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.
Though the book is imitative and secondary in character it contains several passages of force and beauty, e.g.
But the imitative act is itself instinctive.
Its first beginnings are seen in the imitative tendencies of animals by which the young of one generation acquire some of the habits of their parents, and by which gregarious and social animals acquire a community of procedure ensuring the advantage of the group. " Taboo," the systematic imposition by the community of restrictions upon the conduct of the individual, is one of its earliest manifestations in primitive man and can be observed even in animal communities.
But it is probable that what we speak of as the imitative tendency is, in any given species, the expression of a considerable number of particular responses each of which is congenitally linked with a particular presentation or stimulus.