The Pipes of Pan

Intertextuality and Literary Filiation in the Pastoral Tradition from Theocritus to Milton
Thomas K. Hubbard
Examines the pastoral tradition as an interconnected mega-poem


Departing from conventional views of the pastoral genre as an Arcadian escape from urban sophistication, The Pipes of Pan highlights its genesis in the allusive and polemical literary cultures of Alexandria and Rome. Both cities placed great emphasis upon learned invocation and reformulation of poetic models. The pastoral metaphor provided Theocritus and Vergil with tools for representing the contests and confrontations of poets and genres, the exchange of ideas among poets, and poets' reflections on the efficacy of their works.

Pastoral poetry highlights the didactic relationship of older and younger shepherds, whether as rivals or as patron and successor. As such it is an ideal form for young poets' self-representation vis-à-vis their elders, whose work they simultaneously appropriated and transformed, even as the elder poets were represented in the new texts. This influence is reenacted in every generation: Theocritus vs. his Alexandrian forebears, Vergil vs. Theocritus, Calpurnius vs. Vergil, Nemesianus vs. Vergil and Calpurnius, Petrarch vs. Vergil, Boccaccio vs. Petrarch, Spenser vs. Vergil, along with Chaucer and Milton vs. Spenser.

The Pipes of Pan combines multiple strands of contemporary intertextual theory with reception aesthetics and Harold Bloom's theory of intersubjective conflict between generations of poets. It also provides one of the first systematic studies of intertextual and intersubjective dynamics within a whole genre.

This work will be of interest to classicists, students of literary theory, comparative literature, medieval and Renaissance literature, Italian humanism, and English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. All texts are translated.

Thomas Hubbard is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Texas at Austin.

Praise / Awards

  • "The value of Hubbard's book rests not in its thesis . . . but rather in the extraordinarily learned range and detail of the author's demonstration. Many of Hubbard's precursor critics have traced a particular poet's relation to a poetic precursor, but none has done so on such a vast canvas: Theocritus, Vergil, the late Latin pastoralists, medieval pastorals, and early-modern pastoralists up to Milton. . . . [H]is achievement is impressive."
    --P. Cullen, CUNY Graduate Center and College of Staten Island, Choice, June 1999
  • "Summary does not do justice to the impressive learning, range, and interest of this study, the bulk of which is devoted to illuminating close readings of individual poets, with Vergil and then Spenser receiving the most extended treatments. The introductory overview of intertextuality is enlightening and clear; the readings of particular texts are filled with fine insights. I would recommend this study as a valuable resource for anyone working closely on the texts of pastoral from Theocritus to Milton. Further, if such poets as the Carolingian Modoin of Autun are not in readers' repertoire, this study will be a culturally expanding experience."
    --Christine Perkell, Emory University, Classical Journal, February/March 2000
  • "Thomas Hubbard's Pipes of Pan is something that has long been missing: a truly comparative study of pastoral poetry viewed from a classical philological perspective. . . . One of Hubbard's real achievements in this text . . . is his brilliant readings of authors that have generally been left out of the discussion of pastoral. . . . Hubbard writes as a true classicist, and gives this comparative approach a philological foundation it had hitherto lacked. This is a considerable achievement."
    --Matthew Gumpert, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Classical World, June 2000
  • ". . . an impressive, finely achieved accomplishment, as scrupulous in its honoring of an extensive exegetical past as it is generous at moments of disagreement. In offering amateurs of great literature of work of such magnitude on one of our most nuanced genres, Hubbard at once brings two millennia of study, on the part of the poets themselves as well as of their interpreters, to a formidable conclusion and sets an authoritative standard against which future scholarship on these fascinating works will be measured."
    --Michael C. J. Putnam, Brown University, Journal of Roman Studies, Volume 90 (2000)

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 400pp.
  • 1 photograph.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1999
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10855-8

Add to Cart
  • $94.95 U.S.