Lisbon in the Renaissance: A New Translation of the Urbis Olisiponis Descriptio

Lisbon in the Renaissance: A New Translation of the Urbis Olisiponis Descriptio

Lisbon in the Renaissance: A New Translation of the Urbis Olisiponis Descriptio

Lisbon in the Renaissance: A New Translation of the Urbis Olisiponis Descriptio

Synopsis

De Gois was a Portuguese humanist, a friend of Erasmus and his circle, and a writer imbued with the classical learning of his day. His Description of Lisbon was written in 1554 at the height of the city's commercial and cultural influence. It places the city in its geographical and historical setting, surveys its topography and environs, and then reviews its major architectural attractions.

Ruth's introduction places de Gois in the intellectual and historical context of the age, summarizes previous scholarship on the author and his work, and provides useful notes to de Gois' classical sources, his historical and geographical references, and to the sites mentioned in the text.

Excerpt

This book OFFERS English-language readers an eyewitness account of Lisbon as a sixteenth-century world capital. It is a translation of the Portuguese version of the Latin text Urbis Olisiponis Descriptio, written in 1554 by Portugal's foremost humanist, Damião de Góis. Góis presents his historical and geographical survey of Lisbon in a style meant to emulate that of his humanist peers, including his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam. This description of Lisbon reviews the city's ancient, medieval, and Renaissance history, calling forth the testimony of revered authors to persuade the reader of the city's greatness. The reader is then led through the countryside surrounding Lisbon, and finally to the city center, where attention is called to the chief architectural attractions, to the abundance and wealth of markets, shops, the port district, palaces, and the arsenal. Góis' intent was to prove to his sixteenth-century reader that Portugal's maritime prowess had created in Lisbon a level of power and opulence unrivaled by any city, with the exception of Seville, the major port of Spain's colonial empire. Both cities are called "Queens of the Oceans."

After the lifetime of Damião de Góis, Portugal drifted into a long period of relative decline. In our own times, however, Portugal has once again become very active within the international community, and it seems fitting that a text that so vividly describes Lisbon's past be brought forth now in English translation. Lisbon in the Renaissance may be of interest to a great variety of readers, including teachers and students of Portugal, Spain and their former colonial territories; specialists in urban history and in . . .

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