Pastoral and the Painful Schoolmaster

Andrew Wallace

in Virgil's Schoolboys

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199591244
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595561 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Pastoral and the Painful Schoolmaster

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This chapter argues that early modern pedagogical authorities and commentators find in Virgil's Eclogues several close engagements with the vocabulary of teaching. These authorities and commentators, in turn, wring from Virgil's words a series of complex statements about repetition, dialogue, echo, and instruction. This chapter argues that they locate in pastoral and pedagogical dialogue an erotics of the voice, a responsiveness of one voice to another as of one body to another. In addition to offering an extended treatment of the collection's pedagogical diction and a detailed examination of the Sixth Eclogue, the chapter discusses texts by Erasmus, the Spanish humanist, teacher, and commentator Juan Luis Vives (1493–1540), late antique and early modern grammar books, schoolroom dialogues by the humanist grammar-school teacher Maturin Cordier, and translations of the Eclogues by Abraham Fleming, John Brinsley, and William Lisle (c.1569–1637). The chapter concludes by reading one of the most vexatious aspects of Milton's Lycidas (what Stanley Fish calls its studied hesitation ‘between monologue, dialogue, and something that is not quite either’) as a record of Milton's own conversation with the pedagogical subplot of Virgil's Eclogues.

Keywords: allegory; Cicero; commentary; commentator; Cordier; Corderius; dialogue; Eclogues; elegy; Erasmus; Fleming; Milton; monody; pastoral; Silenus; Siro; study; Theocritus; Virgil; Vives

Chapter.  18130 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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