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The sources of Spenser's classical mythology online

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Professor Wwt &. (oofc.



Miss SAWTELLE'S book was undertaken as a doctoral thesis
in the English department of Yale University. It has been
wrought out with singular care, and very little has been taken at
second hand, so that it may fairly be depended upon as accurate
in scholarship.

There ought, I should think, to be a modest place in col-
leges and schools for a work of this nature ; certainly where
Spenser is studied, and perhaps where attention is paid to any of
the poetic Elizabethans. Spenser's mythology is by no means
peculiar to himself, and much of it may be used for the illustra-
tion of poetry in its whole range from the times of great Eliza-
beth to the present.

Mr. Churton Collins, as well as Matthew Arnold, has made
himself the spokesman of the doctrine that English literature
should be studied in the light of the ancient classics; and perhaps
this opuscule will be accepted by those who are of the same mind
with these writers, as an illustration of their theory.

The author has necessarily traveled much in the realms of
gold, while in quest of the materials for freighting her little craft ;
and I trust that her venture will do something to convince those
who have doubted whether scholarship was quite compatible with
literary appreciation, that the two need not perforce be disjoined.

A. s. C.
NEW HA VEX, July, 1896.


To the serious student no great author is an isolated fact,
but rather the product of numerous influences, more or less
direct. To see each author in his proper setting, not in relation
to his own age only, but also to "those divine men of old time,"
is the aim of all worthy literary study ; for then, and then only,
can he be fully understood.

The unity of the great world-literature cannot be too early
or too often insisted upon ; and proud as we may be of the indi-
vidual traits in our own English literature, it is, after all, strongly
marked by foreign influences, ancient and modern. A thorough
study of any one of its departments but confirms this view : the
model of Milton's epic is to be found in Virgil's ^Eneid, and the
Iliad and Odyssey of Homer ; our lyrics are in many ways
but the echoes of those sung many centuries ago by the shores
of the ^Egean Sea ; and independent as was the growth of our
drama on its romantic side, it has yet other, classical qualities,
which find their source in the plays of Sophocles and Euripides.

After the Renaissance, which flooded England with originals
and translations of ancient masterpieces, the classical note be-
came a dominant one in our literature, and particularly did the
richly imaginative mythology of Greece and Rome appeal to our

No more conspicuous example of this fact can be cited than
Edmund Spenser : the gods and heroes of antiquity glide over his
pages as naturally as over those of Homer and Pindar, Virgil and
Ovid. Mingled with the poet's own conceptions is a great mass
of classical mythology ; and it is the sources of this which are
considered in this volume.

So far as is known, this is the first attempt that has been


made to furnish anything like a full treatment of Spenser's
classical mythology, although fragmentary considerations of the
subject have appeared from time to time. Such are those in Jor-
tin's and Warton's Remarks on Spenser ; but these essays most
excellent and suggestive as far as they go are confessedly in-
complete, for both scholars realized the extent of the subject
touched upon. Furthermore, the sources of Spenser's mythology
are treated in the notes of various editions of his works notably
those of Todd and Upton ; but here, too, the treatment does not
assume to be more than fragmentary, and there is certainly little
attempt at grouping the various passages and comparing Spenser
with himself.

An investigation conducted along these lines reveals some
interesting facts in regard to Spenser's treatment of the classical
myths, most conspicuous of which is his complete mastery of
them. Never does he give us the impression that he is subserv-
ient to them, but always that they are at his bidding to help in
carrying out the purposes of his poems. This sense of mastery
leads him occasionally to rise superior to the strict letter of the
Original, and, while always preserving its spirit, he at times de-
liberately perverts a myth in order that it may better accord with
his immediate purpose (see Coronis) ; or, again, he seizes upon
some hint from the classics, and constructs a myth of his own,
\but so imbued with the spirit of its antique models that an
expert might find it hard to detect the difference (see Asteria)
Even when Spenser paraphrases long extracts from the classics,
he embellishes them with beauties from his own imagination,
so that he does not seem under limitations, even here (see

Occasionally, however, our poet nods ; and, either from care-
lessness or ignorance, makes mistakes in certain minor details
(see Palici); but when we contemplate the vast extent of his
borrowings from the classics, we can only wonder that these
errors are not more numerous.

It is true that Spenser may be studied upon many sides ; but
no other view of him could impress one more deeply with the
thoroughness of his scholarship. Although in certain minor de-
tails he may have been indebted to intermediate authorities, like


Natalis Comes (Noel Conti) a popular mythographer of the
sixteenth century or to other poets of the Middle Ages, yet
there is every evidence, from the paraphrasing of the Greek and
Latin, and from the vital, original spirit breathing through the
mythological passages, that he drew his inspiration directly from
the fountain-heads. The numerous classical authorities cited by
E. K. in support of the Shepheard's Calender would alone indicate
this. Then, too, the catholicity of his knowledge must impress
one. Although fascinated by Ovid, and under the spell of Virgil,
he is inspired none the less by the Greek authors, from Homer
and Hesiod down to Theocritus and Bion.

