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Pious Dissent: Tradition, Translation, and Subversive Allusion in Luís de Camões' Lusiads

Matthew Gorey
Monday, April 30, 2018 - 4:00pm
CMU 202/204 (Simpson Center for the Humanities)

Luís Vaz de Camões' Lusiads (published in 1572) has long served as the 'national epic' of Portugal, glorifying Portuguese colonialism in the Age of Exploration. Drawing heavily upon the style and structure of Virgil's Aeneid, the poem offers a triumphal account of the explorer Vasco da Gama's first voyage to Eastern Africa and India that often verges on the fantastical and the mythical. While contemporary scholarship has largely interpreted the poem as a straightforward endorsement of imperialism, Gorey seeks to complicate this reading by examining Camões' tendentious reception of Virgilian pietas (piety) and the use of its Portuguese cognate, piedade (piety/pity). Focusing on the speech of the 'Old Man of Restelo' at the end of Canto IV, Gorey proposes that the Lusiads contains an overlooked--yet significant--voice of anti-imperialist dissent, which is encoded in numerous classical allusions. Sponsored by the Classics, Medieval and Early Modern Studies Graduate Group, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and the Department of Classics. 

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