Luís de Camões Additional Biography


(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Although he has had many biographers, little is known for certain of the adventuresome life of Luís de Camões, who represented so well in his life and works the Renaissance man and the Portuguese conquistador. The son of Simão Vas de Camões and Ana de Macedo or Sá, Camões was possibly related, through his paternal grandmother, to Vasco da Gama, as well as to other Portuguese notables dating as far back as 1370. Camões was a gentleman, then, although always of scant financial resources. It is clear, too, that he possessed a vast erudition. Because of the quantity and quality of Camões’s learning, it is likely that he studied at Coimbra University and therefore that he was born in Coimbra, as he probably would have been too poor to move there from Lisbon.

With some reputation as well as noble birth, Camões went to Lisbon between 1542 and 1545, to frequent the court and enjoy the greater activity of the capital. His enjoyment was short-lived, unfortunately, for in 1546 or 1547 he was banished to Ribatejo because of his passion for a lady of the court whose parents did not approve. It is known that during the years from 1547 to 1549, Camões was in Ceuta, Morocco, winning his spurs as a proper young nobleman but losing an eye, probably in combat with the Moors. In 1549, he was back in Lisbon, where he led a Bohemian existence until 1553, when, in a brawl, he injured his adversary so seriously that he was jailed.

Camões was released...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

0111204890-Camoes.jpg Luís de Camões (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Luís de Camões (kuh-MOYNSH) is the preeminent poet of the Portuguese language, occupying a place in that language analogous to William Shakespeare in English or Dante in Italian in both the magnitude of his achievement and his influence upon Portuguese literature. Camões’s epic of discovery and conquest Os Lusíadas (1572; The Lusiads, 1655) is the work for which he is most renowned, but his lyric poetry and plays have also commanded attention.

Luís Vaz de Camões, the son of Simão Vaz de Camões and Ana de Sá, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, around 1524. His family was well off but did not inhabit the upper reaches of the aristocracy. Camões’s family was originally Galician in origin and had lived for some generations in the mountainous northern Portuguese town of Chaves. There are unsubstantiated rumors that some of his ancestors may have been converted Jews, but it is difficult to determine the validity of this claim.

His overseas travels aside, the details of Camões’s life are hazy, and beyond a few known facts what is generally thought about Camões’s biography is largely a product of scholarly conjecture. It is thought that Camões attended the newly relocated University of Coimbra, where his uncle Bento was the first chancellor. At Coimbra, Camões wrote Enfatriões (pr. 1540), a comic play in which the Greek gods assume human form. This play foreshadowed his juxtaposition of classical deities with contemporary characters in The Lusiads.

Camões arrived in Lisbon in the mid-1540’s. He presented himself to King John III and wrote Auto del-Rei Seleuco (pr. 1542), a historical play based on domestic drama in the household of the Hellenistic monarchs of present-day Syria. On April 11, 1542, Camões first saw Caterina de Ataide in church, and that day changed his life forever. Caterina is believed to be the great love of his life and the object of his passionate love sonnets, where her name is encrypted as “Natercia.” She returned his feelings, but Camões’s relatively low status at court and a certain reputation for wildness of character did not allow Caterina to reciprocate openly the poet’s ardor. His love inspired him to write sonnets that circulated privately, although they were printed posthumously in 1595...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

When the Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso in his song “Lingua” says, “I like to feel my tongue touch the tongue of Luís de Camões,” he is not only laying claim to an intimate contact with Portuguese literary tradition but also identifying himself with Camões as a bard and an artistic personality. In the twenty-first century, Camões is not merely a Portuguese national poet; he is a poet of the global Lusophone world, which includes Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and East Timor. The highest literary award for a writer in Portuguese is the Premio Luís de Camões, testifying to the poet’s founding and indispensable role in worldwide Portuguese literary culture.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Born in 1524, Luís Vaz de Camões (kuh-MOYNSH)—his name is also sometimes written Camoëns—has the distinction of having two cities, Lisbon and Coimbra, claim him as a native son. Modern scholarship has been unable to determine with certainty which city is correct in its claim, but Lisbon presents a somewhat better case. Camões apparently was educated at the University of Coimbra, a flourishing university in the sixteenth century, thanks to the patronage of King Joao III of Portugal. In the middle 1540’s Camões left the university for Lisbon. A tradition no longer believed correct held that he went to Lisbon as a tutor; another tradition no longer believed was that he followed a beautiful woman of the, Luís...

(The entire section is 626 words.)