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"Even as I spoke, an immense shape
Materialised in the night air,
Grotesque and enormous stature
With heavy jowls, and an unkempt beard
Scowling from shrunken, hollow eyes
Its complexion earthy and pale,
Its hair grizzled and matted with clay,
Its mouth coal black, teeth yellow with decay. —Camões, The Lusiads Canto V.
Adamastor is a Greek-type mythological character famed by the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões in his epic poem Os Lusíadas (first printed in 1572), as a symbol of the forces of nature Portuguese navigators had to overcome during their discoveries. Camões gave his creation a history as one of the Gigantes of Greek mythology who had been spurned by Thetis, now appearing in the form of a threatening storm cloud to Vasco da Gama and threatening ruin to anyone hardy enough to pass the Cape and penetrate the Indian Ocean, which was Adamastor's domain. Adamastor became the Spirit of the Cape, a hideous phantom of unearthly pallor: