Torquato Tasso
Torquato Tasso was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 of the 16th century, best known for his poem La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered
Jerusalem Delivered
Jerusalem Delivered is an epic poem by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso first published in 1581, which tells a largely mythified version of the First Crusade in which Catholic knights, led by Godfrey of Bouillon, battle Muslims in order to take Jerusalem...

, 1580
1580 in literature
-Events:*Thomas Legge's Latin play about Richard III, Richardus Tertius, is acted by students at St John's College, Cambridge during March.-New books:*Book of Concord*Jean Bodin - De la demonomanie des sorciers*John Lyly - Euphues and his England...

), in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

, during the siege of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (1099)
The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099 during the First Crusade. The Crusaders stormed and captured the city from Fatimid Egypt.-Background:...

. He suffered from mental illness and died a few days before he was due to be crowned as the king of poets by the Pope. Until the beginning of the 19th century, Tasso remained one of the most widely read poets in Europe.

Early life

Born in Sorrento
Sorrento is the name of many cities and towns:*Sorrento, Italy*Sorrento, Florida, United States*Sorrento, Louisiana, United States*Sorrento, Maine, United States*Sorrento, Victoria, a township on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia...

, he was the son of Bernardo Tasso
Bernardo Tasso
Bernardo Tasso , born in Bergamo, was an Italian courtier and poet.He was, for many years, secretary in the service of the prince of Salerno, and his wife Porzia de Rossi was closely connected with the most illustrious Neapolitan families...

, a nobleman of Bergamo
Bergamo is a town and comune in Lombardy, Italy, about 40 km northeast of Milan. The comune is home to over 120,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio Airport, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent the metropolitan area of Milan...

 and an epic and lyric poet of considerable fame in his day, and his wife Porzia de Rossi, a noblewoman from Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

His father had for many years been secretary in the service of Ferrante Sanseverino, prince of Salerno, and his mother was closely connected with the most illustrious Neapolitan
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 families. When the prince of Salerno came into collision with the Spanish government of Naples, was outlawed, and was deprived of his hereditary fiefs, Tasso's father shared in this his patron's fate. He was proclaimed a rebel to the state, together with his son Torquato, and his patrimony was sequestered. These things happened during the boy's childhood. In 1552 he was living with his mother and his only sister Cornelia at Naples, pursuing his education under the Jesuits, who had recently opened a school there. The precocity of intellect and the religious fervour of the boy attracted general admiration. At the age of eight he was already famous.

Soon after this date he joined his father, who then resided in great poverty, an exile and without occupation, in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. News reached them in 1556 that Porzia Tasso had died suddenly and mysteriously at Naples. Her husband was firmly convinced that she had been poisoned by her brother with the object of getting control over her property.

As it subsequently happened, Porzia's estate never descended to her son; and the daughter Cornelia married below her birth, at the instigation of her maternal relatives. Tasso's father was a poet by predilection and a professional courtier. Therefore, when an opening at the court of Urbino
Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482...

 was offered in 1557, Bernardo Tasso gladly accepted it.

The young Torquato, a handsome and brilliant lad, became the companion in sports and studies of Francesco Maria della Rovere
Francesco Maria II della Rovere
Francesco Maria II della Rovere was the last Duke of Urbino.- Biography :Born at Pesaro, Francesco Maria was the son of Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, Count of Montefeltro and Vittoria Farnese, Princess of Parma...

, heir to the duke of Urbino. At Urbino a society of cultivated men pursued the aesthetical and literary studies which were then in vogue. Bernardo Tasso read canto
The canto is a principal form of division in a long poem, especially the epic. The word comes from Italian, meaning "song" or singing. Famous examples of epic poetry which employ the canto division are Lord Byron's Don Juan, Valmiki's Ramayana , Dante's The Divine Comedy , and Ezra Pound's The...

s of his Amadigi
L'Amadigi is an incomplete epic poem written in Italian by Bernardo Tasso and first published in 1560. It was inspired by the Amadis de Gaula of Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo....

 to the duchess and her ladies, or discussed the merits of Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 and Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, Trissino
Gian Giorgio Trissino
Gian Giorgio Trissino was an Italian Renaissance humanist, poet, dramatist, diplomat, and grammarian.-Biography:...

 and Ariosto, with the duke's librarians and secretaries. Torquato grew up in an atmosphere of refined luxury and somewhat pedantic criticism, both of which gave a permanent tone to his character.

At Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, where his father went to superintend the printing of his own epic, L'Amadigi
L'Amadigi is an incomplete epic poem written in Italian by Bernardo Tasso and first published in 1560. It was inspired by the Amadis de Gaula of Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo....

