Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1152
Aladine Aladine is the commander of the Saracen army in Jerusalem. His position mirrors Godfrey's in that he does not do that much fighting, leaving it to Clorinda, Solymon, and Argantes. He is killed by Tancred.
Argantes Argantes is the Saracen second in command. He challenges the Christian knights to...
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Aladine is the commander of the Saracen army in Jerusalem. His position mirrors Godfrey's in that he does not do that much fighting, leaving it to Clorinda, Solymon, and Argantes. He is killed by Tancred.
Argantes is the Saracen second in command. He challenges the Christian knights to single combat and defeats most of them. He almost kills Tancred, which spells certain doom for the Christians. However, Tancred rises from his sickbed, rallies the Christians, kills Argantes, and saves the day.
She is the witch of the poem. Summoned by Satan to seduce and destroy Godfrey, Armida eventually seduces and captures over 30 knights including Rinaldo and Tancred. The majority of her captives escape or are rescued, but Rinaldo has fallen in love with her and she with him. On her island paradise in the Atlantic Ocean, Armida and Rinaldo spend much of the poem living in love. After Rinaldo is "rescued," Armida swears revenge, even offering a reward to any Saracen knight that brings her Rinaldo's head. After the battle, she realizes that Rinaldo still loves her and she accepts both her conversion to Christianity and his offer of marriage. Although Tasso is not exactly clear about her use of sexuality, most English translators suggest that while she uses her sexuality to kidnap men, she only consummates the act with Rinaldo, thus making her an acceptable wife for him.
Clorinda is the Princess of Damascus, an Amazon, and the most pivotal character in the poem. She is the leader of the Saracen attack forces and is a ruthless fighter. She is a brilliant military strategist as well as a tough woman. As long as she is alive, the Christians cannot hope to take Jerusalem. Several Christian heroes fall to Clorinda's sword, as well as most of their battle plans. She manages to destroy all of Godfrey's wooden siege equipment, which almost spells defeat for the Franks, and would have continued to reduce his army, but she is killed by the man who desperately loves her. Tancred does not realize that he has killed Clorinda until it is too late. He baptizes her as she lies dying and then loses his mind. Clorinda allows the baptism because she found out that she was born a Christian, but raised a Saracen. However, this knowledge does not change her dedication to the Turkish cause nor her loyalty to the Saracen king of Jerusalem. It is only after her death that Godfrey can gather his forces and defeat the Saracens.
Emiren is the Saracen king of Jerusalem. He is killed by Godfrey.
Erminia is the niece of the King of Antioch, who knows the Christian knights because they destroyed her city and killed her father and uncle before the poem opens. She tells the Saracen king who all the knights are in Canto II, thus introducing the characters to the readers. She is also desperately in love with Tancred. She watches his battles from the city walls and even tried to nurse him when he was wounded. She dresses in Clorinda's armor in order to sneak out of the city, but is recognized by the Christian guards and forced to flee without seeing Tancred. He follows her, but she escapes him. Their love affair is not resolved and her role as prize object or woman scorned is unclear.
She is the Christians' answer to Clorinda. Gildippe is a great Amazon warrior who, however, does not fight the Saracen Amazon, Clorinda. She is killed by Solymon.
Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey, modeled on the historical person, is one of the major characters in Gerusalemme Liberata. He is the French knight who is chosen by God and his fellow crusaders to lead the Christian armies against the Muslim Turks, called Saracens, who have taken Jerusalem. Godfrey does not actually fight in most of the battle, but rather directs the attacks and plans the siege. He is a character who has much in common with Thomas Malory's King Arthur and Homer's Agamemnon, which were two of Tasso's sources. Godfrey is the perfect Christian knight, in that he does not waver from his beliefs, yet will always obey the word of God. He banishes Rinaldo for murder, but when Peter the Hermit tells Godfrey that only Rinaldo can defeat the spirits in the demonized forest, Godfrey recalls him and forgives him of his sins. Godfrey does participate in the final battle that "liberates" Jerusalem. He kills the last Saracen general and hangs his weapons in Solomon's Temple, showing that he only fights for honor and God.
Peter the Hermit
Peter plays the role of mystic advisor, much like Merlin in Malory's Le Morte d’Arthur. He advises Godfrey to recall Rinaldo. Throughout the epic, Peter delivers the word of God regarding the Christians' actions.
Rinaldo is one of the major characters that Tasso inserted into his history of the First Crusade. Critics suggests that he is modeled on Tasso's patron at the time, Cardinal d'Este, and he is definitely one of the most important, heroic, romantic, and courteous characters in the poem. Rinaldo is a great warrior, chosen to succeed a fallen warrior as the leader of the calvary. After another knight spreads rumors about him, Rinaldo kills the man and is forced to flee Godfrey's camp. He is captured by Armida, who uses her magic to make him love her. They live happily in her enchanted garden for most of the poem, until Godfrey sends for him. Rinaldo is awakened from his magic spell and leaves Armida. His physical and spiritual strength allow him to defeat the Saracens and their allied demons. His love for Armida, however, is real and he convinces her of his passion. She then becomes a Christian and the poem ends with the plans for their wedding. Rinaldo, although not the leader of the Christians, is the only knight that can save the Christian army and get them to their goal.
Solymon becomes the major Saracen warrior after Clorinda's death. He attacks and destroys the Prince of Denmark's army and does serious damage to the morale of the Christian troops. He also kills the great Christian warrior, Gildippe. He is killed by Rinaldo.
Tancred is another Christian knight whom Tasso introduces to the First Crusade. He is a great warrior who loves Clorinda from afar. He worships her military ability as well as her beauty. He is captured by Armida, but escapes to lead the Christian army during Rinaldo's absence. After Clorinda has set fire to Godfrey's siege equipment and gets locked out of the city, Tancred fights this unknown warrior and kills her. Realizing his mistake, he is overcome by grief and is barely able to go on. He continues to fight for the Christians and lives through the horrific battle at the end of the poem. His affair with Erminia, however, is not resolved.