The Lusiads (Os Lusíadas), considered the national epic of Portugal, was written by Luís Vaz de Camões during the 16th century, a period in which the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions were menacing the Iberian peninsula and beyond. Some parts of the story (at least in the first two cantos) are almost crusade-like, detailing Vasco da Gama's efforts to promote Christianity over Islam in Africa. On the other hand, several deities of ancient Graeco-Roman polytheism (Bacchus, Venus, Jove) play active roles in the story, reminiscent of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.

How can the appearances of such "pagan" gods be reconciled with Christianity? I'm interested in both the in-story consistency (how is it possible that da Gama and co are committed Christians but also interact directly with Bacchus?) and the real-world reception (how is it possible that Camões could include Greek gods as characters without falling foul of Christian censors?)

Related previous posts include this answer and this answer, but I think my question is big enough to be not fully covered by those.


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