Begin, Muses, begin again the pastoral song

Against a bucolic backdrop with a pair of herdsmen and their animals, a poetic competition takes place through two inset scenes in Theocritus’ Idyll I: an ekphrastic description of a lovely cup, in exchange for a myth about the death of Daphnis that was rumoured to be the inception of the bucolic genre. This comic is a consideration of Theocritus’ interwoven narrative framing devices as well as a reflection upon the idea of mimesis, carried out in a series of attempts to strike balance between narrative continuity and disruption, between “reality” and “representation.” Taking a break from the scholarly tradition of theorising about how images can be evoked through words, here I present the fannish practice of reverse-ekphrasis where the verbal is translated into a visual “original” that never existed in the first place.

A note: This comic was initially conceived as a companion to Theocritus’ first Idyll, and relied on some acquaintance with the text. Since then, I have come to realise that knowing the text isn’t, and perhaps shouldn’t be, the only way to read the comic. The choice is yours:

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Maria Ma — Theocritus idyll 1

Ma imageMaria Ma is a first year in the Classics PhD program who’s interested in, among other cool Greek literature things, the intersection of text and art. Her arts can be found at Would you kindly take a cutting from this mint plant that’s taking over her entire apartment?