The Glory That Was Greece

artificial in art and literature amid much of supreme beauty. We think at once of Vergil, Spenser, Sidney, Milton, Watteau, and the Dresden shepherdess. Theocritus is the literary father of all these. In his famous Fifteenth Idyll, which describes with exquisite humour the conversation of a pair of Sicilian dames going to see a festival of Adonis at Alexandria, we have the beginnings of another literary form—the mime. This is a rudimentary style of drama which seeks to portray little genre scenes of life with no attempt at a plot. Herondas of Cos was the principal master of this art.

Two pupils of Theocritus were Bion and Moschus, both accomplished elegiac poets. Bion’s dirge for Daphnis and Moschus’ lament for Bion have provided the type for Vergil’s lament for Daphnis, for Milton’s “Lycidas,” for Shelley’s “Adonais,” and Matthew Arnold’s “Thyrsis.”

← Page-670 p.671 Page-672 →