Monday, January 15, 2007

"Never, in short, was there a great warrior of any nation, Roman, Greek, or any other beyond the pale, save only of Portugal, who was not at the same time a man of science and learning. I say it not without shame, for the reason why none of us stands out as a great poet is our lack of esteem for poetry. He who is ignorant of art cannot value it. For this reason, and not for any lack of natural endowment, we have neither Virgils or Homers; and soon if we persist in such a course, we shall have no pious Aeneases or fierce Achilles either. And worst of all is the fact that fortune has made us so uncouth, so austere, so unpolished and remiss in things of the mind that many are scarcely interested even that this should be so, or concern themselves at all with such matters."

Here at the end of Canto 5 from 'The Lusiads' Camoens states that heroes are dependent on poets because it is only through poetry and art that we see what it means to be a hero and what it means to be brave. When a nation loses touch, loses interest in art and poetry it no longer has the ability to know what bravery or heroism means. We see this today when a new war film comes out, it tries to inspire, tries to uplift you. When I see a good film I walk out wanting to be a better person.

Camoens foretold the downfall of Portugal, soon after their discovery of India they became corrupt and greedy and lost all the power and pride that their skills had developed. They lost the ability to know what it means to be a hero. I think this is a good way of explaining why we need the arts - because we are not able to remember heroes without artists or poets.


With Hammer And Tong...The LetterShaper said...

I have so enjoyed my trip through this site; as a poet and an avid reader, I found it both enlightening and enriching...Thank You!

Igneos said...

Thank you!

It is been so long since anyone commented I had almost given up. I enjoyed your blog too and I'll be linking it soon.

Awang Goneng said...

I'm no poet but I enjoyed the truth in this statement so much that now I'm looking for the Lusiads to read it whole. Please accept my thanks for that.

Igneos said...


I am glad you enjoyed it, I would recommend Atkinson's prose translation.