Regarded as the creator of pastoral poetry, Theocritus was a native of Syracuse and lived in Alexandria. About 30 idylls and a number of his epigrams are extant. His genuine love of the country lends freshness and great beauty to the idylls; his bucolic characters are realistic and alive. He is a master of dramatic presentation, description, and lyrical refinement. He has had many imitators, among them Virgil and Spenser. The surviving works of two other Greek pastoral poets are often included with those of Theocritus: Moschus of Syracuse, who lived in the second century b.c. and Bion, who is best known for his Lament for Adonis. The Andrew Lang translation in prose of these three poets is considered an English classic.
Anthony Verity is former Master of Dulwich College. He has also translated Theocritus' The Idylls and Pindar's Odes . Barbara Graziosi is Professor of Classics at Durham University. She has written extensively on Homer.