VIRGIL, CAMOES AND THE CLASSICAL EPIC TRADITION

M.R. Mezzabotta

Abstract


Of all works inspired by Virgil's Aeneid, the Lusiads (Os Lusfadas) of the Portuguese
poet Luis Vaz de Cam5es (c. 1524/5-1580) must rank as the boldest and most
imaginative. This masterly poem, constructed around the momentous voyage in which
Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route from Europe to India via the Cape of Good
Hope in 1497-1498, deserves to be more widely known outside Portugal than is
presently the case,2 especially amongst teachers and students of classical epic poetry
who live in South Africa. For this audience the Lusiads furnishes insights into a
turning-point in the history of the African subcontinent, as well as evidence of how the
classical epic literary tradition, received and transmitted by Virgil, shaped the form
and content of a poem composed some sixteen centuries after Virgil's death.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/36-1-2-932

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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