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Theokritos (German Theokrit ; around 270 BC) was an ancient Greek poet. He was the creator and main representative of the bucolic poetry of the Greeks.


Theocrites most likely came from Syracuse . He seems to have spent part of his life in the eastern Aegean ; a special reference to Kos can be seen . His patron was the Egyptian king Ptolemy II.


Poems of Theocrit with Scholia by Manuel Moschopulos . Ferrara manuscript, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, Codex II, 155, fol. 14r (written in 1336/1337)

In addition to a number of epigrams, 32 larger poems, so-called Idylle (Eidyllia), have survived under Theocrit's name . They usually have a dramatic form and are partly artistic imitations of the alternating song of the Sicilian shepherds, partly they depict scenes from everyday life, while others contain mythological stories, others are purely lyrical in nature. In creating the former, Theocritus was primarily influenced by mimus . Mimes are small antics or their literary implementation in which everyday life is parodied. The main representative of this genus was Sophron (5th century BC), who also came from Syracuse.

The poetic implementation in Theocritus consists of a distant, sometimes destructive imitation of classical genres, the functionality of which could no longer be contemporary due to the socio-political environment (the autarkic polis of the 8th - 5th centuries BC compared to the hegemonic monarchical territorial states of the 3rd Century BC). Therefore, in contrast to the often “idyllic” pastoral poetry of later coining in the thematically related short poems Theokrits, the often charming, sometimes nasty, amusement of the excellently educated city citizen about the clumsy, artless conversations of the rural population can be noted.

About a third of the so-called Eidyllia handed down in the Corpus Theocriteum is now considered to be proven to be false. Even in antiquity , the works of Theocrit were highly regarded because of their demanding reflection on older poetry and their meticulously elaborated, nonetheless lively depiction and were models and examples for later poets, on the one hand (in the poetic conception) the neoteric , on the other (thematically the country life related) from Virgil's eclogues and his epigones Calpurnius Siculus . The poems also differ in terms of form and language. While those in which mainly heroic-epic themes are dealt with also take the corresponding forms and the language is also mainly epic, a Doric artificial language predominates in the mimetic poems. The generally preferred hexameter in Hellenism is the meter of Eidyllia 1-27.

The titles of the individual poems

I. Thyrsis or: Singing ( Θύρσις ἢ ᾨδή Thyrsis e ode )
II The witch ( Φαρμακεύτρια Pharmakeutria )
III The pageant ( Κῶμος Komos )
IV The shepherds ( Νομεῖς Nomeis )
V Goatherd and Shepherd ( Αἰπολικὸν καὶ Ποιμενικόν Aipolikon kai Poimenikon )
VI The cattle herders ( Βουκολιασταί Bukoliastai )
VII The harvest festival ( Θαλύσια Thalysia )
VIII Daphnis, Menalkas and Aipolos ( Βουκολιασταί (Δάφνις, Μενάλκας καὶ Αιπόλος) ) [fake]
IX Daphnis and Menalkas ( Βουκολιασταί (Δάφνις καὶ Μενάλκας) ) [fake]
X The reapers ( Θερισταί Theristai ) or: The (field) workers ( Ἐργατίναι Ergatinai ) (Μίλων καὶ Βουκαίος)
XI The Cyclops ( Κύκλωψ Cyclops )
XII The darling ( Ἀΐτης Aites )
XIII Hylas ( Ὕλας )
XIV Desire for Kyniska ( Κυνίσκας Ἔρως Kyniskas Eros ) or: Aeschines and Thyonichos ( Αἰσχίνης και Θυώνιχος Aischines kai Thyonichos )
XV The Syracuse Sisters ( Συρακούσιαι Syrakusiai ) or: The Adoniazusen ( Ἀδωνιάζουσαι Adoniazusai )
XVI The Charites ( Χάριτες Charites ) or: Hieron ( Ἱέρων Hieron )
XVII Praise poem to Ptolemy ( Ἐγκώμιον εἰς Πτολεμαῖον Enkomion eis Ptolemaion )
XVIII Bridal song of Helen ( Ἑλένης ἐπιθαλάμιος Helenes Epithalamios )
XIX The honey thief ( Κηριοκλέπτης Keriokleptes )
XX The shepherd ( Βουκολίσκος Bukoliskos )
XXI The fishermen ( Ἁλιείς Halieis )
XXII The Dioscuri ( Δίοσκουροι Dioskuroi )
XXIII The lover ( Ἐραστής Erastes ) or: The desperate lover ( Δύσερως Dyseros )
XXIV Little Heracles ( Ἡρακλίσκος Herakliskos )
XXV Heracles the Lion- Slayer ( Ἡρακλῆς λεοντοφόνος Heracles Leontophonos )
XXVI Lenai ( Λῆναι ) or: The Bacchantes ( Βάκχαι )
XXVII Whispers of love ( Ὀαριστύς Oaristys )
XXVIII The distaff ( Ἠλακάτη Elakate )
XXIX Love song to a boy ( Παιδικά Paidika )
XXX On the dead Adonis ( Εἰς νεκρὸν Ἀδῶνιν Eis Nekron Adonin )

