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A SERIES OF WORKS FROM THE SACRED SCRIPTURES PRESENTED
IN MODERN LITERARY FORM
EDITED, WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
RICHARD G. MOULTON, M.A. (CAMB.), PH.D. (PENN.)
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
All rights reserved
Set up and electrotyped July, 1896. Reprinted December,
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.
THE word Idyl'as a literary term is not easy to define. It first appears in literary history in connection with the late school of Greek poetry represented to modern readers chiefly by Theocritus, and the kind of composition which thus arose when the poetry of Europe, having exhausted its primary impulses, found a new starting point in external nature from the open air shepherd life of Sicily. The Sicilian songs were the source of the long pastoral tradition which has run through Roman and modern literatures; and in association with such arcadian scenes the term 'idyllic’seems especially appropriate. If we go to etymology for light on the word “idyl,' we are met by a difficulty. It is a diminutive of the Greek word eidos, and eidos is a “form' or kind' of literature. But what is the force of the diminutive? 'That it is partly intended to convey the fragmentary and miscellaneous character of the poems is suggested by the application to them of
1 The commonly received explanation of idyls as little pictures seems to me to have nothing in its favour. It is not clear that eidos could mean picture; still less clear that little pictures' would be sufficiently descriptive of the poems to constitute a name for them. .
JAN -31917 370743