 (1560), these influences continued. He found himself the pet and prodigy of a distinguished literary circle. But Bernardo had suffered in his own career so seriously from dependence on the Muses and the nobility that he now determined on a lucrative profession for his son. Torquato was sent to study law at Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

. Instead of applying himself to law, the young man bestowed all his attention upon philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and poetry. Before the end of 1562, he had produced a narrative poem called Rinaldo, which was meant to combine the regularity of the Virgilian with the attractions of the romantic epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

. In the attainment of this object, and in all the minor qualities of style and handling, Rinaldo showed such marked originality that its author was proclaimed the most promising poet of his time. The flattered father allowed it to be printed; and, after a short period of study at Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

, he consented to his son's entering the service of Cardinal Luigi d'Este
Luigi d'Este
Luigi d'Este was an Italian Catholic cardinal, the second of the five children of Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Modena and Ferrara, and Renée, daughter of Louis XII of France.-Biography:...


France and Ferrara

In 1565, Tasso for the first time set foot in that castle at Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

 which was destined for him to be the scene of so many glories, and such cruel sufferings. After the publication of Rinaldo he had expressed his views upon the epic in some Discourses on the Art of Poetry, which committed him to a distinct theory and gained for him the additional celebrity of a philosophical critic. The age was nothing if not critical; but it may be esteemed a misfortune for the future author of the Gerusalemme that he should have started with pronounced opinions upon art. Essentially a poet of impulse and instinct, he was hampered in production by his own rules.

The five years between 1565 and 1570 seem to have been the happiest of Tasso's life, although his father's death in 1569 caused his affectionate nature profound pain. Young, handsome, accomplished in all the exercises of a well-bred gentleman, accustomed to the society of the great and learned, illustrious by his published works in verse
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

 and prose, he became the idol of the most brilliant court in Italy. The first two books of his five-hundred-odd love poems were sequences addressed to Lucrezia Bendidio
Lucrezia Bendidio
Lucrezia Bendidio was an Italian singer and noblewoman from Ferrara. She started as a lady-in-waiting for Leonora d'Este in 1561. Many poets wrote of her great skill as a singer, including Torquato Tasso and Giovanni Battista Pigna...

 and Laura Peperara, court ladies and illustrious singers. The princesses Lucrezia
Lucrezia d'Este
*Lucrezia d'Este, born ca 1477. daughter of Ercole I d'Este. Married Annibale II Bentivoglio .*Lucrezia d'Este , daughter of Ercole II d'Este....

 and Leonora d'Este, both unmarried, both his seniors by about ten years, took him under their protection. He was admitted to their familiarity. He owed much to the constant kindness of both sisters. In 1570 he traveled to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 with the cardinal.

Frankness of speech and a certain habitual want of tact caused a disagreement with his worldly patron. He left France next year, and took service under Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara. The most important events in Tasso's biography during the following four years are the publication of Aminta
Aminta is a play written by Torquato Tasso in 1573, represented during a garden party at the court of Ferrara. Both the actors and the public were noble persons living at the Court, who could understand subtle allusions the poet made to that style of life, in contrast with the life of shepherds,...

in 1573 and the completion of Gerusalemme Liberata in 1574. Aminta is a pastoral drama of very simple plot, but of exquisite lyrical charm. It appeared at the moment when music, under Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

's impulse, was becoming the main art of Italy. The honeyed melodies and sensuous melancholy of Aminta exactly suited and interpreted the spirit of its age. Its influence, in opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 and cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

, was felt through two successive centuries.

The Gerusalemme Liberata

The Gerusalemme Liberata occupies a larger space in the history of European literature, and is a more considerable work. Yet the commanding qualities of this epic poem, those which revealed Tasso's individuality, and which made it immediately pass into the rank of classics, beloved by the people no less than by persons of culture, are akin to the lyrical graces of Aminta
Aminta is a play written by Torquato Tasso in 1573, represented during a garden party at the court of Ferrara. Both the actors and the public were noble persons living at the Court, who could understand subtle allusions the poet made to that style of life, in contrast with the life of shepherds,...


Its hero was Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey of Bouillon was a medieval Frankish knight who was one of the leaders of the First Crusade from 1096 until his death. He was the Lord of Bouillon, from which he took his byname, from 1076 and the Duke of Lower Lorraine from 1087...

, the leader of the first Crusade; the climax of the epic was the capture of the holy city.

It was finished in Tasso's thirty-first year; and when the manuscripts lay before him the best part of his life was over, his best work had been already accomplished.

