Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 4, Canto 2

By Edmund Spenser

Book 4, Canto 2

  • Our narrator describes famous mythological and biblical incidents of great wrath and says that even though Glauce continued to try and make Scudamore more relaxed, Paridell and Blandamour were trying to rile him up.
  • They went on in this unpleasant way until they came across a knight and a lady.
  • The knight was named Sir Ferraugh, who had stolen the False Florimell from Braggadochio and it was she who was now riding with him.
  • Blandamour immediately becomes obsessed with the False Florimell and tries to get Paridell to attack Ferraugh.
  • But Paridell isn't interested, so Blandamour attacks himself and easily defeats Ferraugh.
  • Now that Blandamour has been successful, Paridell becomes jealous of the False Florimell, who Blandamour flirts with.
  • She flirts back, and is an expert at it, making Blandamour believe he's the luckiest man alive, when he's actually deceived.
  • But meanwhile, Paridell's jealousy grows and Ate sees an opportunity to stir up trouble by slyly reminding Paridell that he much worthier of Florimell's love than Blandamour.
  • Paridell finally challenges Blandamour, claiming that the terms of their friendship require that they share everything equally, including their women.
  • Blandamour isn't convinced by this and the two fight, unseating one another.
  • They look to Florimell to pass a judgment as to who is the victor, and when she can't seem to choose, they continue their fight with swords.
  • They fight savagely as their ladies egg them on instead of trying to keep the peace.
  • They probably would have continued fighting like this forever if the Squire of Dames hadn't shown up, who knew the two men already, and pleaded with them to cease fighting.
  • Although they were reluctant to stop fighting, they finally cease momentarily to explain to the Squire of Dames that they are fighting over the love of Florimell.
  • The Squire, thinking of the real Florimell, replies that many men are seeking her love but she's somewhere far away.
  • Confused, the men show Paridell that she's sitting right in front of them and Paridell is overjoyed to see her and to see that she's safe.
  • He criticizes the knights for fighting in her presence, but Blandamour gets angry and insists that she belongs to him and he'll fight for her.
  • Paridell informs Blandamour that many men seem to think she belongs to them, chiefly Satyrane, who is in possession of her girdle, and is currently holding tournaments for all men who seek it.
  • But since Blandamour is actually in Florimell's company, the squire says Blandamour should have it.
  • This idea calms everyone down, and Blandamour and Paridell decide to become friends again, although it's just a superficial friendship concealing lingering resentment.
  • All the knights head out to obtain Florimell's girdle until they come across two knights deep in conversation followed by two beautiful women.
  • The Squire rides up to them and finds out they are Cambell and Triamond with their respective ladies, Cambine and Canacee.
  • Our narrator interrupts the narrative to tell us that these two knights are heroes from a story by the famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer: "The Squire's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales.
  • Brain bite! Geoffrey Chaucer was a later medieval poet often considered to be the first greater writer in English. By modeling himself on Chaucer and continuing his story, Spenser clearly wants in on the "greatest writers in English" category.
  • The narrator goes on to lament that time destroys so many texts and then asks for Chaucer's pardon and permission in writing this continuation of his story.
  • Turning back to the narrative, we learn that Cambel and Canacee are siblings and that Canacee is knowledgeable about nature and natural remedies, in addition to being modest and beautiful.
  • She refuses all her suitors, however, which only increases the desire of many men to be with her, and so her brother, Cambell, fearing this will cause some serious problems, has come up with a plan.
  • He gathers all the men seeking her hand and tells them to choose three of the best of them; Cambell would fight with all three and the victor will marry his sister.
  • He feels pretty confident about his fighting ability since his sister gave him a magic ring that helps him heal quickly, and, since many of the other knights also know about this ring, they are reluctant to fight him.
  • Among the suitors are three triplet brothers, Priamond, Dyamond, and Triamond, sons of a women named Agape.
  • Priamond was strong but not stout and fought on foot, Dyamond was stout but not strong and fought both on foot and horseback with an ax, while Triamond was both stout and strong and liked to fight on horseback.
  • These three bothers were extremely close, almost like one person divided in three, and their mother Agape was a fairy who had the power to make people do her bidding.
  • She was raped on day in the forest by a knight and that's how she came to bear her three sons.
  • She raised them with her in the forest, but seeing that they were inclined toward knighthood, she began to fear that they would die too early and so she went to the Fates to find out what would happen to them.
  • She found the Fates sitting in a cave: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. They were all spinning the threads of life.
  • When Agape told them why she was there, Atropos told her that she wasn't allowed to know such things.
  • But Agape pleaded, and Clotho finally gave in.
  • When Agape saw how short and thin their threads were, she begged them to make them longer, but they replied that that was not in their power.
  • As a comprise, she asks them then to give the life of whoever dies first to the next and then his life to the next after that, and they agree.
  • Agape returned home and did not tell her sons about what she had seen, but just told them to stay close to one another.
  • They did, so close that they even fell in love with the same woman, Canacee, which brought them all to Cambell's tournament.