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Author Gonçalves Dias
Language Portuguese language
Genre Epic poetry
Publication date
Media type Hardcover

I-Juca-Pirama is a short epic poem written by Brazilian author Gonçalves Dias. Published in 1851, it is written under decasyllabic and alexandrine verses, and divided in ten cantos. It is one of the most famous Indianist poems of the Brazilian Romanticism.

I-Juca-Pirama means, in Tupi, "He who must die and that is worthy to be killed".


The poem tells the story of a Tupi warrior who is arrested by an enemy, cannibal tribe — the Timbiras. As he is about to get killed for sacrificial endings, he begs for mercy, in order to be freed and return to the woods, where his old, sick and blind father awaits. The Timbiras then allow the Tupi warrior to go.

The warrior reunites with his father. After smelling the sacrificial paint in his son's body and hearing that he was let go, his father demands they head back to the Timbiras' tribe.

He and his father return to the Timbiras' tribe in order to continue the sacrifice ceremony. However, the cacique (chief) of the Timbira tribe tells to the old man that they no longer want the Tupi warrior to be sacrificed, since he begged for mercy and thus is a coward.

Angered, the old man curses his son, saying that he is the disgrace of the Tupi tribe. The son cannot stand his father's hate, and suddenly wages war all alone against the whole Timbira tribe. The old man listens to his son's war screams and realizes that he is fighting with honor.

The battle is only finished when the Timbira cacique recognizes the valor of his enemy and says:

After hearing this, the old man hugs his son, apologizes for the curses and cries of joy.

This story would be told for generations in the Timbiras' tribe.

See also[edit]