Luís de Camões

Luís de Camões

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Luís Vaz de Camões
Camões Family
- Origins :It seems that this surname had its origin from the Palace of Camauda, of which makes mention Gonzalo Argote de Molina, which is in the Kingdom of Navarre in land of the Basques, corrupted from Camanda to Camoens, from where they passed to Galicia and then to Portugal...

(luˈiʒ ˈvaʒ ðɨ kaˈmõjʃ; sometimes rendered in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as Camoens ˈkæm oʊˌənz; c. 1524 – 10 June 1580) is considered Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, Vondel
Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel was a Dutch writer and playwright. He is considered the most prominent Dutch poet and playwright of the 17th century. His plays are the ones from that period that are still most frequently performed, and his epic Joannes de Boetgezant , on the life of John the Baptist, has...

, Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

, Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 and Dante
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas
Os Lusíadas
Os Lusíadas , usually translated as The Lusiads, is a Portuguese epic poem by Luís Vaz de Camões ....

(The Lusiads). His recollection of poetry The Parnasum of Luís de Camões was lost in his lifetime. The influence of his masterpiece "Os Lusíadas" in Portuguese is so profound that it is called the "language of Camões".

Life


Many details concerning the life of Camões remain unknown, but he is thought to have been born around 1524. Luís Vaz de Camões was the only child of Simão Vaz de Camões
Camões Family
- Origins :It seems that this surname had its origin from the Palace of Camauda, of which makes mention Gonzalo Argote de Molina, which is in the Kingdom of Navarre in land of the Basques, corrupted from Camanda to Camoens, from where they passed to Galicia and then to Portugal...

 and wife Ana de Sá de Macedo. His birthplace is unknown. Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

 or Alenquer
Alenquer
Alenquer is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 304.2 km² and a total population of 42,932 inhabitants. The municipality is composed of 16 parishes, and is located in the District of Lisbon....

 are frequently presented as his birthplace, although the latter is based on a disputable interpretation of one of his poems. Constância
Constância
Constância is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 80.4 km² and a total population of 3796 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 3 parishes, and is located in Santarém District....

 is also considered a possibility as his place of birth: a statue can be found in the town.

Camões belongs to a family originating from the northern Portuguese region of Chaves
Chaves (Portugal)
Chaves is a municipality and municipal seat of an area 10 km south of the Spanish border and 22 km south of Verín in the north of Portugal. The municipality is the second most populous of the district of Vila Real...

 near Galicia. At an early age, his father Simão Vaz left his family to discover personal riches in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, only to die in Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

 in the following years. His mother later re-married.


Camões lived a semi-privileged life and was educated by Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 and Jesuits
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

. For a period, due to his familial relations he attended the University of Coimbra, although records do not show him registered (he participated in courses in the Humanities). His uncle, Bento de Camões, is credited with this education, owing to his position as Prior at the Monastery of Santa Cruz and Chancellor at the University of Coimbra. He frequently had access to exclusive literature, including classical Greek, Roman and Latin works, read Latin, Italian and wrote in Spanish.

Camões, as his love poetry can attest, was a romantic and idealist. It was rumored that he fell in love with Catherine of Ataíde, lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and also the Princess Maria, sister of John III of Portugal
John III of Portugal
John III , nicknamed o Piedoso , was the fifteenth King of Portugal and the Algarves. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile...

. It is also likely that an indiscreet allusion to the king in his play El-Rei Seleuco, as well as these other incidents may have played a part in his exile from Lisbon in 1548. He traveled to the Ribatejo
Ribatejo
The Ribatejo is the most central of the traditional provinces of Portugal, with no coastline or border with Spain. The region is crossed by the Tagus River...

 where he stayed in the company of friends who sheltered and fed him. He stayed in the province for about six months.

He enlisted in the overseas militia, and traveled to Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 in the fall of 1549. During a battle with the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

, he lost the sight in his right eye. He eventually returned to Lisbon in 1551, a changed man, living a bohemian lifestyle. In 1552, during the religious festival of Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi (feast)
Corpus Christi is a Latin Rite solemnity, now designated the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ . It is also celebrated in some Anglican, Lutheran and Old Catholic Churches. Like Trinity Sunday and the Solemnity of Christ the King, it does not commemorate a particular event in...

, in the Largo do Rossio
Rossio
The Rossio is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. It is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages...

, he injured Gonçalo Borges, a member of the Royal Stables. Camões was imprisoned. His mother pleaded for his release, visiting royal ministers and the Borges family for a pardon. Released, Camões was ordered to pay 4,000 réis and serve three-years in the militia in the Orient.

