Tasso, the court poet of Ferrara, is best known as a poet but wrote three plays, a comedy, a tragedy (King Torrismondo (1586), with echoes of Oedipus the King) and this pastoral play, the first and most famous example of the genre. There is no action in the piece, since all the events are reported. Everything depends on the exquisite lyrical verse, which tells of Aminta's love and despair, of the violent unfulfilled lust of the satyr, and of Silvia's change of heart, which she imagines to be too late. The pastoral play became widely imitated across Europe (e.g. Guarini's The Faithful Shepherd, Milton's Comus, Goethe's The Lover's Whim, 1779). Pastoral elements are also in evidence in Shakespeare's As You Like It, and the mistaken belief that the beloved has died on finding a bloodstained cloth occurs in the Pyramus and Thisbe episode in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).
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Torquato Tasso (1544—1595) Italian poet