Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 6, Canto 10

By Edmund Spenser

Book 6, Canto 10

  • Who is following the Blatant Beast now that Calidore is distracted with Pastorella?
  • Love has made him waver from his vow to the Faerie Queene: to follow the beast without delay.
  • He's decided to give up the life of knight, with its pain and courtly duties, in favor of the life of shepherd—and who can blame him? It is much more peaceful and, at times, more genuine.
  • Also, Pastorella is super cute.
  • One day, while Calidore is walking the fields without Pastorella, he comes across a beautiful hill, the most perfect and tranquil place he has ever seen.
  • There are tall trees, birds chirping, a gentle creek, no wild beasts but only nymphs and faeries, and a large plain where people can dance; this place is called Mount Acidale.
  • This Mount was supposedly where Venus hung out with the Graces (three particularly lovely nymphs).
  • As Calidore approaches, he sees and hears ladies dancing to the music of a pipe. He doesn't dare disturb them or make his presence known. Instead, he hides, which is kind of creepy because these ladies are naked.
  • They are dancing in rings, a large ring of women on the outside, a small ring of three in the middle, and a single lady directly in the center.
  • This image then becomes more a vision, and Calidore sees the crown of Ariadne become part of the stars.
  • These women and their dance is so beautiful there isn't enough time to describe it all, but women are really beautiful.
  • The women in the inner ring are the Graces, and they are especially lovely, but woman in the very middle is the beautiful. It's clear that the shepherd is playing his pipes especially for her.
  • That piping shepherd is Colin Clout, and the lady in the middle (whose identity is still a mystery) is referred to as his love.
  • Calidore was astonished at this strange vision and he had no idea if he is seeing something actually there or just a mirage.
  • Suddenly, everyone vanishes except Colin, who is distressed by the end of the dance.
  • Calidore approaches him and comments on how lucky he is to pipe for such a beautiful naked dance.
  • But Colin replies that he isn't lucky at all since once those nymphs depart, there is no way to bring them back again.
  • Calidore is sorry to hear that, and hopes his presence wasn't an issue, but asks for more info about the dance.
  • Colin explains that the woman dancing are Venus' damsels, daughters of the god Jupiter and Eurynome, the daughter of the ocean. The Graces' names are Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia.
  • The Graces bestow good manners, beauty, and general grace to all people. They are always gentle and naked (since they have nothing to hide), and dance in a particular order.
  • But Colin doesn't know anything about the extra-hawt woman that was dancing in the middle.
  • She's incredibly beautiful, he says, worthy of being a fourth Grace. She's full of chastity, divinity, and sovereignty.
  • He calls her Gloriana and says she is the light of the world, and asks for her pardon in singing to her.
  • After Calidore hears all this from Colin he feels even worse about crashing the party and apologizes again for ruining this vision.
  • They sit and talk here for a while, enjoying each other's company and the beauty of the place, but soon Calidore feels compelled to be near Pastorella, and so leaves.
  • He comes back to Pastorella, whom he is dutifully wooing. But he's always in competition with Coridon, who tries to match every thing Calidore does.
  • One day when they were out picking strawberries a tiger lunges out of the forest, headed straight for Pastorella.
  • Coridon first rushes to help her, but he chickens out. Calidore then comes and, unafraid, rushes to protect her by attacking the tiger with his shepherd's staff and (somehow) cutting off its head and presenting it to Pastorella.
  • From the moment forward, Pastorella really begins to fall for Calidore, which makes Coridon increasingly upset, even though Calidore tries to keep things friendly between them.
  • So finally, Calidore is successful in acquiring the love of Pastorella… until bad luck comes upon them.
  • Brigands (low-life thieves) attack and spoil the shepherd's land, ruining the house of Meliboe and taking everyone, including Pastorella and Coridon, away as captives.
  • The brigands take them secretly to their island. They hide everyone away in caves underground so that no one will find them… they're intending to sell them as slaves.
  • Poor Pastorella thinks she must be in hell.