PASTORAL

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PASTORAL, or IDYL (el6v\\tov, a little image or picture, thence a little poem), is the general name of those poems which represent men in the simplicity and innocence in which they are thought to have lived before the origin of civic relations, and the vices thence resulting. "When we look back in imagination to an original state of man, we naturally reter it to a shepherd's life, since feeding flocks and tilling the ground were the first occupations of man, and are older than civil society. As the first strains of poetry must have been heard in the primitive times of the human race, and as a shepherd's life is congenial with this mode of occupation, we naturally consider poetry as having originated in the pastoral period. The wonders of nature which lay every moment before the shepherd's eyes, must have kindled in his breast poetic fire. The proper idyl, however, as a peculiar style of poetiy, had its origin in a corrupt state of society, on account of the desire of men for a better and more natural state of life. The poetic idea of pastoral life, however, is not supported by experience; for the shepherds of the present day are rude and barbarous, whether living in tribes, or forming a class in the midst of men of other occupations. There have been both epic and dramatic idyls. To the epic belong the pastoral romances of ancient and modern poets; also the Luise of Voss, and the Hermann and Dorothea of Go the, &c, and, in a more limited sense, the greater part of the idyls of Theocritus, and his imitators, Virgil and Calpurnius. Among the dramatic are Guarini's Pastor Fido, Gessner's Evander, and several other pieces of the moderns, to which may be added the satyrica of the Greeks. The greater part of the bucolics and eclogues of the ancients and moderns are lyric. The idyl must show a world in which nature alone gives laws. Restrained by no civil customs, by no arbitrary rules of politeness, men must there give themselves up to the impressions of nature. They know no wants but those which nature imposes, and no blessings but the gifts which she bestows. Their principal passion is love, but love without restraint, without dissimulation, without Platonic sublimity. Their arts are bodily exercises, singing and dancing; their riches fruitful flocks; their utensils a shepherd's crook, a flute and a cup. There are also allegoric idyls, among which are the first and tenth eclogues of Virgil, the idyls of Madame Deshoulieres, and, in a measure, Pope's Messiah. The principal writer of idyls among the ancients was Theocritus, who has likewise represented the most simple relations of city life. He was followed by Bion and Moschus. Pope has imitated Virgil in four pastorals; and Gessner was regarded by some former critics as a model for pastoral poets. His fame, however, has diminished.