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The thirde Booke of the Faerie Queene. Contayning The Legend of Britomartis. OR Of Chastity. [1] It falls me here to write of Chastity, TheThat fayrest vertue, far above the rest; For which what needes me fetch from Faery Forreine ensamples it to hauehave exprest? Sith it is shrined in my SouerainesSoveraines brest, And formd so liuelylively in each perfect part, That to all Ladies, which hauehave it profest, Neede but behold the pourtraict of her hart, If pourtrayd it might bee by any liuingliving art. [2]But liuingliving art may not least part expresse, Nor life-resembling pencill it can paynt, All were it Zeuxis or Praxiteles:Praxitcles: His dædale hand would faile, and greatly faynt, And her perfections with his error taynt: Ne Poets witt, that passeth Painter farre In picturing the parts of beauty daynt, So hard a workemanship aduentureadventure darre, For fear through wãtwant of words her excellence to marre. [3]How then shall I, Apprentice of the skill, That whilome in diuinestdivinest wits did rayne, Presume so high to stretch mine humble quill? Yet now my luckelesse lott doth me constrayne Hereto perforce. But O dredd SouerayneSoverayne Thus far forth pardon, sith that choicest witt Cannot your glorious pourtraict figure playne, That I in colourd showes may shadow itt, And antique praises vntounto present persons fitt. [4]But if in liuingliving colours, and right hew, Thy ſelfe thouThy selfe thouYour ſelfe youYour selfe you couetcovet to see pictured, Who can it doe more liuelylively, or more trew, 4.4. Then: ThanThenThan that sweete verse, with Nectar sprinckeled, In which a gracious seruauntservaunt pictured His Cynthia, his heauensheavens fayrest light? That with his melting sweetnes rauishedravished, And with the wonder of her beames bright, My sences lulled are in slomber of delight. [5]But let that same delitious Poet lend A little leaueleave vntounto a rusticke Muse To sing his mistresse prayse, and let him mend, If ought amis her liking may abuse: Ne let his fayrest Cynthia refuse, In mirrours more 5.6. then: thanthenthan one her selfe to see, But either Gloriana let her chuse, Or in Belphœbe fashioned to bee: In th'one her rule, in th'other her rare chastitee.
1.2. The] 1590; That 1596, 1609
2.3. Praxiteles:] 1596, 1609; Praxitcles: 1590
4.2. Thy ſelfe thouThy selfe thou] 1590; Your ſelfe youYour selfe you 1596, 1609
Title: Britomartis: See FQ Letter 78-80, where the name appears first in its longer form, rarely used by Spenser, and then in the more frequent shortened form as ‘Britomart’. It appears in Callimachus, Pausanius, and an anonymous Latin poem, Ciris (attributed to Virgil in the sixteenth century) on which Spenser draws extensively in canto ii below; the name is also regularly glossed in Renaissance dictionaries in terms relevant to Spenser’s legend (Starnes & Talbert 1955:86-87). The classical ‘Britomartis’ was a nymph of Diana who fled into the sea to escape the pursuit of Minos and was later worshipped in Crete under the name ‘Dictyna’. See Virgil, Ciris 283-309; Pausanias, Desc. of Greece II.xxx.3; Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis 189-205. For further discussion of classical precedents, see Var 3.330-39. The name also suggests a compound, Briton + martial and so links the patron of Chastity to Mars as well as to Diana.
it falls me: ‘It falls to me’, in contrast to the rising motion with which the poet elevates chastity to a rank ‘far above the rest’ of the virtues. See Comus 212-14, where Milton equates ‘chastity’ with charity in the sequence of the Christian graces as prescribed by St. Paul at 1 Cor 13:13: ‘And now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these thre: but the chiefest of these is love’. On chastity’s preeminence, see also the events narrated in stanzas 5-8 and 20-29 of canto i.
1.1 Title: Britomartis: See FQ Letter 78-80, where the name appears first in its longer form, rarely used by Spenser, and then in the more frequent shortened form as ‘Britomart’. It appears in Callimachus, Pausanius, and an anonymous Latin poem, Ciris (attributed to Virgil in the sixteenth century) on which Spenser draws extensively in canto ii below; the name is also regularly glossed in Renaissance dictionaries in terms relevant to Spenser’s legend (Starnes & Talbert 1955:86-87). The classical ‘Britomartis’ was a nymph of Diana who fled into the sea to escape the pursuit of Minos and was later worshipped in Crete under the name ‘Dictyna’. See Virgil, Ciris 283-309; Pausanias, Desc. of Greece II.xxx.3; Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis 189-205. For further discussion of classical precedents, see Var 3.330-39. The name also suggests a compound, Briton + martial and so links the patron of Chastity to Mars as well as to Diana.
1.1 it falls me: ‘It falls to me’, in contrast to the rising motion with which the poet elevates chastity to a rank ‘far above the rest’ of the virtues. See Comus 212-14, where Milton equates ‘chastity’ with charity in the sequence of the Christian graces as prescribed by St. Paul at 1 Cor 13:13: ‘And now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these thre: but the chiefest of these is love’. On chastity’s preeminence, see also the events narrated in stanzas 5-8 and 20-29 of canto i.
1.2-1.3 fayrest . . . Faery: See II.pr.4.6n on Spenser’s affinity for this wordplay in connection with Elizabeth as an embodiment of the poet’s vision.
Forreine: Primarily ‘from another country’, sustaining the fiction that Faeryland is a geographically locatable principality (see II.pr). But the word’s range in early modern English also includes the senses ‘out of doors’, ‘outside the home’ (i.e., not ‘domestic’), ‘not of one’s own household’, ‘belonging to another’, and ‘irrelevant, dissimilar’. Here it stands in opposition not merely to territorial England but to the sacred interiority of the queen’s person.
exprest: See 2.1, xi.arg.4, and xii.21.1-2n.
shrined: Enclosed, with suggestions of religious veneration and also of writing, since shrine is etymologically identical with the ‘scryne’ of the Muses at I.pr.2.3, last seen at II.ix.56.6 in the keeping of Eumnestes.
1.6 lively: Vividly; in lifelike manner; feelingly; with a suggestion that the virtue animates or gives life to ‘each perfect part’.
1.7-1.8 to all Ladies . . . Neede but behold: ‘To all ladies professing chastity, it [would be] necessary only to witness.’ Cf. ‘what needes me’ (1.3) and see OED s.v. ‘need’ v2, 4.a: ‘With to and noun phrase of the person affected’, as in the example ‘all that nedes to a priest’. Spenser’s clause begins with its prepositional phrase, ‘to all Ladies’; its verb, which technically should be third-person singular with the understood subject ‘it’, becomes plural instead by attraction to Ladies.
1.8-1.9 pourtraict . . . pourtrayd: Spenser’s form links ‘portrait’ to its etymology in L tractare to draw or pull, and hence to ‘tract’, the track or trail by which beasts are followed and the ‘fine footing’ by which a reader may locate Faeryland without a bloodhound (II.pr.4). Its approximation to the related form ‘protract’ underlines its associations with temporal deferral and with the verb ‘expresse’. See II.viii.43.3n and II.ix.33.8-9.
1.9 living art: Cf. ‘formd so lively’ (1.6) and ‘life-resembling’ (2.2). The phrase suggests ‘art of imitating life’, ‘skill of any living artist’, ‘vital or animated art’, and ‘art of living’. The elaborate chiastic patterning in lines 1.4-2.2 (‘exprest . . . pourtraict . . . pourtrayd . . . living art . . . . living art . . . expresse’) suggests the problem of mimesis that concerns the poet, and glances forward to ‘mirrours more then one’ (5.6).
2.1 living art: Cf. ‘formd so lively’ (1.6) and ‘life-resembling’ (2.2). The phrase suggests ‘art of imitating life’, ‘skill of any living artist’, ‘vital or animated art’, and ‘art of living’. The elaborate chiastic patterning in lines 1.4-2.2 (‘exprest . . . pourtraict . . . pourtrayd . . . living art . . . . living art . . . expresse’) suggests the problem of mimesis that concerns the poet, and glances forward to ‘mirrours more then one’ (5.6).
2.3 Zeuxis or Praxiteles: Preeminent painter and sculptor, respectively, of female beauty in antiquity. See DS Ladies 1-4
dædale hand would faile: The earliest usage recorded by OED of a related cluster of English words (e.g., ‘Daedalian’) derived from the mythic craftsman who designed the Cretan labyrinth, and whose name in Greek (δαιδάλου) means ‘cunningly wrought’. Cooper Thesaurus glosses ‘Daedala’ as ‘the generall denomination of Images wrought’, while Calepine Dictionarium adds references to Lucretius and Virgil. Cf. Ariosto, OF 34.53.5; Tasso, GL 12.94.6; Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.7 and 5.1451; and Virgil, Georg 4.179. For the failing and fainting of Daedalus’ hand, see Aeneid 6.30-33 (bis cecidere manus, ‘twice the hands fell’), echoed in the phrase ‘it falls me here’ (1.1).
his error: From L errare to wander, an etymology that draws the labyrinth into the Daedalus allusion not as a sign of artistic skill (as in Spenser’s predecessors) but as another trope for his failure.
The paragone, or rivlary, between visual and verbal arts is a recurrent motif in FQ and a literary topos that goes back to Homer’s Iliad. Cf. II.xii.50.6n and Am 17.
picturing the parts of beauty daynt: In raising the question of how to portray the heart (1.8-9), Spenser is implicitly setting the aesthetic challenge of the Legend of Chastity against the recurrent emphasis in the Bower of Bliss on voyeurism, or ‘lust of the eye’ (note that Acrasia sucks Verdant’s soul out through his eyes, not his lips, at II.xii.73.7). Cf. II.pr.2.9, ‘fruitfullest Virginia who did ever vew?’
3.3 The poet’s presumption here would parallel that of Icarus, who similarly stretched too high with his feathers (‘humble quill’).
3.8 For similar language describing allegory, see FQ Letter 4, 9, 21-25, and 34-35; see also Heb 10:1 on the Law as ‘having the shadowe of good things to come, and not the very image of the things’, and the Geneva gloss.
3.9 3.9 Suggesting a historical dimension to the allegory in which the poet may ‘fit’ his ‘antique praises’ of fictional personae to contemporaries such as the queen (historically ‘present’ although absent from the text). See FQ Letter 33-37 on representations of Elizabeth in the allegory. If these praises are also ‘antic’ (a common pun), they may involve unacknowledged mischief on the author’s part—another motive for the indirection he is defending in this proem and in the passages from FQ Letter cited above.
4.2 Thy selfe thou covet: The phrasing hints at a narcissistic dimension to the desire for a depiction based on physical likeness. The scarcely varied rhyme of pictured (past participle) with pictured (preterite) reinforces the hint.
4.3-4.4 Who can . . . that sweete verse: Another mixed construction (see 1.7-9n), this time shifting agency from the ‘gracious Servant’ to the verse.
4.5 gracious servaunt: Sir Walter Ralegh. See DS Ralegh, Colin Clout 164-66, and Ralegh’s ‘The 21th and last booke of the Ocean to Scinthia’. Spenser’s is the first recorded mention of Raleigh’s verses to Cynthia; in the words of a recent editor of Ralegh’s verse, ‘it is the purest speculation to identify what [Spenser] described in The Faerie Queene with any poem of Ralegh’s now extant’ (Rudick xlix).
4.7-4.9 4.7-9 The imagery teasingly aligns the slumbering poet with Verdant (II.xii.72-73), and so indirectly allies Ralegh’s portrait of the queen’s beauty with the Bower’s persistent appeal to the visual imagination (see 2.7n).
delitious: Voluptuous; pleasing to the bodily senses; echoing II.xii.85.7, ‘joyes delicious’. A reminder that poetry which praises beauty does not solve the mimetic problem of how to represent chastity.
rusticke Muse: Cf. DS Ralegh 3, 5, where Spenser describes his poem as ‘this rusticke Madrigale,’ protesting that Ralegh himself is ‘onely fit this Argument to write’.
5.3-5.4 let him mend / If aught amis: See CV W.R. 3-7 for Ralegh’s answer.
her liking may abuse: ‘May impose upon or take advantage of her favor’.
5.6-5.9 5.6-9 See 3.9n and FQ Letter 33-37. For ‘Belphoebe’ see Ralegh, ‘The 21th and last booke’, lines 271, 327; for ‘fashioned’, see FQ Letter 7-8. The distinction between the queen’s rule and her chastity corresponds to that in constitutional law between the royal body politic and body natural. The queen’s chastity is probably ‘rare’ in the sense of ‘exceptional’ rather than ‘seldom appearing or seen’, but the language is not wholly unambiguous—and of course the proem has been preoccupied from the start with the delicate decorum of rendering visible the rarefied virtue enshrined in the queen’s heart.
5.6 mirrours more than one: The phrase seems at first to refer to the contrast the proem has been developing between Spenser’s poetry and Ralegh’s, but it turns out in lines 7-9 that the two mirrors offered are both found in FQ. Raleigh drops out of view as the modifying phrase slides from ‘mirrours’ to the queen, doubling Elizabeth into ‘more then one her selfe’.
2 Florimell: From L flos, floris flower + mel honey.
chaced: The inevitable pun on ‘chaste’ introduces a thematic keynote for the Legend of Chastity. To what extent does chastity in women depend on flight, and what are the terms on which it may be sustained in an engagement with male sexuality? To what extent can male sexuality free itself from the fantasies of ‘maistery’ (25.7) that motivate pursuit and capture?
3 Duessaes traines: In this phrase the plot-summary slips a gear, dropping back to the opening canto of Book II, where Duessa last appeared in the poem. The mention of her here may be the remnant of an abandoned plot-line (see iv.45.1-4n), but the error is overdetermined: Guyon’s pending encounter with Britomart will replay (now in a comic mode) the irascibility that nearly precipitated his attack on Redcrosse at II.i.25-27. This is the first of many moments in III.i that signal a revisionary relationship to the Legend of Temperance (see 36.1-4n).
3 Malecastaes: From L malus bad or evil + castus chaste, with a multivalent pun on cast, meaning to reckon, conjecture, design, arrange, intend, or set upon an action.
defaced: defeated
1.1 Since the close of Book II, Guyon and the Palmer appear to have completed their voyage back to Alma’s castle.
sory: grievous
procur’d: prevailed upon
conge: a formal farewell
together yode: Guyon’s horse, stolen by Braggadoccio at II.iii.3-4, will not be recovered until V.iii.35. He nevertheless tends to ride when in Arthur’s company (cf. II.ix.10.7). Here it has been suggested that the two knights share Arthur’s horse, but Hamilton 2001 wisely notes that ‘it may be simpler not to seek narrative consistency, for the allegorical point of having Guyon on foot has already been made’. It may be added that there is an allegorical point to having Guyon remounted in the present episode, insofar as it reenacts the encounter with Redcrosse that got him assigned to foot-patrol in the first place (see arg.3n).
he: Guyon
See II.ix.7-8. Arthur’s quest for Gloriana proceeds on a figural plane that renders the ‘nigher way’ unavailable to him even within the literal action of the poem—a deliberate breaking of its ‘apparent narrative’ (Kouwenhoven 1983) that stresses the narrative’s provisional status.
overronne: pass quickly over

St. 4-12

Based on the initial appearance of Bradamante in Ariosto, OF 1.60-67, where the Saracen knight Sacripant is unhorsed before his lady Angelica. Unlike Spenser, Ariosto does not reveal the identity of the unknown champion who gallops back into the forest, nor does he sympathize with the pagan warrior in his discomfiture. Sacripant does lose his mount, killed in the encounter, and is comforted not by a fellow knight but by Angelica, who stretches diplomacy so far as to declare Sacripant victorious quando a lasciare il campo è stato primo (‘since he [the unknown champion] was first to leave the field’; 67.8).

4.1-4.2 open plaine . . . pricked: An echo of the first line of Book I, ‘A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine’.
pricked: galloped (to ‘prick’ is to spur one’s horse)
couch: stoop
three-square: having three equal sides
He: the knight, not the Squire
4.9 Heraldic language for a lion walking against a golden background, looking to the right and with the right forepaw raised. For the resemblance of this shield to the armorial bearings of Britomart’s ancestor Brutus, see Leslie (1983: 34).
The Prince of grace: Guyon asks Arthur as a gift or favor to let him joust with the stranger knight, although the phrase also glances at Arthur’s role as foreshadowing divine grace in the allegory (see st. 12n).
5.5-5.6 5.5-6 This inflammatory charge links Guyon to the irascible Pyrhocles (cf. II.v.2.5-9).
6.1 6.1 Echoing Guyon’s encounter with Redcrosse, II.i.26.6.
sell: saddle
crouper: the horse’s hind-quarters
6.9 mischievous mischaunce: Guyon’s fall, punningly emphasizing that even though ‘both theyr points arriv’d’, he has missed his chance at victory.
7.8 7.8 Cf. the poet’s concern in the proem with how to represent chastity, which, as Shakespeare’s Iago waspishly observes, ‘is an essence that’s not seen’ (Othello 4.1.16). In its invisibility, the ‘secret powre’ of chastity contrasts with the beauty of the coyly forth-peeping rose in the Bower of Bliss, which ‘fairer seemes, the lesse ye see her may’ (II.xii.74.6).

7.9 Ariosto’s Bradamante receives from Astolfo la lancia che di quanti ne percuote / fa le selle restar subito vòte (‘the lance that at first touch / left the saddle immediately vacant’; 23.15.7-8). Ariosto inherits this spear from Berni’s 1542 redaction of Boiardo, as Upton explains in a gloss that would be difficult to improve on:

[This spear] was made by Bladud, a British king, skilled in magick; see B.iii.C.3.St.60. . . . The staff of this Speare was of ebony, see B.iv.C.6.St.6. and it was headed with gold: ‘una lanza dorata’, as Boyardo, in Orl. Innam. calls it. . . . But let us hear the history of it from the Italian poets. —Galafron King of Cathaia, and father of the beautiful Angelica, and of the renowmed warriour Argalia, procured for his son, by the help of a magician, a lance of gold, whose virtue was such, that it unhorsed every knight as soon as touched with its point. Berni Orl. Innam. L.i.C.1.St.43. . . . . After the death of Argalia, this lance came to Astolpho, the English duke [Orl.Inn.L.i.C.2.St.20.] with this lance he unhorses his adversaries in the tilts and tourneyments [Ibid. Canto iii.] Just as Britomart overthrows the knights with her enchanted spear, in B.iv.C.4.St.46. In Ariosto, Orl.Furios. . . . we read of this same inchanted lance. Again C.xviii.St.118 . . . Astolfo, in C.xxiii.St.15. gives this inchanted speare of gold to Bradamante . . . With this speare Bradamante gains a lodging in Sir Tristans castle, ‘la Rocca di Tristano’, Canto xxxii. (St.65.) Not unlike to Britomartis, who gains her entrance, when refused a lodging, B.iii.C.9.St.12. (1987: 625-26)

Upton also suggests the spear of Athena (Il 5.746) as the model for this enchanted spear, but Homer does not specify any enchantments, observing only that with her spear ‘heavy and huge and strong’ the goddess ‘vanquishes the ranks of men’ (τῷ δάμνησι στίχας ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων tōi damnēsi sthichas andrōn hērōōn).

8.7-8.9 8.7-9 See ii.18-21 for this part of the story. The anticipatory summary here emphasizes the parallel between Britomart’s quest and Arthur’s, hers for an image seen in a mirror, his for a vision beheld in a dream. Unlike the Prince, Britomart will find her partner in the narrative. On ‘Venus looking glas’, see pr.5.5-9, where the queen is asked to see herself ‘fashioned’ in ‘mirrours more than one’. That Britomart sees a future spouse in the mirror expresses a key difference between her and the queen, whose espousal of her unmarried state is one reason Arthur cannot find Gloriana.
8.7 Britayne: ‘A sixth-century heroic and legendary setting in Arthurian Britain (Wales and Cornwall), from which the Saxon Redcrosse and all the Briton knights enter Faeryland’ (Erickson 1996: 3). In this sense Britomart is not a ‘forreine’ example (pr.1.4).
toward . . . untoward: impending . . . unfortunate
9.7 toward . . . untoward: ‘Untoward’ may also suggest awkwardness.
blame: Like ‘evill’ at 10.9, implies that Guyon’s ‘disdainefull wrath’ is intemperate—unlike the fall itself, which he experiences as ‘reprochefull shame’ but which the narrator has excused as ‘not thy fault’ (7.8).
rencounter: Appears once in each of the three books of 1590, most recently at II.i.26.5, describing Guyon’s averted attack upon Redcrosse. OED cites this line among examples for sense 1b, a fight or duel.
mightie Science: powerful wisdom
mightie Science: With magical overtones, given that the other uses of the word in the 1590 text associate it with Archimago, Duessa, and Merlin (I.ii.10.2, I.ii.38.4, III.ii.18.7).
hond: action
11.2 revenging rage: Cf. 9.7n. Hamilton 2001 notes that ‘the tempest of [Guyon’s] wrathfulness’ in destroying the Bower fulfills a vow of ‘dew vengeance’ against Acrasia sworn at II.i.61, and that at II.ii.30 Medina warns him against ‘fowle revenging rage’—a passion he has yet to master.
treaty: entreaty, plea
handeled: ‘To deal with or treat in speech or writing’ (OED), with overtones of managing or manipulating tactfully.
11.4-11.9 Arthur’s assuaging ‘reason’ differs comically from the Palmer’s proverbs, appeasing Guyon with pretexts rather than precepts and in the process implying that his rage owes more to wounded pride than to inflamed ‘corage’.
See I.ix.1 and note. Encounters among the protagonists of the various legends, or between any of them and Arthur, typically issue in pledges of faith seen as links in the ‘golden chaine of concord’. Accordingly, this stanza is linked to Arthur’s rescue of Redcrosse in Book I, Guyon’s reconcilement with Redcrosse (II.i.34.1-2), Arthur’s rescue of Guyon (II.viii.55-56), and, still to come, the mutual aid rendered by Britomart and Redcrosse (i.28-30, 66.7-9; iv.4.4-5). The pattern is varied in Book III: in the first two legends Arthur arrives in canto viii as an allegory of divine grace, delivering first Redcrosse and then Guyon from certain death. In Book III he is present instead for the first-canto reconciliation, and his subsequent course runs parallel to Britomart’s rather than supervening upon it. Instead it is Britomart who renders aid, initially to Redcrosse and eventually to Scudamour.
12.2 The virtues enabling the reconciliation are those espoused by Guyon and Britomart, respectively.
embaste: degraded

St. 13

Based on Ariosto, OF 1.22, where Ferraù and Rinaldo have just decided that they will try to catch the fleeing Angelica before they fight over her. The two knights dash off in pursuit of her (sharing Ferraù's horse), at which point the narrator exclaims, Oh gran bontà de' cavallieri antiqui! (‘O great goodness of the ancient knights!’). Given that the motive for the knights’ reconciliation mingles concupiscence with calculation of advantage, Ariosto’s irony is apparent. Spenser has separated the two moments (for the flight of Angelica, see st. 15-18) and, by doing so, muted the irony. But insofar as his golden chain of concord is still partly knit by the artful soothing of Guyon’s wounded pride (11.4-9n), Spenser is not so much ignoring Ariosto’s irony as softening its touch.

envy: emulate
13.8 envy: A richly ambiguous term in Spenser (see II.ii.19.2n), ‘envy’ here complicates the muted irony of the narrator’s tone by suggesting that the mixed motives of rivalry and covetous resentment that have to be pacified in Guyon may pass over into readers who reenact the knight’s combative response to Britomart in an imaginary contest with a deceptively idealized past.
edifyde: built up
dernly: dismally
14.4 dernly: Cited by OED as ‘a Spenserian archaism’.
14.5-14.9 14.5-9 The knights pass from the ‘equall plaine’ of their chivalrous encounter (8.5) to a forest inhabited by beasts noted for their violent natures.

St. 15-18

Based on Ariosto, OF 1.33-35. See st. 4-12n and st. 13n. In this canto Spenser recombines elements from two separate episodes in Ariosto, Bradamante’s joust with Sacripant and the flight of Angelica with Ferraù and Rinaldo in pursuit.

Palfrey: ‘a small saddle horse for a woman’ (OED)
15.2 Palfrey: Cf. Una’s ‘snowy Palfrey’, I.iii.8.8.
foreby: close by
cleare: shining
15.4-15.5 15.4-5 Crystal and whalebone are conventional terms of praise in medieval courtly lyric.
16.3-16.4 16.3-4 Echoing Golding’s translation of Ovid: as Daphne flees from Apollo, ‘Hir goodly yellowe golden haire that hanged loose and slacke, / With every pluffe of ayre did wave and tosse behind her backe’ (1.643-44).
16.5-16.9 16.5-9 See SC Dec 55-60, where a comet that arouses ‘unkindly heate’ in Colin is glossed by E. K. as ‘a blasing starre, meant of beautie, which was the cause of his whote love’.
16.6 Alluding to the etymology of ‘comet’ from L cometa, derived in turn from the Gk κομήτης komētēs (‘wearing long hair’).
16.8-16.9 16.8-9 Precedents for the comet as ill omen include Pliny, Virgil, Cicero, Lucan, Silius Italicus, Tasso, Lydgate, and Du Bartas (see Var 3.205-7).
foster: forester
17.2 foster: Personifying the forest as a place of lust and violence.
tyreling Jade: worn-out nag
his: the tyreling Jade’s
his: the forester’s
clownish: coarse, peasant-like
bore speare: weapon used to hunt wild boar
18.2 great envy and fell gealosy: Ambiguous motives: envy and jealousy may signify hostility and indignation, but also suggest a sense of rivalry with the pursuer (see II.ii.19.2n and 13.8n above). The ambiguity is reinforced when their desire to rescue the maiden is equated with pursuit of her ‘selfe’ as a ‘meede’, or reward.
bylive: eagerly
18.6 bylive: That the knights are ‘equally’ eager in their sexually-tinged pursuit of the lady renders them undifferentiated.
18.9 18.9 Emphasizing that Arthur and Guyon have elected to pursue the damsel rather than her assailant.
19.1-19.2 19.1-2 See 18.9n; the point is amplified in these lines, which indirectly impute lightness and inconstancy to the male knights. See st. 13n and st. 15-18n: some of the Ariostan irony deflected in Spenser’s earlier echo of the pursuit of Angelica by Ferraù and Rinaldo resurfaces here in the implicit contrast between Britomart and the male knights.
that perlous Pace: dangerous pass
that perlous Pace: Echoing the ‘Pace Perelus’ confronted by Sir Beawmaynes in the Morte D’Arthur (7.9; fol. 120).
edifyde: constructed
20.5 Given the forest’s associations with violence and concupiscence, the castle’s placement near it ‘for pleasure’ is not a promising sign.
20.6-20.7 20.6-7 Cf. II.xii.50.2-4, ‘A large and spacious plaine . . . Mantled with greene’—one of many hints that the narrative is, in some sense, revisiting the Bower of Bliss.
darrayne: engage in, wage (a Spenserism)
mayne: physical force
mainely: with physical force
21.1 mainely: Spenser may also be punning on the heraldic term for ‘hand’, from Fr main and L manus.
before: from the front
at a bay: cornered and unable to flee further—from the chorus of baying cries that signal this final stage of the hunt
embost: driven to exhaustion
22.2 embost: Insofar as the term’s uncertain etymology suggests OF bos, bois wood, and Ital imboscare, defined by Florio as ‘to enter or goe into a wood, to take covert or shelter as a Deere doeth’, it calls attention to the blurring of settings. The hunting simile in these lines figuratively places the action back in the forest from which Britomart has just emerged.
gyre: The knights are wheeling around their opponent like a vortex; cf. II.v.8.7.

St. 24

The refusal of the ‘single knight’ to change echoes the description of Britomart’s ‘constant mind’ and ‘stedfast corage’ in contrast to Guyon and Arthur (19.1, 8).

24.3-24.4 liefe . . . me liefer were: ‘beloved . . . would be preferable to me’. The knight’s wordplay, converting a noun that signifies exclusive attachment into an adjective expressing comparison and preference, mocks the effort of the six knights to enforce upon him a ‘choice’ that turns out (st. 26-27) to be no choice at all.
my wrested right: ‘my enforced truth’; ‘right’ is opposed to ‘wrong’, with an added play on the sense of a legal or moral entitlement, since ‘wrested’ evokes the etymology of tort, from L tortus twisted, wrung.
one, the truest one: Una, evoking the phrase una vera fides, one true faith.
24.7 th’Errant damzell: First applied to Una at II.i.19.8, the phrase suggests her wandering in search of Redcrosse.
25.5-25.9 25.5-9 The formulaic or sententious quality of these lines marks them as a thematic keynote, echoing Chaucer, CT Franklin 764-66: ‘love wol nat been constreyned by maistrey. / What maistrie comth, the God of Love anon / Beteth his wynges, and farewel, he is gon!’ Lines 5-6 reformulate a major theme of Book I, recalled here as a Legend of Fidelity, while lines 7-9 go on to link this to the main theme of Book III; they also glance back at Florimell in flight from masculine pursuit.
26.3 soveraine: A conventional use of the adjective to mean ‘surpassing’, but perhaps a loaded term insofar as Malecasta’s form of erotic ‘maistery’ may be seen to parody the sorts of double-bind Elizabeth imposed on her favorites (27.6-9).
debonayre: gracious
26.4 debonayre: From OF de bonne aire of good disposition.
26.6-26.9 26.6-27.9 First instance in the poem of a recurrent motif, ‘the custom of the castle’ (see Zurcher 2007: 66-67). Such episodes are a stock element of the chivalric romance tradition, common in the narratives of Chretien, Malory, Boiardo, and Ariosto. Because the knight encountering a local custom must judge it according to universal ethical and political norms, the encounter provides a conceptually clear way of staging arguments about universality and locality, rule and exception, relativism, and sovereignty—or, in the present instance, about love and dominion. Given the importance accorded by early modern English common law to the legal authority of custom, it is not surprising to find that, for all of its parodic force in the present episode, Spenser’s use of this romance convention tends more toward ambiguity and relativism than comparable examples in French and Italian sources. His use of the topos was doubtless also influenced by his experience of the native customs of the Irish and Old English in Elizabethan Ireland, which he discusses at length in A Vewe, and by his New English attitudes to civil reform there.
27.1-27.9 26.6-27.9 First instance in the poem of a recurrent motif, ‘the custom of the castle’ (see Zurcher 2007: 66-67). Such episodes are a stock element of the chivalric romance tradition, common in the narratives of Chretien, Malory, Boiardo, and Ariosto. Because the knight encountering a local custom must judge it according to universal ethical and political norms, the encounter provides a conceptually clear way of staging arguments about universality and locality, rule and exception, relativism, and sovereignty—or, in the present instance, about love and dominion. Given the importance accorded by early modern English common law to the legal authority of custom, it is not surprising to find that, for all of its parodic force in the present episode, Spenser’s use of this romance convention tends more toward ambiguity and relativism than comparable examples in French and Italian sources. His use of the topos was doubtless also influenced by his experience of the native customs of the Irish and Old English in Elizabethan Ireland, which he discusses at length in A Vewe, and by his New English attitudes to civil reform there.
approve: commend or sanction; uphold, bear out in trial
26.6 approve: Cf. 27.3, 28.6, and 30.1.
28.6-28.8 28.6-8 If Britomart’s assault on ‘one . . . ere well aware he weare’ is meant to suggest a certain over-zealousness on her part, it belongs to a combative strain in her character that corresponds to Guyon’s irascibility. The canto will close on a similar note: Britomart’s daunger is dangerous.
aventred: risked or chanced
28.7 aventred: Perhaps (as Hamilton 2001 suggests) mingling English ‘aventure’ with Ital aventare, which Florio 1598 glosses ‘to hurle, to fling, to throw, to darte, to cast violently, to seaze greedily or leape upon’.
29.8 29.8 Mingling the proverbs ‘truth is mighty’ and ‘love conquers all’ (Smith 1970, nos. 792, 481.) The proverbs blended in this line reflect the alliance of Redcrosse’s ‘truth’ with Britomart’s ‘true love’.
30.1 prove: ‘Prove’ and the related form ‘approve’ are key thematic terms in this episode, focused on Britomart’s combination of inexperience and combative prowess. Cf. 26.6, 27.3, and 28.6.
30.6 mard: FE; all three early editions read ‘shard’. One of a few instances where FE appears to ‘correct’ readings that are unusual rather than wrong. ‘Shard’ may be read as a variant of ‘shear’ (OED ‘share’ v. 1, ‘cut into parts’) with a pun on turning swords into plowshares.
frame: structure
port: appearance; entrance
31.2 Castle Joyeous: The name of the castle echoes both the Palazzo Gioioso created for Rinaldo by Angelica in Boiardo (OI 1.8.1-14) and the ‘Joyus Garde’ where Launcelot installs Trystram and Isode, ‘garnyshed and furnysshed for a kynge and a quene royall there to have suggeourned’, and where ‘they made joy togydrys dayly with all manner of myrthis that they coude devyse’ (Morte D’Arthur 10.52). More generally, the Castle evokes the milieu of medieval courts of love like those convened in the court of Princess Marie de Champange, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the ethos of seduction or amour courtois associated with Medieval romances like the Roman de la Rose (see Fowler 1959).
31.4-31.6 31.4-6 Strong enjambments appear occasionally in FQ, but two in rhyming succession are rare. The effect is intensified by the repeated syntactic formula, in which a modifying adjective is suspended at line’s end with the noun it modifies following (but not immediately) after the break. The effect, which prolongs closure by drawing the sense out over three lines, nicely realizes the narrator’s opening claim (‘long were it to describe’) as it characterizes the ‘stately port’—the elaborate courtesies of induction—that delay the knights’ presentation to the Lady of the castle, whose importance is, presumably, magnified by such protocols. This effect will be redoubled in the following stanzas, as it turns out that we have not yet arrived in the Lady’s presence after all, and will not in fact do so until after another nine stanzas of description.
glee: courtly entertainment
31.7-31.9 31.7-9 Hamilton 2001 suggests that the ‘Chamber long and spacious’ that brings the knights ‘unto their Ladies sight’ recalls the ‘King's Long Gallery’ in the Queen’s chambers at Hampton Court (floor plan reproduced in Frye 1993: 125). If so, the resemblance reinforces the suggestion that Malecasta offers a critical reflection on Elizabeth’s relations with her favorites (see 26.3n, and cf. 32.4, st. 33-44).
purveyance: provisions
33.5-33.9 33.5-9 The implied criticism of the Castle’s ‘stately manner’ is carefully poised between a judgment that such extravagance constitutes ‘superfluous riotize’ (excessive, dissolute living; cf. the ‘lawlesse riotise’ of Idleness in procession of the Seven Deadly Sins at the House of Pride, I.iv.20.5) under any circumstances, and a more circumspect reflection that it is inappropriate for ‘the state of meane degree’. The closing question—how is it possible to support such a style of magnificence?—is left hanging with respect to an authentically royal court like that of Elizabeth, neither applied directly nor emphatically deflected.
devize: guess

St. 34-38

The second of the poem’s ekphrastic set-pieces (see II.xii.45.1n, and for a concise formal analysis of the present passage, Hollander 1995: 16-17).

34.2 34.2 The ‘clothes’ that dress the walls are tapestries, widely used to decorate (and insulate) galleries and hallways in the courts and castles of early modern Europe. Arras, in Northern France, and Tournai, in Belgium, were noted centers for the manufacture of tapestries.
pourtrahed: A recurring term that keynotes the concern with representation and perception through all three books of the 1590 FQ. See glossary and notes to I.viii.33.7, II.viii.43.3, II.ix.33.8-9, and III.pr.1.8-9.
34.4-34.5 34.4-5 The subject of these tapestries, like that of most others in the Renaissance, derives from written sources—in this case, Ovid (Met 10.519-739) and Bion, ‘Lament for Adonis’—so that the poet’s imitation of an imagined depiction is implicitly reclaiming the narrative for poetry while passing it through a fictional transposition into pictorial art. If the fictional tapestry’s principal sources are Ovid and Bion, Spenser’s is probably Conti (Myth 5.16; 437-441) or C. Stephanus s.v. ‘Adonis’ and ‘Adonis horti’, which provide most of the details in Spenser’s account.
St. 35-38 The passage moves gradually from description to narration, substituting its own ‘speaking picture’ (Sidney, Defence: 80) for the one it is describing as the tapestry fades from view and the story comes forward. (See II.xii.45.3-4n on the equivalent effect in the description of the gate to the Bower of Bliss.) ‘Then’ at 35.1 follows from ‘First did it shew’ (34.7), preserving the reference to the tapestry but doing so in elision; ‘Now’ (at 35.4 and 35.6) sustains the elision while making the temporal reference more immediate. Stanzas 36 and 37 move into direct narration, without reference to the pictorial artifact; by the time st. 38 resumes the rhetoric of deixis (pointing at), it is no longer clear whether ‘Lo, where beyond he lyeth languishing’ asks us to witness the narrative event or its pictorial representation.
Beauperes: companions
36.1-36.4 36.1-4 These lines, echoing the description of Acrasia as she leans over the sleeping Verdant in the Bower of Bliss (II.xii.73), extend the suggestion in earlier passages that the Legend of Chastity takes up and revises issues imperfectly resolved in the Legend of Temperance (see notes to III.pr and to arg.3, 1.9, 7.8, 9.8, 11.2). Britomart defeats Guyon’s lingering irascibility in an episode that harks back to the opening of Book II, then revisits the Book’s final episode as an initial rather than terminal test of her virtue. It is perhaps not too much to say that the Castle Joyeous ‘is’ the Bower of Bliss, experienced now as Britomart’s nemesis rather than Guyon’s. (So for example the image of maternal eroticism in the tapestries appears less predatory, and conveys more empathy for Venus’s desire, than corresponding moments in the Bower.)
spyes: eyes
36.5 spyes: The motif of voyeurism from the Bower is shifted from the male to the female gaze as Venus here recalls Salmacis spying on Hermaphroditus (Ovid, Met 4.346-49).
36.7-36.9 36.7-8 Rosemary, as Shakespeare’s Ophelia remarks, is ‘for remembrance’ (Hamlet 4.5.175), and ‘Paunces’ (pansies, also known as heart’s ease or love-in-idleness) are ‘for thoughts’ (Fr pensée). Violets are associated with love: according to Dodoens 1595, the violet first appeared in response to Jupiter’s command that the earth bring forth nourishment for his lover Io during her sojourn as a heifer (A new Herbal 164).
Dreadfull: filled with dread
breede him scath: bring harm upon him
beyond: Perhaps, as Hamilton 2001 suggests, ‘in a farther tapestry’, or perhaps ‘back over there, not in the foreground’; in either case, suggestive of the way the visual representation spatializes narrative time.
38.4-38.5 38.4-5 ‘Endlesse’ and ‘evermore’ gesture toward one of the commonplace themes of the ekphrastic topos: narrative converted to visual image is frozen in time. Here the movement is not so much stilled as dilated into a perpetually unconsoled tenderness. Milton will capture both the tenderness and the perpetuity of this gesture when he recalls Spenser’s lines in the ‘sweet societies’ of Lycidas, ‘That sing, and singing in their glory move, / And wipe the tears forever from his eyes’ (178-181). Spenser will resume the narrative in line 7 with an adversative ‘But’ that leaves the dilated moment of tenderness strangely intact even as it also leaves it behind.
transmew: transmute
38.8 transmew: With a latent pun on ‘mew’ as cage or prison.
Which: The ambiguity of the pronoun reference focuses the sustained ambiguity of ekphrastic description. If the reference is to ‘flowre’, as the concluding phrase (‘as if it lively grew’) suggests, then the pronoun may be indicating something easily imaged; but proximity at least momentarily suggests as antecedent the action of metamorphosis, which can be narrated but not readily depicted in a static medium. ‘As if’ contrasts the ‘lively’ growth of the anemone created by Venus to the illusion of life created by the tapestry’s visual artistry.
39.2-39.5 39.2-5 The chamber is furnished with couches for reclining in the Roman fashion, whether for lust (‘delight’; cf. ‘lascivious disport’, 40.8) or idleness (‘untimely ease’).
39.8-39.9 39.8-9 For the mingling of fire and water imagery in depicting concupiscence, see II.xii.78.6-9n and II.i.34.7-9n.
40.1-40.6 40.1-6 For the corresponding passage in the Bower, see II.xii.70-71.
40.2 Lydian harmony: Dismissed by Socrates as especially inappropriate for warriors because ‘soft and convivial’, and hence ‘useless even to women who are to make the best of themselves, let alone to men’ (Republic 398e-399a, trans. Shorey); also disparaged as ‘verie ill for yong men’ in Ascham, Tox. (sig. Cv); cf. Milton, ‘L’Allegro’, ‘ever against eating Cares, / Lap me in soft Lydian airs’ (135-36).
sdeigned: disdained (from Ital sdegnare)
demeanure: demeanor, in the sense ‘mode of conduct’
sitting on a sumptuous bed: A fitting throne for ‘the Lady of delight’ (31.9).
41.4 41.4 On the pride of Persian queens, see I.ii.13.4 and I.iv.7.6.
bountihed: Magnificence or liberality—a defining virtue of the Renaissance prince, although context suggests that the lady’s liberality involves more than her wealth.
41.6-41.9 41.6-9 For the disciplined gaze as a sign of female chastity, cf. Womanhood in the Temple of Venus (IV.x.49.5-9) and the bride in Epith (236-7).
askaunce: sidelong
comely amenaunce: conduct becoming (to a lady)
devize: set forth in detail
Another echo of the Bower of Bliss (II.xii.80.1-5; cf. 36.1-4n).
wine and spiceree: spiced wine
42.6 42.6 With this delayed naming, a series of clues in the preceding stanzas come into focus: see 24.5-7 and 29.8. In refusing to abandon his faith to Una, Redcrosse shows that he has not forgotten the lessons of Book I.
vented up her umbriere: raised her visor for ventilation
42.9-43 The first of four highly charged unveilings of Britomart’s face (cf. ix.20-23; IV.i.13-14, vi.19-21). On such revelations as a motif in chivalric romance, see Giamatti (1984: 76-88). The simile seeks out a point of maximum contrast with the immediate context: night as opposed to day, the sky as opposed to an indoor setting, a lost traveler blessing the sudden access of light, as opposed to the lady and her attendants. Echoed by Milton in Comus 331-33.
43.1-43.9 42.9-43 The first of four highly charged unveilings of Britomart’s face (cf. ix.20-23; IV.i.13-14, vi.19-21). On such revelations as a motif in chivalric romance, see Giamatti (1984: 76-88). The simile seeks out a point of maximum contrast with the immediate context: night as opposed to day, the sky as opposed to an indoor setting, a lost traveler blessing the sudden access of light, as opposed to the lady and her attendants. Echoed by Milton in Comus 331-33.
heried: exalted
44.3-44.4 44.3-4 ‘For’ implies that presenting themselves to Britomart ‘unsought’ is an act of courtesy (not an intrusion).
44.8-44.9 44.8-9 Feudal language: ‘liegmen’, vassals; ‘free’, not subject to feudal bondage; ‘ought’, owed, as service to the lord (or lady); ‘to hold . . . in fee’, they hold their ‘offices’ from the Lady in return for the service they owe.

