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Torquato Tasso

Torquato Tasso (March 11, 1544April 25, 1595) was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem La Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"; 1575), in which he describes the imaginary combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the siege of Jerusalem.

In the mid-1570s, Tasso began to suffer from what is now believed to be schizophrenia. Legends describe him wandering the streets of Rome half mad, convinced that he was being persecuted. At times he was imprisoned for his own safety. Though he was never fully cured, he was able to function and resumed his writing.

In 1594, Pope Clement VIII called Tasso to Rome so that he could be crowned poet laureate. Tasso died in 1595, before the honor could be officially conferred on him.

Goethe wrote a play named Torquato Tasso, which documents the artist's struggle.

See also: Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso.

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