Bucolic Ecology: Virgils Eclogues and the Environmental Literary Tradition

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Bloomsbury Collections. Accessed September 25, Share x. Buy This Book. Book DOI Front matter Full Text Access Dedication pp. Full Text Access Preface pp. The Generic Landscape and Bucolic Space pp. Flora pp. Fauna pp.

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Places in and out of Eclogue-land pp. Fiskevold and Geelmuyden contend that it is time to free the idea of landscape from its relatively recent place within the natural sciences. Instead, landscapes should be explored and presented through a language which allows for imaging the relationship between humans and their environment in its ever-changing variety.

Arcadia updated primarily addresses professionals of landscape planning, especially those who conduct landscape analyses. However, anyone interested in landscape and the role it plays in the life of individuals and society might enjoy it.

The book argues for an alternative approach to the task of analysing landcapes: the term landscape means more than what most methods of analysis today are able to convey and make an area into. Characterising identifying a landscape is always an act of interpretation, which must be performed again and again.


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Arcadia Uptated delves into the fundamentals for analysing landscapes. It shows how the practice of landscape analysis in planning can tbe traced back over two millennia to the tradition of pastorals within the arts. The authors give examples of analytical narratives, contemporary pastorals, which characterise areas as landscapes.

Besides being a question of aesthetic criticism, any landscape analysis is also an ethical and political act. Pastoral poems are set in beautiful rural landscapes, the literary term for which is "locus amoenus" Latin for "beautiful place" , such as Arcadia , a rural region of Greece , mythological home of the god Pan , which was portrayed as a sort of Eden by the poets.

The tasks of their employment with sheep and other rustic chores is held in the fantasy to be almost wholly undemanding and is left in the background, leaving the shepherdesses and their swains in a state of almost perfect leisure.

Bucolic Ecology

This makes them available for embodying perpetual erotic fantasies. The shepherds spend their time chasing pretty girls — or, at least in the Greek and Roman versions, pretty lads as well. The eroticism of Virgil 's second eclogue , Formosum pastor Corydon ardebat Alexin "The shepherd Corydon burned with passion for pretty Alexis" is entirely homosexual [5].

Pastoral literature continued after Hesiod with the poetry of the Hellenistic Greek Theocritus , several of whose Idylls are set in the countryside probably reflecting the landscape of the island of Cos where the poet lived and involve dialogues between herdsmen. He wrote in the Doric dialect but the metre he chose was the dactylic hexameter associated with the most prestigious form of Greek poetry, epic.

This blend of simplicity and sophistication would play a major part in later pastoral verse. Theocritus was imitated by the Greek poets Bion and Moschus. The Roman poet Virgil adapted pastoral into Latin with his highly influential Eclogues. Virgil introduces two very important uses of pastoral, the contrast between urban and rural lifestyles and political allegory [7] most notably in Eclogues 1 and 4 respectively.

In doing so, Virgil presents a more idealized portrayal of the lives of shepherds while still employing the traditional pastoral conventions of Theocritus. He was the first to set his poems in Arcadia, an idealized location to which much later pastoral literature will refer. Horace 's The Epodes , ii Country Joys has "the dreaming man" Alfius, who dreams of escaping his busy urban life for the peaceful country. But as "the dreaming man" indicates, this is just a dream for Alfius.

He is too consumed in his career as a usurer to leave it behind for the country. Later Silver Latin poets who wrote pastoral poetry, modeled principally upon Virgil's Eclogues, include Calpurnius Siculus and Nemesianus and the author s of the Einsiedeln Eclogues.


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  8. Italian poets revived the pastoral from the 14th century onwards, first in Latin examples include works by Petrarch , Pontano and Mantuan then in the Italian vernacular Sannazaro , Boiardo. The fashion for pastoral spread throughout Renaissance Europe.

