The Lusiads focuses mainly on a fantastical
interpretation of the Portuguese voyages of
discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
It is often regarded as Portugal’s national epic,
much in the way as Virgil’s Aeneid was for the
Ancient Romans, or Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey for
the Ancient Greeks.
It was first printed in 1572, three years after
the author returned from the Indies.
The heroes of the poem are the Lusiads, in other
words, the Portuguese.
The initial strophes of Jupiter’s speech in the
Council of the Olympian Gods open the
In these strophes, Camões speaks of Viriatus and
Quintus Sertorius, who were
predestined by the Fates to accomplish great
Jupiter says that
our history proves it
because this tiny nation has gone on to
discover new worlds.
At the end of the poem, on the Island of Love,
the fictional finale to the glorious tour of
Portuguese history, Camões writes that the
Portuguese will become gods.
Camões dedicated his masterpiece to King
Sebastian of Portugal.