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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versión On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versión impresa ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.48 no.1 Pretoria  2008


Camões in Afrikaans: Vertaling van die gedeelte uit Os Lusíadas wat oor die Suidpunt van Afrika handel


Camões in Afrikaans: A translation of the section in Os Lusíadas relating to the southern tip of Africa



Schalk W. le RouxI; O.J.O. FerreiraII

IBuitengewone professor, Departement Argitektuur, Universiteit van Pretoria
IIEreprofessor, Departement Historiese en Erfenisstudies, Universiteit van Pretoria




In sy epiese gedig Os Lusíadas het Camões (ca. 1524-1580) tegelykertyd die glorie en ondergang van die Portugese ryk verwoord. Hy was 'n nasionale digter en sy meesterwerk is van die begin tot die einde aan die verhaal van sy heroïese volk gewy. Die kern van die verhaal is Vasco da Gama se reis na Indië (1497-1498) en is gegrond op die skeepsjoernaal wat Álvaro Velho aan boord van die São Rafael in Da Gama se vloot gehou het. Maar die digter het die voorafgaande geskiedenis van Portugal in sy epos ingewerk deur Da Gama die geskiedenis aan die heerser van Malindi te laat vertel. Die gebeure ná sy reis word gedeeltelik deur Da Gama self verwoord, maar ook deur die sinistere voorspellings van Adamastor, die gees van die Stormkaap. Camões vertel in sy Os Lusíadas die verhaal van Adamastor in kanto V, stansas 37 tot 61. Adamastor verskyn aan die Portugese in 'n vreesaanjaende vorm, vervloek hulle omdat hulle sy oseaan bevaar en voorspel dood en noodlot vir toekomstige togte. Hy vertel ook aan hulle sy verhaal en hoekom hy deur die gode na die suidpunt van Afrika verban is. Os Lusíadas is in vele tale vertaal. Slegs kort gedeeltes is in Afrikaans oorgesit en 'n poging is nog nie aangewend om die Adamastor-gedeelte in versvorm te vertolk nie. Dié gedeelte word in hierdie artikel in verband geplaas en in vertaalde vorm aangebied.

Trefwoorde: Adamastor; Luís Vaz de Camões, mites, Portugese epos; vertaling


During its "golden age" Portugal amazed the world with its great voyages of discovery. It was therefore appropriate that an epic poet of the time should record the achievements of his contemporaries for posterity. That poet was Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524-1580), the creator of the timeless epic Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads). In this heroic poem Camões, through his brilliant depiction of Adamastor, created an enduring myth.
There are different theories about Camões's motivation in creating the Adamastor myth. Vasco da Gama's battle against the howling south-easter off the Cape in November 1497 undoubtedly inspired the poet more than half a century later. The similarity between Camões's fatal love for a lady-in-waiting at the royal court in Lisbon and his consequent exile to the East and that of Adamastor's love for Thetis and his exile to the southern tip of Africa seems to be more than mere coincidence. When the Sao Bento, in which Camões sailed to the East in 1553, rounded the Cape, the sea was particularly stormy and the south-easter caused heavy clouds to hang over Table Mountain. This frightening personal experience had a profound effect on Camões, and thus the giant Adamastor probably took shape in his agitated mind. Camões was eminently suited to being the writer of the epic of Portugal because he not only knew the history of his country but was also well versed in Greek and Roman mythology, which must have inspired the creation of Adamastor.
In Os Lusíadas Camões depicts both the glory and the decline of the Portuguese empire. The essence of the narrative is Vasco da Gama's voyage to India, but the poet has ingeniously woven the earlier history of Portugal into the course of the narrative by making Da Gama relate the history of his people to the friendly king of Malindi on the eastern coast of Africa.
In Canto V, stanzas 37 to 61, Camões tells the story of Adamastor. When Da Gama's fleet approaches the Cape a terrifying cloud appears overhead, taking the shape of a powerful, monstrous being. The misshapen, bearded figure threatens the mariners who sail the seas over which he has long held solitary sway. He has a grudge against the Portuguese because he envies them their freedom of movement, their boldness and their excellence. He predicts disasters, shipwrecks and loss of life for those who dare to sail round the Cape of Storms. Adamastor tells of his revenge on Dias for being the first to sail these waters, the grave he has prepared for De Almeida, and the fate that will overtake Sousa de Sepúlveda and other castaways on the South African coast.
While Adamastor continues his prophecies about the misfortunes awaiting the Portuguese, Da Gama interrupts him brusquely and asks him who in fact he is. Adamastor with a mighty roar and in a voice heavy with bitterness replies that he is the great hidden cape called the Cape of Storms by the Portuguese. He is one of the giants, a child from the marriage of Uranus and Earth, who rebelled against the gods of Olympus. He tells them the pitiful tale of his love for Thetis, the sea nymph whom he wooed but who spurned him because of his repulsive appearance. Because of his rebellion against the gods and his illicit love for Thetis, Adamastor was punished by the gods. They changed him into a rugged mountain at the southern tip of Africa, where he has to guard the southern seas and bring death to the sons of Luso who want to sail past him.
In Adamastor Camões created a new mythological figure, the only great figure added to mythology since the classical period. By placing him at the Cape of Storms the poet brought southern Africa into the realm of the classical gods.
According to the South African author Stephen Gray the figure of Adamastor is at the root of all subsequent white semiology invented to cope with the African experience. Adamastor is ominous and hostile and is observed across a divide: he belongs to an older but conquered culture and may annihilate the new European enlightenment if he is allowed within its borders. Vasco da Gama and Adamastor, as depicted by Camões, were therefore, in Gray's view, the beginning of the racist mythology on which white supremacy in South Africa is based. The Portuguese author António Figueiredo differs from this viewpoint and points out that Os Lusíadas and the Adamastor legend are above purely human and racial antagonisms and that they serve rather as a symbol of man's defiance of the elements. The Adamastor myth represents the triumph of the Portuguese over the untamed forces of nature as well as their reward which lay in their becoming the rulers of the oceans.
Os Lusíadas has been translated into many languages. Although parts of it were translated into Afrikaans by André P. Brink, D.P.M Botes and René Immelman, it has never been done in verse form. The section relating to Adamastor (Canto V, 37-61) was translated for this article.

