Growth and Graduality in Vergil's Bucolics

Harrison Troyano, Fordham University


This dissertation analyzes growth and graduality in Vergil’s Bucolics. In the Bucolics, Vergil unifies various forms of growth, defined in this study as increase over time. There is the growth of organic life forms—that is, the move towards biological maturity that occurs over time and makes a baby an adult, a shoot a plant, and a kid a goat. There is also the growth of human society, which mythological, scientific, and historical accounts in antiquity often present as the movement from a primitive past of shepherding to a more refined period characterized by agricultural knowledge. Then there are other forms of increase that seem to be unrelated to time’s passage, such as the growth of poetic register, but through Vergil’s connection of them to the temporal and gradual growth of organic life and human society, take on temporal and gradual qualities. This dissertation argues that the book of the Bucolics is by and for the young. The book associates its poetry of the bucolic register with youthfulness in the form of young people, small shoots, primitive society, and shepherding. As time and the book progress, however, its mythobucolic setting and generic limitations prove incapable of handling the threats of a grown world. Agricultural reality and civic turmoil, the subject matter of the higher registers of epic poetry, only become more pervasive and powerful as the book acquires knowledge and the Saturnian age retreats further into the past.

Subject Area

Classical literature

Recommended Citation

Troyano, Harrison, "Growth and Graduality in Vergil's Bucolics" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28716255.