The Faerie Queene Summary and Analysis: Book V, Proem-Canto vi
by Edmund Spenser

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Summary and Analysis: Book V, Proem-Canto vi

New Characters
Amidas: The younger, luckier brother betrothed to Lucy but who eloped with Philtra.

Astroeia: The woman who raised Artegall to know right from wrong and justice from injustice.

Bracidas: The unlucky but virtuous brother who fights with Amidas.

Clarinda: Radigund’s handmaiden and fellow woman warrior.

Dolon: A fallen Knight who hates Artegall because he killed Dolon’s son in a fair fight.

Grantorio: An evil giant.

Irena: A good woman who is oppressed by Grantorio.

Lucy: A poor girl with virtue who tries to kill herself and instead marries Bracidas.

Munera: Pollente’s Lady, who receives all the money he robs from others.

Philtra: A wealthy but greedy girl.

Pollente: A Sarazin taking a toll from any who wish to cross a particular bridge.

Radigund: An Amazon warrior woman who hates Knights and delights in their subjection.

Sir Sanglier: A Knight without honor.

Squire: A man who loves a Lady who is taken from him.

Talus: An iron man, unbending and inflexible but strong and unbreakable.

Terpine: A Knight caught by warlike women.

Proem: Spencer laments that the “golden” age is over and life is becoming more base and full of vice. He affirms that this Book’s purpose is to demonstrate Justice.

Canto i: A goodly dame named Irena makes her way to the Faerie Queen and complains of a tyrant named Grantorio keeping her from her heritage. The Faerie Queen calls upon Artegall to remedy this ill because he was trained by Astroeia in his youth to know the intricacies of justice. Artegall takes his Squire, Talus, who was left for Artegall by Astroeia. Talus is an iron man, “immoueable, resistlesse, without end.”

As they travel, Talus and Artegall meet a Squire crying beside a beheaded woman. The Squire tells the two travelers that as he and his love sat talking a stranger rode up beside them, threw down his own Lady, and picked up the Squire’s love. As the stranger rode away with the Squire’s Lady, his own Lady followed crying to be taken with him or killed. The stranger beheaded her. Artegall asks what direction this Knight went, and the Squire tells him and reveals that his shield was a bloody field with a broken sword. Talus speeds off after the man and overtakes the Knight, Sir Sanglier. Talus captures and binds Sir Sanglier and brings the Lady back to where Artegall and the Squire wait.

Sir Sanglier denies that the headless woman is any Lady of his. Rather, he says he was simply riding with his own Lady. Since both Sir Sanglier and the Squire deny the dead woman as their own, Artegall thinks of a way to force the one who loves the still-living Lady to reveal it. He threatens to cut both the living and the dead women into halves and give them each a part. Sir Sanglier does not protest, while the Squire says he will take the dead woman if that is the only choice. Artegall rules the Squire worthy of the living and Sir Sanglier only worthy to bear the head of his Lady before him, to show what he had done.

Canto ii: Artegall meets Florimell’s Dwarf, who tells him that the real, still-living Florimell and Marinell have been joined in love and Florimell has been rescued from a dungeon. The Dwarf says that he will be at Florimell’s wedding only if he can cross a bridge where a Sarazin kills those who do not pay money to pass. This Sarazin, named Pollente, is strong and clever. Pollente gives all of his stolen riches to a greedy woman named Munera.

Artegall rides out to fight Pollente. First, he kills Pollente’s squire. Then he rides at Pollente, across the bridge. Pollente lets down a trap where both men and horses fall into the river, and then Pollente’s steed attacks Artegall’s. Pollente’s experience in the water shows, while Artegall has never tried this kind of fight before. Finally Artegall forces Pollente to dismount and swim, and Artegall is his equal in swimming. Pollente flees to the land, and Artegall follows, kills him, and posts his head atop the bridge.

Artegall and Talus approach Munera’s castle, and...

(The entire section is 2,402 words.)