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Jerusalem Delivered is an epic poem by Torquato Tasso, first published in 1581. It tells a mythified version of the First Crusade in which Christian knights battle Muslims to take Jerusalem. It had a historical grounding and compositional implications that were lacking in other Renaissance epics. The poem La Gerusalemme Conquistata by Girolamo Tasso was a huge success and was often used in works in other media.
It is composed of 1917, stanzas in ottava rima (15,336 hendecasyllabic lines) and is inspired by Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, Homer and Virgil. Critics of the period were less enthusiastic and Tasso rewrote the poem from scratch.Paintings depicted love stories, typically with lovers as the two main figures. Popular scenes include Armida abducting Rinaldo, Carlo and Ubaldo in Armida’s garden, Tancredi baptising Clorinda, and Erminia finding the wounded Tancredi. Scenes usually take place outdoors in an idealized pastoral landscape. Paolo Domenico Finoglia painted ten large canvases for the Palazzo Acquaviva in Apulia. Scenes from the poem were depicted in fresco cycles, oil paintings, etchings, and large paintings by Finoglio.
The first illustrated edition was in 1590, and other editions followed. Tasso’s poem Gerusalemme liberata quickly spread throughout Europe, with Edmund Spenser using elements from it in The Faerie Queene and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Richard Carew translated the first five cantos into English, and Edward Fairfax published a complete rendering in 1600. Tasso’s poem remained popular among educated English readers and was considered one of the supreme achievements of Western literature until the end of the 19th century. George Saintsbury recorded that every girl from Scott’s heroines to his own sisters had been taught Tasso and Ariosto as a matter of course.
The poem tells of the initial disunity and setbacks of the Christians and their ultimate success in taking Jerusalem in 1099. There are many magical elements, and the Saracens often act as classical pagans. The most famous episodes include Sofronia, Olindo, and Clorinda. Clorinda is a Caucasian girl born to African parents who is mistakenly killed by Tancredi. Ismen protects the forest with enchantments to prevent the crusaders from cutting timber for siege engines. Armida, a witch, enters the Christian camp and abducts Rinaldo, the greatest Christian knight. Carlo and Ubaldo, two Christian knights, find Rinaldo and Armida in each other’s arms and force him to see himself in his effeminate and amorous state. Rinaldo resolves to pursue the crusade, but Armida is grief-stricken and her champions are defeated. Rinaldo begs Armida to convert to Christianity, and she consents. An Egyptian army arrives and the Christians win a battle outside the walls. Torquato Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered” is an epic poem retelling the First Crusade from both Muslim and Christian perspectives. It takes place in 1099 and opens in Judea, Palestine, close to the Christian liberation of Jerusalem. Throughout the poem, many characters convert from Islam to Christianity, including Godfrey of Bouillon, Aladine, Clorinda, Tancredi, Erminia, and Armida. Godfrey wants to restore God to Jerusalem, while Aladine condemns a Christian maiden, Sophronia, to death. Erminia loves Tancredi, but when Christian soldiers attack her, she runs into the forest and hides with a poor shepherd family.
Satan asks Armida to seduce the strongest Christian knight, Rinaldo, and kill him, but she agrees because she supports the Muslim cause. Armida is a proud witch who seduces Christian soldiers and falls in love with Rinaldo. Despite her best efforts, Rinaldo abandons her and returns to his troops. Clorinda converts to Islam and Tancredi attacks her, but she dies at peace. Ismen uses his powers to protect the Muslim forests from Christian weapons, but Rinaldo arrives.
Torquato Tasso was descended from the Torregiani, lords of Bergamo, Milan, and other towns in Lombardy. His father was of the house of Cornaro, and his works in verse and prose are recorded as monuments of his genius. He married Portia di Rossi, daughter of Lucretia di Gambacorti, and was invited by Hyppolyta to Sorrento to pay her a visit. Bernardo Tasso accompanied Portia to Sorrento, where Portia gave birth to a son, Torquato, who was baptised in the metropolitan church of Sorrento. At six months old, he spoke clearly and pronounced his words, thought, reasoned, expressed his wants, and answered questions.
