H Lenahan


Theocritus’ Idyll 5 details an amoebaean singing contest between
two herdsmen in which the goatherd, Comatas, sings an opening
couplet and the shepherd, Lacon, replies with a second. This paper
considers one exchange between the competitors which has been the
cause of particular frustration to readers of the poem due to an
obscure, and likely obscene, pastoral analogy offered by Lacon at
lines 94-95. After a consideration of evidence drawn from the text,
Theocritean scholia and Greek lyric and elegiac poetry, an
interpretation of the exchange is offered which may provide some
clarity to a much-cited problem in Idyll 5.


bucolic poetry; amoebaean verse; obscene analogy; sexual preference; literary criticism

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