Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 2, Canto 6

By Edmund Spenser

Book 2, Canto 6

  • The narrator observes again that continence (self-restraint) can be hard to remember when you're feeling an extreme emotion like grief.
  • But luckily, Guyon doesn't have this problem.
  • Anyway, Cymochles, who does have this problem, comes across a woman all alone in a little boat, laughing to herself and apparently having a great time.
  • Cymochles calls to her, and she lets him on, although not Atin.
  • Off they go, her ship apparently directing itself, and the girl continues to have a good time, telling Cymochles made-up stories, laughing, putting flowers in hair, and so on.
  • Cymochles thinks she's great, totally forgets his vow to avenge his brother, and wants to find out who she is and what she's doing.
  • She's shocked he doesn't know her, since they both serve Acrasia. She's Phaedria.
  • She tells him that this is her lake, the Idle Lake, and that she spends her time going around it.
  • Soon, they come to an idyllic island, filled with beautiful trees and flowers and soon enough Cymochles falls asleep in Phaedria's lap.
  • As he sleeps, Phaedria whispers into his ear that he has nothing to worry about and the he shouldn't bother himself with all trials and challenges of the world.
  • Phaedria leaves him sleeping there, drugged, and returns to her boat and to the lake.
  • Who should she find has made his way there too but Guyon, who also needs a way across.
  • She happily picks him up, but refuses to take the Palmer, and before Guyon can object, her little boat has taken off.
  • As they go, she resumes her laughing and story telling, but Guyon isn't in to it.
  • Soon, they get to the island, and Guyon is irritated because he didn't want to go there.
  • But Phaedria explains that no one can control the wind or the sea and that Guyon might as well rest here while he waits for another ship.
  • Guyon, not happy, but unsure of what else he can do, agrees, and even though he does find the delights of both the island and Phaedria tempting, he resists.
  • By this time, Cymochles has woken up and berates himself for having gotten distracted on his mission of revenge.
  • As he heads back to the river, he comes across Guyon and Phaedria and he immediately attacks Guyon, assuming that he's after Phaedria.
  • The two fight fiercely, each strong from anger and frustration, until Phaedria intervenes and begs them to stop fighting for her sake.
  • She tells them that they should redirect their passion and energy away from violence towards romance.
  • Both knights finally do put down their swords and Guyon asks to leave, which Phaedria grants since she can tell her charms don't work on him.
  • Once Guyon returns to the shore, Atin sees him, and begins accusing of him of doing terrible deeds.
  • Guyon moves on, not letting Atin's accusations get to him, while Atin stays waiting for Cymochles and Cymochles stays with Phaedria.
  • While Atin is waiting, he sees a knight running recklessly toward the lake and then suddenly throws himself in it.
  • Atin goes to investigate only to find his master, Pyrocles, screaming that he's burning and nothing is easing it.
  • Atin, worried that Pyrocles will drown, jumps in to save him but the water is so muddy and heavy that soon both Atin and Pyrocles are in danger of drowning.
  • As they struggle, Archimago happens to come by them and asks what's going on.
  • Pyrocles screams that Furor is burning him. Atin asks for help so that they don't drown.
  • Archimago agrees to help them and casts a magic spell to relieve Pyrocles from the flames of Furor.