Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 3, Canto 7

By Edmund Spenser

Book 3, Canto 7

  • Back to Florimell, who is still running away from Arthur and is terrified of everything.
  • She rides without stopping for a long time, but finally, her horse is exhausted and can't continue.
  • Stuck on foot, she wanders around until she spots a cottage in a forest. She hopes to find shelter there.
  • When she enters the cottage she finds that a witch lives there. The witch is angry that Florimell has burst in on her unannounced, but soon softens when she sees how distraught Florimell is.
  • She lets Florimell rest there and as Florimell tidies herself up the witch begins to wonder if Florimell is even human or if she's a goddess.
  • While Florimell rests, the witch's son comes home and is amazed to see this beautiful woman with his mother.
  • His mother, astounded and unable to speak, offers him no explanation, but Florimell explains and the son begins to lust after her.
  • He tries to woo her by bringing her little animals from the forest, but as soon as the time is right, Florimell decides to secretly leave now that her horse has also recovered.
  • When the witch and her son wake up to find that Florimell is gone, they become very upset, and the son is so distressed that his mother begins to worry that he might become ill.
  • The witch first tries to give him potions and medicines, but when nothing works, she turns to darker means.
  • She called forth a horrible monster, one that almost looks like a hyena, and sends her after Florimell.
  • When Florimell sees this terrifying monster chasing her, she immediately jumps on her horse and flees as fast as possible.
  • But the horse doesn't seem to be able to out-run the monster and since Florimell is quickly approaching the ocean, she panics and starts to run on her feet, planning on drowning herself in the ocean rather than be eaten by the monster.
  • Luckily, there was an old poor man with a boat on the shore. Florimell jumps in the boat and escapes the monster.
  • Sadly, though, the monster kills her horse, just to be mean.
  • But just as the monster's finishing munching, Satyrane (who we met in Book 1, Canto 6) comes along and seeing the monster eating Florimell's horse. He believes the monster has done something horrible to her.
  • Satyrane had fallen in love with Florimell and he earlier had found her girdle (kind of like a belt) lying in the forest.
  • Satyrane attacks the beast but finds it difficult to defeat him since he is impervious to his weapons, and seems to grow even stronger.
  • Finally, Satyrane throws away his weapons and attacks him with the sheer force of his bare hands and eventually subdues him, tying him up with Florimell's girdle.
  • As he drags the monster along, he suddenly sees a giantess who is riding a horse carrying a tied-up squire. She is being chased by a knight.
  • Satyrane then leaves the monster and chases after the giantess, who prepares to fight him.
  • Satyrane throws a spear at her, but with little effect, because she knocks him out and grabs him.
  • The knight who was initially pursuing her sees this and goes after her, forcing her to drop Satyrane.
  • Satyrane then wakes up, angry that his enterprise didn't go particularly well, and heads over to release the squire that the giantess had been originally carrying.
  • The squire is clearly an attractive fellow, and Satyrane asks who he is and who the giantess is.
  • The squire answers that she is named Argante, and she is the incestuous daughter of a Titan, Typhoeus, and Mother Earth and that she and her twin brother Ollyphant actually had sexual intercourse while still in their mother's womb and had a child themselves, Thopas. Yup.
  • Since their birth was so filled with perversity and lust, this is how she and her brother live their lives.
  • Argante essentially wanders the world capturing men and raping them. The squire is very happy to have avoided that fate, especially since he's made an unusual promise to another woman named Columbell.
  • The squire doesn't reveal his name but says to call him The Squire of Dames.
  • The knight pursuing Argante, the squire reveals, is no other than Britomart.
  • But Satyrane wants to hear more about this unusual promise and so the squire explains that his love, Columbell, told him that to deserve her she had to prove herself to him by spending an entire year doing "good deeds" for women. Yeah these, uh, "good deeds" have a pretty blatant sexual connotation here.
  • When he comes back and tells her he "helped" three hundred women (whoa) she isn't actually pleased, and punishes him by sending him back out to find an equal number of women who will refuse his "help."
  • Unfortunately, that's not going so well for him, since so far, he's only found three, and he's been roaming around for three years.
  • Satyrane wants to know who those three ladies were, and the squire responds that one was a prostitute, one was a nun, and one was a genuinely chaste girl in a cottage.
  • He is sad, he says, that so few women seem to be genuinely chaste and he'll be doomed to never win his lady's favor.
  • Well, that's a bummer, says Satyrane and heads off back to the monster, who has already freed himself from Florimell's girdle and is off telling the witch and her son what had happened.