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Camões' 500th anniversary celebrations kick off

The official celebrations of the national poet Luís de Camões' 500th anniversary will kick off on Monday, June 10, the day of his death, in Coimbra.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Luís Montenegro will visit the Joanine Library at the University of Coimbra and preside over the Evocative Ceremony of the 500 years of Camões, ending the day with a musical show at the Pátio das Escolas.

“But whose idea was it to celebrate my birth on the day of my death?” is the question that will be asked to the audience, at the end of the performance, by one of the two Luís Vaz de Camões, a Portuguese and a Brazilian.

Luís de Camões was recently in the news due to the poet's name being chosen by the Government for the new Lisbon airport.

Delayed celebrations

On Wednesday, PM Montenegro presided over the ceremony in which the official program of the celebrations was supposed to be revealed. However, at the ceremony, Minister of Culture Dalila Rodrigues presented only the "guiding lines" of the initiative and said that the main activities of the program will only take place in 2025, as “there is no budget foreseen for the celebrations in the current year”.

Earlier this week, the Government has already announced an extension of the celebrations for one more than had been previously planned.

"The extension of the timetable – one more year than expected – has the purpose of allowing us to overcome the heavy legacy left by the previous government: the lack of programming and budget allocated to Celebrations of the 5th Centenary of the Birth of Luís de Camões" said the official document released by the Government on Wednesday (here).

In Dezember, Rita Marnoto, the commissioner appointed to prepare the programme of commemorations, said that two and a half years after the Council of Ministers' resolution that ordered the creation of a task force for the celebration, they did not exist yet.

There is nothing more than the announcement of the government's intention to commemorate this achievement, Marnoto said.

The Council of Ministers' resolution stipulated that the programme should be completed and proposed to the government by the end of 2022, and that the commemorations would take place between 12 March 2024 and 10 June 2025.

However, Rita Marnoto, a professor at the University of Coimbra who specialises in literature, says that no measures have been taken to create these bodies, a necessary condition for the development of the project and the programme, and that she is still waiting for measures to be taken in this direction.

Who is Luís de Camões?

Luis de Camões, born in 1524 in Lisbon, Portugal, is widely regarded as one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. His early life is shrouded in mystery, but it is known that he belonged to a noble but impoverished family.

Camões likely received a classical education, which is evident in his deep knowledge of classical literature and mythology. He spent a significant part of his youth in Lisbon's bohemian circles, where his tumultuous love affairs and adventurous spirit shaped his poetic voice. Camões' adventurous nature led him to enlist in the military, and he participated in numerous expeditions, including fighting in Morocco, where he lost one eye in battle.

Camões' most famous work, Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), published in 1572, is an epic poem that celebrates Portuguese explorations and conquests, particularly the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India.

The poem intertwines history and mythology, showcasing Camões' mastery of language and his ability to evoke grandeur and heroism. Despite his literary success, Camões' life was marked by hardship. He spent years in exile and imprisonment, living in poverty upon his return to Lisbon.

His legacy, however, endured beyond his lifetime, with Os Lusíadas earning him a place alongside the great epic poets of history, and his lyrical poetry continuing to influence Portuguese literature and culture.

Camões died in 1580, but his contributions to literature have immortalized him as a national icon of Portugal.

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