The Poetry of Edmund Spenser: A Study

By William Nelson | Go to book overview

The Legend of Justice
THE IDOL AND THE CROCODILE

THE APPEAL TO golden antiquity as a standard by which to measure the life of this world is a recurrent theme in The Faerie Queene. It is nowhere given greater emphasis than in the Legend of Justice, the Proem taking its departure from the age of Saturn:

For during Saturnes ancient raigne it's sayd,
That all the world with goodnesse did abound:
All loved vertue, no man was affrayd
Of force, ne fraud in wight was to be found:
No warre was knowne, no dreadfull trompets sound,
Peace universall rayn'd mongst men and beasts,
And all things freely grew out of the ground:
Justice sate high ador'd with solemne feasts,
And to all people did divide her dred beheasts. (Proem.9)

The action of Artegall's story is set in the generation following this happy age, a time when virtue still flourished but "then likewise the wicked seede of vice/ Began to spring." When Artegall was a child, Astraea, goddess of justice, lived on earth and it was she who trained him in her ways. But as men waxed wicked she returned to her heavenly home leaving to the hero her iron groom Talus and the golden sword Chrysaor as legacy. He is her heir,

-256-

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The Poetry of Edmund Spenser: A Study
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Prince of Poets 1
  • Colin Clout 30
  • The World's Vanity 64
  • Love Creating 84
  • That True Glorious Type 116
  • The Legend of Holinesse the Cup and the Serpent 147
  • The Legend of Temperaunce - Prays-Desire and Shamefastnesse 178
  • The Legend of Chastitie Maid and Woman 204
  • The Legend of Friendship the Hermaphrodite Venus 236
  • The Legend of Justice the Idol and the Crocodile 256
  • The Legend of Courtesie - The Rose Revealed 276
  • Cantos of Mutabilitie the Ever-Whirling Wheel 296
  • Notes 315
  • Index 337
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