The Faerie Queene

by Edmund Spenser

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"The Gentle Mind By Gentle Deeds Is Known"

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Context: The concept of courtesy is the major theme of Book VI. In the first portion of this book, courtesy is exemplified in the actions of Calidore, the knight of Courtesy. While on his search for the Blatant Beast, Slander, he finds Priscilla weeping beside her wounded knight, Aladine. A lustful knight had attacked the unarmed Aladine while he and Priscilla were making love; she had escaped by hiding quickly. Calidore assures her that their attacker has already been slain by Tristram. Calidore then straps Aladine on his shield; he and Priscilla carry the wounded knight in this manner to the nearby castle of Aldus, Aladine's father. Spenser then comments that Calidore's actions have been an excellent example of true courtesy. The theme of this episode is expressed in Spenser's quotation from Chaucer (Canterbury Tales, "Wife of Bath's Tale," 1. 1170):

True is, that whilome that good Poet sayd,
The gentle minde by gentle deeds is knowne:
For a man by nothing is so well betrayd,
As by his manners, in which plaine is showne
Of what degree and what race he is growne.
For seldom seene, a trotting Stalion get
An ambling Colt, that is his proper owne:
So seldome seene, that one in baseness set
Doth noble courage shew, with courteous manners met.

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