Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 5, Canto 11

By Edmund Spenser

Book 5, Canto 11

  • Even though sometimes it can seem like evil wins, ultimately, justice always prevails—just like in the case of Belge.
  • When the tyrant Geryonco found out that Belge had found a champion who easily defeated his guard, he's pretty furious.
  • He suits up and heads straight to the castle with many armed guards to confront Arthur.
  • Arthur meets him and when he ascertains for certain that he's the man who has been terrorizing Belge, he immediately begins to attack.
  • Now, fighting Geryonco is a bit tricky on account of his multiple limbs and the force of three bodies in one, so Arthur has to watch his movements very carefully.
  • Arthur is finally able to cut off one of his arms, and when Geryonco tries to repay Arthur by cutting off his head, he misses and just cuts off the head of his horse. Whoops.
  • Arthur again is able to cut off more of his arms, and finally, with the horse of three men, Arthur is able to kill all three of the bodies contained in Geryonco.
  • When Belge and her people see this there is great celebrating and Belge falls to her knees, profusely thanking Arthur for his bravery.
  • However, there is the one little other thing she would also really like some help with… namely the horrible idol and terrifying monster buried beneath it, housed in the chapel in front of the castle.
  • When Arthur hears about this monster, he definitely wants to defeat it too and heads straight for the chapel.
  • He enters and at first finds it empty, but as soon as he knocks on the statue of the idol three times, a terrible beast appears. Third time's the charm.
  • The beast has the head of woman, the body of a dog, claws of a lion, the tail of a dragon, and the wings of an eagle. Dang.
  • In fact, she's quite a bit like the famous Sphinx, who challenges the hero Oedipus to answer a riddle.
  • When she sees Arthur, she is not pleased and immediately goes into attack mode.
  • They fight for a while until Arthur is able to stab her in the belly, releasing her foul intestines and killing her.
  • Belge is very relieved when she sees Arthur emerge from the chapel victorious, and he stays and feasts with her for many days assuring she is securely re-established on her throne, and then takes off.
  • But now we're going to turn back to Artegall and see what's been going on with him.
  • Artegall is finally returning to the very first quest he took on in Canto I, to help out a princess named Eirene deal with a tyrant named Grantorto.
  • As he and Talus are heading there, they come an old knight named Sir Sergis whom they recognize from the court of the Faerie Queene as an aid to Irene.
  • They ask him what's going on and how things are with Irene.
  • Sergis replies that things aren't super great because she has been taken prisoner by Grantorto while she is waiting for Artegall to show up.
  • The tyrant has proclaimed that if no knight comes forward soon as her champion, he'll put her to death.
  • Artegall is sad to hear that Irene has fallen in trouble because of him, although he quickly calls on heaven and says that it really isn't his fault, since he was also taken prisoner.
  • Sergis tells them that she only has ten days left to live and Artegall vows to rescue her before then.
  • They head to find her, but along the way come across a large mass of people. In the midst of them is a knight being attacked and a lady begging for assistance.
  • When they see how brutally the knight is being attacked, they immediately come to his assistance and soon find themselves being attacked by the crowd as well—but Talus pretty quickly takes care of them.
  • The knight comes up to them and thanks them for their help and explains that his name is Burbon and his lady is named Flourdelis.
  • He says that she had pledged her love to him but for some reason has now turned against him and claims to prefer the tyrant Grantorto, who sent this mob to take her.
  • But Artegall is much more concerned about the fact that Burbon has lost his shield and the sign on it, which is a great dishonor to any knight.
  • Embarrassed, Burbon explains that he was dubbed a knight by Redcrosse (remember our hero from way back in Book I?) and that he gave him a nifty shield with the cross of Jesus on it.
  • Lots of people were jealous of this shield, but after enduring so much hardship and losing the love of Fleurdelis, he put his shield away.
  • Artegall says that all that sounds bad, but not bad enough that he should ever have put away his shield—that's just, really dishonorable.
  • Burbon disagrees, and says he'll pick it up again when things get better, which Artegall in turn says is dishonest, but finally Burbon just asks for Artegall's help in defeating some peasants who are fighting against him. Artegall agrees.
  • So they quickly begin fighting these peasants and soon Artegall and Burbon have the advantage, thanks in large part to Talus, who mercilessly kills all of them.
  • Then they find Fleurdelis, who isn't at all happy or excited to see Burbon, and Artegall angrily criticizes her saying she too pretty to be so superficial and that she's been too easily swayed by gifts from Grantorto.
  • The lady is rather embarrassed when Artegall says this and allows herself to be silently escorted away by Burbon.
  • Then Artegall finds Talus and tells him to stop killing so many peasants. They quickly head off to finish their initial quest.