Jerusalem Delivered

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Torquato Tasso (1544—1595) Italian poet


Edward Fairfax (c. 1568—1633) translator

John Milton (1608—1674) poet and polemicist

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A poem by Tasso, published without his consent 1580, in authorized form 1581.

The poem is an epic of the First Crusade, with the addition of romantic and fabulous elements. By the side of Godfrey of Bouillon, the leader of the Christian host besieging Jerusalem, and other historical characters, we have the romantic figures of Sofronia and her lover Olindo, who are prepared to face martyrdom to save the Christians in the beleaguered city; the warlike Clorinda, who is beloved by Tancred the Norman, and killed by him unwittingly; and Armida, the niece of the king of Damascus, who lures away the Christians to her enchanted gardens. Rinaldo, prince of Este, rescues the prisoners of Armida, and Armida falls in love with him. By her enchantments they live happily together until Rinaldo is summoned away to help the army. He takes part in the capture of Jerusalem, and at last marries a repentant Armida.

The poem was translated into English in 1594 by R. Carew (1555–1620), and in 1600 by Edward Fairfax (d. 1635) as Godfrey of Bulloigne. Spenser's description of Acrasia's Bower of Bliss (Faerie Queene, ii. xii) was modelled on the gardens of Armida, and the poem considerably influenced Milton and others (see Tasso).

Subjects: Literature.

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