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Time and alterity in Vieira's History of the Future.

IN THE LIVRO ANTEPRIMEIRO of his unfinished but nonetheless seminal work Historia do futuro (History of the Future), the Jesuit priest Antonio Vieira (1608-97) proposes and moreover promises the fulfillment of mankind's greatest desire, (2) namely, the desire to know the future:
   There is nothing one can promise human nature which is more
   suitable to its greatest appetite, or superior to its whole
   knowledge, than news of future times and events; and this is what
   this new and never before heard History offers to Portugal, Europe
   and the World. (3)


The gradation in the address representing a progressive access to, or interest in the prophetic message of the book suggests a temporal structure which corresponds to Vieira's idea of Portuguese geographical expansion. The realization of the "whole capacity" of humankind is ultimately identified as a spatial and temporal movement from Portugal to "the World", as though the future of humanity should coincide with the future of Portugal. If this movement defines every notion of expansion, and particularly the Portuguese conquest, what Vieira's formulation introduces is the identification of discovery with knowledge. This identification is represented as a double moment of re-cognition: because Portugal has discovered "new worlds", it should also be in the position to discover a "new History"; conversely, the whole world should recognize its role as the origin of all knowledge and all historical development. Only Portugal, which has prior access to both knowledge and history, can convey new meanings and, moreover, announce them beforehand to the whole human nature who desires to know them. The definition of knowledge as the fulfillment of men's desire, on the one hand, and the fulfillment of a promise, on the other, divides the world both spatially and temporally: the "entire" world is constituted by those who know first--and therefore can make promises--and by those who still desire to know.

But Vieira's own "promise" is a peculiar one. If every promise is characterized by one's assurance that something will happen in the future, Vieira proposes the fulfillment of a promise--in which case it should cease being just a promise--and yet, the events which the fulfillment of the promise reveal remain in the future. The book promises nothing but knowledge of future events. This tension between the constitution of a "promise" (or of a prophecy) and the formulation of "knowledge", as well as the attempt to transform the former into the latter, is at the center of Vieira's thought: his work is intended to fulfill the desires of the whole "human nature" not just by calling for the belief in narratives about the future, but by presenting a method and a hermeneutics for knowing the future. If this tension between history and prophecy--or between discovery and expectations, and between alterity and repetition--was already in the core of all narratives of the Portuguese conquest, the novelty of Vieira's work resides in the fact that it thematizes it and ultimately turns it into a political theory.

The ambivalence between prophetic and historical discourses is to some extent the product of the transition between religious and scientific discourses which characterized most of the intellectual production of Vieira's time--and this has been traditionally considered one of the major traits of the "baroque" period. But in fact, such a conflict was already subjacent in the origins of the discourses of Portuguese expansion. The entire project of the Portuguese conquest justified itself by means of historical narratives founded on prophecies--or in prophecies founded on historical narratives--in such a way that prophetic and historical discourses could hardly be dissociated from one another. The notion that Portugal had the mission of consolidating global Christianity has informed the Portuguese project of expansion from the beginning and, moreover, justified domination and assimilation of other cultures. Since Vasco da Gama, the encounter with new regions and cultures was frequently understood in terms of past narratives which had already announced the existence of other peoples and their future participation in Christian history. The alterity represented by the Brazilian Indians could be assimilated only through this double discourse which searched in the future for the restoration of a remote historical past. But the continued encounters of the Europeans with the Indians exposed the ambivalence of such a discourse, and ultimately constituted two conflicting images of the natives of Brazil. On the one hand, the Indian was characterized by his innocence, and represented the possibility of the future realization of both global Christianity and the Portuguese empire. On the other hand, as the Portuguese sought to assimilate the historical reality of the Indians and the context in which they lived, they represented them as individuals whose culture and own identity had to be transformed before they could actually be Christians.

However, Vieira's systematization of this identity between prophetic and historical discourses does not simply represent its culmination. On the contrary, such a discourse has only become an issue at a moment of crisis, that is, when its validity was no longer self-evident. The fact that Portugal's role in the creation of global Christianity was now the subject matter of a book and an extensive body of works only demonstrates that such a role had become a matter of disputation, and that it had to be substantiated in order to maintain its force. Indeed, Vieira started writing his Historia do Futuro around 1649, after the Portuguese empire had been in decline for at least half a century. Antonio Jose Saraiva has thus summarized that which Vieira himself reported in his writings about the political and economical context in which he wrote his so-called "prophetic works": "the crown's treasure was empty; the trade of sugar cane was declining dramatically; the slave traffic to Brazil was in the hands of the Dutch; the empire in the East was almost in ruins; and the army was almost inexistent." (4) In addition, Vieira's work is profoundly affected by the fact that the Jesuits missions in Brazil were now encountering great resistance from local settlers, who had been fiercely opposing the priests' secular custody of the Indians.

At the same time, Portugal had been recently delivered from a long period under Spanish rule (1580-1640), and the ascension of D. Joao IV was certainly a motive for a renewed feeling of "hope". The strong messianic atmosphere in which Vieira lived, revived partly due to this new political situation, has been largely discussed in Raymond Caitel's ground-breaking book Prophetisme et messianisme dans l'oeuvre d'Antonio Vieira, followed by, among others, Saraiva's own works. (5) Since then, it has generally been agreed that Vieira's messianic ideas were, among other things, to a great extent informed by the presence of Jews and ill-assimilated New Christians in Portugal; the proliferation of neo-Joachismist currents (and especially Goncalo Anes Bandarra's trovas that Vieira read and commented on); and the myth of the imminent return of Sebastian, who had "disappeared" in the 1578 battle of Al-Ksar el Kbir against the Moroccans, two years before Portugal lost its sovereignty to Spain. (6) However, the fact that Vieira did share the messianic atmosphere of his time does not mean, as Cantel concludes, that "he has invented nothing, but with him everything seems new, because he operates a synthesis of his time." (7) For what Vieira's work synthesizes is not only the prophetic ideas of his time, but also a longstanding tradition that was now in crisis, and which cannot be dissociated from the ideologies of the Portuguese conquest. In addition, Vieira's reelaboration of prophetic discourses introduces an entirely new perspective with unprecedented ideological implications, as it seeks to transform the reading of prophecies into an epistemology as well as a political theory, and to ascribe the man of letters with the role of a visionary who has the power to make sense of the present.

Whereas the Portuguese conquest justified expansion and assimilation on the basis of Portuguese election, Vieira intends to justify Portuguese nationality on the basis of its empirical past. His method of knowing the alterity of the future is aimed at explaining the strange political situation of Portugal's recent past and the decay of its colonial power. Thus, at the moment in which the faith in the Portuguese nation was most weakened, Vieira proposes to write a new Portuguese history that, for the first time, would include the alterity of the New World; this history was intended to renew the prophetic message that ascribed to Portugal a central role in the history of the world. It sought not only to justify the conquest, but most importantly, to secure Portuguese national identity. It is at this moment that what I call a "promise of history" would constitute not only a strategy for assimilation, but also a discourse of Portuguese nationality. If before Vieira the promise of being part of universal history was deployed to assimilate other cultures and efface conflicts overseas, now it had become a motive for hope in the present and future of an empire which previously needed no justification. Furthermore, I suggest that the entire writing of the history of Portugal from Vieira on would continuously search in narratives about the future for elements that explained the unfulfilled promises of the past. To understand the present would henceforth mean to re-discover the past, and moreover, to inaugurate the future. Such a discourse (which seeks to conciliate prophecy and history) would persist in Portugal throughout the following centuries and, moreover, would characterize the constitution of national discourses after Brazilian independence.

In order to better understand this self-assigned role of the man of letters in the rediscovery, or in the constitution of national histories, I shall first analyze how Vieira defines and articulates this ambivalent relationship between prophetic and historical; then, I shall identify how the ambiva lence of such a discourse is deployed by Vieira as a double strategy for assimilating the alterity of the New World and authorizing a new discourse of national identity; finally, I shall look at the political solutions and strategies entailed by the conflation between historical and prophetic discourses. As he attempted to reformulate the prophetic message in terms of a historiographical project, and to conciliate faith--the loss of which is precisely what the proliferation of messianic narratives indicates--with rational explanations, the author ultimately redefines his own role as a religious man as well as the man of letters. Such a reelaboration of prophetic discourses ascribed the interpreter of texts and events with the power to present the future to the whole world and moreover, with the role of indicating the correct and necessary actions and behaviors for every historical moment. Vieira's new historiographic project ultimately situated the writer in the center of all political activity: the role of the interpreter is constructed as to determine the future actions and behaviors of the whole world which he addresses, from the king of Portugal to the Brazilian Indians, and from the Portuguese people to their political rivals, the Spanish.

