Virgil's third Eclogue: how do you keep an idiot in suspense?

Classical Quarterly 48 (01):213- (1998)

Two herdsmen meet and bicker; bargain over a stake; duel in balladeering; and ballot their umpire for a final decision. The first half of their poem dramatizes the process of challenge and defiance from which the bout materializes; the result is a draw. Critics attempt what none of its three herdsmen try out loud, namely to solve the pair of riddles with which the song-contest ends, before the judge pronounces the result. Solutions range between putative attribution to the bucolic minds of the riddlers, and ascription to their creator, the intellectual, urban, bookish, Hellenizing poetaster, who here, in any event, dares a touch of rustic needling that he precisely did not find in his studies in Theocritea, which include no riddles. Solution has generally seemed the self-evident challenge to scholar-readers
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DOI 10.1093/cq/48.1.213
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