Troubles immediately began to gather round him. Instead of having the courage to obey his own instinct, and to publish the Gerusalemme as he had conceived it, he yielded to the critical scrupulosity which formed a secondary feature of his character.

The poem was sent in manuscript to several literary men of eminence, Tasso expressing his willingness to hear their strictures and to adopt their suggestions unless he could convert them to his own views. The result was that each of these candid friends, while expressing in general high admiration for the epic, took some exception to its plot, its title, its moral tone, its episodes or its diction, in detail. One wished it to be more regularly classical; another wanted more romance. One hinted that the Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

 would not tolerate its supernatural machinery; another demanded the excision of its most charming passages, the loves of Armida, Clorinda and Erminia. Tasso had to defend himself against all these ineptitudes and pedantries, and to accommodate his practice to the theories he had rashly expressed.

As in the Rinaldo, so also in the Jerusalem Delivered, he aimed at ennobling the Italian epic style by preserving strict unity of plot and heightening poetic diction. He chose Virgil for his model, took the first crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 for subject, infused the fervour of religion into his conception of the hero Godfrey. But his natural bias was for romance.

In spite of the poet's ingenuity and industry the stately main theme evinced less spontaneity of genius than the romantic episodes with which he adorned it, as he had done in Rinaldo. Godfrey, a mixture of pious Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 and Tridentine
The adjective Tridentine refers to any thing or person pertaining to the city of Trent, Italy .It is applied in particular to:*The Council of Trent, one of the ecumenical councils recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held in that city in the 16th century, and to the teachings emphasized by it...

 Catholicism, is not the real hero of the Gerusalemme. Fiery and passionate Rinaldo, Ruggiero, melancholy impulsive Tancredi, and the chivalrous Saracens with whom they clash in love and war, divide the reader's interest and divert it from Goffredo.

The action of the epic turns on Armida
The story of Armida, a Saracen sorceress and Rinaldo, a soldier in the First Crusade, was created by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso. In his epic Gerusalemme liberata, Rinaldo is a fierce and determined warrior who is also honorable and handsome...

, the beautiful witch, sent forth by the infernal senate to sow discord in the Christian camp. She is converted to the true faith by her adoration for a crusading knight, and quits the scene with a phrase of the Virgin Mary on her lips. Brave Clorinda dons armour like Marfisa
Marfisa is a character in the Italian romantic epics Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo and Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto. She is the sister of Ruggiero but was separated from him in early childhood. She becomes queen of India and fights as a warrior for the Saracens, taking part in...

, fighting in a duel with her devoted lover and receiving baptism from his hands at the time of her pathetic death; Erminia seeks refuge in the shepherds' hut. These lovely pagan women, so touching in their sorrows, so romantic in their adventures, so tender in their emotions, rivet the readers' attention, while the battles, religious ceremonies, conclaves and stratagems of the campaign are easily skipped. The truth is that Tasso's great invention as an artist was the poetry of sentiment. Sentiment, not sentimentality, gives value to what is immortal in the Gerusalemme. It was a new thing in the 16th century, something concordant with a growing feeling for woman and with the ascendant art of music. This sentiment, refined, noble, natural, steeped in melancholy, exquisitely graceful, pathetically touching, breathes throughout the episodes of the Gerusalemme, finds metrical expression in the languishing cadence of its mellifluous verse, and sustains the ideal life of those seductive heroines whose names were familiar as household words to all Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tasso's self-chosen critics were not men to admit what the public has since accepted as incontrovertible. They vaguely felt that a great and beautiful romantic poem was imbedded in a dull and not very correct epic. In their uneasiness they suggested every course but the right one, which was to publish the Gerusalemme without further dispute.

Tasso, already overworked by his precocious studies, by exciting court-life and exhausting literary industry, now grew almost mad with worry. His health began to fail him. He complained of headache, suffered from malarious
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 fevers, and wished to leave Ferrara. The Gerusalemme was laid in manuscript upon a shelf. He opened negotiations with the court of Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 for an exchange of service. This irritated the duke of Ferrara. Alfonso hated nothing more than to see courtiers leave him for a rival duchy.

Difficult relationships in the Court of Ferrara

Alfonso thought, moreover, that, if Tasso were allowed to go, the Medici
The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

 would get the coveted dedication of that already famous epic. Therefore he bore with the poet's humours, and so contrived that the latter should have no excuse for quitting Ferrara. Meanwhile, through the years 1575, 1576 and 1577, Tasso's health grew worse.

