Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/171

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LITERATURE]
157
PORTUGAL


ab Ararnadia, while, though the MS. is lost, we have abundant evidence of the existence of a primitive Portuguese prose redaction of Anzadis de Goulo anterior to the present Spanish text. Furthermore, the Liora de Esopo published by Dr Lcite de Vasconcellos also belongs to the period, and there are other works in MS.

The 15th Century.—In the reign of John I. the court became an important literary centre, the king himself composed a Livro de Montario, so far unedited, and his sons are rightly described as Camoens as inclyta geracao, altos Infantes.” King Edward (Duarte) collected a precious library composed of the ancient classics, some translated by his order, as well as medieval poems and histories, and he wrote a moral treatise Leal comselheiro, and hints on horsemanship, or Livro do ensinonqa de bem crwalgar todo sella. His brother D. Pedro also wrote a moral treatise Do virtuoso Benzfeitorio, and caused Vegetius's De re militari and Cicero's De ofhciis to be turned into Portuguese. This travelled prince brought back from Venice a MS. of Marco Polo, the gift of the Senate, and is still remembered by the people through the story Liora das viagens do I nfante D. Pedro a quo! andou ds sete portidos do mundo, reprinted almost yearly, of which he is the hero. All the monarchs of the 15th century were highly educated men and patrons of letters; indeed, even that typical medieval knight Alphonso V. confesses, in his correspondence with Azurara, that the sword avails nothing without the pen. The age is noted for its chronicles, beginning with the anonymous life of the Portuguese Cid, the Holy Constable Nuno Alvares Pereira, told in charming infantile prose, the translated Chronico dafundicoo do moesteyro de Sam Vicente, and the Vida de D. Tello. Fernao Lopes (q.v.), the father of Portuguese history and author of chronicles of King Pedro, King Ferdinand and King John I., has been called by Southey the best chronicler of any age or nation. Gomes Eannes de Azurara completed Lopes's chronicle of King John by describing the capture of Ceuta, and wrote a chronicle of D. Pedro de Menezes, governor of the town down to 1437, and a chronicle of D. Duarte de Menezes, captain of Alcacer, but his capital work is the chronicle of the conquest of Guinea (see Azurara).

Though not a great chronicler or an artist like Lopes, Ruy de Pina (q.v.) is free from the rhetorical defects of Azurara, and his chronicles of King Edward and King Alphonso V. are characterized by unusual frankness, and meritorious both as history and literature. All these three writers combined the posts of keeper of the archives and royal chronicler, and were, in fact, the king's men, though Lopes at least seems rather the historian of a people than the oracle of a monarch. Garcia de Resende (q.v.) appropriated Pina's chronicle of King John II., and after adding a wealth of anecdote and gossip and casting the glamour of poetry over a somewhat dry record, he reissued it under his own name. The taste for romances of chivalry continued throughout the 15th century, but of all that were produced the only one that has come down to us is the Estorea do Imperador Vespasiano, an introduction to the Graal Cycle, based on the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus.

The Constable D. Pedro of Portugal, son of the prince of that name already referred to, has left some verses marked by elevation of thought and deep feeling, the Satyra de felice e infelice vida, and the death of his sister inspired his Tragedia de Io reina Isobel; but he is best remembered by his Coplas del contempt del mundo in the Concioneiro Geral. Though he actually drafted the first in his native tongue, all these poems are in Castilian, and D. Pedro is one of the first representatives of those Spanish influences which set aside the Provengal manner and in its place adopted a taste for allegory and a reverence for classical antiquity, both imported from Italy. It was to the constable that the marquis de Santillana addressed his historic letter dealing with the origins of Peninsular verse. The court poetry of the reigns of King Alphonso V. and King John II., so far as it survives, is contained in the lyrical collection known as the Cancioneiro Gefal, compiled by Garcia de Resende and printed in 1516. Nearly three hundred authors are there represented by pieces in Portuguese and Castilian, and they include D. João Manuel, D. João de Menezes, João Rodrigues de Sá e Menezes, Diogo Brandao, Duarte de Brito and Fernão da Silveira. The literary progenitors of the cancioneiro were the Spanish poets Juan de Mena, lorge Manrique, Garci-Sanchez de Badajos and Rodriguez del Padron, and its main subjects are love, satire and epigram. The epic achievements of the Portuguese in that century, the discoveries and the wars in Africa, hardly find an echo, even in the verses of those who had taken part in them. Instead, an atmosphere of artificiality surrounds these productions, and the verses that reveal genuine poetical feeling are very few. They include a lament of Garcia de Resende on the death of Ignez de Castro which probably inspired the inimitable stanzas dedicated to the same subject in The Lusiads, the Fingimento de Amores by Diogo Brandao, the Coplos of D. Pedro already referred to, and a number of minor pieces. However, some names appeared in the Concioneiro Gerale which were to be among the foremost in Portuguese literature, e.g. Bernardim Ribeiro, Christovam Falcao, Gil Vicente, and Sá de Miranda, who represent the transition between the Spanish school of the 15th and the Italian school of the 16th century, the members of which are called Os Quinhentistas. Ribeiro and Falcao, the introduce rs of the bucolic style, put new life into the old forms, and by their eclogues in redondilhas, breathing the deepest and most genuine feeling in verses of perfect harmony, they gave models which subsequent writers worked by but could never equal.

The Drama.—The history of the modern drama begins with religious plays, followed at a later period by moralities, and thence, by an easy transition, by the farce. This transition from the presentment of traditional types to the modern play can be traced in the works of Gil Vicente, the father of the Portuguese theatre. His first efforts belonged to the religious drama, and some of the more notable had edification for their object, e.g. the Barca do Inferno, but even in this class he soon introduces the comic element by way of relief, and in course of time he arrives at pure comedy and develops the study of character. For a detailed description and criticism of his work, see Vicente.

In the various towns where he stayed and produced his plays, writers for the stage sprang up, and these formed the Eschola Velha or school of Gil Vicente. To name the best known, Evora, the city of culture, produced Affonso Alvarez, author of religious pieces, Antonio Ribeiro, nicknamed “the Chiado,” an unfrocked friar with a strong satirical vein who wrote farces in the Bazochian style, and his brother Jeronimo Ribeiro. In Santarem appeared Antonio Prestes, a magistrate who drew from his judicial experience but evinced more knowledge of folk-lore than dramatic talent, while Camoens himself was so far influenced by Gil Vicente, whose plays he had perhaps seen performed in Lisbon, that in spite of his Coimbra training he never exchanged the old forms for those of the classical comedy. His Amphitryons is a free imitation of the Latin, yet thoroughly national in spirit and cast in the popular redondilha; the dialogue is spirited, the situations comic. King Seleucus derives from Plutarch and has a prose prologue of real interest for the history of the stage, while Filodemo is a clever tragi-comedy in verse with prose dialogues interspersed. Another poet of the same school is Balthazar Dias, the blind poet, whose simple religious autos are still performed in the villages, and are continually reprinted, the best liked being the Auto of St Alexis, and the Auto of St Catherine. He is purely medieval in subject and spirit, his lyrics are perfect in form and expression, his diction thoroughly popular. One of the last dramatists of the 16th century belonging to the old school was Simao Machado, who wrote the Comedy of Diu and the Enchontments of Alfea, two long plays almost entirely in Spanish, and full of digressions only made tolerable by the beauty of their lyrics.

Except Camoens, all these men, though disciples of Gil Vicente, are decidedly inferior to him in dramatic invention, fecundity and power of expression, and they were generally of humble social position. Moreover the favour of the court was withdrawn on the death of Gil Vicente, and this meant much, for