JERUSALEM DELIVERED by Tasso The Story:For six years the Crusaders had remained in the Holy Land
, meeting with success. Tripoli, Antioch, and Acre were in their hands, and a large force of Christian knights occupied Palestine. Yet there was a lassitude among the nobles; they were tired and satiated with fighting. They could not generate enough warlike spirit to continue to the real objective of their Crusade, the capture of Jerusalem. In the spring of the seventh year, God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Godfrey de Bouillon, ordering him to assemble all his knights and encouraging him to begin the march on Jerusalem. Obeying the Lord’s command, Godfrey called a council of the great nobles and reminded them stirringly of their vows. When Peter the Hermit added his exhortations, the Crusaders accepted their charge, and all preparations were made to attack the Holy City. Within the walls of Jerusalem the wicked King Aladine heard of the projected attack. At the urging of Ismeno the sorcerer, he sent soldiers to steal the statue of the Virgin Mary, hoping to make the Christian symbol a Palladium for Jerusalem. The next morning, the statue had disappeared. Enraged when he could not find the culprit who had spirited away the statue, Aladine ordered a general massacre of all his Christian subjects. To save her co-religionists, the beautiful and pure Sophronia confessed to the theft. Aladine had her bound to the stake. As her guards were about to light the fire, Olindo, who had long loved Sophronia in vain, attempted to save her by confessing that he himself had stolen the statue. Aladine ordered them both burned. While they were at the stake, Sophronia admitted her love for Olindo. They were saved from burning, however, by the arrival of Clorinda, a beautiful woman warrior who knew that both were admitting the theft to save the other Christians from death. Released, Sophronia and Olindo fled the city. Clorinda was a great warrior who scorned female dress. On a previous campaign she had met Tancred, a mighty Christian noble. Tancred had fallen in love with her; but she rejected his love. On the other hand, Erminia of Antioch had become enamored of Tancred when he had taken her city, but Tancred felt only friendship for her. The Christians came within sight of Jerusalem. A foraging party encountered first a small force under Clorinda. She was so valorous that she defeated them. The king of Egypt, whose army was advancing to the aid of Jerusalem, sent Argantes to parley with Godfrey. The Crusader chief haughtily rejected the overtures of the Egyptians, and Argantes angrily joined the infidel defenders of the Holy City. Although the Crusaders met with some initial successes, Argantes was always a formidable opponent. Satan was annoyed at the prospect of the fall of Jerusalem. He induced Armida, an enchantress, to visit the Christian camp and tell a false story of persecution. Many of the knights succumbed to her wiles and eagerly sought permission to redress her wrongs. Godfrey was suspicious of her, but he allowed ten knights chosen by lot to accompany her. In the night forty others slipped away to join her, and she led the fifty to her castle, where she changed them into fishes. Their loss was a great blow to Godfrey because the pagans were slaying many of his men. Rinaldo, one of the Italian knights among the Crusaders, sought the captaincy of a band of Norwegian adventurers. Gernando, who sought the same post, quarreled with him, and in a joust Gernando was killed. For this breach of discipline Rinaldo was banished. When Argantes challenged to personal combat any champion in the Crusaders’ camp, Tancred was chosen to meet him. On the way to the fight, Tancred saw Clorinda and stopped to admire her. Otho, his companion, took advantage of his bemusement and rushed in
but Argantes and Clorinda were fighters too powerful for the shaken Christians to overcome. Wounded by one of Clorinda’s arrows. Both men were wounded in the mighty. where he was cast into a dungeon. Otho was defeated by Argantes and taken prisoner. After the fighting was over. realizing what had happened. On the Fortunate Islands the messengers discovered the Palace of Armida where Rinaldo. Different forces operated within him. He heard of her coming and waited impatiently. conforming to classical theory. Then the Archangel Michael appeared to Godfrey and showed him the souls of all the Christians who had died in the Crusades. who had been the most valorous of the conquerors. the Christians were greatly heartened. Finally the victorious invaders stormed through the streets and sacked the Holy City. they too were beaten and their king was slain by Godfrey. she put on Clorinda’s armor and went to his camp to attend him. Godfrey set out to avenge the Palestine garrison. Erminia was surprised by the sentries. product of the Counter-Reformation and education by the
. He was a devout Catholic. At night Clorinda came out of the city walls and set fire to the great tower by which the Christians were preparing to scale the wall. to write a new epic fusing the heroic epic and chivalric romance. and Godfrey sent two knights to find the banished Italian. agreeing to meet again in six days. thinking his beloved Clorinda was approaching. Godfrey was taken in a vision to heaven where he talked with Hugh. Although Rinaldo was still absent. When the supposed Clorinda did not arrive. prince of Denmark. Tancred went in search of her and came to the castle of Armida. The Christians set up rams and towers to break the defense of the city. With the arrival of Rinaldo. Armida. When Erminia heard of Tancred’s wounds. Critical Evaluation: Torquato Tasso had two objectives in writing Jerusalem Delivered: one religious. the former commander of