Theocritus, Bion and Moschus rendered into English Prose

Andrew Lang
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Title: Theocritus, Bion and Moschus rendered into English Prose
Author: Andrew Lang
Release Date: December, 2003 [EBook #4775]
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0. START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK,
THEOCRITUS, BION AND MOSCHUS ***
Transcribed by David Price, email ccx074[email protected]
, from the
1889 Macmillan and Co. edition.
THEOCRITUS, BION AND MOSCHUS RENDERED INTO
ENGLISH PROSE WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY BY
ANDREW LANG
LIFE OF THEOCRITUS
(From Suidas)
Theocritus, the Chian. But there is another Theocritus, the son of
Praxagoras and Philinna (see Epigram XXIII), or as some say of
Simichus. (This is plainly derived from the assumed name Simichidas
in Idyl VII.) He was a Syracusan, or, as others say, a Coan settled in
Syracuse. He wrote the so-called Bucolics in the Dorian dialect. Some
attribute to him the following works:- The Proetidae, The Pleasures of
Hope ([Greek]), Hymns, The Heroines, Dirges, Ditties, Elegies,
Iambics, Epigrams. But it known that there are three Bucolic poets: this
Theocritus, Moschus of Sicily, and Bion of Smyrna, from a village
called Phlossa.
LIFE OF THEOCRITUS
[Greek]
(Usually prefixed to the Idyls)
Theocritus the Bucolic poet was a Syracusan by extraction, and the son
of Simichidas, as he says himself, Simichidas, pray whither through the
noon dost thou dray thy feet? (Idyl VII). Some say that this was an
assumed name, for he seems to have been snub-nosed ([Greek]), and
that his father was Praxagoras, and his mother Philinna. He became the
pupil of Philetas and Asclepiades, of whom he speaks (Idyl VII), and
flourished about the time of Ptolemy Lagus. He gained much fame for
his skill in bucolic poetry. According to some his original name was
Moschus, and Theocritus was a name he later assumed.
THEOCRITUS AND HIS AGE
At the beginning of the third century before Christ, in the years just
preceding those in which Theocritus wrote, the genius of Greece

seemed to have lost her productive force. Nor would it have been
strange if that force had really been exhausted. Greek poetry had
hitherto enjoyed a peculiarly free development, each form of art
succeeding each without break or pause, because each--epic, lyric,
dithyramb, the drama--had responded to some new need of the state
and of religion. Now in the years that followed the fall of Athens and
the conquests of Macedonia, Greek religion and the Greek state had
ceased to be themselves. Religion and the state had been the patrons of
poetry; on their decline poetry seemed dead. There were no heroic
kings, like those for whom epic minstrels had chanted. The cities could
no longer welcome an Olympian winner with Pindaric hymns. There
was no imperial Athens to fill the theatres with a crowd of citizens and
strangers eager to listen to new tragic masterpieces. There was no
humorous democracy to laugh at all the world, and at itself, with
Aristophanes. The very religion of Sophocles and Aeschylus was
debased. A vulgar usurper had stripped the golden ornaments from
Athene of the Parthenon. The ancient faith in the protecting gods of
Athens, of Sparta, and of Thebes, had become a lax readiness to bow
down in the temple of any Oriental Rimmon, of Serapis or Adonis.
Greece had turned her face, with Alexander of Macedon, to the East;
Alexander had fallen, and Greece had become little better than the
western portion of a divided Oriental empire. The centre of intellectual
life had been removed from Athens to Alexandria (founded 332 B.C.)
The new Greek cities of Egypt and Asia, and above all Alexandria,
seemed no cities at all to Greeks who retained the pure Hellenic
traditions. Alexandria was thirty times larger than the size assigned by
Aristotle to a well-balanced state. Austere spectators saw in Alexandria
an
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