|History of Portuguese Literature||Origins of Portuguese Literature||The Portuguese Language||Oral Literature||Fiction||Lyricism|
|Travel Literature||Cantigas de amigo||Historiography||Doctrinal Prose|
was the most important Portuguese playwright and yet also the royal goldsmith,
the master of the scales at the Mint and the author of the famous Belém
Monstrance. In 1502, he performed Auto da
Visitação (Monólogo do Vaqueiro) before the queen just as she was about
to give birth, and this marked the beginning of a fertile career as a regular
and brilliant writer of comedies. His work represents the coming together of the
mediaeval inheritance (especially in the different genres and poetic rhythms
that he favoured - systematically using the popular metre in both morality plays
and farces) and the Renaissance spirit, which was a critical exercise in its
denunciation of both institutional irregularities and society’s vices.
his innumerable works are: Auto da Índia,
1509, a farce criticising the way in which, after systematically setting sail
with great euphoria for the Far East in search of riches, the Portuguese were
necessarily forced to abandon their nation and family situations; the series of
morality plays known as the Autos das Barcas (Barca do Inferno, 1517; Barca
do Purgatório, 1518; Barca da Glória,
1519), which were an allegory on human vices; Auto da Alma, 1518, a sacramental morality play about the
transitoriness of man’s earthly life and the conflicts between good and evil; Quem
Tem Farelos?, 1515, Mofina Mendes,
1515, and Inês Pereira, 1523, which
provided popular pictures of symbolic or everyday moral intensity, in
irresistibly comic plots that were full of biting satire.
Vicente created a rich gallery of characters and showed a great range of
multiple expression. His writing ranged from the poetic portrayal of the most
banal and common everyday events to a refined sense of religiousness and to the
abstract or ideological contents that he defended or satirised.
must live by the plough
is always dead.
We are the life of people
and the death of our lives;
to patient tyrants,
who tooth and nail
have eaten away at our souls.
What is the point of idle chatter?
Even should he wish to be a sinner
has neither time nor place
not even to wipe away
the beads of his sweat.
Auto da Barca do
© Instituto Camões, 2001