The term bucolic comes from the Greek boukolikós, which means herder of oxen, that is, a person who is dedicated to taking care of oxen. However, in Roman civilization, the term bucolic referred to any narration or artistic expression related to rural life and, in particular, to pastoral activity.
a bucolic life
A shepherd takes care of his flock to obtain a variety of products, such as meat, wool and milk. At first its activity has no particular element. However, since ancient times, the world of shepherds aroused the interest of writers and artists. they saw the pastor as an attractive character, who lived in the midst of nature, in solitude and removed from the hectic life.
On the other hand, in the Bible, the figure of the shepherd is related to a series of remarkable ideals (we must not forget that Jesus Christ himself is known as a good shepherd). In this way, throughout history, a pleasant image of herding has been created and when one speaks of a bucolic life, it is associated with the idea of rural life.
Some literary genres, as well as certain pictorial themes or popular traditions focused on the figure of the shepherd as the protagonist. This artistic trend is known as bucolicism.
Bucolism as a creative resource is suggestive because it has a series of ingredients: the exaltation of nature, the poetic dimension of the landscape or the symbolism of the figure of the shepherd in the Gospels. These ingredients were fixed in pastoral poetry, but also in the romance and medieval religious art. In all these artistic manifestations the pastor is associated with dancing and singing and, in some way, the pastor has been a metaphor to express the desire for a life in harmony with nature.
The bucolic tradition began in the Greco-Latin world. Theocritus was the forerunner of bucolic or pastoral poetry in Ancient Greece, while in Roman civilization the poet Virgil wrote ten ecoglas that are known as “The Bucolics”.
The pastoral novel, an example of bucolicism
In the 16th century, countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy came into fashion in the pastoral romance. This is a genre in which there are two central themes: the idealization of nature and love as the main theme. Some of the most representative works are “La Galatea” by Cervantes, “A Arcadia” by Lope de Vega or “Aminta” by Torquato Tasso. In these novels, the protagonist is a sensitive, passionate, conqueror and poet’s soul.