Ivan Canadas, The Faerie Queene, II. i-ii: Amavia,
Medina, and the Myth of Lucretia
There is critical consensus that Medina
(The Faerie Queene, II.ii) represents a mean between the errors of excess and
deficiency embodied by her sisters, Elissa and Perissa.
significance as a figure of moderation is first illustrated when she restores
the peace between her sisters’ champions—Sansloy and Huddibras—and Guyon, who
had attempted to stop the initial strife between them.
irruption, and her passionate appeal to the knights to cease fighting, is
stunning from a dramatic point of view, and, as the present paper will
demonstrate, involves a complex and distinctly ironic allusion to the legendary
Lucretia, as treated by Livy and Ovid—an allusion which, in turn, forms part of
Spenser’s Augustinian commentary on heroism and suicide, as manifested in the
deaths of Mortdant and Amavia in the immediately previous canto. By these means,
the reader is made to contrast the destructive example of the maternal suicide,
Amavia, in II.i, with the positive attributes of Medina, whose nobility and
heroism are manifested, in Canto 2, through her nurturing, life-affirming role
of hostess and peacemaker.
Keywords: Spenser; The Faerie Queene; Amavia; Medina; Guyon; Lucretia; Livy; Ovid; St.
Augustine; suicide peace; harmony