Idleness take the lead

You knew it wasn’t a horseless carriage so now we learn the six beasts that are in harness and evidently are Lucifera’s primary counsellors despite being completely subservient. But as we read, they are also the personification of sins.

But this was drawne of six vnequall beasts,
On which her six sage Counsellours did ryde,
Taught to obay their bestiall beheasts,
With like conditions to their kinds applyde:
Of which the first, that all the rest did guyde,
Was sluggish Idlenesse the nourse of sin;
Vpon a slouthfull Asse he chose to ryde,
Arayd in habit blacke, and amis thin,
Like to an holy Monck, the seruice to begin.

The first Sin is Idleness, riding on a slothful ass and looking like a monk. If I recall my English history, monks were not receiving any support from the English monarchy about this time and you know how distrustful those Catholics were (Lucifera and her minions are therefore linked to Rome, which makes them the bad guys):

And in his hand his Portesse still he bare,
That much was worne, but therein little red,
For of deuotion he had little care,
Still drownd in sleepe, and most of his dayes ded;
Scarse could he once vphold his heauie hed,
To looken, whether it were night or day:
May seeme the wayne was very euill led,
When such an one had guiding of the way,
That knew not, whether right he went, or else astray.

From worldy cares himselfe he did esloyne,
And greatly shunned manly exercise,
From euery worke he chalenged essoyne,
For contemplation sake: yet otherwise,
His life he led in lawlesse riotise;
By which he grew to grieuous malady;
For in his lustlesse limbs through euill guise
A shaking feuer raignd continually:
Such one was Idlenesse, first of this company.

You might think Spenser is writing about a member of the US House of Representatives but as great as he was, even Edmund Spenser could not imagine a less useful waste of sentient (arguably) beings. Besides, tea wasn’t even introduced to England until the mid-17th century so the concept of tea-bagging probably wasn’t in Spenser’s repertoire.

Juno’s golden chair

Lucifera calls for her coach and heads out in public. There are implication of Elizabeth Regina in her description. What are all the presumed courtiers doing riding each other?

Suddein vpriseth from her stately place
The royall Dame, and for her coche doth call:
All hurtlen forth, and she with Princely pace,
As faire Aurora in her purple pall,
Out of the East the dawning day doth call:
So forth she comes: her brightnesse brode doth blaze;
The heapes of people thronging in the hall,
Do ride each other, vpon her to gaze:
Her glorious glitterand light doth all mens eyes amaze.

Note the comparison with Juno (Juno and the Paycock being a more modern rendition of the story?)

So forth she comes, and to her coche does clyme,
Adorned all with gold, and girlonds gay,
That seemd as fresh as Flora in her prime,
And stroue to match, in royall rich array,
Great Iunoes golden chaire, the which they say
The Gods stand gazing on, when she does ride
To Ioues high house through heauens bras-paued way
Drawne of faire Pecocks, that excell in pride,
And full of Argus eyes their tailes dispredden wide.

 

Fool me once …

The Knight, this time, is concerned that the Princess is perhaps not all she seems and all they have heard.

Soone as the Elfing knight in presence came,
And false Duessa seeming Lady faire,
A gentle Husher, Vanitie by name
Made rowme, and passage for them did prepaire:
So goodly brought them to the lowest staire
Of her high throne, where they on humble knee
Making obeyssance, did the cause declare,
Why they were come, her royall state to see,
To proue the wide report of her great Maiestee.

It doesn’t seem to me that this Princess is to be trusted, which is emphasized by all the concern for fashion that surrounds her.

With loftie eyes, halfe loth to looke so low,
She thanked them in her disdainefull wise,
Ne other grace vouchsafed them to show
Of Princesse worthy, scarse them bad arise.
Her Lordes and Ladies all this while deuise
Themselues to setten forth to straungers sight:
Some frounce their curled haire in courtly guise,
Some prancke their ruffes, and others trimly dight
Their gay attire: each others greater pride does spight.

The Knight isn’t buying it.

Goodly they all that knight do entertaine,
Right glad with him to haue increast their crew:
But to Duess’ each one himselfe did paine
All kindnesse and faire courtesie to shew;
For in that court whylome her well they knew:
Yet the stout Faerie mongst the middest crowd
Thought all their glorie vaine in knightly vew,
And that great Princesse too exceeding prowd,
That to strange knight no better countenance allowd.

This is like one of those moments in the movies where (often to the accompaniment of ominous music) you know something is going to jump out at you.

How about that Lucifera?

Spenser uses many Biblical and Classical references to indicate that Lucifera is not a nice person. She is exceedingly vain and showy, projecting herself in terms that only refer to Una. She looks up to the sky as if pious but looks down on the earth as a mean place unfit for her benevolence and beauty.

High aboue all a cloth of State was spred,
And a rich throne, as bright as sunny day,
On which there sate most braue embellished
With royall robes and gorgeous array,
A mayden Queene, that shone as Titans ray,
In glistring gold, and peerelesse pretious stone:
Yet her bright blazing beautie did assay
To dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne,
As enuying her selfe, that too exceeding shone.

A little hubris, comparing herself to Phaeton … but then again, what happened to Phaeton.

Exceeding shone, like Phoebus fairest childe,
That did presume his fathers firie wayne,
And flaming mouthes of steedes vnwonted wilde
Through highest heauen with weaker hand to rayne;
Proud of such glory and aduancement vaine,
While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen,
He leaues the welkin way most beaten plaine,
And rapt with whirling wheeles, inflames the skyen,
With fire not made to burne, but fairely for to shyne.

So proud she shyned in her Princely state,
Looking to heauen; for earth she did disdayne,
And sitting high; for lowly she did hate:
Lo vnderneath her scornefull feete, was layne
A dreadfull Dragon with an hideous trayne,
And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,
Wherein her face she often vewed fayne,
And in her selfe-lou’d semblance tooke delight;
For she was wondrous faire, as any liuing wight.

Nice lineage:  with parents like these it’s hard to be considered fair and gentle.

Of griesly Pluto she the daughter was,
And sad Proserpina the Queene of hell;
Yet did she thinke her pearelesse wroth to pas
That parentage, with pride so did she swell,
And thundring Ioue, that high in heauen doth dwell,
And wield the world, she claymed for her syre,
Or if that any else did Ioue excell:
For to the highest she did still aspyre,
Or if ought higher were then that, did it desyre.

Ah yes, Lucifera, who has no kingdom and rules it with wrong and tyranny.

And proud Lucifera men did her call,
That made her selfe a Queene, and crownd to be,
Yet rightfull kingdome she had none at all,
Ne heritage of natiue soueraintie,
But did vsurpe with wrong and tyrannie
Vpon the scepter, which she now did hold:
Ne ruld her Realmes with lawes, but pollicie,
And strong aduizement of six wisards old,
That with their counsels bad her kingdome did vphold.

(Note that the Wizards first game of 2012 is November 3 against the Boston Celtics at the Verizon Center.)