The Lusiads


Presented here is the first printed edition of Os Lusiadas (The Lusiads), the national epic of Portugal, published in Lisbon in 1572. Composed by the poet, soldier, and sailor Luís de Camões (circa 1524−80), the poem celebrates the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1469−1524) and the achievements of Portugal and its people in venturing out into the Atlantic, rounding the tip of Africa, and forging a path to India. The poem is comprised of ten cantos, each with a variable number of stanzas. Each stanza is written in ten-syllable lines, and uses the rhyme scheme known as ottava rima (ABABABCC). The first edition was produced by Antonio Gonçalves, who was active in Lisbon from about 1566 to 1576, mainly as a printer of religious books. The present copy is one of four exemplars of the 1572 edition held in the National Library of Portugal. This copy is known as the "E edition," and the other three are known as the "Ee edition." Scholars have puzzled over certain mysteries surrounding the first edition of Os Lusiadas at least since the 17th century, after the great commentator of Camões’s work, Manuel de Faria e Sousa (1590–1649), noticed that in some copies of the 1572 edition, including the present one, the image of the pelican on the title page is turned to the reader’s left, while in others the pelican is turned to the right. This discrepancy, plus some typographical differences and minor variations in orthography and punctuation, is present in the copies of the first edition. The differences between the texts led to speculation about two first edition printings, one presumably with corrections; about possible pirated editions; and to other theories about how these differences may have arisen. Whether Camões was personally involved in making corrections to an early printing also has long been debated.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Antonio Gonçalves, Lisboa, Portugal


Title in Original Language

Os Lusíadas

Type of Item

Physical Description

186 folios ; 20 centimeters


  1. Luís de Camões and K David Jackson, Camões and the first edition of The Lusiads (Os Lusíadas), 1572 = Luís de Camões e a primeira edição d'Os Lusíadas, 1572 (Dartmouth, Massachusetts: Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 2003).

Last updated: August 18, 2014