Jealousy inspired the courtiers to malign and insult him. His irritable and suspicious temper, vain and sensitive to slights, rendered him only too easy a prey to their malevolence.

In the 1570s Tasso developed a persecution mania which led to legends about the restless, half-mad, and misunderstood author.

He became consumed by thoughts that his servants betrayed his confidence, fancied he had been denounced to the Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

, and expected daily to be poisoned. Literary and political events surrounding him contributed to upsets and the mental state, with troubles, stress and social troubles escalating.

In the autumn of 1576 Tasso quarrelled with a Ferrarese gentleman, Maddalo, who had talked too freely about some same-sex love affair; the same year he wrote a letter to his homosexual friend Luca Scalabrino dealing with his own love for a 21-year-old young man Orazio Ariosto; in the summer of 1577 he drew his knife upon a servant in the presence of Lucrezia d'Este, duchess of Urbino
Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482...

. For this excess he was arrested; but the duke released him, and took him for a change of air to his country seat of Belriguardo. What happened there is not known.

Some biographers have surmised that a compromising liaison with Leonora d'Este came to light, and that Tasso agreed to feign madness in order to cover her honor, but of this there is no proof. It is only certain that from Belriguardo he returned to a Franciscan convent at Ferrara, for the express purpose of attending to his health. There the dread of being murdered by the duke took firm hold on his mind. He escaped at the end of July, disguised himself as a peasant, and went on foot to his sister at Sorrento.

The conclusions were that Tasso, after the beginning of 1575, became the victim of a mental malady, which, without amounting to actual insanity, rendered him fantastical and insupportable, a cause of anxiety to his patrons.

There is no evidence whatsoever that this state of things was due to an overwhelming passion for Leonora. The duke, contrary to his image as a tyrant, showed considerable forbearance. He was a rigid and not sympathetic man, as egotistical as a princeling of that age was wont to be. But to Tasso he was never cruel; unintelligent perhaps, but far from being that monster of ferocity which has been painted. The subsequent history of his connection with the poet corroborates this view.

While at Sorrento, Tasso yearned for Ferrara. The court-made man could not breathe freely outside its charmed circle. He wrote humbly requesting to be taken back. Alfonso consented, provided Tasso would agree to undergo a medical course of treatment for his melancholy. When he returned, which he did with alacrity under those conditions, he was well received by the ducal family.

All might have gone well if his old maladies had not revived. Scene followed scene of irritability, moodiness, suspicion, wounded vanity and violent outbursts.

In the madhouse of St. Anna

In the summer of 1578 he ran away again; travelled through Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

, Padua, Venice, Urbino, Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

. In September he reached the gates of Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 on foot, and was courteously entertained by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
Emmanuel Philibert was Duke of Savoy from 1553 to 1580....

. Wherever he went, wandering like the world's rejected guest, he met with the honour due to his illustrious name. Great folk opened their houses to him gladly, partly in compassion, partly in admiration of his genius. But he soon wearied of their society, and wore their kindness thin by his querulous peevishness. It seemed, moreover, that life was intolerable to him outside Ferrara. Accordingly he once more opened negotiations with the duke; and in February 1579 he again set foot in the castle.

Alfonso was about to contract his third marriage, this time with a princess of the house of Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

. He had no children, and unless he got an heir, there was a probability that his state would fall, as it did subsequently, to the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

. The nuptial festivals, on the eve of which Tasso arrived, were not therefore an occasion of great rejoicing for the elderly bridegroom. As a forlorn hope he had to wed a third wife; but his heart was not engaged and his expectations were far from sanguine.

Tasso, preoccupied as always with his own sorrows and his own sense of dignity, made no allowance for the troubles of his master. Rooms below his rank, he thought, had been assigned him; the Duke was engaged. Without exercising common patience, or giving his old friends the benefit of a doubt, he broke into terms of open abuse, behaved like a lunatic, and was sent off without ceremony to the madhouse of St. Anna. This happened in March 1579; and there he remained until July 1586. Duke Alfonso's long-sufferance at last had given way. He firmly believed that Tasso was insane, and he felt that if he were so St. Anna was the safest place for him. Tasso had put himself in the wrong by his intemperate conduct, but far more by that incomprehensible yearning after the Ferrarese court which made him return to it again and yet again.
It was no doubt very irksome for a man of Tasso's pleasure-loving, restless and self-conscious spirit to be kept for more than seven years in confinement. Yet one must weigh the facts of the case rather than the fancies which have been indulged regarding them. After the first few months of his incarceration he obtained spacious apartments, received the visits of friends, went abroad attended by responsible persons of his acquaintance, and corresponded freely with whomsoever he chose to address. The letters written from St. Anna to the princes and cities of Italy, to warm well-wishers, and to men of the highest reputation in the world of art and learning, form the most valuable source of information, not only on his then condition, but also on his temperament at large. It is singular that he spoke always respectfully, even affectionately, of the Duke.

