Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 5, Canto 8

By Edmund Spenser

Book 5, Canto 8

  • Beauty really is one of the most powerful forces in the world and can cause even the best knight to forget himself.
  • But not Artegall, he didn't let Britomart's beauty distract from the quest assigned to him by the Faerie Queene.
  • Riding along, he sees a damsel being chased by two knights who are in turn being chased by another knight.
  • The lady rushes toward Artegall for help and Artegall swiftly kills one of the two knights.
  • Meanwhile, the knight following has killed the other knight.
  • Now, Artegall is this final, third knight prepare to fight to the lady, rushes in and begs them to stop, explaining that they've both killed the real enemies here.
  • Both knights stop and the other knight turns about to be Arthur, who Artegall thinks is awesome.
  • They make amends for almost attacking each other and Artegall asks who those two knights were.
  • Arthur says he has no idea but just saw them chasing this lady, so they call her over to explain the situation.
  • The lady says that she serves the best queen in the whole world, named Mercilla, who is known for being wonderful, merciful, and powerful but her throne is being threatened by an evil and blasphemous man who is always trying to betray and kill her.
  • He has a terrible wife, named Adicia, who counsels him in his bad ways.
  • But the queen wants to resolve things peacefully, and thought it best to establish a friendship with Adicia so she sent this lady, her maid, to deliver this message.
  • But Adicia is no good, and doesn't even abide by the rule of safe treatment of messengers and threw her out of her house and sent these two knights to chase after her.
  • The lady, whose name is Samient, thanks the two knights for helping her and both Artegall and Arthur decide they want to help this good queen by vanquishing the evil Adicia.
  • They devise a plan in which Artegall will dress up as one of these slain knights and bring Samient with him as if she was his prisoner.
  • They arrive at the house of the evil man, referred to as the Souldan (like Sultan) and Adicia, but quickly Arthur shows up and demands Samient be returned to him.
  • Furious, the Souldan prepares to battle Arthur in his elaborate and terrifying chariot, and shortly, they begin to fight.
  • The Souldan manages to wound Arthur and he is continually prevented from getting near the Soultan by his massive chariot and vicious horses.
  • Finally, Arthur decides to unveil his shield—it's been covered this whole time—and the light that emits from it blinds the horses and completely terrifies them, sending them into a crazed and chaotic run which the Soultan cannot control at all.
  • They run across the land and Arthur chases them until he finally catches up to them and finds the Souldan completes torn to shreads, with only his armor left.
  • Arthur takes his armor back to the Souldan's castle and hangs it on the door as a token of this great victory.
  • When Adicia sees this, instead of being sad, she immediately plots revenge and heads straight for Samient in order to kill her.
  • But Artegall stops her, and Adicia goes completely insane, roaming the world in anger and finally turning into a tiger.
  • Then Artegall chases out the rest of their subjects and welcomes Arthur into the castle as hero.