The first three eclogues, in the form of dialogues between Coridon and Cornix, were borrowed from the Miseriae Curialium of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II.), and contain an eulogy of John Alcock, bishop of Ely, the founder of Jesus College, Cambridge.
But his eclogues were, like his Italian models, also satires on social evils.
The change in seriousness of purpose between the Eclogues and the Georgics of Virgil was in a great measure the result of the direction given by the statesman to the poet's genius.
The earliest efforts of his art (the Eclogues) reproduce the cadences, the diction and the pastoral fancies of Theocritus; but even in these imitative poems of his youth Virgil shows a perfect mastery of his materials.
In the Eclogues and Georgics Virgil is the idealizing poet of the old simple and hardy life of Italy, as the imagination could conceive of it in an altered world.