Some critics have attempted to make it appear that he was hypocritically kissing the hand which had chastised him, with the view of being released from prison, but no one who has impartially considered the whole tone and tenor of his epistles will adopt this opinion. What emerges clearly from them is that he labored under a serious mental disease, and that he was conscious of it.

Meanwhile, he occupied his uneasy leisure with copious compositions. The mass of his prose dialogues on philosophical and ethical themes, which is very considerable, belong to the years of imprisonment in St. Anna.

Except for occasional odes or sonnets—some written at request and only rhetorically interesting, a few inspired by his keen sense of suffering and therefore poignant—he neglected poetry. But everything which fell from his pen during this period was carefully preserved by the Italians, who, while they regarded him as a lunatic, somewhat illogically scrambled for the very offscourings of his wit.

Nor can it be said that society was wrong. Tasso had proved himself an impracticable human being; but he remained a man of genius, the most interesting personality in Italy.

Long ago his papers had been sequestered. In the year 1580, he heard that part of the Gerusalemme was being published without his permission and without his corrections. The following year, the whole poem was given to the world, and in the following six months seven editions issued from the press.

The prisoner of St. Anna had no control over his editors; and from the masterpiece which placed him on the level of Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

 and Ariosto he never derived one penny of pecuniary profit. A rival poet at the court of Ferrara undertook to revise and edit his lyrics in 1582. This was Battista Guarini; and Tasso, in his cell, had to allow odes and sonnets, poems of personal feeling, occasional pieces of compliment, to be collected and emended, without lifting a voice in the matter.

A few years later, in 1585, two Florentine pedants of the Crusca Academy declared war against the Gerusalemme. They loaded it with insults, which seem to those who read their pamphlets now mere parodies of criticism. Yet Tasso felt bound to reply; and he did so with a moderation and urbanity which prove him to have been not only in full possession of his reasoning faculties, but a gentleman of noble manners also. The man, like Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

, was distraught through ill-accommodation to his circumstances and his age; brain-sick he was undoubtedly; and this is the Duke of Ferrara's justification for the treatment he endured. In the prison he bore himself pathetically, peevishly, but never ignobly. He showed a singular indifference to the fate of his great poem, a rare magnanimity in dealing with its detractors. His own personal distress, that terrible malaise of imperfect insanity, absorbed him.

What remained over, untouched by the malady, unoppressed by his consciousness thereof, displayed a sweet and gravely-toned humanity. The oddest thing about his life in prison is that he was always trying to place his two nephews, the sons of his sister Cornelia, in court-service. One of them he attached to Guglielmo I, Duke of Mantua, the other to Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma
Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma
Ottavio Farnese reigned as Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1547 and Duke of Castro from 1545 until his death.-Biography:...


After all his father's and his own lessons of life, he had not learned that the court was to be shunned like Circe
In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

 by an honest man. In estimating Duke Alfonso's share of blame, this wilful idealization of the court by Tasso must be taken into account. That man is not a tyrant's victim who moves heaven and earth to place his sister's sons with tyrants.

Late years

In 1586 Tasso left St. Anna at the solicitation of Vincenzo Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua. He followed his young deliverer to the city by the Mincio
Mincio is a river in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.Called the Sarca River before entering Lake Garda, it flows from there about 65 km past Mantua into the Po River....

, basked awhile in liberty and courtly pleasures, enjoyed a splendid reception from his paternal town of Bergamo, and produced a meritorious tragedy called Torrismondo. But only a few months had passed when he grew discontented. Vincenzo Gonzaga, succeeding to his father's dukedom of Mantua, had scanty leisure to bestow upon the poet. Tasso felt neglected. In the autumn of 1587 he journeyed through Bologna and Loreto to Rome, and taking up his quarters there with an old friend, Scipione Gonzaga
Scipione Gonzaga
Scipione Gonzaga was an Italian Cardinal.Born in Mantua, he belonged to the family of the Dukes of Sabbioneta, passed his youth under the care of Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga, and made rapid progress in Greek and Latin studies...

, now Patriarch of Jerusalem
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is the title possessed by the Latin Rite Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem. The Archdiocese of Jerusalem has jurisdiction for all Latin Rite Catholics in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Cyprus...

