El Consejo de los Dioses
El Consejo de Los Dioses (The Council of the Gods) is an allegorical play written in 1879 by our national hero Jose Rizal. It was first published in Liceo Artistico Literario de Manila review in 1880, latterly in La Solidaridad in 1883. In December 1900 this was translated in Tagalog. This version was adapted into sarswela by Pascual H. Poblete and published in El Comercio de Filipinas. Hucapte made arrangements for the staging in 1915 afterwards, in 1961 it was edited with a prologue by Astrana Maria in El Cervantismo de heroe Filipino Rizal. Nick Joaquin translated the play in English. The play won the first prize award in a 1880-1881 literary contest commemorating the death of Cervantes sponsored by the Liceo Artistico Literario de Manila. “I enter the future remembering the past”, Rizal's epigraph for the award. This is considered as the most sensuous of Rizal's writings, reveals his magnificent showy side as hispanist and classicist.
In 1880, when Jose Rizal was studying at the University of Santo Tomas (U.S.T.), he joined another literary contest sponsored by the Artistic-Literary Lyceum which commemorates the 264th death anniversary of Cervantes, “Spain’s most glorified man-of-letter” and world-renowned author of the classic “Don Quixote.”
Scholars, journalists, writers, priests, and professors from U.S.T. participated just as Rizal did. This time, he submitted an allegory in prose, “El Consejo de los Dioses” (The Council of the Gods).
Full-blooded Spaniards composed the Board of Judges. They judged each entry without first knowing the authors, since the contestants used pen names. From there, after reading all the entries, they proclaimed Rizal’s work as first prize. However, when they discovered his identity, they took away his laurel and granted it to a Spaniard, D.N. del Puzo, a writer linked with the Diario de Manila. One of his other competitors was rumored to be Father Evaristo Arias, a Dominican writer, but according to investigations, that was not true. Afterwards, the judges conducted a serious and careful appraisal of all the writings, and they finally proclaimed Rizal as the winner. They awarded him an “anillo de oro con el busto del Principe de los Ingenios Espanoles.” (gold ring with the bust of the genius prince of Spain)
Jupiter, the Roman chief of the Gods, is planning to give three grandiose gifts (a golden lyre, trumpet, and a golden crown made of laurels) – crafted by Vulcan – to a mortal who did best in literature. Juno, Jupiter’s wife, suggests Homer, the writer of “Iliad”. Meanwhile, Venus, thegoddess of beauty, recommends Virgil, author of “Aedes.” On the other hand, Minerva (goddess of wisdom) goes for Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote.” With this disagreement, the other gods were also supposed to fight but were stopped by Jupiter by allowing Justice (a goddess not found in the original Roman lineup yet introduced by Rizal in his allegory) to weigh the circumstances without any bias in her balance. She weighed the “Aedes” with the “Iliad” and found them equal. The same goes with “Don Quixote.” With this, Jupiter decided to give the lyre to Virgil, the trumpet to Homer, and the laurels to Cervantes.
Description from the Board of Judges
The Board of Judges also declared the winning allegory as follows: “The idea and plot of the work are of great originality, to which should be added the circumstance that throughout the same shine to the outmost a correct style, an admirable richness of details, delicacy of thought and figures, and lastly a taste so Hellenic that the reader imagines himself relishing some delicious passages of Homer which with such frequency the Olympic sessions describe to us in their works.”
Translations and Adaptations
The allegory was translated to Tagalog in December 1900. Later in 1961, Astrana Maria edited it with a prologue in “El Cervantismo de heroe Filipino Rizal.” Nick Joaquin then translated it into English.
Meanwhile, Pascual H. Poblete adapted the Tagalog version into a zarzuela and published in “El Comercio de Filipinas.”
Lope Blas Hucapte arranged it for staging in 1915.
- CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Vol 7. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.
- “El Consejo de los Dioses.”  (Accessed on August 6, 2011)
- Gagelonia, Pedro A. Rizal’s Life, Works, and Writings. Navotas, Rizal: Navotas Press, 1974.
- “Lineage, Life and Labor of Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot: A Study of the Growth of Free Ideas in the Trans Pacific American Territory.” . (Accessed on August 6, 2011)