St. 45

Spenser’s six knights personify the steps in a conventional ‘ladder of love’ (gradus amoris), a classical topos widely diffused in medieval literature (cf. Friedman 1965-66). Spenser reinvents certain details—the number of steps in the ladder and their specific names varied—but he also revises the topos more fundamentally (and more mischievously), first by reversing assumed genders of lover and beloved and then by substituting the disguised lady knight of romance epic for the male lover of the medieval courtly love tradition (see st. 47n).

Gardante: Looking (Ital guardare, to look + -ant, L participial ending)
Parlante: Talking (Ital parlare)
Jocante: Playing (Ital giocare)
Basciante: Kissing (Ital basciare)
Bacchante: Drinking wine (Bacchante are the female votaries of Bacchus, the god of wine)
45.6 Bacchante: A. Fowler notes that ‘fell’ and ‘keene’ are synonyms for ‘pungent’, and thus pun on the sense of taste: ‘He was, as we would say, spirited’ (1959: 589, n11).
Noctante: Night (L nox, noctis)
45.7 Noctante: Breaks the series in that it is formed from a noun (L nox, noctis night) rather than a verb; the rest of the line (‘in armes . . . greater grew’) is a riddle with a pun on ‘armes’ as its key and the suppressed verb as its answer: Spenser’s noun veils the traditional actum or factum (doing).
45.9 But to faire Britomart: Both ‘in comparison to’ and ‘in the view of ’; they are shadows to her in the second sense because the actions they represent have not been embodied for her in lived experience.
46.1-46.5 46.1-5 This mixture of qualities has precedents in Claudian and Petrarch: Prob 91-2: miscetur decori virtus, pulcherque severo/ Amatur terrore pudor (‘She looks as good as she is fair, chaste beauty armed with awe’; trans. Platnauer); RS 171.7-8: et à sì egual a le bellezze orgoglio / che di piacer altrui par che le spiaccia (‘and her pride is so equal to her beauties that it seems to displease her that she pleases’; trans. Durling). Spenser’s version of the trope will be echoed by Fletcher and Milton (Purple Island 10.25; Comus 450-52).
46.6-46.9 46.6-9 An answer to the theme song of the Bower, ‘Gather the Rose of love, whilest yet is time’ (II.xii.75.8).

St. 47

Spenser bases the Lady’s mistaken lust for Britomart on Ariosto’s Fiordispina, who falls hopelessly in love with Britomart’s prototype Bradamante (OF 25.29-70). The comedy of Ariosto’s episode (based on the Ovidian tale of Iphis and Isis, Met 9.666-797) is tempered with sympathy for Fiordispina, who has better luck than Malecasta in that Bradamante turns out to have a twin brother, much like Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Ariosto shows that Fiordispina’s passion for Bradamante/Ricciardetto is no less powerful for having its basis in illusion and its satisfaction in a bed-trick; Spenser turns this comedy of ‘falsed fancy’ the other way, implying that the Lady’s consuming passion for Britomart would be no less self-deceptive were the knight as ‘fresh and lusty’ as she imagines ‘him’ to be.

fancy: fantasy
entyre: all-engrossing; internal
termes: words or expressions; mutual relation between persons; limits or boundaries;
open outrage: unconcealed violent passion
brust: burst
incontinence: lack of self-restraint
mistrust: suspect
48.6 Echoing the description of Redcrosse as ‘pourd out in loosnesse’ (I.vii.7.2).
discust: shaken off (from L discutere to shatter)

St. 49

First of several apostrophes to female readers in Book III. See v.53.1, vi.1.1, ix.1.1-2, and xi.2.6; also Quilligan (1983: 185-99).

49.1 captived: Love as a form of captivity—for the lover or the beloved—is a familiar trope in the courtly and Petrarchan traditions; it forms the underlying conceit of Petrarch’s Triumph of Love. Its seemingly casual use here prepares for a serious interrogation, later in Book III, of the implications such language may have for what Sylvester (2008), following Wittig, calls ‘the heterosexual contract’. See arg. 2n.
bounty: goodness (Fr bonté, L bonitatem)
bounteous deeds: Acts of generosity, in contrast to Malecasta’s ‘bountihed’ (41.5).
skill: understand
50.6-50.7 crafty glaunce / Of her false eies: The echo of 36.5, ‘her two crafty spyes’, calls attention to the affinity of Malecasta for Venus, also an importunate wooer.
rove: ‘to shoot with arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random’ (OED)
50.6 rove: Perhaps enacting an implied pun on ‘cast’ (in the name Malecasta) as ‘throw’ (cf. 51.8, ‘secret darts did throw’).
dissembled it with ignoraunce: ‘Pretended not to notice’, a strategy borrowed from Alma’s parlor (II.ix.44).
51.3 Ceres: goddess of grain, and Lyæus (Bacchus; cf. Ovid, Met 4.11) god of wine, here signifying their respective commodities. Cf. Sherry 1555, translating Erasmus, Adagia 521F, Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus: ‘Without Ceres and Bacchus Venus is cold: where Ceres is put for meate, Bacchus for wyne, and Venus for Lechery’ (Tilley, C211).
fatt: Cf. Shakespeare’s ‘Plumpy Bacchus’ (Antony and Cleopatra 2.7.114). Lotspeich suggests that the epithet results from an identification of Bacchus with Silenus (1965, s.v. ‘Bacchus’).
51.6 51.6 The latent metaphor of a river flooding is an image of sexual release (see vii.33-34 and note).
effort: force, power (L fors, fortis)
purport: outward bearing
52.7 purport: The only instance of this usage cited by OED.
discovered: disclosed
but if: unless
short: prompt
mote algates: must by all means
priefe: proof, i.e. experience
53.7 priefe: Related to ‘prove’ and ‘approve’ as key terms in the episode; see 30.1n.
malengine: guile
54.2 The phrasing here is too compact and suggestive for easy paraphrase, but an initial sense is ‘by her own experience of sexuality as weakness’. This sense will be fleshed out in the next canto.
54.4 imperious love: The narrator’s language here suggests—in contrast to Britomart’s pronouncement at 25.7 that love many not be ‘compeld by maistery’—that love is experienced precisely as an overmastering force. This contradiction lies at the heart of Spenser’s conception of chastity, and will be explored at length in Book III. In the present episode, Britomart’s experience of eros as torment is, ironically, the source of her misplaced empathy for Malecasta.
54.7 54.7 ‘Attaches faith too easily to fair appearances’.
54.8-54.9 54.8-9 See II.xii.81.4n. The fowler’s net deployed by the Palmer in the Bower is here ‘cast’ (figuratively) by the Lady.
55.1-55.4 55.1-4 Cf. Guyon’s courtesy toward Phaedria at II.vi.26.3-5, and the ‘perfect complement’ of chastity and courtesy in Belphoebe (v.55).
sdeigne: disdain
55.4 sdeigne: The initial response of the visitors to the ‘lascivious disport’ on display in Malecasta’s court (40.8).
Her . . . Her: the Lady . . . the Lady’s
shee . . . she: Britomart
she: the Lady
flit: fleeting, insubstantial
56.3-56.5 56.3-5 Echoing the description of Dido’s passion for Aeneas: Est molles flamma medullas / Interea, et tacitum vita sub pectore vulnus (‘All the while the flame devours her tender heart-strings, and deep in her breast lives the silent wound’; Aen 4.66-67), and anticipating the description in canto ii of Britomart’s love-wound (st. 37, 39).
56.8 Bascimano (Basciomani 1596): From Ital bascio le mani or Span bezo los manos, to kiss the hands. Cf. Puttenham, Arte: ‘With us the wemen give their mouth to be kissed; in other places their cheek; in many places their hand, or, in steed of an offer to the hand, to say these words, Bezo los manos’ (368); Gascoigne, Adventures: ‘proffering to take an humble congé by bezo las manos, she graciously gave him the zuccado dez labros’ (ed. Salzman, 11).
hazardry: gambling with dice
57.4 57.4 Named here for the first time outside the Argument (see arg.3n and 50.6n).
57.6-57.7 57.6-7 The stars are half-spent (as if they were oil-burning lamps), i.e. the time is midnight.
57.8-57.9 57.8-9 The ‘moist daughters’ are the Hyades, navita quas Hyadeas Graius ab imbre vocat (‘which the Grecian sailor calls the Hyades after the word for rain [hyein]’; Ovid, Fasti 5.166). Conti (Myth. 4.7) calls them daughters of Atlas, as do a number of widely used Renaissance dictionaries; they take their name from their brother Hyas, slain while hunting a lioness (Fasti 5.175-82). For their ‘drove’, or flock—‘weary’ presumably because the constellation is setting—see Fasti 5.164: pars Hyadum toto de grege nulla latet (‘no single part of the whole flock of the Hyades will be invisible’). Their flock is invisible in the northern hemisphere in the autumn close to the vernal equinox, when the constellation passes below the horizon.

St. 58-60

As Britomart slips into bed and Malecasta rises to steal anxiously toward her ‘bowre’ (60.2), Spenser at once recalls and transforms the scene from OF in which Ruggiero awaits the approach of Alcina (7.21-26). As Dodge shrewdly notes, ‘the situation is . . . the exact reverse’: the drama of sexual anticipation is displaced from the male knight in his chamber to the Lady of the castle in her approach (and the outcome will be quite different) (1897: 183). This allusion suggests in yet another way that the Castle Joyeous is a revisionary take on the Bower of Bliss, for the ‘vele of silke and silver thin’ worn by Acrasia at II.xii.77.4 alludes to the vel suttile that Alcina wears to her rendezvous with Ruggiero. The intertextual link points up the comic reversal not only of the scene from Ariosto, but also of that from the Bower: Britomart is no Ruggiero, nor is she about to become another Verdant. The comic reversal of outcome in this noctural scene is coded into the pun on the phrase ‘in armes’ that characterizes Noctante (see 45.7n), as Britomart veers abruptly from one sense of the phrase to the other.

kindly: natural
58.5-58.6 all the rest / Avoided quite: The other guests have retired; the added emphasis (‘all . . . quite’), following the repeated earlier stress on Britomart’s refusal to remove her armor, suggests that she is still apprehensive about her surroundings.
despoile: undress
assoile: absolve
assoile: Hamilton 2001 notes that Britomart loosens first her armor and then her her ‘carefull thoughts’, leaving herself vulnerable.
engrieved: filled with pain
59.4 engrieved: Cf. OED 3, ‘to take as a ground of accusation or reproach’.
59.6-59.7 wearie bed . . . guilty Night: Transferred epithets.
59.8-59.9 59.8-9 The perilous balance between Malecasta’s stealth and her vanity is humorously conveyed by her choice of a ‘scarlott mantle’ ornamented with gold and ermine to wear ‘under the blacke vele of guilty Night’.
the bowre: Echoing the Bower of Bliss (see st. 58-60n).
proov’d: tested
60.5 proov’d: See 30.1n.
60.5-60.9 60.5-9 Upton suggests possible sources for these lines in Ariosto’s description of ‘the Greek’ sneaking into bed with Fiametta as she lies between Astolfo and Jocondo (OF 28.62-3); in Ovid’s description of Priapus stealing to the pallet of Lotis (Fasti 1.425-30); and in the Pseudo-Virgilian Ciris, where Scylla creeps to her father’s bed to make off with his charmed lock of hair (1987: 640-41).
60.8 weary (1590, 1596; wary 1609): ‘Wary’ is (like many of 1609’s emendations) an inspired conjecture.
easy shifte: careful, delicate movement
abrayd: startle from sleep
61.5 61.5 The ‘finest fingers touch’ that frightens Malecasta is her own; the ambiguity of the phrasing strangely links her to the sleeping Britomart. See st. 58-60n on the reversal of the scene from Ariosto.
weary side: The repetition of this adjective (see 59.6, 60.8) is another detail linking Malecasta to Britomart; cf. ‘lightly’ at 59.6, 62.2.
filed: defiled
gride: pierce
ghastly drerihedd: astonished horror
family: household; retinue
rouzed couches: Transferred epithet.
attons: at once
sencelesse grownd: Transferred epithet.
contecke: strife
embosse: See 22.2n; the repetition of this hunting term serves to link the two scenes, as Redcrosse returns the favor with which the episode opens.
rased: relevant senses include grazed, scratched, incised, and inscribed
65.7-65.9 65.7-9 Cf. Homer, Il 4.139-40: ἀκρότατον δ’ ἄρ’ ὀϊστὸς ἐπέγραψε χρόα φωτός· / αὐτίκα δ’ ἔρρεεν αἷμα κελαινεφὲς ἐξ ὠτειλῆς; akrotaton d’ är hoïstos epegrapse chroa phōtos / antika d’ ërreen ahima kelainephes hex hōteolēs (‘so the arrow grazed the outermost flesh of the warrior, and immediately dark blood flowed from the wound’). Spenser’s very different context both reinforces and repudiates the suggestion (absent in Homer) of a sexual defloration. The imagined loss of virginity is doubly deflected—it was never a literal possibility in the first place, and the ‘dart’ all but misses its target. Britomart does, however, suffer a ‘flesh wound’ (echoing that of Adonis at 38.5-6, though less serious)—perhaps because she was taken in by Malecasta’s histrionic anguish (st. 53-54), or because Gardante alludes to the love-wound inflicted on her by the ‘image shee had seene in Venus looking glas’ (8.9). The two possibilities are related insofar as it is precisely her experience of the love-wound that renders her susceptible to pity for Malecasta.
flaming sword: Cf. the cherubim and flaming sword that prevent Adam and Eve from returning to Eden (Gen 3:24).
mischiefe could eschew: could avoid harm
trade: manner of life
67.5-67.6 ungentle . . . seeming gent: Playing on the discrepancy between the abstract sense of ‘gentle’ and the embedded assumption that social rank corresponds to virtue (analogous to the ambiguity of the term ‘noble’).
2 Artegall: Also spelled Arthegall, his name suggests both ‘art of equity’ (or ‘[thou] art equal’, meaning just or impartial; see SpE s.v. ‘Artegall’) and ‘equal to Arthur’. He is introduced to us by increments: in the present canto, first in the description by Redcrosse, st. 9-10 and 13-14, and then in the narrator’s description of the image Britomart saw in the enchanted mirror, st. 24-25. We learn more about him from Merlin in canto iii, 26-28. He does not join the narrative proper until 1596, when he enters the lists at Satyrane’s tournament in IV.iv and reappears briefly in IV.vi. He returns in Book V as the patron knight of Justice.
The wondrous myrrhour: Mentioned at i.8.9 as ‘Venus looking glas’, but associated rather with Merlin when it is described at length in st. 18-21.

St. 1-3

A similar lament for the lost memory of women’s martial valor begins canto iv. Both passages draw immediately on Ariosto (OF 20.1-3, 37.1-23) and broadly on the Renaissance defense of women (see SpE s.v. ‘women, defense of’).


St. 1

Unlike Ariosto, Spenser leads not with praise of women’s deeds but with censure of men’s bias. The corresponding passage in Ariosto appears at OF 37.2.4-6, 3.

proper: own
indifferent: impartial
writing small: scant writing; writing that minimizes
deface: efface; extinguish; discredit

St. 2

On women warriors in Spenser and his Italian predecessors, see Robinson (1985). Women’s enforced turn from ‘warlike armes’ to ‘artes and pollicy’ adumbrates the theme of female rule, a subject of wide-ranging controversy in the sixteenth century. For Spenser’s care in hedging his position on the question, see SpE s.v. ‘women, defense of’. The corresponding stanza in Ariosto, which pairs warriors specifically with poets (as if replacing Virgil’s arma virumque with arma cantrixque), opens canto 20 of Orlando Furioso.

streight: strict
envy: resent
2.9 envy: Here and in line 5 (‘envious’), the term associates the resentful wish to possess another’s good with the underlying spirit of rivalry that inspires it (see II.ii.19.2n).
3.2-3.3 3.2-3 The pairing of Britomart and Elizabeth as exemplars of women’s greatness in the arts of war and peace is emphasized by the syntax, which elides the word precedent from line two but links the uncompleted imperative ‘Be thou’ to the appearance of precedent in line 3 through repetition and zeugma. In this way Elizabeth, although historically belated, manages to serve as ‘precedent’ to her predecessor. Cf. pr.5.5-9, where Gloriana and Belphoebe are named as reflections of Elizabeth.
precedent: model
3.3 precedent: Cf. SC ‘To His Booke’ 3-4.
endyte: compose
3.4-3.6 3.4-6 The over-excited combination of anadiplosis (repeating the last word of a clause or line at the beginning of the next one) with internal rhyme offers a comically apt prelude to the poet’s confession that his rhymes are ‘rude and rugged’. On the unsuitability of rhyme ‘both in the end and middle of a verse, unless it be in toys and trifling poesies’, see Puttenham 2.10.
3.8-3.9 3.8-9 Cf. Tibullus, ‘Eulogy of Messalla’: nec tua praeter te chartis intexere quisquam / facta queat, dictis ut non maiora supersint (‘if none but thyself can so embroider the page with thy achievements that what is left is not greater than what is recounted’; 3.7.5-6).
with Guyon: an error for the Knight of the Redcrosse
4.1 with Guyon: The mention of ‘that Fairies mind’ in line 4 suggests that the error is not just a momentary slip but the remnant of an earlier version in which Guyon rather than Redcrosse was Britomart’s companion. (Redcrosse discovers on the Mount of Contemplation that he is ‘sprong out from English race, / How ever now accompted Elfins sonne’; I.x.60.1-2). For other traces of unfinished revision in the first half of Book III, see i.arg.3 and iv.45.1-6, both of which suggest an abandoned plan to reintroduce Archimago and Duessa as antagonists to Britomart.
purpose: topic for conversation
Briton Maid: The balanced contrast between ‘Fairies mind’ and ‘Briton Maid’ emphasizes a distinction appropriate to Guyon rather than Redcrosse, who is neither Briton nor Fairy but Saxon.
uncouth: unknown
inquest: an archaic form of ‘quest’, found in Mallory and Caxton.
dissemble her disguised kind: The redundancy has Britomart disguising her disguised sex, perhaps glancing at the limits of her self-knowledge: i.e., the female sexual identity she conceals from others is also hidden from herself.

4.8-9 On early modern gender as a property as much of apparel as of bodies, see Orgel (1996: 83-105). These lines are imitated by Fletcher, PI 10.29.1-5:

Thus hid in arms, she seem’d a goodly Knight, And fit for any warlike exercise: But when she list lay down her armour bright, And back resume her peacefull Maidens guise; The fairest Maid she was . . .

armed was her brest: The phrasing suggests that Britomart’s reluctance to disarm herself (i.42.6-7) is a belated defense against the love-wound she has suffered.
flake: flash
fulmined: flashed (L fulmen lightning)

St. 6

This account of Britomart’s upbringing owes more to Tasso’s description of the Amazon warrior Clorinda (GL 2.39-40) than to Britomart’s actual history.

Spenser’s principal innovation is to have shifted the description into the first person, though he also breaks with Tasso’s second stanza to emphasize Britomart’s British origin and quest for fame. (Here as elsewhere, Fairfax’s translation shows the influence of Spenser’s imitation.)

stowre: conflict
6.3 stowre: The contrast between the ‘warlike stowre’ in which Britomart says she was brought up and the ‘bitter stowre’ (5.3) that now shakes her like lightning from within belongs to the motif of Britomart’s combative defensiveness, condensed into the pun on ‘armes’ in the previous canto (st. 58-60n) and glanced at just above in the phrase ‘armed was her brest’ (4.9n).
affrap: strike
6.6-6.9 6.6-9 Both Britomart’s female identity and the connotations of ‘pleasures wanton lap’ (a phrase that tends to sexualize the fingered needle and thread) are associated for Britomart with the internal ‘stowre’ precipitated by her desire for Artegall. Her reaction to anything that threatens to stir this inner tempest is combative: she would rather be pierced and ‘die’ in battle than in bed.
Me lever were: I would rather
All my delight: Not quite all. The implicit wordplay between ‘deedes of armes’ and acta performed ‘in armes’ persists within Britomart’s speeches in spite of her.
card: mariner’s card, i.e. a chart or compass rose
7.7 card: See II.vii.1.6n.
The greater Brytayne: as opposed to Brittany in France
7.9 The greater Brytayne: See i.8.7n.
wonne: dwell
voyage: journey
8.7-8.9 8.7-9.2 Britomart’s ambivalence about her ‘mis-saying’ suggests that it may be a parapraxis: as such, it might simultaneously express both the resentful feeling that Artegall, as the cause of her ‘bitter stowre’ (5.3), really has wronged her, and the contrary, presumably disavowed wish that, although he hasn’t dishonored her yet, he would do just that.
9.1-9.2 8.7-9.2 Britomart’s ambivalence about her ‘mis-saying’ suggests that it may be a parapraxis: as such, it might simultaneously express both the resentful feeling that Artegall, as the cause of her ‘bitter stowre’ (5.3), really has wronged her, and the contrary, presumably disavowed wish that, although he hasn’t dishonored her yet, he would do just that.
wreake: punish
missayd: spoken abusively; misspoken
9.3 uptaking ere the fall: Redcrosse catches her utterance before it hits the ground, so to speak; Spenser’s phrase may express the force of the Latin verb excipere in Virgil when, addressed by Venus, tum sic excepit regia Juno (Aen 4.114, literally ‘then thus took it up queenly Juno’). In declining to entertain her accusation against Artegall, the knight avoids the error that prompted Guyon’s near-attack upon him at II.i.25.8-27.
misavised: misinformed
borne the name: carried away the title
For thy: therefore
10.4-10.5 10.4-5 ‘The noble heart never entertains a thought unworthy of itself’—implicitly a rebuke to Britomart.
10.6-10.7 10.6-7 I.e. don’t go out of your way to find trouble.
11.6-11.9 11.6-9 See John 16:21: ‘A woman when she traveileth, hath sorowe, because her houre is come: but assoone as she is delivered of the childe, she remembreth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is borne into the worlde.’ The simile conveys Britomart’s sense of wonder and relief at hearing Redcrosse confirm her fantasy-image, her first external view, so to speak, of something she has long carried within. It is not only immediate (and intimate) in its affective power, but also doubly proleptic, anticipating the dynastic heir she will eventually bear as well as standing in for her first view ‘in the flesh’ of what has till now been for her only a name and an image.
the deare closett: her womb
stryfull: full of strife
balke: raise objections
12.7-12.9 12.7-9 The legalese (‘hainous tort’) is ironic given that Artegall will turn out to be the patron knight of Justice. Also ironic is the implication that Britomart’s chastity may have been compromised along with Artegall’s justice (see 8.7-9.2n).
largely: fully, at length
read: declare
faytour: impostor
13.9 ‘Whose equal in prowess no living person ever saw’.

St. 14

Cf. the description at i.3.4-9 of the errancy of Guyon and Arthur, and Isa 1:17: ‘Learne to do wel: seke judgement, relive the oppressed: judge the fatherless and defend the widowe’.

to read: to discern
ne wonneth: dwells not
feeling: emotionally laden
15.1 feeling: This sense appears to originate with Sidney 1586 (Arcadia II.61), picked up first by Lodge 1589 (Scillaes metamorphosis, sig. B4), and then by Spenser 1590 (cf. I.v.24.6, I.vii.38.6).
sence: ‘The senses viewed as forming a single faculty in contradistinction to intellect, will’ (OED); ‘feeble’ because tied to the body and to the fantasy.
molten: melting, softened by the heat of passion
15.2 molten: Cf. Cymochles’ ‘molten hart’ at II.vi.27.5.
allegge: alleviate
15.5-15.6 15.5-6 The image of the enchanter charming a serpent may echo Ps 58.4-5, ‘Their poison is even like the poison of a serpent: like the deafe adder that stoppeth his eare. Which heareth not the voyce of the inchanter, thogh he be most expert in charming’, and Jer 8:17, ‘For beholde, I will sende serpents, and cockatrices among you, which will not be charmed’.
efforce: resist
Cf. SC, Epistle 60-61, ‘So oftentimes a dischorde in Musick maketh a comely concordaunce’, and Smith (1970, no. 185).
by which he may appeare: by which I may recognize him
paravaunt: perhaps
16.4 paravaunt: Probably, as Hamilton 2001 suggests, a shortened form of ‘paraventure’.
vaunt: proclaim, with a negative connotation imputing boastfulness
fashioned: shaped or portrayed
16.9 fashioned: A key term used by Spenser to characterize his own activity as a poet (FQ Letter 8 and pr.5.8), it refers equally to mimesis and poesis, or to imitating and making.
fayne: ‘feign’, dissemble
17.2 fayne: Etymologically linked to the activity of fashioning through the Latin root (fingere to mould) that it shares with ‘fiction’. The implication is that she and Redcrosse are exchanging fictions of Artegall.
17.3 in Brytayne: See i.8.7n.
engraffed: engrafted
17.5 engraffed: ‘Engraffed’ awakens the figure latent in ‘grow’, then unfolds it in the lines that follow, introducing the unsettling image, repeated several times in the poem, of a genealogical ‘tree’ growing out of Britomart’s body.
18.1-18.2 18.1-2 The emphasis on seeing keys an extended contrast between Britomart’s experience of the visual as a register of erotic experience, and the voyeurism of the Bower of Bliss.
18.3 These books are fictional, like Britomart and her story.
18.4 Deheubarth: See Holinshed 1.26: ‘In the beginning it [Wales] was divided into two kingdoms onelie, that is to saie, Venedotia or Gwynhedh (otherwise called Dehenbarth) and Demetia, for which we now use most commonlie the names of South and Northwales’.
18.5 king Ryence: In Malory, husband to Morgan le Faye and brother-in-law to Arthur (157.30-158.22).
dealed right: governed well
18.5-18.9 18.6-19 Spenser’s Merlin finds literary precedent in Book 3 of Orlando Furioso, where he shows Bradamante her progeny. But Ariosto’s Merlin has no mirror; the ‘glasse’ Spenser’s Merlin has devised finds a different precedent in Chaucer (CT Squire 5.132-41). For Merlin as the maker of Arthur’s shield and sword, see I.vii.36 and II.viii.20. Spenser’s Merlin may also figure the mathematician and astrologer John Dee, reputed to be a conjurer, who confirmed Elizabeth’s Arthurian lineage, and once showed the queen a mirror whose unusual ‘properties’ had led to the rumor that he was a magician (Nichols 1823, 1:414-15).
19.1-19.9 18.6-19 Spenser’s Merlin finds literary precedent in Book 3 of Orlando Furioso, where he shows Bradamante her progeny. But Ariosto’s Merlin has no mirror; the ‘glasse’ Spenser’s Merlin has devised finds a different precedent in Chaucer (CT Squire 5.132-41). For Merlin as the maker of Arthur’s shield and sword, see I.vii.36 and II.viii.20. Spenser’s Merlin may also figure the mathematician and astrologer John Dee, reputed to be a conjurer, who confirmed Elizabeth’s Arthurian lineage, and once showed the queen a mirror whose unusual ‘properties’ had led to the rumor that he was a magician (Nichols 1823, 1:414-15).
science: knowledge acquired by study (from L scientia knowledge)
aguiz’d: equipped
solemniz’d: honored
So that: As L. Silberman notes, the phrase is ambiguous, and may be construed either as ‘introducing a results clause’ or as meaning ‘provided that’ (1995: 23).
ne ought mote pas: ‘Nor might anything escape notice’.
19.8-19.9 19.8-9 King Ryence’s ‘looking glasse’ seems to change from one moment to the next. It was ‘Venus looking glas’ at i.8.9, but now is associated with Merlin; it has the properties sometimes of a mirror and sometimes of a crystal ball. The mirror’s antecedents are no less varied. In addition to Chaucer and John Dee commentators have cited Plato’s Phaedrus, Camões’ Lusiad, and Cornelius Agrippa. In the Lusiad, da Gama sees the future in a divinely wrought globe that, like Spenser’s, ‘seemd a world of glas’ (10.77-79). Agrippa discusses optical illusions in Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1.6, 2.1, 2.3) and in Vanity of the Sciences (ch. 26). His work was often cited by John Dee, and his reputation as an expert on magic mirrors seems to have inspired an episode in Drayton’s heroic epistle from Surrey to Geraldine (Works 2.278, Epistle lines 57-64).
For thy: therefore
For thy: The logic seems to be that the mirror is shaped like the world because it (potentially) contains all that happens in the world.
20.2-20.9 20.2-9 The story of Phao (from Gk Φαος light) is Spenser’s invention, perhaps based in part on Pharos, the lighthouse constructed at Alexandria by Ptolemy II. The fable of the glass tower (Phao’s ‘bowre’) engages the theme of voyeurism introduced in the Bower of Bliss episode, suggesting that voyeuristic desire is based on a fantasy that combines perfect invisibility with panoptical power. The fragility of this fantasy is suggested both by the vulnerability of the tower’s maker, betrayed by his ‘leman’, and by the vulnerability of the supposedly ‘impregnable’ tower itself, shattered with a single blow.
discoure: discover
peaze: ‘peise’, a heavy blow

St. 21

The military purpose of Merlin’s glass extends Spenser’s sustained treatment of Britomart’s erotic volatility as a switchpoint between concupisciple and irascible impulses—between fantasies of being sexually ‘in armes’ and a defensive reaction of taking up arms (see st. 6 notes). As Hamilton notes, Britomart sees Arthegall in the mirror because ‘he invades her kingdom’.

gard: defense
21.2 gard: The spelling also implicates ‘regard’ in the sense of a look or gaze.
debar’d: prevented
bewray: expose
convince: vanquish
her fathers closet: Cf. ‘the deare closett of her painefull syde’ (11.7). The repetition signals our movement back from the figurative parturition of the image ‘written in [Britomart’s] hart’ (29.9) to the implied scene of its conception.
repayre: go
repayre: Context activates the latent etymological sense, from post-classical L repatriare to return to one’s fatherland.
The phrase applied to Una at I.xii.21.3.
in vaine: fruitlessly
in vaine: Includes a submerged allusion to Narcissus, although as L. Silberman remarks, ‘Spenser’s joke is that vanity or self-love is not the primary connotation of “vaine” (1995: 24) in context.
her avising: reminding herself
vertues: properties
22.9 Echoing 19.4. Together with the pun in 22.6, the emphasis on the ‘looker’ as the anchor of pertinence emphasizes the underlying motive of self-regard. The momentary blocking of this regard is suggested by the comma, which replaces an elided ‘that’ (‘that that mote to her selfe pertaine’) with a metrically awkward caesura, suspending the movement of the verse as ‘that’ searches ‘in vaine’ for its mirror-image.
23.1-23.4 23.1-4 Britomart’s experience of love as compulsion contrasts with her declaration at i.25.7-9 (earlier in the narrative, but later in the action narrated) that love may not ‘be compeld by maistery’.
buxome: submissive
prone: inclined
23.5-23.6 23.5-6 The as/so construction in this stanza joins a curiously mismatched pair of clauses: tyranny and ‘bitter smarts’ are invoked to explain Britomart’s casual and, so the narrator says, altogether typical curiosity as to whom she will marry. Her curiosity makes sense as an instance of love’s tyranny only if we see it as proleptically entailing the aftereffects described in st. 27-44. Cf. the emphasis in st. 26 on the wound already inflicted but not yet felt.
23.9 Spenser leaves unstated the source of the imperative (‘must lincke’) and of Britomart’s knowledge of it. It may be dynastic, hence something she knows about herself as the ‘onely daughter and . . . hayre’ to a king (22.4), or it may be considered ‘natural’ to maidens as a class (‘as maydens use to done’), hence something she knows about herself as a female.

St. 24

Britomart’s first glimpse of the knight in the mirror corresponds to our first glimpse of her visage at i.42.7-43, with Artegall appearing as Phoebus here to Britomart’s Cynthia there.

in complete wize: Cf. Arthur at I.vii.29.6-7, Guyon at II.i.5.8-9.
ventayle: ‘the lower movable part of the front of a helmet, as distinct from the vizor’ (OED)
24.4-24.5 Echoing the descriptions of Guyon at II.i.6.2-4 and Britomart at i.46.1-4.
agrize: terrify
Portly: stately, imposing
gest: bearing
couchant: Heraldic: ‘lying with the body resting on the legs and (according to most authors) the head lifted up, or at least not sunk in sleep’ (OED).
yfretted: decorated
25.6 25.6 Upton notes that Spenser here reverses a passage in Boiardo to which Ariosto alludes prominently (OI 3; OF 14.30-31): Mandricardo, a Saracen knight, wins the arms of Hector, the Trojan ancestor of both Charles V and Arthur.
25.7 25.7 On the ‘sevenfold’ shield see II.iii.1.9n. Homer describes the making of Achilles’ arms in a famous passage from which the tradition of ekphrasis develops (Il 18.486-608; see II.xii.45.1n).
25.8 The ermine as an emblem of chastity belongs to the iconography of queen Elizabeth: see SC Apr 57-58 and Strong (1963: plate 21b). As a signifier of royal status, it ornaments the mantle worn by Malecasta at i.59.8-9; for other references to her royal pretentions see i.32.4, 33.4, and 41.4. Upton saw in these armorial bearings a rebus of Lord Grey’s name, ‘for “griseum” in the barbarous Latin signified fine furr or ermin’ (Var 3.313; see Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis, 4, s.v. ‘griseum’).
azure: blue
pouldred: powdered, i.e. spotted
Personage: personal appearance
26.2 Cf. Sidney, Astrophil and Stella: 2.5, ‘I saw, and liked; I liked, but loved not’.
fastned not: Echoing ‘that same knot’ (23.9), the phrasing suggests that although Britomart consciously ‘fastned not’ on the image of Artegall, the knot is fastened within her. See 31.1, ‘not of nought’, for the reverberations of this echo.
26.3-26.4 unguilty age . . . unlucky lot: The juxtaposition of parallel phrases serves to emphasize the combined effects of the innocence that leaves Britomart unprepared for sexual maturation, and the unexpectedness of what feels like a random blow.
26.6 26.6 ‘The greatest danger arises from an unfelt wound’.
weetlesse wofull stound: unconsciously sorrowful predicament
26.9 Stound: as ‘pang’, ‘shock’, or ‘time of trial’ emphasizes the paradox that amuses the sly archer Cupid, namely that Britomart has yet to feel the pain of a blow which has already fallen.
27.1-27.2 27.1-2 Britomart is literally ‘crestfallen’. The crest as a symbol of knighthood is implicitly masculine and phallic: cf. Gower, Conf 2.329: ‘And on his heed there stont upright / A crest in token of a knight’. Cf. also 25.1 on Artegall’s crest, the ‘figure or device . . . borne by a knight on his helmet’, of which OED observes, ‘As it represents the ornament worn on the knight’s helmet, it cannot properly be borne by a woman’. The implication is that Britomart’s discovery of her desire for Artegall entails a corresponding discovery of her own gender, which she experiences as a sudden loss of virility. That all this should unfold because of an image she has seen in her father’s closet while looking in his mirror (st. 22) further implies that the imaginary ‘masculinity’ lost in this moment has been based in an identification with her father: ‘nothing he from her reserv’d apart’ (22.3), but she has now discovered that he does ‘reserve a part’—namely the object that separates he from her—and that she desires it.
Ruffed: ruffled
availe: droop (from L ad vallem to the valley)
27.3-27.4 27.3-4 Cf. 24.8-9: Britomart, taken by the lure of Artegall’s ‘Portly . . . person . . . much increast / Through . . . honorable gest’, finds her own ‘gest’ and ‘portaunce’ correspondingly diminished. She has lost her swagger.
quaile: become cowed or dispirited
27.5-27.9 27.5-9 The ailment described in these lines is diagnosed by Burton (Anatomy as both love and melancholy, i.e. love-melancholy.
silly: innocent
pallid: Spenser appears to have coined this word not from L pallidus pale or colorless—the sense it carries in subsequent usage—but from pullus dark-colored.
28.6-28.7 28.6-7 Britomart’s sighs and sorrows are personified as watchmen who ironically ward off any danger of approaching sleep; cf. 29.1-5.
28.8-28.9 28.8-9 Cf. Ps 6:6: ‘I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears’ (King James Version).
closely: privately
still: distill
29.6-29.9 29.6-9 Cf. her response to Malecasta’s invasion of her bed at i.62.2.
fayre visage: The ‘fayre visage’ that torments Britomart when she lies awake manifests itself in her dreams as ‘fantastick sight / Of dreadfull things’.
written in her hart: Cf. Am 85.9-10: ‘Deepe in the closet of my parts entyre, / her worth is written with a golden quill’. The trope of writing on the heart is Biblical as well as Petrarchan: see 2 Cor 3:3, ‘ye are manifest, to be the epistle of Christ, ministred by vs, and written, not with yncke, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshie tables of the heart’.

St. 30-51

This episode is closely modeled on a passage from the anonymous late-classical epyllion Ciris, attributed to Virgil in medieval and early modern editions. Ciris tells the story of Scylla’s treasonous passion for King Minos, who has laid siege to her father’s city. Merlin’s mirror, given to King Ryence ‘That never foes his kingdome might invade’ (21.3), serves a function analogous to that of King Nisus’s charmed crimson lock of hair: ‘As long as this preserved its nature . . . Nisus’ country and kingdom would be secure’ (123-25). The aligning of Artegall with Minos implicit in this analogy extends the pattern representing Britomart’s erotic experience as a form of combat (see notes to st. 6 and 21). Spenser’s major revision is to undo the Latin text’s substitution of Scylla for Britomartis (daughter of Scylla’s nurse, Carme, and Jupiter), who fled from Minos rather than toward him, and was rescued by Diana. In lamenting Scylla’s dangerous passion, Carme addresses the princess as her alumna (‘foster-child’, line 224; 33.6), and apostrophizing Minos, asks why he is destroying her foster-child as he once before destroyed her daughter (286-96). Spenser’s Britomart fuses the two daughter-figures as she embodies a fight-or-flight ambivalence toward her erotic object. (See Hughes 1929: 348-54; Roche 1964: 53-6.)

30.2 Glauce: From Gk γλαυκη glauke (‘grey’), and γλαυκος glaukos, (‘owl’) (sacred to Athena, hence an appropriate companion for an armed female).
nest: Bed, but also a place one might expect to find an owl. In the background of the phrase ‘loathed nest’ is the proverb ‘It is a foul bird that defiles its own nest’ (Tilley 1950, B377), which hints at the feeling that a formerly protected space of childhood innocence has been violated—and at the uneasy sense that Britomart herself is the source of the violation. The echo of i.58.6-7 may reinforce this sense: at Castle Joyeous, Britomart made very sure that all the other guests were gone before she ‘gan her selfe despoile, / And safe committ to her soft fethered nest’. These bed-scenes are linked as well by intense ‘unrest’, although the tossing and turning passes from Malecasta in canto i to Britomart in canto ii; and by sudden starting out of bed, although it was Malecasta who startled Britomart in canto i and Britomart who frightens herself in canto ii. These associations retroactively suggest further reasons for Britomart to identify with Malecasta: her own chastity seems to arise as a defense against disturbing intimations of unchastity from within herself.
keight: caught
dight: placed
not of nought: The wordplay emphasizes the doubleness of ‘nought’, which means ‘nothing’ but also ‘promiscuity or indecency’. For other instances of Spenser’s play on the senses of this word, see the notes to II.i.33.4-5, ix.32.5, and ix.42.4. The narrator’s assurance that King Ryence ‘nothing . . . from her reserv’d apart’ (22.3) continues to unfold its resonance (see 27.1-2n). Insofar as Britomart’s discovery of both her desire and her sexual identity has altered her sense of the ‘nothing’ withheld from her, Glauce’s double negative suggests that the ‘knot’ of desire keeping the maid awake at night arises precisely from her ‘nought’.
bale: grief
32.1-32.3 32.1-3 It is not immediately clear why Glauce should imagine that rivers stop flowing at night. She is echoing Carme in Ciris: tempore quo fessas mortalia pectora curas, / quo rapidos etiam requescunt flumina cursus (‘that hour when the hearts of men rest from weary cares, when even rivers stay their swift courses’; 233-34), but the question remains why Carme would think such a thing. The line echoes Virgil’s praise in Eclogue 8 of ‘the Muse of Damon and Alphesiboeus’, at whose song mutata suos requierunt flumina cursus (‘rivers were changed and stayed their course’; line 4), where the conceit is extravagant but not inexplicable.
infest: to attack or harass; to infect
32.4 infest: For the aptness of the military sense, see st. 21n. Cf. I.xi.6.2-4, where the poet addressing his muse at once invokes and seeks to ward off ‘That mightie rage / Wherewith the martiall troupes thou doest infest, / And hartes of great Heroës doest enrage’. The rest/infest/brest rhyme in this stanza echoes the unrest/nest pair from st. 30; see 30.3n.
thrilled: pierced
foster childe: See st. 30-51n for the precedent alumna in the pseudo-Virgilian Ciris.
34.2 ‘She tightly squeezed and tenderly embraced’ (‘colled’ from L collum neck).
34.8-34.9 34.8-9 The inherent difficulty, even danger, of ‘expressing’ the heart is the keynote of the proem (see pr.2 and 5.6-9 and notes).

St. 36-38.4

The insistent negatives in these lines (seventeen in all) echo ‘not of nought’ at 31.1, and begin the canto’s sustained reflection on the nothingness that underlies desire. Behind Britomart’s sense of the image as a void may lie a reminiscence of Aeneas in Carthage: animum pictura pascit inani / multa gemens, largoque umectat flumine voltum (‘he . . . feasts his soul on the unsubstantial picture, sighing oft-times, and his face wet with a flood of tears’; Aen 1.464-65).

For which: refers to ‘mine’
gryde: pierced
37.8 gryde: The term has a specifically martial sense, 'to pierce with a weapon' (OED).
launched: cut
th’only shade and semblant: the mere shadow and likeness
goodly-hed: handsome appearance

St. 39

The lurid diction and imagery of this stanza suggest that Britomart finds her metaphoric love-wound literalized in the onset of menstrual cramps and bleeding. This image of the female body is one of several places in Book III that show what was excluded from view in the Castle of Temperance (see II.ix.33.5-44.5n). L. Silberman observes that “by introducing menarche to the literary tradition of the Martial Maid, Spenser calls attention to his rewriting of that tradition in a strategy of emphasizing the feminine” (1995: 20).

Sithens: since then
bowels: interior of the body
39.2 See xii.38.4n for the use of this term to describe the location of Amoret’s wound.
fleshly mould: the body
40.2 Glauce’s question makes explicit the repeated implication that Britomart has begun to experience herself as alien or monstrous.
uncouth: unfamiliar
kinde: nature
40.9 40.9 See i.54.4n on the relation between love and compulsion.

