The episode of Armida in Jerusalem Delivered by Torquato
Tasso (15541595), is founded on a popular tradition related
by Pierre De Lancre. This skillful enchantress was the daughter
of Arbilan, king of Damascus. She was brought up by an
uncle, a great magician, who taught his niece to become a powerful
sorceress. Nature had so well endowed her that she far
surpassed the most beautiful women of the East. Her uncle sent
her as a worthy foe against the powerful Christian army that
Pope Urban XI had collected under the leadership of Godfrey
de Bouillon. And there, De Lancre says, she so charmed the
principal leaders of the crusaders with her beautiful eyes that
she almost ruined the hopes of the Christians. She kept the valiant
knight Renaud for a long time in an enchanted castle, and
it was with great difficulty that he was disenchanted.
Tasso, Torquato. Jerusalem Delivered. Rutherford, N.J. Fairleigh
Dickinson University Press, 1970.