The attention which we have bestowed upon the Aminta will allow us to pass more rapidly than would otherwise have been possible over its successor and rival, the Pastor fido. This is due to the fact that the moral and artistic environment of the two pieces is much the same, and further, that it is this environment which to a great extent determined, not only the individual character of the poems, but likewise the nature of their subsequent influence.
Recent research has had the effect of dispelling not a few of the traditional ideas respecting Guarini’s play. Among them is the fable that it took twenty years to write, which would carry back its inception to days before the composition of the Aminta. It is now recognized that nine years is the utmost that can be assigned, letters being extant which fix the genesis of the play in 1581, or at the earliest in 1580 a year or so previous to Guarini’s departure from Ferrara. Again, it has been usual to assume that the play was performed as early as 1585, whereas there is in truth no evidence of any representation previous to the appearance of the first edition dated 1590. The early fortunes of the play are indeed typical of the ill-success that dogged the author throughout life. Though untouched by the tragic misfortunes which lend interest to Tasso’s career, his lot was at times a hard one and we may excuse him if, at the last, he was no less embittered than his younger rival. He was not cursed, it is true, with Tasso’s incurable idealism; but, if in consequence he exposed himself less to the buffets of disillusionment, he likewise lacked its sustaining and ennobling power. Tasso used the pastoral machinery to idealize the court; Guarini accepted the pastoral convention of the superiority of the ‘natural’ life of the country, and used it as a means of pouring out his bitterness of soul. The Aminta, it should be remembered, was written during a few weeks, months at most, at a time when Tasso was comparatively fortunate and happy; the Pastor fido was the ten years’ labour of a retired and disappointed