Gloriana, the Faerie Queene, an idealized portrait of Queen Elizabeth. Although she does not appear in the extant portion of the poem, many of the knights set out on their quests from her court, and they often praise her virtue and splendor.
Prince Arthur, the legendary British hero, who represents Magnificence, the perfection of all virtues. He rides in search of Gloriana, who had appeared to him in a vision, and, on his way, aids knights in distress.
The Red Cross Knight
The Red Cross Knight, the hero of book 1, in which he represents both England’s patron, Saint George, and Christian man in search of holiness. He sets out confidently to rescue Una’s parents from the dragon of evil, but he is attacked by forces of sin and error that drive him to the point of suicide. He is restored in the House of Holiness by the teachings and offices of the church and, refreshed by a fountain and a tree, symbolizing the sacraments of baptism and communion, he triumphs in his three-day combat with the dragon.
Una (EW-nah), the daughter of the King and Queen of the West, Adam and Eve; she personifies truth and the church. She advises her knight wisely, but she cannot protect him from himself. Deserted, she is aided by a lion and a troop of satyrs. She is finally restored to the Red Cross Knight, who is betrothed to her after his victory over the dragon.
The Dwarf, her companion, Common Sense.
Error, the Red Cross Knight’s first adversary, a monster who lives in the wandering wood.
Archimago (ahr-chih-MAH-goh), a satanic figure who uses many disguises in his attempts to lure the knights and ladies of the poem into sin and disaster.
Duessa (dew-EHS-seh), his accomplice, whose attractive appearance hides her real hideousness. She represents variously Falsehood, the Roman Catholic Church, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Sans Loy, and
Sans Joy, Saracen knights who attack Una and her knight.
Fradubio (frah-DEW-bee-oh), a knight betrayed by Duessa and transformed into a tree.
Kirkrapine (KURK-rah-peen), a church robber, slain by Una’s lion when he tries to enter the cottage where she has taken refuge.
Abessa (AH-beh-sah), his mistress.
Corceca (KOHR-seh-kah), her blind mother.
Lucifera (lew-SIH-feh-rah), the mistress of the House of Pride.
Malvenu (MAHL-veh-new), her porter.
Vanity, her usher.
Night, the mother of falsehood, to whom Duessa appeals for help.
Aesculapius (ehs-kew-LAY-pee-uhs), the physician of the gods.
Sylvanus (SIHL-vah-nuhs), the leader of the satyrs who rescue Una from Sans Loy.
Satyrane (SA-tih-rayn), a valiant, gentle knight who is half nobleman and half satyr.
Despair, an emaciated creature who drives warriors to suicide with his sophistic recitals of their sins.
Trevisan (TREH-vih-san), one of his intended victims.
Dame Coelia (CHEE-lee-ah), a virtuous matron who lives in the House of Holiness.
Speranza (speh-RAN-zah), and
Charissa (cha-RIHS-sah), her daughters, Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Contemplation, a holy hermit who gives the Red Cross Knight a vision of the City of God, then sends him back into the world to complete his quest.
Guyon (GWEE-on), the Knight of Temperance, the sternest of the Spenserian heroes, who must violently destroy Acrasia’s power and all of its temptations that lead men to intemperance.
Palmer, his faithful companion, who stands for Reason or Prudence.
Acrasia (ah-KRAY-zee-ah), the Circe-like mistress of the Bower of Bliss. She lures men to their ruin in her world of debilitating luxuriance and turns them into animals.
Amavia (ah-MAY-vee-ah), the desolate widow of one of her victims.
Ruddymane, her baby, whose hands cannot be cleansed of his dying mother’s blood.
Perissa (peh-RIHS-sah), and
Elissa, sisters who personify the mean, the deficiency, and the excess of temperance.
Sir Huddibras (HEW-dee-brahs), a malcontent, Elissa’s lover.
Braggadocio (brahg-ga-DOH-chee-oh), a vainglorious braggart who masquerades as a knight on Guyon’s stolen horse.
Trompart, his miserly companion.
Belphoebe (behl-FEE-bee), a virgin huntress, reared by the goddess Diana, who cannot respond to the devotion offered by Prince Arthur’s squire, Timias. She is another of the figures conceived as a compliment to Elizabeth.
Furor, a churlish fellow whom Guyon finds furiously beating a helpless squire.
Occasion, his mother, a hag.
Phedon (FAY-don), the maltreated squire, who falls into Furor’s hands through his jealousy of his lady, Pryene, and his friend Philemon.
Pyrochles (PIH-roh-kleez) and
Cymochles (SIH-mah-kleez), intemperate knights defeated by Guyon.
Atin (AT-ihn), Pyrochles’ servant.
