Musica rustica: the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch

Abstract

While the poetry of Vergil’s Eclogues has received considerable deliberation in recent scholarship, the nature of the musica rustica (or pastoral music), alluded to throughout these poems, has been overlooked to some extent. The association between notions of ‘the bucolic’ and music is particularly evident, not only in the lyrical style of bucolic poetry (including the works of the earlier Greek poets: Theocritus, Moschus and Bion) but also in the strong reference to ‘shepherd-musicians’ across a range of ancient literary and visual texts. Vergil especially, conjures up this image of the ‘shepherd-musician’ and clearly associates music with the pastoral experience in the Augustan period. Vergil’s third eclogue itself refers specifically to the practice of wagered musical contests between shepherds (Verg. Ecl. 3). The presence of the syrinx (Pan-pipe) was extremely common in pastoral poetry, largely due to its strong symbolic connection with its mythical inventor, Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and the woodlands. Varro however, also notes the use of the Roman bucina (a Roman lip-vibrated aerophone or ‘brass instrument’) in herding swine, most notably in the form of “having them gather at the sound of the horn... [so] that they might not become lost when scattered into wooden country” (Varro. Rust. 2.4.20). This source indicates that pastoral music may have also had significant practical applications in the agricultural sphere. With particular reference to the Eclogues of Vergil, this paper will consider the representation of Roman ‘shepherd-musicians’ and the nature of their pastoral music in literary and visual sources, in order to call further attention to this area of study.

Conference

ConferenceSymposium Cumanum 2016
CountryItaly
CityCuma
Period22/06/1624/06/16
Internet address

Fingerprint

Music
Virgil
Musicians
Poetry
Bucolic
Inventor
Sound
Poem
Deity
Theocritus
Herding
Augustan Period
Woodland
Brass
Contests
Poet
Deliberation
Bion

Keywords

  • ancient Roman social history
  • music
  • pastoral literature
  • Virgil
  • singing contests
  • pan-pipes
  • bucina
  • tuba
  • brass instruments
  • pigs
  • herding
  • shepherd-musician

Cite this

Cross, R. (2016). Musica rustica: the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music. Abstract from Symposium Cumanum 2016, Cuma, Italy.
Cross, Rodney. / Musica rustica : the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music. Abstract from Symposium Cumanum 2016, Cuma, Italy.1 p.
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abstract = "While the poetry of Vergil’s Eclogues has received considerable deliberation in recent scholarship, the nature of the musica rustica (or pastoral music), alluded to throughout these poems, has been overlooked to some extent. The association between notions of ‘the bucolic’ and music is particularly evident, not only in the lyrical style of bucolic poetry (including the works of the earlier Greek poets: Theocritus, Moschus and Bion) but also in the strong reference to ‘shepherd-musicians’ across a range of ancient literary and visual texts. Vergil especially, conjures up this image of the ‘shepherd-musician’ and clearly associates music with the pastoral experience in the Augustan period. Vergil’s third eclogue itself refers specifically to the practice of wagered musical contests between shepherds (Verg. Ecl. 3). The presence of the syrinx (Pan-pipe) was extremely common in pastoral poetry, largely due to its strong symbolic connection with its mythical inventor, Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and the woodlands. Varro however, also notes the use of the Roman bucina (a Roman lip-vibrated aerophone or ‘brass instrument’) in herding swine, most notably in the form of “having them gather at the sound of the horn... [so] that they might not become lost when scattered into wooden country” (Varro. Rust. 2.4.20). This source indicates that pastoral music may have also had significant practical applications in the agricultural sphere. With particular reference to the Eclogues of Vergil, this paper will consider the representation of Roman ‘shepherd-musicians’ and the nature of their pastoral music in literary and visual sources, in order to call further attention to this area of study.",
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author = "Rodney Cross",
year = "2016",
language = "English",
note = "Symposium Cumanum 2016 : Music in the Time of Vergil ; Conference date: 22-06-2016 Through 24-06-2016",
url = "https://www.vergiliansociety.org/symposium-cumanum-2016/",

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Cross, R 2016, 'Musica rustica: the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music' Symposium Cumanum 2016, Cuma, Italy, 22/06/16 - 24/06/16, .

Musica rustica : the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music. / Cross, Rodney.

2016. Abstract from Symposium Cumanum 2016, Cuma, Italy.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch

TY - CONF

T1 - Musica rustica

T2 - the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music

AU - Cross, Rodney

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - While the poetry of Vergil’s Eclogues has received considerable deliberation in recent scholarship, the nature of the musica rustica (or pastoral music), alluded to throughout these poems, has been overlooked to some extent. The association between notions of ‘the bucolic’ and music is particularly evident, not only in the lyrical style of bucolic poetry (including the works of the earlier Greek poets: Theocritus, Moschus and Bion) but also in the strong reference to ‘shepherd-musicians’ across a range of ancient literary and visual texts. Vergil especially, conjures up this image of the ‘shepherd-musician’ and clearly associates music with the pastoral experience in the Augustan period. Vergil’s third eclogue itself refers specifically to the practice of wagered musical contests between shepherds (Verg. Ecl. 3). The presence of the syrinx (Pan-pipe) was extremely common in pastoral poetry, largely due to its strong symbolic connection with its mythical inventor, Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and the woodlands. Varro however, also notes the use of the Roman bucina (a Roman lip-vibrated aerophone or ‘brass instrument’) in herding swine, most notably in the form of “having them gather at the sound of the horn... [so] that they might not become lost when scattered into wooden country” (Varro. Rust. 2.4.20). This source indicates that pastoral music may have also had significant practical applications in the agricultural sphere. With particular reference to the Eclogues of Vergil, this paper will consider the representation of Roman ‘shepherd-musicians’ and the nature of their pastoral music in literary and visual sources, in order to call further attention to this area of study.

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KW - ancient Roman social history

KW - music

KW - pastoral literature

KW - Virgil

KW - singing contests

KW - pan-pipes

KW - bucina

KW - tuba

KW - brass instruments

KW - pigs

KW - herding

KW - shepherd-musician

UR - https://www.vergiliansociety.org/symposium_cumanum/symposium-cumanum/

M3 - Abstract

ER -

Cross R. Musica rustica: the nature of ancient Roman pastoral music. 2016. Abstract from Symposium Cumanum 2016, Cuma, Italy.