As Aubrey de Vere so aptly expresses it, " In one respect,
however, it must be admitted that the Renaissance had assisted
Spenser : it had imparted to him an acquaintance with classical,
and especially with mythological lore, such as no mediaeval writer
possessed. His own profound sense of beauty made him fully
appreciate what was thus presented to him ; and whereas medi-
aeval writers had often dealt with antiquity as mediaeval painters
had done, placing the head of a saint on the neck of a Hebe or
a Mars, he entered into the spirit in an ampler manner than any
of his predecessors, or than any southern poet." (Characteristics
of Spenser's Poetry, Grosart Edition of Spenser.)

Occasional quotations have been made in the pages following
from English translations of the classics : from the Iliad, trans-
lated by Lang, Leaf, and Myers ; Butcher and Lang's Odyssey ;
the Homeric Hymns, translated by Parnell, Chapman, Shelley, Con-
greve, and Hole ; Cooke's Hesiod ; Myers' Pindar ; Lawton's and
Potter's Euripides; Taylor's Greece of Pausanias ; Fawkes' Apol-
lonius Rhodius ; Apuleius (Bohn Library) ; Lonsdale and Lee's
JEneid ; Riley's Ovid ; De Vere's Horace.

Acknowledgment is due also to Jortin's and Warton's Re-
marks on Spenser and Upton's and Todd's editions of Spenser, for
ultimate help in the case of several difficulties already wrestled
with, while it has been a pleasure to discover their confirmation
of various particulars independently treated.

The Globe Edition of the Complete Works of Edmund
Spenser has been used as the basis of this investigation ; and its
order and numbering have been followed, except in the case of


Virgil's Gnat, the references to -which are to stanzas rather than
to single verses.

The spelling of the proper names in the headings has been
normalized to correspond to the usual Latin forms; and only
when Spenser's spelling is so widely at variance with this as to
cause possible confusion, has it been taken into account.

A. E. s.


A. A. ATS Amatoria.

.ffin. .ffineid.

Am. Amoretti.

Amor. Amores.

Anac. Anacreon.

Anth. Lat. Anthologia Latina.

Apoll. Apollodorus.

Ap. Rh. Apollonius Rhodius.

Argonaut. Argonautica.

Aristoph. Aristophanes.

Ast. Astrophel.

Call. Callimacbus.

Carm. Carmina.

Cic. Cicero.

Claud. Claudian.

Co. Cl. Colin Clout's Come Home

Com. Commentarius ex Cicerone in

Somnium Scipionis.

Daph. Daphnaida.

De Benef . De Beneflciis.

De Nat. Deor. De Natura Deorum.

De Fluv. De Fluviis.

Dial. Deor. Dialogi Deorum.

Dial. Mort. Dialogi Mortuorum.

Diod. Sic. Diodorus Siculus.

Eel. Eclogues.
Elec. Electra.
Ep. Epithalamion.
Eurip. Euripides.

Fab. Fables.
Fast. Fasti.
F. Q. Faerie Queene.

Georg. Georgics.
Gigant. Gigantomachia.

H. B. Hymne in Honour of Beautie.
Her. Heroides.

H. H. B. Hymne of Heavenly Beau-

Hip. Hippolytus.
H. L. Hymne in Honour of Love.
Horn. Hymn. Homeric Hymn.
Hor. Horace.
Hyg. Hyginus.

H. Iliad.
Imag. Imagines.
Int. Introduction.

Lucret. Lucretius.
Lye. Lycophron.
Lys. Lysistrata.

Mart. Martial.

Met. Metamorphoses.

M. H. T. Mother Hubberds Tale.

TVrin, Minos.

Mui. Muiopotmos.

Nupt.Pel.etThet. Nuptials of Pe-
leus and Thetis.

Od. Odyssey.
Olymp. Olympic.
Orest. Orestes.
Orph. Orpheus.
Ov. Ovid.

Paus. Pausanias.

Phsed. Phsedrus.

Plat. Plato.

Plut. Plutarch.

Poet. Astron. Poeticon Astronomi-


Pont. Ep. Pontic Epistles.
Pref. Preface.




Pro. Prothalamion.
Prol. Prologue.
Pyth. Pythian.


Ruines of Rome.
Ruines of Time.

Sat. Saturnalia.

S. C. Shepheards Calender.

Schol. Scholiast.

Serv. Servius.

Silv. Silvse.

Soph. Sophocles.

Stat. Statius.

Strab. Strabo.

Sup. Supplices.

Theb. Thebaid.

Theoc. Theocritus.

Theog. Theogony.

T. M. Teares of the Muses.

Trist. Tristia.

Tzet. Tzetzes.

V. B. Visions of Bellay.
Ver. Verses.
V. G. Virgils Gnat.
Virg. Virgil.

V. W. V. Visions of the "Worlds

W. and D. Works and Days.




ACHERON. -F. Q. 1. 5. 33.

One of the rivers in the Lower World, mentioned by Virgil
(Mn. 6. 295).

