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UM acquires rare 17th-century edition of Luís de Camões’ epic poem

The University of Macau added the volume to its library in celebration of the great Portuguese poet’s 500th birthday.

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The University of Macau (UM) Library has obtained a rare, annotated edition of Os Lusíadas do Grande Luís de Camoens to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the renowned Portuguese poet Luís de Camões’ birth.

In a statement, UM said the book was published in 1613 and contained “what is believed to be the first biography of the poet” – written by Camões’ contemporary, Pedro de Mariz. Some believe part of Camões’ epic poem Os Lusíadas was written in Macao. The work celebrates the Portuguese pioneering spirit through tracing Vasco de Gama’s journey to India during the Age of Discovery.

The university recently held a ceremony to induct the edition into its library. Vice rector Rui Martins said the rare book would be a valuable resource for students, faculty, and researchers. 

[See more: Not just in museums: Where to find Macao’s living Portuguese connections]

The ceremony was attended by University of Lisbon professors José Francisco Rodrigues and Helena Carvalhão Buescu. Rodrigues expressed his belief that the Lisbon-born Camões was “a genius.” He said that the poet was knowledgeable about Renaissance cosmology and that his works reflected the humanist culture of the time.

Buescu, meanwhile, declared Camões the greatest name in Portuguese literature and suggested that UM establish a literary research centre in the poet’s name.

Although there is no consensus, Camões is believed to have spent time in Macao in 1560 and the grotto he is said to have written in is part of today’s Camões Gardens. The poet died in 1580 and the day of his passing, 10 June, is known as “The Day of Portugal, Camoes and the Portuguese communities” and is observed as Portugal’s National Day.

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