. Next year he wandered off to Naples, where he wrote a dull poem on Monte Oliveto. In 1589 he returned to Rome, and took up his quarters again with the patriarch of Jerusalem. The servants found him insufferable, and turned him out of doors. He fell ill, and went to a hospital. The patriarch in 1590 again received him. But Tasso's restless spirit drove him forth to Florence. The Florentines said, "Actum est de eo." Rome once more, then Mantua, then Florence, then Rome, then Naples, then Rome, then Naples—such is the weary record of the years 1590-94. He endured a veritable Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

 of malady, indigence and misfortune. To Tasso everything came amiss. He had the palaces of princes, cardinals, patriarchs, nay popes, always open to him. Yet he could rest in none. Gradually, in spite of all veneration for the sacer vates, he made himself the laughingstock and bore of Italy.

His health grew ever feebler and his genius dimmer. In 1592, he gave to the public a revised version of the Gerusalemme. It was called the Gerusalemme Conquistata. All that made the poem of his early manhood charming he rigidly erased. The versification was degraded; the heavier elements of the plot underwent a dull rhetorical development. During the same year a prosaic composition in Italian blank verse, called Le Sette Giornate, saw the light. Nobody reads it now. It is only mentioned as one of Tasso's dotages—a dreary amplification of the first chapter of Genesis.

It is singular that just in these years, when mental disorder, physical weakness, and decay of inspiration seemed dooming Tasso to oblivion, his old age was cheered with brighter rays of hope. Pope Clement VIII ascended the papal chair in 1592. He and his nephew, Cardinal Aldobrandini of San Giorgio
San Giorgio al Velabro
San Giorgio in Velabro is a minor basilica church in Rome, Italy, devoted to St. George.The church is located in the ancient Roman Velabrum, near the Arch of Janus, in the rione of Ripa. Sited near the River Tiber, it is within a complex of Republican-era pagan temples associated with the port of...

, determined to befriend the poet. In 1594, they invited him to Rome. There he was to receive the crown of laurels, as Petrarch had been crowned, on the Capitol.

Worn out with illness, Tasso reached Rome in November. The ceremony of his coronation was deferred because Cardinal Aldobrandini had fallen ill, but the pope assigned him a pension; and, under the pressure of pontifical remonstrance, Prince Avellino, who held Tasso's maternal estate, agreed to discharge a portion of his claims by payment of a yearly rent-charge.

At no time since Tasso left St. Anna had the heavens apparently so smiled upon him. Capitolian honors and money were now at his disposal. Yet fortune came too late. Before he wore the crown of poet laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

, or received his pensions, he ascended to the convent of Sant'Onofrio, on a stormy 1 April 1595. Seeing a cardinal's coach toil up the steep Trasteverine Hill, the monks came to the door to greet it. From the carriage stepped Tasso and told the prior he had come to die with him.

He died in Sant'Onofrio in April 1595. He was just past fifty-one; and the last twenty years of his existence had been practically and artistically ineffectual.

At the age of thirty-one the Gerusalemme, was accomplished. The world too was already ringing with the music of Aminta. More than this Tasso had naught to give to literature but those succeeding years of derangement, exile, imprisonment, poverty and hope deferred endear the man to readers. Elegiac and querulous as he must always appear, Tasso was loved better in the Romantic
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 period because he suffered through nearly a quarter of a century of slow decline and unexplained misfortune.

Other works

Rime (Rhymes), nearly two thousand lyrics in nine books, were written between 1567 and 1593. Influenced by Petrarca's Canzoniere, they develop a research for musicality and are rich of delicate images and subtle sentiments.

Galealto re di Norvegia, (1573-4) an unfinished tragedy, which later was finished with a new title: Re Torrismondo (1587). It is influenced by Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

's and Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

's tragedies, and tells the story of princess Alvida of Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, who is forcibly married off to the Goth king Torrismondo, when she is devoted to her childhood friend, king Germondo of Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....


Dialoghi (Dialogues), written between 1578 and 1594. These 28 texts deal with various issues, from moral ones (love, virtue, nobility) to more mundane ones (masks, play, courtly style, beauty). Sometimes Tasso touches major themes of his time: for instance, religion vs. intellectual freedom; Christianity vs. Islam at Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto
The Battle of Lepanto normally refers to the 1571 Holy League victory over the Ottoman fleet. There were also three earlier battles fought in the vicinity of Lepanto:*Battle of Naupactus in 429 BC, an Athenian victory during the Peleoponnesian War...


