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  • Author or Editor: Deanna Wesolowski x
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In Theocritus, Virgil, and Longus each author establishes a tree that is symbolic of their approach to the pastoral tradition. In the opening of Theocritus’ Idylls, a goatherd’s piping is favorably compared with the sound of wind through the pine (πίτυς). This passage establishes the pine as a symbolic marker for Theocritus’ pastoral world. This world, however, is punctuated by the frustration of unfulfilled personal desires, and the pine tree is present in passages which depict this (Idylls 1. 134, 3. 38, 5. 49).Virgil adopts this pastoral tradition and in Eclogue 1, Meliboeus comments that Tityrus lies beneath a beech tree (fagus), piping to the woodland Muse. Although the reader may assume that the beech is simply Virgil’s version of the Theocritean pine, the beginning of the fourth line makes it clear that this pastoral world is not only inhabited by unrequited personal desire, but external upheaval and frustration: “nos patriam fugimus”. The inclusion of external strife is found in two key passages in the Eclogues associated with the beech tree: 3. 12 and 9. 9, and reveals a break in the Theocritean tradition.Virgil thus establishes a mutable element of the pastoral tradition which is taken up by Longus in his genre-bending novel, Daphnis and Chloe. In the tradition of Theocritus and Virgil, Longus establishes the oak as the symbolic tree for Daphnis and Chloe. The oak appears frequently throughout the novel and represents the intensely personal erotic frustrations of the young couple. In many instances, however, Daphnis and Chloe seek refuge under their tree after outsiders have attempted violence on them. In this way, Longus blends the function of the programmatic pastoral tree established by Theocritus and Virgil.Thus, this paper examines how Virgil’s association of his pastoral symbol, the beech, with external frustrations contributes to the adaptability of the pastoral landscape established by Theocritus’ pines, and in turn inherited by Longus’ oak.

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