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Literature / The Georgics

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The Georgics is a a work of pastoral poetry by Virgil in 39 BC. It mainly deals with agriculture, nature, and the gods who watch over such domains. However, the fourth book of The Georgics switchers to a narrative mode to tell the story of how a legendary bee-keeper is to blame for the tragedy of Orpheus. Orpheus' tale is probably what this poem is best known for today, as it is the primary source of the myth along with Ovid's account in The Metamorphoses.

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The Georgics contain examples of:

  • Arcadia: The entire point of the poem is to present a glorified picture of nature. It also happens to be the Trope Namer, since Virgil was the first writer to associate the historical region of Arcadia with an idealized haven of natural beauty.
  • Call to Agriculture: The Georgics are a cycle of poems about agriculture and the pastoral life.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Aristaeus, a mere shepherd, manages to defeat the former Lord of the Ocean simply by wrestling him, even despite the sea god's attempt to escape using all his powers as a Voluntary Shapeshifter.
  • "Just So" Story: The reason Virgil tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice is to explain how bees came to be, since it turns out they emerged from a corpse offered to the gods by a shepherd responsible for Eurydice's death.
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  • To Hell and Back: The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is about a man going into the underworld to save his true love. His hero Aeneas also makes a trip to the underworld in The Aeneid guided by the Sybil.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: Downplayed; when Aristaeus begins to defeat Nereus, the old sea god rapidly shifts between the forms of animals, fires, and even a stream of water until he has to relent and give in to Aristaeus' demands.
  • Virtuous Bees: The first half of Book IV is spent explaining how wondrous and special bees are for their skillful creation of honey and incredible organization.
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