St. 41

Glauce’s references to heroines infamous for incest and bestiality emphasize even in denial that Britomart is reacting to her discovery of sexuality as if it were identical with ‘Such shamefull lusts’. Hence ‘Of much more uncouth thing I was affrayd’.

41.1 th’Arabian Myrrhe: With her nurse’s help, Myrrha used a bed-trick to seduce her father (Ovid, Met 10.431-80).
41.2 Biblis: Driven to madness by an unconsummated passion for her brother, Caunus (Ovid, Met 9.454-634; Ciris 238-40).
native . . . kynd: parental . . . nature
41.5 Pasiphaë: The wife of Minos and mother of the Minotaur, which she conceived by concealing herself inside a wooden cow to copulate with a bull.
bands: bans—an odd usage, since normally it means the opposite (join together, unite in a group). See st. 41n for the sense of contamination persisting within Britomart’s experience of the erotic.
42.8-42.9 Cf. 32.5-9 for a similar analogy between macrocosm (the earth) and microcosm (Britomart’s body).
Beldame: ‘good mother’, a respectful address to an older woman
relent: moderate
unkinde: unnatural
43.7 True of Myrrha and Pasiphaë but not of Biblis.

St. 44

Britomart’s description of her predicament mirrors that of Arthur, of whom it is literally true that he loves ‘a shade, the body far exyld’, and ironically recalls the ‘falsed fancy’ of Malecasta (i.47.5).

44.1 44.1 Britomart here answers Glauce’s question, ‘why make ye such Monster of your minde?’ (40.2).
entire: unfeigned; perfect
44.4 entire: Insofar as the term suggests completeness, it is ironically qualified by the strong enjambment.
fonder: more foolish; more doting
44.6 Cephisus foolish chyld: Narcissus; see Ovid, Met 3.407-36. Artegall’s image in Merlin’s mirror replaces Britomart’s reflection.
shere: pure, translucent
44.8 44.8 The enjambment, which conveys the reflex of ‘His face’ from the surface of the fountain, may also suggest the adverbial use of sheer ‘with vbs. expressing removal, separation, cleavage, etc.’ (OED).
exyld: banished from its proper dwelling-place
ydle: useless
a watry flowre: Narcissus was transformed into a flower that grows near bodies of water. Cf. Ovid, Met 3.509-10: croceum pro corpore florem / inveniunt foliis medium cingentibus albis (‘In place of his body they find a flower, its yellow centre girt with white petals’). Spenser’s phrasing wittily elides the distinction between the real flower and its watery reflection, in effect taking the disappearance of the real into the image one step further. Cf. 44.3-5, where Britomart imagines herself drained of being by the wasting force of ‘entire / Affection’.
45.7 ‘There is no shadow not cast by a body’; the phrasing also suggests the mirror-image sense ‘there is no shadow that does not control a body’, an ironically apt reflection of Britomart’s predicament (see 45.4n).
light: alight, as in dismounting (with a pun on the light that makes a shadow)
cyphers: astrological or geomantical figures
45.9 cyphers: Cf. the ‘cyphres old’ inscribed on Artegall’s shield (25.5). Also another name for ‘nought’: ‘an arithmetical symbol or character of no value by itself, but which increases or decreases the value of other figures according to its position’ (OED).
46.1-46.3 46.1-3 Cf. 36.2, ‘no reason can finde remedy’. Britomart’s passion exceeds the warrant of Temperance.
46.4-46.5 46.4-5 These lines, evoking Britomart’s first appearance in the poem (i.5-8), recall the defeat of Temperance by Chastity even as they characterize Britomart’s masculine pursuit of Artegall as a means to resist her desire for him. This ambivalence between her desire to be Artegall and to obtain him is the ‘knot’ lurking within the canto’s insistent repetition of ‘nott’ (see 31.1n).
smott: smitten (past tense of ‘smite’)
47.8 47.8 Translating Ciris 344: inverso bibulum restinguens lumen olivo (‘uptilting the lamp of oil and quenching the thirsty light’).
Church: temple; place of public worship
their praiers to appele: ‘To make their appeal by way of prayers [to the gods]’.
the holy herse: Cf. SC Nov 60 gloss: ‘Herse) is the solemne obsequie in funeralles’. Here, by extension, any ritual or ceremony.
reverse: remove; divert
royall Infant: Heir to the throne, not yet old enough to exercise sovereignty. Cf. II.viii.56.1, II.xi.25.7.
for why: because
49.5-49.9 49.5-9 Glauce’s recipe combines ingredients from Virgil and Ovid with local English herbs. Maplet identifies rue as ‘the Medicinable Herbe: and especially there where as excessive heate is found’; savine as a remedy for ‘all griefs in the inward partes and bowels’; calamint (mint) as a cure for swellings, and dill as a ‘hindrance to issue’ (1567: 60v, 61r, 52r, 40r). According to Burton, Anatomy, camphora counteracts lust. Dido’s priestess in Virgil, Aen 4.515-16, uses colt wood to treat her mistress’s passion for Aeneas, while Ovid’s Medea uses milk and blood to seek the favor of Hecate (Met 7.245-47).

St. 50

Closely follows Ciris 371-373, except that Carme asks Scylla to spit in gremium mecum (‘into thy bosom, as I do’), not ‘upon my face’.

breaded: braided
sad: solemn

St. 51

This stanza draws out the implications of ‘reverse’ at 48.9, suggesting that Britomart’s love for Artegall amounts to more than ‘fond fancies’. Glauce’s ministrations are aptly described by Hamilton 2001 as ‘comic withershins’.

51.9 prove: See i.30.1n on the importance of this word in canto i.
brame: longing (from Ital brama avid desire)
52.5-52.6 52.5-6 Britomart is suffering the fate of Narcissus, whose pining for a disembodied image (of himself) gradually disembodied him: see 45.4, 45.7, and notes.
52.6 The shades of the dead cannot be ferried across the river Styx until their bodies have received burial.
miscarriage: bad management
1-4 This episode closely follows the third canto of Orlando Furioso, where Bradamante receives a vision of her progeny. Ariosto’s Merlin is no more than a voice from the tomb; the genealogy of the house of Este is revealed by the sorceress Melissa in a procession of spirits like that which Virgil’s Anchises shows Aeneas (Aen 6.703-892).

St. 1

Cf. Am 8.1-2, ‘full of the living fire, / Kindled above unto the maker neere’. The theory of love as a flame from heaven, kindling desire for the ‘true beautie’ of virtue which inspires lovers to noble action, is woven at large through Spenser’s Fowre Hymnes and is the most basic allegorical significance of Arthur’s quest for Gloriana. In principle it explains the relation between the poem’s ‘fierce warres and faithfull loves’ (I.pr.1.9). The difficulty of perfectly separating this love from ‘base affections’ is also represented in both works, most recently in FQ by the ambiguity of Arthur’s and Guyon’s motives in pursuing Florimell and by the horror Britomart experiences on first discovering sexual passion within herself.

lamping: bright
1.3 lamping: Coined by Spenser, possibly from Ital lampante clear.
which men call: Emphasizes the act of naming as human, in contrast to the divine origins of the fire, in preparation for the second half of the stanza, which insists upon the distinction because ‘men’ tend to apply the name of love to both kinds of flame (as the narrator himself will do at v.1).
1.7-1.8 The parallel in these lines between ‘true beautie’ and ‘vertue’ may insinuate rivalry as well as identity.

St. 2

Here Spenser presents love as a force mediating between fate and chance, ensuring that ‘The fatall purpose of divine foresight’ will play itself out in the seemingly chaotic course of human events. For moments at which Spenser plays on the interpolation of fate within chance, see I.ix.6.6-7.7; II.ix.59.5, 60.1.

2.1 2.1 Cf. Plato, Symposium 178a: ‘First then, as I said, he told me that the speech of Phaedrus began with points of this sort—that Love was a great god, among men and gods a marvel; and this appeared in many ways, but notably in his birth’.
fatall: fated
2.5 fatall: Cf. I.ix.7.1, where Arthur wonders whether the almighty sent him to Faeryland through ‘fatal deepe foresight’.
moniments: memorials
triumph: Echoing the title of Petrarch’s Trionfi, of which the first is the Triumphus Amoris. The six triumphs are visionary poems that adapt the trappings of the ancient Roman military procession to celebrate the successive victories of Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. They were influential in establishing the image of a militant Cupid that is pervasive in Renaissance European literature.
braver: more glorious
stowre: struggle
matrimoniall bowre: The dynastic goal of the narrative must replace the Bower of Bliss with its sanctioned counterpart.
Dame: female ruler (from L domina, the feminine of dominus lord, master)
4.2 4.2 The more usual genealogy for the Muses holds them to be the daughters of Jupiter and the Titaness Mnemosyne (memory), a parentage Spenser affirms in SC June 66, Time 336, and FQ IV.xi.10.1-2. Both lineages were reported, however: Conti, who opens his chapter on the Muses by quoting Orpheus and Hesiod on their descent from Jupiter (Myth 7.15), mentions in his chapter on Apollo that ‘the ancients thought he was [the Muses’] father and leader’ (4.10; 288). Spenser more often follows this genealogy (Teares 2, 57; FQ II.x.3; Epith 121; E.K. gloss to SC Apr 41).
4.4 According to late medieval tradition, the ‘Nine Worthies’ consisted of three subgroups: the pagan worthies Hector, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar; the Jewish worthies Joshua, David, and Judas Maccabeus; and the Christian worthies Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon.
4.5 At I.pr.2.3-4, the poet asks an unnamed muse, ‘chiefe of nyne’, to ‘Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne / The antique rolles’ that tell of Arthur’s quest for Gloriana. At II.ix.56.6 Eumnestes (an alternative figure for memory) lays up the records of human events ‘in his immortall scrine’. The Muse’s ‘great volume of Eternitye’ is another figure for this mythic archive.
4.6 Clio: The muse of history. In previous invocations (I.pr.2; I.xi.6; II.x.3) Spenser has not named the muse he invokes, who may be Calliope, the muse of epic poetry (see gloss to SC Apr 100). Spenser distinguishes the ‘Methode of the Poet historical’ from that of the ‘Historiographer’ in FQLetter45-52, but since FQ contains three substantial and continuous passages of chronicle material (including the lineage foretold by Merlin in the present canto) that are, nevertheless, broken apart and disposed within the narrative out of chronological sequence, it remains unclear whether he is combining the muses of history and epic or distinguishing their functions. (On the disposition of the chronicle materials, see Mills 1976.)
protense: duration, or ‘stretching forth’ in time
4.8 protense (pretense 1596, 1609): OED cites 1590 as the only known instance of ‘protense’ as a noun for ‘protension’. The later reading relies on the sense, ‘An assertion of a right, title, etc.; the putting forth of a claim’ (OED).
cast: considered
5.4-5.5 5.4-5 Similar expressions are found at I.vii.40.7-8 and II.i.44.2-3.
5.6-5.9 5.6-9 See ii.52.7-8; after the opening invocation, the narrative is resuming where it left off.
For thy: therefore
repriefe: censure (reproof)
her avisde: called to mind
straungely . . . straunge: The repetition suggests that through the act of looking, Britomart has assumed some of the foreignness of the image that invades her.
6.7-6.8 the Africk Ismael, / Or th’Indian Peru: Occupants of northern Africa were thought to be descended from Ishmael; India and America were imagined to be the same place. Both represent the farthest reaches of the known world. At II.pr.2.6 ‘th’Indian Peru’ appears as a precedent for Faeryland, where Britomart will eventually find Artegall; at II.x.72.5-6 the empire of Faeryland is said to include ‘all India . . . / And all that now America men call’.
7.1 See 6.3n.
bewray: expose
7.3-7.4 Maridunum . . . Cayr-Merdin: The modern Welsh town of Carmarthen, named ‘Maridunum’ in Ptolemy’s Geographiae (1511: B2) and ‘Kaermerdin’ in Geoffrey of Monmouth (Historia 136). Geoffrey reports that Vortigern first discovered the young Merlin in Kaermerdin, while Holinshed dismisses the Merlin stories as ‘not of such credit as deserveth to be registered in anie sound historie’ (Chronicles 1.564).
(they say): Repeated at 8.3; followed by ‘some say’ (10.1) and ‘men say’ (13.1), signaling that what follows is more folktale than historical record, as Holinshed indicates (7.3-4n; see also st. 8-9n). The comic tone of the narrator’s warnings against the danger of being devoured by fiends or of having one’s ‘feeble braines’ stunned by the underground rumbling of their chains (8.7-9; 9.1-5) likewise signals the tongue-in-cheek status of the passage’s claim to truth.
wonne: dwelling-place
delve: pit or cave
7.7 delve: Merlin’s ‘delve’ corresponds to the grotta in Ariosto (OF 3.10.1)

St. 8-9

In these stanzas Spenser plays with a distinction from the rhetorical tradition between factual and fictional descriptions. Thus Peacham (1577), for example, distinguishes between Topographia, ‘an evident and true description of a place’ (P1), and Topothesia, ‘a fayned description of a place, that is, when we describe a place, and yet no such place’ (P1v).

8.4-8.6 8.4-6 On Spenser’s geographical confusion in these lines see Osgood (Var 3.224-25). The river Barry is more than fifty miles from the hills of Dynevor.
cruell Feendes: Merlin is associated in medieval romance with diabolical spirits, one of whom supposedly fathered him (cf. 13.1-5). So in Malory, for example, one knight warns another, ‘Beware . . . of Merlion, for he knowith all thinges by the devylles craffte’ (Morte 3.18-19). Spenser mentions Merlin’s ‘sprights’ at 7.9, and they figure prominently in the legend of his demise (st. 10-12). In Ariosto, Bradamante’s offspring appear explicitly as a procession of such spirits (see arg.n). Spenser, by contrast, isolates his references to sprights and demons within stanzas 7-13, where they are rhetorically ‘flagged’ as popular superstition. When Britomart and Glauce arrive on the scene in st. 14, Merlin appears to be alone; and although he seems at one point in the genealogy to point at a spectacle (‘Behold the man’, 32.1), the absence of other signals implies that this is rather a moment of heightened rhetorical vividness than a reference to anything literally visible in the cave. (So too at 21.5 Merlin, beginning to speak after a brief silence, is said to ‘foorth display’ ‘his spirite’.) Ariosto’s explicitly demonic procession reflects a tradition in Virgilian commentary that rationalizes Aeneas’s descent to the underworld as the product of demons and witchcraft (Wilson-Okamura 2010: 157-63).
stownds: roars of pain

St. 10-11.2

Cf. Malory 4.1-2, where the object of Merlin’s dotage is not the Lady of the Lake herself, but one of her damsels ‘that hight Nenyve’.

slake: slacken
traine: guile
11.1 traine: In Malory she tricks him into entering a tunnel under a rock, and traps him there.
beare: bier, a tomb

St. 12-13

Cf. the description of Fidelia’s power ‘when she list poure out her larger spright’ at I.x.20. Like the subtle distancing of Merlin from his medieval reputation as half-demon, the strong resemblance between st. 12 and that earlier account casts Merlin as an agent of divine providence. Through such indirect means Spenser hints at a conversion narrative similar to the story of Merlin’s birth as given (for example) in the Old French Merlin, where the magician is sired upon a young nun by a demon acting as an incubus. The council of devils intends for this parody of the Annunciation to produce an antichrist, but Merlin is sanctified in the womb by his mother’s prayers and repentance, and after birth by the sacrament of baptism. Spenser’s Merlin remains a more ambiguous figure, claiming to speak for providence without having entirely severed his connection to diabolical origins—related, not coincidentally, in st. 13 immediately following the description that links him to Fidelia.

12.1-12.2 12.1-2 Cf. Virgil, Ecl 8.69, carmina vel caelo possunt deducere lunam (‘Songs can even draw the moon down from heaven’).
12.5-12.7 12.5-7 Cf. the powers ascribed to Arthur’s uncovered shield at I.vii.34-35.
dismay: rout
fray: affray (frighten; attack; disperse)
13.1-13.5 13.1-5 Spenser takes the story from Geoffrey, Historia 136-38. It offers a distorted analogy to Britomart’s predicament, one that is emphasized by the simile at ii.11.6-9, with its proleptic identification of the image she bears in her imagination and the ‘babe’ to which she will give birth.
13.5-13.6 13.5-6 These names, invented by Spenser, appear to contain further humorous references to Britomart: Matilda comes from the Ger Mahthild battle-maid, while Pubidius seems to be jestingly derived from L pubes signs of puberty.
a faire Lady Nonne: Punning on ‘lady none’, in keeping with the playful tone of the passage.
13.7 Mathraval: ‘Matrafal’ in Camden, Brit 1586, where it is identified as Principum Powisiae Regia sedes, the royal seat of the medieval Welsh and British kingdom of Powys (383).
coosen: kin
13.8 king Ambrosius: Son of Constantius, grandson of Constantine, and brother to Uther Pendragon, whose reign succeeded his (see II.x.67).
indued: endowed
14.5 with love to frend: Echoing I.i.28.7, ‘(with God to frend)’.
Mage: magus, magician
14.8-14.9 14.8-9 See 7.1 and 6.3n for ‘straunge’; Merlin’s ‘characters’ are stranger for the wrenching of accent that places metrical stress on the second syllable. Merlin’s writing in the earth sustains the calculated ambivalence with which Spenser presents him, for it echoes both godly and diabolical precedents. At John 8:6, 8, Jesus writes on the ground with his finger when challenging the scribes and Pharisees who accuse the woman taken in adultery; in Tasso’s GL 13.5-11, the Saracen magician Ismen ‘formed his circle and traced his symbols’ (suo cerchio formovvi e i segni impresse; 5.9) to summon ‘spirits innumerable, infinite’ (innnumerabili, infiniti / spiriti; 10.1-2) to enchant the forest that supplies the armies of Godfrey with timber for the siege of Sion. The description of Merlin also echoes that of Archimago calling up ‘Legions of Sprights’ at I.i.36-38; this echo is reinforced by the link both passages share to Tasso’s Ismen, whose ‘dread syllables’ which ‘the tongue that is not irreligious cannot repeat’ (orribil note, / lingua, s’empia non è, ridir no pote; 8.8-9) are closely recalled in Archimago’s ‘few words most horrible, / (Let none them read)’ at I.i.37.1-2.
15.8-15.9 15.8-9 Cf. st. 2n for Spenser’s tendency to equivocate about the degree to which events in the narrative are ‘fatall’ (governed by fate).
16.2-16.3 16.2-3 Glauce’s inflated and comically obscure periphrasis means that either three or nine months have passed, depending on how many of her three threes are simple repetitions for effect, and how many of them signal a reckoning of sums. Cf. I.viii.38.6-7, where Redcrosse’s similar formulation is equally ambiguous. At I.ix.15.9 Arthur reports having sought Gloriana for nine months; at II.i.53.1-3, Amavia describes her gestation of Ruddymane as having taken up ‘thrise three’ lunar months; at II.ii.44.1-3, Guyon reports that his quest has been underway for three lunar months; and at II.ix.7.5-7 Arthur tells Guyon that his quest for Gloriana has been underway for seven solar years (1590; 1596, one year, which would correspond to the nine months he reported at I.ix.15.9 plus the three months Guyon’s quest has been underway). Given the nature of the destiny to be revealed by Merlin, the nine lunar months of gestation would be a symbolically appropriate span.
First rooting: See ii.17.5n for the figure of the genealogical tree taking root in Britomart’s womb.
read . . . read: discern . . . declare; predict
but if: unless
th’Enchaunter: A title shared with Archimago (I.ii.arg.1) and Busirane (xii.31.1).
dissembled womanish guyle: She dissembles with guile, and her guile is part of what she dissembles.
Beldame: good mother (cf. ii.43.1)
leach-crafte: medical skill
engraffed: See 16.6 and ii.17.5n.
infest: attack; infect
18.5 infest: See ii.32.4n.
hollow brest: Cf. the description of Merlin's mirror as ‘hollow shaped’ (ii.19.8).
18.9 Glauce’s language here echoes the reports of Merlin’s origin in st. 13.
bord: idle tale
colourable: counterfeit
bewrayd: revealed
19.7 having fate obayd: Unlike Spenser’s narrator and other characters, Merlin does not equivocate about the role of fate in the narrative (cf. 21.6, ‘by fatall lore’, and st. 2n).
20.1-20.7 20.1-7 Britomart’s veilings and unveilings are consistently the subject of epic similes: cf. i.43; also IV.i.13.6-9 and vi.19.5-20. Elsewhere these similes describe the effects of her unveiled beauty on observers; here, the focus is on the shame Britomart feels when her sexual passion is revealed along with her identity. The conceit of Aurura’s blushing departure from the bed of Tithonus at dawn is Homeric and Virgilian; the story upon which it is based appears in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, 218-38.
Carnation: A term for the rosy-pink color of (Caucasian) flesh, from L carnem; also a form of the flower-name coronation (cf. SC Apr 138-9, ‘Bring Coronations, and Sops in wine, / worne of Paramoures’). These two meanings nicely compress into Britomart’s blush the sense that her royal or dynastic role will be to use her own body to enflesh an heir to the throne.
ared: divined; declared
fatall lore: the instruction of fate
fatall lore: See st. 2n and 19.7n. Merlin claims to speak on behalf of ‘the powres’ (19.9) that guide ‘eternall providence’ (24.4).
22.2-22.4 22.2-4 The fullest expression of the image introduced at ii.17.5-6 and recalled at iii.16.6 (‘rooting’) and 18.3 (‘engraffed’). Spenser’s image recalls Isa 11:1, ‘But there shal come a rod forthe of the stocke of Ishái, and a grafe shal growe out of his rootes’, a passage labeled in the Geneva text as a ‘Prophecie of Christ’. It also echoes Herodotus, Hist 1.108, where Astyages ‘dreamed that a vine grew out of the genitals of this daughter, and that the vine covered the whole of Asia’.
embodied braunches: Medieval and early modern iconography of the ‘tree of Jesse’ showed a rooted trunk whose branches literally bore human bodies as their fruit.
lin: cease
22.4 Repeated from II.x.2.5.
22.5-22.9 Britomart’s Trojan ancestry is set forth at large in canto ix, st. 33-51.
22.8 the hevens brood: Because the Trojan lineage extends back through Dardanus to Zeus and Electra (cf. Homer, Il 20.213-40).
23.1 Duessa is ‘the sole daughter of an Emperour’ (I.ii.22.7) whereas Una is ‘the daughter of a king’ (i.48.5); the British struggle to throw off Roman rule pits ‘Briton kings’ against Roman emperors (II.x.49.9, 51.1). Britomart’s offspring includes both because after Henry VIII, Tudor England (like other early modern states) asserted its autonomy by claiming an imperial status derived from Constantine; hence the poem is dedicated to ‘The most mightie and magnificent Empresse Elizabeth’.
23.8-23.9 23.8-9 Eliding the distinction between ‘forren foe’ and ‘civill jarre’, or enemy invasion and domestic broils, these lines recall the similar blurring that attends Artegall’s appearance in Merlin’s mirror. There Britomart’s future spouse appears in a mirror whose declared purpose is to reveal enemy invasions (ii.21.3-4), although it also shows ‘What ever . . . frend had faynd’ (19.5). Merlin’s mirror is associated with Ptolemy’s magic glass, shattered ‘when his love was false’ (20.9), and with the mirror in Chaucer, CT Squire 5.132-41, that reveals both adversities affecting the realm and treasons in love. See notes to canto ii, st. 18-21.
24.1 24.1 Cf. Malecasta’s wandering eye at i.41.5-8, i.50.6-7.
streight: strict; also straight, in contrast to ‘wandering’
24.3 streight: Echoing Isa 40:3-4, ‘make streight in the desert a path for our God . . . and the croked shalbe made streight’, and Luke 3:4.
24.1-24.6 24.1-6 On the contrast between providence and the wandering or glancing of chance, see st. 2n.
24.6 Merlin directly answers Britomart’s claim that her fortune is ‘wicked’ (ii.44.1).
prowest: most worthy
24.7 prowest: Echoing the praise of Arthur at II.viii.18.3 and xi.30.6.
his will: In the repetition of ‘his will’ from 24.5, Merlin formulates the patriarchal demand for female submission to a masculine lord authorized by God.
doe . . . dew: The internal rhyme enforces the imperative: perform that which is owed.
25.2-25.4 25.2-4 The metrical disposition of Glauce’s questions is precise. The first two lines each contain two questions, while the fifth and final question takes up two lines. Within each pair of lines, the position of the caesura shifts, following first the third foot and then the second, to make up a repeated chiasmic pattern (3/2 // 2/3). The first of the two line-breaks on which the repeated pattern turns is end-stopped, the second enjambed.
pertake: impart
confirme: to make firm
25.8 confirme: Suggesting through rhyme that if ‘Indeede the fates are firme’, human endeavors are still needed to firm up their firmness.
25.9 The careful balancing of terms in 24.1-5 (wandring/streight, glauncing/ guyded) is extended here as Merlin affirms the need for human striving to ‘guyde’ to their completion the causes that have ‘Guyded [Britomart’s] glaunce’ without her awareness or intention. As McCabe affirms, Britomart’s destiny is not just the goal of her quest but the journey as well, and so she both guides and is guided (1989: 186-87).
their constant terme: their unwavering conclusion
25.9 The careful balancing of terms in 24.1-5 (wandring/streight, glauncing/ guyded) is extended here as Merlin affirms the need for human striving to ‘guyde’ to their completion the causes that have ‘Guyded [Britomart’s] glaunce’ without her awareness or intention. As McCabe affirms, Britomart’s destiny is not just the goal of her quest but the journey as well, and so she both guides and is guided (1989: 186-87).

St. 26-50

These stanzas present the second of three installments into which Spenser divides the British chronicles. He begins in II.x with what is chronologically the second part, covering the reigns of British monarchs from the mythic eponymous founder Brut to the succession of Uther Pendragon, the father Arthur does not know (see notes to II.x.arg.1, st. 5-68, and 68.2-3). The second part now resumes with the reign of Artegall and Britomart, which has no direct source in the chronicles but occupies the genealogical space from which Arthur, wandering in Faeryland, has been displaced. The gap between Arthur and Artegall-Britomart is the space in which the poem’s ‘present’—a hybrid of Faery fiction and British chronicle history—unfolds (see st. 29n). The third part of the chronicles, circling back to link the origins of British history to the westward ‘translation of empire’ from Troy through Rome to England, is given in canto ix.

26.2 26.2 For Artegall’s name and role in the poem, see ii.arg.2n.
26.4-26.9 26.4-9 This account of Artegall’s parentage resembles the history of Redcrosse (I.x.65). Arthur is likewise ignorant of his lineage (I.ix.3).
27.1 Gorlois: Duke of Cornwall and husband to the Lady Igerne (see FQ Letter 30, ‘the Lady Igrayne’), by whom Uther Pendragon fathered Arthur. Geoffrey of Monmouth retails the legend according to which Merlin transformed Uther into the likeness of Gorlois to deceive Igerne (182-88). By implication, Spenser makes Artegall Arthur’s legitimate half-brother as well as his chronicle alter-ego.
27.2 Cador: Mentioned in Geoffrey and in Holinshed as Duke (or Earl) of Cornwall and an ally to Arthur against the Saxons (Historia 194, 200; Chronicles 1.575). ‘Cador, king of Cornwall’ and ‘Arthgal of Kaergueir, now named Warwik’ are both mentioned in Geoffrey as attending Arthur’s Whitsun festival at Caerleon (208-10; Arthgal is not to be confused with Arthgallo, named ‘Archigald’ by Spenser at II.x.44.4). Hardyng mentions both Artegall and Cador as knights of the Round Table, identifying Cador as the ‘kynges brother. . . on the syster syde’ (1543: 17r-v).
prow valiaunce: daring valor
28.3-28.5 28.3-5 Merlin portrays the dynastic marriage as a military alliance (for the sustained play on ‘in armes’, see i.45.7n).
pray: spoils of war
28.6-28.7 28.6-7 The parallelism in these lines (‘thee from them do call . . . him from thee take away’) pairs Britomart’s pregnancy with Artegall’s death (see 29.2n).
Too rathe: too soon
practise criminall: treachery
28.8 Too rathe: Cf. SC Dec 98.
mischiefe: misfortune; calamity

St. 29

Artegall’s royal heir remains unnamed, in part no doubt to downplay his equivalence to the chronicles’ Conanus, who came to the throne by killing his uncle. (Spenser thus reverses the chronicle acccounts, which identify no father for Conanus.) Spenser may also have chosen not to name the heir because he represents the point at which faery fiction is grafted onto the chronicles. The resulting genealogy, never spelled out, is complex. It may be summarized as follows: the Lady Igrayne (Igerne) bears sons both to Gorlois and to Uther. To Gorlois she bears the brothers Artegall and Cador; to Uther, their half-brother Arthur. Arthur succeeds Uther to the throne but dies without heir. The chronicles report that Arthur is succeeded by Constantius (Constantine), the son of his half-brother Cador. Meanwhile, however, Spenser has created an alternative genealogy whereby Artegall (‘equal to Arthur’; see ii.arg.2n) and Britomart not only succeed King Ryence to the throne of South Wales (cf. ii.18.5n) but also take the place of Ryence’s brother-in-law, Arthur, in the succession of British rule. This silent and, as it were, figurative supplanting of Arthur is re-enacted explicitly when their son merges with the historical Conan to usurp the crown from his uncle Constantius, who succeeds Arthur to the throne in the chronicles.

his ymage dead: his child, i.e. the image of him remaining after his death
29.2 his ymage dead: The phrase also suggests ‘his dead image’ and ‘the image of him in death’, and echoes Glauce’s question to Britomart about the first effect Artegall’s image has on her: what has ‘living made thee dead’ (ii.30.9)? This compressed and ambiguous phrasing is found in two other places in Spenser, both suggesting that the poem itself will function as heir to (image of) the childless Elizabeth (v.54.9, Am 33.4). On the structural necessity for patriliny to make sons into spectral likenesses of their fathers, see D. Miller (2000, 2003). Insofar as Artegall’s heir corresponds not only to Conan but also to the juncture where Spenser splices his fiction into the chronicles, it may be said that the nameless child figures the poem’s mirroring function with respect to Elizabeth and the monarchical succession she embodies.
29.4-29.7 29.4-7 The lineal substitution whereby Artegall’s heir ‘shall represent’ his father to Britomart is contrasted with the usurpation whereby he recovers his father’s right to ‘crowne himself in th’others stead’.
30.1-30.2 30.1-2 The image of the lion rousing itself echoes Jacob’s prophecy for his son Judah: ‘as a lions whelpe shalt thou come up from the spoile, my sonne’ (Gen 49:9). It also echoes the denunciation of Conan by Gyldas, quoted in Holinshed 5.25: ‘And thou lions whelpe, as sayeth the prophet [i.e., Jacob], Aurelius Conanus what doost thou? Art thou not swallowed up in the filthie mire of murdering thy kinsmen . . . ?’ (It should be mentioned that Gyldas has similar opinions of most British kings.)
spred his banner: Cf. Song Sol 6:3, ‘terrible as an armie with banners’.
30.3-30.9 30.3-9 No source is known for Conan’s wars against the Mertians, which appear to be Spenser’s invention, substituted for the civil conflicts that characterize Conan’s reign in the chronicles. The trace of Conan’s unsavory chronicle character may linger in the ‘if’ of line 8, unusual for prophetic utterance: it may simply mean that he will end his days in peace if he can achieve victory, but it seems to say that he will do so if he can be satisfied with victory, i.e. quit while he’s ahead.
lin: leave off
his earthly In: Cf. II.i.59.1-2, ‘death is . . . the commen In of rest’.

St. 31

Spenser continues to diverge from the chronicles in making Vortipore less successful than his father, and in giving Vortipore an heir. (Holinshed says Vortipore ‘left no issue behind him’, and calls Malgo ‘the nephue of Aurelius Conanus’; 5.26, 27.)

importunity: bad timing (the opposite of opportunity)
Behold the man: Echoing John 19:5. See 8.9n on whether there is a spectacle for Britomart to ‘behold’. This momentary rhetorical heightening echoes the sustained deictic mode of Anchises’ address to Aeneas in the corresponding passage from Virgil (Aen 6.760-886).
ay: ever
32.3-32.5 32.3-5 Spenser here ends his divergence from the chronicles, which praise Malgo as pulcherrimus (‘the most handsome of all Britain’s rulers’; Geoffrey, Historia 254), or ‘the comeliest gentleman in beautie and shape of personage that was to be found in those daies amongst all the Britains, and therewith of a bold and hardie courage’ (Holinshed, Chronicles 1.585).
32.6 32.6 Translated directly from Geoffrey: Hic etiam total insulam optinuit, et sex comprovinciales occeanis insulas (‘He too ruled the whole island as well as its six neighbors’; 254-55). The ‘islands’ referred to are Ireland, Iceland, Gotland, the Orkneys, Norway, and Denmark.
comprovinciall: belonging to the same province
reduce: subject

St. 33-34

In the words of Harper, ‘Careticus was not the son of Malgo, and he did not conquer the Saxons’ (1910: 151). The account of Gormond’s arrival to help the Saxons drive Careticus into Wales, laying waste to churches, towns, and fields along the way, corresponds to Geoffrey except in one detail, for Geoffrey refers to ‘Gormundus’ as ‘the king of the Africans’ (Historia 256); Spenser’s reference to his Norveyses follows Holinshed’s conjecture that Geoffrey mistook ‘the Norwegians for Affricanes, bicause both those nations were Infidels’ (6.90).

fell through emptinesse: ‘Deadly because hungry’ (with a pun on ‘gourmand’).
holy Church: Here explicitly Christian, unlike the ambiguous edifices mentioned at ii.48.4 and iii.59.3.
faithlesse: non-Christian
race: raze; eradicate
bren: burn
34.9 starved den: Transferred epithet.

St. 35

Here Spenser seems to have adjusted the account in Geoffrey by consulting multiple other sources, possibly some in Welsh. For details see Harper (1910: 153-58).

languor: suffering, distress
35.2 Etheldred: Ethelfrith, the first king to unite Bernicia and Deira into what would later be known as Northumbria, a medieval English kingdom stretching north from the river Humber into what is now southern Scotland.
35.3 Augustine: Augustine of Canterbury, designated by Pope Gregory the Great as the first Bishop of Canterbury in 598, was sent from Rome to England to convert the Angles to Christianity, as well as to reassert Papal authority over the Christian churches that had survived in isolation in England after the withdrawal of the Roman legions in 410.
35.4 Dee: The river Dee, forming part of the border between Wales and England, lies between the city of Chester and the Welsh village of Bangor.
35.5 Brockwell: Brocmale, Earl of Chester (on the English side of the river) was either defeated by Etheldred or simply fled. Crossing the river, Etheldred then put to death the monks in the monastery at Bangor, whose number is variously reported as 200, 1000, or 1200.
35.8-35.9 35.8-9 Cadwan ruled North Wales (Gwynedd); his people are the Britons. After the Britons’ defeat of Etheldred, they made peace. According to Geoffrey, Cadwan and Etheldred (Caduan and Edelfridus) divided the rule of Britain between themselves (260).

St. 36

Cadwallin was Cadwan’s son, Edwin the son of Etheldred. Geoffrey explains that the peace negotiated by their fathers was broken when Cadwallin refused to permit Edwin to crown himself king of Northumbria (262-64). In the hostilities that followed, Edwin prevailed at first, aided by a magician (a sapientissimus auger, Pellitus) whose warnings gave him a military advantage until he was assassinated (264-70). (The gallows are Spenser’s innovation; other passages in which Spenser substitutes hanging for another form of execution are I.v.50.5-6 and II.x.32.9; see the discussion in Harper 1910: 83-84).

hire: reward (ironic)
vassallage: servitude
respire: regain courage

St. 37

Spenser continues to follow the main lines of Geoffrey’s account but conflates battles and alters other details, suggesting that he may have consulted other chronicles, including a source now unknown.

37.2-37.3 37.2-3 Offricke and Osricke are not brothers in Geoffrey, who names Offridus as the son of Edwinus and Osrico as his successor, killed subsequently (272). Holinshed names two sons of Edwin ‘Osfrid’ and ‘Edfride’, but still reports their deaths in separate battles. The phrase ‘twinnes unfortunate’ may suggest an additional source through which the ‘sunen tweien’ of Layamon’s version could have reached Spenser (see Harper 1910: 161-62).
Layburne playne: In Geoffrey, the location is given as ‘the plain of Hedfield’; Oswald is killed in a later battle ‘fought at a place named Burne’ (272).
37.5-37.7 37.5-7 In Geoffrey the kings of Orkney and Scotland (‘Louthiane’) fall, like Ofridus and Oscrico, in separate battles (see 37.2-3n).
fatall payne: pangs of death; fated pain
37.8-37.9 37.8-9 Geoffrey reports that Peanda was subdued by Caduallo, and became his ally, before the battle with Edwinus (270).

St. 38

Cadwallin sends Penda in pursuit of Oswald, next in line as king of Northumbria. Geoffrey reports that Oswaldus, under siege at Hevenfield, raised a cross and ordered his followers to pray (272). Spenser heightens the account with angels raising crosses on high who sponsor a bloodless victory, and makes the name a result of the battle rather than, as Geoffrey implies, the inspiration for Oswald’s pious actions.

indewd: endowed
imbrewd: stained
0-39.4 39.1-4 The battle Geoffrey reports as having taken place at Burne (see 37.4n).
39.5-39.9 39.5-9 These lines follow Geoffrey’s account of Oswio, the brother of Oswaldus (272).
like dread: dread of a similar fate
39.5 like dread: Cf. 37.8, ‘fearefull of like desteny’.
buy: ransom
39.7-39.8 39.7-8 Oswin shall ‘tread adowne’ Penda rather than being trodden down by him; the chiasmic mirroring of the phrasing on either side of the line break expresses this turning of the tables.

St. 40-41

In Geoffrey, Cadwalladrus rules for a dozen years before he falls ill, whereupon the combination of civil war, famine, and plague destroys the kingdom, forcing him to withdraw into Armorica (on the coast of Brittany; cf. II.x.64.5). The account of heavenly disfavor and the vision preventing the Britons’ return are based on Cadwallader’s lament in departing from England, and on the report that he heard an angel’s voice commanding that he give over his intended return: ‘as Cadualadrus was preparing a fleet, an angelic voice rang out, ordering him to give up the attempt. God did not want the Britons to rule over the island of Britain any longer, until the time came which Merlin had foretold to Arthur’ (276, 278).

regiment: rule
envy: begrudge
murrins: murrains (epidemics)
Armoricke: Armorica
41.4 Armoricke: See st. 40-41n.
42.1 42.1 Echoing Rev 8:13: ‘Wo, wo, wo, to the inhabitants of the earth’.
wasteful: uninhabited
42.7 In Geoffrey, Merlin bursts into tears (144).
42.8-42.9 42.8-9 Geoffrey’s account of British kings covers about 1800 years, starting with Brut and the Trojan remnant and ending with the death of Cadualadrus on 20 April 689 (280).
fashioned: See ii.16.9n on Spenser’s use of this verb to describe both mimesis and poesis.
raste: razed or erased
terme: duration
44.3 the just revolution: The exact period of the historical cycle.
44.4 Cf. Jer 35:7: ‘Nether shal ye buylde house, nor sowe sede, nor plant vineyarde, nor have any, but all your daies ye shal dewll in tentes, that ye may live a long time in the land where ye be strangers’.
notifide: designated
44.5 44.5 Cf. Acts 7:6: ‘But God spake thus, that his sede shulde be a sojourner in a strange land, and that thei shulde kepe it in bondage, and entreate it evil four hundreth yeres’. Henry Tudor ascended to the throne in 1485, seven hundred ninety-six years after the death of Cadwallader.
supplide: completed
importune: grievous
44.7 importune: The sense of timing (see 31.5 gloss) is also relevant.

St. 45

The rulers named in this stanza are Welsh monarchs from the ninth, tenth, and twelfth centuries.

indew: instruct
skill of just and trew: knowledge of justice and truth
Raven: insignia on the Viking battle-standard
faithlesse chickens: The raven’s brood (its ‘chicks’) are ‘faithless’ because not converted to Christianity.
avenge: revenge
47.1-47.3 47.1-3 Neustria: Geoffrey’s Latin name for Normandy; the Lion is William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066.
cruddy: by metathesis from ‘curdy’, congealed
the Daniske Tyrant: It was actually Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, that William defeated in the Battle of Hastings. Harold had previously defeated Harald III of Norway, another claimant to the throne following the death of Edward the Confessor; after Harold’s death at Hastings, Edgar Aethling of Wessex was briefly proclaimed king before William seized the crown.
wood: mad
47.9 Upon his deathbead in 1087, William divided his succession among his three sons.
bountyhed: generosity
terme: prefixed span of time
48.5 Mona: Welsh name for the Isle of Anglesey, where Henry of Richmond was born.
in exile: See 44.5n for the ‘strange land’ of Henry’s exile.
stile: title
48.9 The Tudors traced their royal line back through the Welsh remnant of the Britons to Arthur, and back through the Briton royal line to Brut and the remnant from Troy.
49.1-49.2 49.1-2 England and Wales were joined in 1536 by the Act of Union. The claim that this union is ‘eternall’ echoes the Roman claim to imperium sine fine, ‘empire without end’.
49.5 civile armes: Cf. ‘civill jarre’ at 23.9. Refers primarily to the Wars of the Roses, 1455-87.
49.6-49.9 49.6-9 The ‘royall Virgin’ Elizabeth I extended her royal scepter across ‘the Belgicke shore’ in defending the Netherlands against Spain (‘the great Castle’); Phillip II, as King of Castile, bore a castle on his coat of arms. Cf. DS Howard, ‘those huge castles of Castilian king’, referring to the ships of the Armada.
white rod: The phase used by Cooper 1565 to describe Mercury’s Caduceus.
50.1 50.1 Cf. Matt 24:6, where Christ says to the disciples ‘And ye shal heare of warres, and rumors of warres: se that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to passe, but the end is not yet’.
spirites: Probably singular possessive; if plural, it would imply the presence of the ‘spirits’ of the descendants about which he has prophesied. See notes to Argument and 8.9.
discoure: discover, reveal
halfe extatick stoure: It is characteristic of Spenser’s ambivalence toward Merlin that the magician’s ‘fitt’ should be only half-ecstatic, ascribed by way of similitude (‘As overcomen’) to very different alternatives.
50.9 50.9 The submetric ninth line is adjusted in 1609 by the addition of ‘as earst’ following ‘looks’.
51.2 i.e., ‘everything they needed to ask’
possesse: accomplish
52.5-52.9 52.5-9 Uther’s battles against Octa, son of the Saxon Hengist (see II.x.65-66), and ‘his relative Eosa’ are detailed in Geoffrey (180-90). Cayr Verolame (the Roman city of Verulamium, later St. Albans, personified in the speaker of Time) was the scene of Uther’s final battle; Octa and Eosa were slain (broken), but Uther was poisoned shortly thereafter. The narrative present of the poem is thus located in the brief span between his victory and death.
empeach: hinder
feigned armes: A transferred epithet, although the transference is complicated by the absence of a noun to which the adjective might properly apply.
misseeme: seem unbecoming to
emprize: enterprise
53.8-53.9 53.8-9 At ii.6.1-5, Britomart tells the Redcrosse knight that she had trained in arms since infancy.
make you a mayd Martiall: With a pun on her name (Brito-mart = martial Britoness) as well as on ‘make’ and maid/made.
in paragone of: in rivalry with
54.7 Bunduca: Mentioned in Briton moniments at II.x.54-56.
54.8 Guendolen: Mentioned in Briton moniments II.x.17-20.
54.9 Martia: Dame Mertia in Briton moniments at II.x.42.
54.9 Emmilen: Perhaps Emiline, mentioned at VI.ii.29.2 as queen of Cornwall.

