|Rómulo de Carvalho
Teacher, researcher, pedagogue, historian of Science and poet
(...)"Eles não sabem, nem sonham,
Rómulo Vasco da Gama Carvalho was born in Lisbon, in Arco do Limoeiro Street (now Augusto Rosa Street), on 24 November 1906. He was the third child of José Avelino da Gama Carvalho, a post-office and telegraph worker, and of Rosa Oliveira da Gama Carvalho, housewife and poet, both from Algarve. His paternal grandfather, Sebastião Jaime da Gama Carvalho, besides being chapel master at the Faro Cathedral was also a teacher and renowned music composer.
He had an affectionate relationship with his mother, from whom he inherited a passion for reading. From a very early age, he was used to reading works by authors such as Camilo, Eça, Camões and Cesário Verde, the latter being one of his favourite writers, and the oriental tales of Scheherazade, which impressed him a great deal. At the age of five, he wrote his first poem and at ten read the Lusíadas, an epic poem he considered continuing in 1917, by publishing new stanzas in the newspaper Notícias de Évora, and later in Almanach das Senhoras de 1920. He was then fourteen years old.
He took his first three years of primary education at the Santa Maria College, between 1912 and 1914, where he had to remain because he was not old enough to enter secondary school, teaching other children and learning French.
He continued his studies in Gil Vicente High School, where he was taught by Fidelino de Figueiredo and Câmara Reis, and came into contact with Sciences, which awakened in him a growing interest.
Between 1924 and 1925, he collaborated in the school's newspaper Quinzenário Académico, sang with his friends in popular serenades dedicated to a young woman one of them had fallen in love with, and took part in plays: a one-act comedy and a popular four-act play, organized by the final year students.
After completing the 7th year in high school, he enrolled in the Preparatory Course in Military Engineering at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. In 1926, because he joined the academic strike he had to temporarily enlist in the army. In the academic year 1926-1927, Rómulo and his friend Carlos Bana won the competition organized by the Academic Association for a farewell play in honour of the final year students, entitled Quod est, est (tenho a honra de pedir a mão de Violante), set to music by maestro Manuel Ribeiro and staged at São Carlos Theatre in 1927 by Vasco Santana; the play was a great success.
After the first and not so exciting years as a university student, Rómulo moved from Lisbon to Porto to pursue a new vocation. On 23 October 1928, at the age of twenty one he enrolled in the Physical-Chemistry Sciences course at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto. During this period, he published two texts in the newspaper Porto Académico, section "Dissertations", entitled The Decay of Reasoning" and "Gender Equality " – and a poem in the section "Contemporary Poetry"; he also edited two drama plays – The three musketeers" (humour) and "The woman who didn't invent love " (tragedy) -, a tale ("Sad Story "), the action of which takes place in Porto, and the verses "law of rationality" and "law of constancy of the angles".
He finished the degree in 1931 with the final mark of fifteen out of twenty. In the following year, he attended the Educational Sciences course at the Faculty of Arts of Lisbon, and in 1934 sat the state exams for Teacher's Training. He taught for 40 years in three schools: Pedro Nunes and Camões High Schools, in Lisbon, and D. João III High School, in Coimbra. At the Pedro Nunes High School, he served as methodologist teacher of the Physical-Chemistry Sciences group from the end of the 1950s to 1974, and as co-director of the pedagogical magazine Palestra from 1965 to 1973. In the early 1960s, he co-authored the bulletin Boletim do Ensino Secundário of the Ministry of Education [on high school education] (1973-1975).
As a pedagogue, further to training high school teachers in Chemistry and Physics he wrote school books and manuals, such as the Chemistry Compendium for the 3rd Cycle, published in 1953, the book Natural Sciences, which has since been published twelve times, and didactic models. From 1946 to 1974, he co-directed the journal Gazeta de Física of the Faculty of Sciences of Lisbon, and published twenty two articles on science, educational guidance and didactic updating.
Along with teaching, he was also dedicated to disseminating science and technology, publishing, for the first time in 1932, O aspecto fraudulento da alquimia [The Deceitful Side of Alchemy], and studying the History of Science, in particular the History of Physics. Part of his legacy in this field includes several forerunner studies, such as the book Ferreira da Silva, Homem de Ciência e de Pensamento [F. da S., a Man of Science and Thought], dated 1953.
He collaborated with Biblioteca Cosmos, founded by Bento de Jesus Caraça in 1941, which published 147 volumes in six years, among which Ciência Hermética and Embalsamento Egípcio, by Rómulo de Carvalho. He promoted the science collection Ciência para Gente Nova [Science for Young People], from 1952 on, designed to awaken the general interest in Science, and wrote other books, such as Física para o Povo [Physics for the People], which was published until the 1970s.
He is the father of Frederico, from his first marriage, and Maria Cristina, from his second marriage to Natália Nunes.
At the age of fifty, along with his great interest in science and teaching, he began a remarkable career as a poet, under the pseudonym António Gedeão, publishing Movimento Perpétuo, [Perpetual Movement] after he participated in a poetry competition, which was acclaimed by the critics.
Later, he experimented with other literary genres, such as the theatre, essays and fiction.
Among his poetry, translated into several languages, the most notable one was Pedra Filosofal, [Philosopher's Stone], produced against the backdrop of the political repression and colonial war during the fascist dictatorship, which Manuel Freire set to music and soon became a hymn to the dream and freedom. Other poems written by him served as the base work for twelve songs by José Nisa, edited in the album "Fala do Homem Nascido", dated 1972.
In January 1975, feeling disappointed with the disorganization of Education in the post-25th April period, he retired and dedicated much of his time to research.
Ten years after the April Revolution, he published Poemas Póstumos [Posthumous Poems]. In 1990, he assumed the management of the Maynense Museum, of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, and published his last poetry work entitled Novos Poemas Póstumos [New Posthumous Poems].
In the commemorations of his 90th anniversary, in 1996, this man of science, education and the arts was honoured in Portugal by the Ministry of Science and Technology, in collaboration with several educational and cultural entities.
Rómulo de Carvalho died on 19 February 1997 in the Intensive Care Unit of Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon. António Gedeão had ceased to exist seven years before the death of Rómulo de Carvalho.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2014)