In 1986, reviewing recent work on the Bucolics, William S. Anderson wrote, 'Van Sickle, Design, has produced the most persuasive portrait of the Eclogues, arguing cogently for what he calls an "ideological order".' The Design of Virgil's Bucolics argues that Virgil composed his ten eclogues as parts of a system: the Book of Bucolics conceived as a concerted whole. The report of frequent theatre presentations showed that Virgil caught attention withdramatic flair, masking an ideological programme that grew to encompass motifs of a returbaning Golden Age and new myth, providing cover for the Caesarist regime, casting the poet as a prophet, vates, and laying groundwork for the Georgics and Aeneid.
Design argues, too, that ideology implied a poetic programme and that bucolic drama was metapoetic, starting with the discovery that already the first eclogue rewrote Theocritus with metapoetic point, despite the scholarly fad that styled Virgil's programme as Callimachean and postponed it to the sixth eclogue. Each eclogue in factmade a distinct contribution, the tenth complementing the newpolitical mythology of the first half book with the new myth of Arcadian poetics.
An extensive new Introduction to this second edition reviews developments and shortfalls in recent work on the Bucolics.
About the Author
John Van Sickle is a professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the Brooklyn College and Graduate School, City University of New York. He is the author of many Virgilian studies.