The evidence of the capital manuscripts GMPR, supported by Quintilian, Servius, and others, leaves no doubt that Virgil entitled his first publication Bucolica (= Pastorals). But pastorals they all are not. The fourth is a political epithalamium; the sixth, the song of Silenus, treats more of cosmology than of shepherding; while the last depicts the grief of the poet Gallus when he was jilted by his mistress. Possibly finding difficulty in giving a label applicable to each item the ancient commentators agreed on the broader and less precise term Eclogae (= Selections), a term evidently in use for varied pieces, and this title has stuck.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.virgil-eclogues.1916