António Ferreira Analysis

Other Literary Forms

In addition to two comedies and one tragedy, António Ferreira wrote and published in various poetic forms—sonnets, odes, eclogues, epigrams, and epitaphs—as well as writing letters and a history. In most of these works, Ferreira shows the great influence that Greek, Latin, and Renaissance Italian authors had on him, especially Horace, Vergil, and Petrarch.


António Ferreira was indisputably the best-educated poet and dramatist in sixteenth century Portugal; as such, his knowledge of the classics was both extensive and profound. In his many odes and particularly in his letters, Ferreira the humanist stands forth clearly. Indeed, he may be considered the greatest theorist of humanistic values—especially in the realm of literary art—in the Portugal of his time. Having been the student, at the university in Coimbra, of the renowned humanists George Buchanan and Nicolau Grouchy, Ferreira came to view his career as a mission for spreading Christian, humanistic, and classical values and ideals to contemporary as well as to future generations of writers, artists, and critics.

A proponent of the theory that reason is the dominant force among humankind and that terrestrial happiness will result from constant application of reason over passions, illusions, and impulses, Ferreira was against the pursuit of warfare as a noble endeavor, finding physical courage of inferior status to reason. He even went so far as to remind influential aristocrats that they too were heirs to the human condition, and that the aristocracy of knowledge and intelligence was far more desirable than that of inherited bloodlines.

The impact that Ferreira had on fellow writers and other important persons in the area of humanism was equaled if not surpassed by his impact on the Portuguese language. He has been compared to the great...

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Bell, Aubrey F. G. Portuguese Portraits. Oxford, England: B. H. Blackwell, 1917. Good biographical information.

Earle, Thomas F. The Muse Reborn: The Poetry of António Ferreira. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. An excellent study of Ferreira’s poetry.

Friederich, Werner P. Outline of Comparative Literature from Dante Alighieri to Eugene O’Neill. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1954. Places Ferreira’s canon in the context of world literature.

Highet, Gilbert. The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature. 1949. Reprint. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Places Ferreira’s canon in the context of world literature. Bibliography and index.

Marques, Henrique R. de Oliveira. History of Portugal. 2d ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. Contains good biographical information on Ferreira. Bibliographies and index.

Martyn, John R. C. Introduction to The Comedy of Bristo: Or, The Pimp, by António Ferreira. Ottawa: Dovehouse Editions, 1990. In his introduction, Martyn provides information on Ferreira as well as on the play The Comedy of Bristo. Bibliography.

Martyn, John R. C. Introduction to The Tragedy of Ines de Castro, by António Ferreira. Coimbra, Portugal: Universidade de Coimbra Press, 1987. This introduction to the English translation of Ignez de Castro presents information about Ferreira’s life and writings, in addition to the translated play. Bibliography.

Nowell, Charles E. A History of Portugal. New York: Van Nostrand, 1952. Includes good biographical information. Bibliography.