Corydon (character)

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For other meanings, see Corydon (disambiguation).
The Corydon shepherd by Paul Sérusier.

Corydon (from the Greek κόρυδος korudos "lark") is a stock name for a shepherd in ancient Greek pastoral poems and fables, such as the one in Idyll 4 of the Syracusan poet Theocritus (c.310-250 BCE). The name was also used by the Latin poets Siculus and, more significantly, Virgil. In the second of Virgil's Eclogues, it is used for a shepherd whose love for the boy Alexis is described therein. Virgil's Corydon gives his name to the modern book Corydon.

Corydon is mentioned in Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queen as a shepherd in Book VI, Canto X. In this section he is portrayed as a coward who fails to come to the aid of Pastorell when she is being pursued by a tiger.

The name also appears in poem number 17 ("My flocks feed not, my ewes breed not") of The Passionate Pilgrim, an anthology of poetry first published in 1599 and attributed on the title page of the collection to Shakespeare. This poem appeared the following year in another collection, England's Helicon, where it was attributed to "Ignoto" (Latin for "Unknown"). Circumstantial evidence points to a possible authorship by Richard Barnfield, whose first published work, The Affectionate Shepherd, though dealing with the unrequited love of Daphnis for Ganymede, was in fact, as Barnfield stated later, an expansion of Virgil's second Eclogue which dealt with the love of Corydon for Alexis.

The name is again used for a shepherd boy in an English children's trilogy (Corydon and the Island of Monsters, Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis and Corydon and the Siege of Troy) by Tobias Druitt. [1]

Corydon is also the name of a shepherd in a Christian hymn entitled Pastoral Elegy. The town of Corydon, Indiana is named after the shepherd of that hymn.

Corydon and Thyrsis are a pair of shepherds in Edna St. Vincent Millay's 1920 play, "Aria da Capo". [2]

Corydon is also the name of a 1920 novel by André Gide, in which the discussion of the naturalness of homosexuality is linked to the character Corydon, inspired by Virgil.

Other such stock names in poetry include:

  • a Rooster = Chaunticleer (from French Chanticler; [chant + clear, in reference to its crow])
  • a Fox = Reynard (from French Reignart; reign + -ard, "kingly one")
  • a Cat = Felix (from Latin felix, "happy" [influenced by Latin feles, "cat, feline"])
  • a Dog = Rufus (from Latin rufus, "red" [influenced by ruff, the bark of a dog])