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Torquato Tasso

(Sorrento, 11.03.1544 – Rome. 25.04.1595)

When he was still a child, he moved from Sorrento to Rome in order to be reunited with his father, the poet. He then went with him to Bergamo, Pesaro, Urbino and Venice.

Between 1560 and 1565, he studied law in Padua and, after the first year, he got the go-ahead to attend philosophy and eloquence courses. His father had been introduced into the court of the cardinal Luigi d’Este and it was here that Torquato fell in love with Eleonora d’Este’s lady-in-waiting, the young Lucrezia Bendidio. He began to write rhymes and love poems for her, thereby embarking on his ‘career’ as a poet and writer. Once this talent had been discovered, he was commissioned to write verses for a number of funerals between 1561 and 1562, which he gathered together in two collections. These were the first poems published by Torquato.
After two years in Padua, he continued his studies at the University of Bologna, during which time, in 1564, he was accused of writing a text attacking a number of the university’s students and professors. He was expelled for this and his bursary was withdrawn. He therefore returned to Padua where Scipione Gonzaga supported him in his studies.
In 1565, he settled in Ferrara following Luigi d’Este and, a few years later, he was locked up for seven years in the Saint Anna hospital, accused of being mad. During this time, an incorrect and incomplete version of one of his most famous works was published without his consent: “Jerusalem Delivered”. His imprisonment came to an end in 1586 and he was entrusted to the care of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga. During these years, he dedicated himself to rewriting this poem, which he then published in 1593 with the title “Jerusalem Conquered”.
His most important works include the “Epistler”, “Rinaldo” and “Aminta”.