How does Spenser mix pagan, Christian, and local lore in Epithalamion?

In Epithalamion, Edmund Spenser blends pagan mythology (such as in references to the pagan deities), Christian traditions (especially in the marriage ceremony itself), and local lore (like that of the community celebration and folklore elements) to explore the many different aspects of marriage and create a deep and meaningful poem.

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Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion is a wedding song, and in it, Spenser skillfully and intricately blends pagan, Christian, and local traditions. Let's look at how he does this.

Pagan mythology is woven through the entire poem, which begins with an appeal to the muses and nymphs to aid the speaker...

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Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion is a wedding song, and in it, Spenser skillfully and intricately blends pagan, Christian, and local traditions. Let's look at how he does this.

Pagan mythology is woven through the entire poem, which begins with an appeal to the muses and nymphs to aid the speaker in his song and the bride in her wedding preparations. He also alludes to mythological stories like that of Orpheus and calls upon the pagan deities like Jove, Phoebus, Hyman, and Juno to bless the union. Spenser does not, of course, really believe in these deities, for he is a Christian; but he uses them as symbols to indicate how the whole of creation and all the spirits will bless the marriage.

Christian traditions also appear in the poem, especially in the wedding ceremony. The bride enters the church to the music of organs and choirs singing praises to God. The speaker and his bride stand before the altar and say their vows before the priest as the angels ring out alleluias of celebration. The wedding is thoroughly Christian.

Finally, Spenser includes plenty of references to local traditions surrounding weddings. The townspeople gather to celebrate the wedding. The minstrels play their merry tunes. The young women gather to escort the bride to the church. The young men ring the church bells. The whole village gathers to feast and rejoice with the newly married couple. Indeed, a wedding is a community event. Further, local lore appears in the mention of the goblins, "sprights," and witches that are part of the area's folklore.

The blending of these three traditions adds depth and interest to the poem, for it allows Spenser to employ a wide range of images and to explore the meaning of marriage in many different ways.

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