History and Prophecy

In terms of speech-act theory, one could say that the promise is among those performative utterances that originate from a temporal disjunction between the present speech act and the future (referential) content of the utterance. (8) The efficacy of such a linguistic practice in linking the present, performative aspect of an utterance, to an always delayed referent is what primarily makes any promise, as well as any prophetic discourse felicitous. This is why the incompleteness of Vieira's book does not undermine its performative force. To the extent that the book proves itself effective in promising--insofar as it shows that the future can be revealed--the actual content of the future needs only to be sketched. It hardly matters that no more than two of the planned seven books of Historia do Futuro were actually written. In fact, as he sought to prove the validity of his prognos tications--as well as to respond to accusations of Jewish Messianism from the Portuguese Inquisition--Vieira was impelled to justify his project in a prefatory work entitled Livro anteprimeiro: Prolegomeno a toda a historia do futuro, em que se declara o fim e se provam os fundamentos dela ("Preliminary Book: Prolegomenon to the entire History of the Future, in which its ends are declared and its foundations are proved"). (9)

In order to define the conditions in which the prophetic message can become a faithful representation of history, and moreover, of the present, Vieira carefully identifies and, at the same time, differentiates history from that which is traditionally called prophecy. The difference is essentially a difference in style, but this is also to say that there must be a fundamental distinction between the way each temporality--the time of the prophetic and the time of the historical--is both experienced and expressed. Thus, what distinguishes prophecy from history is not merely the difference in content that exists between a narrative about the past and a narrative about the future. According to Vieira, Moses, for instance, has not written a "history of creation", but rather a "prophecy of the past"--which is to say, an account of the past that does not express the context, but only the a-temporal truth of God. (10) But Vieira cannot reproduce the conditions in which Moses produced his own discourse, since he does not, and cannot claim to be a prophet and, moreover, cannot rely on his audiences' unconditional faith. Thus, he proposes to conciliate prophecy with epistemol ogy, and the "style" which he aims to employ--namely, historiography-reflects a particular way of conceiving and representing the course of time. Such a "style" should rely on a certain chronology, that is, it should spatialize time by introducing temporal marks and contextual references:
   The prophets did not call their prophecies history, because they
   did not contain the style or the laws of history: they do not
   distinguish times, they do not assign places, they do not
   individualize the people, nor do they follow the order of the
   instances and events, and even when they saw and said all of that,
   it was entangled in metaphors, disguised in figures, obscured with
   enigmas, and accounted or chanted in sentences proper to the
   prophetic style and spirit, more suitable to their majesty and
   admiration than to their knowledge and understanding ... And since
   we, in everything we write, are determined to observe religiously
   and punctually all the laws of history, following the succession of
   all things in a style which shall be clear and which anyone can
   understand, not in a naked and barren manner, but rather dressed
   and followed by its circumstances; and since we shall designate
   times and years, indicate provinces and cities, and name nations as
   well as persons (whenever it pertains to the matter), for this
   reason, with no ambition or detriment of either word, we call this
   narrative a history, and History of the Future. (11)


Just like any prophetic text, Vieira's work is primarily aimed at announcing and representing the future and yet, insofar as it claims to be a work of history, it must employ a style and a method proper to historical narratives. That is, the laws of history entail a process of spatialization of time that reveals the "circumstances" and the context of each historical event. But in addition to making use of rational forms of measuring and organizing time, this method must also rely on the information and evidence provided by previous writers. Vieira compares his method to that of traditional historians by indicating how the "historiographer of the future" must find support for his arguments on the authority of authors who have previously written about the future, even if they were prophets rather than historians. In other words, even though the style to be employed is historiographic, a history of the future should be based on what is commonly understood as prophetic, namely, narratives about the future: "thus we, who write about the future, must make use of and search for the truth and news of our History in the authors of future times, which are but the Prophets, since only they have known them." (12) However, such a comparison between historians and prophets indicates a fundamental contradiction which, significantly, Vieira does not develop: whereas the historians of the past found their knowledge on other historians of the past, the historian of the future must search for inspiration in prophets who, as Vieira suggests, were not historians.

For Vieira, the source for the explanation of history can be any narrative about the future, including popular prophecies and forecasts. (13) But it is, to be sure, the prophetic contents of the Scriptures which occupy the central part of Vieira's exegetical work. In contrast to the patristic interpretations of the Scriptures, which not unlike historical writing, have had a narrowly defined, if not entirely biased interest, Vieira proposes the "literal" reading of prophecies which, as he claims, is intended not only to reveal the "mysteries of Christ", but also the historical reality of the future. For just like without the aid of the prophetic "spirit", the historians are subject to their own human affections, the commentators of the Scriptures would have misinterpreted the historical reality to which they ultimately referred:
   For this reason, the first Fathers and their successors searched
   nothing in the either prophetic or historic Sacred Books, but the
   mysteries of Christ ... . And since this is all they sought for
   their writings, this is all they found or all they wrote, following
   allegorical and mystical meanings and leaving out or insisting less
   on the literal meanings, as one can ordinarily see in all the
   expositions of the Fathers, all of which are engaged in allegory,
   touching upon the letter but superficially, and perhaps not without
   a certain amount of impropriety and violence. (14)


Vieira's opposition to patristic readings of the Scriptures is as strong as his opposition to the subjective approach of historians: whereas all historians are subject to their own human affection, all the first Fathers and their successors imposed meanings which, whether or not they corresponded to an external truth, they did not correspond to the true meanings of the text. It is not clear whether the act of "violence" indicated by Vieira consists of overlooking the literal meanings, imposing allegorical meanings or, as the syntax suggests, touching the letter "superficially". In any case, the literal reading of prophecies has the purpose of revealing the truth by attending to the materiality of the letter, and by "literal" Vieira also means historical, that is, in relation to a particular context. Thus, prophetic writings would embody not only the history of the future, but the secrets of all human history.

Yet, it seems impossible to identify, in Vieira's method, the extent to which the content of prophecies--their mystery--precede the historiographic and hermeneutic work. For prophecies only become truthful when historicized, and yet, history cannot express the truth contained in prophecies. The argumentation and, particularly, the rational interpretations which in themselves prove nothing--but may disprove untruthful narratives--are the only way of apprehending the truth contained in prophecies. On the other hand, even though prophecies can be, and often are misinterpreted, they are the only sources of that truth which can be deciphered only after interpretation. If, for Vieira, the historical discourse cannot explain history without the prophetic messages which preceded it and which the present should confirm, prophecies cannot reveal the truth unless they are historicized or literalized. In other words, prophecy and history confirm each other, but neither one can by itself convey any historical truth, which is both internal and external to history.

The paradoxes in Vieira's project reveals the extent to which in moments of crisis, discourses about the future may represent a solution for the restoration of historical discourses. The writer who envisages the historical transformation of the present must offer, not simply prophecies, but arguments that reveal the "secret" which historical narratives by themselves are not capable of revealing. The project of inaugurating a new history and a renewed sense of nationality demands that an endless series of historical narratives, arguments, evidences and interpretations be presented, which rather than explaining the past, constitutes an always delayed referent. Whereas historical explanations are the necessary condition for the truth of prophetic messages to be pronounced, the prophetic message emerges from the impossibility of explaining the course of time--that is, its alterity--historically. For Vieira, the course of time transcends all humanity, and yet, requires that someone interpret it; when detached from all context, the expression of "eternal truths" are not only meaningless, but moreover, represent a form of "violence". The gap between historical and prophetic discourse is overcome only through a process of interpretation that, rather than revealing new truths, confirms and contextualizes pre-existing "mysteries". Perhaps the primary condition for any prophecy to become a truthful representation of present reality consists of identifying the moment in which reasoning makes such a "violence" justified.

The Antipodes of the Past

Vieira situates his most original and grandiose project within a set of binary oppositions, which are defined temporally as two distinct moments: the preliminary book and the history of the future, promises and proofs, history and prophecy, understanding and wonder, logical argumentation and rhetorical "violence", etc. In the next pages I propose to further discuss the space inscribed by such a logical and temporal disjunction, and how Vieira turns such a disjunction into a hermeneutics, and epistemology and, ultimately, a pragmatics.

The model of Vieira's method of textual interpretation is primarily early Christian exegesis: just as New Testament apologetics identified or forged a continuity between Christian history and the Hebrew Scriptures, Vieira seeks to draw analogies that situate the near future of Portugal as the ultimate fulfillment of universal Christianity. At the same time that he proposes a return to the literal, historical meaning of the Scriptures, which for the early Fathers contained signs of the future fulfillment of universal Christianity, he calls for a re-historicization of the allegorical moment in patristic interpretation. Thus, the reinterpretation of the Scriptures should reveal both the destiny of humanity as a whole and the specificity of Portuguese history, and therefore identify national with universal history.. Vieira's insistence on the historicization of prophecies, that is, on their reinterpretation according to new contexts, suggests that the interpretation of temporal alterity cannot be dissociated from the empirical interpretation of spatial alterity. The apparent impossibility of fully deciding between historical and prophetic discourses reveals that his project is ultimately aimed at assimilating that which, in the present, defies both historical and religious explanations. To understand the alterity of the world is, for him, to historicize it, or to assimilate it according to a particular historical narrative, as well as to explain it according to a-historical meanings which always precede interpretation.

Such a method of interpreting history should constitute not only a way of understanding, but the most effective way of transforming the present and shaping the future. At the same time that the truth of prophecies would offer an explanation for history, it should transform it, and produce new attitudes towards the present. Vieira contrasts the historical and poli tical force of his History with the conservative role performed by histories of the past, whose main goal would be to offer other men lessons for their future actions. In order to perform their exemplary role, such histories would project the past into the future and thereby compose ideals to be attained or, at least, remembered. The history of the future, on the contrary, should have an immediate pragmatic function, and the prophetic aspect of the Scriptures should, if interpreted through a historical "style", offer images which would provoke particular feelings and behaviors. The performative force intended by Vieira's historiographic project aims to affect contemporary readers who, rather than being imitators of the past, should themselves become models for the future:
   They (i.e., classical historians) wrote histories of the past for
   the future peoples, we write the history of the future for those
   present ... The most ancient of histories starts at the beginning
   of the World; the most extended and continuous one ends at the time
   it was written. Ours starts at the time it is written, continues
   for the whole duration of the World, and finishes with its end. (15)


The hermeneutic moment should ultimately prove that the present already contains signs of redemption. Whereas the traditional writing of past histories would create a closure for history by recording it, the history of the future should inaugurate a new eon and a new mode of signification at the precise moment in which it is written. The initiator of this Time should be no one other than the writer: if the history of the future begins with writing, the author--Vieira himself--performs the role of historical agent of all future actions; with his work--a work with no precedents--he claims to inaugurate a new era by pre-scribing the actions of all humanity. But since historical discourse alone cannot explain the present, nor can it incite immediate action, the interpretation of history must also be informed by a-historical meanings contained in prophetic discourses which, rather than to reason, are directed to the senses, and intended to provoke wonder. Historiography should incite historical action insofar as it situates the finitude and historicity of humans in relation to an external or future totality--the end of history, which is both the end of Time and the end of the World.

