Gregório de Matos

Gregório de Matos

Gregório de Matos
A drawing of Gregório de Matos
Born Gregório de Matos e Guerra
(1636-04-07)7 April 1636
Salvador, Bahia, Portuguese Colony of Brazil
Died 26 November 1696(1696-11-26) (aged 60)
Recife, Pernambuco, Portuguese Colony of Brazil
Pen name Boca do Inferno
Occupation Poet, lawyer
Nationality Portuguese
Ethnicity White
Alma mater University of Coimbra
Subject Satires
Literary movement Baroque
Spouse Michaella de Andrade,
Maria dos Povos
Relatives Eusébio de Matos

Gregório de Matos e Guerra (April 7, 1636 — November 26, 1696) was the most famous Colonial Brazilian Baroque poet. Although he wrote many lyrical and religious poems, he was more well known by his satirical ones, most of them frontally criticizing the Catholic Church, rendering him the nickname "Boca do Inferno" (in English: Hell's Mouth).

He is the patron of the 16th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.


Gregório de Matos e Guerra was born in Salvador, Bahia, to Gregório de Matos (a Portuguese nobleman) and Maria da Guerra (a matron). He studied at the Jesuit College and travelled to Lisbon in 1652, entering the University of Coimbra, where he completed his Law degree in 1661. There he became friends with poet Tomás Pinto Brandão (1664–1743) and married D. Michaella de Andrade, and, two years later, was appointed as a magistrate in Alcácer do Sal. In 1672, he served as solicitor for the city of Bahia to the Portuguese court.

In 1679 he returned to Brazil as a widower. He was married for a second time in 1691 to Maria dos Povos, but led a rather bohemian life. A malcontent, he criticized everyone and everything: the church, government and all classes of people, from the rich and powerful to the lowly pauper, sparing no race or profession. His irreverent and satiric writings eventually got him into trouble, and Gregório was exiled to Portuguese Angola in 1694, where he is said to have contracted a lethal disease. Very ill, he managed to return to Brazil the following year, but he was prohibited from entering Bahia and from distributing his poetry. He instead went to Recife, where he died in 1696. Tradition says that a few minutes before death, he asked two Catholic priests to come at him and stand each one aside of his body; thus he described himself as "dying between two thieves, like Jesus Christ in his crucifixion".

His older brother was the painter and orator Eusébio de Matos (1629–1692).


The works of Gregório de Matos were not published or more well-known until the 19th century. This was because of the heavy content of his satires. During his lifetime, his poetry could only be found in private diaries and codices.

The Brazilian Academy of Letters published a collection of his poetry in six volumes:

  • Sacra (Holy — volume 1, 1923)
  • Lírica (Lyrical — volume 2, 1923)
  • Graciosa (Gracious — volume 3, 1930)
  • Satírica (Satirical