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Local antiquities, local identitiesArt, literature and antiquarianism in Europe, c. 1400–1700$
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Kathleen Christian and Bianca de Divitiis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526117045

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526117045.001.0001

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Luís de Camões’s The Lusiads and the paradoxes of expansion

Luís de Camões’s The Lusiads and the paradoxes of expansion

(p.190) 9 Luís de Camões’s The Lusiads and the paradoxes of expansion
Local antiquities, local identities

João R. Figueiredo

Manchester University Press

Following a well-known trend in early-modern Europe, the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões widely refashioned the myth of Lusus, an obscure son of Bacchus mentioned by Pliny, with two main purposes: to explain the etymology of the words "Lusitania" (the former Roman province used as a synonym for Portugal) and "Lusíadas" (the descendants of Lusus and the title of epic poem, published in 1572); and to set in motion the narrative framework of Vasco da Gama's voyage to India, insofar Bacchus, the mythical ancestor of the Portuguese and former conqueror of India, fiercely opposes the king of Portugal's expansionist plans. To address such questions, Camões vies with Ovid and Pliny, two basic tenets of the classical revival in early-modern Europe, in creating a bigger-than-life metamorphosis: the Giant Adamastor, turned into stone at the nethermost tip of Africa, whose autobiography is the etiology of the Cape of Good Hope.

Keywords:   Luís de Camões, Vasco da Gama, Renaissance Portugal, Os Lusíadas, Adamastor, Portuguese Age of Exploration, Antiquarianism in Renaissance Portugal, Portuguese Renaissance Literature

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