The prophetic is thus an expression of the historical subject's relationship with the fulfillment of time and, what amounts to the same, with the word and the eternal time of God; only God withholds the knowledge and essence of all history, whereas man has a limited, gradual access to time in general and, particularly, to the alterity of the future: "Man, the son of time, shares with that very time either its knowledge or its ignorance; about the present he knows little, about the past even less, and about the future, nothing." Time and God are, for Vieira, analogous entities, that is, that to which man--"the son of time"--can never have full access, but which only gradually reveals itself to him. (16) Vieira appropriates Plato's philosophy in order to suggest that man's desire to learn about the future corresponds to his desire to become immortal, a curiosity which, for him, can be found in all times and cultures. All human beings--or, at least, all civilized peoples--desire to discover or understand the future but, paradoxically, they want to maintain a relationship with it, which is defined by a necessarily incomplete process of discovery and gradual understanding.

In order to explain that which in history contradicts previous historical narratives, Vieira situates knowledge somewhere between religious and rational discourses, and defines the interpreter as he who seeks to explain and, at the same time, transcend his own historicity. Man's relationship with the future is thus one of desire and "love", just as man's desire to be divine or immortal must be understood in terms of love of God. Whereas Anchieta attempted to convey the a-historical notions of "love of God" and "fear of God" by means of historical narratives, Vieira proposes the historicization of "love of God", in order to convey man's relationship with the least accessible dimension of time--a relationship which ultimately exposes the finite character of all human experience and understanding. Ultimately, the historical subject must, and desires to remain ignorant about his future in order to maintain with it a relationship of interminable pursuit: "for men do not search for futures in order to find them, but rather they go constantly after them, because they love them." (17)

By promising the gradual manifestation of God's truth, as well as historical explanations for the mysteries of the present, by means of a continuous work of interpretation, Vieira ultimately wants to demonstrate how reading and writing may consist of a relationship with the divine as well as a pragmatics. His own text is intended to incite immediate action insofar as it should allow the reader to enter a relationship with the temporality which language not only announces, but withholds and progressively reveals. The history of the future should thus reflect the individual's search for the revelation in the present of that which has remained hidden. The future should be gradually revealed by God through the individual's "literal" interpretation of prophecies, whereas the interpreter's work should announce the manifestation of God's Will. Ultimately, the writer's mediation establishes a relationship with the reader, on the one hand, and with the alterity of God and Time on the other. The historiographer or interpreter should be someone capable of identifying--or what amounts to the same, someone chosen to identify--the divine offering in every present moment.

But since Vieira does not claim to be a prophet himself, but rather an interpreter of prophecies, he cannot claim to have the power to see the future. For him, the future is the darkness from which the light of God gradually manifests itself, and only prophets would have the capacity to see, in the darkness, the ultimate light, which is the fulfillment of Time. They are themselves closer to the essence of God, and for them language is always transparent. Yet, Vieira believes that by interpreting the writings of those who supposedly had such power, one can have access to the undiscovered realms of time: "... even though the candlelight might be in someone else's hand, those who approach it and follow it can also profit from its light." (18) Thus Vieira strategically dissociates his work from the prophets and, yet, relies on the power of prophecies to explain history. Furthermore, he relativizes the importance of prophets by claiming that even videntes needed another kind of light in order to have full access to the future and to convey that which they saw; that is to say, since they articulated what they saw "by adding the natural light of discourse to the supernatural light of prophecy", (19) they needed the aid of a different knowledge, which was attained only though their own continuous activity of textual interpretation.

The prophets would thus have performed a twofold activity: at first, they were addressed by the prophecy; but afterwards they merely acted as interpreters of those same prophecies which they encountered. Vieira justifies his prophetic message by claiming that, in order to learn about the future, one should not need to have the prophets' direct access to God's knowledge, that is, their supernatural capacity to foresee. The "literal" interpretation of prophetic discourse alone should reawaken its supernatural capacity and provoke a second epiphany of Time which in principle would be accessible to anyone:
   thus the supernatural light, which dwells and radiates in the body
   or words of prophecies, with the aid of discourse's natural light,
   goes on propagating, diffusing and spreading itself over many
   things, times, events and circumstances which were hidden within
   them and, through conference, and by consequence of that discourse
   they go on spreading and discovering once again. This means in quod
   vel quale tempus: not only in what time, but in which time. (20)


The problem which such an attempt to explain the historical reality of the present poses concerns the difficulty of explaining history as the expression of both time and space. The "discovery" of the future, which the "literal" reading of prophecies should produce, cannot be dissociated from the discovery of new contexts (that is, "times, events and circumstances"). Vieira's prophetic method of reading history--or historical method of reading prophecies--combines the spatial and temporal dimensions of historical reality in such a way that the interpreter's relationship with history is understood as a twofold form of human "discovery", that is, the discovery of new worlds and new times. Time is first spatialized by means of a chronology, that is, by means of temporal marks (in quod tempus); on the other hand, space becomes a function of the gradual revelation of time, which is also to say that time is constituted by the context or circumstances of each event (quale tempus). To be sure, the activity in which the interpreter is engaged is part of a process of divine revelation--the manifestation of Time--as well as human discovery of the visible world. But even though "human discovery" cannot be dissociated from supernatural "expansion", the cognitive moment depends on human agency: "The clouds which God puts over a prophecy, time wears away and undoes; but the veils which men cast over their own eyes, only they can remove, because they are the one who want to be blind." (21)

The process according to which the veils which obscure the reading of prophetic texts are removed from the human eyes depends on human agency, whereas the potential revelation contained in the body of prophecies depends on the non-human manifestation of Time. What should be revealed in this encounter between the human and the non-human aspects of interpretation is not simply the true meaning of the texts. The hermeneutic activity is directed towards an encounter with the unknown realms of both time and space, and reveals man's desire to overcome his own historicity. For Vieira, the interpreter's access to the alterity of time consists of a the discovery of new visible realities and, conversely, all spatial discovery consist of a way of reading the hidden secrets of Time. The recurrent allusion to the Discoveries is intended not only as a point of comparison for one's relationship with time, but also as a way of explaining one's relationship with cultural and geographical alterities temporally. Thus, Vieira wants to demonstrate that the encounter with new geographical realities results from the movement toward the revelation of a unified and coherent world, which should correspond to the fulfillment of Time. Similarly, the understanding of the alterity of new historical contexts could be explained by the encounter with the alterity of New World.

As the interpretation of prophecies enables one to enter a relationship with temporal alterity--and, therefore, a relationship with God--the knowledge of which only God withholds is gradually disclosed. This disclosure occurs in the form of a human experience of temporality, which is always incomplete, like one's relationship with language: though the future completion of Time is that which is to be revealed or disclosed, humankind must rely on the course of its own finite relationship with historical time and the visible world. According to Vieira, it is precisely a person's concrete relationship with the materiality of prophetic words--their "body"--that facilitates this relationship. Because time manifests itself in the "body of prophecies", one's interpretative faculty does not only decipher it, but allows time to take its own course in revealing what was previously unreadable. Reading is thus a form of making the prophetic message reveal itself as a human discovery of the hidden aspects of the present reality. In order to be able to read the latent message of prophetic discourses, the interpreter should be capable of both addressing and being addressed by Time--understood as a moment and a particular context--at each instance of hermeneutic revelation. If the future itself does not address the seer, one remains blind, in spite of one's desire to see what prophecies withhold about the future. Time must "wear away and undo" the opacity of that which is illegible in prophecies, so that the signs of (the totality of) time can be revealed. This is why Vieira states that time is not only that which is to be interpreted, but also the surest interpreter, (22) or the best commentator of prophecies. (23) The alterity of Time is what must be translated, and yet, Time is that which translates. There is always, in Vieira's epistemology, a decisive non-human element that constitutes the activity of reading and translating. Interpretation, as well as knowledge, consists of a non-human relationship of time with time, of words with words. If this relationship does translate itself into human knowledge in epiphanic moments, it also exposes the limits of human understanding. This is why rational explanations alone cannot account for historical realities. Since they constitute an essentially human activity, they are blind to the revelation of Time, which constitutes the essence of history and yet, is external to it.

The fundamentally temporal, non-human aspect of knowledge, to which one may or may not have access, makes the individual role of each interpreter relatively small and, at the same time, indispensable. Vieira insists that even though prophets might have had the capacity to see better than other men, only the right time can fully reveal or rather provide the right interpretation for those aspects of the revelation which necessarily remain hidden. Thus, even though the early Fathers of the Christian Church might have had a greater power to see the future, they could not see things which only later would become visible. Their capacity to foresee required the right moment in order to become meaningful, and this is why later interpreters were more capable of understanding the prophetic messages than their predecessors. Such a hermeneutic relationship constituted of both revelation and discovery ultimately suggests a movement directed toward an encounter, and therefore a potential identification between the human and the supernatural dimensions of interpretation: "The futures, the more time goes by, the closer they get to us, and we to them ... . If we are closer to the futures with the same light (even though not with the same sight), why wouldn't we see them better?" (24)

To be sure, Vieira recognizes that such a hermeneutic progress toward an "encounter" with the unknown could be translated in terms of humankind's accumulation of scientific knowledge. He indeed suggests that, if the early fathers of the Christian Church did not understand "the literal and historical meanings of those prophetic texts", it is because they lacked the knowledge of, for, example, the "true and exact cosmography". (25) The possible "violence" of their interpretation would thus have resulted, not only from their desire to convey a "secret" without attending to the context, but also from their lack of scientific information, which prevented them from seeing the world as it was. Vieira argues that men do profit from the information which they receive from their predecessors, and therefore they can see further and contribute to the development of human knowledge, and he illustrates this notion of "progress" with an analogy well-known in his time: "A pygmy on top of a giant can see more than he can. The last step of the ladder is not bigger than the others, but rather can be smaller; but it suffices to be the last one, and to be above the others, for one to reach that which, from the others, one could not reach." (26)

Thus, Vieira attempts to dissociate his epistemology from purely scholastic knowledge by suggesting that the process of human discovery underscores the collective, rather than the individual aspect of understanding. Although knowing is to some extent a human activity, it always transcends the activity of any individual knower. Moreover, scientific, as well as historical explanations alone cannot account for the reality of the world. The accumulation of information must depend on the human as well as the non-human character of knowledge. The argument tends to subordinate all epistemological capacity--that is, one's ability to see, read, or translate what had previously remained invisible--to the impersonal realm of time: "This is why an individual smaller than everyone can well discover and reach that which the great and most eminent did not discover, because this venture is not the privilege of their understanding, but the prerogative of time." (27) Unlike the learned man who, solely with the aid of his studies, inherits his predecessors' knowledge and further adds his own contribution to it, Vieira situates his own "discovery" as a function of the course of time, and of that which calls for interpretation. Thus, if he does consider himself in a privileged position to interpret prophecies, it is not merely because he has inherited the legacy of his predecessors but, more importantly, because he accepts the address of Time and, moreover, desires to enter into a relationship with it. This relationship takes place somewhere between the veiled eyes of the seer and the obscured object of discovery.

Just like the necessity of conciliating history with a-historical meanings, Vieira's urge to define knowledge as both human and non-human demonstrates his struggle to overcome a gap in historical and logical explanations of the present. And ultimately, historical narratives and scientific knowledges do not explain, but rather should be explained by the encounter with alterity. Moreover, the explication of the present would be achieved insofar as textual interpretation both "discovers" the obscured aspects of reality and confirms previous knowledges. Discovery would thus constitute the moment in which spatial (referential) alterity as well as temporal alterity are both encountered as the revelation of eternal, timeless truth. This is why Vieira claims that what he promises with his book is not something absolutely new, discovered or invented by him. His method of reading the world and the future should facilitate the work of collective memory and therefore create the space for the revelation of something which, though previously known, had remained hidden: "It is a new History without a single novelty, and a perpetual novelty without a single new thing ... . Many novelties will be seen in this History of ours which will be new not because they are new but new because they are most ancient. (28)

Vieira's epistemology and his project of re-writing Portuguese history is thus authorized by and, at the same time, is intended to revive the ideologies which defined the entire Portuguese conquest, characterized by strategies of conciliating alterities with expectations, and the ruptures of the present with universal history. For him, the discovery of the future parallels the European discoveries, which he defines not as the invention of something new, but as the moment in which man's relation with eternal Time and the unity of the World is established in the form of an encounter with that which had been forgotten or ignored. For according to Vieira, just as in the sciences "In the sciences few truths are born; most of them resuscitate", (29) the discovery of the future always constitutes a form of rebirth. Similarly, the discovery of the New World did not contain any novelty per se, but rather represented something which had remained hidden from the European's perspective: the discoveries constitute a moment of European revelation as well as the revelation of a moment:
   Perchance wasn't that half of the World which they call the fourth
   part created together with Asia, Africa and Europe? And
   nevertheless, because America was hidden for so long, it is called
   New World: new for us, who are learned men; but for those
   barbarians, its inhabitants, old and most ancient. (30)


By thus defining man's experience of historical realities in chronological as well as spatial terms, Vieira seeks to represent his own role as the embodiment of the present and therefore the interpreter of the future. The present moment which Portugal experiences--and which Vieira interprets--does not really constitute a distinct time, but rather a threshold, which he calls "horizontes do tempo" (the horizons of time). Historical--that is, both textual and contextual--interpretation, like the Discoveries, would thus be achieved only by those situated on that "threshold" of knowledge. As Vieira uses the New World as an example for Portugal's relationship with its own "forgotten" history, he introduces a division, which shall have specific political implications. The world becomes divided into "learned man" and "barbarians"; between those who can read and those who cannot read; between those who discover and those who, though ancient, were "hidden" and had to be discovered. The antiquity of the inhabitants of the New World does not situate them in history, but rather characterizes them as those who await European, or the learned man's discovery. Vieira compares time with the two hemispheres of the world: the past, he writes, is the superior and visible hemisphere of time, whereas the future is the inferior and invisible portion of time. The present is the temporal locus of discovery par excellence and, just like the discoverer who, from the "horizon", encounters a New World, the writer is situated in the "horizon of time", and therefore can better explain the present: "From this point on our History begins, which will reveal to us new regions and new inhabitants of this second hemisphere of time, who are the antipodes of the past. Oh, what great and unusual things will be in this new discovery!" (31)

Just like the inhabitants of the New World, the present context has to be assimilated, and reintroduced into universal history. Thus, what the interpreter discovers in the future--"great and unusual things"--is not the other, but rather a reflection of the Portuguese people in its most heroic version. By quoting and freely translating Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Vieira suggests that the world which was known by Antiquity was divided in three parts (Africa, Europe and Asia); and that his contemporaries had added America as the fourth part; and that a fifth part, "which is that terra incognita, but already known, which we call Austral" was still to be discovered. (32) The discovery of new worlds is understood in terms of an event yet to be completed; at the same time, the incompleteness of time underscores the notion of an original, yet to be restored, unity of the world. The fifth part of the globe and the unknown dimension of time are not assignable places or moments, but the future restoration of a totality, which also means the abolition of its parts. Portuguese restoration, just like expansion, would occur with the achievement of global unity and the fulfillment of eternity: "Such is the past world, such is the present world, and such will be the future world; and from these three worlds united an entire world (since thus God has created it) will be formed." (33)

The centrality of Portugal, which authorized the conquest and assimilation of New Worlds is now authorized by it. Vieira explains the temporal alterity of the world by historicizing geographical alterity and ultimately represents the restoration of Portuguese history in terms of a final unification of the world as well as a necessary unification of Time. The yet-to-be completed character of the world and time thus serves to explain the unfulfillment of the narrative of Portuguese history. The rhetorical function of the future and, ultimately, a-historical stage of global unity should provide the final argument that explains a present that seems incoherent with the narratives of Portuguese national identity. The expected discovery of the fifth part of the world constitutes Vieira's first indication of the actual prophetic message of the book, which he later defines and begins to theorize as the "Fifth Empire of the World". (34) Vieira wants to remind his readers that the discoveries have proved how the Portuguese had already started to accomplish their mission of founding a Christian World Empire which, according to tradition, was defined in the moment of its birth, when God addressed D. Afonso during the legendary Battle of Ourique.

The "antipodes of the past"--including the antipodes of Europe--would therefore be all Christians and would constitute the World Empire to be created by Portugal. The analogy between the two dimensions of alterity--discovered future and discovered regions--ultimately underscores Portugal's mission to reunify the world and restore time. Whereas the image of the Portuguese discoveries and the spatialization of time legitimize the centrality of Portugal in the discovery of the future, the promise of unification of time which such a narrative seeks to convey underscores the Portuguese role in the reunification of the Christian world. Thus, Vieira ultimately compares his own endeavors, not with that of prophets, nor with that of historians, but with that of a conquistador. He situates himself at the threshold of a New World: namely, the unknown future; the scope of his work should surpass that of Vasco da Gama, and should be more important then the crossing of the Cape of Good Hope:
   Portentous were those deeds by means of which, in the past, oh
   Portuguese, you discovered new seas and new lands, and offered the
   knowledge of the world to this same world. Just as you then used to
   read your own histories, now read this one of mine, which is also
   yours. You disclosed to the world what it was, and I disclose to
   you what you shall be. In nothing my discovery is smaller, but
   rather large in everything. A larger Gama/gamut, a larger Cape/end,
   a larger Hope, a larger Empire. (35)


By reminding the Portuguese that the discoverers have revealed to the world its own geographical unity, Vieira claims to be himself the discoverer of Portuguese identity. He would have the capacity for and the method of identifying in the present the confirmation of Portuguese past historical narratives, and to be the withholder of a knowledge which the Portuguese would have forgotten. At a moment in which the Portuguese people seemed hopeless, the comparison is intended to demonstrate that the writer's activity ("my discovery") inaugurates a new time by instigating a new hope. The geographical landmark--the cape of Good Hope--is thus redefined in temporal terms as a threshold which the writing of the book is already crossing. The interpreter of texts and contexts ascribes himself the task of articulating the incomplete character of history, and identifying in the present the hidden secrets of a hypothetical totality. Since he has prior access to collective memory and therefore can rediscover that which others 35 have forgotten, he can reveal the evidences and, moreover, the historical solutions which would restore hope.

The Shield of Patience

In moments of crisis, narratives of national identity emerge as a call to hope in a future stage of restoration. The alterity of the future represents the a-historical instance that would fulfill the gap between the past and the present, and explain the unsatisfactory reality of the present in terms of a yet to be attained totality. Hope is the provisional name of this apparent lack of identity, which the hermeneutic activity is aimed at restoring: like a geographical landmark, hope is what must be discovered first, but ultimately overcome. All interpretations of such moments of crisis are both prophetic and historical because, paradoxically, the call to hope is the expression of a general lack of hope, derived from a lack of faith in the present. Whenever there is no faith, present realities are constructed as a temporary stage of no memory but imminent remembering. Thus, the representation of future history constitutes a form of rediscovering and rewriting the past and, therefore, reinterpreting the present.

Though Vieira's notion of hope may seem to be founded less on reason than on faith, he claims that what he truly wants to instigate is not the hope in a distant, unattainable future. His project of conciliating prophetic and historical discourses is ultimately aimed at defining "hope" historically as both faith and knowledge of future events. By paraphrasing and commenting on Paul (Romans 15: 5), Vieira emphasizes the role of prophetic discourse as a consolation for the adversities of everyday life and promoting patience (patientia), which can be attained insofar as there is a (individual or communal) sense of hope (spes): "The lesson of the Scriptures, and the knowledge of and faith in future things, is that which more than anything can comfort us in labors, because patience finds its consolation in hope, and hope has its foundation on faith, and faith on the Scriptures." (36) Though for Vieira "hope" and "patience" originate from "faith", faith should not be dissociated from empirical knowledge. Hope derives from the rediscovery of the past, as well as from the pragmatic relationship with the future attained through the "literal" reading of the Scriptures.

In order to demonstrate how textual interpretation can reveal motives of hope, Vieira quotes and interprets, in great detail, a well-known passage from Isaiah (18: 1-2). The interpretation of the biblical passage is intended to remind his readers about the election of the Portuguese as well as to justify the Jesuits' mission in Maranhao. As we know, the Jesuits had been expelled from Maranhao in 1661, after a number of conflicts with the Portuguese settlers concerning the slavery and the secular control of the Indians, and Vieira would not return to Brazil until 1681. (37) The exegesis is primarily aimed at demonstrating that the prophetic text already contained a clear--though obscured, or undiscovered--message concerning the missionary work of Christians in the New World. The text, quoted by Vieira from the Vulgate, is the following:
   Vae terrae cymbalo alarum, quae est trans flumina AEthiopiae, qui
   mittit in mare legatos, et in vasis papyri super aquas! Ite, Angeli
   veloces, ad gentem convulsam et dilaceratam; ad populum terribilem,
   post quem non est alius; ad gentem expectantem et conculcatam,
   cujus diripuerunt flumina terram ejus. (38)

   [Oh land of winged cymbal, beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, which
   sends ambassadors to the sea in vessels of papyrus on the water!
   Go, you swift messengers, to an uprooted and dilacerated nation; to
   a terrible people, after which there is none; to a hopeful and
   despised nation, whose land the rivers steal].


Vieira claims that, because the early Fathers of the Christian Church did not have any precise information about the American continent, they could not interpret it properly. In contrast, seventeen-century readers should easily identify such references, and Vieira explains how modern interpreters indeed have demonstrated that Isaiah was referring to no other place but the New World; thus, Vieira suggests that the "literal" meaning of the words gentem conculcatam, gente pisada dos pes (people trodden underfoot), have been proved to be an unequivocal reference to the inhabitants of the New World, the so-called "antipodes who are under us, and therefore it seems that we have them under our feet and step over them". (39)

Further, Vieira argues that not even recent interpreters have yet fully understood the biblical passage, since they have not realized that the referred place is, more specifically, Brazil--and he justifies this claim by stating that "Brazil is the land that is situated directly beyond the other side of Ethiopia". (40)

The interpretation of the text according to new contexts would thus have turned the prophetic text into an objective description of present reality, and the spatio-temporal disjunction that characterizes prophecy would have been resolved as the text becomes purely referential. At the moment of "discovery" or "revelation", the prophetic text ceases being prophetic, and language itself becomes a transparent representation of the world. In order to reiterate this correspondence between the prophetic text with the reality recently discovered, Vieira does not call for an unconditional faith, but rather presents a great deal of first-hand ethnographic information. He situates himself in a privileged position not only because he has access to the inherent meaning of the prophetic texts, but also because he is one of the few who has seen, experienced, and interpreted the new context which Portugal encountered in the colonization of the New World. Thus he can affirm that the Brazilian natives are undoubtedly that populum terribilem, due to, among other things, the character of their cannibalistic ceremonies; (41) and this "terrible people", Vieira adds, are not any Brazilian Indians, but specifically the inhabitants of the Maranhao--the Amazon region where he lived and worked as a missionary for several years:
   The Prophet says that such men are a people whose land the rivers
   stole ... The propriety of such a differentiation is astonishing,
   for in all that land, where the rivers are infinite, and the
   largest and most bountiful in the World, almost every field is
   flooded and covered with fresh water ... for this reason, rather
   than immediately on the ground, they live in houses built on sticks
   which they call juraus, so that during the greatest floods the
   water may pass under them ... . In this manner live the
   Nheengaibas, Goianas, Maianas, and other once highly populated
   nations, of whom it is rightly said that they walk more with their
   hands than with their feet, because they seldom take a step without
   having an oar in their hands. (42)


The "literal" reading, as opposed to "violent" allegories, is characterized by specific correspondences between the text, on the one hand, and a particular geography, a culture, and a historical reality, on the other. Vieira claims that his knowledge of the inhabitants of the Maranhao peoples authorizes him to reveal the true meaning of a text long misunderstood, and to affirm that they were the true antipodes, since they moved with the aid of an oar. He contends that the "winged cymbals" or "bells" mentioned by the Prophet are quite precisely the canoes of the people of Maranhao since, according to him, in their language the word maraca means "bell" and maracatim, boat. Furthermore, Vieira explains that when the Maranhao peoples departed to battles in the water, they often carried a maraca inside what they call tim, which in their language meant the prow of their canoes. The ethno-linguistic description of the Maranhao people is thus intended as a fulfillment of the latent meaning of the prophetic text: "Thus Isaiah comes to say that the land about which he speaks is the land which uses ships that have the name of bells; and these are precisely the maracatins of the Maranhao people." (43)

At the same time that the reality of the New World confirms the meanings of prophecies as if it were a second revelation, the prophetic text, in its turn, becomes a faithful description of the historical and contextual reality of New World. The exegesis "rediscovers" the hidden meanings of the Scriptures and explains the past, present and future the New World.
   Because among all the peoples of Brazil, the Maranhao people were
   the last ones which the news of the Gospel and the knowledge of the
   true God has reached, as they awaited this Good, which was so
   delayed in relation to all Americans, and in relation to these more
   than to all others ... But today they find themselves with the
   worst luck, suffering the Prophet's vae: "Vae terrae cymbalo
   alarum", because the state of their hope has been changing into
   desperation. And do they expect to be saved, those who are the
   cause of so much harm? (44)


For Vieira, what makes such an interpretation less contrived, or less violent than allegorical readings is that, rather than obscuring, it illuminates and helps one to explain the recent past and, moreover, present reality. In addition to making sense of the alterity of the New World, the exegesis assimilates it into Portuguese and Christian history. In spite of their current desperation, the Maranhao peoples are explained as a "hopeful" nation, or as "those who expect" (expectantem) God's message, which is to be delivered by the Portuguese people.

But for Vieira "desperation" does not quite mean the opposite of "hope". A state of desperation does not denote the complete absence of hope, but rather an essential lack of endurance. The Maranhao people are those whose hope has been extended beyond their endurance, that is, to the point at which they have lost their essence, whatever that essence might be. It is not clear whether Vieira means that such a state of desperation and non-identity is solely the result of recent historical circumstances--namely, the fact that they lost the support of the Jesuits--or rather that which has defined their cultures for centuries. At any rate, the representation of their "desperation" serves to displace their identity to the future, to the point at which Portuguese history can provide them with what they never had, or at least restore that which they have lost, namely, their identity. Constructed as a people with no identity, the New World inhabitants are those who should learn how to expect and ultimately share the Portuguese and the Christian faith. The fulfillment of the Maranhao peoples' desire to acquire an identity should ultimately coincide with the restoration of the Portuguese identity and mission of creating a worldly Christian empire. The Indians' future self-realization, which they receive from the Portuguese, would thus be characterized as a restoration, a rebirth, which parallels the future restoration of Portuguese identity.

Whereas the antipodes should discover their essence through the antipodes of time, the identity of the Portuguese people should be restored when they rediscover their own future (the antipodes of the past) through the antipodes of the world. Such are the bases on which a unified World Empire would be achieved: not unlike the eschatological character of the first voyagers who searched for the kingdom of Prester John and the disciples of Thomas the apostle outside Europe in order to restore the supposed Christian unity of the world, Vieira proposes to rewrite New World histories by imposing on its inhabitants a narrative of the future which would coincide with the (forgotten) Portuguese mission, inscribed since its origin:
   Thus the St. Thomas, India's first apostle, prophesied, while in
   the most famous city of Meliapor he built a cross of stone
   somewhere far away from the coast, no less then twelve leagues, and
   told them and had it engraved next to it, that when the ocean
   arrived there, other men of their own color would also arrive from
   most remote parts of the West, who would preach the same Cross, the
   same Faith and the same Christ which he preached. The prophecy was
   realized punctually, because the sea, eating the land little by
   little, arrived at the assigned place, and at the same time the
   Portuguese arrived there. (45)


According to the terrestrial, historical character of such an eschatology, the Portuguese encounter with geographical alterity is explained as a form of return towards those who already expected them. Moreover, the association of the "antipodes" of Europe with the "antipodes of the present" is ultimately intended to demonstrate that the Portuguese too need to expect a return and have "hope" in the future lest they fall into desperation and, therefore, barbarism. Just like the Indians of Maranhao, Portugal finds itself threatened by a general lack of hope and therefore, they risk losing their own identity. However, Vieira relies on the tension between enduring hope and disintegrative desperation in order to stress how the Portuguese have in fact persisted even under Spanish rule, and how they would continue to persist, in spite of all adverse circumstances. The image of the "antipodes"--that hopeful people turned to desperation--mirrors the picture of Portuguese endurance at a moment in which they could have, but have not lost their identity.

The call for hope in the future must be supported primarily by faith. In order to explain Portugal's subjection to Spanish rule, Vieira opposes his notion of Portuguese hope to that contained in what he calls "discourses of hope", which are the merely rational arguments that could have explained and justified Spanish domination. Just as he had earlier criticized the partiality of traditional historiography, he argues that such arguments constitute a form of false hope which was responsible for a number of historical mistakes, and that whenever a discourse of hope is not based on faith, "the discourse deceives and hope lies". (46) And he concludes: "because men discourse with reason, and God works upon it ... . Therefore, all the hopes which were founded on such a faith were correct, and all those which were founded on discourse, wrong." (47) The prophetic character of his Historia do Futuro is deployed to demonstrate the falsehood of Spanish hope, or, as Vieira puts it, "amend the mistake of (Castillian) present hopes". (48) Thus, the call to Portuguese hope can be justified only by means of an a-historical instance; Vieira suggests that if the Spanish nation sees and knows what God has promised to Portugal--and this is precisely what his book seeks to demonstrate--they ought to recognize Portuguese election and therefore cease threatening that sovereignty: "Such is the book, oh Spain, which I also offer and dedicate to you. Here you shall see the futures of Portugal, and all that which in their conquest you may expect from it." (49)

Such a simulated address to the Spanish nation is ultimately intended as a consolation for the Portuguese people and is aimed at defining their own hope as truthful, that is, in accordance to God's will:
   Our neighbors who confine us (I feel very sorry for being sometimes
   forced to call them enemies) shall read here the divine promises
   and decrees, and the proofs of the future according to the
   experience with the past: and they shall see, if they want to open
   their eyes, a manifest refutation of their perfidious acts, as they
   learn that in the war which they continue to wage against Portugal,
   they struggle against the dispositions of the Supreme Power and
   fight against the rigor of his Word ... Oh, how much harm, how many
   lives, how many tears and how much oppression could Spain excuse
   natives and foreigners if with eyes cleared of all passion and
   affects, it wanted to read this History of the Future ... If only
   Spain could, by laying its eyes behind toward the past experiences,
   learn that it was God who separated Portugal from its subjection,
   and that it is God who maintains it separate and keeps it
   victorious. (50)


Thus, in contrast to the historical evidences, which could be justified by rational discourses, Vieira suggests that the Portuguese must re-read their past according to the discourse of election which defined them from the beginning. Insofar as the past is retroactively defined in terms of a previous knowledge of and faith in the future, the moment of break from Spanish stresses, rather than the historical defeats, the nation's power to endure. In other words, Vieira seeks to demonstrate that the lost of Portuguese sovereignty should not be understood as a failure, but rather as a motive for hope in the future of Portugal, since it constituted the best example of the conjunction between faith and vision, knowledge of the future and fulfillment of old prophecies. Because there had been prophecies of deliverance, and a collective faith in their fulfillment, the Portuguese "regained their own soul", after having endured sixty years of subjection:
   one could read, in the most celebrated "trovas" by Bandarra, that
   the desired time ought to arrive, and the hopes in it ought to be
   fulfilled in the assigned year of forty; and in the course of all
   these prophecies, Portugal found consolation or courage to keep on
   living, or enduring, until their fulfillment. (51)


"Endurance" thus serves to express the integrity of the nation in moments of crisis, and to retrospectively interpret national history. Thus, the memory of the nation's failures of fulfilling its destiny can be renewed and turned into motives of hope in the future. Vieira discusses the meaning of endurance by recalling Saint Gregory, who has written that the lessons of the Scriptures could help one to fight against the world's adversities and has ("discretely") called the prior knowledge of the future escudo fortissimo da paciencia (the highly strong shield of patience). In a turn of literal artifice, Vieira draws, from Saint Gregory's passage, an analogy between patientia (patience) and praescientia (pre-science). And after quoting Saint Gregory's words--Et nos tolerabilius mundi mala suscipimus, si contra haec per praescientiae clypeum minimur [And we endure the world's hardships more patiently if we are thrown against them with the shield of pre-science]--he defines his own project accordingly: "What is this History of the Future but the shield of pre-science?" (52) Patience or endurance, on the one hand, and knowledge of and faith in the future, on the other, define each other, in such a way that the integrity of the nation is defined as both resistance to and acceptance of historical developments.

In fact, in his exegesis of Luke (21: 9-19), Gregory the Great (540-604) never writes "shield of patience", though he does suggest that the knowledge of future events (praescientia) is what helps one's endurance (patientia). Vieira forges the analogy between the two terms in order to stress how the feeling of patience, the sense of hope, and the prior knowledge of future events, together constitute a single apparatus which both protects the integrity of the self and opens one's way toward the future. The entire passage of Luke's Gospel, which concerns the future return of the "Son of Man", and the tragic events which would precede it, is the general reference underlying Vieira's discussion, and is not unrelated to the messianic message which will be stated only later in the book; but it is especially the last sentence that defines the historical importance which Vieira wants to ascribe to patience: In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras [In your patience you shall gain your own souls]. Together, patientia and praescientia are represented by the image of the shield, and serve to remind the Portuguese readers that they will be, and are already being rewarded with the restoration of Portuguese national soul or identity. The steadfast patience of the Portuguese people and their faith in the promised restoration of national history would have demonstrated that their hope in and their previous knowledge of the future was the reason why they never lost their ethnic identity, even when they were subject to Spanish rule.

Yet, just like prophetic discourses alone cannot account for history, the certitude of future happiness offered by faith alone does not suffice to appease the torment of waiting and secure endurance. Vieira proposes to historicize prophecies and, therefore, to historicize faith because, as he explains, to extend the duration of hope is to make one blind and vulnerable to the adversities of the present moment. It is like torturing the person who expects it and, consequently, it is like delivering the opposite of what one promises: "thus are the dilated hopes. If with them life is promised, they are death; if with them Paradise is promised, they are Hell." Vieira's repudiation of "dilated hopes" echoes an important Renaissance topos which not only permeates the whole book thematically, but also defines its very rhetorical structure. As Patricia Parker has suggested, the Latin verb "dilatio" meant, during the Renaissance, "not only to expand, disperse, or spread abroad but also to put off, postpone, prolong, or portract" and that, accordingly, this combination of "temporal deferral and spatial extension" functioned as "a kind of semantic crosswords, a complex in which constructs rhetorical and narrative, philosophical and theleological, judicial and erotic overlap as figures for the space and time of the text itself". (53) Vieira's rhetorical strategy of both promising and proving, announcing a History and offering a preliminary book, are precisely inscribed in this space of "delation" which is also the semantic space in which the book's subject matter is situated. As Vieira opposes "dilated hopes", he in fact confirms that which was implicit in the Renaissance rhetorical usages of "delatio" and which, rather than suggesting an endless deferral, defined a closure or a conclusion. It is precisely such an attempted assurance of imminent realization that constitutes Vieira's call to hope: that is, his project of historicizing faith, which is ultimately aimed to turn the alterity of the future--and the alterity of the world--into an explanation for the present.

Thus, Vieira situates human agency by both deferring its results and indicating signs that already reveal their occurrence in the present. For Vieira, in order for waiting to remain an activity that both protects the national identity and responds to the divine Will, hope must be supported by one's prior knowledge of the future: "In order to evaluate hope, one ought to measure the future." (54) In other words, in order to keep hope active, the prophetic and historical discourse of the History of the Future must both promise and demonstrate the imminent delivery of such a knowledge. Vieira uses Paul's terminology to contrast the future which always remains future (neque futuro), with his notion of a future which should become present within a short and commensurable time (neque instantia). The History of the Future is thus intended to offer more than any prophecy does, precisely because it ought to be capable of anticipating, or demonstrating that which it promises, just like John the Baptist is said to have shown the arrival of Christ: "The Baptist promised the future with his voice, and showed the present with his finger." (55) And yet, knowledge can hardly be dissociated from faith; if the proofs or visible signs of imminent deliverance constitute that which sustains hope and, consequently, faith, one also needs to have a prior faith in order to see and benefit from what the prophecy announces: "Whoever believes that those merriest promises are to be fulfilled, thus it shall be for him: he shall see it and he shall enjoy it ... It is a law of God's liberality to reward faith with vision, and this is why we shall see in Heaven those mysteries in which on Earth we believe." (56)

The identification of endurance with the certainty of future restoration demonstrates the extent to which every call to national reunification is constructed by means of a call to faith as well as promises of historical knowledge, that is, both on prophetic and historical discourses. As much as Vieira seeks to dissociate his ideas from Joachimism, his work ultimately parallels Joachim de Fiore's historical Messianism and the extent to which, as Marjorie Reeves has suggested regarding Joachimist thought, "ecumenical hope for both political and religious unity expresses the point at which the history of the future presses most sharply on the present". (57) When religious discourses of salvation are repeatedly contradicted by history, it must be historicized and politicized, and yet, its religious and messianic aspect is maintained. The call to hope is ultimately a double call to persistence and resignation, understanding and acceptance of present reality. It is intended to promote, rather than active participation, the active recognition and acceptance of new political solutions; it seeks to avoid individual openended interpretations of the present and immediate political action--which may lead to "desperation" and therefore, conflict--and yet, it is aimed at historical and political transformation.

The Shield of Aeneas

As I have suggested, every promise of historical restoration requires the reconstruction of a memory in the form of a second discovery or revelation of the present. And insofar as discovery is defined by remembrance and repetition, the future always constitutes a potential return of the past. Such a notion of rediscovery of that which has been forgotten--ultimately, the rediscovery of endurance and national identity--lends itself easily political and messianic interpretations, and this is indeed the move which Vieira's argument ultimately makes. As the call to hope reveals a lack of hope, and present history is perceived as a rupture, national identity becomes personified and comes to represent the return and historical intervention of he who has remained hidden; the restoration of history occurs not as the transcendental revelation of God's word, nor as a collective participation in the transformation of the present, but as the personification of Time. Thus, Vieira's view of eschatology on earth culminates with the emergence of the elected king, and is supported by several implicit and explicit references to the famous New Testament dictum "unum ovile et unum Pastor" (one flock, one shepherd) (John 10: 16), popularized by Joachimist millenarists. Vieira represents the restoration of Portuguese identity as the emergence of a new empire, whose power he believes to have been covered up since the disappearance of Sebastian: "whoever considers the Portuguese kingdom in the times past, present and future, shall see it born in the past, resuscitated in the present, glorious in the future". (58)

The eschatological notion of the restored unity of the world and the completion of time coincides not only with Portuguese restoration but also with the return of the deceased king. In order for the glory of the forgotten kingdom to be resuscitated in the near future, the so-called "Hidden King" (O Encoberto, as Bandarra, and many others after him, referred to Sebastian) would have to return. For Vieira and his contemporaries, there seems to be a profound sense that the glory of the Portuguese discoveries was forgotten with the concealment of the King "Encoberto", and that a new discovery was already occurring with the Portuguese restoration and with the ascension--understood as a return or a rebirth--of a new king, namely, D. Joao IV. Vieira thus proposes that the hermeneutic moment of discovery and revelation would reveal and announce the Messianic figure of the king who was about to resuscitate and reunite all times and spaces under his name:
   This is the subject of our History, and this is the Empire which we
   promise to the World. All that which the sea encompasses, all that
   which the sun illuminates, all that which the sky covers and
   surrounds shall be subjected to this Fifth Empire, not because of a
   fantastic name or title, like all the others which heretofore were
   called World Empires, but rather by true domain and subjection. All
   the kingdoms will be united in one scepter, all heads will obey one
   supreme head, all the crowns end in one single diadem which shall
   be the peon of the Christian Cross. (59)


The prophetic and historical project is thus intended to restore Portuguese hope, and to define individual agency as nothing more than a collective address to the Portuguese king. Vieira invites his readers to have hope in the future which the king embodies, and proposes that when the Portuguese monarchs read:
   in the discourse of the History of the Future, about the victories,
   triumphs, conquests, kingdoms, and crowns and domains, and the
   subjection of so many and such large nations which were promised in
   faith and in the confidence of such promises, they shall vigorously
   dare to undertake them. (60)


But it is writer, or the interpreter of the present who has the mediating task of translating popular hope, or national identity, into the monarch's political actions. His interpretation of history ultimately presents the image of a "dilated Empire" as the (imminent) culmination of time, and seeks to undo "dilated hopes"--which is always a threat of desperation--by representing their fulfilment spatially:
   The task and duty of poets is not to tell things as they were, but
   to depict them as they should have been or as it would be well that
   they be. The highest and most judicious spirit of all who wrote in
   poetic style conceived that, in order to achieve the most difficult
   enterprises, in order to conquer the most bellicose nations, and in
   order to found the most powerful Empire, no weapon would be
   stronger, nor more impenetrable, nor would any fill the
   heart/breast which it covered and protected with more courage,
   confidence and valor, than a shield composed by divine art and
   knowledge, in which all the same future deeds which were to be
   achieved in that enterprise were engraved and depicted. Thus the
   great poet armed his Aeneas. And this same shield, not fabulous but
   true, not feigned after the deeds were experienced, but written
   before they happen, that is precisely, and without fiction, what in
   this History of the Future I offer you, Y'our Majesty. (61)


The History of the Future thus displaces the hope in the future to the hope in a personal entity which embodies the spatial and temporal restoration of history and, moreover, the restoration of Portuguese identity. As Vieira proposes to present the future Portuguese monarchs with their own reflection and, furthermore, the image of their future deeds, he transfers all political action into the hands of the messianic figure who shall use the book's predictions to transform history: "by foreseeing what they shall achieve, so that they may achieve it, and what they shall be, so that they may be it". (62) The "shield of patience" which protects Portuguese identity is thus translated as the shield of a warrior who makes decisions in name of the nation; popular hope in the future is historically manifested only through the actions of the monarch who, by withholding the knowledge of the future, restores the present.

But Vieira's comparison of his task with Virgil's, and the role of the Portuguese king with Aeneas, contains contradictions which reveal the extent to which his project struggles to turn the present in to a glorious, epic narrative. For rather than by his praescientia, the epic hero in the Aeneid is in fact defined by action in spite of his ignorance about the future. The hero often qualified by Virgil as ignarus is the one who blindly bears the shield and the destiny of the whole future history of Rome. A history which, as is well known, and as Vieira explicitly reminds his readers, constitutes the poet's and his readers' past history, that is, the history of Rome. However, as David Quint has demonstrated, the Roman past history, prophetically depicted as the future of Aeneas, also reflects the state of Virgil's Rome: "This narrative opposition or progression that shows Aeneas and his Trojans transformed from losers at Troy to victors in Italy has a topical application to Virgil's Rome, a nation emerging from the trauma of civil war to a fresh start in the new Augustan state." (63) As I have suggested, Portugal found itself in a similar moment, as it was trying to restore its sovereignty and to transform the recent history of Portugal into a meaningful narrative and, to use Quint's expression, into the "triumph of history itself". (64) However, the epic form could hardly serve as a way of rewriting Portuguese recent history, since the break from Spanish rule had not solved the nation's crisis, and thus could not constitute a historical version from the point of view of those who Quint has called the "epic victors":
   The epic victors both project their present power prophetically
   into the future and trace its legitimating origins back into the
   past. The first of these narrative procedures in some sense depends
   on and is implied by the second: the victors can claim that they
   always will be protagonists in a continuing story of imperial and
   national destiny because they always have been. And it is this
   story that epic identifies with the possibility of narrative
   meaning itself. (65)


Vieira's aim is somewhat opposite to Virgil's: rather than rewriting the past and future histories of Portugal from the victor's perspective, his book is intended to demonstrating, according to the progression of past and future narratives, who the victors should have been. To a certain extent, Vieira had already perceived that which Quint articulates regarding Virgil's rewriting of Roman history, as he claims that his own work, unlike the Aeneid, was not intended to be "feigned after the deeds were experienced", nor was it meant to be an embellished history of the past, disguised in the form of a simulated history of the future. Still, Vieira profits from the epic's juxtaposition of Aeneas' future with Virgil's past, in order to underscore the divine and predestined character of the actions performed by the epic hero, and compare it with Portuguese history.

The analogy with Virgilian prophetic discourse or ekphrasis thus serves less to justify prophecy as a way of rewriting the past, than to identify the king as the legitimate embodiment of history and national identity. The king is the warrior in whose hands the shield of patience is secured: as he firmly withholds the whole image of the future--ultimately, his own reflection--he naturally becomes the personification of Portuguese hope. To address the king and to dedicate to him the History of the Future, as Vieira does, is to invite all other readers--particularly, the patient Portuguese people--to participate in an address which, ultimately, accepts the monarch as elected by God to decide and perform the destiny of Portugal in achieving the global fulfillment of Christianity. The king is himself the antipode of the past, as he resolves all present conflicts and assimilates all that which is perceived as foreign to Portuguese history. It does not quite matter whether or not, like Aeneas, the king in fact withholds the knowledge of his own future and the future of his people, since what Vieira seeks to convey is that he receives "courage, confidence and valor" from the prophetic and historical representation of the age which he bears against his chest and moreover, inaugurates. The king's historical role emanates from God's Will--which the writer assigns himself the task of revealing through the interpretation of both the Scriptures and national history. The call to transcendental unity which, for the first missionaries like Anchieta, represented a symbolic strategy aimed at conciliating conflicting histories, has become, with Vieira, historicized, and constituted a new way of explaining Portuguese national history--a history which, for the first time, assimilated the New World in Portugal's own estranged past.

Before the Future

Whenever moments of crisis are no longer the exception, but become part of history, hope constitutes the single reiterative meaning of national identity. Vieira's work is paradigmatic of a national discourse which, after the decline of Portuguese empire, have persisted in all debates regarding modernity both in Portugal and Brazil. Such a discourse has repeatedly defined the nation's destiny as an always incomplete participation in history, and has ultimately explained the extended state of exception in terms of a collective lack of memory and imminent remembrance. As I have suggested, this narrative has reproduced the colonial discourse which, on the one hand, assimilated cultural differences as a rediscovery of the past and, on the other hand, justified the transformation of other peoples by rewriting their memory and redefining their forgotten identity. Both in Brazil and in Portugal, the alterity of the present has similarly been explained according to narratives that called for the restoration of history and the rebirth of the nation's forgotten identity which the interpreter, defined as a "discoverer", would have the task of revealing. Vieira's role as the intellectual who interprets the alterity of history and articulates the political solutions for the present is paradigmatic of the role which the hybrid intellectual has assigned himself in Brazil; the man of letters would have the roles of diplomat, political activist, spokesperson, and ultimately, the privileged interpreter of national identity who mediates between popular desires on the one hand, and epistemological and political solutions, on the other.

However, as we have seen, Vieira's History of the Future never succeeds in fully transforming Portugal's recent past into a meaningful, heroic narrative and remains, at best, a wishful epic. As David Quint has suggested, perhaps the narrative of the defeated has nowhere to go, and ultimately can not reproduce the epic's teleological character. Vieira's book can hardly be said to express the view of those excluded from history, but neither can it said to be a narrative of the victors. Thus, at the same time that the History of the Future calls for hope in a grandiose future, it repeatedly exposes the shortcomings of the recent past. The distance between the prophetic and the historical underscores an irresolvable tension between the process of internalization of the future and the urgent demand for historical agency. This conflict appears in a number of binary oppositions, which the book both exposes and seeks to overcome, and which may constitute the very space defined by "dilation": the endless argumentation and the final conclusion, the gradual process of cognition and the promise of final revelation, human understanding and non-human temporality, the incompleteness of time and the movement toward its fulfillment, the alterity of the world and its unity, discovery and remembrance, patience and pragmatics, desperation and hope. These seemingly unresolvable tensions between semantic deferment and a final meaning may in fact be proper to the promise-fulfillment motif: they result from a contradiction between the expectation which characterizes the prophetic and the moment of Messianic fulfillment which should abolish the performative force of the prophecy. In Vieira's case, the tension is ultimately resolved as a movement towards the final unification of the nation (or the world) under one ruler. The solution for such contradictions is rhetorically and politically articulated as a historically justified form of "violence". The constitution, or the restoration of the world's unity and historical coherence is ultimately based on the exclusion of peoples and meanings: "If the world ought to be restored to its original wholeness and natural fairness, a body this great cannot be repaired without the pain and feeling of its members, which are out of place ... " (66)

Yet, an important remark should be made. The structure of interminable pursuit, defined by Vieira's hermeneutics, could, and theoretically does redefine the Messianic trait of his History of the Future, and suggests that the coming of the Messiah--namely, the monarch--may not be the fundamental event for the completion or, rather, the beginning of the promised new Time. On the contrary, the fulfillment of popular hope by the actions of one elected king might not be a necessary, but rather a circumstantial historical development. Moreover, such a final fulfillment might not constitute the essence of prophetic discourse in general and of Vieira's in particular. In fact, Vieira was always capable of re-accommodating the nonfulfillment of the Messianic expectations on which his prophetic history relied. In spite of the death of D. Joao IV in 1657, by 1665 Vieira already considered Alfonso VI the true "Hidden King", who, in his turn, died soon thereafter; and the arrival of the symbolic year of 1666, formerly seen by Vieira as the predestined date for the beginning of new eon, would not challenge the Messianic expectation which his writings nevertheless continued to reiterate. It seems that for Vieira, even though the Messianic fulfillment is never a distant, unattainable moment in the future, its present fulfillment must not occur as plenitude, but as a relationship. The tension between the "utopian" and "restorative" forces, which Gershom Sholem identifies as characteristic of Jewish Messianism, could equally serve to describe the essence of Vieira's project for the future:
   For the Messianic idea is not only consolation and hope. Every
   attempt to realize it tears open the abuses which lead each of its
   manifestations ad absurdum. There is something grand about living
   in hope, but at the same time there is something profoundly unreal
   about it. It diminishes the singular worth of the individual, and
   he can never fulfill himself, because the incompleteness of this
   endeavor eliminates precisely what constitutes its highest value.
   Thus in Judaism the Messianic idea has compelled a life lived in
   deferment, in which nothing can be done definitively, nothing can
   be irrevocably accomplished. (67)


In spite of the final, perhaps violent solutions which he proposes, Vieira's "hope" does not fully efface the "dilation" which constitutes his book as both a utopian and a restorative project. The question that remains is whether such hope must be directed towards a personal entity who promises deliverance, or whether it can reinforce that which Walter Benjamin called the "weak Messianic power" with which everyone is endowed: that is, the individual and collective power of reinterpreting history and transforming the present. Vieira certainly recognizes in himself such a role, but as he elaborates and offers a method for knowing the future, he also indicates the possible dissemination of such a Messianic power and, perhaps, the decentralization of "violence". (68) For, whereas the historicization of the prophetic may determine a historical and hermeneutic closure, the prophetic reading of history may create new alternatives for reading the present and inaugurating the future.

