The exact birth date of Luís Vaz de Camões, the author of Os Lusíadas, (The Lusiads), is not definitively known. Still, it is believed he was born on January 23, 1524, which marks a yearlong national celebration of his 500th anniversary.
Camões is widely regarded as the greatest poet of the Portuguese language, best known for his epic poem Os Lusíadas which celebrates the Portuguese explorations during the Age of Discovery.
Various sources suggest that he might have been born in Lisbon, Portugal, and there are some claims about other cities like Coimbra, Santarém, and Alenquer as his birthplace. However, the most recent scholarship considers the place and date of birth uncertain.
His epic poem Os Lusíadas recounts the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama (1469-1524). He also wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is remembered mostly for his epic work.
Camões’ life was filled with adventure and adversity. He served as a soldier, possibly in North Africa, where he lost an eye. He also spent time in the East, faced several adversities, was imprisoned multiple times, and fought alongside Portuguese forces.
Upon his return to Portugal, he published his epic and received a small pension from King D. Sebastião (1554-1578) for his services to the Crown, but his final years were marked by poor health and financial hardship.
After his death on June 10, 1580, in Lisbon, Camões’ lyrical works were gathered in a collection titled Rimas. His poetry is recognized for its value and high aesthetics, influencing many generations of Portuguese poets and poets in various countries.
Luís Vaz de Camões played a significant role in shaping the Portuguese language as it is known today. Translated into several languages, he has become a symbol of Portuguese identity, revered in the Lusophone community and among the literary giants of Western tradition.