Book II, Canto III
Sorry for the lack of updates! It’s a very busy time for those of us who work as seasonal customer service representatives!
Guyon wakes up, hands the bloody baby to Medina, and sets off on foot. Spenser finally lets us know how the horse-thieving went down. Apparently, while Guyon was dealing with the events of Canto I, a wandering scoundrel happened upon his unsupervised horse and spear. Once mounted and armed, the fool thief had a mind to go show off at court. Instead he soon spotted a random man sitting on the side of the road. He charged at this man and frightened him a great deal. The “Scarcrow” was very impressed that he had managed to conquer this nobody sitting on the side of the road, and so offered him a choice between captivity and death. Of course the “Miser” chose to live as a servant, but as he was a bit more cunning than his master he soon learned to manipulate him through praise and flattery.
These two, then, are Trompart, the deceptive servant who inflates his master’s ego, and Braggadochio, the false braggart. Soon they come upon our favorite wizard Archimago. Archimago is now after Guyon, but upon seeing these two fools he stops and inquires why Braggadochio does not carry a sword. Of course it is because he didn’t happen to steal one, but Trompart makes up a story about how Braggadochio has sworn off swords. Archimago immediately begins to complain about Guyon and Redcross, blaming them for the deaths of Mordant and his lady. Braggadochio shakes Guyon’s spear and threatens to kill both of them! Archimago advises him to obtain a sword before he goes after two such legendary knights. Braggadochio boasts of his amazing prowess in battle, that he can defeat a host of enemies with no weapon at all. Archimago advises him still to get a sword. Braggadochio replies that he will carry a sword only when he obtains the sword of the noblest knight on earth. Now Archimago has him – he informs him that Arthur’s is the noblest sword on earth, and Braggadochio shall have it the next day. With that, Archimago flies away by magic, and Braggadochio and Trompart flee with terror.
They stop fleeing through the woods at the sound of a hunting horn. Braggadochio hides in the bushes as Trompart watches “what might hap”. He sees a huntress appear, a very beautiful lady described much like the goddess Diana. Spenser describes her in detail for 10 stanzas – this is Belphoebe, (another side of Gloriana AKA Queen Elizabeth I). Trompart is stunned by the appearance of this lady. She asks him if he has seen the deer she has recently wounded and is now pursuing. He says that he has not and asks her which goddess she is. Before answering, Belphoebe notices movement in the bushes and nearly shoots Braggadochio. Trompart stops her as Braggadochio emerges from his hiding place, once again assuming his lying boastfulness.
She greets him, he responds with really silly lies about how valorous he has been, and asks her why she isn’t at court. She answers by saying that spending life at court is a waste, that obtaining honor is hard but worthwhile, whereas obtaining pleasure ends in idleness and vanity. Braggadochio tries to jump her and she vanishes. Of course the two cowards are frightened yet again.
Perdie (said Trompart) let her passe at will,
Least by her presence daunger mote befall.
For who can tell (and sure I feare it ill)
But that she is some powre celestiall?
For whiles she spake, her great words did apall
My feeble courage, and my hart opresse,
That yet I quake and tremble ouer all.
And I (said Braggadochio) thought no lesse,
When first I heard her horne sound with such ghastlinesse.
For from my mothers wombe this grace I haue
Me giuen by eternall destinie,
That earthly thing may not my courage braue
Dismay with feare, or cause on foot to flie,
But wither hellish feends, or pwres on hie:
Which was the cause, when earst that horne I heard,
Weening it had been thunder in the skie,
I hid myself from it, as one affeard;
But when I other knew, my selfe I boldly reard.
But now for feare of worse, that may betide,
Let vs soon hence depart.