Towards the end of his third year, Bernardo was forced to follow the prince of Salerno into Germany due to Don Pedro of Toledo’s plan to establish an inquisition in Naples. The prince undertook the affair and Bernardo Tasso accompanied him. At three, Tasso began to study grammar and at four, he was sent to the college of the Jesuits. At seven, he was well acquainted with the Latin and Greek tongues. When he left Naples to follow his father’s fortune, he wrote to his mother, “Ma dal sen de la madre empia fortuna Pargoletto divelse, ah di’ que’ baci Ch’ ella bagn di lagrime dolenti Con sospir mi rimembra, e de gli ardenti Preghi che sen portar l’aure fugaci, Che I’ non dovea giunger più volto à volto Fra quelle braccia accolto Con nodi cos stretti, e si tenaci, Lasso, e seguij con mal sicure piante Qual’ Ascanio, o Camilla il Bernardo Tasso, the patron of the prince of Salerno, renounced his allegiance to Charles V. He took his son Torquato with him to Rome, where he was declared rebels to the state. After the death of Sanseverino, Bernardo returned to Italy and engaged in the service of Guglielmo Gonzaga, duke of Mantua. After the death of his wife Portia, Bernardo sent for his son to be a mutual support to each other.
Torquato Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered” is an epic poem retelling the First Crusade from both Muslim and Christian perspectives. It takes place in 1099 and opens in Judea, Palestine, close to the Christian liberation of Jerusalem. Throughout the poem, many characters convert from Islam to Christianity, including Godfrey of Bouillon, Aladine, Clorinda, Tancredi, Erminia, and Armida. Godfrey wants to restore God to Jerusalem, while Aladine condemns a Christian maiden, Sophronia, to death. Erminia loves Tancredi, but when Christian soldiers attack her, she runs into the forest and hides with a poor shepherd family.
Satan asks Armida to seduce the strongest Christian knight, Rinaldo, and kill him, but she agrees because she supports the Muslim cause. Armida is a proud witch who seduces Christian soldiers and falls in love with Rinaldo. Despite her best efforts, Rinaldo abandons her and returns to his troops. Clorinda converts to Islam and Tancredi attacks her, but she dies at peace. Ismen uses his powers to protect the Muslim forests from Christian weapons, but Rinaldo arrives. Anthony Esolen’s new version of Torquato Tasso’s 16th century epic, Jerusalem Delivered, is modern, accessible, and truer to Tasso’s original than Edward Fairfax’s. It preserves Tasso’s eight-line stanzas and follows a XAXAXABB rhyme scheme. It works well, but the emphasis is on the literal rather than the poetic. Esolen’s restraint in rhyming is prudent and laudatory, but he has good material to work with. The story is of the First Crusade, culminating in the Christian liberation of Jerusalem in 1099. There are some difficult battles, but the Christians do triumph relatively easily. This work is an interesting and entertaining epic poem, comparable to the epic poems of Homer and Virgil. Canto 1 is an invocation to a Christian muse and Godfrey of Bouillon is elected Captain of the Crusaders. God elects Godfrey to lead the Crusade, which aims to establish a new kingdom in Palestine. The gathered princes and warriors include Clothar, Robert, William, Baldwin, Guelph, Tancred, Tatin, the Adventurers, Eustace, Ubaldo, Rinaldo, Raymond, and Stephen. Godfrey hopes Sven will come with his men to provide additional support. Jerusalem is ruled by Aladine, who oppresses the local Christians and works to fortify the city against the siege attack. Sophronia and Olindo are condemned to be burned at the stake, but Clorinda rescues them. Aletes and Argantes ask the Crusaders to desist, but Godfrey refuses. The Crusaders arrive in Jerusalem and Aladine is accompanied by Erminia the fair. Clorinda rides out to attack the Franks, but is countered by Tancred. Argantes attacks the Franks and Erminia admires Rinaldo. Dudon is killed and Godfrey counsels his men to turn back. Funeral observances are held for Dudon.
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