Juan Latino, “On the Birth of Untroubled Times” (De natali serenissimi) (1572)

Juan Latino, “On the Birth of Untroubled Times” (De natali serenissimi) (1572)

This unit draws attention to the remarkable publication debut of Juan Latino, Europe’s first known Black poet. In 1572 he published an epic poem in Latin hexameters to commemorate Spain’s victory in the Battle of Lepanto (1571). While this poem celebrates the naval victory and praises the Spanish king, Philip II, its presents Juan Latino’s own claim to lasting fame as a poet. Here too, Latino asserts that his unique stature as a Black poet makes him the ideal poet to celebrate an internationally important naval victory. He also denounces color prejudice directed at Blacks in the Spanish court as counterproductive to the king’s goals of extending his rule to overseas territories.

The bilingual unit offered here includes the original Latin verse, accompanied by an English translation, with an English introduction, explanatory notes, and short bibliography by Elizabeth Wright. It will be useful for classes on Spanish literature, early modern Spanish history, literature of the African diaspora, and courses that examine the contributions of Blacks in Renaissance literature.

[English version] [Spanish version]

Have you used this unit in the classroom (or elsewhere)? Please share your experience in the comments!

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