Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 5, Canto 4

By Edmund Spenser

Book 5, Canto 4

  • Anyone who wants to deal out justice needs to be prepared to actually act on it with might and power, just like Artegall, who's an excellent example of a just knight.
  • Artegall has just left the wedding of Florimell and Marinell with Talus when they come across two brothers arguing with two ladies by their side attempting to pacify them.
  • Before them was a chest clearly very worn and battered.
  • Artegall stops them fighting to ascertain the cause of the quarrel and the eldest brother answers.
  • He says that he and his brother bother inherited two islands from their father, but through processes of erosion and such his island has become very small while his brother's island has become very big.
  • This caused further problems because his intended bride, Philtera, left him for his brother when she realized that the brother had more wealth.
  • This then caused the younger brother's intended bride, Lucy, to try and commit suicide by throwing herself in the ocean.
  • However, she begins to regret this choice and luckily finds this chest floating in the ocean. She grabs hold of it and is washed up on the shore of the elder brother.
  • He saves her and the two decide to get married, happily discovering that inside the chest is tons of treasure.
  • Now, however, Philtera is claiming that the chest and treasure actually belong to her since she brought that chest over with her as her dowry but her ship was wrecked on the way.
  • The elder brother doesn't know if he can trust her and is determined to defend this one good thing he has.
  • The younger brother jumps in and insists that the chest does belong to his wife and that he can prove it.
  • Artegall responds that he is happy to step in as an arbiter.
  • First, he asks the younger brother, Amidas, what right he has to his brother's land, and Amidas replies that the sea gave him that land.
  • Then, Artegall asks the older brother, Bracidas, what right he has to the treasure and Bracidas replies that the sea gave him that treasure.
  • Artegall replies that they are both correct and, because of that, things should be sorted out fairly.
  • Even though Amidas and Philtera are not particularly pleased with the verdict, they seem to accept it and Artegall goes on his way having yet again dispensed justice.
  • Along the way, he comes across a group of warlike women, heavily armed, who are gathered around a man who is about to be hanged. They're taunting him.
  • Artegall interrupts and demands to know what's going on, but quickly perceives that the women aren't interested in talking, only in fighting.
  • However, Artegall doesn't want to have to fight women himself—he thinks this would be shameful—so he sends good old Talus to attack them and send them home defeated.
  • Then Talus and Artegall release the man whom Artegall actually knows to be Sir Turpine and he asks him how he came to find himself in such a shameful situation.
  • Turpine is quite embarrassed, but at Artegall's urging, tells his story.
  • He says that, like all knights, he was interested in seeking glory and heard about a cruel Amazon woman who had recently been spurned by a knight she loved, Sir Bellodant.
  • She takes her anger out on all other men, forcing them to give up their armor and weapons and dress like women and do women's work.
  • And if they resist this, she has them hanged… which is exactly what was happening to Turpine.
  • Artegall wants to know who this Amazon is and where she is.
  • Turpine says that her name is Radigund and that she is a powerful princess and queen of the Amazons.
  • Artegall vows to find her and revenge the shame she has brought to male knights, encouraging Turpine to join him and no longer feel shame himself.
  • Turpine immediately agrees, looking more confidant already, and takes Artegall to the Amazon capital city of Radegone.
  • As soon as the city guards spot them, they call Radigund, who orders them to be let into the city so she can face them.
  • First, they are attacked by arrows, and afterwards, when Radigund sees Turpine (who she had just captured), she grows even angrier, knocking him to the ground and stepping on him in a gesture of dominance.
  • When Artegall sees this, he rushes to his aid and deals Radigund a painful blow.
  • However, she soon recovers and they all fight for the rest of the day, although the Amazons do their best to avoid Talus who seems unstoppable.
  • They cease fighting that evening, since everyone is tired, but Radigund is plagued by anger and concern and finally decides to face Artegall in single combat.
  • She sends her trusted maid, Clarin, to deliver the message and when Artegall hears it, he agrees and gets to bed to make sure he's fresh for his fight the next day.