Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 5, Canto 12

By Edmund Spenser

Book 5, Canto 12

  • Ambition is a dangerous thing and makes people act dishonorably in a desire to control.
  • Just look at Burbon, Geryonco, and Grantorto—all acting dishonorably because they are obsessed with ruling (it's not entirely clear why this applies so much to Burbon.)
  • Artegall and Talus reach the sea and luckily find a ship ready to go able to take them to Irene's land.
  • As soon as they come close to her shore, however, many soldiers begin attacking them trying to prevent them from landing.
  • But Talus easily deals with the situation by swimming to shore and scaring them off.
  • So now Artegall, Talus, and Sir Sergis head into this kingdom and by the time they reach a little town, word has already reached Grantorto of their arrival.
  • Grantorto sends troops to stop them, but again Talus handily defeats them and Artegall again has to intervene to prevent him from completely massacring them, reminding him that they are here to save Irene.
  • Artegall sends a message to Grantorto to set a time for them to fight in single-handed combat. Grantorto sets it for the next day. These bloody battles are extremely well scheduled.
  • Artegall sets up his tent and prepares for the battle the next day, instructing no one to bother him.
  • Meanwhile, poor Irene thinks she is going to die that day since no one has told her that a champion has arrived.
  • But when she arrives at the plain, she sees Artegall ready to fight for her and is greatly relieved.
  • Grantorto then comes out, carrying a huge ax. He's huge himself, practically a giant, and very ugly.
  • Artegall is not intimidated and the two begin fighting as soon as the trumpet sounds.
  • They fight brutally and Grantorto almost kills Artegall but Artegall protects himself with his shield, actually lodging the shield in Grantorto's skin.
  • Artegall is unable to get the shield out so leaves it there and instead strikes Grantorto hard on the head.
  • Grantorto loses balance and Artegall takes the opportunity to attack him viciously, and soon Grantorto falls to the ground and Artegall kills him.
  • When everyone sees this they are overjoyed that the tyrant is dead and Irene in particularly is incredibly grateful for their help.
  • They then establish Irene securely on her rightful throne and Artegall stays trying to bring justice back to the commonwealth.
  • But before he can finish he is called back to the court of the Faerie Queene, since envious people have accused him and Talus of not administering justice rightly.
  • Along the way back, Artegall and Talus run into two hideous hags, one with wonky eyes, bones sticking out of her face, and feeding on a snake. This hag was named Envie.
  • Anytime she sees someone, she is angry them and resents them. She hates hearing about good news that has happened to anyone. This is no shocker, really: her name is envy.
  • The other hag, instead of inwardly being angry at good news outwardly spreads bad news and bad opinions. She's always inventing bad things to say; her name is Detraction and she lives next door to Envie.
  • Detraction is also ugly, with poison around her mouth that looks like strings and she carries thread for weaving.
  • These two women decided to team up against Artegall to punish him for defeating Grantorto, and they have a beast called the Blatant Beast.
  • When they see Artegall, Envie first runs after him screaming and wailing and throwing raw meat at him.
  • Ha! We want to see this in a movie.
  • Then Detraction begins to yell terrible things to him and lie that he only defeated Grantorto through treachery.
  • Finally, they release the Blatant Beast, who chases Artegall and growls at him with a hundred mouths.
  • But Artegall ignores them, and orders Talus to do the same, and so they go on to the court of the Faerie Queene.