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Pedro António Correia Garção (1724-1772) - Garção y Salema, Pedro António Correia


Portuguese Neoclassical poet,  a member of Arcádia Lusitana, an influential literary society formed in 1756. Garção sought inspiration from the poetry of ancient Rome, from its conscientious and polished expression. His Cantata de Dido, inspired by Vergil's Book IV of The Aeneid, is considered among the best poems of the era.

Já no roxo oriente branqueando,
As prenhes velas da troiana frota
Entre as vagas azuis do mar dourado
Sobre as asas dos ventos se escondiam.
A misérrima Dido,
Pelos paços reais vaga ululando,
C'os turvos olhos inda em vão procura
O fugitivo Eneias.

(from 'Cantata de Dido')

Pedro Antonio Correia Garção was born in Lisbon into a well-to-do family. His father, Philippe Corrêa da Serra, had a post at the foreign office. Garção's mother was of French origin. At home Garção learned English. French and Italian. After attending a Jesuit school in Lisbon, Garção studied law at Coimbra. In 1750 he  was was created a knight of the Order of Christ. Garção's marriage with D. Maria Salema in 1751 brought him a rich dowry. In addition, he earned substantial income from his administrative post at the India House (Casa da India), where ships loaded and unloaded their cargoes and where Custom duties were collected.

Garção became in 1756 a member of Arcádia Lusitana (or Arcádia Ulissiponense), which had as its motto "cut out everything that is useless"  (inutilia truncat). The unofficial literary society was supported by government and opposed old forms and ideals in poetry. Its members favored blank verse and brought to its meetings literary works to be read and criticized. They also had pseudonyms – Garção was "Córidon Erimanteu." The literary Academy was founded in 1756, four months after the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, by three just graduated law students, António da Cruz e Silva (see below), Teotónio Gomes de Carvalho, and Manuel Nicolau Esteves Negrão. The devastating earthquake partly inspired Voltaire's satire Candide (1759). Until 1760, the society was very active, but following the the policy of terror, that characterized the years of 1759-1760, its activitiesgradually ceased. It also had a successor, Nova Arcádia. In the name of the "Lusitanian Literary Academy", Garção wrote a discourse, in which he congratulated government's  economic policies, stating that the merchant class "is the most useful and distinguished sector of the Portuguese people." After the earthquake, the name of square where the royal palace had stood, was changed from "Palace Place" to "Commerce Square".

From 1760 to 1762 Garção edited the Gazeta de Lisbon. His verse play Teatro Novo (1766) attacked foreign influences in the theatre, but he admired English and French literature. In tune with the changes taking place in society, he  wished to reform the Portuguese drama on classic principles, with a due regard to modern times. Garção's satirical attitude towards the social life of Lisbon, especially ostentatious boasting, is seen in his one-act comedy Assembléia ou Partida (The Assembly or the Party). Garção ridiculed people who invite a distinguished company into their home, where everything  from spoons and teacups to furniture and rugs is borrowed for the occasion. The play was written under the influence of French theatre without imitation, but it also showed traces of the emerging Italian opera. Garção introduced into the piece sonnets and a cantata, which is performed by one of the characters. They have a debate concerning the introduction of the French literary salon in Portugal. Interest in foreign literature was shared by many other writers, too, who adopted ideas of Enlightenment in Portugal. 

Among Garção's best-known works is Cantata de Dido (The Cantata of Dido), combined in accordance with the 4th book of Aenid and in the spirit of classical art with perfection of form. It is one of the most celebrated 18th-century Portuguese poems. Garção himself was called "the second Portuguese Horace"; "the first" was Antonio Ferreira (1528-1569), although Garção's satires and epistles have more of Horatian lightness than Ferreira had. An English translation of The Cantata of Dido appeared in 1832 in The Foreign Quarterly Review, Vol. X: "Already in the ruddy east shone white / The pregnant sails that speed the Trojan fleet, / Now wafted on the pinions of the wind / They vanish midst the golden sea's blue waves. / The miserable Dido / Wanders loud shrieking through her regal halls / With dim and turbid eyes seeking in vain / The fugitive Æneas." A new version was published in 1895 in the Academy (January 19th). 

Garção was a well known figure among the English residents in the city and there were rumors about the nature of his relationship with a married English lady. Following a law-suit,  Garção lost his property in his later years, and he fell out of favor with the highly influential politician, the Marquis of Pombal (1699-1782), who started among others to reform schools in his country, but also enforced censorship and enlarged other mechanisms of political control. In April 1771 Garção imprisoned for unclear reasons.

Garção died in Lisbon on November 10, 1772, in prison. On same day Pombal had undersigned an order to release him. Arcádia society became unpopular and finished its activities in 1775, but its impact on poetry was profound. Pombal's death also stopped further cultural reforms. Garção's collected works were published in 1778.

For further reading: History of Spanish and Portuguese Literature: Vol. II: Portuguese Literature, by Friedrich Bouterwek (1823); 'Garção, Pedro António Joaquim Corrêa,' in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11 (1910-1911); Reflexos horacianos nas odes de Correia Garção e Fernando Pessoa (Ricardo Reis) by Maria Helena da Rocha Pereira (1958); A varonia bracarense do poeta Correia Garção e alguns dos seus descendentes: subsídios by Domingos de Araújo Affonso (1971); A literatura portuguesa através dos textos by Massaud Moisés (1994); Para uma leitura da poesia neoclássica e pré-romântica: contexto histórico-cultural do Arcadismo ao Pré-Romantismo: Paulino Cabral, Correia Garção, Nicolau Tolentino, Filinto Elísio, Marquesa de Alorna (e outros) by J. Cândido Martins (2000); Initiation into Portuguese Literature by Antonio Jose Saraiva (2007). Note: António da Cruz e Silva (1731-1799), was a prolific writer, whose works were published posthumously. His books have now more historical than literary significance. - The poet Manuel Maria Barbosa de Bocage (1765-1805) was a member of Nova Arcádia. His main themes were death, nightmares, and pain of loveSuom.: 'Didon laulu,' teoksessa Maailmankirjallisuuden  kultainen kirja 7 (1954), suomentanut Tyyni Tuulio.

Selected works:

  • Teatro Novo, 1766
  • Obras poeticas de Pedro Antonio Correa Garção, 1778
  • Dido abandonada: cantata, 1801
  • Obras poeticas e oratorias de P.A. Corrêa Garção, 1812  
  • Obras poeticas e oratorias de P.A. Corrêa Garção, 1888 (edited by J.A. de Asevedo Castro)
  • Poesias selectas de Pedro Correia Garção, 1942 (edited by Augusto C. Pires de Lima)
  • Cantata de dido e outros poemas, 1943 (edited by António Correia de A. e Oliveira; 2. ed., 1965)  
  • Obras completas, 1957-58 (2 vols., edited by António José Saraiva)

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