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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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King Sebastian of Portugal

(II) The return of King D. Sebastiao, who, in 1578, disappeared in the battle against the Moors, was soon after this event, expected in Portugal, and the disgraced conditions of the country, subject to the rule of Spain, had contributed little to his reputation; the hope of this resurrection communicated to the people a political fanaticism to free themselves. It is likely that the clergy, in order to excite the patriotism of the people, perhaps because of the discontent with the nobility, fostered this legend. In the Torre do Tombo, royal archive in Lisbon, a manuscript is preserved, containing a collection of prophecies in this sense.

After the year 1640, the Braganca dynasty came to the throne, the legends lost their political significance among the people, and the belief in the return of D. Sebastiao subsisted only by religious fanaticism, which hoped not only for the political renaissance, but also the religious fervor of Portugal. In 1667, a Jesuit, Antonio Vieira, a member of the Lisbon Inquisition, was condemned to imprisonment and loss of ecclesiastical dignity, because, in a sermon, quoting one Gonzaliannes Bandarra, who he considered a true prophet, referred to his prediction about the return of a certain dead king of Portugal, and the elevation of Portugal to the Empire, etc. Since the seventeenth century, the belief in the return of D. Sebastiao had already spread in Brazil, and this is the only trace of romanticism in the tradition of the people.

The history of a nation, which tells only a few centuries of existence, is not lost in the wonderful past of legends, such as that of European states; The background of this picture is not enriched with poetic fantasy figures. However, it would be a mistake to attribute this lack of national epico-romantic poetry exclusively to the youth of the Brazilian people; It is also based on the nature of the native. In their history, the Portuguese prove, with navigation, discoveries and foreign trade, the practical nature of their national life, but not the poetic tranquility of many of the northern peoples, which intertwine the narration of their tales and adventures with traditional poetry, embellishing it. Thus we see in North America the splendor of nature or the simple legends of the Indians, steeped in northern poetry, elevating in fine poems the general good of the nation; Only in Brazil is there no trace of such a thing.

Sume also St. Thomas

A legend, however, is current among the Indians of Central Brazil, and passed on to the European colonists: "that hundreds of years before, a white man, bearded and great Caraiba, that is, what comes by the sea, called Sume or Tsume appeared among them,

Manihot or cassava

teaching them how to grow cassava, and also how to cut their hair. Mighty power over the forces of nature lent the Indians to this benefactor from the west, he calmed storms, the sea receded. At his command, the wild beasts were his protective companions, until at last the sight of the persecutors suddenly disappeared, and nothing remained of him but the imprint of his footsteps on the rock, used this legend for their purposes in the work of the conversions, because they implied that this foreigner was the apostle Sao Tome, which was explained, among other things, by the tonsure he uses.

We have been told this tradition several times, but without poetical ornament, and we find it important, not in reference to national poetry, but because it reminds us of a Bacchus or Osiris from the west, and because it seems to confirm that cassava (Jatropha Manihot), which we never found anywhere in the wild, was imported from Africa.

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