Wednesday, March 16, 2022


THEOCRITUS (Greek, c. 300-after 260 BCE)

Creator of Ancient Greek pastoral poetry born in Sicily. Most of his "Idylls" can be divided into those set in the country (bucolic poems) and those set in the town (mimes). Some of his works are "Hymns" or epics praising various personages; he also wrote lyrics, although a number of works ascribed to Theocritus are known or suspected to be spurious.


In Idyll 11, the dread Cyclops Polyphemus (also a Sicilian!), from The Odyssey, is recast as a love-sick simpleton pining for the nymph Galatea, daughter of "The Old Man of the Sea," Nereus:

White Galatea, why disdain thy love?
White as a pressed cheese, delicate as the lamb,
Wild as the heifer, soft as summer grapes!
If sweet sleep chain me, here thou walk'st at large;
If sweet sleep loose me, straightway thou art gone,
Scared like a sheep that sees the grey wolf near.

Later tradition says Galatea eventually yielded, and she and Polyphemus had a son, Galas or Galates, who became the ancestor of the Gauls.


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