This type of structure, which has also been identified in the works of Catullus, Horace, and Tibullus (8) is usually referred to as a concentric arrangement or 'recessed panel.' (9) The first and ninth poems share the theme of land confiscations, the second and eighth contain love songs, the third and seventh contain amoebaean singing contests and Poems 4 and 6 are paired because these poems are comparatively less pastoral in that they are about cosmological themes and are not sung by shepherds (the singer in Eclogue 4 is not determined and the largest part of Eclogue 6 is sung by the mythological Silenus).
As was the case with Eclogues 2 and 8, the chief correspondence between the third and the seventh poems lies in the structural similarities: both poems consist mainly of amoebaean singing contests: in the third, between Menalcas and Damoetas and in the seventh, between Menalcas and Mopsus.
However, by ending the first triad of poems with the typical pastoral event of the amoebaean singing contest and returning to the same setting at the start of the third triad in the seventh poem, the audience is effectively drawn back into the strictly pastoral setting of Eclogue 3.
The three triadic groups each consist of a central composition and two poems flanking it: in the case of the first triad (Poems 1-3) and the last (Poems 7-9), a central love song is flanked by two poems containing dialogues, and the last triad which begins with the amoebaean contest and ends with the exile theme is a mirror image of the first.
Virgil's poem has gone out of its way to create an improvisational feel for his mime, perhaps to place the institution of the amoebaean contest into a social ethos, the herdsman's way of life, so that readers whose first acquaintance with the pastoral world is this very poem can, and afficionados of Theocritean bucolic must, sense their intrusion into a fictional `parallel universe'.
55), and come under starter's orders: `Damoetas to start; Menalcas to respond; amoebaean alternation is the rule' (vv.
What rules govern the two voices in an amoebaean? Should Role I respect, find inspiration from, respond to, Role 2's strictly parallel `echo' of Role 1's last offering?
An amoebaean contest, i.e., a singing contest in which one shepherd sings an impromptu couplet, to which the other must reply with a variation of tone and subject matter, composes the third poem.
The seventh poem is another amoebaean singing contest.
The Certamen depicts an agon similar to that represented in the Frogs (and to the dramatic competitions of the festivals themselves for that matter) and is also set in an amoebaean
form, yet it does not go beyond reporting of the competition and its result and contains no critical discussion (cf.