Santa Rita Durão

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Santa Rita Durão
A drawing depicting Durão
Born José de Santa Rita Durão
Mariana, Minas Gerais, Portuguese Colony of Brazil
Died 1784 (aged 61–62)
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Occupation Orator, poet, priest
Nationality Portuguese
Alma mater University of Coimbra
Genre Epic poetry
Subject Indianism
Literary movement Neoclassicism
Notable works Caramuru

José de Santa Rita Durão (1722–1784) was a Colonial Brazilian Neoclassic poet, orator and Augustinian friar. He is considered a forerunner of the "Indianism" in the literature of Brazil, with his epic poem Caramuru.

He is the correspondent patron of the 9th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.


José de Santa Rita Durão was born in the city of Mariana, in what is now the State of Minas Gerais, in 1722. For 10 years he studied at the Jesuit College of Rio de Janeiro and, one year later, he went to Europe, where he became an Augustinian priest. He graduated in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Coimbra, where he would occupy a Theology chair.

During the government of the Marquess of Pombal, he was persecuted and fled from Portugal. He went to Rome, where he worked as a librarian for 20 years, also travelling to Spain and France. After the Pombaline government fell down, he returned to Portugal.

It was in Portugal that Durão wrote his masterpiece: the Luís de Camões-influenced epic poem Caramuru, published in 1781. Based on the life of the famous Portuguese sailor Diogo Álvares Correia (a.k.a. "Caramuru" — Tupi for "Son of the Thunder"), it is a tribute to Brazil, to where Durão would never return. He would die in Portugal, in 1784.


Legend says that Durão once was a very proficuous writer, and he wrote many poems during his lifetime. However, his poem Caramuru received lackluster reviews by the intellectuals of the time, and Durão, saddened and heart-broken, destroyed all his poems and other literary works.

Cultural offices
Preceded by
New creation
Brazilian Academy of Letters - Correspondent patron of the 9th chair
Succeeded by
John Hay (founder)