The title of Thomas Rosenmeyer's book, The Green Cabinet: Theocritus and the European Pastoral Lyric, points to a conception of the pastoral as a closed world, set off from the real world outside, despite the author's disclaimer that the title is a misnomer.
… the clarity with which the landscape is articulated suggests the limited confines of an interior, (vii) … the freedom of the herdsman is incorruptible; sealed in the bower … it survives and flourishes … (109)
In seeking to define the essence of pastoral, Rosenmeyer strips off later accretions and sets the pastoral in sharp contrast to Hesiodic peasant poetry, drama, lyric, romance, and the poetry of Horace and Tibullus. He concentrates on a small number of passages from a limited number of texts to show what he regards as central in Theocritean pastoral: a restricted world of simplicity, freedom, and leisure (otium) that finds its closest corollary in the garden of Epicurus.
Yet, even in Rosenmeyer's view, the pastoral ‘pleasance’ is not entirely isolated from the real world. There are, he admits, ‘intimations of a sterner and more hurtful life ostensibly excluded from the arbor’. (23)