I. The Gaze of the Other. Pre-Roman Lusitania

Mapa Ptolomeo V3

For the Greek and Latin authors, Lusitania represented the end of the known world. This place was the starting point of the vast ocean, which aroused the curiosity and fears of the ones who ventured into it. The first disseminated images of this land refer to its rocky shores and small islands, as well as to some striking phenomena such as its high tides.

The Roman conquest process deepens the knowledge of the territory, its wealth and the multitude of its mineral resources, thus assuming itself as a sort of Eldorado. On the other hand, this literature refers the exotic people who lived there. The Lusitanian were, at that stage of conflict, associated with the negative image of a community searching for land and practicing banditry. But their chief, Viriatus, became himself a hero-philosopher, the symbol of the natural man, whose profound wisdom was born out of the communion with nature. The strangeness of the Lusitanian traditions drew the attention of these authors, who emphasize the dichotomy between their barbaric traditions and the civilized world of the Romans and Greeks. As the Romanization was consolidated, the differences between Rome and its westernmost province mitigated, thus gradually entering the globalized cultural universe of the conqueror.

In the exhibition catalog you can learn more about the meeting of two different realities (Roman and Lusitanian) in a text by Amílcar Guerra.

Learn more about the Lusitanian language and the following inscription in an article by José Cardim Ribeiro, also present in the catalog.

Arronches inscription
Arronches, Portalegre
1st half of the 1st century A.D.
89,5 x 79 x 2,7-7,5 cm
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Lisboa, in deposit of Câmara Municipal de Arronches
Picture: Hugo Pires, from images collected by Luis Bravo