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    In Spain, Garcilaso de la Vega was an important pioneer and his motifs find themselves renewed in the 20th-century Spanish-language poet Giannina Braschi. Leading French pastoral poets include Marot and Ronsard. The first pastorals in English were the Eclogues c. Spenser's work consists of twelve eclogues, one for each month of the year, and is written in dialect. It contains elegies , fables and a discussion of the role of poetry in contemporary England. Spenser and his friends appear under various pseudonyms Spenser himself is "Colin Clout".


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    During this period of England's history, many authors explored "anti-pastoral" themes. Additionally, he wrote Arcadia which is filled with pastoral descriptions of the landscape. In the 17th century came the arrival of the Country house poem. In , Ben Jonson wrote To Penshurst, a poem in which he addresses the estate owned by the Sidney family and tells of its beauty.

    The basis of the poem is a harmonious and joyous elation of the memories that Jonson had at the manor. It is beautifully written with iambic pentameter, a style that Jonson so eloquently uses to describe the culture of Penshurst. It is very important to note the insertion of Pan and Bacchus as notable company of the manor.

    Pan, Greek god of the Pastoral world, half man and half goat, was connected with both hunting and shepherds; Bacchus was the god of wine, intoxication and ritual madness. This reference to Pan and Bacchus in a pastoral view demonstrates how prestigious Penshurst was, to be worthy in the company with gods, notions of just how romanticized the estate was.

    Philips focuses on the joys of the countryside and looks upon the lifestyle that accompanies it as being "the first and happiest life, when man enjoyed himself. The poem is very rich with metaphors that relate to religion, politics and history. Similar to Jonson's "To Penshurst", Marvell's poem is describing a pastoral estate.

    It moves through the house itself, its history, the gardens, the meadows and other grounds, the woods, the river, his Pupil Mary, and the future. Marvell used nature as a thread to weave together a poem centered around man. We once again see nature fully providing for man. Marvell also continuously compares nature to art and seems to point out that art can never accomplish on purpose what nature can achieve accidentally or spontaneously.

    In this pastoral work, he paints the reader a colorful picture of the benefits reaped from hard work. This is an atypical interpretation of the pastoral, given that there is a celebration of labor involved as opposed to central figures living in leisure and nature just taking its course independently. This acknowledgment of Herrick's work is appropriate, as both Williams and Herrick accentuate the importance of labor in the pastoral lifestyle. The pastoral elegy is a subgenre that uses pastoral elements to lament a death or loss. The most famous pastoral elegy in English is John Milton 's " Lycidas " , written on the death of Edward King, a fellow student at Cambridge University.

    Milton used the form both to explore his vocation as a writer and to attack what he saw as the abuses of the Church. The formal English pastoral continued to flourish during the 18th century, eventually dying out at the end.

    Ancient medieval literature

    One notable example of an 18th-century work is Alexander Pope 's Pastorals In this work Pope imitates Edmund Spenser 's Shepheardes Calendar , while utilizing classical names and allusions aligning him with Virgil. In this work Pope sets standards for pastoral literature and critiques many popular poets, one of whom is Spenser, along with his contemporary opponent Ambrose Phillips. During this time period Ambrose Phillips , who is often overlooked because of Pope, modeled his poetry after the Native English form of Pastoral, employing it as a medium to express the true nature and longing of Man.

    He strove to write in this fashion to conform to what he thought was the original intent of Pastoral literature. As such, he centered his themes around the simplistic life of the Shepherd, and, personified the relationship that humans once had with nature. John Gay , who came a little later was criticized for his poem's artificiality by Doctor Johnson and attacked for their lack of realism by George Crabbe , who attempted to give a true picture of rural life in his poem The Village.

    In , Edmund Spenser also composed a very famous pastoral epic called The Faerie Queene , in which he employs the pastoral mode to accentuate the charm, lushness, and splendor of the poem's super natural world. Spenser alludes to the pastoral continuously throughout the work and also uses it to create allegory in his poem, with the characters as well as with the environment, both of which are meant to have symbolic meaning in the real world.

    It is composed of six books but Spenser intended to write twelve.