Gloriana, the Faerie Queene, an idealized portrait of Queen Elizabeth.
Although she does not appear in the extant portion of the poem, many of
the knights set out upon their quests from her court, and they often
praise her virtue and splendor.
Prince Arthur, the legendary British hero, who represents Magnificence,
the perfection of all virtues. He rides in search of Gloriana, who had
appeared to him in a vision, and, on his way, aids knights in distress.
The Red Cross Knight, the hero of book 1, where he represents both
England's patron, Saint George, and Christian man in search of Holiness.
He sets out confidently to rescue Una's parents from the dragon of evil,
but he is attacked by forces of sin and error which drive him to the
point of suicide. He is restored in the House of Holiness by the
teachings and offices of the Church and. refreshed by a fountain and a
tree, symbolizing the sacraments of baptism and communion, he triumphs
in his three-day combat with the dragon.
Una, the daughter of the King and Queen of the West, Adam and Eve; she
personifies Truth and the Church. She advises her knight wisely, but she
cannot protect him from himself. Deserted, she is aided by a lion and a
troop of satyrs, and is finally restored to the Red Cross Knight, who is
betrothed to her after his victory over the dragon.
The Dwarf, her companion, Common Sense.
Error, the Red Cross Knight's first adversary, a monster who lives in
the wandering wood.
Archimago, a satanic figure who uses many disguises in his attempts to
lure the knights and ladies of the poem into sin and disaster.
Duessa, his accomplice, whose attractive appearance hides her real
hideousness. She represents variously Falsehood, the Roman Catholic
church, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Sans Foy, Sans Loy, and Sans Joy, Saracen knights, who attack Una and
Fradubio, a knight betrayed by Duessa and transformed into a tree.
Kirkrapine, a church robber, slain by Una's lion when he tries to enter
the cottage where she has taken refuge.
Abessa, his mistress.
Corceca, her blind mother.
Lucifera, mistress of the House of Pride.
Malvenu, her porter.
Vanity, her usher.
Night, the mother of falsehood, to whom Duessa appeals for help.
Aesculapius, the physician of the gods.
Sylvanus, the leader of the satyrs, who rescues Una from Sans Loy.
Satyrane, a valiant, gentle knight who is half nobleman, half satyr.
Despair, an emaciated creature who drives warriors to suicide with his
sophistic recitals of their sins.
Trevisan, one of his intended victims.
Dame Coelia, a virtuous matron who lives in the House of Holiness.
Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa, her daughters, Faith, Hope, and
Contemplation, a holy hermit who gives the Red Cross Knight a vision of
the City of God, then sends him back into the world to complete his
Guyon, the Knight of Temperance, the sternest of the Spenserian heroes,
who must violently destroy Acrasia's power and all its temptations that
lead men to intemperance.
Palmer, his faithful companion, who stands for Reason or Prudence.
Acrasia, the Circelike mistress of the Bower of Bliss. She lures men to
their ruin in her world of debilitating luxuriance and turns them into
Amavia, the desolate widow of one of her victims.
Ruddymane, her baby, whose hands cannot be cleansed of his dying
Medina, Perissa, and Elissa, sisters who personify the mean, the
deficiency, and the excess of temperance.
Sir Huddibras, a malcontent, Elissa's lover.
Braggadocio, a vain-glorious braggart who masquerades as a knight on
Guyon's stolen horse.
Trompart, his miserly companion.
Belphoebe, a virgin huntress, reared by the goddess Diana, who cannot
respond to the devotion offered by Prince Arthur's squire, Timias. She
is another of the figures conceived as a compliment to Elizabeth.
Furor, a churlish fellow whom Guyon finds furiously beating a helpless
Occasion, his mother, a hag.
Phedon, the maltreated squire, who falls into Furor's hands through his
jealousy of his lady, Pryene, and his friend Philemon.
Pyrochles and Cymochles, intemperate knights defeated by Guyon.
Atin, Pyrochles' servant.
Phaedria, a coquette who lures knights to her island, where she lulls
them into forgetfulness of their quests.
Mammon, the god of riches, who sits in rusty armor surveying his hoard
Philotime, his daughter, who holds the golden chain of ambition.
Alma, the soul, mistress of the castle of the body where Guyon and
Prince Arthur take refuge.
Phantastes and Eumnestes, guardians, respectively, of fantasy and of
Maleger, the captain of the shadowy forces who attacked the bulwarks of
the House of Alma.
Verdant, a knight released by Guyon from Acrasia's clutches.
Grille, one of Acrasia's victims. He reviles Guyon and the Palmer for
restoring his human form.
Britomart, the maiden knight, heroine of the book of Chastity. She
subdues the forces of lust as she travels in search of Artegall, with
whom she fell in love when she saw him in a magic mirror. Her union with
him represents the alliance of justice and mercy as well as Spenser's
ideal of married chastity, which surpasses the austere virginity of
Malecasta, the lady of delight, beautiful and wanton, who entertains
Britomart in Castle Joyous.
Glauce, Britomart's nurse, who accompanies her as her squire.
Merlin, the famous magician, whom Glauce and Britomart consult to learn
the identity of the knight in the mirror.
Marinell, the timid son of a sea nymph and FlorimeH's lover.
Cymoent, his mother.
Florimell, the loveliest and gentlest of the ladies in Faerie Land. She
is pursued by many evil beings, men and gods, before she is wed to
Timias, Prince Arthur's squire, who is healed of severe wounds by
Belphoebe. Although he falls in love with her, he can never win more
than kindness as a response.
Crysogene, the mother of Belphoebe and Amoret, who were conceived by the
Argante, a giantess, one of the figures of lust.
Ollyphant, her brother and lover.
A Squire of Dames, Argante's prisoner.