Discorsi del poema eroico, published in 1594. This is the main text to understand Tasso's poetics
Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest-surviving work of dramatic theory and the first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory...

 and was probably written during the long years or composing and revising Gerusalemme Liberata

The disease

The disease Tasso began to suffer from is now believed to be schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

. Legends describe him wandering the streets of Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 half mad, convinced that he was being persecuted. At times he was imprisoned for his own safety by the Duke in St. Anne's lunatic asylum. Though he was never fully cured, he was able to function and resumed his writing.
The Gerusalemme was published by his friends Angelo Ingegneri and Febo Bonna, mostly with the consent of the poet.

Tasso and other artists

  • Tasso's lyric poetry may have had some influence in late-Renaissance France on Desportes and Ronsard (whom Tasso met in Paris). It almost certainly influenced a number of English Elizabethans, including Sir Philip Sidney, Abraham Fraunce, and Samuel Daniel
    Samuel Daniel
    Samuel Daniel was an English poet and historian.-Early life:Daniel was born near Taunton in Somerset, the son of a music-master. He was the brother of lutenist and composer John Danyel. Their sister Rosa was Edmund Spenser's model for Rosalind in his The Shepherd's Calendar; she eventually married...

  • Claudio Monteverdi
    Claudio Monteverdi
    Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, and singer.Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition – the...

     composed Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda upon the text of Gerusalemme Liberata, canto XII. He also composed music over some of Tasso's Rime, particularly madrigal
    Madrigal (music)
    A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

  • Giaches de Wert
    Giaches de Wert
    Giaches de Wert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance, active in Italy. Intimately connected with the progressive musical center of Ferrara, he was one of the leaders in developing the style of the late Renaissance madrigal...

     and Carlo Gesualdo
    Carlo Gesualdo
    Carlo Gesualdo, known as Gesualdo di Venosa or Gesualdo da Venosa , Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, was an Italian nobleman, lutenist, composer, and murderer....

     da Venosa put into music many texts from Tasso's Rime and Gerusalemme.
  • The German
    The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

     writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

     wrote a play Torquato Tasso
    Torquato Tasso (play)
    Torquato Tasso is a play by the German dramatist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the sixteenth-century Italian poet, Torquato Tasso. The play was first conceived in Weimar in 1780 but most of it was written during his two years in Italy, between 1786 and 1788. He completed the play in...

    in 1790, which explores the struggles of the artist. He also composed a cantata text, "Rinaldo", inspired by Canto Sixteen of "Jerusalem Delivered," which was later set to music by Johannes Brahms
    Johannes Brahms
    Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

  • Giacomo Leopardi
    Giacomo Leopardi
    Giacomo Taldegardo Francesco di Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi was an Italian poet, essayist, philosopher, and philologist...

     wrote Dialogo di Torquato Tasso e del suo Genio familiare (Operette morali, 1824), a prose about the long stay in St. Anna. The main theme is a comparison between pain and boredom, expressed in a dialogue between Tasso and a "Genius", or ghost, said to be visiting him in his loneliness.
  • Among the numerous operas based on "Jerusalem Delivered" are works by Lully
    Jean-Baptiste Lully
    Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

    , Alessandro Scarlatti
    Alessandro Scarlatti
    Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque composer especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.-Life:Scarlatti was born in...

    , Vivaldi, Handel
    HANDEL was the code-name for the UK's National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. It consisted of a small console consisting of two microphones, lights and gauges. The reason behind this was to provide a back-up if anything failed....

    , Haydn, Salieri, Cherubini, Christoph Willibald Gluck
    Christoph Willibald Gluck
    Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

    , Rossini, and Dvořák
    Antonín Dvorák
    Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

    . There is even an experimental modern opera on the theme, by Judith Weir, transposing the scene into contemporary Iraq.
  • Both Edmund Spenser
    Edmund Spenser
    Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

     and John Milton
    John Milton
    John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

     were greatly influenced by Tasso's work.
  • Lord Byron's poem "The Lament of Tasso" narrates Tasso's spell in St. Anna's hospital.
  • The Italian
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

     composer Gaetano Donizetti
    Gaetano Donizetti
    Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer from Bergamo, Lombardy. His best-known works are the operas L'elisir d'amore , Lucia di Lammermoor , and Don Pasquale , all in Italian, and the French operas La favorite and La fille du régiment...

     wrote an opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

     on the subject of Torquato Tasso
    Torquato Tasso (opera)
    Torquato Tasso is a melodramma semiseria, or 'semi-serious' opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti and based on the life of the great poet Torquato Tasso. The Italian libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, who used a number of sources for his text, including works by Giovanni Rosini, Goethe,...

