Luís de Camões

Last updated
Luís de Camões
Camoes, por Fernao Gomes.jpg
Portrait c.1577
BornLuís Vaz de Camões
c. 1524-1525
Lisbon(?), Coimbra(?), Constância(?) or Alenquer(?), Kingdom of Portugal
Died20 June [ O.S. 10 June] 1580 (aged 55-56)
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Occupation Poet
Alma mater University of Coimbra
Period Portuguese Renaissance
Genre Epic poetry
Literary movement Classicism
Notable works The Lusiads
Relatives Camões Family

Luís Vaz de Camões (Portuguese pronunciation:  [luˈiʒ ˈvaʒ dɨ kaˈmõjʃ] ; sometimes rendered in English as Camoens or Camoëns, e.g. by Byron in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers , /ˈkæmˌənz/ ; c. 1524 or 1525 – 20 June [ O.S. 10 June] 1580) is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads). His collection of poetry The Parnasum of Luís de Camões was lost in his lifetime. The influence of his masterpiece Os Lusíadas is so profound that Portuguese is sometimes called the "language of Camões".



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 and wife Ana de Sá de Macedo. [1] His birthplace is disputed. Lisbon the capital where he died, Coimbra where he studied or Alenquer that is frequently presented as his birthplace, based on interpretation of Lusiadas, that mentioned Alenquer several times, and the biographical poem (157) below.

“No mundo poucos anos, e cansados, vivi, cheios de vil miséria dura; foi-me tão cedo a luz do dia escura, que não vi cinco lustros acabados. Corri terras e mares apartados buscando à vida algum remédio ou cura; mas aquilo que, enfim, não quer ventura, não o alcançam trabalhos arriscados. Criou-me Portugal na verde e cara pátria minha Alenquer; mas ar corruto que neste meu terreno vaso tinha, me fez manjar de peixes em ti, bruto mar, que bates na Abássia fera e avara, tão longe da ditosa pátria minha!”,

the translation says

“In this world only some few years I lived, and tired, full of vile and hash misery; a dark Light came to me (soul) so early when I didn't even had yet 25 years old. I ran apart lands and seas seeking some medicine or cure for this in life; but what, finally, didn’t got any luck, And risky jobs did not help reach any luck.

Portugal created me in the green and dear homeland of my Alenquer; but the corruption, air that I had in this vase land, it made me now eat fish in you, rough sea, which strikes wild and mean on the Abassia, so far from my blessed homeland!“

Even with this biographic poem stating that is homeland is Alenquer, there ate still interests disputing is birth place. His mother Ana de Sá was also from Alenquer and also related do the famous humanist Damião de Gois, also from Alenquer.

Constância has a museum about him where he was a period in jail, due to that they buit statue of him can be found in the town, but it’s not said in the Constância that it was his homeland.

The Camões family was originally Galician, that passed to the northern Portuguese region of Chaves near Galicia. At an early age, his father Simão Vaz left his family to pursue personal riches in India, only to die in Goa in the following years. His mother was later remarried. His mother was from Alenquer, daughter of Jorge de Macedo, and sister in law of Rui Dias de Gois from Alenquer.

Monument to Luis de Camoes, Lisbon EstatuaCamoesLisboa.JPG
Monument to Luís de Camões, Lisbon

Camões lived a semi-privileged life and was educated by Dominicans and Jesuits. 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; he read Latin and Italian, and wrote poetry in Spanish. [2]

Camoes' tomb in the Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon Jeronimos April 2014-2.jpg
Camões' tomb in the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém, Lisbon

Camões, as his love of 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 Princess Maria, sister of John III of Portugal. 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 where he stayed in the company of friends who sheltered and fed him. He stayed in the province for about six months. [2]

He enlisted in the overseas militia, and traveled to Ceuta in the fall of 1549. During a battle with the Moors, he lost the sight in his right eye. He returned to Lisbon in 1551, a changed man, living a bohemian lifestyle. In 1552, during the religious festival of Corpus Christi, in the Largo do Rossio, 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", and he studied local customs and mastered the local geography and history. On his first expedition, he joined a battle along the Malabar Coast. The battle was followed by skirmishes along the trading routes between Egypt 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.

