Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Góis, Damião de

Born: Alenquer, Portugal, 1502
Died: Alcobaça, Portugal, 1574
  • Thomas EarleEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_697-1


Góis’s unusual life brought him into contact with remote places as a boy, when he met the Ethiopian ambassador to Portugal. As a young man he worked in the service of the Portuguese king in Antwerp and travelled widely in northern Europe, where he met some of the reformers. For five months in 1534, he lived with Erasmus. After study in Flanders and in Italy, where he published his translation of the book of Ecclesiastes into Portuguese, he returned to Portugal where he spent the rest of his life. His last years were troubled by a trial before the Inquisition.

Góis’s best-known work, an account of Ethiopia, written in Latin, was published in 1540. In it the principal speaker is an African. The book expresses Góis’s interest in distant lands and his religious tolerance, for many of the practices of Ethiopian Christians were regarded as heretical by orthodox Catholics. The book also calls for the unity of all Christians, Protestant and Catholic as well as those living in Ethiopia and in Lapland, an area of northern Scandinavia which is treated in an appendix. Góis’s translation of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, which survives only in a single copy, is remarkable for its use of Jewish scholarship. In this Góis goes much further than Erasmus, and he may have been the most tolerant man of his age.


Early Modern Period Distant Land Religious Tolerance Royal Court Enormous Success 
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Primary Literature

  1. Góis, Damião de. 2006a. Deploratio Lappianae Gentis (The lamentation of the people of Lapland). Latin text and English translation. Humanitas, 347–367.Google Scholar
  2. Góis, Damião de. 2006b. Fides, religio, moresque Aethiopum. Latin text and Portuguese translation in Obras de Damião de Góis, vol II. Lisbon: Távola Redonda.Google Scholar
  3. Góis, Damião de. 2014. O Livro de Eclesiastes. Lisbon: Gulbenkian Foundation.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Aubin, J. 1996. Le Prêtre Jean devant la censure portugaise. In Le Latin et l’astrolabe, vol. 1, 183–210. Lisbon: Gulbenkian Foundation.Google Scholar
  2. Earle, T.F. 2009. Portuguese writers and English readers: Books by Portuguese writers printed before 1640 in the Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge. Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society.Google Scholar
  3. Hirsch, E.F. 1967. Damião de Góis: The life and thought of a Portuguese humanist. The Hague: Martinus Mijhoff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK