Temblor de Lima, de Pedro de Oña

Pedro de Oña, born in the territory of the Viceroyalty of Peru, in Chilean Angol, is one of the most important Creole writers to understand the political and cultural transition from the 16th to the 17th centuries. He is especially remembered for continuing the epic saga of La Araucana -initiated by Alonso de Ercilla- with his Arauco domado (Lima, 1596); however, his second work, Temblor de Lima reveals both his political and literary skills.

Since the facsimile edition of Toribio Medina, Temblor de Lima has been described as a failed work that is reduced to mere flattery and the treatment of a “meager poetic” matter. In a recent study, Sarissa Carneiro aptly describes Oña’s text in its exact dimension: that of a work that positions both the figure of the viceroy in times of adversity and the Peruvian Creole elite.

Its dialogical structure, between the shepherds Arcelo and Darius, recalls the bucolic Neronian tradition of Tito Calpurnio Sículo. In this Sicilian tradition it was common for shepherds to lecture on various natural disasters: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and comets transits. These were for the mentality of the time (that was inherited until the Lima of century XVII) unmistakable signs of the divine wrath that announced social political changes. Temblor de Lima is ascribed to the corpus of American epic poetry insofar as its ideal recipient is the highest authority, the viceroy. Its presence in the American letters no doubt warns of the capacity that the peoples of the South of America have had since ancient times to overcome natural phenomena.

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