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Book II, Canto VIII

April 19, 2011

The first two stanzas describe the way angels watch out for humans. As the Palmer wanders along, he hears a voice crying “come hither”. It leads him to the senseless Guyon. Beside Guyon sits an angel, compared to Cupid and Phoebus in his beauty. The angel tells the Palmer that Guyon will recover. Then he flies off.

The Palmer realizes that Guyon is still breathing. Just then, our second-favorite Paynim brothers appear with old Archimago and Atin the varlet. Yes, Cymochles and Pyrochles have returned. Of course they all instantly recognize Guyon and start insulting his memory to the Palmer (they think he is dead). The Palmer will not leave him alone to be despoiled by the pagans. Nevertheless, they start stripping him of his weapons. Pyrochles equips Guyon’s shield. Then Prince Arthur shows up just in the nick of time.

Now, you might recall that Archimago happens to have in his possession Morddure, the sword of Arthur, which he stole through magical tricks. Pyrochles demands this sword, despite Archimago’s warnings that the sword will not be able to hurt Arthur (its rightful owner). Pyrochles seizes the sword anyway.

The Palmer explains the situation to Arthur and requests his help. Arthur, being the highest level of rational human, is sure he will be able to reason with the Paynim brothers rather than fight them. Of course he is unsuccessful and they end up fighting. Arthur is swordless, but Pyrochles is having a difficult time hitting him due to Morddure’s enchantment. Arthur manages to stab Cymochles in the thigh, motivating Pyrochles to finally strike him hard enough to draw blood. This prompts the Palmer to give Arthur Guyon’s sword, but Arthur hesitates to fight against the image of the Faerie Queene on Guyon’s shield.

At last Cymochles hits Arthur really hard, and Arthur’s retaliatory blow kills him. This event stuns Pyrochles into suicidal mode and Arthur gets the best of him. Arthur gives him one last chance to live, but Pyrochles refuses his clemency and is beheaded.

Right then Guyon awakens and wonders where his weapons are. He acknowledges Arthur and they hang out for awhile, as Archimago and Atin run for their lives.

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