How did Spencer find a way to utilize the conventional gods and goddesses of mythology in Epithalamion, a poem about Christian marriage?

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Spencer employed the depiction of Greek gods and goddesses to describe his marriage and events of that particular day. Although the marriage refers to aspects of Greek mythology as the events progress, the actual wedding ends in Christian marriage traditions when the two end up in church “temple”. At that point the author does not mention any aspects of mythology. He relies on the different aspects of the gods and goddesses to describe the special nature of the day's events.

Spencer calls upon the muses in the first stanza for inspiration in order to communicate his feelings about his bride and events of the special day.

Ye learned sisters which have oftentimes

Beene to me ayding, others to adorne:

Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes,

That even the greatest did not greatly scorne

To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes,

But joyed in theyr prayse.

He proceeds to invoke the assistance of other gods and goddesses for different roles. He calls upon Hymen to wake up his bride and attest to the immediacy of the event.

Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake,

And long since ready forth his maske to move,

He calls on to the nymphs to assist in the bride’s preparation and to decorate the path leading to the location of the ceremony.

Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare

Both of the rivers and the forrests greene:

He also attests to his personal insecurities and asks the nymphs to protect his bride and offer protection during the event. The groom takes on the role of Phoebus and compares his bride to Phoebe in reference to their perfect bond.

These examples show the author's ability to artistically describe the Christian wedding while blending it with aspects of Greek mythology.

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