The Reception of Ancient Latin and Greek Authors in Japan (1550–c. 1850)

  • Christopher Joby


The first Portuguese traders arrived in Japan in 1543.1 Six years later, in 1549, the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier (1506–1552) reached Japan, marking the beginning of what Charles Boxer calls the ‘Christian Century’.2 It also heralded the arrival in Japan of literature from the classical tradition, including works by early Christian authors such as the Gospel writers and by pagan Greek and Roman authors such as Aesop and Pliny the Elder.

In the first decades of the Christian Century, many missionaries and traders from Southern Europe, in particular Portugal and Spain, came to Japan, and many Japanese converted to Christianity. Over time, however, some Japanese leaders began to fear that the religion posed a threat to national security and so persecuted Christian missionaries and their Japanese converts. This persecution intensified during the early decades of the seventeenth century leading eventually to the expulsion of Portuguese traders from Japan in 1639.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of EnglishAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznanPoland
  2. 2.Research Unit Languages and Literature in the SA ContextNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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