eclogue

noun

ec·​logue ˈek-ˌlȯg How to pronounce eclogue (audio)
-ˌläg
: a poem in which shepherds converse

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The Poetic History of Eclogue

Although the eclogue appears in the Idylls of the Greek poet Theocritus, it was the 10 Eclogues (or Bucolics) of the Roman poet Virgil that gave us the word eclogue. (The Latin title Eclogae literally means "selections.") The eclogue was popular in the Renaissance and through the 17th century, when less formal eclogues were written. The poems traditionally depicted rural life as free from the complexity and corruption of more citified realms. The eclogue fell out of favor when the poets of the Romantic period rebelled against the artificiality of the pastoral. In more modern times, though, the term eclogue has been applied to pastoral poems involving the conversations of people other than shepherds, often with heavy doses of irony.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English ecloog, borrowed from Latin Eclogae, collection of pastoral poems by Virgil, from plural of ecloga "passage selected from a longer work, short poem," borrowed from Greek eklogḗ "choice, selection, quotation, (in plural) selection of passages," noun derivative of eklégein "to pick out, select" — more at eclectic entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of eclogue was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Eclogue.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eclogue. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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