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Jerusalem Delivered in Downtown Sorrento

Piazza_Tasso_-_Sorrento Photo: Berthold Werner

Jerusalem Delivered

How unexpected, as an Israeli visiting Italy, to find “Jerusalem delivered” in downtown Sorrento. Hold on, I shall try to explain this to you.

Piazza Tasso

First of all I went for a walk in the main square of Sorrento, Piazza Tasso, in southern of Italy. The square rests on a cliff high above the sea with a long stairway down to the beach and port below. The panoramic view from the Piazzo Tasso down to the port is stunning. The square is named after the poet Torquato Tasso.

Sorrento
Sorrento

Torquato Tasso

Tasso is the connection between Piazza Tasso and Jerusalem.

A depiction of Tasso from a German encyclopedia, 1905. Note the laurel crown.
A depiction of Tasso from a German encyclopedia, 1905. Note the laurel crown.

Torquato Tasso (11 March 1544 – 25 April 1595) was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem “Gerusalemme Liberata” (Jerusalem Delivered, 1581). Tasso suffered from mental illness (perhaps medieval Jerusalem Syndrome) and died a few days before he was due to be crowned on the Capitoline Hill as the king of poets by the Pope. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Tasso remained one of the most widely read poets in Europe.

This statue of Tasso stands in the piazza. I was curious to see why he earned a statue in a piazza on his name. That is how I found the conection to Jerusalem Delivered.

Torquato Tasso
Torquato Tasso

Jerusalem Delivered

Torquato Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered” depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the Siege of Jerusalem.  Like other works of the period that portray conflicts between Christians and Muslims, this subject matter had a topical resonance to readers of the Italian Renaissance period when the Ottoman Empire was advancing through Eastern Europe.

Agostino Carracci, Frontespizio della prima edizione illustrata della Gerusalemme Liberata, 1590
Agostino Carracci, Frontespizio della prima edizione illustrata della Gerusalemme Liberata, 1590

Jerusalem Delivered in Art

Scenes from the poem were often depicted in art, mainly by Italian or French artists in the Baroque period, which began shortly after the poem was published. Tasso’s poem inspired paintings, tapestry, translations, operas, plays, fiction, and films.

Learn more about Torquato Tasso

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