St. 55-56

Spenser elaborates freely on hints from various chronicle sources (see Harper 1910:165-68). Uther fought the Saxons at Menevia (St. David’s, in south-central Wales) following the assassination of his brother Aurelius, and was crowned after the battle (Geoffrey, Historia 180). The Saxon queen Angela, mentioned by chroniclers as one possible source for the etymology of the name ‘Angles’/England, is a virgin only in Spenser’s account. Spenser has invented her combat with Ulfin (the knight who accompanies Uther on his nocturnal visit to Igerna) and Carados (a name that appears in Geoffrey and Malory, but not as one of Uther’s knights).

read: tell
tynd: sparked
habergeon: coat of mail
pray: spoil
aray: attire
58.9 Echoing the descriptions of Artegall’s armor (ii.25.4) and the skirt of Praysdesire (II.ix.37.1-2).
Church: For the ambiguity of this designation, see the notes to ii.48.4 and iii.34.2.
her selfe avising readily: promptly noting to herself
Armory: suit of armor
bauldrick: An ornamented belt or girdle like those worne by Arthur (I.vii.29.8) and Belphoebe (II.iii.29.5).
60.1-60.2 60.1-2 The spear is first introduced at i.7.9. For Bladud’s reign and his ‘wondrous faculty’, see II.x.25-26. Joining a British spear with Saxon armor, Britomart foreshadows in her own equipage the union of kingdoms foretold by Merlin (st. 49).
in sell: in saddle
harnesse: suit of armor
clombe: An archaic form, imitated from Chaucer or Lydgate.
62.2 62.2 Merlin also directed Arthur to Faeryland (I.ix.7.1-2).
diverst: turned aside
forth rode: Emphasizing Britomart’s purposeful action (cf. 61.9).
1 Marinell: From L marinus of or belonging to the sea, by way of Ango-Norman marin, marine seashore, coast.
strond: strand
fond: found
4 fond: The unavoidable pun (Florimell isn’t found by Arthur because she isn’t fond of him) sets the tone for a canto in which sympathy for the suffering of characters mingles with amusement at their folly.

St. 1

On Spenser’s use of Ariosto, see the notes to ii.1 and 2. As Hamilton observes, ‘this stanza is structured on the elegiac ubi sunt [L where are] topos’. The phrase appears in the opening lines or the refrain of medieval Latin works, usually lamenting the brevity of mortal things. Spenser’s focus is different: women’s glory hasn’t faded because of the general mutability of things. The elegiac associations of the language serve rather to set off the sexual politics that take the place of mutability in causing the disappearance to be lamented, even as they also anticipate the sorrowful tone that will prevail in the canto. At the same time, the narrator’s seeming innocence about where all the warlike women have gone, compared to the knowing criticism of masculine bias voiced in the opening of canto ii above, contributes to a wry undertone that qualifies this prevailing sorrow with an amused irony.

become: gone
which them high did reare: that elevated female warriors to heights of honor
reverse: return
2.3 envy: Like the narrator’s ‘disdaine’, his ‘envy’ may indicate rivalry with the poets who had such warriors to celebrate, contempt for the men who diminish their achievements, or indignant pride on behalf of the women named.
2.4-2.6 2.4-6 Penthesilia is not in Homer, although as Upton observes she is mentioned in para-Homeric additions by other writers; cf. the extended account of Achilles’ infancy incorrectly ascribed to Homer by E.K. in the gloss to SC March 97. Virgil mentions Penthesilia at Aen 1.490-93. Given the narrator’s criticism of male writers who ‘deface’ the deeds of heroic women in their writs (ii.1.9), the errors in this stanza are more than a little ironic.
2.7-2.8 2.7-8 See Judges 4. Debora prophesies the destruction of Sisera, but it is Jaél who drives a tent-stake into his temple.
2.8-2.9 2.8-9 For Camilla’s defeat of Orsilochus, see Virgil, Aen 11.690.
disdaine: Disdain will become a recurrent motif in the canto, introduced here with a characteristically humorous touch of mildly befuddled exaggeration.

St. 3

See the similar turn to Britomart and Elizabeth at ii.3.

Aswell: as well
3.3 Aswell: Echoing ‘I swell’ (2.9).
stock: The trunk of a tree, as opposed to its roots or branches; in the case of a genealogical tree, the progenitor of later generations. A recurring image for Britomart’s relation to the royal lineage: see ii.17.5n; iii.16.6, 18.3, 22.3.
along: continuously, by unbroken succession
3.9 along: Cf. iii.4.6-9.
4.4-4.5 4.4-5 Pledges of friendship among Spenser’s protagonists have a special significance in the symbolic structure of the poem; see notes to I.ix.1 and III.i.12.
win him worship: Echoing I.i.3.4.
meed: reward

St. 5

Britomart’s refusal to remove her armor is introduced at i.42.7; when she does remove it on going to bed (i.58.6), the consequences are distressing. Here the mention of her unwillingness is not clearly motivated, and so the reader is left to muse upon the relation between Britomart’s keeping to ‘her former course’, her refusal to doff her arms, and her pensiveness as she ‘fashions’ a mental image of Artegall in response to the Redcrosse knight’s rhetorical ‘display’ of his appearance. (For the importance of rhetorical display in the account of Merlin’s prophecy, see the notes to iii.8.9, and 32.1.)

The language of this stanza is dense with terms used by Spenser to describe his own activity as a poet; in its emphasis on the idealizing force of Britomart’s fantasy, the description of her mental activity parallels Sidney’s definition in the Defence of Poetry of ‘right’ poets, ‘who having no law but wit, bestow that in colours upon you which is fittest for the eye to see’ (80). The description of Britomart’s mental activity in this stanza also harks back to the gestation simile (ii.11) that describes her first response to the image ‘displayed’ by Redcrosse.

amarous: amorous; also suggesting L amarus bitter
6.1-6.5 6.1-5 The catachresis of feeding a wound extends the paradox intimated by the spelling ‘amarous’ at 5.3, and suggests that Britomart’s refusal to disarm—which comes too late, since she is already wounded—is doubly futile inasmuch as her thoughts are not only ‘self-pleasing’ but also (and for that very reason) self-wounding.
depart: remove
6.8 Doubly ironic in that her guide (Cupid) is not only blind but also, as ‘guest’, uninvited—and, as the uninvited guest who blindly presumes to guide, a host’s worst nightmare. Cf. ii.49.2-3, ‘no powre / Nor guidaunce of her selfe in her did dwell’.
lofty creast: helmet
lofty creast: See ii.27.1-2n.
hore: white with foam
surquedry: arrogance
disdaynd: Spenser’s landscapes characteristically assume the affective and psychological attributes of the poem’s agents. Disdain is a motif throughout the canto, beginning at 2.9 above.
affronted: insulted them to their face; confronted their assault

St. 8-10

The first of three formal complaints in this canto (see 36-39 and 55-60), Britomart’s three stanzas recast Petrarch, RS 189, a sonnet also imitated by Chaucer in the lament of Troilus (T and C 5.638-44) and by Wyatt in ‘My galley chargèd with forgetfulness’. Spenser revisits this topos in Am 34. For the Biblical provenance of the metaphor, see Psalms 69:15: ‘Let not the waterflood drowne me, nether let the depe swallowe me up’.

8.1 8.1 Spenser’s description of the seashore has already presented it as the projection of a psychomachia, preparing the way for Britomart’s apostrophe to a ‘sea of sorrow’ that is both inside and outside of her.
barke: ship
8.5 This image for the waves marks Spenser's adaptation of the topos to a female speaker.
8.9 thy troubled bowels (these troubled bowels 1596): Cf. ‘my bleeding bowells’ (ii.39.2).
crazd: battered or broken
9.4 As Upton observes, ‘this verse is beyond measure hypermeter, and as rough as the subject requires’. The unstressed rhyming syllable is unusual in Spenser; cf. 53.9, where meter and rhyme together force the accent onto the second syllable of ‘pillow’.
9.5-9.9 9.5-9 Once again (as at 6.8) recalling and expanding upon ii.49.2-4. Merlin’s ‘assurance’ speaks directly to this concern: ‘destiny . . . Guyded thy glaunce’ (iii.24.3-5). See 6.8n.
lewd: ignorant
9.6 lewd: As navigator, the Pilot should be well-versed in the use of compass and in the specific features of the local harbor or coastline. Lewd may also mean ‘unchaste’.
9.7 The tour de force metrical effects on display in this line are appropriate to a self-conscious set-piece. The counterpoint between words and metrical feet creates a strong trochaic undertow within a perfectly iambic line.
no assuraunce knowes: lacks confidence or steadfastness
God of windes: Aeolus
Continent: mainland
10.2 Continent: The imagery of st. 7 introduces the notion that in opposing the ‘surges’ of oceanic passion, terra firma also represents continence.
table: votive tablet, probably stone
hallow: devote, consecrate
10.9 hallow: Upton notes the ‘ancient custom’ whereby ‘the mariner escaped from shipwreck offered his votive tablet to Neptune, Horace, Odes 1.5; Juvenal, Satires 12.27; Tibullus 1.3’.
repriefe: reproof
11.4 repriefe: The rhyme-word ‘reliefe’ retroactively implants an echo of ‘reprieve’ in Glauce’s reproof.
11.8-11.9 sacred . . . immortall: Transferred epithets. Britomart’s offspring will immortalize her on earth through the fame of their exploits and in heaven by enrolling their names in the book of life (cf. Epith 417-23 and Isa 4:3, Geneva gloss: ‘He alludeth to the boke of life, whereof read Exod. 32,33: meaning Gods secret counsel, wherein his elect are predestinate to life everlasting’). The doctrine of predestination thus underwrites the prolepsis.
dolour: lament
12.6-12.9 12.6-9 The conversion of kindred emotions into wrath begins with Guyon’s first adventure in II.i and culminates in his destruction of the Bower. On Britomart as resuming Guyon’s irascibility, see i.28.6-8n, ii.6.6-9n, and v.21n. Since her sorrow is an aspect of her desire for Artegall, it follows the pathway already traced by her defensive reaction to that desire, ‘Converting’ into ‘suddein wrath’.
coosen: cousin
distroubled: deeply troubled
despight: See 2.9, 7.6, and notes.
13.1-13.6 13.1-6 Cf. II.viii.48.1-7, where the simile describes Arthur’s tactics in combat with Pyrochles; here the weather characterizes an internal action, Britomart’s conversion of grief into wrath.
engroste: thickened
lo’ste: lowest
disclo’ste: released
disclo’ste: The apostrophe does not signal an actual elision, but may be used to create an eye-rhyme with ‘lo’ste’.
stowre: storm
in my despight: See ‘Love and despight’ at 12.9, ‘disdaynd’ at 7.6, and 2.9n.
read: advise
Ythrild: pierced
deepe disdaine: Extending the motif introduced at 2.9.
15.2-15.3 15.3-4 Both the curtness of Britomart’s reply and the promptness of her charge against the stranger knight in the ensuing lines are very much in character not only with her mood at present but with her pattern of behavior thus far (see 12.6-9n).
fearen: frighten
maugre: in spite of
made dearly knowne: made known at great cost
15.8-15.9 15.8-9 She is bent over backwards by the force of the blow; the ‘crouper’, or crupper, is a leather strap attached to the saddle and running back under the horse’s tail.
againe: in return
threesquare scuchin: triangular shield
hauberque: a long coat of chain-mail
left side: Proximity to the heart suggests a love-wound.
glaunce: pierce obliquely (typically contrasted with ‘glide’, pass directly into)
croupe: crupper
sadly soucing: falling hard

St. 17

Classical precedents for the comparison of a sacrificial ox to a warrior struck down in battle include Homer, Il 17.520-24, and Apollonius Rhodius, Apollon 4.468-70, but Spenser’s simile is distinctive in its emphasis on the sacrificial animal’s pride in his ornaments, ignorance of their meaning, and stupefaction on receiving the ‘mortall stroke’—features that sustain the precarious balance between pathos and amused irony characteristic of this canto (see arg.4n).

sacred: set apart for sacrifice
deare: The ox’s ‘bandes’ are ‘deare’ to him because he takes pride in them, but also because they will cost him his life. Introduced in the adverbial form at 15.6, the word ‘deare’ becomes a motif in the canto.
Distaines: stains
17.7 Distaines: Linked by sound to a keyword for the canto, ‘disdain’.
17.9 Marinell: Named (for the first time in the narrative) after the shore he defends (see arg.1n).
pretious shore: At 16.8 the shore was ‘sandy’; it becomes ‘pretious’ now in anticipation of Britomart’s discovery in the next stanza.
ready: direct
over-went: traversed
assay: approved value
owre: ore

all was in her powre: Cf. Horace, Odes 2.2.19-24:

Virtus . . . . . . regnum et diadema tutum deferens uni propriamque laurum, quisquis ingentes oculo inretorto spectat acervos.

‘Virtue . . . conferring power, the secure diadem, and lasting laurels on him alone who can gaze upon huge piles of treasure without casting an envious glance behind’.

Britomart does not need to struggle with Mammon; Guyon has won that battle. Cf. i.19.1-3, where Britomart is equally indifferent to Guyon’s other major temptation, ‘beauties chace’.

stonishment: unconsciousness
19.1 stonishment: A favorite Spenserian pun: stunned, Marinell becomes stone-ish.
19.3 blacke-browd Cymoent: Upton derives the nymph’s proper name from Gk κυμα kuma (‘wave’) (cf. ‘Cymochles’ at II.iv.41.5), and her epithet from  kuanophrus (‘dark-browed’).
19.3-19.9 19.3 -20.6 The account of Marinell’s begetting and his growth to become ‘A mighty man at armes’ are derived from the story of Achilles (see Ovid, Met 11.229-265 for the story of Peleus begetting Achilles on the sea-nymph Thetis). This may imply an opposition between Marinell and Artegall, who enters the poem, in imago if not in person, having won ‘Achilles armes’ (ii.25.6).
20.1-20.6 19.3 -20.6 The account of Marinell’s begetting and his growth to become ‘A mighty man at armes’ are derived from the story of Achilles (see Ovid, Met 11.229-265 for the story of Peleus begetting Achilles on the sea-nymph Thetis). This may imply an opposition between Marinell and Artegall, who enters the poem, in imago if not in person, having won ‘Achilles armes’ (ii.25.6).
19.4 Nereus: Sea god and father to the sea nymphs, or Nereids.
Dumarin: Fr ‘of the sea’
closely: secretly
mickle: much
Rich strond: A threshold not only between land and sea but also between mortal and immortal domains, as Marinell descends from the union between a sea-nymph and an ‘earthly’ knight (19.3-6).
wonne: dwell
glade: a forest clearing
21.5 glade: Hamilton suggests that this term is applied (oddly) to the Rich strond in order to associate it with Mammon’s cave (see 18.9n). If Britomart revisits the Bower of Bliss from the point of view of Chastity in Castle Joyeous, then here she revisits Mammon’s cave.
21.6-21.9 21.6-22 Zurcher notes that ‘Neptune has conferred upon Marinell a lucrative monopoly, the franchise of “wreck” on the high seas, or in the Latin wreccum maris’ (2007: 107).
22.1-22.9 21.6-22 Zurcher notes that ‘Neptune has conferred upon Marinell a lucrative monopoly, the franchise of “wreck” on the high seas, or in the Latin wreccum maris’ (2007: 107).
dearely: affectionately; earnestly; at great cost
21.7 dearely: The discovery that Marinell’s ‘sandy shore’ is also a ‘pretious shore’ adds to the semantic density of the term; cf. ‘pretious and deare’ at 23.6 and see 17.3n.
doen: make
Nephew: grandson
his . . . his: Nereus’s . . . the sea’s
him . . . he: the sea . . . the sea
owches: ME ouche originally signified a clasp or brooch but later was used to refer to precious ornaments generally.
24.2 Ambiguous syntax may be construed ‘often keenly tested to the harm of many’, ‘often tested to the acute harm of many’, or ‘often tested to the harm of many who were highly esteemed’. See 17.3n and 21.7n for the recurrent pressure placed on the modifier ‘deare’ in this episode.
reare: bring about
knife: sword

St. 25

In the prophecy of Proteus concerning Marinell’s ‘sad end’, Spenser combines Thetis’s foreknowledge of Achilles’s death at Troy (Ovid, Met 13.162-3) with Cyrene’s instructions to her son Aristaeus on obtaining prophetic counsel from Proteus (Virgil, Georg 4.387-456).

eternall skill: knowledge of things eternal
25.7-25.9 25.7-9 Proteus’s warning may also be indebted to Renaissance versions of the Achilles legend; according to Boccaccio Genealogia 12.52 and Conti Myth 9.12, Achilles fell in love with Priam’s daughter Polyxena, who lured him to his death in Troy.
straunge: foreign
dismay: defeat
25.9 straunge: Cf. v.9.8, ‘a forreine foe’.
For thy: therefore
algates: by all means
26.8-26.9 dy: / Dy: The repetition plays the common euphemism for orgasm against the end of life, much as the play on ‘deare’ throughout the canto (see 17.3n) contrasts Marinell’s possessive love of the strand and its riches with their cost to him.
who so list: Ironically echoing the title of Wyatt’s lyric ‘Whoso list to hunt’.
deceive: cheat
weene: think
27.2 weene: Cf. ‘weening’, line 9.
That: i.e., his fate
security: complacency
amate: cast down
27.4 amate: With a characteristic pun on a-mate, couple in love, and checkmate (cf. ‘mated’ at I.ix.12.2).
27.9 27.9-28.5 Cymoent’s misinterpretation of the prophecy, as it leads her to ‘disarme’ Marinell by arming him, extends the play on martial and erotic ‘arms’ that begins with Britomart in canto i (see i.45.7n): as one who turns to combat in a defensive refusal of love, Marinell mirrors a tendency within Britomart. Cymoent’s ‘vaine’ interpretation also enters into Book III’s extended play on the differences between literal and figurative wounds: indeed, if her son’s battle-wound may be interpreted allegorically as a love-wound (see 16.5n), Cymoent is not entirely wrong; she has merely substituted allegorical meaning for literal action within the fable.
28.1-28.5 27.9-28.5 Cymoent’s misinterpretation of the prophecy, as it leads her to ‘disarme’ Marinell by arming him, extends the play on martial and erotic ‘arms’ that begins with Britomart in canto i (see i.45.7n): as one who turns to combat in a defensive refusal of love, Marinell mirrors a tendency within Britomart. Cymoent’s ‘vaine’ interpretation also enters into Book III’s extended play on the differences between literal and figurative wounds: indeed, if her son’s battle-wound may be interpreted allegorically as a love-wound (see 16.5n), Cymoent is not entirely wrong; she has merely substituted allegorical meaning for literal action within the fable.
28.6-28.9 28.6-9 Contrast iii.25.9 (and note), where Merlin’s confidence that heavenly causes will reach ‘their constant terme’ underplays the ambiguity of his own prophetic utterance. Cymoent’s reliance on Proteus offers a close analogy to Glauce’s reliance on Merlin: at stake in both situations is the interpretation of a wound, which can be understood only by locating it within the right narrative context. In each instance the predestined outcome (‘terme’ as end-point) depends on the hazards of interpretation (‘terme’ as the riddling language of oracular utterance).
ticle: uncertain
termes of mortall state: Exemplifying the point it states, this line conflates the two senses of ‘terme’ distinguished above.
sophismes: plausible but fallacious arguments
approve: make good
28.9 approve: The narrator suggests that the misinterpretation of ambiguous prophecies may itself serve the purposes of destiny.
swownd: swoon
29.5-29.9 29.5-30.4 Cymoent’s grief on hearing of her son’s fall recalls both Homer’s account of Thetis as she hears Achilles groan in anguish (Il 18.35-38) and Virgil’s of Clymene when she hears Aristaeus’s lament (Georg 4.333-57).
30.1-30.4 29.5-30.4 Cymoent’s grief on hearing of her son’s fall recalls both Homer’s account of Thetis as she hears Achilles groan in anguish (Il 18.35-38) and Virgil’s of Clymene when she hears Aristaeus’s lament (Georg 4.333-57).
her watry sisters: the Nereids
her watry sisters: See 19.4 and note.
daffadillyes: another name for the Narcissus
29.9 29.9 The unusual overrunning of the stanza close adds formal emphasis to the ‘turn’ described in 30.3-4; the repetition of ‘girlonds’ emphasizes the turn.
30.5-30.9 30.5-9 Cymoent’s actions mimic Marinell’s fall (cf. ‘swownd’ at 29.3 with ‘swowne’ at 30.6); her ‘sisters’ follow suit when they lament ‘for her’ rather than for him. These details may elaborate a hint in the name of the flowers they were gathering at 29.8: the nymphs first crowning themselves with Narcissus and then tearing the garlands from their ‘crownes’ figuratively mirror Marinell’s narcissistic wound. For the ongoing contrast with Britomart, see the notes to 27-28 and Britomart’s comparison of herself to ‘Cephisus foolish chyld’ at ii.44.6-9.
Continent: the shore beside the pond (see 29.7)
charett: chariot
31.1-31.6 31.1-6 Both the motif of narcissistic mirroring and the blending of pathos with amused irony are sustained in the parallels between Cymoent and her chorus of sister-nymphs, most emphatically in the lumbering chiasmus of line 6.
surceast: forbore

st. 32

Neptune’s unsolicited response to Cymoent and her sisters contrasts with the absence of any response to Britomart’s prayer and vow at 10.6-9, immediately preceding her encounter with Marinell. His response also extends the motif of mirroring, both in the repetition of line 3 (‘mournd at their mournfull’) and in the closing rhyme (‘See’ with ‘see’). In Ovid, the great flood summoned by Neptune recedes when Triton sounds his conch (Met 1.330-42); with Cymothoë, he helps Neptune calm the storm that opens the Aeneid (1.142-45).

abid: past tense of ‘abide’
gate: gait, i.e. their passage, as described in the next stanza
33.1-33.3 33.1-3 Based on passages from Virgil and Apollonius, Conti infers that Triton was half-dolphin (Myth 8.3, 708).
bubling rowndell: swirl of foam
33.7 bubling rowndell: Evidently Cymoent is so opposed to the love of women that even her dolphins refrain from creating the sort of froth from which Venus was said to have been born.
33.9 33.9 The smoothness of the dolphins’ progress is suggested by the muting of the caesura.
34.5-34.6 34.5-6 That fish don't literally have ‘tender feete’ (any more than dolphins have a ‘gate’, 32.9) belongs to the curious humor of the episode, as it plays back and forth across the border between sea and land.
surbate: bruise
cruddy: clotted (by metathesis from ‘curdy’)
34.9 34.9-35.1 For the second time in five stanzas Spenser violates the norm of syntactic closure at stanza end. Here the effect is complicated by the emphasis on the ‘margent’ as a border between the mythic seas and the land inhabited by mortals, and by the mirroring across that border between Cymoent and her son, signaled as before by the repetition of ‘swownd/swowned’.
34.9-35.1 For the second time in five stanzas Spenser violates the norm of syntactic closure at stanza end. Here the effect is complicated by the emphasis on the ‘margent’ as a border between the mythic seas and the land inhabited by mortals, and by the mirroring across that border between Cymoent and her son, signaled as before by the repetition of ‘swownd/swowned’.
relyv’d: revived
35.4 relyv’d: The expression implies that Cymoent is ‘reliving’ her son’s demise in her own repeated swooning.
deare: For the importance of this term as a motif in the canto see 17.3n, 21.7n.
wayment: lament
35.8-35.9 35.8-9 Musical terms: ‘consent’, harmony; ‘breaches’, divisions; ‘complement’, completion by filling in the pauses (OED); ‘breaches’ also describes the breaking of waves. The combination of hyperbolically weeping rocks with this aestheticizing of lament may distance Cymoent’s grief. The nymphs’ musical ‘complement’ may also echo the ‘most melodious sound’ heard by Guyon and the Palmer (II.xii.70.1) as they approach Acrasia and Verdant—another ironic pietá, expressing self-indulgent sexuality rather than, as here, self-indulgent grief.

St. 36-39

The second of three formal complaints in this canto (see st. 8-10n).

36.1 Deare image of my selfe: This phrasing brings together two motifs running through the episode: the recurrent play on senses of ‘deare’ and the repeated hints of narcissism (see st. 30-32 and notes).
36.6-36.9 36.6-9 The addition of the question-mark comes like an after-thought, recasting what initially were declarative clauses in the interrogative mood and reminding us that in fact Marinell is not yet dead.
wefte: ‘waived’, avoided

wefte: On Spenser’s use of this form, see Zurcher (2007: 103).

Hamilton declares of ‘irrevocable’, ‘fittingly, the word cannot be scanned’. The scansion is difficult but not impossible: ‘thy’ and the first syllable of ‘irrevocable’ must be read as elided into a single unaccented syllable: ‘thy’revocable’.

37.1 37.1 Proteus’s reputation as a prophet derives from Virgil, Georg 4.387-529.
ywis: assuredly
deare: For this word as a motif in the canto, see 36.1n.

St. 38

In keeping with the narcissistic themes of the episode, Cymoent is here bewailing her own misfortune, not Marinell’s, and by the end of the stanza is arguing that he’s the lucky one. In the process she echoes the laments of Juturna for her brother Turnus in Virgil and of Inachus for his daughter Io in Ovid: quo vitam dedit aeternam? cur mortis adempta est /condicio? (‘Wherefore gave he me life eternal? Why of the law of death am I bereaved?’; Aen 12.879-80); sed nocet esse deum, praeclusaque ianua leti (‘It is a dreadful thing to be a god, for the door of death is shut to me’; Met 1.662).

abye: suffer
38.8-38.9 38.8-9 ‘It is a greater burden to see a friend’s grave than to be dead and fill one’s own’.
envie . . . maligne: begrudge . . . resent
39.4-39.5 39.4-5 Cf. the lament of Eryalus’ mother in the Aeneid: nec te, tua funera, mater produxi pressive oculos aut volnera lavi (‘Nor have I, thy mother, led thee—thy corpse—forth to burial, or closed thine eyes, or bathed thy wounds ’; 9.487-88)
bed: bid
39.7 The submetric line may be deliberate, corresponding to the supposed broken thread of Marinell’s life; it also marks a shift from accusing heaven to bidding the son farewell. For other submetric lines in the poem, see II.iii.26.9 and note.
maulgre: in spite of
39.9 till we again may meet: sith we no more shall meet 1596
sorowed their fill: Cymoent and her sisters lament Marinell’s death for ten stanzas before examining his wound.
watchet: light blue
gelly: a nonce-adjective formed from either the noun ‘jelly’ or the verb ‘jellied’
40.8-40.9 40.8-9 Cf. Thetis tending to the body of Patroclus in Homer (Il 18.39-40) and Venus tending to the wound of Aeneas in Virgil (Aen 12.416-19).
41.1-41.6 41.1-6 Hesiod mentions Liagore (Gk  leukoenos, ‘white-armed’) as one of the Nereids (Theog 257). Spenser transfers to her the story of Oenone, ravished by Apollo and then instructed in the arts of medicine (Ovid, Her 5.145-50). They had no offspring, but Paeon is mentioned in Homer as physician to the gods (Il 5.401-02, 899; Od 4.232).
lilly handed: Other lilly-handed maidens in the poem include Una, Belphoebe, Amoret, and Florimell.
leaches craft: medicine
41.4 Pindus: Thessalian mountain range associated with whiteness (cf. Proth 40-41, ‘The snow which doth the top of Pindus strew, / Did never whiter shew’) and with potent herbs (Ovid’s Medea gathers magical ingredients there at Met 7.224-27).
staied still: remained even now
staied still: With a secondary suggestion in each word that the pulse is barely detectable (‘stay’ as stop or delay, ‘still’ as quiet or motionless).
corse: body
beare: stretcher
42.5 beare: Since ‘corse’ can mean dead body and ‘bier’ is often used for the pallet on which a body is carried to the grave, Spenser is still playing on Marinell’s condition as close to death (cf. 41.7n).
clim: ‘climb’ (variant spelling for eye-rhyme)
43.2 Cf. Homer's description of Poseideon’s seduction of Tyro disguised as the river-god Enipeus: πορφύρεον δ’ ἄρα κῦμα περιστάθη οὔρεϊ ἶσον, /κυρτωθέν, κρύψεν δὲ θεὸν θνητήν τε γυναῖκα; porphyreon d’ ara kūma peristathē oureï ison, / kyrtōthen krypsen de theon thnētēn te gunaika (‘And the dark wave stood about them like a mountain, vaulted-over, and hid the god and the mortal woman’; Od 11.243-44). Virgil translates this line in describing Aristaeus’ descent to the underwater dwelling of his mother Cyrene: at illum / curvata in montis faciem circumstetit unda (‘And lo, the wave, arched mountain-like, stood round about’; Georg 4.360-61). Tasso echoes the same line when the Wise Man of Ascalon escorts Charles and Ubaldo to his cell beneath a river (GL 14.36.5-8).
vauted: vaulted (from L volta turn); arched
43.7 Tryphon: This sea-god Spenser derives from an error in Boccaccio, Genealogia 7.36, who gives triphon for Cicero’s Trophonius (Nat Deor 3.22). From his being brother to Aesculapius, Spenser invents that he is a physician, and from the resemblance of ‘Tryphon’ to ‘Triton’, that he is a sea-god.
soveraine leach: chief physician
ensample: model or precedent
brooke: profit or prosper by
44.9 Cf. 5.1, ‘kept on her former course’; these phrases frame the episode.
45.1-45.4 45.1-4 The mention of Archimago here looks like the trace of an abandoned plot line, which may have involved his long-standing partnership with Duessa. It is his last appearance in the poem. Cf. i.arg.3n, ii.4.1n for similar traces of incomplete revision.
gent: noble
45.5-45.9 45.5-9 Further evidence that this transitional stanza reflects an earlier stage of composition, since abandoned: Arthur and Guyon are spoken of as pursuing the Foster, whereas at i.18-19 above and again in st. 46 below they pursue Florimell, leaving Timias in sole pursuit of her assailant.
attonce: at once; together
46.4-46.6 46.4-5 Tellingly, Spenser echoes the account of Daphne’s flight from Apollo in Ovid, Met 1.533-39: ut canis in vacuo leporem cum Gallicus arvo / vidit, et hic praedam pedibus pedit, ille salutem (‘just as when a Gallic hound has seen a hare in an open plain, and seeks his prey on flying feet, but the hare, safety’). Compare Spenser’s implicit questioning of the motives behind ‘beauties chace’ at i.18-19.
assay: make trial
Whether: which of the two
happy: fortunate
pray: The positive sense associated with Biblical usage (OED 3.b) is not infrequent in Spenser, but the hunting simile in this stanza necessarily activates the predatory senses of the term as well.
47.1 Timias: Resuming the narrative from i.18.9.
forlent: entirely relinquished (as acknowledging a superior claim)
envy: See i.18.2n.
ybent: deflected; directed; determined; braced for action
47.5 ybent: Contrast Britomart’s undeviating ‘right course’ at 44.9.
pricke: spur, with sexual overtones
fomy steed: Spumador
48.2 fomy steed: See II.xi.19.7n.
48.6-48.9 48.6-9 See 46.4-5n for the echo of Daphne and Apollo. Ovid implies a comparable self-deception on the part of the god, who had earlier (Met 1.504-07) called out to Daphne just as Arthur is here said to call out to Florimell.
relent: slow down
49.2-49.3 49.2-3 Florimell recognizes no distinction between fleeing from Arthur and from the Foster. Arthur insists on the distinction, while the Ovidian intertext questions it.
49.4-49.9 49.4-9 For the flight of the dove cf. the lines from Ovid just cited (Met. 1.504-07) and Arethusa’s description of her flight from Alpheus (5.605-06).
raine: reign, the ‘realm’ of the sky
amaine: with full force
Tassell gent: tercel-gentle, the male of the peregrine falcon
49.8 The syntax lends added emphasis to the main verb; deferred for three-and-a-half lines, it arrives just in time to speed the movement of the verse.
for-hent: seized, overtaken in flight;
for-hent: Cf. ‘forlent’ (47.2).
liquid: In the Latinate sense favored by Virgil, ‘bright’ or ‘clear’.

St. 50

Dilates upon the sense of 49.1-3. As usual, Spenser’s narrator takes Arthur at face value, and is careful not to notice ironies that might complicate this assessment of motive.

50.4-50.5 50.4-5 The phrasing here and at 49.1 conveys a sense of something involuntary in Florimell’s flight, almost as if her emotions were acting on her from without.
shent: disgraced
insolent: The normal sense of the word is ‘presumptuous’. Spenser appears to be extending its meaning.
sewde: pursued
51.1-51.2 51.1-2 For an extended description of Arthur's arms, see I.vii.29.4-36; his shield is ‘uncouth’ (unknown) because ‘all closely cover’d’ (I.vii.33.1).
corage keene: Among the range of meanings evoked by this phrase would be ‘ardent sexual desire’.
51.6 golden Hesperus: Venus, the evening star. Cf. Epith 286-87, where the groom impatient for the arrival of night sees ‘the bright evening star with golden creast / Appeare out of the East’, where it should appear in the west. Venus always appears near the setting sun, above the horizon, and so would never be ‘mounted high in top of heaven sheene’ at nightfall. Its placement in these lines may be a joke at Arthur’s expense: he has followed Florimell so long that his Venus is in the ascendant, ‘mounted high in top’ of his heaven wherever it may appear in the night sky.
sheene: fair
his other brethren: the stars
suit: pursuit; wooing
wyte: blame
aslope: athwart
scope: object of desire, from L scopos a mark set up to shoot at
53.2 at disaventure: Spenser seems to have coined this idiom to mean something like ‘at random’, with the added suggestion of misfortune.
53.3-53.4 53.3-4 Echoing the conceit embedded in Britomart’s complaint (st. 9; see st. 8-10n).
53.7-53.9 53.7-9 Cf. I.ix.13.1-4, where Arthur lies down to dream of Gloriana. Both passages echo the account Chaucer’s Sir Thopas gives of his dream (CT Thopas 7.778-96).
a throw: a while
53.9 53.9 Rather an uncomfortable pillów, with the accent wrested onto the second syllable.
envyde: denied
54.4-54.5 54.4-5 Echoing the simile that compares Maleger’s troops to gnats (II.ix.16), the description of Phantastes’ chamber (II.ix.51), and the ‘guilefull semblants’ deployed by ‘Pleasures porter’ (II.xii.48.6), these lines identify Arthur’s pursuit of Florimell with the temperate soul’s vulnerability to erotic fantasies.
54.8 Insofar as both ladies defined by their inaccessibility, Arthur’s Fairy Queen is precisely ‘such, as shee’.

St. 55-60

The third and final complaint in this canto’s series (see st. 8-10n). All three evoke amused sympathy as they balance pathos against various qualifying ironies, underlined by the parallels among them. Spenser’s account of Night in these stanzas is based principally on Conti, Myth. 3.12, which in turn gathers references from Euripedes, Cicero, and Hesiod. Arthur’s hostile address to ‘hasty Night’ (54.9) specifically echoes that of Chaucer’s Troilus, who also blames night for its haste (3.1427-42). For the praise of sleep, see Sidney, AS 39, ‘Come sleep, oh sleep, the certain knot of peace’. Both the longing for rest and the need to resist that longing are deeply rooted in Spenser’s sense of life as moral struggle: see especially the seductive rhetoric of Despair (‘sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas’; I.ix.40.8).


St. 55

At I.v.20-44, Night accompanies Duessa on a journey to seek out Aesculapius in the classical underworld. Her genealogy is given at I.v.22.2-6.

55.1-55.2 55.1-2 Here the language of genealogy is metaphoric, as Spenser reenacts the emergence of personification allegory from figurative language.
55.5 Cocytus: Named from Gk Κωκυτός Kōkytos (‘wailing’); one of the rivers in the classical underworld.
55.6 Herebus: Erebus, generally the region of the underworld (see II.iv.41.7-9n).
55.6-55.8 55.6-8 Night’s link to Herebus is featured in the genealogy of Pyrochles and Cymochles at II.iv.41.6-9.
Halfe of thy dayes: Punning on ‘day’ as contrasted with and as inclusive of night. During her own proper half of each inclusive ‘day’, Night leaves the underworld and ascends into the sky (cf. I.v.44.4-9).
56.1-56.2 56.1-2 Referring to Gen 1:3-5, where God creates light and separates it from darkness: ‘And God called the light, Day, and the darkenes, he called Night’.
56.5-56.9 56.4-9 The syntax in these lines is difficult because two different phrases, ‘in sleepe’ and ‘Calles thee’, end up doing overlapping duty as the sentence proceeds. The slothfull body loves to steep his limbs ‘in sleepe’ and also ‘Calles thee in sleepe’; he ‘Calles thee, his goddess . . . [up] from Stygian deepe’ and also ‘Calles thee . . . great Dame Natures handmaide’.
lustlesse: listless
baser: too base
rayling: gushing; plaintive
57.4 rayling: Cf. Visions of Bellay 155, ‘I saw a spring out of a rocke forth rayle’.
57.6-57.7 57.6-7 See the description of death’s ‘dreary image’ at TCM VII.vii.46.1-5, where life and death are similarly mingled.
dreary: horrifying
felony: in early modern usage, a generalized term for wickedness or treachery
dreriment: Coined by Spenser from ‘dreary’ (57.7).
58.7-58.9 58.7-9 See John 3:20, ‘For everie man that evil doeth, hateth the light, nether commeth to light, lest his dedes shulde be reproved’.
shent: shamed
lewdnesse: wickedness
59.1-59.2 59.1-2 See 1 Cor 3:13, ‘Every mans worke shalbe made manifest: for the day shal declare it, because it shalbe reveiled by the fyre: and the fyre shall trie everie mans worke of what sort it is’.
areed: declare
59.5 children of day: Cf. I.v.25.7, and 1 Thess 5:5-6, ‘Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night nether of darkenes. Therefore let us not slepe as do other’. 1596 (‘Dayes dearest children’) mutes the scriptural but reiterates one of the canto’s key terms (see 17.3n).
Truth is his daughter: Cf. the motto Temporis filia veritas, ‘Truth the daughter of time’, alluded to at I.ix.5.9 and 14.4 in Arthur’s account of his training and his dream of the Faery Queene.
60.3 Titan: See Conti Myth 6.20 on the identificatio of Titan with the sun (542).
hast: haste
waine: chariot
disdaine: For disdain as a motif in the canto, see 2.9n.
61.6 61.6 Echoing the similar use of this verb form at 31.6.
bewraid: revealed
maltalent: ill temper
61.9 In a parody of the tendency for knights’ horses in FQ to reflect their owners’ temperaments, Spumador (cf. II.xi.19.7n) adopts a ‘lumpish’ pace to suit Arthur’s mood.
fosters: foresters
sownd: swoon

st. 1-2

The sharp antithesis between lust and idealizing worship is qualified by the narrative context (see notes to i.18-19, iii.1, and iv.48-51), even as the stanzas assert, problematically, that Arthur’s pursuit of Florimell is motivated by love. See iv.54.4-8, where Arthur, assailed by fantasies that keep him awake, blurs the distinction between Florimell and Gloriana.

