Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 4, Canto 3

By Edmund Spenser

Book 4, Canto 3

  • Our narrator wonders why people prolong their life unnecessarily and extend their misery.
  • He doesn't understand why Agape tried to give her sons such long life, although he admits that they do seem to live very happily.
  • These three sons prepare to battle Cambell for the love of Canacee. When the terrible day arrives, great stands are set out for the observers, for the judges of the battle, and for Canacee.
  • Cambell enters the arena first, and then come the three brothers.
  • First, Cambell and Priamond fight on foot with swords, each injuring the other seriously, until finally Cambell stabs Priamond with a wooden shaft and kills him.
  • But his ghost doesn't head to the afterlife like it's supposed to; instead, just as their mother had wished, it enters into the other brother and gives him extra life.
  • Although Dyamond is grieved that his brother has died, he channels his anger toward his fight with Cambell.
  • They fight brutally with axes, equally matched, until Dyamond almost kills Cambell but misses him and Cambell then cuts off his head.
  • And, just like had happened before, Dyamond's ghost leaves his body and enters the body of the last brother, Triamond.
  • Now Triamond goes to attack Cambell, filled with both anger and the strength of his two brothers, and the two fight for a long time.
  • Although Triamond fights with great force, he soon weakens under the force of Cambell, whose magic ring allows him to heal quickly, and Cambell strikes him down with what looks like a deadly blow.
  • But, Triamond has three lives to use, and he only loses one, and suddenly rises up again full of new force and strength, much to the shock of Cambell and those watching.
  • They continue fighting until they both seriously wound each other, so badly that everyone watching believes the fight is over and both men are dead.
  • But, sure enough, they both recover quickly and continue fighting even more fiercely.
  • But suddenly, the fight in interrupted by an amazing sight: a gorgeous chariot driven by horses carrying a beautiful lady rides into the battle.
  • It is the sister of Triamond, named Cambina, a powerful and magic fairy like her mother who carries a caduceus (a rod encircled by snakes, often associated with doctors) in one hand and a goblet filled with a drink of eternal happiness called Nepenthe in the other.
  • She comes down and greets her brother and Cambell, who she begins to love, and is distressed when she sees them start fighting again.
  • She jumps in between them and begs them to stop fighting and to be peaceful.
  • When they ignore her, she uses her magic to prevent them from fighting and gives them each a drink from her magical chalice.
  • Suddenly, the two men lose all their feelings of anger and violence and became best friends immediately.
  • Canacee is overjoyed to see this and runs down to thank Cambina and they become BFFs.
  • And, just in case you weren't sure about how close they were, Triamond marries Canacee and Cambell married Cambina.