Jerónimo de Arbolanche's Las Abidas (1566) and the mythical origins of Spain

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Jerónimo de Arbolanche's epic poem Las Abidas (1566) is set in the ancient Iberian kingdom of Tartessos during the mythical reign of the king Gárgoris and his son Abido. The choice of the prehistory of the Iberian Peninsula as a literary topic has puzzled critics, who most often have interpreted it as a purely fantastic mixture of historiography with chivalric and pastoral romances purely for the sake of showing off the author's erudition. By contextualizing it within the practice of early modern historiography, this article proposes that Arbolanche deliberately uses the myth of Tartessos to elaborate a political and personal fantasy of the originary civilization of Spain figured as a pastoral space and centered in the Pyrenees and Navarre. On the one hand, his image of an idealized and essentialized Spain, unified from times immemorial, crafts a political fantasy of imperial Spain that also grants a place of privilege to Navarre. On the other hand, it serves as a document of self-promotion in which to emphasize his Basque genealogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalSymposium - Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • Basque identity
  • Jerónimo de Arbolanche
  • Navarre
  • Tartessos
  • early modern Spanish historiography
  • epic poetry
  • pastoral literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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