In addition, the question that I have attempted to articulate in this essay--and to which I can hardly offer a final conclusion--concerns the problems an the necessity of, in moments of crisis--or in nations which, like Brazil, are defined by an endless crisis--interpreting the critical alterity of the present as a rupture which calls for restoration. Moreover, to what extent the lack of memory is what defines a nation as an eternal "country of the future"? Perhaps the urgency of historical transformation must not be translated into Messianic terms, but can such transformation occur without what Vieira defines as "hope", that is, without the closure implicit in the interpretation of present reality as the spatial and temporal locus of "dilation"? In other words, can the open-ended deferment of interpretation constitute strategies for political action without any theoretical promise, and the eventual "violence" of, if not final, at least provisional models and solutions?

Cesar Braga Pinto

Rutgers University

(1) An expanded version of this essay was published in Portuguese as a chapter of my book As promessas da historia: Discursos profeticos e assimilacao no Brasil colonial (Sao Paulo: EDUSP, 2003).

(2) Antonio Vieira is the author of 207 sermons, 700 letters, in addition to a number of other writings such as the Historia do futuro and his self-defense before the tribunal of the Inquisition ("Defesa perante o Tribunal do Santo Oficio"). In Brazil, he addressed several sermons to indigenous peoples and their descendants, African slaves as well as Portuguese and mestizo settlers. In Europe he addressed the Pope, the Portuguese king, as well as Jews and New Christians. Vieira was born in Lisbon, and died in Bahia at the age of 89. He first moved to Brazil when he was six years old and joined the Jesuit order when he was fifteen. He was a passionate activist against the Dutch occupation of the Northeast during the years 1637 to 1644. In 1641, one year after the Portuguese restoration from Spanish rule, he went to Lisbon to salute the new king, D. Joao IV. In 1652 he returned to the American continent, this time to the northern region of Maranhao, the administration of which was temporarily independent from the rest of Brazil. During this period he was a constant activist against Indian slavery, trying to propose new legislation a cause of constant conflicts against settlers and the Portuguese crown. In 1654 he went to Lisbon again, where he encountered more political opposition, especially after the death of his protector D. Joao IV in 1656. He then returned to Maranhao, from which he was expelled in 1661, together with all other Jesuits. After having been persecuted and imprisoned by the Inquisition, he traveled around Europe in order to gain the support of other nations. In 1681 he returned to Bahia, where he stayed until his death in 1697. The authoritative biography of Vieira is J. Lucio de Azevedo's Historia de Antonio Vieira (Lisbon: Liv. Classica, 1918; numerous subsequent editions).

(3) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 41. Unless indicated otherwise, all translations are mine.

(4) Antonio Jose Saraiva, Historia e utopia--Estudos sobre Vieira (Lisbon: Ministerio da Educacao, Instituto de Cultura e Lingua Portuguesa, 1992), 76.

(5) Raymond Cantel, Prophetisme et messianisme dans l'xuvre d' Antonio Vieira (Paris: Ediciones Hispano-Americanas, 1960). Saraiva, Historia e utopia; Jose Antonio Saraiva, O Discurso engenhoso (Sao Paulo: Ed. Perspectiva, 1980).

(6) Cantel, Prophetisme, 21-39. According to Cantel, the idea of a Christian Empire realized on earth was already present after 1645 in Vieira's conversations with the Jews of Amsterdam and particularly in his relationship with the rabbi Manasses ben Israel (Cantel, Prophetisme, 101-2). See also Cartas do Padre Antonio Vieira, ed. J. Lucio de Azevedo (Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, 1925), 3: 782-3. For an interesting reconstruction of the battle that killed King Sebastian, from the Moroccan point of view, see the novel La bataille des trois rois by Younes Nekrouf (Paris: Albin Michel, 1984). On the origins and development of Sebastianism, see J. Lucio de Azevedo's A Evolucao do Sebastianismo (Lisbon: A.M. Teixeira, 1918). For different versions and reformulations of the historical event in both the Moroccan and Portuguese imagination, see Lucette Valensi's Fables de la memoire: la glorieuse bataille des trois rois (Paris: Seuil, 1992). On Joachimism, and prophecy in general see Marjorie Reeves' Joachim of Fiore and the Prophetic Future (London: S.P.C.K., 1976; rev. ed. Stround: Sutton Pub., 1999) which has a short passage on Portuguese messianic expectations in general, and Antonio Vieira's Messianism in particular (132-3). Reeves' The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993), especially Chapter 3 ("The End of History") also discusses various trends of Messianism, including Judaisms and Joachimist millenarism.

(7) Cantel, Prophetisme, 45.

(8) That is, the contract to which the promise refers, rather than the immediate constative aspect of the utterance, which simply refers to the utterer's (present) intention to keep the promise--which may remain a felicitous speech-act regardless of whether or not it constitutes a case of "insincerity", as J. L. Austin puts it (J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962), 50. The "promise" is one of the most cited examples of a speech act in Austin's How to do Things with Words. See especially pages 9-11, where he explains how the felicity of the promise does not depend on one's intention to keep it.

(9) The so-called editio princeps of the Livro anteprimeiro was first published in 1718. The pretext for Vieira's arrest was a letter addressed to the Bishop of Japan in April of 1659, where he commented on the prophecies of Goncalo Bandarra and their supposed references to the resurrection of D. Joao IV. This letter is often considered the first version of the Historia do futuro. The letter was confiscated from the Bishop in 1660. The trial lasted from 1663 to 1667, when Vieira was found guilty. The "Sentenca que no Tribunal do Santo Oficio se leu ao Padre Antonio Vieira" explains the alleged reason of the condemnation: "Neither does he differ from the Jewish-like millenarists in promising such a kingdom in this life and soon, whereas those expect it in the other, as he is closer to the Jews who also expect it in this present life of their Messiah, and perpetually forever on earth" (quoted in Maria Leonor Carvalhao Buescu, "Introduction", in Vieira, Historia do futuro, 13)}. Raymond Cantel suggests that the letter was only a pretext, and that the actual reasons were his repeated attacks against the privileges of the Santo Oficio and his interventions in favor of New Christians (Cantel, Prophetisme, 17). Bandarra's Trovas date from 1530 and 1546, and, according to Cantel, they were condemned by the Portuguese Inquisition for integrating Jews and Catholics in their imperialistic aspirations. They were inspired by the Bible, Arthurian legends and Spanish prophecies. D. Sebastiao, formerly known as "O Desejado" (the desired one), later received the epithet of "O Encoberto" (the hidden one) from a passage Bandarra's Trovas.

(10) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 47.

(11) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 47.

(12) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 139.

(13) See Cantel, Prophetisme, 45 and passim.

(14) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 180-1.

(15) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 45.

(16) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 41. The Portuguese pronouns are here ambiguous, so that the first part of the sentence could possibly be translated as: "Man, the son of time, shares with this time either his knowledge or his ignorance."

(17) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 45.

(18) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 18.

(19) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 141.

(20) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 141.

(21) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 159.

(22) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 155.

(23) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 149.

(24) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 149-50.

(25) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 190.

(26) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 150.

(27) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 153.

(28) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 172.

(29) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 173.

(30) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 174.

(31) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 45-6.

(32) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 61.

(33) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 61.

(34) Later, in the second chapter of the actual Historia do futuro, Vieira names the previous Empires: (1) the Assyrian or Babylonian, (2) the Persian, (3) the Greek and (4) the Roman (239-40). Margarida Vieira Mendes discusses the symbolic importance of the number four in Vieira's oeuvre, in accordance with medieval exegetics (Margarida Vieira Mendes, A oratoria barocca de Vieira (Lisbon: Caminho, 1989), 522 and passim).

(35) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 54.

(36) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 76.

(37) See Saraiva, Historia e utopia, 49-52.

(38) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 209.

(39) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 210.

(40) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 210.

(41) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 211.

(42) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 212-3.

(43) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 217.

(44) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 218.

(45) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 226

(46) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 103.

(47) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 102.

(48) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 111.

(49) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 112.

(50) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 97-8.

(51) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 79.

(52) Vieira, Historia do Futuro, 94.

(53) Patricia Parker, "Deferral, Dilation, Differance: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Jonson," in Patricia Parker and David Quint, eds., Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University. Press, 1986), 183.

(54) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 52.

(55) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 53.

(56) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 72.

(57) Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy, 507.

(58) Vieria, Historia do futuro, 66.

(59) Vieria, Historia do futuro, 61.

(60) Vieria, Historia do futuro, 83.

(61) Vieria, Historia do futuro, 95.

(62) Vieria, Historia do futuro, 95.

(63) David Quint, Epic and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 11.

(64) Quint, Epic and Empire, 32.

(65) Quint, Epic and Empire, 45.

(66) Vieira, Historia do futuro, 54-5.

(67) Gershom Sholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism, trans. Michael A. Meyer (New York: Schocken Books, 1971), 35.

(68) Walter Benjamim, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schoken Books, 1968), 235.
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles; Antonio Vieira, sacerdote
Author:Pinto, Cesar Braga
Publication:Portuguese Studies Review
Article Type:Ensayo
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:16915
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