The name of the spirit of the storm-lashed Cape of Good Hope (formerly Cape of Storms), which prophesies doom for those seeking to voyage beyond the Cape to India.
Adamastor was described by Luis Vaz de Camões (1524-1580) in the Lusiads, the Portuguese national epic, where it appeared to Vasco da Gama foretelling that disaster would befall upon anyone attempting the voyage to India.
In the Lusiads Adamastor symbolizes the dangers faced by Portuguese sailors when trying to circumnavigate the Cape of Storms. Camões gave his creation a history as one of the Titans of Greek mythology which, after being spurned by the nymph Thetis, was turned into a rocky cape by Zeus. In the classic epic, he also appears in the form of a menacing storm cloud, threatening doom to anyone trying to pass the Cape into the Indian Ocean. After Bartolomeu Dias — the first to do it — and Vasco da Gama successfully negotiated the passage, the cape became known as the Cape of Good Hope.
Adamastor has appeared in much poetry of the Cape. In The First Life of Adamastor, a novella by André Brink, the writer recreated the Adamastor story from a 20th-century perspective. In the opera L'Africaine (Giacomo Meyerbeer, 1865)the slave Nelusko sings a song about Adamastor while he purposely maneuvers the ship into a storm and it sinks. Adamastor is also mentioned several times in Jose Saramago's Nobel Prize winning novel, The Year Of the Death of Ricardo Reis, by Voltaire in his “Essai sur la Poésie Epique”, by Alexandre Dumas in several of his works, and by Victor Hugo in “Les Misérables” (III, Marius, chap III) and in a poem dedicated to Lamartine (Les Feuilles d'automne, chap IX).
Adamastor is also featured in the François Rabelais novels, particularly Gargantua and Pantagruel.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Pereira, J.C., Dicionário Ilustrado da História de Portugal, Editora Alfa.
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