'Eucritus and I and pretty Amyntas turned asideTo the farm of Phrasidamus, where we sank downWith pleasure on deep-piled couches of sweet rushes,And vine leaves freshly stripped from the bush.'The Greek poet Theocritus of Syracuse (first half of the third century BC) was the inventor of 'bucolic' poetry. These vignettes of country life, centred on competitions in song and love, are the foundational poems of the western pastoral tradition. They were the principal model for Virgil in theEclogues and their influence can be seen in the work of Petrarch and Milton. Although it is the pastoral poems for which he is chiefly famous, Theocritus also wrote hymns to the gods, brilliant mime depictions of everyday life, short narrative epics, epigrams, and encomia of the powerful. Thegreat variety of his poems illustrates the rich and flourishing poetic culture of what was a golden age for Greek poetry.