Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 2, Canto 2

By Edmund Spenser

Book 2, Canto 2

  • After burying Amavia and Mordant, Guyon takes up the baby, expresses sadness that the poor thing doesn't understand what's happening, and then tries to wash the blood off of the baby's hands.
  • However, the blood doesn't come off, leaving Guyon very perplexed. The Palmer begins to explain that every fountain in the forest is different, has a different power and a different origin: some flow straight from Mother Earth and are sacred for that reason and some are just regular, old water that something special has happened to.
  • The rock out of which this water flows, says the Palmer, used to be a nymph who was changed into a rock by the goddess Diana so that she could avoid being raped by a lusty faun.
  • The Palmer then explains that the blood won't wash off the baby's hand because it is meant to be a symbol of his mother's innocence.
  • Convinced, Guyon gives the baby to the Palmer and goes to find his horse so that they can head out.
  • His horse, however, is gone for reasons we never learn and Guyon is forced to go by foot.
  • Soon, they come to a great castle where three half-sisters live (one father, three different mothers), constantly fighting about who should control what parts of the castle: the eldest and youngest usually fighting against the middle sister.
  • When Guyon arrives, he is very well received by the middle sister. She's named Medina, and is the best of the three sisters since she's modest, courteous, and serious.
  • While she takes Guyon up to a room to rest, the other two sisters hear about this visitor while they are entertaining their boyfriends.
  • The eldest sister's boyfriend is named Sir Huddibras, and he's a big, burly, strong and rash knight.
  • The youngest sister's boyfriend is none other than the notorious Sansloy, who we met in Book I, and who tried to snatch Una.
  • He, as we know, is lusty, arrogant, and unruly.
  • Because these knights are both arrogant and quick to anger, they spend most of their time fighting each other to prove they are the best.
  • However, as soon as they hear about this other knight arriving, they turn their attention to him.
  • Well, for a moment. They soon start bickering again, which Guyon hears and runs to resolve.
  • But as soon as they both see Guyon, they start attacking and him and he defends himself expertly in response.
  • Medina rushes in and begs them to stop fighting. At first they ignore her but soon begin to listen to her.
  • She begs them to give up their bloodlust and anger and to instead embrace concord and peace.
  • Her words finally have an effect and the knights put down their weapons and agree to a truce.
  • Medina then invites them to relax and dine with her so that they can all calm down.
  • Everyone goes with Medina, but the two other sisters are not happy about it.
  • Elissa, the eldest sister, makes fun of the meal and refuses to enjoy anything while the youngest sister, Perissa, goes completely overboard and enjoys everything a bit too much.
  • Sansloy enjoys Perissa's overindulgence while Huddibras moodily envies their joviality.
  • But Medina, through her moderation and good sense, keeps everyone in check and after the meal, she asks Guyon to tell them who he is and why he has come there.
  • Guyon replies that he a knight for the Faerie Queene, the most wonderful and awesome queen ever, and that he was sent by her to help the Palmer defeat an evil fairy and at that very moment on a mission to punish the wicked Acrasia.
  • Medina asks Guyon to tell them about that, and so Guyon relates the sad story of Mordant and Amavia until night falls and they all go to bed.