Os Lusíadas

From merging these different topics together, I got to Os Lusíadas, a Portuguese epic poem by Luís Vaz de Camões. Written in Homeric style, it narrates a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese voyages of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries, much in the way of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. 

The poem consists of ten chapters, with a variable number of stanzas, written in the decasyllabic ottava rima, which has the rhyme scheme A-B-A-B-A-B-C-C, in a total of 8816 lines of verse.

The poem is divided in four sections:

  • The proposition – a presentation of the theme and heroes of the poem;
  • An invocation – a sort of ‘prayer’ to the Tágides, the nymphs of the river Tagus;
  • A dedication – to Sebastian of Portugal, the king at the time of writing;
  • Narration (the epic itself) – starting in stanza 19 of the canto I, in media res, starting in the midst of the action, with the background story being told later in the epic.

The narration concludes with an epilogue, starting in stanza 145 of canto X.


The heroes

The heroes of this epic are the Lusiads (Lusíadas), the sons of Lusus — in other words, the Portuguese. In the initial strophes of the narrative, Camões speaks of the people of Lusus, predestined by the Fates to accomplish great deeds.


The narrators and their speeches

The vast majority of the narration in Os Lusíadas consists of grandiloquent speeches by various orators: the main narrator; Vasco da Gama, recognized as  the “eloquent captain”; Paulo da Gama; Thetis; and the Siren who tells the future in Canto X. There are in the poem some speeches that are brief but notable, including Jupiter‘s and the Old Man of the Restelo‘s.

The poet asks the Tágides (nymphs of the river Tagus) to give him “a high and sublime sound,/ a grandiloquent and flowing style” (“um som alto e sublimado, / Um estilo grandíloquo e corrente“). In contrast to the style of lyric poetry, or “humble verse” (“verso humilde“), he is thinking about this exciting tone of oratory.

On several occasions the poet assumes a tone of lamentation, as at the end of Canto I, part of the speech of the Old Man of the Restelo, the end of Canto V, the beginning and end of Canto VII, and the final strophes of the poem.

The poet’s invocations to the Tágides and nymphs of Mondego (Cantos I and VII) and to Calliope (beginning of Cantos III and X), in typological terms, are also orations. Each one of these types of speech shows stylistic peculiarities.

(include picture with summary of each chapter)

For the purpose of this blog post, it didn’t seem necessary to add much more than this. However, I do suggest you read more about it.


I approached this theme by starting to look up some of the things that had already been done. I found a variety of contents, from illustrations to graffiti, book covers and posters to stamps, etc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s