Theocritus (III b.C.): shepherds sing, Nature dances


Testo in italiano


Theocritus of Syracuse,  flourished about 275 years before Jesus Christ.

He was born in the powerful city of Syracuse, which at that time had a million inhabitants, had sumptuous palaces, magnificent temples, delightful gardens, vineyards and olive trees.

Talents like Aeschylus, Bachilydides, Pindar, Plato, Aristippus stayed at the court of his kings.

Our Theocritus lived for a period of his youth at the court of King Ptolemy in Alexandria, one of the great homelands of knowledge and culture.

Theocritus was the inventor of the so-called bucolic poetry, the poetry of the shepherds.

With him a fabulous world is born in which the shepherds become wise and profound, in which nature speaks, dragging the reader into a vision of peace and serenity.

The poetry of Theocritus is simple, direct, brief.

Its famous Idylls are exciting and engaging.

Etna, my mother, in a beautiful cave I also live among hollow rocks and I have everything you see in a dream: many sheeps, many goats, whose skins I have on my head and feet. The grasshopper likes the grasshopper, the ant likes the ant, the sparrow hawk likes the sparrow hawk. To me the muse and the song and all my house is full.

In some way, Theocritus is a sort of son of the flowers of our days, who avoids the stress of everyday life to enter the realm of fields, herds, trees.

Many later poets were inspired by Theocritus, including the great Virgil.

Listening today to the first musical representations of the 600s, the so-called melodrama, the romantic, divine and bucolic figures of Theocritus come to mind.


Text inspired by: Biography of the illustrious men of Sicily by Giuseppe Emanuele Ortolani, 1817

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