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A Voyage to Abyssinia   By: (1596-1678)

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Jeronimo Lobo's A Voyage to Abyssinia is an awe-inspiring and captivating account of his extraordinary journey to the unknown lands of Abyssinia in the 17th century. This historical travelogue offers readers a remarkable glimpse into the unfamiliar and enigmatic Ethiopian culture, traditions, and landscape, through the eyes of a European explorer.

Lobo's narrative style is engaging and evocative, drawing readers into his thrilling expedition from the very first page. With vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to detail, he paints a vivid picture of his encounters with various ethnic groups, royal courts, and breathtaking natural wonders. The author's ability to portray the customs, religious practices, and social dynamics of the Abyssinian people with such depth and sensitivity is truly commendable, making the book not only an adventurous travelogue but also a valuable anthropological document.

One of the highlights of A Voyage to Abyssinia is Lobo's personal interactions, discussions, and friendships with the Ethiopian rulers, priests, and scholars. These encounters not only offer valuable insights into the political and religious complexities of Abyssinia but also showcase the author's profound understanding of the world he was exploring. Lobo's respect for the traditions and beliefs of the Ethiopian people is both striking and admirable, as he navigates the delicate balance of being an outsider while immersing himself in their way of life.

Another notable aspect of this book is the author's reflections on his own European background and perspectives. Lobo often compares the societal norms and institutions of Abyssinia with those of his native Portugal, critically examining the stark differences and occasionally expressing admiration for the Abyssinian way of life. These introspective moments add an intriguing layer to the narrative, inviting readers to reflect on their own cultural biases and preconceptions.

While the prose itself is engaging and eloquent, it is worth noting that A Voyage to Abyssinia was originally written in Portuguese and has been translated into English. Although the translation is generally well done, there are moments when certain phrases or cultural nuances may have been lost. Nonetheless, this minor flaw does not detract from the overall impact of Lobo's incredible journey and the invaluable knowledge he shares.

In conclusion, A Voyage to Abyssinia is a captivating and illuminating read for anyone interested in exploration, cultural exchange, and the marvels of the unknown. Jeronimo Lobo's account of his travels through the mysterious lands of Abyssinia is a literary gem that provides historical context, highlights cultural diversity, and inspires readers to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the world we inhabit.

First Page:

This etext was prepared from the 1887 Cassell and Company edition by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.



Translated from the French by SAMUEL JOHNSON.



Jeronimo Lobo was born in Lisbon in the year 1593. He entered the Order of the Jesuits at the age of sixteen. After passing through the studies by which Jesuits were trained for missionary work, which included special attention to the arts of speaking and writing, Father Lobo was sent as a missionary to India at the age of twenty eight, in the year 1621. He reached Goa, as his book tells, in 1622, and was in 1624, at the age of thirty one, told off as one of the missionaries to be employed in the conversion of the Abyssinians. They were to be converted, from a form of Christianity peculiar to themselves, to orthodox Catholicism. The Abyssinian Emperor Segued was protector of the enterprise, of which we have here the story told.

Father Lobo was nine years in Abyssinia, from the age of thirty one to the age of forty, and this was the adventurous time of his life. The death of the Emperor Segued put an end to the protection that had given the devoted missionaries, in the midst of dangers, a precarious hold upon their work... Continue reading book >>

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