Tomás António Gonzaga

[Dirceu] (11 August 1744 – 1810 / Miragaia, Porto)

Biography of Tomás António Gonzaga

Tomás António Gonzaga poet

Tomás António Gonzaga (11 August 1744 – 1810?) was a Portuguese-born Brazilian poet. One of the most famous Neoclassic colonial Brazilian writers, he was also the ouvidor and the ombudsman of the city of Ouro Preto (formerly "Vila Rica"), as well as the desembargador of the appeal court in Bahia. He wrote under the pen name Dirceu. He is patron of the 37th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.


Gonzaga was born in Miragaia, Porto, to João Bernardo Gonzaga and Tomásia Isabel Clark. As a child, the family moved to Recife and to Bahia, where João Bernardo served at the magistrature. Gonzaga was sent back to Portugal as a teenager, to the University of Coimbra, to finish his studies. With 24 years, he finished his Law course. He presented himself as a candidate for a chair at the University, with the thesis Tratado de Direito Natural. He became the juiz-de-fora of the city of Beja in 1778, until 1781. In the following year, he returned to Brazil, becoming the ouvidor of the city of Vila Rica (nowadays Ouro Preto). He followed this post until 1789, when he was accused of being involved with the Minas Conspiracy. Arrested, he was sent to a prison in Ilha das Cobras, Rio de Janeiro. He spent three years in there, when he was given the sentence of an exile in the Island of Mozambique. By that time, he was engaged to a woman named Maria Doroteia Joaquina de Seixas, possibly the "Marília" of his verses. This nostalgia of his love and his freedom can be seen in the second part of his poetry book Marília de Dirceu. Arriving at Mozambique, he was charitably received by a wealthy Portuguese gentleman. He then married his daughter, Juliana de Sousa Mascarenhas, having with her two children: Ana and Alexandre. Gonzaga had a wealthy and happy life during his exile, becoming a lawyer. He died circa 1810.

Representations in popular culture

Gonzaga was portrayed in many Brazilian telenovels and films. He was portrayed by Gianfrancesco Guarnieri in telenovel Dez Vidas (1969); by Luiz Linhares in the film Os Inconfidentes (1972) and by Eduardo Galvão in the film Tiradentes (1999). In the 1984 children's book A Ladeira da Saudade, by Brazilian author Ganymédes José, Gonzaga's unrequited love by Maria Doroteia is explored on a more modern context.

Tomás António Gonzaga's Works:


Marília de Dirceu (poetry book — 1792)
Cartas Chilenas (discontinued series of satirical poems — 1863)

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