Echoes from Antiquity in D. João de Castro’s Maritime Rutters

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D. João de Castro was born to an illustrious Portuguese family, and received the same education that was given to other young noblemen of his time and status: in the enlightened environment of the court of King D. Manuel I, they received at the same time a military training and an introduction to a traditional classical learning. Thus it is possible to understand how years later, in his writings, he showed an assiduous conviviality with Pliny, Ptolemy, Pomponius Mela, Vitruvius, and other authors of Antiquity. It is not improbable that the readings of his first years included also romances of chivalry, because he admired the exploits of Alexander the Great. The present paper, in addition to following briefly the military career of D. João de Castro, will be interested in his nautical writings, three rutters that were written in so many maritime journeys between 1538 and 1541: the «Rutter from Lisbon to Goa», the «Rutter from Goa to Diu», and the «Rutter of the Red Sea».. Some attention will also merit the numerous letters he wrote during his years of residence in India. Thus, an attempt will be made to enumerate the literary echoes of Antiquity in the writings of D. João de Castro, bearing in mind that unlike many humanists of the time, whose life was completely passed in Europe, the celebrated Portuguese fidalgo and rutter-writer had the opportunity to travel extensively through extra-European spaces, confronting firsthand the geographical lesson of the classical authors with the human and geographical realities of the East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-103
Number of pages20
JournalRes Antiquitatis. Journal of Ancient History
Volume2ª série
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • D. João de Castro
  • Rutters
  • Sixteenth Century
  • Antiquity
  • Intertextuality


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