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Book V, Canto XI

July 16, 2011

Geryoneo hears of Arthur’s victory and comes forth to face him. It’s a fairly normal fight except that Geryoneo has three torsos and six arms. In stanza 14 he finally swings so hard that his side is exposed, and Arthur cuts through all three bodies with a single stroke. Belge and her sons are saved, but she asks a further task of him – that he destroy a nearby relic of the giant’s occupation.

Arthur goes to a church where a monster lies hidden behind the altar. He strikes the idol until it appears. It is a massive Spinx-like creature with a women’s head, lion’s claws, a dragon’s tail, and eagle’s wings. They fight furiously, but Arthur spills her guts in stanza 31. This is the end of Geryoneo’s reign.

Now Spenser returns to Arthegall (and Talus), who has resumed his intention of saving Irena. As he rides along the road, he recognizes the face of Sir Sergis, a knight who had come with Irena to the Faerie court long ago. Sergis tells him that Irena arrived on the appointed day to wait for her champion, but Arthegall did not show up. Instead Grandtorto kidnapped her and has held her in thralldom ever since. She only has ten more days for a champion to arrive before Grantorto executes her.

Arthegall is much grieved that his delays have caused her so much trouble. He hurries along with Sir Sergis, but the are interrupted by a great rout in the middle of the road. A knight is fighting the crowd while his lady cries for help. The mob has pierced his shield and forced him to drop it. Arthegall and co. stop to help out. To Talus, “helping out” means flailing everyone, so he proceeds to do what he does best.

The knight’s name is Sir Bourbon. He was once knighted by Redcross (the hero of Book I) and received his shield at his knighting. He is an allegory of King Henry IV of France, who converted from Calvinism to Catholicism to gain the throne. The lady is Flourdelis, or France, who has recently been seduced away by Grantorto.

Arthegall chastises him for losing his shield (i.e. for bailing on his native religion) and reconciles him with Flourdelis. Finally Arthegall realizes that Talus is STILL killing peasants and tells him to stop.


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