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Book V, Canto II

July 12, 2011

Arthegall and Talus meet a dwarf – who happens to be lady Florimell’s dwarf. The good news is that he is on his way to her wedding, which is happening in 3 days. The bad news is that in the way stands a bridge guarded by an evil Saracen knight who extorts toll money from anyone who passes. His name is Pollente, and he doesn’t just extort people through his battle prowess, he cheats. The bridge has little trapdoors in it that throw would-be crossers into the water, where Pollente kills them easily. He also has a daughter named Munera. She has golden hands and silver feet, and eggs on her father in his moneymaking ways so she can fill their treasury.

Arthegall determines to cross this bridge. There’s a great river fight sequence that Spenser compares to “As when a Dolphin and a Sele are met”. Arthegall wins, chops off Pollente’s head, and moves to enter the castle.

Talus spends awhile banging his iron flail on the castle door. Munera tries to stop him with words, with magic, and with the temptation of fallen treasure, to no avail. Eventually they knock the door down and Talus finds her hiding under a pile of gold. He cuts her hands and feet off and drowns her in the river. He grinds up all the treasure and throws it in the river, and he razes the castle to the ground.

And that is the end of the toll road.

Next they come to a Giant holding a giant pair of scales (scales like balances/Libra, not fish scales). He is preaching to a crowd about how the world is out of balance, and how he will restore balance with his scales if he could but measure the elements. Arthegall rebukes him much as God rebuked Job, daring the Giant to weight the wind or the light in his scales. The Giant tries to weight words, but they will not be measured. He tries to balance right with wrong, but no amount of wrong can weigh with the truth. The argument ends with Talus throwing the Giant off a cliff.

The crowd is angry at him but too afraid to fight, so Arthegall and Talus make their way out.


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