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Epic RomanceHomer to Milton$
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Colin Burrow

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198117940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117940.001.0001

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(p.76) 4 Tasso
Epic Romance

Colin Burrow

Oxford University Press

Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata has a very different setting. Most of its action takes place on the clear, open spaces of a plain around the city of Jerusalem. Two opposed camps are set against one another in this open space: Jerusalem is occupied by Saracen forces, while a Christian alliance under Tasso's hero, ‘pio Goffredo’, besieges them and seeks to regain the town for his religion. There are a few moments when characters wander from the battlefield into a landscape of trees and greenery, and find a pastoral seclusion that is valued above the polarities of the battle; but these are rare. However, more usually the poem matches its open setting with correspondingly clear indications of which side people are on. This limits the possibilities for the moral and narrative entanglements in which Ludovico Ariosto so delights: the very geography of Tasso's poem suggests a polarized confrontation between Christian virtue and pagan sacrilege.

Keywords:   Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem, Saracen, Goffredo, religion, poem, Ludovico Ariosto, sacrilege, Christian virtue, pagan sacrilege

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