The first printed edition of the Lusiads

Presented here is the first printed edition of Os Lusiadas (The Lusiads), the national epic of Portugal, published in Lisbon in 1572. Composed by the poet, soldier, and sailor Luís de Camões (circa 1524−80), the poem celebrates the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1469−1524) and the achievements of Portugal and its people in venturing out into the Atlantic, rounding the tip of Africa, and forging a path to India. The first edition was produced by Antonio Gonçalves, who was active in Lisbon from about 1566 to 1576, mainly as a printer of religious books. This 1572 edition is in the National Library of Portugal. Scholars have puzzled over certain mysteries surrounding the first edition of Os Lusiadas at least since the 17th century, after the great commentator of Camões’s work, Manuel de Faria e Sousa (1590–1649), noticed that in some copies of the 1572 edition, including the present one, the image of the pelican on the title page is turned to the reader’s left, while in others the pelican is turned to the right. This discrepancy, plus some typographical differences and minor variations in orthography and punctuation, is present in the copies of the first edition. The differences between the texts led to speculation about two first edition printings, one presumably with corrections; about possible pirated editions; and to other theories about how these differences may have arisen. Whether Camões was personally involved in making corrections to an early printing also has long been debated.

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Type: book
Creator: Luís de Camões
Date: 1572
Location: Portugal
Continent: Europe
Keywords: poem, calligraphy, print