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Eclogue Definition

Poetry Definition of Eclogue

Short pastoral poem originally written by Virgil who was imitating the idylls of Theocritus. Eclogues may also express religious or ethical themes. A modern example of the form is Eclogue from Iceland by Louis MacNeice. The eclogue is sometimes known as the bucolic.

ECLOGUE, a short pastoral dialogue in verse. The word is conjectured to be derived from the Greek verb ?κλ?γειν, to choose. An eclogue, perhaps, in its primary signification was a selected piece. Another more fantastic derivation traces it to α?ξ, goat, and λ?γος, speech, and makes it a conversation of shepherds. The idea of dialogue, however, is not necessary for an eclogue, which is often not to be distinguished from the idyll. The grammarians, in giving this title to Virgil’s pastoral conversations (Bucolica), tended to make the term “eclogue” apply exclusively to dialogue, and this has in fact been the result of the success of Virgil’s work. Latin eclogues were also written by Calpurnius Siculus and by Nemesianus. In modern literature the term has lost any distinctive character which it may have possessed among the Romans; it is merged in the general notion of pastoral poetry. The French “Églogues” of J.R. de Segrais (1624-1701) were long famous, and those of the Spanish poet Garcilasso de La Vega (1503-1536) are still admired.


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Standard Definition

[n] a short descriptive poem of rural or pastoral life

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bucolic, idyll

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Misc. Definitions

\Ec"logue\, n. [L. ecloga, Gr. ? a selection, choice extracts, fr. ? to pick out, choose out; ? out + ? to gather, choose: cf. F. ['e]gloque, ['e]cloque. See {Ex-}, and {Legend}.] A pastoral poem, in which shepherds are introduced conversing with each other; a bucolic; an idyl; as, the Ecloques of Virgil, from which the modern usage of the word has been established.

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