Keywords: bucolic poetry, amoebaean verse, obscene analogy, sexual preference, literary criticism


Theocritus’ Idyll 5 details an amoebaean singing contest betweentwo herdsmen in which the goatherd, Comatas, sings an openingcouplet and the shepherd, Lacon, replies with a second. This paperconsiders one exchange between the competitors which has been thecause of particular frustration to readers of the poem due to anobscure, and likely obscene, pastoral analogy offered by Lacon atlines 94-95. After a consideration of evidence drawn from the text,Theocritean scholia and Greek lyric and elegiac poetry, aninterpretation of the exchange is offered which may provide someclarity to a much-cited problem in Idyll 5.

Author Biography

H Lenahan, Rhodes University
Helen Lenahan is currently a postgraduate student in Ancient Greek with the Classical Studies Department in the Rhodes University School of Languages and Literatures. Her MA thesis, which she will submit in December 2019, is entitled 'Pastoral loss: the significance of defeat in Theocritus' Fifth Idyll'. Her research interests include pastural and bucolic poetry, Greek elegy and Ancient literary criticism.


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