Snowy Florimell, Braggadocio's lady, a creature made by a witch with
whom Florimell had stayed.
Proteus, the shepherd of the sea, who rescues Florimell from a lecherous
Panope, an old nymph, his housekeeper.
Paridell, a vain, lascivious knight.
Malbecco, a miserly, jealous old man.
Hellenore, his young wife, who runs away with Paridell.
Scudamour, the knight most skilled in the art of courtly love. He wins
Amoret at the court of Venus, but she is taken from him almost
Amoret, his beautiful bride, who is taken prisoner at her own wedding by
Busirane, who represents her own passions and the confining forces of
the rigid code of love in which she has grown up.
Busirane, her captor.
Venus, the goddess of love and a personification of the creative force
in nature, Amoret's foster mother.
Adonis, her lover.
Diana, the divine huntress, the virgin goddess who raises Belphoebe.
Ate, Discord, a malicious old woman.
Blandamour, a fickle knight.
Sir Ferraugh, one of the suitors of Snowy Florimell.
Cambello, one of the knights of friendship.
Canacee, his sister, a wise and beautiful lady who is won by Triamond.
Cambina, Cambello's wife.
Priamond, Diamond, and Triamond, brothers who fight for the hand of
Canacee. The first two are killed. but their strength passes into their
victorious surviving brother.
Artegall, the knight of Justice, Britomart's beloved.
Talus, the iron man, The Red Cross Knight's implacable attendant, who
upholds justice untempered by mercy.
Aemylia, a lady imprisoned with Amoret by a villainous churl and rescued
Corflambo, a mighty pagan who corrupts his enemies by filling them with
Poeana, his rude, tyrannical daughter.
Amyas, the Squire of Low Degree. Aemylia's suitor.
Placidas, another squire loved by Poeana. Encouraged by Prince Arthur,
Placidas marries Poeana and reforms her.
Druon and Claribell, pugnacious companions of Blandamour and Paridell.
Thames and Medway, the river-god and goddess whose marriage is attended
by the famous waterways of the world.
Neptune, the sea god to whom Marinell's mother pleads for Florimell's
release from Proteus.
Grantorto, a tyrant who holds Irena's country in his power. He is the
emblem of the political strength of the Roman Catholic church.
Irena, his victim, who appeals to the Faerie Queene for help.
Sir Sanglier, a cruel lord, chastened by Talus.
Pollente, a Saracen warrior who extorts money from travelers.
Munera, his daughter, the keeper of his treasury.
Giant Communism, Artegall's foe. He tries to weigh everything in his
scales, but he learns, before Talus hurls him into the sea, that truth
and falsehood, right and wrong, cannot be balanced.
Amidas and Bracidas, brothers whose dispute over a treasure chest is
settled by Artegall.
Philtera, Bracidas' betrothed, who weds his wealthy brother.
Lucy, Amidas' deserted sweetheart and Bracidas' wife.
Sir Turpine, a knight whom Artegall discovers bound and tormented by
Radigund, Queen of the Amazons. She captures Artegall and dresses him in
woman's clothes to humiliate him, then falls in love with him and tries
unsuccessfully to win him.
Clarinda, her attendant, who comes to love Artegall as she woos him for
Dolon, Deceit, a knight who tries to entrap Britomart.
Mercilla, a just and merciful maiden queen whose realm is threatened by
a mighty warrior.
The Souldan, her enemy, thought to represent Philip of Spain. He is
destroyed by the brilliant light of Prince Arthur's diamond shield.
Malengin, an ingenious villain who transforms himself into different
shapes at will. Talus crushes him with his iron flail.
Belgae, a mother who loses twelve of her seventeen children to the
tyrant Geryoneo and appeals to Mercilla for help.
Geryoneo, her enemy, the power of Spain, who is slain by Artegall.
Burbon, a knight rescued by Artegall as he fights Grantorto's men to
rescue his lady, Flourdelis, France.
Sir Sergis, Irena's faithful adviser.
Calidore, the knight of Courtesy, sent to destroy the Blatant Beast,
Briana, a proud lady who abuses the laws of hospitality by demanding the
hair and beards of ladies and gentlemen who pass her castle.
Crudor, the disdainful knight for whom she weaves a mantle of hair.
Tristram, a young prince reared in the forest, who impresses Prince
Arthur by his instinctive courtesy.
Aldus, a worthy old knight.
Aladine, his son.
Priscilla, Aladine's lady.
Serena, a noble lady, severely wounded by the Blatant Beast.
Calepine, her knight.
Sir Turpine, a discourteous gentleman who refuses aid to Calepine and
Blandina, his wife, who tries to assuage his cruelty.
The Salvage Man, a "noble savage," another untaught practitioner of
Matilde, a childless noblewoman who adopts a baby rescued by Calidore
from a bear.
Mirabella, a proud, insolent lady.
Disdaine and Scorne, her tormentors.
Pastorella, a nobleman's daughter who grows up with shepherds. Calidore
falls in love with her and with her rustic life.
Meliboee, her wise foster father, who warns Calidore that happiness is
not to be found in one place or another but in oneself.
Coridon, Pastorella's shepherd admirer.
Colin Clout, a shepherd poet who pipes to the graces on Mount Acidale.
Sir Bellamour, Calidore's friend, Pastorella's father.
Claribell, his wife.
Melissa, her maid, who discovers Pastorella's true identity.
Mutability, a proud Titaness who challenges the power of Cynthia, the
Cynthia, her rival.
Mercury, the messenger of the gods.
Jove, the king of the gods.
Mollana, a nymph and an Irish river.
Faunus, a satyr who pursues her.
Dame Nature, a great veiled figure who hears Mutability's arguments and
judges, finally, that order reigns in all change.