Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 February 2013
The classical periodical literature of the last thirty years or so does not contain much about Virgil's fifth Eclogue, and those scholars who have written on it have mostly been concerned with the mysterious figure of Daphnis and the question of his relationship to Julius Caesar. Two exceptions are Adelaide Hahn, who briefly discussed the first 19 lines to show that the characters of Menalcas and Mopsus are sharply differentiated, and Peter Steinmetz, who, in an article about the Eclogues as dramatic poems, devoted three short paragraphs to Eclogue 5 and argued for the existence of a homosexual element in the exchanges between the two shepherds. Like Hahn and Steinmetz, I shall be concerned with characterisation and dramatic progression. It seems to me that the poem is most interesting if regarded primarily as a mime, with a beginning, a middle and an end, a miniature comedy in which we are expected to read between the lines.
This paper is a shortened and somewhat altered version of a Loeb Classical Lecture delivered at Harvard University in October 1976. Its publication gives me an opportunity of thanking in print the Department of the Classics there, and in particular Professor Wendell Clausen, for generous hospitality to my wife and me. I also wish to thank Dr James Diggle and Dr Michael Silk for valuable criticism.
4. The opposite extreme is represented by Rohde, Georg, Studien und Interpretationen (1963) 117–39Google Scholar.
8. Karl Büchner, in his article on Virgil in Pauly–Wissowa (col.1215), is aware of the logical consequences of 55 iampridem and 13 nuper but chooses not to face them.
9. Inst. 9.4.7 ‘Quanto uehementior fluminum cursus est prono alueo ac nullas moras obiciente quam inter obstantia saxa fractis aquis ac reluctantibus, tanto, quae conexa est et totis uiribus fluit, fragosâ atque interruptâ melior oratio.’
11. For the metrical structure of line 2, with a sense pause after a strong caesura in the fourth foot, combined with dactylic diaeresis, cf. Theoc.17.118, Bion 1.84; at Theoc.11.34 the sense pause is lighter.
12. Menalcas: (a) 2,19,47,50,51,52,59,61,64,65,66,70,77,78,79.
Mopsus: (a) 15,23,28.