the French forces. With this inspiration. had been surprised by pagan knights and killed with all his followers. She was seen. Godfrey learned that the missing men had been liberated by Rinaldo.ahead to the battle. day-long duel. Then Tancred. to exhort the Christian peoples of Europe to crusade against the heathen. the other. and Tancred engaged her in combat. He had time to ask her pardon and baptize her before her death. who had been freed from Armida’s enchantment. arrived to rout the pagans. In preparation for the attack on Jerusalem. When the Egyptians arrived to help the pagan defenders of Jerusalem. Then Tancred and the fifty knights. by the Crusaders. Godfrey received word that Sweno. After he had run his sword through her breast. was dallying with his lady love. who had been occupying Palestine. The messenger announced that he had been divinely appointed to deliver Sweno’s sword to Rinaldo. he discovered to his sorrow that he had killed his love. Godfrey and all his army worshiped at the Holy Sepulchre. The walls of the city were breached. the Christians celebrated a solemn mass on the Mount of Olives before they began the assault. advanced to meet the pagan knight. the Crusaders redoubled their efforts to capture Jerusalem. Godfrey and his army fought valiantly. having fallen in love with the enchantress. Hugh bade him recall Rinaldo. Godfrey retired from the battle while an angel healed his wound. Leaving his love. literary. Tancred met Argantes and killed him in single combat. and in her maidenly timidity she ran away to take refuge with a shepherd. he joined the besieging forces of Godfrey. surrendered herself to Rinaldo. all hope gone. however. The sight of the two knights quickly reminded him of his duty. They retired to recuperate. Peter the Hermit was then divinely inspired to foretell the glorious future of Rinaldo.
like the historical Tancred that was Tasso’s source. which he found in close relation to real experience. The pagan witch Armida is in love with the Christian Rinaldo. imposing classical majesty on chivalric and romantic material. Moreover. especially in the love scenes and battle and single combat scenes. he was part of literary circles in Ferrara and Paris which were committed to the rules of pre-Christian writers. He was also the product of court life at Ferrara. He is finally disciplined to the Christian cause. many episodes take place at night or in darkness. reflective but able to act.
. Significantly. It is a new kind of epic. Christian Tancred falls in love with another pagan. Its poetic focus. The principal allegory relates to the body politic. He gave it a new interpretation. patient. free from envy. They are convincing human beings but also stern and mighty warriors. The debate over allegory in Jerusalem Delivered began almost as soon as it appeared in public. a center of chivalry and romantic tradition. The miraculous had a special appeal for Tasso. He pursues wrong love—Erminia in Clorinda’s armor. linking it to unintelligible human fears and dreads. capable of transcending human limitation. and plot. Tancred represents incontinent love. and with a high sense of honor. He adds supernatural forces. in the classical tradition but replacing pagan mythology with Christian figures and pagan magic with Christian miracle. He held the traditional view of magic as the work of devils. Tasso almost immediately began to comment on his work. are symbols of intellectual error and confusion. but Tasso adds imaginary episodes in which his imagination can find free expression. The wood where Tancred and Erminia are lost. however. Godfrey is the one chosen to receive divine help. Tasso’s characters are complex. In the disintegration of the Christian forces in the first half of the epic. They have shortcomings and are differentiated. The importance of love appears early in the epic in the willingness of Sofronia and Olindo to die for each other. the allegory is clear. Jerusalem Delivered is a Christian epic in its subject matter (the First Crusade). the Amazon Clorinda. They are. Rinaldo is the proud adventurer and romantic. quick-tempered. Love. and the subsequent taking of control by Godfrey. they are not evil but mostly honorable men and worthy warriors. The ideal lies not in any one character (although Godfrey. His wanderings represent false goals. it is an epic in the vernacular. with divine help (a reflection of Tasso’s authoritarian convictions). a good swordsman. with Allegoria dei poema. but that not all details have allegorical meaning. only to be reconciled as she converts to Christianity. divine and evil. is on the love stories. intervening on behalf of the Christians and pagans. is the closest to the ideal Christian warrior). The pagans are different from those in romances. who finally succumbs to her seductions. Under the influence of Dante. formidable in battle. He later adds that readers may make multiple readings. The main characters (except for Rinaldo) and events are historically authentic. protected by demons and exorcised by Rinaldo. however. he says that there is allegory in the poem but that the literal might be enough. The wanderings of the characters and the circuitous reasons of Ismeno reinforce this meaning. but he did not confine it to them. realized it was there. then renounces her. Tancred is the ideal courtier— courteous. He is restless. gives rise to complex situations: Pagan Erminia is frustrated by her love for the Christian Tancred. the Enchanted Forest produced by the evil Ismeno. with his talents as leader and with his common sense and control.Jesuits. He also says that he did not think about any allegory at first but that thinking about it later. It intermingles sober fact with invention. In 1579. sentiment. pagan and misguided.
