Original Research

Dias en Da Gama, Van Wyk Louw en Camões (her)besoek

Johan L. Coetser
Literator | Vol 35, No 1 | a1088 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v35i1.1088 | © 2014 Johan L. Coetser | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 September 2013 | Published: 11 September 2014

About the author(s)

Johan L. Coetser, Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, University of South Africa, South Africa


Dias and Da Gama, Van Wyk Louw and Camões (re)visited. Although he was the first Portuguese explorer who rounded the southernmost cape of Africa, world history does not herald Bartholomew Dias as an important figure. His compatriot Vasco da Gama was the first mariner who reached the Orient by navigating around the Cape. Despite Dias’s relative historical unimportance, N.P. van Wyk Louw preferred to write a radio play about him and his journey around the South African coast. Luís Vaz de Camões, on the other hand, wrote an epic poem about da Gama’s journey, which he titled Os Lusíadas (1572), or The sons of Portugal. The question I set out to answer, relates to the position and importance that the playwright of Dias (1952) attaches to themes in Canto 5 of Os Lusíadas (1572). I assume that the two can be compared due to the presence of the mythical character Adamastor in both. As in Os Lusíadas (1572), Adamastor takes the form of a storm in Dias (1952). I conclude that, in spite of different origins, both texts are allegorical and national in character. The differences in origin inspired a revised reading of Dias (1952).


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