Date of Degree
Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures
Juan Carlos Mercado
Classics | Comparative Literature | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Italian Literature | Latin American History | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Modern Languages | Spanish Literature | Theatre History
Epic poetry, Colonial Studies, Latin America, War of Arauco, Spanish Golden Age Theater, Lope de Vega
Among the characteristics of epic poetry are the topic of war, love encounters, heroism of exemplary individuals, and the narration of events contemporary to the audience to reinforce a collective historical identity. Arauco domado by Pedro de Oña, born in Angol (modern Chile), reiterates these traditional expectations with its protagonist, characters, setting, and latter theatrical representations within the viceregal context. The poem was made possible by the sponsorship of García Hurtado de Mendoza y Manrique, IV Marquis of Cañete and Viceroy of Peru. If the title of “espíritu cesarino novelo” [Caesar’s new spirit] (V.76.3) corresponds to the patron, Pedro de Oña presents himself as a new Virgil, the viceroyalty’s official poet.
The War of Arauco is historically tied to La Araucana by Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga, published in three parts: 1569, 1578, and 1589. The epic protagonist, however, is conspicuous in his absence. The glories of battle are transferred to the collective hero, both Hispanic and Mapuche, associating García Hurtado de Mendoza’s military feats with that of a “mozo capitán acelerado” [hasty youthful captain] (III.37.70.2). In this dissertation I analyze how the Angoline bard composes the answer to this historiographical elision. Nineteen cantos span the patron’s military career in the Americas throughout half a century: the second campaign in Arauco (1557-1561); the tax revolts and pacification of Quito (1592-1593); and the incursion of the English corsair, Richard Hawkins, into the Pacific South Sea (1594). If La Araucana features the first conquest of Chile (1536-1556) and part of the second, the poetic voice in Arauco domado actualizes the plotline with events contemporary with its composition of 1594-1596.
After my analysis, I am able to conclude that the criollo subject’s experience informs the representation of the patron and the Mapuche characters but differs from Peninsular intellectuals like Lope de Vega with the insistence on an evangelic-diplomatic solution to the Araucanian conflict. García Hurtado de Mendoza represents the miles christianus, a paradigm of humanist virtues—nobility, mannerisms, the interests in arms and letters, and also religious devotion. If we understand Arauco domado as a specula principum [princely mirror], we note that pacifying Arauco with a Christian paladin benefits both the empire and frontier settlements in economic and religious terms. The American landscape—closer to the Mediterranean’s flora and fauna than the Antarctic reality—determined the behavior of Mapuche characters, which contrasts with the protagonist’s exemplarity. Far from being ornatus, the scenery in Arauco domado changes according to the criollo desires for pacification and mercantile benefits. The unvanquished Valley of Elicura—locus amoenus—is the ideal setting for love, fertility, and Greco-Roman philosophy. The coast of Concepción, in contrast, is a field piled with bodies dismembered by artillery—the locus eremus. Lastly, the reception of Arauco domado in Spain evidences anxieties over dispossession by the English Empire under Elizabeth I. Lope de Vega’s La Dragontea (1598) and Arauco Domado (1599, performed in 1625) adapt Oña’s poem to enhance García Hurtado de Mendoza’s public image. The poet’s urgency to pacify the Arauco region and benefit from its resources is reduced to the exoticism of Chilean subject matter in works by Lope de Vega.
Fernandez, Andrea L., "Ansiedades épico-criollas y el mecenazgo de Indias en el Arauco domado de Pedro de Oña" (2018). CUNY Academic Works.
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