Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Throughout the Idylls of Theocritus there are references to the curative properties of poetry and song. In Idyll 11, the poet states that “there is no remedy (pharmakon) for love other than the Pierian Muses” (Id. 11.1-2). This thesis explores the consequences of this claim for the poem as a whole and argues that the poem’s main character, Polyphemus the Cyclops, does achieve an alleviation of the symptoms of lovesickness. The first chapter contextualizes the Cyclops’ recovery in relation to other versions of his character in the Greek literary tradition and within the framework of contemporary medical practice. Chapter two deals with a similar story of lovesickness and song. In Idyll 2, Simaetha suffers from a form of lovesickness after her lover, Delphis, abandons her. The poem depicts a series of magic spells that Simaetha employs as well as a song that she sings about the experience of falling in love and the consummation of that desire. The chapter ends with an analysis of the similarities between the song that she sings and the magic that she uses to effect change. In the end, Simaetha does appear to experience a positive change in the symptoms of her desire. The ending lines suggest that now possesses a new resolve to endure her desire.
Ward, Edwin Coulter, "Theocritus’ Pharmacy: Poetry as Self-Care in the Idylls" (2019). Classics Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 13.