his pageaunts play: ‘Perform his scenes’, implying that with respect to love, ‘diverse mindes’ are so many theatrical spectacles.
variable kindes: various natures
clay: the flesh of the body
1.5 clay: Echoing Job 10:9, ‘Remember, I pray thee, that thou hast made me as the clay’, and 13:12, ‘Your memories may be compared unto ashes, and your bodyes to bodyes of clay’. Also the element of earth in contrast to that of fire.
lewd: vile
it: Either ‘noble brest’ or ‘free thought’.
2.7-2.9 2.7-9 The driving force of love is conveyed by the accelerating repetition of the verb clause as the sententiae of the opening stanzas return upon the narrative; at the same time, the ironies qualifying these sententiae return both in the note of amused sympathy (love barely lets Arthur catch his breath) and in the ambiguity of the reference to ‘his first poursuit’, which strategically confuses the chase of chaste Florimell with the quest for Gloriana (echoing iv.54.6-8).
It . . . it . . . it: Love . . . love . . . the ‘noble brest’ or ‘free thought’.
2.9 In juxtaposing the prefixes pour- and for-, as Arthur’s suing ‘for’ (after) Florimell calls him onward (to the ‘fore’), this line introduces the canto’s preoccupation with senses of for-, and may also recall the narrator’s observation at iv.47.2 that Timias ‘Ladies love unto his Lord forlent’. The reference to his ‘first poursuit’ suggests that he has, for the moment, given up the chase of Florimell and resumed his quest for Gloriana, but it also anticipates the recurrent emphasis in the canto on hysteron proteron reversals.
3.1 The contrast with 2.9 encapsulates Arthur’s predicament: love calls him ever forward, but in so doing it calls him in into the forest, a setting characterized by the lust and violence personified in the ‘fosters’ (foresters) who inhabit it.
accident: event or disaster
aghast: frightened
whether: whither
sore he swat: he sweated profusely
3.8 sore he swat: The Dwarf’s frantic haste—running, sweaty, scratched, lame, and (like Arthur at 2.8) out of breath—offers a sadly comic analogue both to Florimell’s speedy flight and to Arthur’s hapless pursuit of her.
out of hart: utterly discouraged
out of hart: With a punning suggestion that the dwarf has failed to recover the quarry (‘hart’ as stag) he is pursuing.
ill mote I stay: I may not well pause
sway: dominion
accompt: esteem
out of hand: immediately
4.9 out of hand: Echoing ‘out of hart’ from the stanza’s first line, this phrase punningly answers the Dwarf’s question: ‘out of hand’ is where Florimell has gone.
mister wight: sort of person
5.1 5.2 Cf. i.15.6, ‘Her garments all were wrought of beaten gold’.
5.4 Florimell’s ‘faire lockes’ are featured in her initial description at i.16.3, but there they fly behind her in the wind like the tail of a comet, rather than being ‘enrold’, or coiled, into a ‘rich circlet’.
5.5 5.5 At I.ix.13.9 Arthur says of the ‘royall Mayd’ who appeared in his dream, ‘So fayre a creature yet saw never sunny day’, implying that she may not exist in the waking world. Florimell does exist by daylight, but her fleeting elusiveness approximates the inaccessibility of the Fairy queen.
5.6-5.7 5.6-7 Echoing the initial description of Florimell at i.15.2-5.
5.8-5.9 5.8-9 Cf. i.18.8, ‘the fairest Dame alive’. At once serious and playful, these lines suggest that allegorically Florimell is the personification of earthly beauty, even as they tease the conventional chivalric rhetoric according to which every knight is the most valiant and every damsell the fairest of them all. The difficulty of actually reading this ‘surest signe’ will be implied in canto viii and elaborated with considerable irony in Book IV, canto v.
trow: trust
5.9 trow: A subtly anticlimactic flourish that qualifies the surety of the surest sign by re-introducing the subjective element informing such judgments. Rhyming ‘I trow’ with ‘ye may . . . know’ is a nice touch.
tho: then
foregoe: go on before
6.5 foregoe: The alternative sense ‘precede in time’ will be activated—retroactively, of course—in st. 9-10.
7.1 7.1 ‘By god I’d rather know that [than have]’.
froward . . . forward: A common rhetorical pair, personified in II.ii by the sisters Elissa and Perissa. The contrast between stubborn backwardness (‘froward’) and eager or presumptuous forwardness harks back to the Redcrosse knight’s first appearance in the poem’s opening canto (see I.i.1 and notes); this motif takes on added significance in the context of the narrative’s self-conscious play in this episode with hysteron proteron, and its growing preoccupation with the prefix for-.
maulgre: literally, ill favor (mal + gree), but used by Spenser as an interjection meaning, roughly, ‘curses!’
attone: at once
errour straunge: uncommon wandering
errour straunge: The context activates additional senses: Florimell’s wandering is erroneous in preceding its cause, and strange for the same reason; ‘straunge’ also suggests that she is out of place, both in not belonging to the forest and in being so ‘Carried away’ (6.6) with fear that she cannot stay or be stayed (6.5) in one spot.
bountiest: ‘most bounteous’, i.e. most full of goodness
debonaire: courteous
eye I weene: Cf. ‘I trow’ (5.9 and note).
8.7-8.9 8.7-9.4 The elaborately repetitive patterning of these lines plays Florimell’s singular devotion (‘none but one’) against Marinell’s devotion to singularity.
9.1-9.4 8.7-9.4 The elaborately repetitive patterning of these lines plays Florimell’s singular devotion (‘none but one’) against Marinell’s devotion to singularity.
9.6-9.7 9.6-7 See iv.25-27 for Cymoent’s recourse to the ‘mighty spell’ of Proteus. These lines extend the episode’s increasing emphasis on the prefix for-: her maternal protectiveness gets ahead of itself in the effort to ‘forwarne’ her son through the ‘foresight’ (iv.25.6) of the sea-god. Syntactically, ‘forwarne’ operates as a transitive verb meaning ‘forbid’.
9.8 Continuing the play on for-, ‘forreine’ refers to Britomart’s origins outside Faeryland (‘a virgin straunge’, iv.25.9), but also echoes the ‘womans force’ (iv.27.8) that Cymoent neglects to fear, and evokes Marinell’s sense that all women are foreign.
9.9 Fame (like Cymoent at iv.36.6-9) gets ahead of events in reporting that Marinell is slain.
10.1-10.2 10.1-2 The uncharacteristic precision with which the Dwarf calculates elapsed time calls attention to sequence in which Florimell’s flight turns out to have preceded its cause: she rides so fast that she arrives in canto i before she has left the court. The echo of ‘foregoe’ (see 6.5n) in ‘forwent’ links the speed of her flight to its prematurity, and the continued play on the prefix (fowre days since she forwent the Court) reinforces this suggestion: the elapsed time can be four days only if she foregoes (precedes in time) her foregoing (going away from) Faery court.
invent: come upon, discover
10.4 invent: With the added suggestion, in context, that she has invented (contrived, created) his wounding before it happens.
good counsell, or bold hardiment: A conventional pair that echoes in a more positive register the ‘open force or hidden guyle’ with which Maleger’s force assail the bulwarks of Alma’s castle (see II.xi.7.4n).
rowme: place
11.3-11.4 11.3-4 Reminding Arthur of ‘his first poursuit’ (see 2.9n), these lines call him at once backward to a prior commitment (Gloriana) and ‘forward’ in pursuit of Florimell.
magnified: praised
At least eternall meede: Reward in at least heaven, even if not (‘haply’) on earth.
nill: ne will, i.e. will not
12.1-12.2 12.1-2 backe retourn’d . . . his Lady: Sustaining the extended play in this episode on Arthur’s confusion between going forward and going backward, seeking Gloriana and seeking Florimell.
12.3-12.4 12.3-4 Arthur’s belated concern for Timias (‘late left behinde’, echoing ‘backe retourn’d’) supplies a transition to the next episode in the canto, but also recalls the ironies attending their separation (see i.18-19 and notes), and plays into the forward/froward motif running through the canto (see 7.4n).
12.5-12.7 12.5-7 The repetition of ‘For’ plays into the canto’s concern with various senses of the prefix (see 2.9n), unpacking the latent pun in ‘forest’ as the superlative degree of ‘for’-ness.
doubt: fear
tride: found
assayd / Of: assailed by
13.4-13.9 13.4-9 As Timias’s hot pursuit of the foster extends through nine masculine pronouns over six lines, the distinction between the pursuer and the pursued begins to blur.
at the least: at last
14.5-14.6 14.5-6 The villain ‘escaped . . . Yet not escaped’ offers yet another version of the conflicted directionality and temporality of the canto: seeming to have outrun danger, he will turn back to seek revenge and find instead the ‘dew reward’ that has been ‘prepard’ for him (in advance). Planning to ambush Timias, he is himself ambushed by Providence.
cast: decided
15.5-15.6 15.5-6 The emphasis on lack of grace suggests an allusion to the threefold lust of 1 John 2:16: ‘For all that is in the worlde (as the luste of the flesh, the luste of the eyes, and the pride of life) is not of the Father’.

st. 16

Continuing the canto’s verbal for- play, the brothers’ impetuousness is emphasized by the repetition in ‘Forthwith . . . foorth . . . forrest’ (picked up again in lines 7-8, ‘For . . . forest’). The effect carries through the enjambments of lines 4-5, complete with verbs that ‘drive’ the rhythm across the line-breaks.

sad: causing sorrow
bylive: promptly

st. 17

At A Vewe 98, Irenius describes a ‘perilous ford’ where Irish rebels would often attack English troops. In 1581 Ralegh, ambushed in this fashion by men loyal to the earl of Desmond and his brother, Sir John of Desmond, killed his attackers. The earl of Desmond and his brother were later killed as part of the New English suppression of their Munster-wide revolt. In the ensuing division and plantation of Desmond’s vast estates, Spenser secured the grant of Kilcolman castle and a ‘seignory’ of about 3,000 acres.

17.2-17.4 Foreby . . . foord . . . fortune: See st. 16n.
uneath: not easy
17.5-17.6 17.5-6 ‘they knew that the Squire [must pass] by that same unknown [to him] way’.
algates: in any case
for thy: therefore
let: bar

st. 18-19

fortuned . . . ford . . . fo[r]ster . . . foorth . . . further . . . afore . . . force . . . forkehead . . . For . . . ford: See st. 16n: here the impulsion previously associated with for- opposes Squire’s progress.

restore: restitution
19.2 The extended play on for- in stanzas 16-18 prepares for the pun that concentrates the episode’s excess of ‘for’-ness into the ‘force’ that wounds Timias.
habericon: habergeon
forkehead: an arrow (‘dart’) with a barbed head
19.3 habericon: A sleeveless coat of mail (probably trisyllabic, ‘há - ber- con’; cf. the related form ‘hauberk’).
19.7 ‘It displeased him even more he could not get close enough to strike the foster’.
sease: take possession of
19.8 sease: Echoing legal usage; see st. 17n.
disease: difficulty, distress
bore-speare: At II.iii.29.1 Belphoebe carries ‘a sharpe bore-speare’ used to slay the forest animal traditionally associated with lust; here wielded against Timias.
20.7 The thigh-wound associates Timias with Ovid’s Adonis, slain by the boar he was hunting: tuta petentem / trux aper insequitur totosque sub inguine dentes / abdidit et fulva moribundum stravit harena (‘deep in the groin [the fierce boar] sank his long tusks, and stretched the dying boy upon the yellow sand’; Met 10.714-16). Timias, like Adonis, is a hunter whose prey has turned upon him. The wound to the groin or thigh is allegorically sexual, and thus tends to identify the hunter with his predator/prey; the implication is that Timias partakes of the lustful nature of his opponents. See Robertson’s discussion of the thigh-wound suffered by Launcelot in Chretien’s Chevalier de la charrete (1961: 450-51), quoting St. Jerome on the use of ‘thigh’ as a genital euphemism.
thrill: pierce
empight: implanted
20.9 Echoing 19.7, the repetition reinforces the suggestion (see 20.7n) that Timias cannot ‘come to fight’ with his foes because he partakes of their nature.
21.1 Compare the motives of vengeance and ‘bloodie yre’ that stir the three fosters in st. 15.
mickle: great
forest bill: ‘An implement used for pruning, cutting wood, lopping trees, hedges, etc., having a long blade with a concave edge, often ending in a sharp hook . . . and a wooden handle in line with the blade’ (OED).
strayne: grip
thrilled with the throw: pierced by the thrust
22.1-22.2 22.1-2 Dying warriors in classical epic often ‘bite the dust’ quite literally (see Homer, Il 2.418; Virgil, Aen 11.418, 11.669; Silius Italicus, Pun 9.383-4). For Spenser the expression gains resonance as an echo of God’s curse upon the serpent in Eden: ‘upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the dayes of thy life’ (Gen 3:14).
spectacle: Accented on the second syllable.
blin: cease
aviz’d: noticed
Pannikell: skull
ferme: probably ‘enclosure’, from Fr fermer to close
23.9 ferme: See Upton 711-12. The word’s etymology connects it to both ‘firm’ and ‘farm’, the latter sometimes spelled ‘ferme’; the Foster has, in modern parlance, ‘bought the ferme’.
24.1 ‘Seeing now [his brother's death], the last remaining foster’.
as that: as one who
raught: reached
overhent: overtook
Continent: ground
25.8 25.8 As the foster’s severed head fell backward onto the riverbank, so the harm that he (‘the meaner’) intended ‘fel’ upon his own head (‘crowne’).
26.5 Echoing the description of Marinell at iv.16.9.

st. 27-54

This episode is based on Angelica’s nursing of Medoro in OF 19.17-42.

27.1 27.1 Echoing I.vi.7.1.
27.3 ‘For loe’ suggests that we are being directed to witness a miracle of providence, but the line backs off this assertion with the equivocation ‘great grace or fortune’.
27.5-27.8 27.5-8 Belphoebe’s encounter with Braggadocchio (II.iii.21-45) contrasts pointedly with the present episode. Cf. Ariosto: Tanto è ch’io non ne dissi più novella, / ch’a pena riconoscher la dovreste: / questa, se non sapete, Angelica era (‘It is so long now since I last spoke of her, you may scarcely be able to recognize her: in case you do not know, she is Angelica’; OF 19.17.5-7).
27.9 27.9 Belphoebe’s name links her to the moon (see II.iii.arg.4n). This line, playing on Phoebus (Apollo) and Phoebe (Diana), anticipates events in canto vi.

st. 28

That the trail of blood leads to Timias associates him with the beast Belphoebe was hunting (see 20.7n). For tracking as a trope of interpretation, see II.pr.4.1-5 and note. Belphoebe’s arrival in this stanza divides the canto into halves of twenty-seven stanzas each; cf. vi.28n.

the great pursue: A nonce-usage, taking the verb as a noun in apparent reference to the ‘tract of blood’.
engor’d: deeply wounded; steeped in blood
deformed: marred in appearance
humor: moisture (Timias’s eyes are glazing over)
stownd: ordeal; trance

st. 30

Belphoebe’s ‘melting eies’ and sudden pallor link her to Timias; her twofold response, first starting back and then pierced with pity, echoes Guyon’s response at II.i.42 on beholding the ‘Pitifull spectacle of deadly smart’ (40.1) presented by Mordant, Amavia, and the bloody babe.

Besides all hope: without hope
Besides all hope: The syntax is interestingly ambiguous, with the phrase either modifying ‘Lady’ or describing what her ‘melting eies did vew’.
30.8-30.9 30.8-9 Cf. Ariosto: insolita pietade in mezzo al petto / si sentì entrar per disuaste porte, / che le fe’ il duro cor tenero e molle (‘an unaccustomed sense of pity stole into her breast by some unused door, softening her hard heart’; OF 19.20.5-7).
cast: resolved
31.8 habericon: See 19.3n on this form of ‘habergeon’.
burganet: helmet

st. 32-33

These stanzas are based on Ariosto, OF 16-19 (see st. 27-54n).

intendiment: understanding
32.6-32.7 32.6-7 On the medicinal properties of the herbs mentioned in these lines see SpE s.v. ‘plants, herbs’, but note that Belphoebe searches out only one ‘souveraine weede’ (33.1)—not all three—and that it may or may not have been one of those named by Spenser’s carefully equivocal narrator.
32.6 divine Tobacco: From the name Sacra herba or Sancta herba; Sir Walter Ralegh played a central role in popularizing the use of tobacco in England upon its introduction in 1584.
32.7 Panachæa: From Gk πανακος panachos (‘all-healing’) the name of a plant reputed to possess universal healing power. Along with dittany (mentioned by Ariosto but replaced in Spenser with Tobacco) and ambrosia (the nectar of the gods), odoriferam panaceam (‘fragrant panacea’) is provided by Venus to treat Aeneas’s wound (Aen 12.419).
32.7 Polygony: Specially used for treating ‘greene’ (i.e., fresh) wounds.
souveraine: surpassingly effective
marbles plaine: flat slabs of marble
bruze: grind into pieces
scruze: squeeze
33.4 scruze: Cf. II.xii.56.4, where we are told that Excesse ‘scruzd’ the ‘riper fruit’ into her cup, and 35.3 in this canto, which associates Belphoebe with a very different ‘bowre of blis’.
well it uze: employ (the medicine) to best advantage
suppled and did steepe: softened by bathing (as she applies the juice to the flesh surrounding the wound)
intuse: bruise, a nonce-usage based on L intusum bruised
recur’d: recovered
34.2-34.8 34.2-8 Timias lifts his gaze first ‘toward the azure skies’, but finds ‘divinities / And gifts of heavenly grace’ at his side, in the person of Belphoebe.
34.3 Contrast 29.3-4, where the congealing of moisture in the eyes is a sign of fading life.
hopelesse remedies: remedies for what seems hopeless
gilden: golden
35.5 A recurrent motif in Spenser, the surmise of divinity is taken from Homer by way of Virgil (see II.iii.33n). In context, it contrasts with the surmise of bestiality hinted at in Belphoebe’s confusion of Timias with the prey she hunts, a confusion repeated by her retinue (37.4-6).
35.7 Echoing 1 Pet 2:9, ‘him that hathe called you out of darnekes into his marveilous light’. If there is also an echo of John 1:5 (‘And the light shineth in the darkenes, and the darkenes comprehended it not’), then the allusion anticipates Timias’s backsliding into infatuation with Belphoebe in yet another of the canto’s reversals of direction.
sinfull wounds: See notes to st. 20 and 28.
woody Nymphe: The Nymph is Belphoebe’s nurse (32.4-5), not her birth mother.
safety: trisyllabic
37.1-37.2 former . . . after her: The wordplay extends the canto’s preoccupation with the trope of hysteron proteron and with the implications of the prefix for- (see 2.9n). Accordingly, this opening to the stanza is matched by a close in which the two swiftest nymphs ‘arrived at the last’.
ryv’d: pierced
boy: The office of squire to a knight is appropriate for a youth; ‘boy’ links Timias to Cupid and Adonis, the other wounded young men prominent in Book III.

st. 39-40

Spenser’s description of Belphoebe’s ‘Pavilion’ echoes Ovid’s account of Gargaphie succinctae sacra Dianae (‘Gargaphie, the sacred haunt of high-girt Diana’; Met 3.155-63), the retreat where Actaeon spies the goddess bathing and is then torn apart by his hounds. Spenser alludes to an earlier version of the Belphoebe story at Time 519-32, where the ‘pleasant Paradize’ whose destruction the speaker laments is compared to one made by Merlin ‘for the gentle squire, to entertaine / His fayre Belphoebe’. As this ‘gardin wasted quite’ anticipates the destruction of the Bower of Bliss in II.xii, so too the description of Belphoebe’s ‘Pavilion’ echoes the poem’s earlier, more heavily eroticized versions of the locus amoenus, e.g. II.v.27-35, II.xii.50-52, and III.i.20.4-7.

pumy: pumice
39.8-39.9 39.8-9 At II.v.30.1-4, the water playing over ‘pumy stones’ in the Bower of Bliss lulls the listener to sleep; in this more chaste locus, the river-currents complain at being restrained.
40.2 Virgil’s Corydon reports that formosae myrtus [gratissima] Veneri, sua laurea Phoebo (‘the myrtle [is most dear] to lovely Venus, and his own laurel to Phoebus’; Ecl 7.62). Ovid explains Venus’s preference for myrtle with a surprised-while-bathing story reminiscent of the Actaeon myth (Fasti 4.139-44; see st. 39-40n), and he describes Daphne’s transformation into a laurel (Gk 𝛿αϕν daphne ‘laurel’) to avoid rape by Apollo (Met 1.548-52). Allusions to Phoebus in this episode (cf. 27.9n) look forward to canto vi.
40.3-40.4 40.3-4 Cf. the description of the Bower at II.v.31.6-9 and xii.70-71, where the song of the birds gives pleasure only; here their love songs seem to alternate with sacred hymns.
liking: living 1596
readie wound: wound that has been prepared for new dressing
guarish: cure (probably picked up from Caxton)
dolour: suffering
redrest: remedied
41.7 redrest: Punning on the rhyme-word ‘drest’, since Belphoebe has just re-dressed the wound.
reduced: restored

st. 42-43

Spenser reverses the situation in Ariosto, where it is Angelica rather than the wounded youth who suffers (see st. 27-54n). The contrast between Timias’s two wounds participates in a sustained and complex exploration in Book III of the conventional metaphor that characterizes love as a wound. This exploration begins with the tapestry image of Adonis ‘Deadly engored of a great wilde Bore’ (i.38.2); it continues in Britomart’s wounding by Gardante, in the subsequent account of her wounding by ‘the false Archer’ when she sees Artegall in her father’s mirror, and in the wound she inflicts on Marinell.

duraunce: imprisonment
aleggeaunce: allegeance: in ME usage, relief or alleviation
42.9 aleggeaunce: Also suggests ‘allegiance’, since this is what Timias is in the midst of transferring from Arthur to Belphoebe. And while it wouldn’t be heard in the word, the visual pun on ‘leg’ is hard to miss (no relief for Timias’s ‘thigh’).
43.1 The contrariety between the two wounds—one healing while a second is inflicted by that which heals the first—is here concentrated into the language describing the healing of the first wound: it ‘gathers’ in the sense of growing together, but also in the sense specific to wounds of becoming infected and swelling with pus; it grows ‘whole’, or healthy, but also ‘hole’, opening rather than closing up. The opening/closing wound presents yet another version of the pervasive conflicts of directionality in this canto.
playsters: bandages
releast: delivered
44.2 The repetition of ‘dew’ sets up the terms of the lament in the next three stanzas: what is Belphoebe’s ‘dew reward’ (46.5) from Timias? And, though the question is vehemently disavowed, what is due to him for loving her?
44.5 soveraine bountie: supreme goodness (or generosity)
celestiall hew: heavenly appearance
constraynd: The narrator obligingly endorses Timias’s portrayal of himself as a hapless victim of Belphoebe’s beauty.

st. 45-47

Timias’s lament in these stanzas echoes the three matched complaints in canto iv (see iv.55-60n).


st. 45

In accusing himself of ‘villeinous despight’, Timias declares the sexual nature of his desire for Belphoebe, albeit in the mode of a self-reproach bordering on the suicidal.

45.2 soverain mercy: Appearing for the third time in this episode, the word ‘sovereign’ accumulates resonance from Belphoebe’s allegorical link to Elizabeth I. Spenser says in FQ Letter 35-37 that the queen’s royal person is represented by Gloriana, whereas her private personage as ‘a most vertuous and beautifull Lady . . . in some places I do expresse in Belphœbe, fashioning her name after your own excellent conceipt of Cynthia, (Phœbe and Cynthia being both names of Diana.)’ He recurs to Ralegh’s poetic ‘worship’ of Elizabeth as a goddess in stanzas 3-5 of the proem to Book III (see notes). Spenser is careful to use ‘sovereign’ in this episode in its generalized sense of ‘preeminent’, but the insistent trace of royal status in this word points to the terms of the dilemma Timias shares with Ralegh: the queen’s ‘two persons’ cannot really be separated, and so the erotic devotion she is said to inspire in her private capacity as a beautiful woman must be restrained by the awe due to her royal majesty. Timias (again, like Ralegh) enacts the relation between the queen’s two bodies in a histrionics of desire at once ‘constraynd’ and proscribed.
quight: requite
deathes: disyllabic
46.3-46.4 46.3-4 The contrast between ‘fro me’ and ‘therefore’ participates in the canto’s sustained wordplay on for-.
46.6-46.9 46.6-9 In early modern usage ‘dye’, ‘serve’, and ‘service’ refer to sexual intercourse.
warreid: waged war
48.1 warreid: With overlapping puns on the homonyms ‘worried’ (in the early modern sense ‘harass, assail’) and ‘wearied’.
against his will: At 44.9 Timias is said to complain ‘of his lucklesse lott and cruell love’; here he is said to be at war with himself, and specifically with his own sexual urges (OED ‘will’ n.2, ‘carnal desire or appetite’).
blast: shrivel
levin: lightning
calcineth by art: ‘Calcine’ is an alchemical term meaning ‘burn to a powder’, applied metaphorically to the metaphorical lightning that consumes Timias ‘by art’.
49.5-49.6 49.5-6 Another glance at Ariosto (see st. 27-54n, 42-43n), transferring the figure of melting snow from Angelica to Timias: la misera si strugge, come falda / strugger di nieve intempestiva suole, / ch’in loco aprico abbia scoperta il sole (‘the poor damsel wasted away, as a patch of snow out of season will waste when exposed on open ground to the sun’; OF 19.29.6-8).
50.4-50.6 Cordialles . . . Cordiall: from L cor heart, medicines that are good for the heart
envy: deny
50.9 that soveraine salve: See 45.2n. Here the veil of allegory thins, briefly, as the latent political meaning of ‘soveraine’ comes closer to the surface. Elizabeth’s royal status is allegorized as a kind of figurative divinity (cf. 35.5, 47.1-2), in which context her virginity appears as sacred, like Diana’s.

st. 51

Imitated from Catullus 62.39-47:

ut flos in saeptis secretus nascitur hortis, ignotus pecori, nullo convulsus aratro, quen mulcent aurae, firmat sol, educat imber, iam iam se expandit suavesque expirat odores;* multi illum pueri, multae optavere puellae: idem cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui, nulli illum pueri, nullae optavere puellae: sic virgo dum intacta manet, dum cara suis est; cum castum amisit polluto corpore florem, nec pueris iucunda manet nec cara puellis.

(*missing line supplied by editorial conjecture)

As a flower springs up secretly in a fenced garden, unknown to the cattle, torn up by no plough, which the winds caress, the sun strengthens, the shower draws forth, and even now it unfolds and exhales sweet fragrance, many boys, many girls, desire it; when the same flower fades, nipped by a sharp nail, no boys, no girls desire it: so a maiden, while she remains untouched, the while she is dear to her own; when she has lost her chaste flower with sullied body, she remains neither lovely to boys nor dear to girls.

Spenser’s echo of Catullus in the present episode is especially pointed in the way it plays against the Ariostan allusion: Angelica a Medoro la prima rosa / coglier lasciò, non ancor tocca inante: / né persona fu mai sì aventurosa, / ch’in quel giardin potesse por le piante (‘Angelica let Medoro pluck the first rose, hitherto untouched—no one had yet enjoyed the good fortune of setting foot in this garden’; OF 19.33.1-4).

The decorum of this stanza is at once risky and delicate, since Spenser as poet is venturing into the ‘secret store’ (50.9) where neither Ralegh nor Timias dares to tread (see pr.3.9n, pr.5.6-9n, and cf. II.iii.26.9n, II.iii.27.7-9n). The phrase ‘daughter of her Morne’ evokes Belphoebe’s youth but does so in a catachrestic figure that represents her virginity as precisely that which it prevents, offspring. The phrase ‘More deare than life’ reinforces this suggestion, implying that Belphoebe cherishes her own intactness more than Timias’s survival or the need to propagate. ‘The girlond of her honor did adorne’ implies a sense of display that runs counter to the privacy of ‘secret store’ (50.9), and the following lines play out these implications as the weather changes and Belphoebe allows her rose to spread its petals and ‘florish fayre’.

This doubleness runs through the diction of the lines as well: ‘lapped up’ means ‘wrapped’ or ‘folded’, but ‘lap’ is also a common early modern term for the genitals; ‘chayre’ describes how the petals are ‘lapped’ (dearly, from Fr cher), but also says what they are (Fr chaire flesh). In this diction and imagery the tensions surrounding the royal body natural are wrought to a fine pitch: at one extreme, the trope of catachresis respects the inexpressibility of the royal genitals, while at the other extreme the mimetic likeness of the opening rose to that which must not be named is no less unmistakable.

st. 52

The mythmaking in this stanza sustains the precarious ambiguities of st. 51. God and Paradise evoke the memory of Gen 1:28, ‘Bring forthe frute and multiplie, and fil the earth’; God’s act ‘enrace[s]’ the transplanted flower but also embodies it in a line of descent through ‘earthly flesh’. It inhabits a ‘race / Of woman kind’, where the line-break restricts the word for ‘house or family’ to a single sex whose relation to ‘kind’ (nature) is in question, and it ‘beareth fruit’ in a resonant reassertion of the catachresis that opens st. 51.

enrace: plant
spyre: sprout
53.1 Sustaining the catachrestic plant metaphor, the ladies addressed directly in this stanza are called ‘ympes’, i.e. offshoots.
Reames: realms
54.1 54.1 The framing of an example is the only way virginity can propagate, and is thus metaphorically a kind of asexual procreation.
54.5 Envy: the modern sense predominates but may be colored by the proximate repetition of ‘envy’ as ‘deny’ at 50.7, 9.
her ensample dead: Cf. ‘his ymage dead’ at iii.29.2. The phrase may be construed ‘her example [which will live on] when she has died’, but in its compressed ambiguity it also recalls line 4, ‘none living may compayre’, and 51.2, ‘More deare than life’, reasserting the catachresis of the preceding stanzas and implying that Belphoebe’s example, however ‘fresh flowring’ it may be in the rhetoric of poetic ‘prayse’, cannot survive its own refusal of procreativity.
prayse: This usage condenses the poet’s celebration of Belphoebe with the virtuous conduct it celebrates, allying the two as forms of asexual reproduction.
those two vertues: Presumably chastity and courtesy, although the corollary presence of kindness, grace, and modesty does crowd the field.
55.6-55.9 55.6-9 Contrast the rivalry of Art and Nature at II.xii.59.5-6: ‘So striving each th’other to undermine, / Each did the others worke more beautify’.
encreast: A verb of precreation, often used to translate the Biblical commandment at Gen 1:22 (see st. 52n), and so used by Spenser at vi.34.6.
complement: fulfillment or completion
Gardins of Adonis: Mentioned at II.x.71.4 as the Edenic garden where Elfe first discovered Fay and begot the Faery race. Introduced below as the ‘Gardin of Adonis’ (29.9), the ‘joyous Paradize . . . / Wher most [Venus] wonnes, when she on earth does dwell’ (29.1-2); commentators differ as to whether the Garden is properly spoken of in the singular or the plural. It will be mentioned again in the plural at Colin Clout 803-5, where Cupid’s birth and breeding are described in terms that echo this canto: ‘So pure and spotlesse Cupid forth [Venus] brought, / And in the gardens of Adonis nurst: / Where growing he, his owne perfection wrought’.

st. 1

The question here ascribed to ‘faire Ladies’ echoes that of Braggadocchio upon Belphoebe’s first appearance in the poem (II.iii.39), although he sees the court as a palace of pleasure rather than as ‘The great schoolmaistresse of all courtesy’.

1.1 1.1 Spenser’s narrator addresses a specifically female audience several times in Book III: i.49, v.53-54, xi.2.6.
Citadell: fortress
free: generous
aspect: In astrological usage, ‘The way in which the planets, from their relative positions, look upon each other, but [in popular use] transferred to their joint look upon the earth’ (OED). For details on the astrological and mythological references in st. 2-3 see Berleth (1973), who proposes that Belphoebe’s nativity occurs under the sign of Capricorn: ‘Belphoebe’s nativity . . . would place Jove in Virgo . . . and by consequence Venus 120o apart in the sign of Taurus. Since in Virgo Jove is 120o from the sun in Capricorn . . . he is in trine relationship with both . . . The equilateral triangle formed within the horoscope by this configuration is the famous trigon or triplicity, the most beneficent portent known to astrology’ (489).
plenteous horne: The cornucopia, or ‘horn of plenty’, associated in Greek myth with Amalthea, the nymph whose goat nursed the infant Zeus. Diodorus associates this horn with the astrological sign of Capricorn; cf. TCM VII.vii.41.5-7, where December is described as riding ‘Upon a shaggy-bearded Goat . . . / The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender yeares, / They say, was nourisht by th’Idaean mayd’.
soverayne see: royal throne
2.7 2.7 The line metaphorically indicates a harmonious alignment of the planets, with Jupiter and Venus in trine (see 2.3n).
2.9 Fowler (1964:83n) cites Ficino on the identification of the Graces with the planets in Belphoebe’s horoscope (Three Books on Life 263: ‘The three Graces are Jupiter and the Sun and Venus. Jupiter is the Grace Which Is the Mean Between the Two, and Is Especially Accommodated to Us’). It is specifically in a trinal relationship that Jove, Venus, and the sun ‘become’ the Graces and the most positive portent known to astrology.
3.1-3.2 Echoing Ps 110:3 as translated in the Book of Common Prayer: ‘Thy birthes dew is the dew that doth from the wombe of morning fall’. See Roche (1964:105-6) on the interpretation of this verse as a reference to the conception of Christ, whose birth would also have occurred under the sign of Capricorn.
Prime: spring
3.2 Prime: In astrology, specifically the first sign of the zodiac, Aries (Berleth 1973: 486).
3.4 unspotted: Cf. SC Apr 50-54 on the conception of ‘Elisa’ as ‘Syrinx daughter without spotte’. Both passages suggest a secular analogy to the Immaculate Conception. The SC lines imply that Elisa is a poetic fiction, an offspring of Pan’s pipes whose conception thus bypasses sexual congress, as the Ovidian tale of Pan and Syrinx would indicate (Met 1.689-712, esp. 710: ‘hoc mihi concilium tecum’ dixisse ‘manebit’; ‘the god exclaimed: “This union, at least, shall I have with thee”’).
ingenerate: inborn, referring to the doctrine of original sin
fleshly slime: the flesh as fallen, in contrast with spirit
3.5 fleshly slime: Echoing the ‘fertile slime’ of the Nile, to which Errour’s vomit is compared at I.i.21.3 (see note), and the ‘Ægyptian slime’ to which the material of Alma’s castle is compared at II.ix.21.5. This echo anticipates the reference to ‘Nilus inundation’ at 8.7-9, and prepares for a contrast between the disorderly reproduction of Errour’s monstrous brood and the Garden as a ‘seminary’ in which things reproduce ‘According to their kynds’ (30.4-6). It also calls attention to the different allegories of poesis evoked by the ‘bookes and papers’ in Errour’s vomit (I.i.20.6) as opposed to the literary flowers that flourish in the garden (see st. 45n).
bounti-hed: goodness
3.9 3.9 For echoes of this phrasing see 52.1 and Colin Clout 805. The pun on ‘due’ (echoing the ‘Morning dew’ of line 1) emphasizes that Belphoebe’s ripening into perfection is the organic flowering of a quality implicit in her miraculous origin as it bypasses original sin. For an analogous claim on behalf of poetry, see Sidney, Defence 79: ‘our erected wit maketh us know what perfection is’.
4.1 Chrysogonee: Appropriately, the name suggests both ‘golden-born’, from Gk χρυσο chruso + γονη gone, and ‘gold-generating’, from L chrysogonum, for which T. Cooper (1565) gives the translation ‘that bryngeth foorth golde’. As v.52-54 explains, perfection is ‘enraced’ in Belphoebe so that it can proliferate through such asexual means as poesis and readerly role-modeling.
4.2 Amphisa: From Gk αμ am + φυσις phusis (‘double nature’). Interpretations have generally referred this doubleness either to the twins she bears or to the union of heaven and earth in their begetting. Venus will be characterized in analogous terms in the passage from Colin Clout (1595) that mentions Cupid’s upbringing in the Gardens of Adonis: ‘For Venus selfe doth soly couples seeme’ (801). Another possibility is the doubleness of language itself as exemplified in the name Chrysogonee; see Puttenham on Amphibologia, or the Ambiguous (1589: 345-46).
the second place: See v.54.7-8, where Belphoebe is said to stand ‘on the highest stayre / Of th’honorable stage of womanhead’.
4.8-4.9 4.8-9 The rhetorical emphasis on stripping virtue and goodness away from all others is curiously at odds with the poem’s emphasis on the twins as role models intended to propagate their qualities in other women.
accident: event
they sucked vitall blood: Another echo (cf. 3.5n) of the scene in Errour’s den, where the monster’s ‘scattred brood’ flock about her wound, ‘And sucked up their dying mothers bloud’ (I.i.25.1, 8).
begot, and bred: conceived and born
6.1 begot, and bred: Cf. 5.6-9.
6.3 A Chaucerian commonplace (e.g. CT Knight 1.1463).
6.5-6.6 6.5-6 The difference between heavenly, masculine Titan and mortal, female Chrysogonee is emphasized by his ‘display’ in contrast to her retreat ‘from all mens vew’.
allay: temper
roses red, and violets blew: The red rose is associated with love, the violet with chastity, as in Lydgate: ‘lillye of virginite / And violettis of parfit chastite’ (Chron Troy 3.4380).
7.5-7.9 7.5-9 Conti reports that according to ‘Some writers . . . Venus was raped by the Sun on the island of Rhodes, and . . . bore a daughter of the same name. It supposedly rained gold at the time . . . .’ (Myth 446).
7.4 7.4 Chrysogonee becomes vulnerable when ‘displayd’; see 6.5-6n.
playd: danced, moved freely to and fro; had sexual intercourse
mollifide: softened (her body)
7.7-7.8 7.7-8 Lines 7-8 echo Arthur’s description of the slumber in which he ‘conceived’ his vision of Gloriana (I.ix.13.5).

pierst into her wombe: Early modern paintings of the Annunciation often feature a ray of light penetrating an enclosed space, as in Fra Angelico’s altarpiece The Annunciation (c. 1426) in the Museo Del Prado, Madrid.


embayd: suffused
sence: sensation
7.8 7.8 Note the exchange of qualities as Chrysogonee goes from retreat (6.6) to display (7.4), while Titan’s beams go from display (6.5) to ‘secret power unspide’.
pregnant flesh: prolepsis
fructifide: bore fruit
st. 8-9.6 Closely based on Ovid’s description of spontaneous generation (Met 1.416-29).
8.3-8.4 he fruitfull seades / Of all things living: Cf. fecunda semina rerum, ‘the fertile seeds of life’, in the passage from Ovid cited above (419).
8.4-8.5 8.4-5 The combination of heat and moisture underlies the analogy between the impregnation of Chrysogonee and the inundation of the Nile. As Ovid goes on to write immediately following the passage cited above, quippe ubi temperiem sumpsere umorque calorque, concipiunt (‘For when moisture and heat unite, life is conceived’; Met 1.430-31). Spenser fuses one set of references drawn from natural history with a second set drawn from the iconography of the Annunciation and the Virgin birth, a form of allusion sometimes called contaminatio (Greene 1982: 39-40).
complexion: In humoral theory, the balance of qualities (hot/cold, moist/dry) that determines the nature of a physical body.
quickned: brought to life
by kynd: by natural process or according to their natures
8.7-8.9 8.7-9 Cf. I.i.21, where the simile moves from fertility toward monstrous rather than miraculous birth, and the notes to 3.9 and 5.9.
Infinite shapes: Cf. Ovid, Met 1.436: innumeras species (‘innumerable forms’).
Informed: Cf. Epith 386, ‘And the chast wombe informe with timely seed’.
he: the Sun
9.1 9.1 Conti reports that ‘Orpheus, in his hymn To Adonis, felt that Adonis represented the Sun, for the poet said that Adonis gave nourishment to everything and brought everything into bloom’ (Myth 440).
th’authour: From L augere to make grow.
9.3-9.4 9.3-4 On the moon’s role in fostering fertility see Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 386d. The moon was believed to control the menstrual cycle.
10.1 10.1 Cf. 5.3. Chrysogonee conceives ‘shame and foul disgrace’ because she fails to understand how she has conceived the twins Virginity (Belphoebe) and Chaste Love (Amoret).
burden: literally, ‘that which is borne’
reard: ‘brought into existence’
10.4 reard: A usage associated with the Wycliffe Bible.
traveill: travel; travail, hardship—but not, in this instance, labor pains
comfortably: comfortingly

st. 11-26

The birth of Chrysogonee’s twins is embedded in a digression based on Moschus’s pastoral idyll ‘The Fugitive Love’. In the gloss to SC March 79, E.K. mentions this poem as having been translated into Latin by Poliziano and into English by Spenser. Tasso in 1581 had based an epilogue to the Aminta, entitled ‘Amore Fuggitivo’, on the same poem, and Spenser now elaborates its incipient narrative still more fully.

In the process he continues to use the romance convention of interweaving storylines to create a sliding movement of displacement: thus the consummation denied Timias is attained in a different key and setting by Titan’s bright beams; Venus searching for Cupid (Amor) will find Amoret; and the sequence wounding-courtship-consummation-impregnation-parturition will lead to a garden where ‘the fruitfull seades / Of all things living’ (8.3-4) play out their life-cycle in the poem’s narrative.

flit: swift
11.4 Dove: Sacred to Venus; cf. Robert Greene (1589), ‘His necke white as Venus Doue’ (Ciceronis amor 55).
Disguiz’d in thousand shapes: One of many hints that love is conceived of as a force of metamorphosis: as Cupid takes many shapes, so the force he represents transforms those on whom it acts. In this sense, the presence of Ovid in Book III is not merely episodic but pervasive, and not only thematic but also formal. The sliding movement of displacement (see st. 11-26 note) that characterizes the entrelacement of storylines suggests that metamorphosis has also become so closely identified with poesis that the narrative itself assumes the characteristic Ovidian tension between identity and change of shape. (See the discussion of the gate leading into the Bower of Bliss in the introduction to Book II, and Barkan 1986: 242.)
bewray: reveal
12.1 12.1 Tasso’s Amor fuggitivo begins with the descent of Venus dal terzo cielo, ‘from the third heaven’ (line 1), the sphere in which Ptolemy locates the planet Venus.
12.1-12.2 hous . . . aspects: The language of astrology in this stanza harks back to st. 2.
tract: track
12.7 tract: For tracking as a trope of interpretation, see II.pr.4.1-5n and II.i.12.7n, and cf. 25.9.
12.8-12.9 12.8-9 Following Moschus: ὁ μανύσας γέρας ἑξεῖ: / μισθός τοι τὸ φίλημα τὸ Κύπριδος: ἢν δ ἀγάγῃ νιν, / οὐ γυμνὸν τὸ φίλημα; ho manusas geras hexei: / misthos toi to philēma to Kyprisos: hēn d’ agagē nin, / ou gumnon to philēma (‘any that shall bring me word of him shall have a reward; and the reward shall be the kiss of Cypris; and if he bring her runaway with him, the kiss shall not be all’; ‘Fugitive’ 3-5.) Cf. Tasso, from the epilogue to Aminta: ella mi segue, / dar promettendo a chi m’ensegna a lei / o dolci baci o cosa altra più cara (‘she follows me, / promising to give to him who shows me to her / sweet kisses or other things even more precious’; lines 32-34). As Hamilton notes, Spenser’s Venus is more generous, since she offers ‘sweeter things’ in return for ‘tydings’ alone.

st. 13-15

The progression from courts to the country appears in Tasso’s Prologue, where Cupid in pastoral disguise mentions that Venus would confine him tra le corti e tra corone e scettri (‘among the courts and among the crowns and sceptres’; line 18), and that he has escaped to dwell ne’ boschi e ne le case / de le genti minute (‘in the woods and in the houses of the humble folk’; lines 31-32).

whot: hot
artilleree: weaponry; projectiles
14.6-14.9 14.6-9 Cf. v.1-2, where the narrator declares that Cupid ‘shewes his powre in variable kindes’ (1.3) according to the character of a lover’s mind. By this logic, the ‘reproches rife’ of the city-dwellers would apply reflexively to themselves. Hollander (1988:105-6) sees st. 13-15 as a ‘reflexive allegory’ that prepares for the second half of canto vi by showing that ‘Love’ will not be found in courtly amorous complaint, urban satire, or pastoral lament, but only in a mythopoeic allegory like that of the Garden of Adonis—where Cupid will indeed be found at the end of canto vi.
she sweetly heard complaine: ‘Sweetly’ may describe how the shepherds complain or how Venus attends to them.
15.9 Like the syntax of the preceding line, Venus’s smile implies that she enjoys the sweetness both of the love-pains and of the complaints they inspire.
avize: consider
closely: covertly
16.8 ‘And so she resolved to direct her course thither’.
wastefull: desolate
embrewed: blood-stained
17.3 embrewed: With an implicit contrast between the nymphs’ prey and the trail of wounded victims Cupid has left in st. 13-15.
rew: row
her person: i.e., Diana’s
buskins: boots
18.3 silver buskins: Silver because Diana is the goddess of the moon.
lanck loynes: narrow waist
unbraste: unbound
Enbreaded: braided
for: to prevent
undight: undone
18.9 Ambrosia: Variously the food, drink, or (as here) ointment of the gods; cf. II.iii.22.7; Mother Hubberd 1267-68; Virgil, Aen 1.403; and Homer, Il 1.529.
loose: relaxed; undressed
disguiz’d: literally, undressed
compriz’d: gathered up
compriz’d: The diction, playing ‘comprise’ against its etymological cousin ‘surprise’, suggests the hateur with which the goddess endeavors to recover her dignity as she gathers up her clothing.
19.9 Cf. the care with which Belphoebe guards ‘the girlond of her honour’ (v.51.3), and the description of Diana’s nymphs responding to the appearance of Actaeon in Ovid: inplevere nemus circumfusaque Dianam / corporis texere suis (‘they thronged around Diana, seeking to hide her body with their own’; Met 3.180-81).
20.1-20.2 Goodly . . . shortly: The contrast between adverbs suggesting courtesy undercut by curtness contributes to the comic tone of the episode.
20.1 Cytherea: An epithet of Venus, from the island of Cythera, one of her reputed birth-places.
20.4 20.4 Cf. arg.3-4, ‘The Gardins of Adonis fraught / With pleasures manifold’.
frowardnes: rebellious disposition
21.1-21.2 21.1-2 As Venus smiles in response to the complaints of the shepherds (15.9), but with Venerean indulgence replaced by Diana’s scorn.
21.5 ill mote ye bene apayd: The modal ‘mote’ may be indicative (‘you must not be well satisfied’) or subjunctive (‘may you be poorly satisfied’). Like the adverbs at 20.1-2, the second sense undercuts sympathy with animosity.
engrieved: grief-stricken
wanton: wild and overgrown
banckets: banquets
22.4 banckets: Cf. the ‘banket houses’ Guyon burns at II.xii.83.8.
lofty creasts: Suggesting pride or self-confidence, as at ii.27.1.
eeke: increase
cabins: bowers
23.3 cabins: Cf. the ‘Cabinets’ that Guyon destroys at II.xii.83.7
disguize: Cf. 19.5. J. Goldberg observes that ‘Diana disguised and Cupid disguised seem to be identical by seeming to be opposed’ (2009: 109).
their exercize: their regular use
envide: envied; resented
Phœbe: Diana
24.3 24.3 Glancing at Venus’s affair with Mars, related by Homer (Od 8.266-366); see I.pr.3.7-9n and II.xii.73n.
toy: sexual caress
24.7-24.8 24.7-8 Virgil’s Sybil tells Aeneas, Cocyti stagna alta vides Stygiamque paludem, / di cuius iurare timent et fallere numen (‘thou seest the deep pools of Cocytus and the Stygian marsh, by whose power the gods fear to swear falsely’; Aen 6.323-4).
abye: from ‘a-buy’, pay the price
24.9 Cf. II.iii.23.9, where Belphoebe is said to break Cupid’s ‘wanton darts’.

st. 25

Given Diana’s snide reference to Venus’s affair with Mars at 24.3, it is ironic that Venus now uses the same wiles to ‘disarm’ Diana; on the love of Venus and Mars as an allegory of concord, see Wind (1968: 85-96) and the prayer to Venus in Lucretius, De rerum natura 1.29-49.

