Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de

Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de

Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de (älōnˈsō ᵺā ārthēˈlyä ē tho͞oˈnyēgä), 1533–94, Spanish poet. In Chile (1556–63) he fought against the Araucanian, and while there he began the epic poem La Araucana, considered the finest Spanish historical poem. This heroic work in 37 cantos is divided into three parts, published in 1569, 1578, and 1589. It tells of the courageous insurrection of the Araucanians and also relates the history of Chile and of contemporary Spain.


See translation by W. Owen (1945).

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Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de


Born 1533 in Madrid; died 1594. Spanish poet.

Ercilla y Zúñiga took part in the suppression of the revolt of the Araucanian tribe in Chile. His epic poem La Araucana (parts 1–3, 1569–89), which dealt with the revolt, accurately portrays the heroic struggle of the rebellious Indian tribes against the Spaniards. The work, highly important for the development of Chilean literature, is remarkable for its expressive character portrayals, passionate speeches, and battle scenes. It was highly regarded by Cervantes and Voltaire, and in the period of romanticism it attracted the attention of Chateaubriand.


La Araucana, vols. 1–2. Santiago de Chile, 1933.


Vega, M. A. “La araucana” de Ercilla, 2nd ed. Santiago de Chile, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.