1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Drama/11d

11d. Modern Portuguese Drama

(d) Portugal.

The Portuguese drama in its earlier phases, especially before in the latter part of the 14th century the nation completely achieved its independence, seems to have followed much the same course as the Spanish; and the religious The Portuguese drama. drama in all its prevailing forms and direct outgrowths retained its popularity even by the side of the products of the Renaissance. In the later period of that movement translations of classical dramas into the vernacular were stimulated by the cosmopolitan example of George Buchanan, who for a time held a post in the university of Coimbra; to this class of play Teive’s Johannes (1553) may be supposed to have belonged. In the next generation Antonio Ferreira[1] and others still wrote comedies more or less on the classical model. But the rather vague title of “the Plautus of Portugal” is accorded to an earlier comic writer, the celebrated Gil Vicente, who died about 1536, after, it is stated, producing forty-two plays. He was the founder of popular Portuguese comedy, and his plays were called autos, or by the common name of praticas.[2] Among his most gifted successors are mentioned A. Ribeiro, called Chiado (the mocking-bird), who died in 1590;[3] his brother Jeronymo, B. Dias, A. Pires, J. Pinto, H. Lopes and others. The dramatic efforts of the illustrious poet Luis de Camões (Camoens) are relatively of slight importance; they consist of one of the many modern versions of the Amphitruo, and of two other comedies, of which the earlier (Filodemo) was acted at Goa in 1553, the subjects having a romantic colour.[4] Of greater importance were the contributions to dramatic literature of F. de Sá de Miranda, who, being well acquainted with both Spanish and Italian life, sought early in his career to domesticate the Italian comedy of intrigue on the Portuguese stage;[5] but he failed to carry with him the public taste, which preferred the autos of Gil Vicente. The followers of Miranda were, however, more successful than he had been himself, among them the already-mentioned Antonio Ferreira; the prose plays of Jorge Ferreira de Vasconcellos, which bear some resemblance to the Spanish Celestina, are valuable as pictures of contemporary manners in city and court.[6]

The later Portuguese dramatic literature seems also to have passed through phases corresponding to those of the Spanish, though with special features of its own. In the 18th century Alcino Mycenio (1728-1770), known as Domingos dos Reis Quito in everyday life, in which his avocation was that of Allan Ramsay, was remarkably successful with a series of plays,[7] including of course an Inez de Castro, which in a subsequent adaptation by J. B. Gomes long held the national stage. Another dramatist, of both merit and higher aspirations, was Lycidas Cynthio (alias Manoel de Figueiredo, 1725-1801).[8] But the romantic movement was very late in coming to Portugal. Curiously enough, one of its chief representatives, the viscount da Almeida Garrett, exhibited his sympathy with French, revolutionary and anti-English ideas by a tragedy on the subject of Cato;[9] but his later works were mainly on national subjects.[10] The expansive tendencies of later Portuguese dramatic literature are illustrated by the translations of A. F. de Castilho, who even ventured upon Goethe’s Faust (1872). Among 19th-century dramatists are to be noted Pereira da Cunha, R. Cordeiro, E. Biester, L. Palmeirin, and Garrett’s disciple F. G. de Amorim, by whom both political and social themes have been freely treated. The reaction against romanticism observable in Portuguese poetic literature can hardly fail to affect (or perhaps has already affected) the growth of the national drama; for the receptive qualities of both are not less striking than the productive.

  1. O cioso (The Jealous Man), &c. His Inez de Castro is a tragedy with choruses, partly founded on the Spanish play of J. Bermudez.
  2. Don Duardos, Amadis, &c.
  3. Auto das Regateiras (The Market-women), Pratica de compadres (The Gossips), &c.
  4. Emphatriŏes, Filodemo, Seleuco.
  5. Os Estrangeiros, Os Vilhalpandos (The Impostors).
  6. Eufrosina, Ulyssipo (Lisbon), Aulegrafia.
  7. Astarte, Hermione, Megara.
  8. These assumptions of names remind us that we are in the period of the “Arcadias.”
  9. Catāo.
  10. Manoel de Sousa, &c.
11d. Modern Portuguese Drama