From which: i.e., on account of which (‘sugred words and gentle blandishment’)
She: Diana
To search: to seek
26.4 26.4 In 1596 and later editions, this half-line is completed with the phrase ‘both farre and nere’.
26.5-26.9 26.5-9 As when Belphoebe discovers Timias at v.28-29, there is an implied equivalence between the figure sought, or tracked, and the one found in its place. Spenser introduces tracking as trope of interpretation at II.pr.4.1-5 (see 12.7n).
a wondrous thing to say: translates the Latin tag mirabile dictu

27.1-3 See Gen 3:16, ‘In sorrowe shalt thou bring forthe children’, and the notes to st. 3. The birth is ‘wondrous’ because it bypasses the effects of the fall and of original sin. See Aquinas, Summa III, q. 35, art. 6, ‘Whether Christ was born without His mother suffering?’:

The pains of childbirth in the woman follow from the mingling of the sexes. Wherefore (Genesis 3:16) after the words, ‘in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children’, the following are added: ‘and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power’. But, as Augustine says (Serm. de Assumpt. B. Virg., Supposititious), from this sentence we must exclude the Virgin-Mother of God; who, ‘because she conceived Christ without the defilement of sin, and without the stain of sexual mingling, therefore did she bring Him forth without pain, without violation of her virginal integrity, without detriment to the purity of her maidenhood’.

27.4 Lucinaes aide: ‘Lucina’ was a Roman goddess of childbirth, often identified with either Juno or Diana. Cf. II.i.53.5 and Epith 383-84.

st. 28

This stanza dividing the twins at birth also separates the canto into halves of twenty-seven stanzas each, just as Belphoebe’s arrival on the scene (st. 28) did in canto v.

28.3-28.5 28.3-5 Cf. v.36.3, where Belphoebe refers to this foster-mother in calling herself ‘daughter of a woody Nymphe’.
perfect Maydenhed: intact virginity
28.5 28.5 For the derivation of the name ‘Belphoebe’, see II.iii.arg.4n.
goodly womanhed: Balanced against the metrically identical rhyming phrase ‘perfect Maydenhed’, suggests the intimate distinction between these twins separated at birth, one the exemplar of virginity and the other, removed ‘far away’ from Diana’s woods, that of chaste feminine love.
28.8-28.9 her litle love . . . Amoretta: Cupid, or ‘Amor’ (see i.25.5-9n); ‘little love’ translates the name Amoretta. Cf. the title of Spenser’s sonnet sequence, Amoretti, which describes the growth of a chaste love from courtship through betrothal.

st. 29-50

See note to arg. 3. In the architecture of the 1590 poem, Spenser’s Garden of Adonis is poised in contrast to both the Bower of Bliss at II.xii and the House of Busyrane at III.xii; it has clear links as well to the story of Venus and Adonis portrayed in Malecasta’s tapestries (III.i.34-38). As part of an ongoing engagement with Ovid in Book III, Spenser’s description of the Garden elevates and transforms the concept of metamorphosis much as the visionary speech of Pythagoras does in the final book of Metamorphoses (esp. 15.176-258). For the influence of Virgil (Aen 6.724-51) and Virgilian commentaries in mediating the Platonic doctrine of reincarnation to the Renaissance, see Wilson-Okamura (2010: 178-87).

In the critical tradition, this passage has provoked a series of either/or questions that it does not resolve: Is the Garden singular or plural? Does it exist inside or outside of the sublunary world? Are its most important philosophical debts to Plato and Neoplatonism or to Epicurus and Lucretian materialism? Does the grim reaper Time, described in stanzas 39-40, operate inside or outside of the Garden? Is the ‘wide wombe of the world’, said in st. 36 to contain ‘An huge eternal Chaos’, located inside or outside of the Garden? The persistence of such questions suggests that the signature trope for the Garden may well be amphibole (see 4.2n): the language of the Garden is itself generative.

The Garden is said to be ‘the first seminary / Of all things’ (30.4-5, emphasis added), but is bounded by ‘two walls’ with ‘double gates’, attended by a porter ‘the which a double nature has’ (st. 31), and characterized by ‘continuall Spring, and harvest there / Continuall, both meeting at one tyme’ (42.1-2). The implication is that the origin and continuity of the created universe depend upon a primordial coupling of opposites, including matter and form, life and death, nature and art. This coupling is figured by heterosexual copulation, although sexuality in the Garden is not specifically human but rather polymorphous and coextensive with the material world of natura naturans (nature as process).

Paradize: The association of classical gardens with Eden is suggested (for example) in Justus Lipsius’s praise of gardens: ‘Looke into the holie Scripture, and you shall see that gardens had their beginnings with the world, God himself appointing the first man his habitation therein, as the seate of a blessed and happie life. In prophane writers the gardens of Adonis, of Alcinous, Tantalus and the Hesperides are grown into fables and common proverbes . . . .’ (Two bookes of constancie, trans. Stradling 1595: 61). This association was bolstered by the belief that the Hebrew adon lord was etymologically linked to eden pleasure.
29.4 Paphos, or Cytheron hill: Both sacred to Venus. Paphos is a city on the island of Cyprus, said to be her birthplace: the location of a vast temple devoted to her worship, it is mentioned in Homer as the location of her ‘demesne and fragrant altar’ (Od 8.363: τέμενος βωμός τε θυήεις temenos bōmos te thyēeis), in Pausanius as an early site for the establishment of her cult (Description 1.14), and in Boccaccio as her birthplace (Genealogia 3.22). Cytheron, a mountain sometimes identified with the island of Cythera, is mentioned as sacred to Venus in Boccaccio, loc cit, and in Chaucer (CT Knight 1.1936-37: ‘al the mount of Citheroun, / Ther Venus hath her principal dwellynge’). Conti, citing Hesiod, says that ‘a mountain in Cythera’ was the first place Venus arrived after her birth from the sea (Myth 317; Theog 192-94).
29.5 Gnidus: Ancient Greek city on a Mediterranean island belonging to Caria (part of modern Turkey), where Praxitiles created his celebrated statue of Venus Aphrodite.
29.6-29.9 29.6-7 The poet’s claim to know the Garden’s pleasance ‘by triall’, more than a sly disclaimer of virginity, affirms that as a ‘place’ the Garden exists wherever sexuality is to be found.
29.8 her lost lovers name: Venus’s loss of Adonis, slain while hunting a wild boar, and her metamorphosis of him into a flower, are related by Ovid (Met 10.708-39) and depicted in the tapestry at Castle Joyeous, where the artistic transformation of the flower hints, but only hints, at the possibility of restoration: ‘But when she saw no helpe might him restore, / Him to a dainty flowre she did transmew, / Which in that cloth was wrought, as if it lively grew’ (i.38.7-9, emphasis added).

The Gardin of Adonis: See arg.3n. Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus (276b) compares the writing down of ideas—as opposed to developing them through dialogue—to the planting of seeds in a small ‘forcing’ garden, i.e. one that uses artificial means to hasten the maturity of seedlings. Erasmus, citing Plato, Plutarch, and Theocritus, gives the proverb ‘more fruitless than gardens of Adonis’ (Adages 1.1.14). Spenser retains the association with fertility but not the disparaging tone of these references, perhaps following Conti, who reports that Athenians in ancient times ‘used to sow wheat and barley in fields near the city, and they called those places (that were sown with fruit-bearing trees) the Gardens of Adonis. Theocritus, in his discussion of the Adonia celebrants [participants in the rites sacred to Adonis], recalls those fruits that they offered to Adonis: “For there’s not a fruit the orchard bears but is here for his hand to take” (15.112)’ (Myth 439).

Other literary sources for Spenser’s Garden include the description in Lucretius of the mundi novitatem, ‘the world’s infancy’ (De rerum natura 5.780-924); the paradisal garden ‘consecrate to pleasure and to Venus’ in Claudian, ‘Epithalamium of Honorius and Maria’ (49-96); and the garden of Nature in Chaucer, PF 171-294. See SpE s.v. ‘Adonis, gardens of’.


30.1-6 The movement from ‘goodly flowres’ to ‘all things’ turns flowers into figures of all living things understood according to their species. (Flowers are also a conventional figure for rhetorical devices—a trope for tropes.)

The qualification ‘According to their kynds’ echoes Gen 1:24-25; it is also given special weight in Lucretius, who argues that ‘because every kind is produced from fixed seeds, the source of everything that is born and comes forth into the borders of light is that wherein is the material of it and its first bodies’ (De rerum natura 1.169-71: seminubus quia certis quaeque creantur, / inde enascitur atque oras in liminis exit, / materies ubi inest cuiusque et corpora prima). In other words, for Lucretius the fact that things grow from seeds, not randomly or ex nihilo, means that the ‘first seminary’ of each species is ‘its own proper material’ (1.191: sua de materia). This account contrasts with that of the soul’s afterlife and its reincarnation offered by Socrates in the Phaedo (70-72) and the Republic (617e-620e).

30.4-30.5 the first seminary / Of all things: Loosely translating Lucretius De rerum natura 1.59, semina rerum (‘the seeds of things’).
30.7-30.8 there . . . here: Playing on the sense of ‘place’ as textual (see II.pr.4.2n).
weeds: In poetic usage, a generic term for herbs or plants.
sited: situated, with a possible pun on ‘cited’, given both the bookishness of the Garden and hints throughout the canto that point toward an allegory of poesis.
31.2 ‘Enclosed’; ‘with two walls on either side’ may mean either that there are two walls, one on either side of the Garden, or that there are two walls on either side for a total of four.
31.2-31.5 31.2-4 Cf. the ‘weake and thin’ fence enclosing the Bower of Bliss (II.xii.43.4).

31.5-7 See st. 29-50n; also Plato, Phaedo 71e-72a on reincarnation, as well as Job 3:10 (‘the dores of my mothers wombe’) and Ps 9:13 (‘the gates of death’).

The combination of doubling and ambiguity in these lines lends itself to many construals. Comparison to the double gates of Alma’s house (II.ix.23 and 32) suggests that the Garden may reverse the bodily processes of ingestion, digestion, and excretion. The ‘Doubly disparted’ gate through which the knights enter Alma’s castle is framed ‘of more worthy substance’, and is the way ‘by which all in did pass’; through the contrasting ‘backgate’, excrement is ‘avoided quite, and throwne out privily’. The Garden, by contrast, has ‘double gates’ through which ‘both in and out men moten pas; / Th’one faire and fresh, the other old and dride’. This ambiguous syntax either breaks down the distinction between Alma’s entrance and exit or reverses the analogy, yielding a golden wall with a gate through which fair and fresh ‘men’ exit, and an iron wall with a gate through which old and dried ‘men’ enter.

31.8-31.9 31.8-9 Identified at II.xii.47-48.2 as ‘Agdistes’. Spenser’s account of Genius in both passages is indebted to Conti, who gives the name ‘Agdistes’, traces the etymology of ‘Genius’ to L gignendo bringing forth, notes the duality of good and evil Genii, and observes that since ‘nonhuman life forms’ such as plants and animals also have Genii, ‘I tend to side with the ancients who used the term ‘Genius’ to refer to the hidden power of the planets and all that that implies. And those writers go on to assert that all human life is governed in secret by celestial power, and that everything in the world has a share in the divine energy’ (Myth 243-45, 901). Cf. notes to II.xii.47-48.
32.1-32.2 32.1-2 If line 2 refers exclusively to those whom Genius ‘letteth out to wend’, it would seem to locate the Garden outside ‘the world’; if it refers to both those who enter and those who exit the Garden, then it would seem to imply that birth and death are both ways of coming ‘into the world’, and as such are equally desirable. (See 30.1-6n.)
to wend: to take their way
naked babes: Like the ‘goodly flowres’ of st. 30, these infants figure ‘all things, that are borne to live and dye’, but they do so proleptically, representing not-yet-born life-forms with a generic image of that which they are about to become. The babies are ‘naked’ because not yet ‘attired’ in flesh. (For a visual illustration of the conceit, see Vincenzo Cartari, Le imagini de i dei [Venice, 1571], 39.)
fleshly weeds: Echoing the ‘weeds’ of 30.8 with a difference, since now the term means ‘clothing’ rather than ‘plants’.
32.6-32.7 32.6-7 In the myth of Er that concludes Plato’s Republic, souls about to be reborn choose their lots and then are conducted by their genii to the fates (617e-620e). As a result, any soul may take on any form, e.g. the soul of Orpheus returns as a swan. So too Ovid’s Pythagoras: ‘The spirit wanders, comes now here, now there, and occupies whatever frame it pleases. From beasts it passes into human bodies, and from our bodies into beasts’ (errat in illine / huc venit, hinc illuc, et quoslibet occupat artus / spiritus eque feris humana in corpora transit / inue feras noster; Met 165-69). The Lucretian and hexameral emphasis on seeds and species contrasts with this doctrine (see 30.1-6n).
32.7 Cf. Job 10:11, ‘Thou has clothed me with skinne and flesh’.
33.3-33.4 33.3-4 Cf. line 9, ‘from old to new’ with 31.5-7n. Like the image of ‘naked babes’ at 32.3, the imagery of planting and growth bears a paradoxical, indeed virtually catachrestic, relation to a process of rejuvenation, a ‘growing’ back into infancy like a plant withdrawing into its own seed. Cf. Socrates in the Phaedo on the opposed processes of dying and returning to life (71e), and Ovid’s Pythagoras describing interchange of the elements: ‘Then they come back again in reversed order’ (inde retro redeunt; Met 15.249).
Some thousand yeares: The cyclical period specified both by Plato’s Socrates (Republic 615a, 621d) and by Virgil’s Anchises (Aen 6.748).
hew: shape
Or: Raises the possibility, otherwise unspecified, that some souls are ‘clad with other hew’ and not sent back into the world; alternatively, ‘Or’ may suggest that souls may either be clothed in new bodies and sent back into the world, or ‘sent into the chaungefull world agayne’ in the same shape as before, i.e. without themselves having changed. This too is a problematic reading, since Spenser uses the terms ‘forme’, ‘fashion’, and ‘hew’ in st. 38 to refer to individual bodies, not to kinds.

st. 34

Here again Spenser fuses the Epicurean teaching that living things grow according to their species with echoes from the account of Eden in Genesis (1:22-25), although as L. Silberman observes with respect to the first line, ‘this is an Eden without Adam’ (1995: 45).

34.4-34.6 34.4-6 Gen 1:22: ‘Then God blessed them, saying, Bring foorth fruite and multiplie, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the foule multiplie in the earth’.
34.7-34.9 34.7-9 Gen 2:5-6: ‘the lord God had not caused it to raine upon the earth . . . But a myst went up from the earth, and watered all the earth’. Creatures returning ‘old and dride’ (31.7) to reenter by the Garden's ‘hinder gate’ (32.9) have gradually lost the ‘eternall moisture’ contained in their materia (30.1-6n).
35.1 Note that it is ‘shapes’, or kinds, that are ‘bred’ in the Garden, not individual creatures. The species cat ‘rejuvenates’ itself in each kitten, although the kitten itself must age into cat-hood and die. The phrasing echoes both the Nile mud simile at 8.8 and the variety of images found in the chamber of Phantastes at II.ix.50.3.
uncouth: unfamiliar
35.2 uncouth formes: Medieval commentaries on Genesis, starting with Augustine in De Genisi ad litteram, elaborated a theory of ‘double creation’ which proposed that certain seed-forms had been withheld from the initial creation to emerge later in time.
sondry: separate
rew: row
35.5-35.7 35.5-7 1 Cor 15:39: ‘All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, another of fishes, and another of birdes’.
indew: put on, like a garment
enraunged: arranged
35.8 enraunged: A Spenserian form that can mean either ‘to arrange or rank’ or the opposite, ‘to wander or range freely’. In the present context the recurrent emphasis on the orderly presentation of things is in tension with the emphasis on their proliferation: see 30.6-9, 34.6, and 35.8-9, where even the ‘rancks’ are said to be ‘endlesse’.

st. 36

Spenser’s account of Chaos fuses classical with scriptural precedents. The most important classical description of Chaos is that of Ovid, Met 1.5-20. Arthur Golding, in the Epistle to his 1567 translation, proposes that Ovid’s account is based on scripture (342-49). In 1596, Spenser will locate Chaos ‘Downe in the bottome of the deepe Abysse’ (IV.ii.47.6), echoing the Vulgate’s translation of Gen 1:2, Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi (‘And the earth was without forme and voyde, and darknes was upon the depe’).

Spenser’s stanza echoes classical arguments that the sum total of matter in the created universe never changes (Lucretius, De rerum natura 1.215-64; Ovid, Met 15.251-58), but it does so in support of the hexameral argument that new matter is produced out of Chaos. This matter has been identified with Augustine’s prima materia, although the plural ‘substaunces’ might seem rather to imply the Lucretian idea that each species possesses a kind of matter proper to itself (see 30.1-6n and 35.5-7n).

This may in turn suggest that Spenser identifies Chaos not only with the abyss out of which God created the universe, but also with the state into which matter returns when it loses its form in death. So in Rome 307-8, ‘The seedes, of which all things at first were bred, / Shall in great Chaos wombe againe be hid’. On this reading Chaos would be ‘inside’ the Garden insofar it refigures the transition elsewhere associated with the return through ‘the hinder Gate’ (32.9; see notes to st. 31-33).

36.1-36.2 36.1-2 The question of the Garden’s location is once again indirectly raised, but to say that someone is ‘sent / Into the world’ need not imply that the place he is sent from is external to the world, only that it is in some sense set apart.
stocke: store or provision
first being: Translates the Lucretian phrase primordia rerum first-beginnings of things.
fetch: See 30.1-6n; the repeated verb reinforces the figurative move by which natural flowers become rhetorical ones, a trope for ‘all things’ (30.5).
37.3-37.4 ketch . . . invade: The violence latent in these verbs suggest that the act of coming-into-being is driven by a powerful urge to escape the ‘griesly shade’, the ‘hatefull darknes and . . . deepe horrore’ (36.7) of Chaos. Since the antecedent of the verbs is ‘it’, the implication is that matter is itself instinct with desire to ‘Become a body’.
37.6-37.9 37.6-9 The argument that matter neither derives from nor returns to nothing is forcefully presented by Lucretius, De rerum natura 1.149-266, 518-19.
forme does fade: See 33.7n. The form that fades is the bodily shape of the individual creature, not the species-form of which the creatural body is an instance. Lucretius explains that things are born from others of their own kind because of ‘fixed seeds’ that inhere in the substance specific to the kind; he uses the phrase corpora prima first bodies to characterize this form that persists within matter, linking the succession of mortal creatures according to their species (De rerum natura 1.169-73).
37.9-38 In these lines ‘forme’ and its synonyms continue to refer to individual bodies rather than to species-forms. Thus the substance changes and is ‘often altred’ not from species to species but from body to body. On the importance of this distinction see esp. 30.1-6n and 32.6-7n.
38.1-38.9 37.9-38 In these lines ‘forme’ and its synonyms continue to refer to individual bodies rather than to species-forms. Thus the substance changes and is ‘often altred’ not from species to species but from body to body. On the importance of this distinction see esp. 30.1-6n and 32.6-7n.

38.1-7 See Lucretius, De rerum natura 2.1002-06:

nec sit interemit mors res ut meteriai corpora conficat, sed coetum dissupat ollis, inde aliis aliud coniugit; et effit ut omnes res ita convertant formas mutentque colores et capiant snesus et puncto tempore reddant;

Nor does death so destroy as to annihilate the bodies of matter, but it disperses their combination abroad, and then conjoins others with others; and its effect is that thus all things turn their shapes and change their colours and receive sensation and at a given time yield it up again;

forme and outward fashion: Closely echoing 37.3, ‘forme and feature’.
conditioned: predisposed by nature
temper and complexion: The blending of humors in a body, here attributed to the substance itself as it passes between embodiments.
38.8-38.9 38.8-9 The elegiac tone is here is proper to the individual creature’s fate; the imagery echoes 30.1-6 as the generic ‘faire flowre of beautie’ fades into a singular ‘lilly fresh’, the metonymic representative ‘Of all things, that are borne to live and dye’ (30.5).

st. 39-40

As W. Hyman observes of st. 39, ‘The first thing this description of time should recall to the reader is Guyon’s own handiwork in the Bower’ (2007: 212).

Since Time as the grim reaper Saturn is an enemy only to individual creatures, not to the ‘shapes’ or species-forms that are ‘bred’ in the Garden (35.1), the suggestion that Time may be cutting down ‘all . . . That in the Gardin of Adonis springs’ while it is still growing in the Garden has proven confusing to readers and commentators. If, however, ‘it’ in 39.1 refers to the lilly of 38.9, then ‘all the rest’ must designate the host of embodied creatures who take their origin from the Garden but live and die in the world. At the same time, the ‘mowing’ of these creatures may be viewed either as passage out of the world or as re-entry into the Garden. In this sense the process lamented in these stanzas as destruction corresponds to that described from the opposite perspective at 33.1-4: ‘After that they againe retourned beene, / They in that Gardin planted bee agayne; / And grow afresh, as they had never seene / Fleshly corruption, nor mortall payne’. See 40.6n; for a similar doubling of perspectives, see II.xii.1.4n and the discussion of fomes peccati in the introduction to Book II (p. 000). Spenser’s description of the Garden repeatedly telescopes opposed perspectives into a single phrase or image (see st. 48n); in this sense the locus is always both singular and plural at the same time (see arg.3n)

relent: soften
their great mother: See Lucretius, mater rebus consistere certa (‘a constant unchanging mother for things’; De rerum natura 1.168), along with the invocation to Venus genetrix in the opening lines of the poem and the attribution of maternum nomen (‘the name of mother’) to the generative earth at 5.795-836.
40.3-40.4 lament / The losse: Echoing 29.8, where Spenser tells us that the Garden ‘called is by her lost lovers name’. St. 40 generalizes Venus’s sorrow over the loss of Adonis to encompass all mortal creatures.

spyde: Breaks the rhyme-scheme; Church (1758) points out that ‘saw’ would fit.

Presumably Venus is viewing the old and dried forms that have returned to the Garden for replanting. Spenser’s narrative fictionalizes different perspectives on a single event (death) as successive stages in a process (being mowed down, returning to the Garden, being replanted there).

no’te: contraction for ne mote, i.e. ‘Yet might she not’
despight: Malice (39.9), the motive ascribed to Time in contrast with the pity that pierces Venus (40.5).
40.9 Since all things grow as well as ‘decay in time’, and since ‘end’ may simply mean termination or suggest the fulfillment of a purpose, this resonant conclusion to Venus’s lament already contains within itself, seed-like, the counterstatement that Nature will eventually provide at TCM VII.vii.58: that ‘all things . . . turning to themselves at length againe, / Doe worke their owne perfection so by fate’ (lines 2, 6-7).

st. 41

This description of gratification untroubled by hostility, jealousy, or censure suggests that the Garden is a locus of sexuality viewed as a natural function rather than as a human experience fraught with emotional complexity, regulated by social custom, law, and religious or ethical principles. This does not mean human sexuality is excluded from the Garden, only that it is represented there under the aspect of generative nature personified by Venus genetrix. Hence the blurring of distinctions in lines 7-8, where the terms ‘Paramor’ and ‘leman’ initially suggest human sexual partners, but then give way to ‘Each bird his mate’ without distinguishing whether the phrases are offered as alternatives or equivalents.

fitts: Fits of sexual passion might be violent—like Medea’s ‘furious loving fitt’ at II.xii.44.5—but these are ‘gentle’. The diction throughout this stanza modulates the implications of its terms with considerable subtlety.
Franckly: without constraint
41.7 41.7 Paramor, leman: The connotative range of these words in medieval and early modern usage is broad: they were familiar terms of domestic endearment that could also refer specifically to illicit sexual partners or could be used in devotional address to Jesus or Mary. ‘Franckly’, together with the biblical ‘knowes’, balances the naturalistic, intimate, and devotional connotations while disarming the moral or juridical; compare ‘wanton Pryme’ (42.4), where the moral connotations of wantonness dissolve when the term is applied to the season of springtime. This effect contrasts pointedly with the description of the Bower of Bliss, where the landscape comes alive with anthropomorphic sexuality.

st. 42-45

Spenser’s description of the Garden as a locus amoenus should be compared to the equivalent stanzas in his description of the Bower of Bliss. Both passages echo descriptions of paradisal gardens in Homer, Genesis and the Song of Songs, Ovid, Ariosto, and Tasso (see II.xii.42, 51-52 and notes).

42.1-42.2 42.1-2 See. notes to st. 31-32 and 39-40. In st. 42 the perspectives formerly divided between Venus and Time are gathered back into a single moment, equivalent at once to birth and to death. The phrase ‘both meeting at one tyme’ might serve as a definition of the trope ‘amphibole’ (see st. 29-50n).
laughing blossoms: Cf. II.xii.54.8, ‘the Rubine, laughing sweetely red’.
Pryme: springtime
42.5 heavenly: 1596 replaces ‘heavenly’ with ‘heavy’, which may be either a correction or a revision. The Garden is a place of natural fertility; celestial influence is not excluded—see 34.3-6, where things grow as they were created because they ‘remember’ the divine command—but such influence is a vital force within earthly things as they live and die, like the ‘eternall moisture’ of 34.9. The difference between ‘heavenly’ and ‘heavy’ (one looking up, the other down) is at play throughout the stanza. The boughs of line 3 extend the ‘bothness’ of simultaneous spring and harvest by bearing blossoms to deck the springtime even as they ‘labour’ with the autumn harvest. They ‘clyme’ the trees in the sense of surmounting them in rising ranks (OED); the heaviness of the trees anticipates that of the ‘fruites lode’ in the next line, where the boughs first climb and then bend down, heavy with fruit.
42.6 42.6 Cf. the ‘weake boughes, with so rich load opprest’ that ‘bow adowne, as over-burdened’ at Pleasure’s Porch in the Bower of Bliss (II.xii.55.5-6).
42.7-42.9 42.7-9 See st. 41n, and see II.vi.13 and II.xii.70-71 and notes for the contrasting bird songs of the Bower of Bliss.

st. 43-44

This description of Venus’s bower (46.1) represents an anamorphic mons veneris.

43.1 Right in the middest: Baybak et al (1969) note that, setting aside the proems and arguments, st. 43 is the 340th of 679 stanzas in the 1590 text of Book III (228); as Hamilton notes, ‘middest’ is also placed centrally in the line. Cf. I.vii.5.4 for a similar play on placement ‘in the middest’.
43.3 43.2: On the myrtle as sacred to Venus, see v.40.2n and Valeriano, Hieroglyphica, s.v. De Myrto: Neque verò dissimulandum, Myrtum pudendi muliebris habere significatum (‘It should not be disguised that the myrtle signifies the female pudendum’; 541, trans. A. Fowler).
43.7-43.9 43.7-9 Given the anatomical (or anamorphic) allegory, many of the details in st. 43-46 manage a remarkable combination of tact and explicitness, e.g. ‘sweet gum’, ‘pretious deaw’, and ‘dainty odours’. Tonally Spenser is matching the song of the joyous birds in st. 42, who ‘their trew loves without suspition tell abrode’.
44.2-44.3 44.2-3 See 41.7n. The disavowal of art in favor of ‘the trees owne inclination’ identifies the protective leaning-in of the trees with their innate desire.
44.4 Contrast the ‘clasping armes, in wanton wreathings intricate’ of the branches in the gate to the Bower of Bliss (II.xii.53.8-9; and cf. 41.7n).
rancke: luxuriant
entrayld athwart: interwoven across
Eglantine: sweet-briar
Caprifole: honeysuckle
44.6 Eglantine: Cf. II.v.29.4-5, where ‘the fragrant Eglantine did spred / His prickling armes, entrayld with roses red’ about the arbor where Phaedria lulls Cymochles to sleep.
44.7 44.7 See 43.7-9n. The arbor of line 2 is ‘Fashiond’ both above and within the ‘inmost part’ of the trees, although this fashioning is the work not of art but of a desire immanent within the sexualized landscape itself.
44.8-44.9 44.8-9 Echoing Spenser’s earlier anamorphic description of the female genitals at vi.51.4-5, where Belphoebe tenders the ‘daintie Rose’ of her chastity so dearly that she does not suffer ‘the Middayes scorching powre, / Ne the sharp Northerne wind thereon to showre’.
Aeolus: Greek god, keeper of the winds

st. 45

The shift in this stanza from natural vegetation (sweet-briar and honeysuckle) to an anthology of metamorphoses signals the return of an allegory of poesis and an engagement with Ovid that recur throughout the canto. This resurgence of literariness within the garden of natural reproduction is accompanied by a clustering of allusions to contemporary writers, detailed in the notes below. There may even be a witty play with form in a stanza of only eight lines whose subject is ‘sad lovers’ cut off in youth; 1609 adds a half-line—‘And dearest love’, following ‘paramoure’ (line 3)—whose effect is only to heighten the sense of formal incompletion.

45.3 Hyacinthus: Spartan youth beloved of Apollo, slain when the god’s discus ricocheted off the ground into his face as he went to retrieve it; Apollo caused the purple flower to spring up out of his blood (Ovid, Met 10.162-219). The epithet ‘fresh’, applying in different senses both to the slain lover and to the blossom that springs from his blood, implies a continuity of life persisting through the change in form.
45.4 Foolish Narcisse: Cf. ii.45.4n. Ovid (Met 338-508) relates the story of Narcissus’s transformation into a flower, which grows near the water because he was transfixed at the edge of a pool by desire for his own reflection. Britomart, in love with the mirror image of an unknown knight, calls herself ‘fonder, than Cephisus foolish chyld’ (ii.44.6).
45.5 Amaranthus: Spenser’s invention, from Gk αμαραντος amarantos (‘unfading’); in the Greek text of 1 Peter 5:4, the first word of the phrase ‘incorruptible crowne of glorie’ translates αμαραντινο amarantinos.
but late: Two Ovidian metamorphoses (‘transformde of yore’) are balanced with two others said to be modern.
45.7 Amintas: Usually taken to refer to Sir Philip Sidney, d. 1586. The figures of Amaranthus and Amintas blend together as the poet sees the ‘wretched fate’ of one in the ‘purple gore’ of the other. The reference is initially literary: Thomas Watson’s Latin poem Amyntas (1585), paraphrased in English by Abraham Fraunce, narrates the transformation of Amyntas into the amaranth; after Sidney’s death Fraunce, like Spenser’s narrator, comes to see Sidney’s fate reflected in the death and transformation of Amyntas, who then comes to represent Sidney much as the species-forms of the Garden reflect the innumerable mortal creatures that embody them.
46.2 Adonis: Last seen in the tapestry of Malecasta, i.34-38, where his transformation first into a flower and then into a woven image suggests a kind of rebirth (see 29.8n). Here his preservation is asserted more powerfully, as Venus continues to ‘enjoy’ his ‘joyous company’ in a sexual embrace that restates with peculiar intimacy the meeting of spring and harvest ‘at one tyme’ (42.2), as her reaping of pleasure coincides with the replanting of seed-forms in the cycle of natural reproduction.
reape sweet pleasure: Contrast Acrasia at II.xii.73.4, ‘greedily depasturing delight’.
46.4-46.5 46.4-5 The repetition of There from line 1 locates Adonis within the genital ‘Arber’ of st. 44, where he is ‘Lapped’ both in the sense of being enfolded and in the more bodily sense of being literally secreted within Venus’s lap. This placement, which conceals Adonis from ‘Stygian Gods’ (rulers of the dead), at once recalls and transforms the placement of Cymochles in ‘an Arber greene’ where he lies ‘in Ladies lap entombed’ (II.v.29.2 and 36.3); that of Verdant, ‘Whose sleepie head [Acrasia] in her lap did soft dispose’ (II.xii.76.9); and that of Adonis in Malecasta’s tapestry, with Venus’s mantle spread over him and ‘her softe arme . . . underneath his hed’ (i.36.1-4). The original for all these tableaus is Lucretius’s invocation to Venus, in whose lap (gremium) Mars lies aeterno devictus vulnere amoris (‘vanquished by the ever-living wound of love’; De rerum natura 1.34). See II.xii.73n.
some say: Contrasted with ‘Me seemes I see’ (45.8) to suggest the interplay between cultural tradition and the poet’s singular act of mythopoesis, a distinction analogous to that between species-forms and individual creatures (cf. 45.6-9n).
flowres and pretious spycery: Balancing the suggestions of blossoming and of embalming.
envy: begrudge
46.8-46.9 46.8-9 Venus is active here, possessing rather than being possessed, taking rather than receiving ‘her fill’, which may refer equally to sexual satisfaction and to impregnation.
sweetnesse: Referring to the Greek ήδονή hdonh (‘pleasure’).
And sooth it seemes they say: Cf. 46.4n. This assertion caps a series beginning at 45.8 by affirming within the poet’s own vision what is reported by tradition.
47.1-47.2 47.1-2 The repetition-with-variation of ‘for’ and ‘ever’ in these lines anticipates the variable succession attributed to Adonis in the balance of the stanza.
47.4-47.7 47.4-7 The distinction between eternity and perpetuity is common in medieval poetry and philosophy; see Kermode (1967) and Boethius, Cons Phil 5.pr.6: ‘lat us seyen thanne sothly that Gode is “eterne”, and that the world is “perpetuel”’ (Chaucer, Bo 5.pr.6. 97-98). This language refers immediately to the cycle of natural reproduction through which species endure, but also has political ramifications since the constitutional theory of the ‘king’s two bodies’ ensured that the body politic of the commonwealth would similarly be ‘by succession made perpetuall’ (see Kantorowicz 1957).

47.8-9 Cf. 9.1-2, ‘Great father he [the sun] of generation / Is rightly cald, th’authour of life and light’. Adonis becomes ‘the Father of all formes’ specifically in copulating with Venus. On heterosexual coupling as an imaginative solution to the philosophical problem of how forms can be joined with matter—unresolvable within the terms of Platonic metaphysics—see Teskey (1994 and 1996). The ‘copula’ Spenser here envisions is at once sexual (although it reverses Plato’s vertical positioning of the partners within the coupling) and grammatical: unless forms can be embodied in matter, it becomes impossible to predicate the existence of things.

Hamilton follows Lewis (1966) in proposing that Spenser identifies Adonis with matter and Venus with form, but Spenser’s Adonis may be better explained by the Epicurean notion that different kinds of matter contain ‘seeds’ (primordia or semina) out of which forms grow. Forms come and go as creatures live and die, but Lucretius argues that the principle of continuity that enables natural forms to recur must inhere within matter, since otherwise anything could arise from anything else, whereas we see in nature that oaks grow only from acorns, and acorns grow only from oaks. Spenser’s Adonis is ‘lapped’ within the anamorphic pudendum of the Garden like a Lucretian seed-principle harbored within matter: not separable from matter, but certainly not coextensive with it, especially when matter is thought of, contra Lucretius, as opposed to form.

st. 48

In line 4, ‘cloyd’ means both ‘pierced’ and ‘surfeited’, and as such offers an exemplary moment in this stanza’s doubling of its cast, insinuating an identity between the boar that gores Adonis and the lover who satiates him. The logic of this identification would seem to be that of 42.1-2 (see note), with spring and harvest, or birth and death, ‘both meeting at one tyme’, or of 46.5, where ‘flowres and pretious spycery’ lap Adonis in connotations at once of blossoming and of embalming. This doubling of Venus and the boar is reinforced by the fact that the wounding of Adonis was proverbially genital; Golding’s Ovid goes so far as to specify ‘his codds’ as the location of the wound (10.839).

These doublings, difficult to hold in mind, are at once complicated and reenforced by the parallel between Venus and Adonis in the Garden and the wounding of Timias in the preceding canto. There, Belphoebe pursues a wounded beast whose trail leads her to Timias, implying the possibility of a supplementary identification between the wounded boy and the boar. She then heals his thigh-wound (as Venus preserves Adonis), but in doing so wounds his heart (as if reviving the role of boar, or Foster-with-boarspear, on another level). Similarly, the language of the present stanza not only hints at an identification of the Venus who preserves Adonis with the boar that wounds him, but also suggests a supplementary analogy between Adonis ‘lapped’ in her genital arbor and the boar ‘emprisoned’ in her cave: in the logic of the allegory, it is precisely by harboring Adonis ‘from the skill / Of Stygian Gods’ (46.6-7), perpetually enclosed within Nature’s vagina, that she can shut the boar away from him ‘for ay’.

48.1 48.1 Cf. 46.1, 4 for the sequence ‘There . . . There yet . . . There now’. The immediacy of ‘There now’ balances the assertion of ‘eternall bliss’, implying that the condition of being ‘eterne in mutabilitie’ fuses the immediacy of the moment with the permanence of perpetual renewal.
48.2 48.2 Cf. the doubling of ‘enjoy . . . joyous’ at 46.1-2. ‘Joying’ is probably to be read as ‘enjoying’; cf. II.x.53.2-1, ‘him succeeded Marius, / Who joyd his dayes in great tranquillity’, and see Grossman (2013) on these lines as approximating within English grammar the phenomenon of the ‘middle voice’.
avoyd: defeat; her love ‘voids’ his malice
48.8-48.9 48.8-9 Cf. 36.6-9. If ‘the wide wombe of the world’ is a place of both death and engendering, where form is reborn within the ‘substaunces’ of the deceased, then the boar, locked away in a womb-like cave ‘underneath that Mount’, may offer a mythic restatement of this theme: just as life is limited by death, death in turn is contained by its placement within a cycle of regeneration.

st. 49-51

These stanzas begin to isolate within the Garden a specifically human domain of erotic experience, represented by the suffering of Psyche and her eventual reconciliation with Cupid.

49.1 There now . . . everlasting joy: See 48.1n.
49.2-49.3 49.2-3 In the pervasively sexualized context of this passage, the resort of the Gods to Venus’s mount implies their enjoyment of sexual activity; cf. the narrator’s reference to his own experience of the Garden at 29.6-7.
49.3-49.4 49.3-4 ‘Sporting’, like ‘playes his wanton partes’ in line 9, strongly suggests sexual activity. The Garden is a place both of natural fertility, figured by heterosexual union, and of unrestrained pleasure, figured by polymorphous sexual play.
49.5-49.9 49.5-9 Cf. I.pr.3.5, where the poet, invoking Cupid’s inspiration, asks him to lay aside the ‘deadly Heben bowe’ with which he wounded Arthur. This moment links the description of the Garden to the preceding episode, in which Venus goes in search of the fugitive Cupid and hears much about the ‘spoiles and cruelty’ with which he has ‘Ransackt the world’, but finds instead of Amor himself the newborn Amoret. His rampage through the world suspended, Cupid is discovered at last in the same mythic location where Venus’s ‘lost lover’ (29.8) is restored. On the suspension of jealousy, envy, and other pains associated with the human experience of love, see the notes to st. 41.
with him playes: The echo of 49.9 underlines the absence in the Garden’s mount both of possessive jealousy and of juridical restraints on eroticism; it also repeats the verb used at 7.5 (‘the sunbeames bright upon her body playd’) to describe the impregnating of Chrysogonee.
50.2-50.5 50.2-5 Psyche’s reconciliation with Cupid parallels and in some sense corresponds to the end of Cupid’s predations as described in the preceding stanza. The story (from Apuleius, Metamorphoses, trans. Adlington [1566] as The Golden Ass, 4.28-6.24) is an allegory of the soul’s purification through suffering; it offers a romantic paradigm of patience rewarded that the distressed speakers in Spenser’s Amoretti and Fowre Hymnes wishfully anticipate but that few couples in the epic manage to achieve.
unmeet upbrayes: undeserved reproaches
50.7-50.9 50.7-9 As the fugitive Cupid sought in the first half of the canto is found at last in the Garden, so too is the pleasure missing from Chrysogonee's miraculous conception of Amoret and Belphoebe (see 27.1-3n). Cf. Apuleius, Met: Sic rite Psyche convenit in manum Cupidinis et nascitur illis maturo partu filia, quam Voluptatem nominamus (‘and thus Psiches was married to Cupide, and after she was delivered of a childe, whom we call Pleasure’; 6.24). Since the erotic ‘sporting’ and ‘playing’ in Venus’s mount is not limited to reproductive sex (see 49.3-4n), the allegorical personification of Pleasure takes on a playful twist in Spenser’s text, the figurative equivalent of a pun in which the two distinct purposes of sexual activity, pleasure and reproduction, coincide. As yet another in the canto’s series of amphiboles (see 4.2n), this may imply either that sexual pleasure should be coextensive with reproduction or that pleasure itself is the proper fruit of sex. A very different reading is suggested by Boccaccio’s interpretation of the fable (Genealogia 5.22) as an allegory of the soul’s union with divine love to produce eternal joy. Given the emphasis throughout canto vi on the material basis of natural reproduction, Spenser would seem to be bringing this spiritual allegory back down to earth.

st. 51

The narrative here returns to the preceding episode, which served to induct us into the Garden. This return is anticipated in st. 49 (see 49.5-9n).

