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Book II, Canto V

February 6, 2011

Atin’s threat was not idle. Guyon soon sees Pyrochles “fast pricking” toward him. Without a word Pyrochles strikes the still-horseless Guyon with his spear. In turn, Guyon decapitates Pyrochles’ horse. Now Pyrochles is angry and taunts him. A 6-stanza fight ensues, they take turns smiting each other, Pyrochles enrages, and Guyon is able to dodge his blows. Spenser compares it to the fight of a lion and a unicorn. Unicorns are notoriously short-tempered animals that tend to impale their own horns in trees.

Guyon wins this fight, of course, and lets his opponent go free, with some good advice on – you guessed it – temperance. Mastery of oneself is more important than mastery over others, and a little self-restraint makes all the difference. Pyrochles, of course, ignores him and requests that Guyon let Occasion and Furor go free also.

“Thereat Sir Guyon smilde, And is that all / (Said he) that thee so sore displeased hath?” He lets them go and immediately Furor attacks Pyrochles, with Occasion trying to inflame them both. She gives Furor a firebrand that he uses to overcome Pyrochles. Finally Pyrochles is forced to plead Guyon’s assistance, but Guyon is held back by the Palmer, who considers Pyrochles’ defeat well deserved. So they leave.

In the meantime, Atin has run to find Pyrochles’ brother Cymochles. Cymochles is in the Bower of Bliss, enchanted by the sorceress Acrasia. We get our first descriptions of this evil place, designed to be a garden of earthly delights that will trap unwary warriors. It looks good, smells good, has lots of naked girls (and guys), and Cymochles spends his time gazing at the ladies while pretending to sleep. When Atin finds him, he upbraids his laziness and asks him to come to Pyrochles’ aid. Thus reproached, Cymochles leaves with Atin.


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