A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasture. It lends its name to a genre of literature, art, and music that depicts such life in an idealized manner, typically for urban audiences. Pastoral is a mode of literature in which the author employs various techniques to place the complex life into a simple one. Paul Alpers distinguishes pastoral as a mode rather than a genre, and he bases this distinction on the recurring attitude of power; that is to say that pastoral literature holds a humble perspective toward nature. Thus, pastoral as a mode occurs in many types of literature poetry, drama, etc. Terry Gifford, a prominent literary theorist, defines pastoral in three ways in his critical book Pastoral. The first way emphasizes the historical literary perspective of the pastoral in which authors recognize and discuss life in the country and in particular the life of a shepherd. Hesiod 's Works and Days presents a 'golden age' when people lived together in harmony with nature. This Golden Age shows that even before the Alexandrian age , ancient Greeks had sentiments of an ideal pastoral life that they had already lost. This is the first example of literature that has pastoral sentiments and may have begun the pastoral tradition. Ovid's Metamorphoses is much like the Works and Days with the description of ages golden, silver, bronze, iron, and human but with more ages to discuss and less emphasis on the gods and their punishments. In this artificially constructed world, nature acts as the main punisher. Another example of this perfect relationship between man and nature is evident in the encounter of a shepherd and a goatherd who meet in the pastures in Theocritus ' poem Idylls 1. Traditionally, pastoral refers to the lives of herdsmen in a romanticized, exaggerated, but representative way. In literature , the adjective 'pastoral' refers to rural subjects and aspects of life in the countryside among shepherds , cowherds and other farm workers that are often romanticized and depicted in a highly unrealistic manner. The pastoral life is usually characterized as being closer to the golden age than the rest of human life. The setting is a locus amoenus , or a beautiful place in nature, sometimes connected with images of the Garden of Eden. Come live with me and be my Love, And we will all the pleasures prove That hills and valleys, dale and field, And all the craggy mountains yield. There will we sit upon the rocks And see the shepherds feed their flocks, By shallow rivers, to whose falls Melodious birds sing madrigals. The speaker of the poem, who is the titled shepherd, draws on the idealization of urban material pleasures to win over his love rather than resorting to the simplified pleasures of pastoral ideology. This can be seen in the listed items: "lined slippers", "purest gold", "silver dishes", and "ivory table" lines 13, 15, 16, 21, The speaker takes on a voyeuristic point of view with his love, and they are not directly interacting with the other true shepherds and nature. Pastoral shepherds and maidens usually have Greek names like Corydon or Philomela, reflecting the origin of the pastoral genre. Pastoral poems are set in beautiful rural landscapes, the literary term for which is "locus amoenus" Latin for "beautiful place" , such as Arcadia , a rural region of Greece , mythological home of the god Pan , which was portrayed as a sort of Eden by the poets. The tasks of their employment with sheep and other rustic chores is held in the fantasy to be almost wholly undemanding and is left in the background, leaving the shepherdesses and their swains in a state of almost perfect leisure. This makes them available for embodying perpetual erotic fantasies. The shepherds spend their time chasing pretty girls — or, at least in the Greek and Roman versions, pretty boys as well. The eroticism of Virgil 's second eclogue , Formosum pastor Corydon ardebat Alexin "The shepherd Corydon burned with passion for pretty Alexis" , is entirely homosexual. Pastoral literature continued after Hesiod with the poetry of the Hellenistic Greek Theocritus , several of whose Idylls are set in the countryside probably reflecting the landscape of the island of Cos where the poet lived and involve dialogues between herdsmen. He wrote in the Doric dialect but the metre he chose was the dactylic hexameter associated with the most prestigious form of Greek poetry, epic. This blend of simplicity and sophistication would play a major part in later pastoral verse.

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