Os Lusíadas ("The Lusiads") is considered one of the finest and most important works in Portuguese literature. Written by Luís de Camões in the Homeric fashion, and first printed in 1572, this epic poem focuses mainly on a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese discoveries movement, in the 14th through 17th centuries.
It is speculated that work on Os Lusíadas consumed around thirty years of Camões' life.
In Os Lusíadas, Camões presents the Portuguese people as descendants from Lusus, companion of Dionysus and mythical founder of Lusitania, and loosely describes the country's history until the mid 16th century — concentrating on giving a heroic edge to the journey of Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea.
Consisting of ten 'cantos,' Os Lusíadas documents the voyage of Vasco da Gama from Portugal around the Cape of Good Hope, along the Eastern coast of Africa, and eventually finding some respite in Melinde, of present day Kenya. From Kenya, da Gama and his crew travel onward to India and the East, eventually finding their reward on the Isle of Love.
Perhaps the most memorable of all episodes in Os Lusíadas consists of the Portuguese encounter with the Adamastor, a mythical beast made of rock and representing the desolation of Africa. Also underlying the narrative is the pulling forces of empire, imperialism, and the threat of shipwreck along this perilous journey.
Full text of Os Lusiadas (http://www.instituto-camoes.pt/escritores/camoes/lusiadas.htm) (in Portuguese), provided by Instituto Camões
Full text of Os Lusiadas (http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/3333) (in Portuguese), provided by Project Gutenberg
The most sublime figure in the history of Portuguese literature, Camões owes his lasting fame to his epic poem "Os Lusiadas," (The Lusiads); he is remarkable also for the degree of art attained in his lyrics, less noteworthy for his dramas.
His last gloomy years were spent near his aged mother, and he died, heart-broken at the misfortune that had come to his beloved land with the great disaster of Alcacer-Kebir, where Sebastian and the flower of the Portuguese nobility went to their doom.
His purpose was a serious one; he desired to abide by the sober reality of his country's history, which, in poetic speech, is related in a long series of stanzas by Vasco da Gama himself.
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