A Commentary on Virgil, Eclogues

A Commentary on Virgil, Eclogues

A Commentary on Virgil, Eclogues

A Commentary on Virgil, Eclogues


Surprisingly, this is the first full-scale scholarly commentary on the Eclogues to appear in this century. These ten short pastorals are among the best known poems in Latin literature. Clausen's commentary provides a comprehensive guide to both the poems and the considerable scholarship surrounding them. There are short introductions to each poem, as well as a general introduction to the Eclogues as a whole.


This commentary was begun, some twenty years ago, at the suggestion of Roger Mynors, who had given up the idea of writing a commentary on the Eclogues himself. At the time we planned to publish our commentaries -- his on the Georgics and mine on the Eclogues -- together; later, when it seemed that he would be ready before I could, the plan was modified; and, finally, with his death in 1989, dissolved. (His commentary on the Georgics was published posthumously, Oxford, 1990.) For more than a decade I enjoyed the benefit of his advice and encouragement, and the memory of those years, of our meetings and conversations, is vivid to me now. I am deeply indebted also to another friend, Guy Lee, who has read, in the various stages of its evolution, and never without improving it, almost all of my commentary. Nor am I unmindful of other debts of gratitude: to Hilary O'Shea for her unfailing interest; to Lenore Parker for her efficiency and marvellous patience; to Julia Budenz for the phrase 'wind-shifted shade' (E. 5.5-6 n., from Book Three of her poem The Gardens of Flora Baum); to Lucy Gasson for her care and attention; and especially to Leofranc Holford-Strevens for his exact, perspicacious criticism:

The text of the Eclogues is that of Roger Mynors (Oxford, 1972). Guy Lee translation of the Eclogues (Liverpool Classical Texts, 1, 1980; Penguin Books, 1984) is used by his permission and that of Penguin Books Ltd.; A. S. F. Gow translation of Theocritus (Cambridge, 1952) by permission of the Cambridge University Press. Translations of Theocritus not attributed to Gow are my own. The map on P. 234 is reproduced from J. J. Wilkes, Dalmatia (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), 18, by permission of the Harvard University Press. My introduction to the Fourth Eclogue, as it has now become, was originally conceived as a lecture, 'Virgil's Messianic Eclogue', and published inJ. L. Kugel (ed.), Poetry and Prophecy (Ithaca, NY, 1990), 65-74; it is used by permission of the Cornell University Press.


Cambridge, Massachusetts October 1992 . . .

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