Oxford University Press, 1994. 360pp.
Surprisingly, this is the first full-scale scholarly commentary on the Eclogues to appear in this century. Written between about 42 and 35 BC, these ten short pastorals are among the best known poems in Latin literature. Clausen's commentary provides a comprehensive guide to both the poems and the considerable scholarship surrounding them, and should be indispensable to all serious students of Virgil's poetry. Special attention is paid throughout to the important question of Virgil's use of Theocritus and other Hellenistic poets, with translations provided of all Greek passages. There are many new and illuminating observations on Virgil's poetic style and vocabulary, often with reference to his Latin predecessors: Lucretius, Catullus, and (virtually unnoticed by previous scholars) Plautus. A third feature of the commentary is a new examination of the plants and trees in the poem--both their exact identification and their significance. There are helpful introductions to each poem, as well as a comprehensive general introduction to the Eclogues as a whole, in which Professor Clausen discusses the nature of ancient pastoral poetry, the structure of the Eclogues, and the composition of a pastoral landscape by Virgil and Theocritus. An online review is also available. Click here to order.