|A Lenda de Pedro Cem
Lá no céu vai quem merece
|The Legend of Pedro Cem
Those who deserve it go to heaven
The legend of Pedro Cem is widely known in Brazil. I often heard the story told as a parable. There is also a poem by João Martins de Ataíde that tells the story, of which there are various versions. To this day, Pedro Cem continues to serve as a frightening example.
Pedro Pedrossem da Silva was a real person who was born in Porto, Portugal, and died there on February 9th, 1775. An extremely rich merchant and the owner of several companies, he was a powerful, proud, and greedy man. He married Ana Micaela Fraga and had three children: - Luiz Pedrossem, João Pedrossem, and Vicente Pedrossem.
The legend says that Pedrossem, gazing out over the sea from a tower, saw his fleets of ships arriving from Brazil and from India, carrying spices, jewels, and expensive products. Full of vanity, he exclaimed, "Now I couldn’t become poor even if God himself willed it!"
But a fierce storm destroyed the fleet, and Pedrossem lost everything he owned. His pride and greed had driven away all his friends, and he resorted to begging in the streets of Porto: "Spare change for Pedro Cem, who had it all and now has nothing!"
Scholars claim that Pedro never actually became a beggar, though he did sell his property and withdraw from the social and commercial world. But the situation set the stage for the legend, which is told as a lesson that pride goes before a fall.
Check out the link for the full poem (in Portuguese) by Luís da Câmara Cascudo.