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The Teaching of Aeneid in Évora

Among the great classical poets who were to guide the learning of the Latin language, Virgil’s poetry was chosen as the principal model for much of the Jesuit literary production.

Among the great classical poets who were to guide the learning of the Latin language, Virgil’s poetry – mainly his epic poem of Aeneid – was chosen as the principal model for much of the Jesuit literary production.

Although the Jesuit teaching intended an immersive contact with the Latin language, there needed to be a translation of the classic authors for the beginning of the learning.

Camilla fight the Trojans. Publii Virgilii Maronis Opera, 1502, XI, folio 385, © Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg
Camilla fight the Trojans. Publii Virgilii Maronis Opera, 1502, XI, folio 385, © Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (CC BY 4.0).

For Portuguese-speaking students, the first contacts with the Virgilian verses would probably be made through the commented edition of Professor Gaspar Pinto Correia, who prepared a translation in prose, interspersed in Latin and Portuguese.

This true metatext, where there is a continuity from the Latin text to the Portuguese translation and the commentary of the semantic and cultural context, experienced remarkable longevity and counted at least five editions, between the years 1644-1698.

Even if there are several contemporary options, the choice of prints for the tile panels in Eneida’s classrooms fell on one of the first illustrated editions, printed in the early 16th century, under the direction of the poet Sebastian Brant, born in Strasbourg.

Camilla fight the Trojans. Great Lisbon Workshop. Valentim de Almeida e Sebastião Gomes Ferreira, c. 1745. Colégio do Espírito Santo de Évora. © Teresa Verão
Camilla fight the Trojans. Great Lisbon Workshop. Valentim de Almeida e Sebastião Gomes Ferreira, c. 1745. Colégio do Espírito Santo de Évora. © Teresa Verão.

In the model provided to the tile painters, Aeneas and the other knights dressed in 16th-century clothes and armor, not exactly Roman, the cities are similar to those in Northern Europe, and the various actions developed at the same time, without establishing a unit in the scene.

But these ancient 16th-century woodcuts pursue the same objective of Gaspar Correia’s pedagogic work, which, to facilitate the understanding of young novices, reconstructs the narrative order of the epic poem, with the identification of the characters and countries where the action takes place.

ESSENTIAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

MANGUCCI, António Celso. História da azulejaria portuguesa, iconografia e retórica. PhD Tesis, Universidade de Évora, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/10174/28727

TOBIAS, Gisela & TOBIAS, Werner. Vergil in Évora, 2010. ISBN 978-3-8391-2211-2.

Évora, Colégio do Espírito Santo

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