Old Man of the Restelo
December 20, 2015
The Old Man of the Restelo is a powerful story by Luis de Camões in his epic poem The Lusiads. The Velho do Restelo symbolizes the pessimists and the reactionaries who did not believe in the success of the epic Portuguese Age of Exploration.
The Velho do Restelo confronts Vasco DaGama as he is about to start the first expedition to India with warnings about the odyssey - and what it will do to Portugal. The old man criticizes the expedition, saying that brave sailors would die at the end of the horizon:
O glory to command! O vain greed
This vanity, whom we call Fame!
O fraudulent taste that stirs
with a popular aura, which honor is called!
What size punishment and justice
Doing in your vain chest that you love so much!
What death, what dangers, what storms,
What cruelties you will experience !
Hard restlessness of the soul and life,
Fount of helplessness and adultery,
Shrewd knowing consumer
Farms, of kingdoms and empires:
Call you illustrious, they call you noble,
It is worthy of an infamous rebuke;
you call yourself Fame and sovereign Glory,
Names which the polls are won over!
"What new disasters await
To bring to these kingdoms and these people?
What dangers that deaths await you
Under name never ending?
What promises of kingdoms, and mines
Of gold, what do you will have so easily?
Fames the promise you ? what stories?
That triumphs, that palms, which wins?
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