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Matos, Gregório de (1636–1696)

Matos, Gregório de (1636–1696)

Gregório de Matos (b. 20 December 1636; d. 1696), Brazilian poet and satirist. Born in Salvador, Bahia, the son of a rich Portuguese immigrant and a lady of the local aristocracy, Matos was educated in Jesuit schools and then sent to law school in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1652. He graduated in 1661 and, after a period in Brazil, took up practice in Portugal as a guardian of orphans and as a criminal judge. He remained in the metropolis until his return to his native city in 1681. After taking minor religious orders, he was appointed by the archbishop to positions in the bishop's office and the treasury department.

His calling notwithstanding, Matos led a notorious bohemian life and earned a reputation locally as a poet and social observer. His verse was of three fundamental types: devotional, amorous, and satirical. He was especially sensitive to moral decay, corruption, exploitation, and injustice. Many of his poems are quasijournalistic in nature, commenting on local events and personages. His biting verse earned him the nickname "Boca do Inferno" (Mouth of Hell) and the disfavor of powerful citizens. His unrelenting critical writing led to his exile in Angola (1686–1695). He died in Recife, Brazil, one year after his return from banishment.

Matos is generally considered the most important poet of the baroque period in Brazil. His work is an excellent example of the literary practice of his time, a style of conceit and formal play involving liberal borrowing and imitation. He did not publish a book in his lifetime; his poems circulated in manuscript form or were recited. It was not until the late nineteenth century that his work became widely known. The Brazilian Academy of Letters published his works in six volumes (1923–1933); a later commercial edition (1969) has seven volumes. The attribution of many texts, however, remains in dispute.

See alsoLiterature: Brazil .


Nora K. Aiex, "Racial Attitudes in the Satire of Gregório de Matos," in Studies in Afro-Hispanic Literature, vol. 1 (1977), pp. 89-97.

Earl E. Fitz, "Gregório de Matos and Juan del Valle y Caviedes: Two Baroque Poets in Colonial Portuguese and Spanish America," in Inti 5-6 (1977): 134-150.

Additional Bibliography

Hansen, João Adolfo. A sátira e o engenho: Gregório de Matos e a Bahia do século XVII. Cotia: Ateliê Editorial; Campinas: Unicamp, 2004.

Peres, Fernando da Rocha, Waly Salomão, and Maria Vitó-ria de Seixas Caldas. Gregório de Mattos: O poeta devorador. Rio de Janeiro: Manati Produções Editoriais, 2004.

                                  Charles A. Perrone

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