In 1711 the opera L'Anagilda was performed in the private theatre of Francesco Maria Ruspoli, an important Roman patron of the Arcadian Academy. L'Anagilda's librettist (Girolamo Gigli) and composer (Antonio Caldara) were both associated with this society, but the opera contrasts with the basic goal of Arcadian aesthetics – namely, to reform literature and opera by imitating the structure of ancient Greek tragedy and the stylistic purity of Italian renaissance poets. Rather, Gigli and Caldara created an opera infused with comedy, interspersed with fantastic intermezzos and formulated according to a genre not endorsed by Arcadian literary critics, the mock heroic. This article explores topics related to one central question: why would Gigli and Caldara openly flout the literary precepts of Arcadia? Gigli was a career satirist whose works eventually caused him to be exiled from his native Siena, all of Tuscany and the Papal States, and to be expelled from three major literary academies, the Intronati, the Cruscanti and the Arcadians. Since he continually criticized the organizations to which he belonged for their narrow-mindedness, prejudice and hypocrisy, I contend that L'Anagilda represents a critique of Arcadia. Yet in the process, Gigli also shows the Arcadians that there is more than one path to verisimilitude and the imitation of classical models. Despite the mock-heroic characteristics of the libretto, Gigli adheres to some Arcadian structural requirements, and Caldara's score heightens the characterizations and the overall verisimilitude of the opera.