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Lusitania (lōsĭtānˈēə) [key], Roman province in the Iberian Peninsula. As constituted (c.A.D. 5) by Augustus it included all of modern central Portugal as well as much of W Spain. The province took its name from the Lusitani, a group of warlike tribes who, despite defeats, resisted Roman domination until their great leader, Viriatus, was killed (139 B.C.) by treachery. In the 1st cent. B.C. they joined in supporting Sertorius, who set up an independent state in Spain. The old identification of Portugal with Lusitania and of the ancestors of the Portuguese with the Lusitanians (hence Camões's great epic was entitled Os Lusíadas ) is now largely ignored, but the creation of Lusitania may have had a faint echoing effect in the setting up of the separate kingdom of Portugal many centuries later.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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