51.5 51.5 The narrative extends the canto’s allegory of poesis (see 3.4n and st. 45n) insofar as Amoret is an exemplary poetic conceit, ‘trained up’ in the Garden according to her species, ‘trew feminitee’.
51.6-51.9 51.6-9 Amoret’s close companionship with Pleasure implies an overtly sexualized conception of femininity, as does the final line of the stanza in its balancing of ‘all the lore of love’ against ‘goodly womanhead’, as if the two might be equivalent.
52.1-52.4 52.1-4 Here the language of organic growth figures two complementary processes, Amoret’s personal maturation (the ripening of her psyche) and the production of an exemplary fiction; see v.52-54, where Belphoebe’s rose is similarly planted in a paradisal garden and then transplanted into ‘stocke of earthly flesh’ (52.5) so that it may be admired and imitated as ‘a faire ensample’ (54.1). Cf. also 51.6-9n on the conflation of Amoret’s status as a model for ‘all fayre Ladies’ with her status as ‘th’ensample of true love alone’, implying (depending on how one construes ‘alone’) either that she is a singular example, worthy of imitation but beyond rivalry, or that she is an example of ‘true love’ and nothing else.
52.7-52.9 52.7-9 Amoret’s arrival in ‘Faery court’ triggers a resumption of Cupid’s rampage, as if his cruelty were suspended only within the Garden.
53.1-53.4 53.1-4 This story, in which Amoret freely chooses Scudamore from among many suitors in Faery court, will be displaced in 1596 by Scudamore’s very different account of their courtship (IV.x). Lines 3-4 might but need not refer to a formal betrothal.
53.5-53.6 53.5-6 Amoret resumes her own version of the Psyche narrative.
53.7-53.8 53.7-8 The text associates Amoret’s adventures outside the Garden with a complex and insistent pattern of wordplay involving the prefix for- that was previously established in the narrative of Florimell; see the notes to the first half of canto v.
53.9 The narrator’s ‘elswhere’ looks forward to III.xi-xii. The story is then both resumed and retroactively revised in the poem’s second part, published in 1596.

st. 54

In returning us to the adventures of Florimell, the narrative closes off a digressive loop that began with Timias’s decision to pursue the Foster, leaving the pursuit of Florimell to Arthur and Guyon (iv.47.1-4).

18.9 Timias: Arthur’s squire, introduced at I.vii.29.3 but first named here. His name, from Gk τιμηεις timneis, means ‘honoured’.
faines to dy: desires to die; pretends to die
4 Gynunt (1590): No editor has ever regarded this reading as anything but a compositor’s error; foul-case e for c and n for u in the preceding lines further evince a lapse of care in typesetting the Argument. Yet given the character of Argante’s tyrrany (described in st. 50), it is a curiously apt mistake: since gyn- derives from the Gk γυνή gynē (‘woman’), a female ‘gyaunt’ might logically be a ‘gynunt’.
1.1 Like as an Hynd: Cf. iv.49.4, ‘Like as a fearefull Dove’; the narrative resumes where it left off. Cf. Spenser’s transformation of both the motif and the simile of erotic pursuit in Am 67, ‘Lyke as a huntsman’.
1.2 a ravenous beast: Continuing the play with hysteron proteron in the narrative of Florimell’s flight (see v.10.1-2n), the text here introduces a figurative beast that anticipates the hyena-like creature to come (22.7-9). The description also echoes Horace Odes 1.23.9-10, where a pursuing lover seeks to convince Chloe atqui non ego te tigris ut aspera / Gaetulusve leo frangere persequor (‘my purpose is not to crush thee like a savage tiger or Gaetulian lion’). For echoes of Ariosto and Golding’s Ovid in the earlier description of Florimell’s flight, see notes to i.15-19.
1.3, 6 See iv.50.4-5 and note for the sense that Florimell’s emotions act upon her as if from without. This becomes more explicit at 2.5-6, ‘as if her former dred / Were hard behind, her ready to arrest’. As Phaon at II.iv.30-32 finds himself pursued by his own fury, Florimell is chased by her own fear.
1.6 1.3, 6 See iv.50.4-5 and note for the sense that Florimell’s emotions act upon her as if from without. This becomes more explicit at 2.5-6, ‘as if her former dred / Were hard behind, her ready to arrest’. As Phaon at II.iv.30-32 finds himself pursued by his own fury, Florimell is chased by her own fear.
2.4-2.8 2.4-6, 7-8 The enjambments in these lines, as at 1.4-5, lend urgency to Florimell’s flight. Cf. the use of enjambment at 3.6-7, together with the repetition of ‘force/perforce’, to evoke the collapse of the spent palfrey.
arrest: seize upon
2.6-2.8 arrest . . . wrest: Like Arthur but for opposite reasons, Florimell passes a sleepless and exhausting night. The ‘rest’ she misses is teasingly evoked in the rhyming pair ‘arrest/wrest’.
2.7-2.9 2.7-9 Horses in Spenser regularly embody their riders’ passions; here Florimell’s loss of the reigns indicates that she is ‘carried away’ by her own fear.
wrest: grasp
2.8 wrest: The force of ‘wrest’ as an action of twisting suggests that the reins would be wrapped around a rider’s hand.
hable puissaunce: sufficient strength
corage: spirit, energy
aby: endure
3.5 3.5 The line echoes a familiar proverb; cf. I.i.32.6-7, ‘what so strong, / But wanting rest will also want of might?’; SC Sept 240-41, ‘What ever thing lacketh chaungeable rest, / Mought needes decay, when it is at best’; Ovid, Her 4.89, Quod caret alterna requie, durabile non est (‘That which lacks its alternations of repose will not endure’); and Chaucer, CT Merchant 4.1862-63, ‘For every labour somtyme moot han reste, / Or elles longe may nat endure’.
3.6-3.7 3.6-7 See 2.4-6, 7-8n on the use of enjambment.
gent: noble; elegant
mote algates: must in any case
forst: Echoing ‘force . . . perforce’ from 3.7.
4.3 Another proverb. Cf. iii.53.3, ‘And our weake hands (need makes good schollers) teach’ [1596: ‘And our weak hands (whom need new strength shall teach)’], and Smith (1970, no. 571).
launce: OED suggests that Spenser may have coined this usage, for which no other examples are given, from L lanx the scales of a balance. It seems likely that Tasso mediated this derivation: see the play on ‘lance’ in GL 20.50.1-3, Così si comatteva, e ‘n dubbia lance / co’l timor le speranze eran sospese. / Pien tuto il campo è di spezzate lance (‘Thus fought they long, yet neither shrink nor yield, / In equal balance hung their hope and fear: / all full of broken lances lay the field’; trans. Harrington).
4.5 ‘Fortune makes the miseries of mortals her sport’; paraphrasing Ovid, Ex Ponto 4.3.49, Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus (‘heavenly powers find sport in human affairs’). FQ Letter 118-20 lists among the ‘many other adventures . . . intermedled . . . as Accidents . . . the misery of Florimell’.
bewray: reveal
4.8-4.9 subject to . . . overcame: The valley lies below the hillside and is covered by the woods; the connotations of conquest and subjugation are not, at first, obviously motivated, although they echo the language of mastery in 2.7-8.
5.1 5.1 1609 emends to th’tops; meter requires that one or the other of the definite articles be contracted.
litle: The little valley (4.8), where Florimell spies a little smoke that turns out to come from a little cottage (6.2), introduces a motif of quaint miniaturism. The effect is reassuring: reversing the tendency of Florimell’s terror to magnify ‘every leafe, that shaketh with the least / Murmure of winde’ (1.4-5), it implies that she is recovering her composure.
Reeking: rising (without the later connotation of a stench)
wonne: dwell
In which a witch: A note of forced hilarity diminishes the sense of danger that might otherwise attend the discovery of witchcraft.
envide: envied (bore a grudge against)
on the flore: Like her ‘wilfull want’ (6.5), the witch’s seat on ‘the dustie ground’ implies a perversely chosen self-abasement; the language of 4.8-9 begins in retrospect to gain pertinence.
Hag: witch in league with infernal powers
gin: Aphetic form of ‘engine’: a stratagem or trick.
7.4-7.9 7.4-9 The witch is more frightened by Florimell’s supernatural beauty (and sudden appearance) than Florimell is by the wretched appearance and strange behavior of the witch; the note of forced hilarity at 6.4 seems in retrospect to set a comic tone for the encounter, in which terror passes from Florimell to the witch (cf.2.5, ‘her former dred’, with 7.9, ‘dread her sence did daze’).
stound: Fit of astonishment, here transferred to the ‘suddein’ appearance that causes it, and leaves the witch ‘astound’.
8.2 what devill: Continuing the odd comedy of the scene, the witch’s question to Florimell gives literal weight to what would otherwise be casual profanity.
8.4 8.4 Given her history in Book III, Florimell may find it reassuring, not to say refreshing, to be ‘unwelcomed, unsought’. Cf. the turn in lines 6-7 of Am 67.
8.5-8.9 8.5-9 Florimell speaks here for the first time in the poem. Although ‘full of doubtfull thought’, she answers with a mildness that indicates composure, and her words, although they portray her as harmless and submissive, assert her control over the encounter with the witch. The phrase ‘be not wroth’ functions at once as entreaty and command.
Beldame: good mother
8.6 Beldame: Cf. ii.43.1.
silly: innocent, harmless
let fall: The phrasing hints at an intentionality behind Florimell’s tears, as if the ‘silly Virgin’ (8.7) knows how to use her prepossessing beauty (and manifest helplessness) to advantage. Her ‘christall eyne’, ‘orient perles’, ‘snowy cheeke’, and artfully soft sighs (9.1-5) prove stronger than the witch’s ‘wicked gin’ (7.3).
pitteously appall: Suggests the force of Florimell’s pathos, which induces the witch to respond in a way contrary to her nature. The rare use of ‘appall’ in the sense of ‘quell’, together with the reversal of sense in the phrasing (quell with pity = quell pitiably) plays into the scene’s emphasis on a reversal of mastery.
womanish compassion: This moment of feminine solidarity between incongruously matched women extends the comedy of the scene in which Florimell extracts tenderness from an unlikely source.
her suffused eyes: Echoing Virgil’s description of Venus as she complains to Jove about the sufferings of Aeneas, lacrimis oculos suffusa nitentis (‘her radiant eyes all dim with tears’; Aen 1.228).
nothing quaint: ‘Not at all dainty’.
s’deignfull: disdainful
of tempest gon: ‘Escaped from a storm’.

st. 11

On the ‘surmise of divinity’ topos in FQ, see II.iii.33n. Spenser is again associating Florimell with Venus (cf. 10.3n).

dight: compose
11.3 Cf i.15.6, ‘Her garments all were wrought of beaten gold’.
12.1-12.2 12.1-2 The epithet ‘wicked’ follows with striking incongruity upon the witch’s humble adoration of divine beauty; its repetition then sets up the comedy of a ‘wicked sonne’ who is ‘The comfort of her age’.
loord: A lout (from Fr lourd heavy)
12.3 loord: Cf. SC July 33, ‘thous but a laesie loord’.
ply: Aphetic form of ‘apply’.
lewd: ignorant; worthless; lower-class; lascivious
13.1 undertime: ‘Undern-time’, an archaic expression used for various times of the day; in Malory, it refers to afternoon or evening.
adaw: Another archaism, used by Spenser to mean ‘daunt’ although in ME usage it meant ‘awaken’.
13.5-13.8 13.5-8 Three successive enjambments suggest the disorientation of the witch’s son; he too is overawed by the sheer splendor of their guest, as the affect of ‘terrour’ completes its circuit from Florimell (1.5) to the witch (7.6-9) and finally to him. The simile comparing him to one ‘which hath gaz’d / On the bright Sunne unwares’ may echo Socrates’ description of prisoners freed from the cave of shadows and drawn into the sunlight (Plato, Republic 7.515d-e).
mister wight: Kind of creature; he is asking his mother not who Florimell is, but what she is.
14.6-14.9 14.6-9 A ghost recently returned from Hades (‘Stygian’ refers to the river Styx) would presumably be disoriented, especially if, as Hamilton suggests, it bears a ‘larger reference’ to the Reformation dissolution of Purgatory.

st. 15-20

The passion of the witch’s son for Florimell in this episode is analogous (in a comic vein) to that of Timias for Belphoebe in canto v. These two episodes, flanking the purely naturalistic description of sexuality in the Garden of Adonis (see vi.41n), place erotic desire in a distinctly human and social context, emphasizing disparities of rank as if they were differences of kind like the species-forms in the Garden. They also bracket the paradisal freedom of utterance in the Garden (see vi.43.7-9n) with matched episodes in which a lover of inferior station is unable ‘to utter his desire’ (16.4). This challenge is one the poet himself confronts initially in the proem and recurrently throughout Book III: how to find a language adequate to the perils of speaking as a male about the sexual or psychological interior of a noble woman (see pr.5.6-9n). Britomart finds her own desire for Artegall unspeakable, both in her initial confession to Glauce and again when she enters Merlin’s cave; his prophecy in canto iii develops one response to the challenge, as it lends both voice and legitimacy to Britomart’s desire by installing it within a dynastic narrative.

15.2-15.3 embace / Her goodly port: ‘Let down her aristocratic bearing’.
vyld: vile
familiare: Retains its link to the root ‘family’.
Chorle: churl, a rustic; a base or contemptible male
15.8-15.9 15.8-9 On the antithesis of love and lust, see iii.1 and v.1-2.
cast: resolved
tind: kindled
Closely: secretly
16.5 caytive: ‘Caitiff’, wretched both in the sense of ‘base’ and that of ‘miserable’; the original sense, deriving from L captivum, suggests that the churl’s thought is imprisoned within him by his inability to ‘utter his desire’. This sense is expressed in his gift to Florimell of squirrels in chains (17.6-8).
16.6 16.6 The churl’s ‘soft sighes, and lovely semblaunces’ are incongruous because these are Florimell’s charms, ridiculous in him; because they belie the ‘outrageous fire’ he conceals within; and because they scarcely match the ‘brutish lust’ ascribed to him by the narrator (15.9).
16.7-16.9 16.7-9 The Churl’s ‘resemblaunces’, in which he hopes that Florimell will ‘aread’ his ‘affection entire’, extend the comic treatment this passage gives to the predicament of the poet-lover, desperate to be acknowledged but equally threatened by the risk of being misconstrued. The language here tempers the narrator’s avowed contempt for the Churl’s ‘affection bace’ (15.7) with a hint of sympathy for his ‘affection entire’.
ween’d: supposed
entire: See glossary. OED notes that it is difficult to distinguish examples of the sense ‘complete, total’ from examples of the sense ‘genuine, sincere’; presumably the latter sense would apply to the Churl’s ‘affection’ only in his own view, not that of the narrator. OED adds that Spenser in particular develops an added sense that converts ‘intimate’ into ‘inward’ (see Am 85.9, ‘Deepe in the closet of my parts entyre’); this sense may be reinforced by the emphasis on the Churl as tongue-tied lover.
wildings: wild-growing fruits
17.2 Cf. the overtly sexualized fruit of the Bower of Bliss, ‘Some deepe empurpled as the Hyacine’ (II.xii.54.7). The Churl’s ‘wildings’ (17.1) are slightly less explicit, but still recognizable ‘resemblaunces’ (16.8) of his passion. Neither OED nor EEBO records an instance of ‘empurpled’ prior to Spenser; the word recurs in canto xii, where drops of blood ‘empurpled’ Amoret’s breast (33.5), and in the description of Lust at IV.vii.6.5-6, where his ‘huge great nose’ is said to be ‘dreadfully empurpled all with bloud’.
17.3-17.6 17.3-6 Caroling birds and garlands in the poem have by now a history of association with courtship and erotic desire, beginning with the entry into the ‘wandring wood’ at I.i.8.1-4, the Redcrosse knight’s erotic dream of Una (i.i.48.9), and his dalliance with Duessa (I.vii.3.4-5 and 4.2-5). Here these darker connotations are muted by the surprise that love has instilled aesthetic impulses in the supposedly ‘beastly’ churl. The association in this episode of the Churl, the caroling birds, and the themes of bondage and constrained utterance may suggest a link to Lydgate’s fifteenth-century beast-fable, “The Churl and the Bird.”
17.6-17.9 17.6-9 The image of squirrels in bondage shows a surprisingly literary bent in the Churl, who seems to have read Petrarch’s Trionfi. Like the image of him as choirmaster to ‘young birds’, the ‘resemblaunce’ of Churl to squirrel participates in the episode’s motif of miniaturization: in contrast to the ‘ravenous beast’ of Florimell’s fearful imagination (1.2) and its pending embodiment in the Hyena-like beast (st. 22), the Churl’s beastliness is rendered small, cute, and harmless, as if Florimell has wandered briefly into a Disney animated feature. At the same time, these lines participate in the episode’s sustained send up of the poet-lover. The effect is at once complex and delicate, for the Churl remains an object of ridicule even as he accrues sympathy; meanwhile some of the ridicule bends back toward Ralegh and even Spenser himself, insofar as the Churl offers a ‘resemblaunce’ to their respective courtships of Elizabeth.
17.7 conquered: For the reversal that has taken Florimell from panic to control, see 5.2n, 7.4-9n.
past awhile: after a while
mansion: dwelling, without the connotation of opulence; from L manere to remain.
compast: (be) devised
closely: in secrecy
furnitures: harness and trappings
18.9 See 2.7-9 for the Palfrey’s ‘late miswandred wayes’.
remeasure: Retrace, presumably now with a restored sense of riderly control related to the motifs of magnification and miniaturization.
19.3-19.6 19.3-6 Upon resuming her journey, Florimell reverts to the affective state that formerly motivated it, as if terror were her default mode.
uncivile: rude, unrefined
lewd: untaught; base; vile; lascivious
20.3-20.5 20.3-5 The Churl’s reaction is more grossly physical than that of Timias at v.45-48 but is similarly self-punishing; in 1596 Timias, having offended Belphoebe through his attentions to Amoret, will come closer to the self-mutilating behavior described here (IV.vii.39-41).
20.7-20.9 20.7-9 The witch’s fears for her son strikingly resemble those that Arthur Gorges, writing to William Cecil in 1592 about Ralegh’s imprisonment over his marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton, will profess for his disgraced cousin: ‘for I feare Sr. W. Rawly; wyll shortely growe Orlando furioso; If the bryght Angelyca persever agaynst [hyme] a l[y]tt[le] lon[ger]’ (MS Ashmole 1729, F 177, endorsed 26 July, 1592; copy by Birch in Addit. MS 4106, F 62; cited and transcribed, Sandison 1928, 657-58). Ralegh’s ‘Angelica’ in this political romance is not his new wife but his queen.

st. 21

Compare Glauce’s efforts to cure Britomart, ii.48-51 and iii.5.3-5.

plight: state of health
leares: learning, i.e. witchcraft
her: Florimell

st. 22

The appearance of the witch’s beast marks a sharp turn away from the comic tone of the episode, almost as if the blow suffered by the witch and her son with the loss of ‘their fayre guest’ (19.8) turns them from hapless admirers of divine beauty back into evil monsters, or as if Florimell’s fear triggers the emergence of the beast. Both impressions may be accurate: Florimell leaves ‘For feare of mischiefe, which she did forecast’ (18.4), but it is not clear from the previous description of their behavior that she should fear either of her hosts. The beast’s appearance, seeming to confirm her fears, may as easily be their consequence as their cause; for the hysteron proteron motif, see 1.2n and v.10.1-2n.

22.1 22.1 First mention of the witch’s ‘hidden cave’.
queint elect: ‘Elect’ means ‘chosen’; ‘queint’ may mean ‘elegantly’, ‘craftily’, or ‘strangely’, with the variable sense of the adverb sliding to modify the spots themselves: e.g. ‘elegantly chosen’ suggests ‘chosen for the sake of elegance’. Since ‘queint’ is a quality of style associated with contrived language, the phrase may describe itself. The ‘thousand spots’ suggest sin (Jer 13:23, 2 Pet 2:13, Jude 1:12), but ‘spots’ in this context are stains or blemishes, whereas the quaintly chosen colors of the witch’s beast seem ornamental as well—perhaps deceptively so.
22.8-22.9 22.8-9 The ‘Hyena of Lust’, as the beast is conventionally nicknamed, is not really a hyena, though it is more like a hyena than anything else—a signature Spenserian equivocation identifying it as less a hyena than a hyena-similitude. The textual genealogy of this chimerical beast is mixed: it owes something to the Orc in Boiardo (OI 3.3; see Blanchard in Var 3.263); something to medieval bestiaries, which link hyenas to changeableness, hypocrisy, and sin; something to the hyena of Ecclus 13:18, identified by the Geneva glossators as ‘a wilde beast that counterfaiteth the voyce of men, and so entiseth them out of their houses and devoureth them’; and something to the epistles of Peter, which gloss not only his spots (see 22.5n) but also his diet: ‘For all flesh is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the flower of grasse’ (1 Pet 1:24). Spenser’s lines at once literalize the concept of lust as a carnal ‘appetite’ and suggest, by way of the Biblical echo, that flesh is not a spiritually nourishing diet, for as 1 Pet goes on to say, ‘The grasse withereth, and the flower falleth away. But the worde of the Lord endureth for ever’ (1:24-25). On the hyena’s taste for human flesh see Topsell, Histo. Animal 343.
her: Florimell, here and throughout the stanza, except in line 6.
in place: back to the witch
her beauties scornefull grace: Cf. ‘the glorie of man’ (22.8-9n).
swifte as word: For earlier hints that the beast, for all the carnality of its appetite, is at least figuratively a creature made of words, see the notes to st. 22.
her footing trace: See II.pr.4.4-5 for the trope of tracking as interpreting the text, complete with the pun on metrical ‘feet’. Ironically, the keen-scented beast appears to be a better reader than the ‘witlesse man’ of the proem to Book II (3.4).
his perfect sent: Given the repetition of ‘from her went, / Went forth’ (23.6-7), it is hard to avoid hearing a pun on the part participle of the verb ‘send’ in the beast’s ‘perfect sent’.
passing: surpassing
overhent: overtook
24.4 24.4 ‘She shunned the beast no less than she dreaded death’.
flitt: fleet-footed
wex areare: Paradoxically, to ‘increase backward’, not to wax but to wane—a turn of phrase that captures the dynamic of hysteron proteron hinted at throughout the episode.
sickernesse: safety

st. 26

For Myrrha’s seduction of her father Cinyras, see ii.41.1n and Ovid Met 10.431-80, esp. 475-76, describing her flight. In Ovid this story leads into that of Venus and her mortal lover Adonis, who is the offspring of this incestuous union (cf. I.i.9.6n and Met 10.489-524, esp. 524, describing Adonis’s beauty as avenging his mother’s passion). For Daphne’s flight from Apollo see Ovid, Met 1.525-552; Spenser has previously echoed this passage in connection with Florimell’s flight (see iv.46.4-5n). The combination of wickedness with fearful innocence in this double simile puts a number of ambiguities into play, as the repeated phrase ‘Not halfe . . . Nor halfe’ manages indirectly to suggest that Florimell is the sum of her counterparts. The reference to Myrrha, anticipating Florimell’s repulse of the aged fisherman’s lust, repeats the hysteron proteron motif in which fear seems to summon its objects into existence; see st. 22n and viii.23.7, where Florimell addresses the fisherman as ‘father’.

26.4 th’Aegaean strond: Daphne did not literally flee along the shore of the Aegean Sea; her flight was set in the vale of Tempe, through which flows the river sacred to her father Peneus. The phrase may apply in what OED recognizes as a ‘poetic’ usage (‘strond’ as country or region, especially a foreign one), or it might refer to the river’s bankside; it anticipates Florimell’s arrival at the seashore in line 5.
26.5 26.5 Among the ambiguities put in play by the double simile (see st. 26n) may be the implication that Florimell is linked to her monstrous pursuer by more than fear: cf. Ovid’s comment on Daphne, auctaque forma fuga est (‘Her beauty was enhanced by flight’; Met 1.530).
yond: OED identifies the sense ‘furious, savage’ as distinctively Spenserian (see II.viii.40), and speculates that it derives from a misunderstanding of Chaucer’s line, ‘Beth egre as is a Tygre yond in Ynde’ (CT Clerk 4.1199).
fond: (archaic) would try
26.9 26.9 Cf. 4.3, ‘Need teacheth her’, etc. The alexandrine combines proverbs (Smith 1970 nos. 246, 571) and echoes previous images that associate Florimell with birds (iv.49.4, vii.10.9).

st. 27

Spenser echoes a version of the myth of Britomartis. See ii.30-51n for his earlier recourse to the pseudo-Virgilian Ciris for one version of the story; here he echoes a different version, one reported (and dismissed) by Diodorus Siculus, in which Britomartis, pursued by Minos, ‘fled into some fishermen’s nets’ (Bib Hist 5.76). These allusions indirectly associate Florimell’s flight with one aspect of Britomart’s more complex and ambivalent response to erotic experience.

27.1 It fortuned: Spenser characteristically equivocates between chance and providence as guiding the course of events in his poem; here the equivocation extends to the identity of the ‘high God’, who may be Jupiter, given the predominance in Book III of the classical pantheon. ‘It fortuned’ is also the first of several echoes that link this and the following stanzas to I.vi.20-21 (20.1, ‘It fortuned a noble warlike knight’).
hoving: floating
shallop: A small boat used to navigate shallow waters
27.8 shallop: Cf. the ‘Gondelay’ (gondola, II.vi.2.7) described at II.vi.5.1 as Phaedria’s ‘shallow ship’.
floting strand: Transferred epithet: strand near which the boat is floating.
forward hope: anticipated success
28.2 forward hope: The beast’s ‘forward hope’ is a counterpart to the tendency of Florimell’s terror to ‘wex areare’ (24.9)
idle: empty, useless
28.8-28.9 28.7-9 See I.vi.19.8-9n. The worship of Una by fauns and satyrs is less rapacious than the beast’s lust for flesh, but the comparable ease with which the animal is substituted for the rider in each situation implies a latent continuity between forms of idolatry. The echo also anticipates Sir Satyrane, who first appeared in canto vi of Book I and whose impending arrival here will mark the transition between episodes.

st. 29-61

The narrative leaves Florimell afloat in the shallop with a sleeping fisherman; her story will be resumed in canto viii.

lich: Archaic form of ‘like’; to the ‘goodly Swaine’, seeming and being are the same labor.
unfilde: unpolished
compilde: constructed
30.6 For the parentage and upbringing to which the knight’s shield and coat of arms refer, see I.vi.20-30.
greedily: As a half-satyr, Sir Satyrane is, like his armor, somewhat unrefined, a figure whose humanity and noble intentions coexist with a strong alloy of animal spirits. (At I.vi.22-23 we learn that Satyrane’s father raped his mother and held her in sexual captivity until the son was born). That he runs ‘greedily’ to encounter the beast suggests that he shares some of its nature; cf. ‘forward hope’ (28.2) and ‘greedily long gaping’ (28.4).

st. 31

See 28.7-9 and note above. The beast substitutes the palfrey for its rider; Sir Satyrane infers the reverse of this substitution, fearing that the palfrey ‘rent without remorse’ (31.3) indicates a similar fate for its rider.

31.6-31.7 31.6-7 Contrast 29.6-7: ‘in . . . courtly services tooke no delight’. Satyrane’s services to Florimell are chivalric: knightly rather than courtly.

31.8-9 her golden girdle: Florimell’s girdle, or ‘cestus’, has an elaborate classical genealogy. It was customary in Greek antiquity for a bride to wear a marriage girdle (κεστός kestos) which the groom would loosen on the wedding-night. The loosening of the girdle in Homer is similarly a prelude to sexual intercourse when Poseidon, impersonating the river-god Enipeus, lies with Tyro: ‘And he loosed her maiden girdle, and shed sleep upon her. But when the god had ended his work of love, he clasped her hand’ (Od 11.246-47). Homer’s Venus wears a girdle that embodies her power of arousing desire; Hera borrows it under false pretenses to seduce Zeus (Il 14.214-21). In Ovid, Ceres learns her daughter Persephone’s fate when the nymph Cyane shows her the girdle that fell from Persephone when she was carried by Dis into the underworld (Met 5.470). Spenser will supplement this history with his own invention when the girdle reappears in Book IV (v.3-6).

Florimell’s chastity remains intact, but the loss of her girdle, like the fate of her palfrey (see st 31n), presents Sir Satyrane with an ominous sign ‘that did him sore apall’ (31.9; cf. 35.5-6, ‘the implacable wrong, / Which he supposed donne to Florimell’).

corrupted flesh: Cf. vi.32.7, ‘sinfull mire’, and vi.33.4, ‘Fleshly corruption’. These echoes identify the beast with flesh as the lodging-place of original sin. (On the Pauline conception of ‘the flesh’ see Introduction 00).
32.8-9 The beast resembles both Furor (II.iv.6-10) and Maleger (II.xi.35-46) in drawing strength from opposition. See 30.9n for the suggestion that the Beast is allegorically a part of Sir Satyrane’s own nature, a suggestion sustained by the ambiguous pronouns of st. 32 and 33 as well as by the association of the beast with the flesh (32.6n).
thresh: thrash, beat with a flail
32.9 thresh: As harvest-labor, this threshing anticipates in its futility the agricultural simile of st. 34.
33.3-33.4 33.3-4 See 32.8-9n. All three episodes linked through these echoes involve knights in combat with misrecognized elements of their own fallen nature.

33.5-9 In ‘Hurling his sword away’ Sir Satyrane imitates Arthur’s combat with Maleger (II.xi.41.6-7), except that he throws his sword ‘furiously’ rather than ‘lightly’ (II.xi.41.7). He leaps ‘lightly’ onto the beast, but in so doing becomes its rider, a situation that recalls the ambiguous mirroring between Florimell and her palfrey as Satyrane grows ‘enrag’d’ while the beast ‘Rored, and raged’. An element of burlesque enters into the scene as the frustrated knight heaps strokes on an ‘underkept’ bestial element (33.8) that belongs partly to his own nature: thus the ‘great cruelty’ with which the beast roars refers at once to its suffering and to Satyrane’s punitive violence (see 35.7).

Cf. Boiardo’s description of Orlando in combat with a dragon: Al fin con molto ardir gli salta addosso, / E calvalcando tra le coscie il tiene; / Ferendo ad ambe mano, a gran tempesta / Colpi raddoppia a colpi in su la testa (OI II.iv.19.5-8, ‘At last, he mounts its back. He holds / It by his thighs. He rides. He’s bold. / His two hands flail—a hurricane. / He hits its head. He hits again’).

st. 34

The simile in this stanza expands a proverb echoed in Guyon’s combat with Furor at II.iv.11.9: ‘The bankes are overflowne, when stopped is the flood’ (Smith 1970, no. 731). It also echoes the simile comparing Maleger’s arrows to ‘a great water flood’ at II.xi.18.4-9, and recalls the contrasting simile of the ‘fire, the which in hollow cave / Hath long bene underkept’ that describes Arthur’s resurgence in that battle (32.1-2). All three passages echo Ovid’s description of the wrath of the Theban king Pentheus: Sic ego torrentem, qua nil obstabat eunti, / Lenius et modico strepitu decurrere vidi; / At quacumque trabes obstructaque saxa tenebant, / Spumeus et fervens et ab obice saevior ibat (‘So have I seen a river, where nothing obstructed its course, flow smoothly on with but a gentle murmur; but, where it was held in check by dams of timber and stone set it its way, foaming and boiling it went, fiercer for the obstruction’; Met 3.568-71). The allusion to Ovid comes to Spenser by way of Ariosto’s description of Ruggiero’s anger in a confrontation with Mandricard (OF 26.111).

enclose: Contain; Hamilton notes that this synonym (in OED sense 11a, ‘To restrain, hold in, keep in check; to hold back, keep back, hinder [from an action, etc.]’) would perfect the otherwise un-enclosed b-rhyme. Cf. A Vewe, ‘to Contayne the / unrulye people from a thowsand evill occasions’ (lines 460-61).
his wonted mood: Half-personifying the flood, whose usual water-line is figured as ‘his’ normal affective state. This momentary internalization of the flood’s ‘violence’ (34.2) sustains the pattern of hints linking Sir Satyrane to his beastly opponent (see 32.8-9n, 33.3-4n).
34.4-34.5 34.4-5 Hamilton associates Florimell, adrift at sea and then imprisoned underwater (canto viii), with the ‘fruitfull plaine’ overflown, noting that the setting for the action is a tideland.
Maine: sea

34.7-9 Spenser’s ‘wofull husbandman’ has a number of antecedents, including the villan (peasant) in Ariosto’s version of the obstructed-river simile (st 34n). Another Ariostan precedent appears in the description of the fall of Bizerta:

Con quell furor che ‘l re de’ fiumi altiero, quando rompe talvolta argini e sponde, e e che nei campi Ocnei s’apre il sentiero, e i grassi solchi e le biade feconde, e con le sue capanne il gregge intiero, e coi cani i pastor porta ne l’onde . . . . (OF 40.31.1-6)

‘It was as when the Po, proud king of rivers, goes on the rampage: he breaks his banks, forces his passage into the fields of Ocnus where he carries away in his flood the fertile ploughland and fruitful crops, entire flocks complete with their sheepfolds, herdsmen and sheep-dogs all pell-mell’.

Together these Ariostan similes match the double inflection of Spenser’s flood as at once an internal state (34.3n) and an external event compared to physical combat. Behind all three passages lies Ovid’s description of the flood with which Jove destroys the human race. Spenser’s lines are much closer to the Ovidian original than to either of Ariosto’s imitations of it: sternuntur segetes et deplorata coloni / volta iacent, longique perit labor inritus anni (‘The standing grain is overthrown; the crops which have been the object of the farmer’s prayers lie ruined; and the hard labor of the previous year has come to naught’; Met 1.272-73).

idle boone: vain gift or offering
So him he held: The simile undercuts the assertion. Dodge 1897 thought that ‘Spenser’s comparison is imperfect, since the Beast is finally subdued—a good example of his indifference to exact illustration’ (201), but the dissonance within the similitude may suggest that Sir Satyrane’s victory over the beast is less complete than it seems.
amate: Quell; but cf. II.ix.34.4 for the alternative sense ‘To be a fellow or mate to; to be a match for, to match, equal’ (OED). For Spenser’s tendency to play on the various meanings of ‘mate’ and ‘amate’, see SC Dec 53 (‘Love they him called, that gave me checkmate’) and FQ I.i.51.4 (‘the blind God, that doth me thus amate’) and ix.12.2 (‘my selfe now mated, as ye see’).
35.7 Another hint of reciprocity between Sir Satyrane and the beast. Whereas earlier the beast grew stronger as the knight weakened ‘through infirmity’ (33.3-4), now the knight seeks to prolong his assault even though the Beast is submitting ‘meekely . . . unto the victor strong’.
36.1-36.4 36.1-4 On the girdle, see 31.8-9n; Satyrane’s use of it to bind the beast develops its significance as an emblem of ‘chaste’ or well-governed desire. Unlike the anonymous ‘he that strives’ without success to ‘enclose’ the flood in the preceding simile (34.1-2), the girdle represents not a complete repression of desire but a channeling of it in marriage: it is made both to bind and, at the right time, to be loosened.
36.5-36.9 36.5-9 The beast’s binding and submission recall St. George’s use of the princess’s girdle in The Golden Legend: after overthrowing the dragon, George ‘sayd to the mayde / delyver to me your gyrdel and bynde hit about the necke of the dragon / and be not aferde / whan she had doon soo the dragon folowed hyr as it had been a make [ie, meek] beest and debonayr’ (tr Caxton: EEBO image 165, foL Clvii).
like a lambe: Recalls the opening of Book I, where Una leads a lamb ‘in a line’ (I.i.4.9). The Golden Legend is a precursor to both episodes: Una accompanies the lamb because she too is a sacrificial figure. The townspeople in the St. George legend, running low on sheep, switch from offering the dragon two sheep to offering one sheep and a child. St. George arrives to rescue the king’s daughter when her lot is chosen.

st. 37

The Giantess bearing a captive squire reverses the image of Dis carrying away Persephone (see 31.8-9n), and seems to contrast with the beast as a figure of female rather than male lust. As such she and her victim travesty the maternal eroticism of Venus cherishing Adonis in the Garden. The episode qualifies any simple gendering of its contrasts, however: the beast was created by a female ‘maker’ (35.9) and is bound with an emblem of feminine chastity in marriage, while the ‘bold knight’ who pursues the Giantess (37.4; ‘He’ at 43.8), and who alone can threaten her, will be revealed as an armed virago on horseback, like Britomart. This reversal, akin to the moments when Britomart is mistaken for a male, may be echoed in the name ‘Argante’ (47.2) if it alludes to the male knight in Argantes in Tasso.

cords of wire: As Hamilton notes, ‘wire’ is a term Spenser normally reserves to describe women’s hair, e.g. Belphoebe’s ‘yellow lockes crisped, like golden wyre’ (II.iii.30.1). For the conventional trope that turns such golden ‘locks’ into literal fetters, see Am 37.
38.2 38.2 In his haste to rescue the ‘dolefull Squire’ (37.6) from female lust, Satyrane forfeits the hard-won control he has just gained over male lust.
cast: meant
nathemore for thy: ‘None the more for that’, i.e. Satyrane’s opposition doesn’t cause the Giantess to miss a beat.
Goshauke: a common species of large hawk
Culver: dove
stouping: diving in attack
quarrey: prey, i.e. the culver
Geauntesse: This spelling may allude to the mythic origin of giants as offspring of the earth (Gea; cf. SpE s.v. ‘giants’).
stare: in ME usage, ‘to shine’
39.9 39.9 Alluding to the pre-Reformation theology which saw oaths and curses, because they typically index some part of God’s body (e.g. ‘swounds’ = ‘his wounds’), as literally dismembering that body.
bannes: curses
yron mace: The giant Orgoglio wields an uprooted oak tree as ‘His mortall mace’ (I.vii.10.9).
sun-brode shield: Guyon bears a ‘sunbroad shield’ at II.ii.21.5.
40.4-40.5 40.4-5 Satyrane’s spear strikes the Giantess’s shield but does not pierce it.
beame: shaft
40.6 beame: Cf. 1 Sam 17:7: ‘And the shafte of his [Goliath’s] speare was like a weavers beame’.
like a mast: Tasso describes the Saracen knights Argantes and Tancred as bearing noderose antenne (‘knotty masts’) for lances (GL 6.40.2).
brast: burst
41.4-41.9 41.4-9 Spenser here (as at Rome 20) confuses Mount Olympus with the city of Olympia, an error he may derive from Conti Myth 5.1 (see Lotspeich 1932, s.v. ‘Olympus’). The ‘marble Pillour’ is the turning post in a chariot-race. In the Iliad Nestor advises his son Antilochus, τῷ σὺ μάλ᾽ ἐγχρίμψας ἐλάαν σχεδὸν ἅρμα καὶ ἵππους . . . ἐν νύσσῃ δέ τοι ἵππος ἀριστερὸς ἐγχριμφθήτω, /ὡς ἄν τοι πλήμνη γε δοάσσεται ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι / κύκλου ποιητοῖο: λίθου δ᾽ ἀλέασθαι ἐπαυρεῖν, /μή πως ἵππους τε τρώσῃς κατά θ᾽ ἅρματα ἄξῃς; tō su mal’ henchrimpsas helaan sxedon harma kai hippous . . . en nussē de toi hippos aristeros enchrimphthetō, / hōs an toi plēmnē ge doassetai akron hikesthai / kuklou poiētoio: lithou d’ aleasthai epaurein, / mē pōs hippous te trōsēs kata th’ harmata haxēs (‘Pressing hard on it drive your chariot and horses close . . . let the near horse draw close to the post so that the hub of the wheel seems to graze the surface–but avoid touching the stone, lest perhaps you wound your horses and wreck your chariot’; 23.334-41). Ovid, Ars Amatoria, recalls this passage in the line Metaque ferventi circueunda rota (‘the goal that the glowing wheels must round’; 396), as does Horace in referring to metaque fervidis / evitata rotis (‘the turning-post cleared with glowing wheel’; Odes 1.1.4-5).
martelled: Hammered. The ‘martel de fer’ (war-hammer) was a type of mace; Ariosto uses this word to describe Ruggiero hammering on Rodomont in the single-combat that culminates OF (46.131.3).
n’ote: ‘ne mote’, might not
42.9 42.9 The sexual innuendo is appropriate to a knight of female lust.

43.1-3 The combination of alliteration and repetition (‘him pluckt perforse, / Perforse him pluckt’) underlines the comedy of the moment; if the first episode in this canto plays with motifs of exaggeration and diminution (see 5.2n), the image of Satyrane plucked from his saddle by a giantess evokes a humorously literal incongruity of proportions: the knight who moments ago wielded a spear ‘in bignes like a mast’ (40.6) suddenly seems as small as a child.

