Theocritus, the great pastoral poet of Greece was born at Syracuse in the early part of the 3rd century B.C. All that is known of his life is that he studied at Cos, numbered the poet Aratus and the physicians Nicias and Philinus among his friends, and passed many years at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus in Alexandria. In his rural eidullia ("idylls," little pictures) the life of Sicilian shepherds and fishermen is brought before us with a simplicity and freshness which can never lose their charm. Other poems give an equally vivid picture of the life in great towns; a third class deal in epic style with themes derived from the ancient mythology; and to these must be added eplgrams, vers de societe, and courtly addresses to Ptolemy and Hiero. Many of the poems are written in the form of dialogues. They are all in the Doric dialect, and were doubtless suggested by the popular poetry of the age. Virgil, in his Eclegues, closely follows Theocritus.