Ambiguous Goddess Networks in the Proems of Spenser's Faerie Queene

Luisa Camaiora

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Critical attention is focussed on the proems to the six books of Spenser's epic poem. It is pointed out that in each of these six parts Elizabeth is presented, through the choice of the archetype of the Triune Goddess, as the centre of a network of allusions that are functional to the exaltation of the queen as divinity, with intimations that range from the mythic to the magic, from the poetic to the political, from the iconographical to the ethical, from the secular to the religious. The epic poem allows a flattering and idealized portrayal of Elizabeth to emerge, with the queen as Virgin/Mother/Punisher, but the text also evidences a pattern of ambivalences with regard to the icon created, so that this poem of adulation is interwoven with subtle contrapositions. The article further documents how Spenser makes his idealization of Elizabeth expressive not only of his homage and deference, but also of more self-interested motives, such as social advancement, economic advantage, poetic recognition and institutional acknowledgement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Goddess Awakened: Partnership Studies in Literatures, Language and Education
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Faerie Queene
  • Proems
  • Spenser

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