Skip to main content
Indiana
University Bloomington

Portuguese-Speaking Diaspora

Back to Exhibits

Coloquios dos simples, e drogas he cousas mediçinais da India e assi dalgu[m]as frutas : achadas nella onde se tratam algu[m]as cousas tocantes a mediçina, practica, e outras cousas boas pera saber

Garcia de Orta. Coloquios dos simples, e drogas he cousas mediçinais da India e assi dalgu[m]as frutas: achadas nella onde se tratam algu[m]as cousas tocantes a mediçina, practica, e outras cousas boas pera saber, compostos pello Doutor garçia dorta. Goa: João de Edem, 1563. [Colloquies of remedies and drugs and medicinal things from India and also of some fruits: found there where some things pertaining to medicine, practice and other good things to know are discussed.]

Born of Jewish parentage in 1501 in Castelo de Vide, Garcia de Orta studied medicine in Spain and moved to Lisbon in 1526, where he became one of King João III’s physicians.  He left for India in 1534 as the personal physician to Martim Afonso de Sousa, a captain and later governor of India. Orta settled in Goa and became friends with the adventurer and poet Luís Vaz de Camões, later author of Os Lusíadas (1572), the epic poem of Portugal. The Colloquies became an important reference on tropical medicines for physicians and Orta is regarded as a pioneer in that field. Historian Charles R. Boxer considered the Colloquies the most important printed book in his collection—a massive trove of books, articles and rare manuscripts that was acquired by the Lilly Library. Composed of long series of dialogues about indigenous medicines between Orta and a friend recently arrived to Goa, the Colloquies is also important for its inclusion of the first-ever published poem by Camões.