GÃ³ngora was born to a noble family in CÃ³rdoba, where his father, Francisco de Argote, was corregidor, or judge. In a Spanish era when purity of Christian lineage (limpieza de sangre) was needed to gain access to education or official appointments, he adopted the surname of his mother, Leonor de GÃ³ngora. She claimed descent from an ancient hidalgo (lesser nobility) family. At the age of 15 he entered the University of Salamanca, where he studied civil law and Canon law. He was already known as a poet in 1585 when Miguel de Cervantes praised him in La Galatea; in this same year he took minor orders, drawing his income from the benefices of CaÃ±ete de las Torres and GuadalmazÃ¡n. His uncle, Don Franscisco, a prebendary of CÃ³rdoba Cathedral, renounced his post in favor of his nephew, who took deacon's orders in 1586.
As a canon associated with this Cathedral, he traveled on diverse ...view middle of the document...
Quevedo even accused his enemy of sodomy, which was a capital crime in 17th century Spain. In his "Contra el mismo (GÃ³ngora)", Quevedo writes of Gongora: No altar, garito sÃ; poco cristiano, / mucho tahÃºr, no clÃ©rigo, sÃ arpÃa. GÃ³ngora's nose, the subject of Quevedo's "A una nariz", begins with the lines: Ã‰rase un hombre a una nariz pegado, / Ã©rase una nariz superlativa, / Ã©rase una nariz sayÃ³n y escriba, / Ã©rase un peje espada muy barbado.
This angry feud came to a nasty end for GÃ³ngora when Quevedo bought the house he lived in for the only purpose of ejecting him from it. In 1626 a severe illness, which seriously impaired the poet's memory, forced him to return to CÃ³rdoba, where he died the next year. By then he was broke from trying to obtain positions and win lawsuits for all his relatives.
An edition of his poems was published almost immediately after his death by Juan LÃ³pez de VicuÃ±a; the frequently reprinted edition by Hozes did not appear until 1633. The collection consists of numerous sonnets, odes, ballads, songs for guitar, and of some larger poems, such as the Soledades and the FÃ¡bula de Polifemo y Galatea (Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea) (1612), the two landmark works of the highly refined style called "culteranismo" or "Gongorism." Miguel de Cervantes, in his Viaje del Parnaso, catalogued the good and bad poets of his time. He considered GÃ³ngora to be one of the good ones.
VelÃ¡zquez painted his portrait. Numerous documents, lawsuits and satires of his rival Quevedo paint a picture of a man jovial, sociable, and talkative, who loved card-playing and bullfights. His bishop accused him of rarely attending choir, and of praying less than fervently when he did go. Gongora's passion for card-playing ultimately contributed to his ruin. Frequent allusions and metaphors associated with card-playing in GÃ³ngora's poetry reveal that cards formed part of his daily life. He was often reproached for activities beneath the dignity of a churchman.