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Martin Alvito

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Father Martin Alvito, SJ is a character from the Shōgun novel and television mini-series by James Clavell.

A member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) Father Alvito was the second in command over the Japanese mission behind Father Carlo Dell’Aqua. Fluent in Japanese Alvito also served as a translator between the Japanese and various Europeans.

When recently arrived English pilot John Blackthrone revealed the existence of the Treaty of Zaragosa to Lord Toranaga, Father Alvito was summoned to Toranaga's palace. There he was questioned about the treaty. Knowing how delicate the relations between the Jesuits and the Japanese were he answered truthfully. Toranaga then asked for an accounting of Spanish and Portuguese colonizations as well the amount of riches taken from the new world.

Shortly afterwards Alvito met with the Portuguese treasure ship Captain Ferriera and Dell'Aqua. Ferriera berated Alvito for telling Toranaga the truth and angrily insisted that the Jesuits refuse Toranaga's requests. After the meeting Dell'Aqua suggested that Blackthorne had to be dealt with. Someone then arranged for an Amida Tong assassin to attack Blackthorne, but the assassin was unsuccessful and took his own life rather than be captured.

Due to Blackthorne's increasing influence with Toranga Alvito and Dell'Aqua later decided that Blackthorne was more useful to them as an ally instead of an enemy.

Alvito served as confessor for the young Japanese Christian woman Mariko - who served as translator for Blackthorne and became his lover after a time. When Blackthorne made his unsuccessful petition to allow Mariko to divorce her husband and marry him, Alvito translated his request to Toranaga. Mariko spoke of her love of Blackthorne to Alvito, something he later revealed to Blackthorne after her death.

In addition Alvito was a confessor and friend to Vasco Rodrigues. The common Rodrigues thought Blackthorne to not be a threat, however Alvito cautioned him not to become too friendly with Blackthorne, feeling Blackthorne would betray him if the opportunity presented itself.

When Blackthorne's ship the Erasmus was burned Toranaga summoned Alvito, who swore an oath that neither he nor anyone he knew ordered or committed the burning of Blackthorne's ship. (It was later revealed Toranaga himself burned the ship to keep Blackthorne from leaving Japan). Both Alvito and Blackthorne witnessed the seppuku of Kasigi Yabu after he had been exposed as a traitor, with Alvito translating Yabu's last words for Blackthorne.

Trivia

The character of Martin Alvito was loosely based upon João Rodrigues, a 16th/17th century Portuguese missionary. He was distinguished for his linguistic studies, having completed several books on the Japanese language.

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