Key concepts: Adamastor; Luís Vaz de Camões; myths; Portuguese epic; translation


Full text available only in PDF format.



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Schalk le Roux is die outeur/redakteur van 8 boeke, asook 70 artikels en bewaringsverslae aan verskeie stadsrade en die Raad vir Nasionale Gedenkwaardighede (nou SAHRA). Hy het die grade M.Arch en Ph.D (Argitektuur) aan die Universiteit van Pretoria verwerf na studieperiodes in Italië en Frankryk. Sy belangstelling is Moslemargitektuur, slawe in die Suid-Afrikaanse boubedryf en bewaring. Van 1997 tot 2003 was hy die hoof van die Departement Argitektuur, Universiteit van Pretoria. In 1995 het hy 'n merietetoekenning van die Instituut van Argitekte vir sy vier studies oor die geboue van Pretoria ontvang en in 2003 is 'n erepenning vir argitektuur deur die S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns aan hom toegeken.
Schalk le Roux is the author/editor of 8 books as well as 70 articles and conservation reports to various city councils and the Council of National Monuments (now SAHRA). He obtained the degrees MArch and PhD (architecture) from the University of Pretoria after study periods in Italy and France. His interests are the architecture of Islam, slaves in the South African building industry and conservation. From 1997 to 2003 he was head of the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria. In 1995 he received a merit award from the South African Institute of Architects for his four studies on the buildings of Pretoria and in 2003 he was awarded a medal of honour by the S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns.
Ockert Jacobus Olivier Ferreira is die outeur/redakteur van 18 boeke en 85 artikels. Hy het die grade D.Litt et Phil (Geskiedenis) aan UNISA en D.Phil. (Kultuurgeskiedenis) aan die Universiteit van Pretoria verwerf. Van die F.A.K. het hy die Prestige Prys vir die Bevordering van Geskiedenis in 1994 ontvang, terwyl erepennings vir die bevordering van Kultuurgeskiedenis deur die S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (1994), die Genootskap vir Afrikaanse Volkskunde (1998) en die S.A. Vereniging vir Kultuurgeskiedenis (1999) aan hom toegeken is. In 2004 het die S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns 'n tweede erepenning aan hom toegeken vir sy bydrae tot die opskrifstelling van die geskiedenis van die betrekkinge tussen Suid-Afrika en Portugal.
Ockert Jacobus Olivier Ferreira is the author/editor of 18 books and 85 articles. He received from UNISA a D.Litt. et Phil. (History); and from the University of Pretoria a D.Phil. (Cultural History). He was awarded the Prestige Prize for the Advancement of History by the F.A.K. (1994); and medals of honour for his contribution to Cultural History by the S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (1994), the Genootskap vir Afrikaanse Volkskunde (1998), and the S.A. Society for Cultural History (1999). In 2004 he was awarded a second medal of honour by the S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns for his contribution to the recording of the history of the connection between South Africa and Portugal.

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