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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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Ricardo Bastos assisted with the initial transcription. This edition would not have been possible without the skilled translations from the Latin by John P. Rosso and Erminio Braidotti. We thank them for their generosity as colleagues and for the many discussions and exchanges that helped to inform the direction of the research. John proofed the final translations, furnished the index of Latin authors quoted in Valdés’ commentary, and translated the Latin that appears after the front matter. Erminio’s early work on a portion of the front matter and selected marginal notes identified some of the questions concerning the accuracy of Latin citations in the original.

We extend gratitude to the many colleagues who took an interest in our work and responded to queries throughout the four years devoted to composing this edition. In particular we thank the Department of Modern Languages at Murray State University, and Dan Reedy and Susan Carvalho from the University of Kentucky for their generous encouragement and skillful guidance. West Chester University provided a sabbatical to complete the final writing. Lastly, we thank the John Carter Brown Library for use of illustrations from its Archive of Early American Images that provide a face to the Lima that Rodrigo de Valdés praised.←xv | xvi→ ←xvi | xvii→

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