Content of individual poems

VI. The cattle herders

The two cattle herders Daphnis and Damötas improvise a song that satirizes the story of the cyclops Polyphemus , who fell in love with the nymph Galateia . In Daphnis' exposure, Galateia tries in vain to attract Polyphem's attention by throwing apples at his dog. Damotas answers with a monologue by Polyphemus, who has decided to keep Galateia waiting a little longer; Besides, his one eye suits him very well.

In his introduction, Theocritus describes the chant as a "bet". However, the referee is missing and the poem ends without a winner:

“With this ending Damotas kissed Daphnis;
He gave him the pipe , and he gave him the artificial flute. [...]
However, neither was the winner, because they both sang without a mistake. "

- after Mörike's second translation

VIII. Daphnis, Menalkas and Aipolos

The VIII. Idyll (which is considered spurious) is in a certain way a counterpart to the VI. It also deals with a singing competition between two shepherds (here, too, one of the two is called Daphnis, the other Menalkas). However, this competition begins with mutual challenges; at the end a referee decides. The shepherds improvise in alternating stanzas that do not carry out a clearly defined story. The winner is Daphnis:

“That delighted the victorious boy, he claps his hands,
As the deer hops to his mother, so the boy hops.
But the tormenting Harm consumed the soul of that one,
Oh, he was sad! This is how the bride mourns, the newlyweds!
Now Daphnis had become the first among the shepherds,
and as a young man he was already married to Nais, the nymph. "

- translated by Christian zu Stolberg


German translations are available from Ernst Christoph Bindemann (1793), Johann Heinrich Voß (2nd edition, Tübingen 1815), Friedrich Rückert (Leipzig 1867), Harry C. Schnur (Reutlingen, 1975), Hermann Beckby (Meisenheim am Glan, 1975 ) and Dietrich Ebener (Frankfurt a. M. 1983).

Eduard Mörike only translated individual poems. The numbers II, VI, XI, XIII to XVI, XVIII, XXI, XXIV, XXVIII to XXX (in different order and numbering) appeared within the “Classische Blumenlese” (Stuttgart 1840, a large-scale collection of translations of Greek and Latin poems). In 1855 “Theokritos, Bion and Moschos . German in the meter of the original by Dr. E. Mörike and F. Notter ” . This includes the numbers I to VI, XI, XIV to XVIII and XXVIII. The versions of this second edition, as far as they go back to the first, have been thoroughly revised and in some cases completely revised.


  • Hermann Beckby: The Greek Bukoliker: Theokrit - Moschos - Bion. Contributions to classical philology 49. Meisenheim am Glan 1975.
  • Dietrich Ebener: Theocrit. All seals. Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1989, ISBN 3-458-32858-0
  • Bernd Effe : Theocrit. Poems. Greek / German. Artemis and Winkler, Düsseldorf & Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-7608-1714-9 .
  • Andrew Sydenham Farrar Gow : Bucolici Graeci. Greek and English. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1952. Authoritative edition.
  • Harry C. Schnur: Theocrit. Knödler, Reutlingen 1975, ISBN 978-3-87421-054-6 .
  • Regina Höschele: Theocrit. Poems. Greek and German. Reclam, 2016, ISBN 978-3150194195 .


Overview representations


  • Bernd Effe (ed.): Theokrit and the Greek bucolic (= ways of research , volume 580). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1986, ISBN 3-534-08344-X (partly German and partly English)
  • Robert Kirstein : Young shepherds and old fishermen: the poems 27, 20 and 21 of the Corpus Theocriteum , de Gruyter, Berlin / New York, NY 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019224-7 (Habilitation University of Münster 2006, X, 247 Pages illustrated, 24 cm),
  • Adolf Köhnken : Apollonios Rhodios and Theocrit. The Hylas and Amykos stories of both poets and the question of priority (= Hypomnemata , Book 12), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1965, DNB 981631738 (dissertation Universität Hamburg [1965], 129 pages, 8 °).
  • Thomas Reinhardt: The representation of the areas city and country in Theokrit . Habelt, Bonn 1988, ISBN 3-7749-2306-X .
  • Ulrich Ott : The art of contrast in Theokrits Hirtengedichten , Olms, Hildesheim 1969 (Spudasmata, Volume 22).


  • Johannes Rumpel: Lexicon Theocriteum. Teubner, Leipzig 1879.

Web links

Wikisource: Theocritus  - Sources and full texts