Torquato Tasso (11 March 1544 - 25 April 1595), Italian poet, son of Bernardo Tasso (1493-1569) and Porzia de' Rossi. Tasso was born in Sorrento, moved to Rome to live with his exiled (for political reasons) father at age 8, then to Venice a bit later, where he discussed classical literature and poetry with his father and other members of the court of Urbino. His first poem, Amadigi, was published in 1560. After this, he devoted almost all of his energy to poetry, abandonning the study of philosophy and law.
Tasso's first major work, Rinaldo, an epic romantic poem, was published in 1562. This work brought him considerable fame - he seemed to be the most promising poet of the day. In 1565, Tasso went to work in the service of Cardial Luigi d'Este. He traveled with the cardinal to Paris in 1570, but left soon after that, for the service of Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara, because of disagreements, due mainly to his frank manner of speaking. Tasso published Aminta, a simple pastoral drama, in 1573 and Gerusalemme Liberata, an epic poem, in 1574.
Gerusalemme Liberata was the last of Tasso's major works. Beginning in about 1575, his physical and mental health grew steadily worse. He wandered, trying to write poetry, but with little success. He was not without support, from patrons and benefactors, but he felt restless, and had difficulty remaining stationary. His poor health eventually stopped his wandering. His writings of this period received little attention at the time, and even less attention now. His last major attempt, a revision of Gerusalemme Liberata, Gerusalemme Conquistata, lacked the beauty of his earlier work. Tasso died in St. Onofrio.