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Rodrigo de Valdés: Poema heroyco hispano-latino panegyrico de la fundación, y grandezas de la muy noble, y leal ciudad de Lima


Edited By Neal A. Messer and Jerry M. Williams

Poema heroyco hispano-latino (1687), a national chronicle or “epic poem,” commemorates the founding and greatness of Lima, Peru. Its unique rhymed quatrains can be read in either Latin or Spanish with equal meaning, and its insightful marginal notes interpret the city’s cultural history. Rodrigo de Valdés (1609–1682) underscores the decadence of peninsular Spanish letters in contrast to the compositions of New World writers. The poem is a tribute to the superiority, versatility, and interchangeability of Spanish and Latin as instruments of power that led to Spain’s world dominance, and to Lima as the locus of marvels and a quasi biblical garden of delights.

Lima has occupied without exception a privileged space within the colonial situation, as a metaphorical sovereign of new-world experiences and potentialities. Influenced by the spirit of Baroque sensibilities and Creole pride in his patria, Valdés bequeathed to Lima a staged panegyric that served as King Charles II’s introduction to the bounty of his American colony. Valdés, acting as commentator, guides the reader through a journey that spans centuries of Peru’s illustrious history. Working within the classical tradition of laus urbis or the praise of cities, Valdés depicts America as a paradise found with Lima at its center.

In tracing the poem’s relationship to the genre of classical panegyrics, Neal A. Messer and Jerry M. Williams argue its literary merits and elucidate how it enriches the colonial family of Latin American texts. Republished for the first time, this critical edition introduces Valdés to students and scholars of Ibero-American letters.

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Introduction: A Lost Work Revived



A Lost Work Revived

La Fundación y Grandezas de Lima o Poema Hispano-Latino del jesuita limeño, se ha citado muy pocas veces inclusive dentro de los recuentros coloniales. Esto se debe seguramente a que…solo existe una edición, obviamente la original de 1687, pero también a que el poema requiere de una lectura sumamente lenta, por lo entrecortado de sus versos y la extrema erudición de sus imágenes. Pero, de una manera contraproducente, por la misma ayuda explicativa que las múltiples notas al margen ofrecen para aliviar la erudición, la lectura se hace más lenta y engorrosa todavía. Sin embargo, su importancia como propuesta social es notable dentro de la tradición épica criolla… (José Antonio Mazzotti, “Solo la proporción es la que canta”)

According to tradition, the great Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil) requested on his deathbed that the manuscript of his epic masterpiece Aeneid be consigned to the flames. Against his dying wishes, the poem was reproduced and went on to become perhaps the most influential work of Classical Latin in history.1 Centuries later the Peruvian Jesuit priest Rodrigo de Valdés turned his own deathbed, literally, into a hiding place for the shredded scraps of a lifetime of poetical creation. Perhaps from a sense of religious humility, perhaps because his work was incomplete and did not measure up to his exalted visions, Valdés tried to assure that...

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