Virgil and the European Pastoral Tradition: The Invention of Arcadia

Humanities Seminars Course

Virgil and the European Pastoral Tradition: The Invention of Arcadia

Professor Emeritus Norman Austin Department of Religious Studies and Classics
Past Course
FRIDAYS 10:00 am - 12:00 pm June 30 - July 28, 2017
Dorothy Rubel Room



Virgil, the greatest Roman poet, did more to establish the idea of Rome (and hence of the Roman Empire) than any other ancient poet. As a young man he began his poetic career writing pastoral poems, which are called Eclogues. This seminar will study the political pressures in the final days of the Roman Republic that led Virgil to invent a new genre of poetry. He borrowed the idea of the pastoral from the Hellenistic Greek poets, but made a new genre of poetry uniquely his own. Concentrating on a selection from Virgil’s Eclogues, this seminar will trace both the influence of the Greek tradition and Virgil’s own influence in creating a style and a genre of pastoral poetry that was to have immense significance in subsequent European poetry.



Required Reading: 

Virgil. The Eclogues of Virgil: A Bilingual Edition. Trans. David Ferry. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. ISBN-10: 0374526966; ISBN-13: 978-0374526962.

Theocritus. Idylls. Trans. Anthony Verity. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN-10: 0199552428; ISBN-13: 978-0199552429.

NORMAN AUSTIN is Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Arizona. With his B.A. from Toronto and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, he has taught Greek and Latin literature at several universities. He joined the University of Arizona in 1980. He has taught courses in epic, tragedy, and philosophy, and numerous Humanities Seminars. He has published five books on Greek literature and myth.


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