He departed in 1553 for Goa on board the São Bento, commanded by Fernão Alves Cabral. The ship arrived six months later. In Goa, Camões was imprisoned for debt. He found Goa "a stepmother to all honest men" but he studied local customs and mastered the local geography and history. On his first expedition, he joined a battle along the Malabar Coast
Malabar Coast
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain...

. The battle was followed by skirmishes along the trading routes between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and India. The fleet eventually returned to Goa by November 1554. During his time ashore, he continued his writing publicly, as well as writing correspondence for the uneducated men of the fleet.

At the end of his obligatory service, he was given the position of chief warrant officer in Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

. He was charged with managing the properties of missing and deceased soldiers in the Orient. During this time he worked on his epic poem Os Lusíadas
Os Lusíadas
Os Lusíadas , usually translated as The Lusiads, is a Portuguese epic poem by Luís Vaz de Camões ....

("The Lusiads") in a grotto. He was later accused of misappropriations and traveled to Goa to respond to the accusations of the tribunal. During his return journey, near the Mekong River along the Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

n coast, he was shipwrecked, saving his manuscript but losing his Chinese lover. His shipwreck survival in the Mekong Delta was enhanced by the legendary detail that he succeeded in swimming ashore while holding aloft the manuscript of his still-unfinished epic.

In 1570 Camões finally made it back to Lisbon, where two years later he published Os Lusíadas. In recompense for his poem or perhaps for services in the Far East, he was granted a small royal pension by the young and ill-fated Sebastian of Portugal
Sebastian of Portugal
Sebastian "the Desired" was the 16th king of Portugal and the Algarves. He was the son of Prince John of Portugal and his wife, Joan of Spain...

 (ruled 1557–1578).

In 1578 he heard of the appalling defeat of the Battle of Ksar El Kebir, where King Sebastian was killed and the Portuguese army destroyed. The Castilian troops were approaching Lisbon when Camões wrote to the Captain General of Lamego: "All will see that so dear to me was my country that I was content to die not only in it but with it". Camões died in Lisbon in 1580, at the age of 56. The day of his death, 10 June, is Portugal's national day
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

. He is buried near Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

 in the Jerónimos Monastery
Jerónimos Monastery
The Hieronymites Monastery is located near the shore of the parish of Belém, in the municipality of Lisbon, Portugal...

 in the Belém district of Lisbon.

Trivia

  • Camões is the subject of the first romantic painting from a Portuguese painter, A Morte de Camões (1825), by Domingos Sequeira
    Domingos Sequeira
    Domingos António de Sequeira , was a Portuguese painter.-Biography:He was born in Belém, Lisbon, into a modest family. He later changed his family name from Espírito Santo to the more aristocratic Sequeira...

    , now lost.
  • He is one of the characters in Gaetano Donizetti
    Gaetano Donizetti
    Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer from Bergamo, Lombardy. His best-known works are the operas L'elisir d'amore , Lucia di Lammermoor , and Don Pasquale , all in Italian, and the French operas La favorite and La fille du régiment...

    's grand opera
    Grand Opera
    Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterised by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events...

     Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal
    Dom Sébastien
    Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal is a French grand opera in five acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The libretto was written by Eugène Scribe, based on Paul Foucher's play Don Sébastien de Portugal , a historic-fiction about King Sebastian of Portugal and his ill-fated 1578 expedition to Morocco...

    .
  • Camões figures prominently in the book Het verboden rijk (The Forbidden Empire) by the Dutch
    Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

     writer J. Slauerhoff
    J. Slauerhoff
    Jan Jacob Slauerhoff, who published as J. Slauerhoff, was a Dutch poet and novelist. He is considered one of the most important Dutch language writers.-Youth:...

    , who himself made several voyages to the Far East
    Far East
    The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

     as a ship's doctor.
  • Today, a museum dedicated to Camões can be found in Macau
    Macau
    Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

    , the Museu Luís de Camões.
  • In Goa, India the Archeological Museum at Old Goa (which used to be a Franciscan monastery) houses a 3 meters high bronze statue of Luís de Camões. He holds in his hands the scrolls of his epic poem, Os Lusíadas, which describes Vasco da Gama’s journey from Portugal to India and back. The statue was originally installed in the garden in year 1960 but was moved into the museum due to public protest after Goa's annexation to India.
  • Another Camoes monument in Goa, India - "Jardim de Garcia da Orta Garden" (popularly known as Panaji Municipal Garden) has a 12 meter high pillar in the center. Constructed in the year 1898, to honour the first ever sea voyage from Europe to India, it had been fitted with the bust of the Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama and had carvings of the poem ‘Os Lusiadas’ by Luis de Camoes. Considered as a heritage grade structure, the bust and the carvings were replaced by India’s national emblem, the four lions after Goa's annexation to India.

External links