    (1833) and incorporated some of the poet's writing into the libretto
    A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

  • Franz Liszt
    Franz Liszt
    Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

     composed a symphonic poem
    Symphonic poem
    A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

    , Tasso, Lamento e Trionfo
    Tasso, Lamento e Trionfo (Liszt)
    Franz Liszt composed his Tasso, Lamento e trionfo in 1849, revising it in 1850-51 and again in 1854. It is numbered No. 2 in his cycle of 13 symphonic poems written during his Weimar period.-Composition:...

    in commemoration of the centenary of Goethe's play. The sombre first half represents his anguish in the asylum, and the glorious second half charts the acknowledgement he and his poetry achieved after he departed from the hospital.
  • Artists inspired by both "Jerusalem Delivered" and "Aminta" have been legion and include Tintoretto
    Tintoretto , real name Jacopo Comin, was a Venetian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso...

    , the Carracci
    Accademia degli Incamminati
    The Accademia degli Incamminati was one of the first art academies in Italy. It was originally created around 1580 in Bologna as the Accademia dei Desiderosi and was sometimes known as the Accademia dei Carracci after its founders the Carracci cousins , with Annibale heading the institution thanks...

    , Guercino, Pietro da Cortona
    Pietro da Cortona
    Pietro da Cortona, by the name of Pietro Berrettini, born Pietro Berrettini da Cortona, was the leading Italian Baroque painter of his time and also one of the key architects in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture. He was also an important decorator...

    , Domenichino, Cigoli
    Lodovico Cardi , also known as Cigoli, was an Italian painter and architect of the late Mannerist and early Baroque period, trained and active in his early career in Florence, and spending the last nine years of his life in Rome.Lodovico Cardi was born at Villa Castelvecchio di Cigoli, in Tuscany,...

    , Van Dyck, Poussin
    Poussin refers to:*Charles Jean de la Vallée-Poussin Belgian mathematician*Charles-Louis-Joseph-Xavier de la Vallée-Poussin Belgian geologist and mineralogist, father of Charles Jean*Nicolas Poussin , French painter...

    , Claude Lorrain
    Claude Lorrain
    Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French Claude Gellée, , dit le Lorrain) Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French...

    , Tiepolo
    Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
    Giovanni Battista Tiepolo , also known as Gianbattista or Giambattista Tiepolo, was an Italian painter and printmaker from the Republic of Venice...

    , Boucher
    François Boucher
    François Boucher was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture...

    , Fragonard
    Jean-Honoré Fragonard
    Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a French painter and printmaker whose late Rococo manner was distinguished by remarkable facility, exuberance, and hedonism. One of the most prolific artists active in the last decades of the Ancien Régime, Fragonard produced more than 550 paintings , of which only five...

    , Johann Friedrich Overbeck
    Johann Friedrich Overbeck
    Johann Friedrich Overbeck , was a German painter and member of the Nazarene movement. He also made four etchings.-Biography:...

    , Hayez, and Delacroix
    Eugène Delacroix
    Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...


English translations

During the Renaissance, the first (incomplete) translation of "Jerusalem Delivered" was brought out by Thomas Carew (1594). A complete version by Edward Fairfax
Edward Fairfax
Edward Fairfax was a translator, the natural son of Sir Thomas Fairfax the elder, of Denton in Yorkshire, and thus a half-brother of Sir Thomas Fairfax.Fairfax lived at New Hall, Fewston...

 appeared under the title "Godfrey of Bouillon" in 1600. John Hoole
John Hoole
John Hoole was an English translator, the son of watch-maker and inventor, Samuel Hoole and Sarah Drury. He was born in London, and worked in India House , of which he rose to be principal auditor...

's version in heroic couplets followed in 1772, and Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen's (in Spenserian stanzas) in 1821. There were several twentieth century versions, including by Anthony Esolen (2000) and by Max Wickert
Max Wickert
Max Wickert is an American teacher, poet, translator and publisher. He is presently Professor of English Emeritus on the English Department of University at Buffalo-Personal life:...

, published as "The Liberation of Jerusalem" by Oxford University Press (2009). "Aminta", some of the "Dialogues", "Torrismondo" and some of the late religious works have also been issued in English.

External links

    • Project Gutenberg
      Project Gutenberg
      Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

       e-text of Jerusalem Delivered (translated by Edward Fairfax)
    • Project Gutenberg e-text of Torquato Tasso by Goethe
  • Torquato Tasso - Discorsi dell'arte poetica ed in particolare sopra il poema eroico (Italian)

Sister projects

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