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Book IV, Canto V

June 15, 2011

The tournament judges give the victor’s prize (the fairest lady) to Britomart, since she has vanquished all others at the last minute. This annoys Arthegall so much that he leaves the scene.

Now it is time for the contest of greatest beauty. The winner takes Florimell’s girdle, a special belt made by Vulcan for Venus herself. It’s name is Cestus and it contains wifely virtues (Venus conveniently left it off when necessary). Florimell found it one day while Venus was visiting Mars.

All the ladies at the tournament line up to be judged for their beauty. The false Florimell is the clear winner. They give her the girdle, but it won’t stay on her waist. Many other ladies try to tie the girdle on themselves, but it won’t tolerate them and keeps falling off.

The Squire of Dames and some other knights find this sequence hilarious. Finally Amoret proves that chastity is possible – the girdle stays on her waist. The judges nonetheless grant the girdle to fake Florimell, but Britomart refuses to take her as her prize.

The Salvage Knight (Arthegall) misses out, as does Triamond (who loves his wife). Satyrane is next in line, but many knights began to complain that Florimell is rightfully theirs – and she did belong to not a few knights during the course of Book III.

Satyrane has the bright idea to set Florimell in the midst of the quarreling knights and have her simply look at the knight she chooses as the winner. All the knights agree to this scheme, and Florimell promptly chooses Braggadochio. They ride off in secret that night.

Britomart and Amoret also ride off together. They are seeking Arthegall and Scudamour, respectively. Scudamour is chasing Britomart for allegedly abducting Amoret.

The narrative switches to the adventures of Scudamour and Glauce. They come to a little cottage on a hill. There are a ton of blacksmiths inside, lead by the master Care, who daily beats out weapons and pieces of metal. Scudamour is fully impressed by their work. He tries to sleep, but is constantly awakened – if not by their hammers, than by their dogs, if not by the dogs, then by being beaten on the head with iron, if not from the head rapping, then from a hot coal stuck in his side. At last the morning comes and he and Glauce depart.

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