A statue commemorating de Camoes in Havana, Cuba Luis de Camoes statue Havana.jpg
A statue commemorating de Camões in Havana, Cuba

At the end of his obligatory service, he was given the position of chief warrant officer in Macau. 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 ("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 Cambodian coast, he was shipwrecked, saving his manuscript but losing his Chinese lover, Dinamene. 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. [2]

In 1570 Camões finally made it back to Lisbon, where two years later he published Os Lusíadas, for which he was considered one of the most prominent Iberian poets at the time. [3] In recompense for this poem or perhaps for services in the Far East, he was granted a small royal pension (15000 réis) by the young and ill-fated King Sebastian (ruled 1557–1578).

In 1578 he heard of the appalling defeat of the Battle of Alcácer Quibir, where King Sebastian was killed and the Portuguese army destroyed. The Castilian troops were approaching Lisbon[ citation needed ] 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 OS, is Portugal's national day. He is entombed in the Santa Maria church, part of the Jerónimos Monastery complex, near Vasco da Gama, in the parish of Belém in Lisbon.


Luis de Camoes Statue in Goa, India Luis de Camoes Statue in Goa, India.jpg
Luís de Camões Statue in Goa, India
Works by Camões
English translations
Biography and textual study in English

In culture

Effigy of Luis de Camoes on the Monument to the Discoveries, in Lisbon, Portugal. Luis de Camoes - Padrao dos Descobrimentos.png
Effigy of Luís de Camões on the Monument to the Discoveries, in Lisbon, Portugal.

See also


  1. "Luís Vaz de Camões". Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  2. 1 2 3 Chisholm 1911.
  3. Aguiar e Silva (2011, "Cânone literário português e Camões (O)"). Historian Pero de Magalhães Gândavo wrote in 1574 that "time will never triumph over Camões's fame" (idem, ibidem)
  4. "The Lusiads". World Digital Library . 1800–1882. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  5. "The Laureate of Hard Luck: 'The Collected Lyric Poems of Luís de Camões' - The New York Sun". Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  6. "Camoens: His Life and His Lusiads. A Commentary by Richard Francis Burton". Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  7. "The place of Camoens in literature : Nabuco, Joaquim, 1849-1910 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  8. "Camões Seamount" Marine Gazetteer
  9. "Camões Seamount: Undersea Features"

Related Research Articles

<i>Os Lusíadas</i> Portuguese epic poem by Luís de Camões

Os Lusíadas, usually translated as The Lusiads, is a Portuguese epic poem written by Luís Vaz de Camões and first published in 1572. It is widely regarded as the most important work of Portuguese literature and is frequently compared to Virgil's Aeneid. The work celebrates the discovery of a sea route to India by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1469–1524). The ten cantos of the poem are in ottava rima and total 1,102 stanzas.

Francisco de Sá de Miranda Portuguese poet

For the 19th century Venezuelan politician with similar name, see Francisco de Miranda

Portuguese literature

Portuguese literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the Portuguese language, particularly by citizens of Portugal; it may also refer to literature written by people living in Portugal, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries. An early example of Portuguese literature is the tradition of a medieval Galician-Portuguese poetry, originally developed in Galicia and northern Portugal. The literature of Portugal is distinguished by a wealth and variety of lyric poetry, which has characterized it from the beginning of its language, after the Roman occupation; by its wealth of historical writing documenting Portugal's rulers, conquests, and expansion; by the then considered Golden Age of the Renaissance period of which it forms part the moral and allegorical Renaissance drama of Gil Vicente, Bernardim Ribeiro, Sá de Miranda and especially the great 16th-century national epic of Luís de Camões, author of national and epic poem Os Lusíadas.

Adamastor Mythological character created by the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões

Adamastor is a mythological character created by the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões in his epic poem Os Lusíadas, as a personification of the Cape of Good Hope, symbolizing the dangers of the sea and the formidable forces of nature challenged and ultimately overcome by the Portuguese during the Discovery Age. Adamastor manifests itself out of a storm.

Manuel de Faria e Sousa Portuguese writer and historian

Manuel de Faria e Sousa was a Portuguese historian and poet. He frequently wrote in Spanish.

