The Idylls of Theocritus represent Alexandrian poetry at its most perfect; they exemplify all its merits, and are practically free from its faults. If they are realistic, the realism is graceful and delicate, with detail which is conscientiously studied but never exaggerated; if they are artificial they have imaginative charm without false sentiment or strained effect. When he studies character, he makes his characters live; when he turns to pure romance, his romance is convincing. Everywhere appears his wonderful gift of picture making, and each picture is perfectly composed, and drawn with minuteness and delicacy. He had no exalted aims, no desire to work out problems or to propound a philosophy; he wrote to please, and it is probable from the charm and spontaneity of his best poems that, in these at least, he wrote primarily to please himself.