of expressing his religious ideas and. with special attention to Tasso’s sensuous treatment of the lovers. as a poet. Argues that Tasso attempts to incorporate classical and romantic materials into a Christian point of view. is converted and baptized. Conn. their revitalization beginning with the assumption of command by Godfrey. the flavor of court life. Princeton. of composing a poem in the epic form. after seduction by Armida. Fichter. Edouard. Much of the first half of the epic dwells on the disintegration of the Christian forces. N. Greene. With frequent quotations from Jerusalem Delivered. “Tasso: Romance.” In From Virgil to Milton. suggests that this poem is composed of several elements: a framework of history. His reformed idea of Christian heroism is colored by his love of passionate personalities and a pleasure in varied and vivid action—combining seriousness and love of life. Satan sends his demons to aid the pagan army.: Yale University Press. a formal self-consciousness.” In The Descent from Heaven. C. Jerusalem Delivered is generally recognized as one of the best Christian epics. carefully placing the Christian marvels above magic and enchantment. Dynastic Epic in the Renaissance. and Evil. His classicism is also evident in his careful attention to stanza form. Armida. “Tasso.J. and Tasso is generally recognized as the greatest Italian poet of the late Renaissance. fears. on dying learns of her Christian roots and is baptized a Christian. “The Counter-Reformation: Tasso.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 6 (1947-1948): 235-245. “Torquato Tasso: The Transition from Baroque to Neo-Classicism. Giametti. The theme of regeneration provides the required unity. watched over and aided by Satan. Roditi. awakens anew to the crusading vision. Suggests that Tasso’s purpose was to construct a true Christian epic with the formal properties of the classical epic. A main theme is regeneration and redemption by the miracle of grace.” In The Earthly Paradise and the Renaissance Epic. a feeling for sensuous beauty. Bibliography: Bowra. His agent. Epic. and seductions on their way to victory. born of Christian parents but a zealous pagan. Rinaldo. Finds it the product both of the Counter-Reformation and a court life steeped in chivalric tradition. as a part of the Counter-Reformation. 1963. Suggests that Tasso strives to move away from baroque license toward classical restraint. A.
. Peter the Hermit.: Princeton University Press. New Haven. watched over and aided by God. Even the pagan seductress. Analyzes the plot elements that show how Tasso integrated romance with Christian sentiment. the moral climate of the Counter-Reformation. Summarizes the plot. Individuals are redeemed. and employs the services of the magician Ismeno and the enchantress Armida to confuse the Christians. echoes of earlier poets. Bartlett.” In Poets Historical. Conn. Clorinda. released from her hatred and finding a higher love.: Yale University Press. Periodically He sends one of the angels to advise and even to help in repelling the demons. 1961. “Tasso and the Romance of Christian Chivalry. M. Thomas M.The Crusade is essentially a war between Good. The providence of God is displayed by his periodic interventions: He brings about Godfrey’s selection as commander of the Christian forces and sends Michael to him with instructions for beginning the Crusade. plays a key role too in inspiring and counseling the Christians. and Christian Epic. Subsequently the Christians make their arduous way through dangers. 1982. On the other side. The poem is testimony to Tasso’s goals. lyricism. 1966. Andrew. and Platonism. New York: Macmillan. New Haven.