Phaedria (FAY-dree-ah), a coquette who lures knights to her island, where she lulls them into forgetfulness of their quests.
Mammon, the god of riches, who sits in rusty armor surveying his hoard of gold.
Philotime (fih-LOH-tih-mee), his daughter, who holds the golden chain of ambition.
Alma, the soul, mistress of the castle of the body where Guyon and Prince Arthur take refuge.
Phantastes (FAN-tahs-teez) and
Eumnestes (ewm-NEHS-teez), guardians, respectively, of fantasy and of memory.
Maleger (mah-LEE-gur), the captain of the shadowy forces who attacked the bulwarks of the House of Alma.
Verdant, a knight released by Guyon from Acrasia’s clutches.
Grille, one of Acrasia’s victims. He reviles Guyon and the Palmer for restoring his human form.
Britomart (BRIH-toh-mahrt), the maiden knight, heroine of the book of Chastity. She subdues the forces of lust as she travels in search of Artegall, with whom she fell in love when she saw him in a magic mirror. Her union with him represents the alliance of justice and mercy as well as Spenser’s ideal of married chastity, which surpasses the austere virginity of Belphoebe.
Malecasta (mal-eh-KAS-teh), the lady of delight, beautiful and wanton, who entertains Britomart in Castle Joyous.
Glauce (GLAW-see), Britomart’s nurse, who accompanies her as her squire.
Merlin, the famous magician, whom Glauce and Britomart consult to learn the identity of the knight in the mirror.
Marinell (MA-rih-nehl), the timid son of a sea nymph and Florimell’s lover.
Cymoent (SIH-mehnt), his mother.
Florimell (FLOH-rih-mehl), the loveliest and gentlest of the ladies in Faerie Land. She is pursued by many evil beings, men and gods, before she is wed to Marinell.
Timias (TIH-mee-as), Prince Arthur’s squire, who is healed of severe wounds by Belphoebe. Although he falls in love with her, he can never win more than kindness as a response.
Crysogene (krih-SAW-jeh-nee), the mother of Belphoebe and Amoret, who were conceived by the sun.
Argante (ahr-GAHN-tee), a giantess, one of the figures of lust.
Ollyphant (AW-lee-fant), her brother and lover.
A Squire of Dames
A Squire of Dames, Argante’s prisoner.
Snowy Florimell, Braggadocio’s lady, a creature made by a witch with whom Florimell had stayed.
Proteus (PROH-tee-uhs), the shepherd of the sea, who rescues Florimell from a lecherous fisherman.
Panope (PAN-oh-pee), an old nymph, his housekeeper.
Paridell (PAR-ih-dehl), a vain, lascivious knight.
Malbecco (mal-BEHK-koh), a miserly, jealous old man.
Hellenore (HEHL-leh-nohr), his young wife, who runs away with Paridell.
Scudamour (SKEW-dah-mohr), the knight most skilled in the art of courtly love. He wins Amoret at the court of Venus, but she is taken from him almost immediately.
Amoret (AM-ohr-eht), his beautiful bride, who is taken prisoner at her own wedding by Busirane, who represents her own passions and the confining forces of the rigid code of love in which she has grown up.
Busirane (BEW-sih-rayn), her captor.
Venus, the goddess of love and a personification of the creative force in nature, Amoret’s foster mother.
Adonis (uh-DON-ihs), her lover.
Diana, the divine huntress, the virgin goddess who raises Belphoebe.
Ate (AH-tay), Discord, a malicious old woman who stirs up strife.
Blandamour (BLAN-dah-mohr), a fickle knight.
Sir Ferraugh (FEHR-raw), one of the suitors of Snowy Florimell.
Cambello (kam-BEHL-loh), one of the knights of friendship.
Canacee (KA-nah-see), his sister, a wise and beautiful lady who is won by Triamond.
Cambina (kam-BEE-nah), Cambello’s wife.
Triamond (TREE-ah-mond), brothers who fight for the hand of Canacee. The first two are killed, but their strength passes into their victorious surviving brother.
Artegall (AHR-teh-gahl), the knight of Justice, Britomart’s beloved.
Talus (TAH-luhs), the iron man, his implacable attendant, who upholds justice untempered by mercy.
Aemylia (eh-MEE-lee-ah), a lady imprisoned with Amoret by a villainous churl and rescued by Belphoebe.
Corflambo (kohr-FLAHM-boh), a mighty pagan who corrupts his enemies by filling them with lust.
Poeana (pee-AH-nah), his rude, tyrannical daughter.
Amyas (ah-MEE-ahs), the Squire of Low Degree, Aemylia’s suitor.
Placidas (PLAH-see-dahs), another squire loved by Poeana. Encouraged by Prince Arthur, Placidas marries Poeana and reforms her.
