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CAMOENS, Luis de.

The Lusiad,

or Portugals Historicall Poem: written In the Portingall Language; and Now newly put into English by Richard Fanshaw Esq.

London : Humphrey Moseley, 1655 Stock Code: 136059
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Vasco da Gama's discoveries in epic verse

First edition in English of Os Lusíadas (1572), the epic poem describing Portugal's rise from obscurity to greatness. Camoens based his Virgilian epic around Vasco da Gama's discovery of the sea route from Europe to India via the Cape of Good Hope in 1497-98, coloured by his own experiences during the 14 years he spent in the East (1553-67), including wintering on Hormuz Island, where, Burton argues in Camoens: His Life and his Lusiads, he was exposed to Persian literature.

Boies Penrose calls The Lusiad "one of the noblest epics" and "the national poem par excellence and the supreme epic of Portugal's conquests in the East" (Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance 1420-1620, New York, 1962, pp. 92 and 359). The English translator, Sir Richard Fanshawe, part of the grouping often called the cavalier poets, was an accomplished linguist, who spent a good deal of time on the Iberian peninsula. From 1662 to 1666 he was ambassador to Portugal and from 1664 to 1666 he was also ambassador to Spain.

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Folio (276 x 169 mm). Early polished calf, spine with five raised bands, red morocco label.


With 3 engraved portraits, as issued, that of Prince Henry of Portugal, folding, trimmed (slight loss of fore edge) and mounted as frontispiece, portrait of Camoens with verses, and of Vasco da Gama by Cross (slightly trimmed).


Early 20th-century bookplate of Erroll Hay; later book label of Eric Gerald Stanley (1923-2018), Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. Skilful restoration of extremities, a little stripping to boards, leaves A2-4 a little frayed in fore margin not affecting text, a few scattered marks internally, overall a very good copy.


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