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Torquato Tasso

      Torquato Tasso, born at Sorrento, March 11, 1544, was the son of Bernardo Tasso by Portia de Rossi, a lady of a noble Neapolitan family. His father was a man of some note, both as a political and as a literary character; and his poem "Amadigi," founded on the well-known romance of Amadis de Gaul, has been preferred by one partial critic even to the "Orlando Furioso." Ferrante Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno, chose him for his secretary, and with him and for him Bernardo shared all the vicissitudes of fortune. That prince having been deprived of his estates, and expelled from the kingdom of Naples by the Court of Spain, Bernardo was involved in his proscription, and retired with him to Rome. Torquato, then five years old, remained with his mother, who went to reside with her family in Naples.

      Bernardo Tasso having lost all hopes of ever returning to that capital, advised his wife to retire with his daughter into a nunnery, and to send Torquato to Rome. Our young poet suffered much in parting from his mother and sister; but, fulfilling the command of his parents, he joined his father in October, 1554. On this occasion he composed a canzone, in which he compared himself to Ascanius escaping from Troy with his father AEneas.

      The fluctuating fortunes of the elder Tasso caused Torquato to visit successively Bergamo, the abode of his paternal relatives, and Pesaro, where his manners and intelligence made so favorable an impression, that the Duke of Pesaro ch...

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