Druon (DREW-on) and
Claribell, pugnacious companions of Blandamour and Paridell.
Thames (TAH-mees) and
Medway, the river god and goddess whose marriage is attended by the famous waterways of the world.
Neptune, the sea god to whom Marinell’s mother pleads for Florimell’s release from Proteus.
Grantorto (gran-TOHR-toh), a tyrant who holds Irena’s country in his power. He is the emblem of the political strength of the Roman Catholic Church.
Irena, his victim, who appeals to the Faerie Queene for help.
Sir Sanglier (SAHN-glee-ayr), a cruel lord who is chastened by Talus.
Pollente (pohl-LEHN-tay), a Saracen warrior who extorts money from travelers.
Munera (MEW-neh-rah), his daughter, the keeper of his treasury.
Giant Communism, Artegall’s foe. He tries to weigh everything in his scales, but he learns, before Talus hurls him into the sea, that truth and falsehood, right and wrong, cannot be balanced.
Amidas (AH-mih-dahs) and
Bracidas (BRA-see-dahs), brothers whose dispute over a treasure chest is settled by Artegall.
Philtera (FIHL-teh-rah), Bracidas’ betrothed, who weds his wealthy brother.
Lucy, Amidas’ deserted sweetheart, Bracidas’ wife.
Sir Turpine (TUR-pih-nay), a knight whom Artegall discovers bound and tormented by Amazon warriors. He refuses aid to Calepine and Serena.
Radigund (RA-dih-guhnd), the queen of the Amazons. She captures Artegall and dresses him in women’s clothes to humiliate him, then falls in love with him and tries unsuccessfully to win him.
Clarinda, her attendant, who comes to love Artegall as she woos him for her mistress.
Dolon (DOH-lon), Deceit, a knight who tries to entrap Britomart.
Mercilla (mur-SIHL-lah), a just and merciful maiden queen whose realm is threatened by a mighty warrior.
The Souldan, her enemy, thought to represent Philip of Spain. He is destroyed by the brilliant light of Prince Arthur’s diamond shield.
Malengin (mah-LEHN-gihn), an ingenious villain who transforms himself into different shapes at will. Talus crushes him with his iron flail.
Belgae (BEHL-jeh), a mother who loses twelve of her seventeen children to the tyrant Geryoneo and appeals to Mercilla for help.
Geryoneo (jeh-ree-OH-nee-oh), her enemy, the power of Spain, who is slain by Artegall.
Burbon, a knight rescued by Artegall as he fights Grantorto’s men to rescue his lady, Flourdelis (France).
Sir Sergis, Irena’s faithful adviser.
Calidore (KAH-lih-dohr), the knight of Courtesy, sent to destroy the Blatant Beast, malicious gossip.
Briana (bree-AH-nah), a proud lady who abuses the laws of hospitality by demanding the hair and beards of ladies and gentlemen who pass her castle.
Crudor, the disdainful knight for whom she weaves a mantle of hair.
Tristram, a young prince reared in the forest who impresses Prince Arthur with his instinctive courtesy.
Aldus (AL-duhs), a worthy old knight.
Aladine (AL-ah-deen), his son.
Priscilla, Aladine’s lady.
Serena, a noble lady, severely wounded by the Blatant Beast.
Calepine (KAH-leh-peen), her knight.
Blandina, Sir Turpine’s wife, who tries to assuage his cruelty.
The Salvage Man
The Salvage Man, a “noble savage,” another untaught practitioner of courtesy.
Matilde, a childless noblewoman who adopts a baby rescued by Calidore from a bear.
Mirabella, a proud, insolent lady.
Disdaine (dihs-DAYN) and
Scorne, her tormentors.
Pastorella, a nobleman’s daughter who grows up with shepherds. Calidore falls in love with her and with her rustic life.
Meliboee (MEHL-ih-bee), her wise foster father, who warns Calidore that happiness is not to be found in one place or another but in oneself.
Coridon (KOHR-ih-don), Pastorella’s shepherd admirer.
Colin Clout, a shepherd poet who pipes to the graces on Mount Acidale.
Sir Bellamour, Calidore’s friend and Pastorella’s father.
Claribell, his wife.
Melissa, her maid, who discovers Pastorella’s true identity.
Mutability, a proud Titaness who challenges the power of Cynthia, the moon goddess.
Cynthia, her rival.
Mercury, the messenger of the gods.
Jove, the king of the gods.
Mollana, a nymph and an Irish river.
Faunus (FAW-nuhs), a satyr who pursues her.
Dame Nature, a great veiled figure who hears Mutability’s arguments and judges, finally, that order reigns in all change.