chapter  4
18 Pages

The Nearness of Sparta

ByPeter V. Marinelli

The entrance in the Renaissance of figures other than poets into the fastnesses of Arcadia is the occasion for pastoral to break out of its normal classical and medieval forms, and to assume the more complex forms of the drama and the epic. The first great epic of the Western world springs from the unfortunate action of a royal figure who was once a shepherd. The myth of Paris was allegorized at an early time in the Middle Ages, as Professor Hallett Smith, and to the goddesses who appeared to him were ascribed different and symbolic values. The myth establishes an obvious hierarchy of values. It is against the background that the courtiers from the ravaged realms bordering on Arcadia enter the pastoral setting, propelled either by chance or by their own intention. As the original inhabitants of Arcadia are gradually displaced by the courtly invaders, they frequently undergo a curious change.