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Book V, Canto VII

July 15, 2011

Britomart enters the temple of Isis to pray. She is received by the priests and shown an idol depicting the goddess in silver, one foot resting on a crocodile and one hand brandishing a wand. Britomart prays. As it is a rainy day, she stays to sleep there on the ground as the clergy do.

She dreams that she is a priestess. As she is performing her duties to the idol, her robe changes into scarlet and her mitre into a crown. Suddenly there is a firestorm inside the temple, but the crocodile awakens and swallows it all. He makes to swallow Britomart as well, but the goddess beats him back with her wand. The crocodile shifts to humility, prostrates himself before Britomart, and then “he so neare her drew, / That of his game she soone enwombed grew”. Then she gives birth to a lion.

Britomart wakes up understandably disturbed. She tells a priest about her dream, and he informs her that it is prophetic – the crocodile is Arthegall, and despite the firestorm of the world they will end up together. She will bear him a mighty son.

This encouraging news spurs her on to Radigun’s town to win back her love. Radigund is eager to fight but her people are wary of Talus. The next morning, Britomart defeats Radigund and kills her (it’s not a particularly memorable fight). Talus begins to slaughter the whole town until Britomart stops him. She finds all the men in their women’s garb and is ashamed to find Arthegall in the same situation. She promptly arms him, reverses the social order so that the formerly captive knights are now in charge of the former Amazons, and makes those knights swear loyalty to Arthegall.

Then, after all this, he still finds it in himself to leave her to finish the primary quest of this book.


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