the sixteenth century, we find it characterized by a temporary
but very complete subjection to Italian models. This phenomenon, which is
particularly marked in pastoral, is readily explained by the fact that the
similarity of the dialects made the transference of poetic forms from
Italian to Spanish an easy matter. Thus when among the nations of Europe
Italy awoke to her great task of recovering an old and discovering a new
world of arts and letters, it was upon Spanish verse that she was able to
exercise the most immediate and overpowering influence. Under these
circumstances it was impossible but that she should drag the literature of
that country, for a while at least, in her train, away from its own proper
genius and natural course of development. Other countries were saved from
servitude by the very failure of their attempts to imitate the new Italian
style; and Spain herself, it must be remembered, was not long in
recovering her individuality and in endowing Europe with one of the
richest national literatures of the world.

It is important, however, to distinguish from the pastoral work produced
under this dominating Italian influence certain other work in the kind,
which, while to some extent dependent for its form upon foreign models,
bears at the same time strong marks of native inspiration. In this earlier
and more popular tradition the tendencies of the national literature, the
pastoral possibilites of which appear at times in the ballads, mingle more
or less with elements of convention and allegory drawn from Vergil or his
humanistic followers. Little influence of this popular tradition can as a
rule be traced in the later pastoral work, but it acquires a certain
incidental interest in connexion with another branch of literature. It is,
namely, the remarkable part it played in the evolution of the national
drama that makes it worth while mentioning a few of its more important
examples in this place.[63]

An isolated composition, in which lay not so much the germ of the future
drama as the index of its possibility, is the _Coplas de Mingo Revulgo_,
the composition of an unknown author. It is an eclogue in which two
shepherds, representing respectively the upper and lower orders of Spanish
society, discourse together on the causes of national discontent and
political corruption prevalent about 1472, at the latter end of the weak
reign of Enrique IV. In this poem we find the king's infatuation for his
Portuguese mistress treated much as Petrarch had treated the relations of
Clement VI with the allegorical Epi, except for the striking difference
that the Latin of the Italian poet is replaced by straightforward and
vigorous vernacular. Of far greater importance in the history of
literature are certain poems--_Eclogas_ they are for the most part
styled--of Juan del Encina, which belong roughly to the closing years of
the fifteenth and opening years of the sixteenth century. Numbering about
a dozen, and composed with one exception in the short measures of popular
poetry, these dramatic eclogues, or amoebean plays, supply the connecting
link between the early popular and religious shows and the regular drama.
About half are religious in character; of the rest, three treat some
romantic episode, one is a study of unrequited passion ending in suicide,
and one is a market-day farce, the personae being in each case rude
herdsmen. Contemporary with, though a disciple of, Encina, is the
Portuguese Gil Vicente, who wrote in both dialects, and whose _Auto
pastoril castelhano_ may be cited as carrying on the tradition between his
master and Lope de Vega.

With Lope's dramatic production as a whole we are not, of course,
concerned. He lies indeed somewhat off our track; the pastoral influence
in his work is capricious. It will be sufficient to note that the
influence, where it exists, is external; it is nowhere the outcome of
Christian allegory, nor does it arise out of the nature of the subject as
such titles as the _Pastores de Belen_ might suggest. It is found equally
in the religious or quasi-religious plays--such as the _Vuelta de Egypto_
with its shepherds and gypsies, and the _Pastor lobo_, an allegorical
satire on the church Lope afterwards entered--and in such purely secular,
amorous, and on the whole less dramatic pieces as the _Arcadia_--not to be
confused with his romance of the same name--and the _Selva sin amor_, a
regular Italian pastoral in miniature, both of which were acted, besides
many others intended primarly for reading, though they may possibly have
been recited after the manner of Castiglione's _Tirsi_.

While on the subject of the drama I may mention translations of the
_Aminta_ and _Pastor fido_. Tasso's piece was rendered into Castilian by
Juan de Jauregui, and first printed at Rome in 1607, a revised edition
appearing among the author's poems in 1618. The _Pastor fido_ was
translated by Cristobal Suarez de Figueroa, the best version being that
printed at Valentia in 1609, from which Ticknor quotes a passage as
typical as it is successful. It was to these two versions of the
masterpieces of Italian pastoral that Cervantes accorded the highest meed
of praise, declaring that 'they haply leave it doubtful which is the
translation or original.'[64] There likewise exists a poor adaptation of
Guarini's play, said to be the work of Solis, Coello, and Calderon[65].
The pastoral appears, however, never to have gained a very firm footing
upon the mature Spanish stage, no doubt for the same reason that led to a
similar result in England, namely, that the vigorous national drama about
it overpowered and choked its delicate and exotic growth[66].

Apart from the dramatic or semi-dramatic work we have been reviewing, the
pastoral verse which possesses the most natural and national character,
though it may not be the earliest in date, is to be found in the poems of
Francisco de Sa de Miranda[67]. He appears to have begun writing
independently of the Italian school, and, even after he came under the
influence of Garcilaso, to have preserved much of his natural simplicity
and genuineness of feeling. He probably had some direct knowledge of the
Italians, for he writes:

.... os pastores italianos
Do bom velho Sanazarro.

He may also have been influenced by Encina, most of whose work had already

The first and foremost of those who deliberately based their style on the
Italian was Garcilaso de la Vega, whose pastoral work dates from about
1526. To him, in conjunction with Boscan and Mendoza, the vogue was due.
At his best, when he really assimilates the foreign elements borrowed from
his models and makes their style his own, he writes with the true genius
of his nation. The first of his three eclogues, which was probably
composed at Naples and is regarded as his best work, introduces the
shepherds Salico and Nemoroso, of whom the first stands for the author,
while in the other it is not hard to recognize his friend Boscan. This
poem, a portion of which is translated by Ticknor, should of itself

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