Vasco Graça Moura Portuguese lawyer, writer, translator and politician

Vasco Navarro da Graça Moura, GCSE GCIH OSE was a Portuguese lawyer, writer, translator and politician, son of Francisco José da Graça Moura and wife Maria Teresa Amado da Cunha Seixas Navarro de Castro, of Northern Portugal bourgeoisie.

Almeida Garrett Portuguese writer and politician

João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, 1st Viscount of Almeida Garrett was a Portuguese poet, orator, playwright, novelist, journalist, politician, and a peer of the realm. A major promoter of theater in Portugal he is considered the greatest figure of Portuguese Romanticism and a true revolutionary and humanist. He proposed the construction of the D. Maria II National Theatre and the creation of the Conservatory of Dramatic Art.

Lusus is the supposed son or companion of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and divine madness, to whom Portuguese national mythology attributed the foundation of ancient Lusitania and the fatherhood of its inhabitants, the Lusitanians, seen as the ancestors of the modern Portuguese people. Lusus thus has functioned in Portuguese culture as a founding myth.

Portugal Day Portugal National day

Portugal Day, officially Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities, is the National Day of Portugal celebrated annually on 10 June. It is one of the public holidays in Portugal and celebrated by Portuguese people throughout the world. It commemorates the death on 10 June 1580 of Luís de Camões, a poet and national literary icon.

José Agostinho de Macedo Portuguese writer

José Agostinho de Macedo was a Portuguese poet and prose writer. He was born in Beja to a plebeian family, and studied Latin and rhetoric with the Oratorians in Lisbon, Portugal. He became professed as an Augustinian in 1778, but owing to his turbulent character he spent a great part of his time in prison,and was constantly being transferred from one convent to another, finally giving up the monastic habit to live licentiously in the capital.

Instituto Camões organization

The Instituto Camões is a Portuguese international institution dedicated to the worldwide promotion of the Portuguese language, Portuguese culture, and international aid, on behalf of the Government of Portugal. Headquartered in Lisbon with centers across five continents, the mission of the Instituto Camões is the promotion of Portugal's language, culture, values, charity, and economy. The institution is named for Portuguese Renaissance author Luís Vaz de Camões, considered the greatest poet of the Portuguese language and the national poet of Portugal.

Portuguese poetry refers to diverse kinds of poetic writings produced in Portuguese all through the years to the present era.

The Camões family were descendants of the 14th-century Portuguese nobleman Vasco Pires de Camões.

Diogo do Couto historian

Diogo do Couto was a Portuguese historian.

The Ínclita Geração is a term commonly used by Portuguese historians to refer to a group of 15th-century infantes (princes) of the House of Aviz, specifically the sons of King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster : the future king Edward of Portugal; the future regent Peter of Coimbra; Prince Henry the Navigator; the constable John of Reguengos; and the martyr Ferdinand the Holy Prince.

The Twelve of England

The Twelve of England is a Portuguese chivalric legend of 15th-century origin, famously related by the poet Luís de Camões in his 1572 Os Lusíadas. It tells the story of twelve Portuguese knights who travelled to England at the request of twelve English ladies to avenge their insult by a group of English knights.

National symbols of Portugal

The symbols of Portugal are official and unofficial flags, icons or cultural expressions that are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of Portugal and of its culture.

Portuguese presence in Asia

The Portuguese presence in Asia was responsible for what would be many of first contacts between European countries and the East, starting on May 20, 1498 with the trip led by Vasco da Gama to Calicut, India. Portugal's goal in the Indian Ocean was to ensure their monopoly in the spice trade, establishing several fortresses and commercial trading posts.

The Old Man of Restelo Fictional character in a poem by Camões

The Old Man of Restelo, also known as The Old Man of Belem, is a fictional character introduced by the Portuguese epic poet Luís de Camões in Canto IV of his work Os Lusíadas. The Old Man of Restelo is variously interpreted as a symbol of pessimism, or as representing those who did not believe in the likely success of the then upcoming Portuguese voyages of discovery. The character appears at the embarkation of the first expedition to India (1497), giving warnings about the odyssey that was about to happen.

Gabriel Pereira de Castro Portuguese magistrate

Gabriel Pereira de Castro (1571-1632) was a Portuguese priest, lawyer and poet.


Further reading