The humor is reinforced by the Virgilian allusion, which adds yet another gender-reversal. In the Aeneid Tarchon, infuriated by the exploits of the virago Camilla, berates his own troops by questioning their virility, whereupon haec effatus equum in medios, moriturus et ipse, / concitat et Venulo adversum se turbidus infert / dereptumque ab equo dextra complectitur hostem / et gremium ante suum multa vi concitus aufert (‘he spurs his horse into the midst, ready himself also to die, and charges like a whirlwind full upon Venulus; then tearing the foe from his steed, grips him with his right hand, clasps him to his breast, and spurring with might and main, carries him off’; 11.741-44). This allusion may be routed through Berni’s 1542 imitation of the Virgilian passage: In questo temp il gigante Orione / Preso sene portava Ricciardetto, / Lo teneva pe’ piedi il ribaldone: / Chiamava forte ajuto il giovanetto’ (‘At that moment the giant Orione carried off the captured Ricciardetto; the large evil man held him by the feet, the young man cried loudly for help’; Rifacimento dell’Orlando innamorato

43.2 his wavering seat: Transferred epithet: ‘the seat in which he was wavering’.
43.4-43.5 43.4-5 Satyrane now replaces the ‘dolefull Squire’ in the giantess’s lap (37.6).
43.6-43.9 43.6-9 See st. 37n. The pursuit of a fleeing Argante by the still-unnamed ‘knight’ forms a series with the earlier pursuits in Book III: that of Florimell, first by Arthur and Guyon, then by the witch’s beast, and that of the Forster by Timias. In each instance, the relation of pursuer to pursued raises questions about the relation of chastity to desire (see III.i.arg.2n).
44.2 Repeats her previous discarding of the ‘dolefull Squire’ at 38.9.
44.7-44.9 44.7-45.2 Continuing the facetious tone of the episode (see 43.1-3n).
45.1-45.2 44.7-45.2 Continuing the facetious tone of the episode (see 43.1-3n).
45.5 chevisaunce: Identified in SC Maye 92 gloss as a Chaucerian term for chivalric achievement, particularly as it leads to reward.
styre: stir
yron bands: Formerly ‘cords of wire’ (37.8).
47.2 Argante: The name of Spenser’s giantess may come from Tasso GL, where Argantes is a Saracen knight (see 40.6n); from Boccaccio Genealogia 4.16, which lists ‘Argente’ among the names of Hyperion’s daughter Luna; or from Layamon’s Brut, where it refers to the elven queen of Avalon (2.750; see Anderson 2008: 127-30). Frantz in SpE suggests a derivation ‘from Gk αργός argos ‘shining’ or ‘swift’, with a suffix underscoring her gigantism’; Anderson proposes the relevance of the Gk homonym meaning ‘idle’, ‘yielding no return’.
47.3-47.5 47.3-5 The wars of the Titans and giants against Jove are narrated in Hesiod (Theog 617-35) and Ovid (Met 1.151-63) and discussed by Renaissance mythographers (whose accounts vary). See Lotspeich (1932, s.v. ‘Giants’, ‘Titans’); Starnes and Talbert (1955:74-75); and SpE s.v. ‘Titans’.
47.6-47.8 47.6-8 Cf. ‘Typhæus sister’ at Theatre sonn 11.4 and note. Virgil mentions Typhoeus among the giants borne partu . . . nefando (Georg 1.279, ‘in monstrous labor’) from the earth. In Ovid the daughters of Pierus, challenging the Muses to a singing-match, celebrate the exploits of terrigenam . . .Typhoea (Met 5.325: ‘Typhoeus, sprung from the lowest depths of earth’) in the battle of the gods and giants. The story of Typhoeus’s incestuous union with Gea is Spenser’s invention, embedded in the etymology that links ‘incest’ to unchastity (L incestum); these in turn are opposed to Florimell’s girdle by way of an implicit etymological pun linking L castus chaste, to cestus (see 31.8-9n and 36.1-4n).
48.2-48.4 48.2-4 Ollyphant: The name comes from Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Thopas: the titular knight journeys to Fairyland, where he encounters ‘a greet geaunt’ whose ‘name was sire Olifaunt’ (7.807-08). In La Chanson de Roland, ‘Oliphant’ is the name of Roland’s ivory horn, carved from an elephant tusk. Anderson 2008 adds the suggestion ‘destructive fantasy’, from Gk ὄλλύω holluō (‘destroy’) + φαντασία phantasia (‘imagination’) (page ref), drawing on Berger 1988, who suggests ‘an etymological cypher composed of the Greek ollumi--“to die, destroy, lose something”--and phant, that is, “destructive fantasy”’ (186).
Ollyphant: ‘Elephant’
48.4 Chylde: In ballads and romances, an honorific title for a high-born youth intending knighthood. In 1596 this line reads ‘And many hath to foule confusion brought’, perhaps because Chaucer’s Sir Thopas does not slay Olifaunt before the tale is broken off.
Chylde: In ballads and romances, an honorific title for a high-born youth intending knighthood. In 1596 this line reads ‘And many hath to foule confusion brought’, perhaps because Chaucer’s Sir Thopas does not slay Olifaunt before the tale is broken off.
confusion: destruction
48.5-48.9 48.5-9 The in utero copulation of foetal giants reenacts—and redoubles—the incest of their conception; as a fable of ‘monstrous’ birth, it travesties the account of Amoret and Belphoebe at vi.2-4. These two fables of conception and parturition frame between them the cosmic allegory of insemination, gestation, and parturition in the Garden of Adonis.
lightsom: bright (as opposed to the darkness of the womb)
yfere: together
49.4-49.5 to devoure / Her native flesh: See 22.8-9n on the trope of lust as carnivorous.
50.2 thrust: Thirst (by metathesis); the sexual connotations of ‘thrust’ are also evoked.

st. 51-61

This inset narrative is adapted from the Inkeeper’s tale in Ariosto OF 28. An anecdote, perhaps apocryphal, holds that John Harington translated the tale and circulated it among the ladies in the royal court. Elizabeth is said to have ‘punished’ him by barring him from the court until he had finished translating the rest of the poem (Park 1804, 1.10). When Harington published the completed translation in 1591, he took note of Spenser’s imitation:

The hosts tale in the xx viij booke of this worke, is a bad one: M. Spencers tale of the squire of Dames, in his excellent Poem of the Faery Queene, in the end of the vii. Canto of the third booke, is to the like effect, sharpe and well conceited; in substance thus, that his Squire of Dames could in three yeares travell, find but three women that denyed his lewed desire: of which three, one was a courtesan, that rejected him because he wanted coyne for her: the second a Nun, who refused him because he would not swear secreacie, the third a plain countrey Gentlewoman, that of good honest simplicitie denyed him. (373)

Spenser’s imitation may allude to Harington’s escapade, but the anecdote serves even if apocryphal to illustrate the point of Spenser’s allegory, which calls attention to the circumstances of the tale’s telling and reception, and in this way reflects critically upon its circulation as a tale that is recurrently both disavowed and retold.

51.6 Columbell: Cotgrave 1611 defines Fr colombelle as ‘a Pigeon, or yong dove’; L columba dove + bella pretty. The dove is sacred to Venus.
mistreth not: is not necessary
51.9 Squyre of Dames: Coined by Spenser, perhaps alluding humorously to the office of the ‘Squire of the body’, who attended to the person of the monarch or other dignitary. In later usage, a disparaging phrase for a man devoted to the company of women.
martiall law: Commonly a reference to measures imposed to secure public order, but probably here the sense is ‘law of arms’, the chivalric code of combat.
52.6 Palladine: From ‘Pallas’, one of the epithets of Athena, and Fr paladin, knight errant, originally one of the twelve peers of Charlemagne; by extension, any famous champion.
52.8-52.9 52.8-9 Similarly, Satyrane must use Florimell’s girdle, a symbol of female chastity, to bind the ‘Hyena of Lust’ at 36.1-4.
53.1-53.3 53.1-3 The transition pointedly contrasts the quest that ‘well beseemes’ Palladine with the less seemly exploits of the Squire, introduced with a plea that the hearer ‘pardon all amis’ (53.5).
read: declare
ywis: certainly
53.5 53.5 Compare Ariosto’s elaborate disavowal of the Host’s tale, OF 28.1-3, and Harington’s repeated apologies for it (Preface ¶7, Canto 28 Arg, Canto 43 notes).
53.6-53.7 serve . . . servicis: Key words in the tale that follows, deriving from chivalric usage in which a lover’s subservience to his lady is modeled on the fealty of a vassal to his liege lord. The exact nature of the lover’s ‘servicis’ traditionally lend these terms a moral ambiguity (in husbandry a male animal is said to ‘serve’ the female), which the Squire’s narrative quickly exploits (see e.g. 54.6, 55.1).
her grace: In courtly usage, a term whose ambiguity resembles that of ‘service’. It may refer to the favor of a sovereign or other lord (by analogy to the unmerited grace of the Christian god), but when this sense, already worldly, is extended by way of the fealty-analogy to a lady and her lover, the sense of ‘grace’ as sexual favors comes into play.
54.6 doe service: See 53.6-7n.
54.8-54.9 54.8-9 The lover’s subservience (53.6-7n) here turns to triumph as the ladies, represented by their names and love-tokens, are converted into trophies.
pledges: tokens of favor, e.g. handkerchiefs or other personal objects.
good partes: Personal qualities or attributes
good partes: A reference to the genitals is also implied.
55.9 55.9 Compare the double bind of the Squire’s predicament both to the custom of the Castle Joyeous (III.i.27) and to the story of the queen’s witty ‘punishment’ of Harington for circulating a translation of this very episode at court (51-61n). As Park 1804 observes, ‘such a mode of punishment . . . was increasing the nature of the offense’ (10), and in this—whether the wit in question is that of Elizabeth or of some later fabricator—it plays upon the perversity of Colombell’s commandments.
56.1-56.2 56.1-2 In taking him all over the world, the knight’s ‘labour’ and ‘travel’/traveill’ anticipate Sir Satyrane’s jesting comparison to the labors of Hercules (61.4).
57.1-57.5 57.1-5 In the Orlando furioso, Astolfo and Jacondo find none at all.
stayd: settled in character
laughing: A sign of Satyrane’s complicity in the bawdy tale’s circulation, his laughter (like his bantering tone in the lines that follow) confirms that he is ‘pleasd to pardon all amis’ (53.5).
curtesie: Sir Satyrane joins the game of euphemism and double-entendre that characterizes the diction of the Squire’s tale.
Courtisane: courtly prostitute
58.2 Courtisane: Playing on ‘curtesie’ (57.7).
to have adoe: have sexual intercourse
58.4 a Jane: A small silver half-pence coin, like the tale itself introduced to England from Italy. Chaucer’s Sir Thopas wears a robe that ‘coste many a Jane’ (CT Thopas 7.735).
58.5 58.5 See 57.5n; Satyrane’s complicity increases as the tale unfolds.
to chose: It is unclear whether the ‘choice’ glanced at is that of the woman who elected the nunnery or that of the listener (‘if you please’).
Chappellane: Chaplain, a clergyman who conducts services in the private chapel of a noble household or other institution; the implication is that the Squire has offered to conduct yet another form of ‘service’ (see 53.6-7n) in her ‘private chapel’.
maintenaunce: condition; means of subsistence
Safe: except for
handsome: convenient

st. 61

Satyrane’s facetious comparison of the Squire’s quest to the labors of Hercules (61.4) gains irony from the proverbial ‘Choice of Hercules’, a classical exemplum of virtue supplied by Xenophon (Memorabilia 2.1.21-33). Satyrane may slso be thinking of Pausanius, who reports: ‘Hercules, they say, had intercourse with the fifty daughters of Thestius, except one, in a single night’ (Description of Greece 9.27.6).

Perdy: ‘By God’
hent: taken
61.4-61.5 61.4-5 The abruptness of the transition back to the main narrative, accentuated by the couplet rhyme, implies that Satyrane’s complicity in the Squire’s discursive unchastity (the circulation of a libidinous tale) causes the beast to break the girdle: in effect, his laughter has freed the beast.
broke his band: When the beast returns to the witch in canto viii he is still ‘Tyde with her golden girdle’ (2.7); in 1596 ‘golden’ becomes ‘broken’ for consistency’s sake—but the girdle still reappears at IV.ii.25.9 worn by Satyrane ‘for her sake’, a detail which may be simple narrative inconsistency but which aligns suggestively with other hints of an affinity between the knight and the beast.
Carle: churl (the fisherman)
Proteus: Sea-god known as a prophet (iv.25), shape-shifter, and shepherd of Neptune’s aquatic flocks; prominent in a wide range of classical texts (see Lotspeich 1965; Giamatti 1984:115-50).
Paridell: From ‘Paris’, the Trojan prince whose abduction and adulterous love of Helen occasioned the Trojan War; the termination is conventional but in the context of canto ix may gather in echoes of ‘idle’ and ‘idol’; cf. 11.2-3 and notes.
meere: utter
causelesse of her owne accord: through no fault of her own
whom I write upon: about whom I write
1.4 whom I write upon: The incongruous image of the poet literally writing on the damsel’s body may—by humorously questioning his relation to the character—emphasize the recurrence in lines 1-3 of a markedly Chaucerian comic pathos as the narrator pretends to stand outside the story he tells, a hapless witness to its events (cf. I.iii.1-2). In a more sinister vein the image anticipates Busirane’s penmanship in canto xii (31.2-4).
plonged: Florimell will be literally submerged in the action of canto viii. With the compassionate melting of the narrator’s heart in line 2, the ‘affliction’ appears to be an internal condition that flows between characters as well as an external set of circumstances. Florimell’s immersion recalls and literalizes Britomart’s apostrophe in III.iv to a ‘sea of sorrow’ that is similarly both inside and outside her (see iv.7.6 and 8.1 notes).
affliction: Suffering, but the derivation from L affligere carries the etymological sense ‘cast down’, something both the fisherman and Proteus do to Florimell in the action of canto viii.
hart of stone: Alluding to the Biblical and Petrarchan trope of writing on the heart (2 Cor 3:3; Ezek 11:19, 36:26; RS 72), which must be softened to receive an imprint—a recurring topos in Book III. Here it reinforces the literal sense of its rhyming-partner ‘whom I write upon’.
finde: Ellipsis: ‘find it within itself to’; ‘find means to’; also, as Hamilton suggests, ‘invent’ in the rhetorical sense, referring once again to the poet’s agency as the author of her grief.
repriefe: reproof
th’abridgement of her fate: ‘The shortening of her lifespan’ (determined by the fates).
2.7-2.9 2.7-9 Compare the similar conjectures of Satyrane at vii.31.4-5 and 35.5-6 and of the witch’s son at 3.3-7 below. This element of the story may have been suggested by Ovid’s account of Pyramus and Thisbe (Met 4.55-166, esp. 96-108).
2.7 2.7 See vii.61.7n.
3.4 His former griefe: See vii.20.
3.5-3.6 3.5-6 ‘Would have torn his heart entirely out of his breast’; ‘would by all means have torn his heart out of his breast’.
dempt: deemed
misledd: elided, ‘himself’
a secret mew: See vii.22.1, ‘her hidden cave’.
4.4-4.9 4.4-9 Entertaining spirits in her cave, the witch is reminiscent of both Merlin (III.iii) and Archimago (I.i). As ‘maisters of her art’, the spirits are her mentors: although she has the power to ‘conjure [them] upon eternall paine’, she needs their counsel.
so carefully dismayd: so daunted with care.

st. 5

Spenser’s story of the false Florimell may have been inspired by a classical narrative (attributed to the Greek poet Stesichorus and taken up by Euripides in his play Helen) according to which Paris absconded to Troy with a phantom while the real Helen remained in Egypt under the protection of King Proteus (Roche 1964:152-67). Given the prominence of the sea-god Proteus in Florimell’s adventures, and the immediate proximity of these adventures to Spenser’s fabliau-treatment of the Helen story in canto ix, an allusion does seem likely.

5.1 advise: Given the proximity of ‘deviz’d’ in the next line, we accept 1596 ‘advise’ in place of 1590 ‘device’ as correcting a printer’s error.
5.3-5.6 5.3-6 A similar rivalry between art and nature is prominent in the Bower of Bliss, where the seductive powers of art are linked to the influence that ‘guilefull semblants’ (II.xii.48.6) wield over the fantasy. The Bower thus offers an implicit genealogy for the false Florimell, one that traces her effect on male characters to her status as a sexual fantasy. See 7.9n.
5.9 So lively and so like: Echoing Archimago’s creation of the false Una in the opening canto of Book I (45.2-5). The emphasis on the false Florimell’s similarity to her original plays against the assertion that her ‘like on earth was never framed yit’: she is remarkably like Florimell, but nothing is like her. The reference to the ‘many’ taken in by her appearance anticipates the action of IV.v.

st. 6

Spenser’s description of the false Florimell’s creation implies a combination of alchemy and witchcraft: Mercury is a staple of alchemical processes, and the witch’s journey to a distant mountain-range famous for its snow recalls Medea’s nine-day journey to gather magical herbs on Ossa, Pelion, Othrys, Pindus, and Olympus (Ovid Met 7.216-36). These arcane practices are fused in a parodic literalization of the Petrarchan blazon, which inventories the physical beauties of a mistress by way of far-fetched similitudes. Compare Spenser’s handling of this convention in Amoretti (e.g. 15, 17, and 21), where he acknowledges in the opening sonnet that his beloved ‘derived is’ from Helicon, the haunt of the Muses. The allegory of poetic invention implied in the creation of the false Florimell may be recognized by Ralegh, who imitates Spenser’s fiction (unless Spenser is imitating him; the dating of Ralegh’s poem is uncertain) in a lyric found in different forms in two early seventeenth-century manuscript miscellanies:

Nature, that washt her hands in milke and had forgott to dry them, Instead of earth tooke snow and silke at love’s request to try them, If she a mistress could compose to please loves fancy out of those. (Rudick 1999: 113)

Cf. the contrast between true beauty and ‘mixture made / Of colours faire, and goodly temp’rament / Of pure complexions’ in HB 64-98.

massy mould: solid form
6.4 the Riphœan hils: A mountain range mentioned by various classical authorities (and Renaissance dictionaries, e.g. Thomas Cooper 1565) who differ as to its location but agree that it is blanketed in snow.
Mercury: In alchemy, the prima materia from which substances are formed.
vermily: vermilion
6.8 vermily: A scarlet color derived from cinnabar, the ore from which mercury is extracted. In simulating a ‘lively sanguine . . . to the eye’ it creates a false erotic appeal, since sanguine (blood) was the humor whose predominance was thought to signify an amorous disposition.
arret: assign
7.3 arret: Cf. 10.9, ‘in charge to her ordain’d’. OED identifies this sense as ‘a false use of Spenser’s, due to misunderstanding the obs. arrett to the charge of ’.
golden wyre: Cf. the ‘cords of wire’ that bind the Squire of Dames at vii.37.8.
not so yellow thryse: not even a third as yellow

the carcas dead: Implying that sexual desire for mere appearances might as well be necrophilia. Compare HB 82-87:

Or why doe not faire pictures like powre shew, In which oftimes, we Nature see of Art Exceld, in perfect limming every part. But ah, beleeve me, there is more than so That workes such wonders in the minds of men.

st. 8

As a female impersonator, the witch’s ‘wicked Spright’ may glance at the Elizabethan theater’s practice of training boys to play women’s roles.

8.3 8.3 See Rev 12:3-9. Explicitly Christian references—as opposed to Biblical echoes and allusions—are infrequent after Book I, as the legends of Temperance and Chastity typically unfold in a classical and pagan world. For the most conspicuous exception to this tendency, see II.viii.1-8.
somewhyle: some time ago
Him needed not instruct: he needed no instruction
to fashion: Spenser’s preferred verb for the activity of poetic making; see III.ii.16.9n.
gest: bearing
counterfesaunce: Counterfeiting, from Fr contrefaisance.
8.9 Cf. the narrator’s reference at xii.26.3-4 to ‘phantasies / In wavering wemens witt, that none can tell’. The male spright who so well knows the wiles (if not the fantasies) of ‘wemens wits’ is himself the author and performer of misogynistic tropes of femininity.
9.1-9.3 9.1-3 The shift from ‘Him shaped’ to ‘her saw’ calls attention to Spenser’s usual practice as illustrated (for instance) at i.4.3, where Britomart, dressed in armor, is referred to as ‘him’: gender refers to a socially encoded appearance, not to essence or anatomy. This emphasis on the viewer’s experience echoes the description of Archimago’s disguise at I.ii.11.9: ‘Saint George himselfe ye would have deemed him to be.’
9.4-9.5 9.4-5 See 5.3-9 and notes.
algate: by any means
9.8-9.9 9.8-9 See 5.9n.
Tho: then
fast: suggests both ‘quickly’ and ‘firmly’
hight: was called
10.4-10.7 10.4-7 At v.53-54 the narrator enjoins his female readers to ‘frame’ to themselves ‘a faire ensample’ of Belphoebe’s incomparable chastity. Here the imitation of Florimell’s chastity amounts to parody, as the behavior, emptied of its ethical content, is strategically deployed to mimic Florimell while holding out false hope to the Churl. Meanwhile ‘retain’d’ seems to modify the absent grammatical subject of ‘clipping’, ‘joyed’, and ‘forgot’: as the Churl loses himself in his infatuation with a fantasy, he literally disappears from the syntax of lines 1-7.
rebutted: repulsed
10.5 rebutted: Elsewhere used in descriptions of armed combat, e.g. I.ii.15.9.
shadowes: false appearances
10.8 shadowes: Britomart complains at ii.44.3 that in loving an image she is condemned to ‘feed on shadowes, whiles I die for food’. The Churl, in pointed contrast, dies for shadows.
Idole: Object of adoration, with a secondary sense of ‘likeness’: as a simulacrum of merely physical beauty, the False Florimell is an idol twice over. The term has considerable resonance. In the Iliad Homer says that ‘Apollo of the silver bow fashioned a wraith [eidolon] in the likeness of Aeneas’ self and in armour like to his’ (5.449-50: αὐτὰρ ὃ εἴδωλον τεῦξ᾽ ἀργυρότοξος Ἀπόλλων / αὐτῷ τ᾽ Αἰνείᾳ ἴκελον καὶ τεύχεσι τοῖον; autar ho eidōlon teux’ argurotoxos Apollōn / autō t’ Aineia ikelon kai teuxesi toion). The book of Leviticus contains repeated warnings against the making of ‘idoles’ (19:4, 26:1, 26:30), echoed in the Wisdom of Solomon 15:4-6.
idle: Echoing ‘Idole’ in the preceding line to mock the emptiness and vanity of the Churl’s idolatry.
despaire: Used ironically; Braggaddocchio has no ‘hope’ of military exploits because he is cheerfully void of the desire to perform them (as a knight, he’s hopeless).
11.8 Proud Braggadocchio: Last seen in II.iii alternately hiding from Belphoebe and trying to assault her; see notes to arg.1 and 10.1 in that canto. The last of these links Braggadocchio to Ariosto’s Mandricardo, whose abduction of Doralice (OF 14.38-63) is parodied in Braggadocchio’s seizure of the False Florimell.
credit: reputation
disparagement: Misalliance (from Fr parage, ‘equality of rank’).
bloody . . . boldly: Sheer hyperbole, since Braggadocchio’s spear would be about as ‘bloody’ as he is bold in attacking an unarmed peasant.
bent: aimed
silly clowne: harmless rustic
Villein: Feudal term for a serf; here, one who is basely born.
gainesay: deny
13.3-13.5 finding litle leasure . . . without stay, / And without reskew: Sustaining the facetious tone of the episode, these lines emphasize Braggadocchio’s hurry to get away with his prize, despite the lack of resistance from the Churl. Cf. 14.1-2, where the knight finds leisure to woo once he is sure there will be no pursuit.
stay: hindrance; hesitation
next to: second to
13.8-13.9 13.8-9 See the description of Florimell as ‘the fairest Dame alive’ at i.18.8, and contrast the Dwarf’s praise of her at v.8, emphasizing her chastity and virtue; Braggadocchio, congratulating himself on appearances (‘seem’d’), values the False Florimell because she enhances his prestige among other males. Meanwhile the ambiguity of the verb phrase ‘possessed of’ leaves open the possibility that the knight is as much possession as possessor: cf. van der Noot, ‘Neither meane I to touch those that are rich, or have great possessions: but those onely which are possessed of their goodes, whose money is their maister’ (Theatre, ‘A Briefe Declaration’ 86-88).
gentle purpose: Echoed by Milton, PL 4.337-38: ‘Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles / Wanted, nor youthful dalliance’.
glozing: flattering, coaxing
14.7 14.7 Cf. the emphasis on ‘seeming’ at 10.4 and 13.8.
14.6-14.9 14.6-9 For the corresponding resolve on the part of Florimell herself, see 42.1-5 below. Adapting to the chivalric pretensions of her companion, the False Florimell here elevates her chastity to a higher pitch than she used to entertain the Churl (10.4-7)—although the construction ‘as seeming’ does not distinguish between the knight’s inferences and the his lady’s performance of chastity, as these merge in the free indirect style of the narration.
reave: plunder
kindnes: Affection, sustaining the facetious tone and echoing Chaucer, LGW 665-67: ‘ye that speken of kyndenesse, / Ye men that falsly sweren many an oothe / That ye wol dye if that youre love be wroothe’.
treated: Dealt, discussed, with an ironic glance at the sense ‘negotiated’.
lay: ‘lea’, the ground
15.4 hollow lay: Its hollowness is figurative, transferred from Braggadocchio, whose hollow courage magnifies the sound of the strange knight’s horse.
Capons: castrated roosters
15.7-15.8 15.7-8 Parallel verbs link the counterfeiters: he ‘faynd’ while she ‘seemd’.
that straunger: Not named until he and the False Florimell return to the narrative at IV.ii.4.5-9.
excheat: ‘Escheat’ is a legal term for land that reverts to the lord of an estate when his tenant dies without a legal heir; on the pattern of diction that associates the False Florimell with property, see Zurcher (2007: 70-71).
16.5 ‘Undergo battle with him, without further parley’ (cf. 15.1 and note).

st. 17

There is a revealing failure of logic in Braggadocchio’s challenge to the unnamed stranger. The initial—and in Braggadocchio’s case, entirely spurious—contrast between words and blows, winning and stealing, breaks down in lines 4-5, which might be paraphrased ‘But if you want to fight, run away’—advice that Braggadocchio will himself promptly heed.

weenst: thinks
17.2-17.3 17.2-3 Cf. 13.4-5.
els: something or somewhere else
aredd: exhorted
needes thou wilt: ‘You insist that you will’, ‘you are determined to’.
tilt: jousting
mountenaunce: extent
bloody launce: Cf. 12.5; the expression grows still more incongruous in the next two lines. The ‘blood’ on Braggadocchio’s lance is purely rhetorical.
19.3-19.4 19.3-4 The ‘lovely lode’ is morally as well as physically ‘light’, hence easily transferred from knight to knight.
without abode: without delay
19.6-19.9 19.6-9 False Florimell turns the tables on her captor by entrapping him.
yode: went
carefull: sorrowful
that cruell Queene: ‘fortune straunge’
20.9 new waves: Strengthening the metaphoric link between Florimell’s misfortune, her distress, and the physical environment that mirrors these; see 1.5 and notes.
carelesly: Contrast Florimell as ‘the carefull Mariner’ at 20.3; here the mild weather lends her a false sense of security.
21.6 Dan: A respectful term of address deriving from L dominus and equivalent to Span don, Ital donno, Fr dom.
Aeolus: god of winds
droncke with drowsinesse: having slept his fill
22.2 22.2 ‘And saw his fishing-boat carried with the tide’.
22.5-22.6 22.5-6 Echoing both Florimell’s first appearance at i.16.5-7 (‘All as a blazing starre’) and Una’s unveiling at I.xii.23.1-3 (‘The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame’).
Assotted: infatuated; fooled.

st. 23-33

Spenser’s lustful fisherman imitates the assault of the old hermit upon Angelica in Ariosto, OF 8.48-50. Elements of this Ariostan episode are redistributed among several episodes in Book III: see iv.8-10, vii.21.7-23, and notes. (The Fisherman’s assault, followed by the intervention of Proteus, also parallels Una’s near-rape and rescue at I.vi.3-7.) Spenser recasts Ariosto in a number of ways: his fisherman is not impotent (25.3), and Angelica, drugged by the hermit, remains inert during his failed assault whereas Florimell fights tooth and nail.

avizing: viewing
corage: See glossary entry; spirit, but also specifically sexual arousal, as at II.xii.68.9 (where the bathing maidens show Guyon ‘many sights, that corage cold could reare’) or Chaucer CT Gen Pro 10-11 (where birds in the springtime are said to stay awake all night, ‘So priketh hem nature en hir corages’).
father: See vii.26n. Florimell’s addresses the fisherman as ‘father’ to convey humility and respect, and perhaps also to foretstall the stirrings of his ‘old corage’.
note: contraction for ‘ne mote’, may not
read: ‘tell’, in two senses: to discern and to impart
23.7 note: See glossary entry.
24.1-24.6 24.1-6 A ‘cock-bote’ is a small ship’s-boat, not for use on the open sea. As the fisher’s grinning indicates, he hears other meanings in the language of lines 2 and 4. Cf. Donne, ‘Air and Angels’ 18: ‘love’s pinnace overfraught’.
fondly: foolishly
lin: leave off
congealed: frozen
stocke: log, tree-trunk, or stem of a plant
25.3 stocke: Cf. Ariosto’s reference to the old hermit’s destrier (‘steed’) unable to raise its head (OF 8.49-50): Spenser’s fisherman apparently manages to ‘overgo’ Ariosto’s hermit (Letters 41) by achieving an erection. The rejuvenation of his ‘drie withered stocke’, considered apart from the ethical context of the action, is in itself a natural good, echoing the rejuvenation of forms in the Garden of Adonis (vi.33.1-4).
Rudely: Cf. 23.6, 25.9. The Fisherman’s assault is condemned as a breach less of morals than of manners (26.1). ‘Rudenes’ in Elizabethan usage might extend from incivility to violence bordering on the barbaric, but it also implies that these qualities, resulting from a lack of education or refinement, may be remediable; rudeness in this sense is directly opposed to the ‘gentle discipline’ in which Spenser seeks to ‘fashion’ both his characters and his readers (FQ Letter 8-10).
26.3 Proverbial (Smith 1970, no. 755) and comically apt, the metaphor at once extends the implicit concern with fashioning character and plays off the equine conceit in Ariosto.
26.6 26.6 A parodic echo of Una’s resonant exhortation to the Redcrosse knight, ‘Add faith unto your force, and be not faint’ (I.i.19.3).
Beastly: Escalating from ‘rudely’ (25.6).
spill: spoil
fill: also ‘pollute’ (‘file’, aphetic form of ‘defile’)
silly: innocent
27.6-27.9 27.6-9 The narrator’s outburst of sympathy for Florimell is undercut by the excesses he over-zealously imputes to the Faerie knights apostrophized in st. 28.
it: rescue

st. 28

Sir Satyrane was last seen at the close of the preceding canto; Peridure is not a character in FQ, though he appears in Geoffrey (9.12); Calidore will appear as the patron knight of courtesy in Book VI. The knights’ hyperbolic aggression (their imputed willingness to destroy whole kingdoms to avenge the actions of a fisherman) belongs to Spenser’s sustained interrogation of the male response to imperiled feminine beauty. In Book III this motif begins with Florimell’s first appearance (see i.18-19.2 and notes) and continues in Satyrane’s combat with the witch’s hyena-like beast, his short-circuited encounter with the giantess Argante, and his bantering complicity with the Squire of Dames, all in canto vii.

28.5 Church 1758 conjecturally emends ‘Towres’ to ‘Townes’.
29.2-29.5 29.2-5 Characteristically for the world of FQ, the ‘voluntary grace’ of a seemingly Christian ‘high God’ appears in the form of the pagan deity Proteus, whose motives are no less mixed that those of the absent knights he replaces. His ambiguous ‘rescue’ of Florimell takes the place of the Arthurian intervention found in the eighth cantos of the other books.
Proteus: scans as two syllables, ‘pro-tchus’
29.8 Proteus: Appears at iv.25-37, where Cymoent misinterprets the ‘double sences’ of his prophecy concerning her son Marinell (28.8). For Proteus as shape-shifter, see Homer Od 4.456-58 and Virgil, Georg 4.387-95, 406-10, where he must be bound and forced to prophecy instead of escaping through metamorphosis. Spenser’s ambiguous prophet in canto iv appears rather to import mutability of form into the speech act of prophecy itself. In the Renaissance, Proteus is variously allegorized as the passions (Giamatti 1984: 116) or as prime matter ‘in its infinite receptivity to form’ (Norhnberg 1976: 586).
finny drove: flock of fish
30.3 frowy: The first use attested in OED is Thomalin’s reference in the July eclogue of SC to goats that ‘like not of the frowie fede’, where E.K. glosses ‘frowye’ (as he spells it) to mean ‘mustye or mossie’. 1609 alters ‘frowy’ to ‘frory’ (frosty), which appears again at 35.2 when Proteus kisses Florimell with ‘frory lips’.
hore: ‘hoar’, white with age
30.3 hore: ‘Hoar’ sometimes means ‘moldy’, a meaning that ‘frowy’ seems to solicit, and it may recall the ME noun ‘hore’, meaning filth. The line might be paraphrased ‘An aged sire with head all moldy white’.
30.8 Phocas: Gk and L for ‘seal’. Thomas Cooper 1565 notes that Proteus is ‘the god of the sea, whom Homere nameth to be the heardmen of the fishes called Phocae’ (s.v. ‘Proteus’; cf. Od 4.404-5). Virgil refers in Georgics to Neptuno . . . immania cuius / armenta et turpis pascit sub gurgite phocas (‘Neptune, whose monstrous herds and unsightly seals he pastures beneath the wave’; 4.394-95); Spenser’s ‘scaly Phocas’ appears to conflate this description with a nearby reference to Proteus as magnum qui piscibus aequor / et iuncto bipedum curru metitur equorum (‘who traverses the mighty main in his car drawn by fishes and a team of two-footed steeds’; 4.388-89).
card: chart or compass-card, used in navigation
31.2 card: See II.vii.1. The ‘Fishers wandring bote, / That went at will’ (31.1-2) reflects his own lack of self-control, much as Phaedria’s unpiloted pleasure-craft is said at II.vi.5 to ‘slide’ according to her wishes (cf. 24.7, ‘his boat the way could wisely tell’).
frayle: tender
hayle: hale, drag
31.8 drives his heard astray: The semantic surprise of a shepherd whose staff ‘drives his heard astray’ may occasion an allegorizing of Proteus’s waywardness, or it may prompt an effort to recuperate the phrase by reading ‘heard astray’ as an eliding construction (‘heard [having gone] astray’). For evidence that one contemporary reader’s ear was caught by this forcing of the adverb in a context of sexual coercion, see Two Gentlemen of Verona, where Proteus, having compared Speed to a sheep, parries a sexual innuendo with the words ‘Nay, in that you are astray’ (1.1.104). The play contains many reminiscences of this scene from FQ.
dismay: daunt
31.9 dismay: The subject of the verb is elided and carried over from the preceding clause, ‘[he] did much dismay’).
raid: arrayed; streaked
blubbred face with teares: ‘Face blubbred with teares’; cf. I.vi.9.3.
spoyle: the act of despoiling or plundering
fact: deed (from L facere, to do)
assoyld: delivered
shright: shrieked

st. 33

The use of hawks and dogs in tandem was an established technique of falconry (see Hamilton, citing Turbervile 1575).

33.3-33.5 33.3-5 Cf. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 8.32-35: ecce autem pavidae virgo de more columbae, / quae super ingenti circumdata praepetis umbra / in quemquem termes hominem cadit (‘But lo! the girl, like a frightened dove, that caught in the vast shadow of a hawk falls trembling on some man’).
attached: siezed
neare: almost; closely
accourage: hearten
bold: boldly
34.2 accourage: Cf. 32.4, ‘her heart nigh broken was’.
34.2 bold: Proteus is the subject of the verb, despite his effort to restore Florimell to that position by making the boldness and the courage hers.
doubt: fear; suspect
quayld: overcome
frory: frosty
35.2 frory: See 30.3n.
charet: chariot
cast: resolved
aggrate: Please, with the suggestion that Proteus’s punitive measures have as much to do with seduction as with justice; compare the anger of Ariosto’s Proteus, who rapes the daughter of a king and then sends his orcs to ravage the land when she is put to death (OF 8.52-57)
he: The fisherman, but the ambiguity is pointed.
cast: Echoing line 3, the verb that named the god’s intention to punish now describes the final act of punishment. There is a further irony in that fishermen typically ‘cast’ their nets.

st. 37

Spenser echoes here Virgil’s description of the cave of Proteus (Georg 4.18-22), but displaces the cave from the shore to the ‘bottom of the maine’, the traditional dwelling-place for nereids and sea-gods: cf. Georg 4.321-22, mater, Cyrene mater, quae gurgitis huius / ima tenes (‘Oh mother, mother Cyrene, that dwellest in this flood’s depths’), and Homer Il 18.36, where Thetis hears Achilles groan ‘as she sat in the depths of the sea beside the old man her father’ (ἡμένη ἐν βένθεσσιν ἁλὸς παρὰ πατρὶ γέροντι; hēmenē en benthessin halos para patri geronti). Cf. the description of Cymoent’s bower ‘Deepe in the bottome of the sea’ (iv.43 and 43.2n), with its echoes of the same episode in Georgics.

engrave: cut into
37.9 Panope: Panopea is mentioned by Hesiod as one of the surpassingly beautiful daughters of Nereus and Doris (Theog 240-50) and by Virgil as one to whom sailors pray (Georg 1.434-5); Spenser’s invention, making her an aged housekeeper, may reflect a playful domestication of her name’s etymology (from Gk πανόπτης panoptēs, ‘the all-seeing’; Hamilton suggests παν + L ops worker).
40.1 Recalling Archimago disguised as Redcrosse at I.ii.11; we are told at ii.10.2-4 that Archimago ‘by his mighty science . . . could take / As many formes and shapes in seeming wise, / As ever Proteus to himselfe could make’. On Proteus as shape-shifter, see 29.8n, I.ii.10n, and Ovid Met 8.730-37.
endew: assume
exprest: portrayed
40.6 prevaile: May mean ‘gain mastery, dominate’, or less forcefully, ‘succeed in persuading’.
40.8-40.9 40.8-9 Cf. 34.1-2; from ‘speaches milde’ to ‘sharpe threates’, Proteus has gone from rescuer to attacker, completing the trajectory Florimell’s fear had earlier ascribed to Arthur.
eend: A ME form of ‘end’ that survives as a dialect form in the 16th c.
41.9 Cf. Argante’s threat of ‘eternall bondage’ (vii.50.7).
42.1-42.5 42.1-5 For the False Florimell’s simulation of Florimell’s chastity, see 14.9; for the allegorical equation of defloration with death, see vii.31.8-9n.
42.5 remove: Withdraw her love; cf. III.i.26.9, ii.40.8, and Shakes Sonn 116.4.
42.6-42.9 42.6-43.7 The direct address to Florimell as ‘Most vertuous virgin’ associates her with Elizabeth and identifies her steadfastness in love as an exemplary moment in the poem’s celebration of chastity. Cf. v.53-54 and Ariosto, OF 29.26-30.
43.1-43.7 42.6-43.7 The direct address to Florimell as ‘Most vertuous virgin’ associates her with Elizabeth and identifies her steadfastness in love as an exemplary moment in the poem’s celebration of chastity. Cf. v.53-54 and Ariosto, OF 29.26-30.
meed: reward
43.4-43.5 43.4-5 See ii.29.9n. The emphasis on writing in the hearts of women echoes v.52.7, where God plants the flower of chastity ‘in gentle Ladies breste’, even as it is counterpointed by Florimell’s resistance to Proteus (‘So firmely she had sealed up her brest’, 39.5). This trope reaches back through the praise of Belphoebe and the sufferings of Britomart to the poet’s opening declaration in the proem to Book III that chastity ‘is shrined in my Soveraines brest’, where ladies ‘Neede but behold the pourtraict of her hart’ (1.5, 8). This pattern of echoes and repetitions implicates the poetic project of ‘fashioning’ chastity—in the sense both of representing its image and of inspiring readers to emulate that image—as perilously akin to the less idealized forms of erotic persuasion that play across the narratives of Book III.
43.8-43.9 43.8-9 Picking up the narrative thread from the end of canto vii.
himselfe: Presumaby the Squire, but contrast Satyrane’s response to the Squire’s ‘discourse’ at vii.57.5-6 and 58.5 to the narrator’s here, and see vii.61.4-5n.
to be slayne: Something he was unable to do earlier (see vii.32.8-9 and note).
pricking: With sexual connotation; see I.i.1, I.ix.12.5-7 and notes.
port: carriage or demeanor
hardiment: daring
45.4 In the progress of the Seven Deadly Sins at the House of Pride, Lechery bears ‘in his hand a burning hart’ (I.iv.25.3).
45.6 Paridell: See arg.4n along with 11.2-3 and notes.
Tho: then
yode: went (the grammatical subject is elided)
46.4-46.6 46.4-6 Marinell’s ‘ruine’ is ‘late’ in more than one sense; on the narrative inconsistency of Florimell’s flight preceding its cause, see v.10.1-2n, and note the reappearance in ‘forth’ of the particle for-, associated in canto v with Florimell’s precipitate flight.
parture: departure
46.9 46.9 The apostrophe signals a gliding elision of ‘y’ into ‘i’ across the boundary of the close-parenthesis.
47.1-47.6 47.1-6 Cf. Cymoent’s too-hasty belief that Marinell has been slain (iv.36-40). The oxymoronic overtones of ‘surely doubt’ (emphatically dread) undercut the certainty the phrase nominally expresses.
aread: conclude
47.7 knights of Maydenhead: See II.ii.42.4n.
repent: May be construed as ‘mourn’, but implicates the knights in Florimell’s supposed death.

doubt so sore: ‘Dread so intensely’; cf. the play on ‘sore’ and ‘sory’ at 47.8-9.

Upton 1758 conjectures from this phrase that 47.5 should read ‘sorely doubt’.

hevens: monosyllabic
crueltie: trisyllabic
49.2 T’have: We accept the 1596 reading here as a correction of 1590, ‘To have’.
speaking token: revealing sign
49.6 Satyrane’s diction gravitates toward conviction: ‘certeine’ and ‘sure’ are synonymous, ‘losse’ and ‘decay’ (death) all but so.
Distaynd: defiled
relique: physical remains
49.9 Distaynd: See vii.31.8-9n.
50.2 ‘Unless God turns these sad signs to good omens’.
50.4-50.5 50.4-5 See v.10.1-2n on the repetition of for-, here associated with Paridell’s reluctance to accept premature conclusions about Florimell’s fate.
bewray: reveal
speed: Success (cf. 51.2, ‘Well may ye speede’), but context suggests that ‘success’ and ‘zealous hast’ (51.7) may amount to the same thing (‘Ne long shall Satyrane behind you stay’).
lose: loosen, unharness
wayne: wagon (chariot)
51.5 wayne: With a pun on the verb sense ‘decrease’, as at I.v.41.2.
Mote not: may it not
relate: restore (OED cites only this instance)
yfere: together
52.4-52.5 52.4-5 See Heale (1990: 210-11) on the law of hospitality.
52.6-52.7 52.6-7 It may seem odd that the Squire of Dames first directs the knights to ‘yonder castle’ for shelter and then explains why they won’t find it there, but his emergence as a secondary narrator seems to be the main point. This role was flagged to the reader’s attention in the close of canto vii, where the Squire’s retailing of the Innkeeper’s tale from Ariosto precedes (and in some sense perhaps causes) the escape of the hyena-like beast that Satyrane had bound with Florimell’s girdle. As the narrative turns back to Satyrane and the Squire at the end of canto viii, Spenser’s narrator disapprovingly reminds us of the Squire’s ‘long discourse of his adventures vayne, / The which himselfe, than Ladies more defames’ (44.2-3); the reminder prepares us for the Squire’s resumption of his role as storyteller as it carries over, now, into canto ix.
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Off: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, (blest. And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely (FQ I.ii.18.8-9) On: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely blest.

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Off: Sweet slõbring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes: (FQ I.i.36.4)

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Off: And all the world in their subiection held, Till that infernall feend with foule vprore (FQ I.i.5.6-7) On: And all the world in their subjection held, Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

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Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine (FQ I.i.14.9) 14.9. Most lothsom] this edn.; Mostlothsom 1590

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And shall thee well rewarde to shew the place, (FQ I.i.31.5) 5. thee] 1590; you 15961609

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To my long approoved and singular good frende, Master G.H. (Letters I.1) 1. long aprooved: tried and true, found trustworthy over a long period