The great epic poem of Portuguese exploration, in the original Portuguese, a monument of Portuguese literature that gave a Homeric aura to Renaissance voyages of discovery and colonial conquests, here in the first edition to include the extensive prose commentaries by the author's close friend Manuel Correia (or Correa) de Montenegro, who died before publication. In mythology Lusus, a son or companion of Bacchus, is said to have founded Lusitania, approximately corresponding to the modern kingdom of Portugal, so the Portuguese heroes of the epic are called Luciadas. "The 'Lusiads', as a synthesis of national sentiment and literary development, stands unchallenged as the epic of the Portuguese nation, and it celebrates more than anything else the voyage of Da Gama and the intrepid bravery of the Portuguese on land and sea" (Lach). Camões's work was first published in Portuguese at Lisbon in 1572. Pedro (originally Peeter van) Craesbeeck (ca. 1552-1632) was born in Louvain and worked for the great Antwerp printer and publisher Christophel Plantin and his son-in-law Balthasar Moretus before moving to Lisbon, where he set up a printing office in 1590. He quickly became Portugal's leading printer and publisher and was appointed printer to the King in 1620. He first printed Os Lusiadas in 1607 and again in 1609, but it was his present 1613 edition that first added the extensive commentaries, for most verses longer than the verse itself, which expanded the book from the 186 leaves of his earlier editions to the 308 leaves of the present. Its text, layout, (French) types and presswork set a high standard for all that followed and it remains an essential source for any study of the poem. - In the early 1530s the great Portuguese historian, João de Barros, most famous for his Decadas de Asia, had called for an epic poem of Portuguese exploration and discovery. Luis de Camões (1524-1580) answered that call four decades later. Camões was educated in a monastic school in Coimbra, and produced poetry and plays at a young age. In his early twenties he was banished from Lisbon after producing a play considered disparaging to the royal family. He served as a soldier in the Portuguese forces besieging Ceuta in North Africa, where he lost an eye. Camões returned to Lisbon in 1550, but found himself in more trouble, and was pardoned by the King on condition he serve the Crown in India for five years. He arrived at Goa in late 1553 and stayed there briefly before joining an expedition to the Malabar Coast. Later he participated in a campaign against pirates on the shores of Arabia. In 1556 he left Goa again for the East Indies, taking part in the military occupation of Macao, where he remained for many months. On his return trip to India, he was shipwrecked off the Mekong and wandered in Cambodia before reaching Malacca and eventually returning to Goa. He did not return to Lisbon until 1570. Camões's inspiration for his epic poem, composed in ten cantos, was Virgil's Aeneid. He made the explorer Vasco de Gama his great hero, using his exploits to glorify the achievements of the Portuguese nation, the "sons of Lusus". He likely wrote parts of Cantos III and IV, which deal with Portuguese history, before his departure for the East, but Lach and others convincingly argue that the bulk of the poem could only have been written after his extensive first-hand experience in India and Asia, and he wrote much of it while still in the East. Cantos VII to X deal most directly with Asia, beginning with de Gama's arrival in India and ending with his return to Portugal. Canto X also includes references to Mexico and Brazil. The Lusiads gives a fine description not only of Portuguese exploits in the East, but also of the flora and fauna of Asia and India, the ethnographic details of the peoples there, and the geography of the region, informed by Camões's own experiences as well as his familiarity with Ptolemy and Barros. The Lusiads was immensely popular upon its publication, appearing in numerous Portuguese and Spanish editions before the end of the century, and serving as a source for Linschoten in the preparation of his 1595 Itinerario. It not only sang the praises of the Portuguese nation, it also appealed to Christian Europe in calling for a common crusade against the Turks and Moslem Asia. "The 'Lusiads' is indeed the national poem par excellence and the supreme epic of Portugal's conquests in the East ... In its stately grandeur, the 'Lusiads' is to Portuguese poetry what Barros' 'Decades' are to Portuguese prose. Their national literature never again reached such heights, nor has the literature of any other country writings to surpass these two masterpieces in their special fields" (Penrose). "The 'Lusiads' is a synthesis of all the elements included in the reality and myth of Portugal's overseas expansion. It captures the heroism and the suffering, the glory and the disillusionment, the generosity and the avarice which characterized the national enterprise. The author himself was the only major Portuguese poet to participate personally in the voyage, the wars, and the rigors of life in Asia. His epic successfully combines the personal with the national experience and provides thereby an intelligible, individualistic expression of the collective enterprise in which Portuguese of all walks of life had engaged either directly or indirectly" (Lach). - With some quires browned and with 1 small worm hole running through the second half, but otherwise in good condition. Binding with a 1 x 2 cm hole in the vellum covering the spine and slightly wrinkled and dirty, but also good. The most important edition for the study of Portugal's greatest epic.