ACHILLES. P. Q. 3. 2. 26; V. G. 66; H. L. 233.

F, Q. 3. 2. 25 contains a reference to the famous armor of
Achilles, which, according to //. 18. 468 ff., Vulcan made for
Achilles at the request of Thetis.

In V. G. 66 the oft-repeated story of the triumph of Achilles
(.ZEacides) over Hector is referred to. With this compare II. 22,
where a lengthy description of the combat between the two heroes
is related. Spenser (upon his own authority, since the statement
does not occur in the original of Virgil's Gnat) says that Achilles
dragged the body of Hector three times around Troy. The au-
thority for this is not found in the Iliad, which says that Achilles
bound the body of Hector to his chariot and dragged him to the
Greek camp; but in JEn. 1. 483: "Thrice round Ilium's walls
had Achilles dragged Hector, and now he was selling his lifeless
body for gold." For the death of Achilles at the hands of Paris
(V. G. 67), see//. 22. 359.

The power of love over Achilles is mentioned in //. L. 233 :

Achilles preassing through the Phrygian glaives.

This is a reference to Achilles' love for Patroclus, whose death
spurred him on to the battle with the Trojans, which is described
in II. 19. 20, ff. The immediate source of the allusion is shown
from the grouping to be the Symposium of Plato.

13 "


ACONTIUS. F. Q. 2. 7. 55.

The romantic story of the love of Acontius for Cydippe and
of the means by which he won her love is here cited. As in
several other myths, it was an apple which played the important
part. This fair youth, Acontius, saw the beautiful Cydippe wor-
shiping in the temple of Diana. He succumbed to her charms at
once, and wished to make her his wife. In order to accomplish
this, he threw an apple at her feet. On it was inscribed the solemn
vow, " I swear by Diana to marry Acontius." Cydippe, receiving
the apple, read the words aloud. She threw the apple away, but
all too late. Her vow had been heard and registered, and after
various delays she was wedded tp Acontius.

The myth forms the groundwork of Her. 20, 21, which are
attributed to Ovid ; it is the subject also of one of the epistles
of Aristsenetus.

F. Q. 4. 11. 50. See Nereids.
ADMETTJS. F. Q. 3. 11. 39. See Apollo.


No passage in the works of Spenser more plainly reveals
that teeming imagination which has given him the name of " the
poet's poet," than that which describes the gardens of Adonis
(F. Q. 3. 6. 29 ff.). Underlying the poetry of it there is also
a deep philosophy, the discussion of which does not concern us
here. The myth upon which this and other passages rest is vari-
ously related :

Apollodorus (3. 14. 4) says that Adonis was the son of a cer-
tain Myrrha, who had neglected the worship of Venus, and had
been, in punishment, cursed with an unnatural love for her own
father. The Gods took pity upon Myrrha, and changed her into
a tree (comp. Met. 10. 299 ff.). When Myrrha's child Adonis
was born, Venus was charmed by his beauty, and intrusted him
to the keeping of Proserpina ; but Proserpina, also captivated by
the boy, refused to give him up. The case was submitted to
Jove, who decided that two-thirds of each year Adonis should
divide between Venus in this world and Proserpina in the lower
regions ; the remaining third he should have to himself. Ado-
nis, however, preferred to spend the time allotted to himself in


the company of Venus. It was some time after this that Adonis
was killed, while hunting, by a wild boar.

The same story, with variations, is related by other authors,
such as Hyginus, Ovid, Theocritus, and Bion. Ovid (Met. 10.
731 ff.) adds that, after his death, Adonis was changed by Venus
into a flower ; and others say that after that event Venus enjoyed
the society of her beloved Adonis for only a half of each year.
Spenser, in imagination, transferred the story of the love of
Venus and Adonis to a piece of tapestry

A worke of rare device and wondrous wit.

F. Q. 3. 1. 34 ff.

The unlawful love of Myrrha is referred to in F. Q. 3. 2. 41.

But all this story was originally something more than a mere
poetic fiction : there was in it the basis of the worship of Adonis,
which was brought from Syria, through Asia Minor, into Greece.
The alternating death and revival of Adonis seem to typify the
decay and revival of vegetation. This idea was prominently
brought out in the Adonia, or annual festivals of Adonis. We
learn from the ancients that they lasted two days : the first com-
memorated the disappearance of Adonis ; the second, his return
to life. On this occasion earthen vessels, called the " gardens of
Adonis," were placed as symbols before the temples of Adonis.
In them were planted herbs, which were forced to quick growth
only to decay as rapidly (Aristoph. Lys. 362 ; Pax, 410 ; Theoc.
Adon.). Thus the term " garden of Adonis " became synonymous
with " hot-box," as in the Phcedrus of Plato, where Socrates asks
if a wise man would be likely to plant his seed in a garden of
Adonis, and not rather in soil where it would grow to life in a
natural way. It is on this term that Spenser has seized ; and we
have the amplification of the idea back of it in the famous de-
scription of the Gardens of Adonis " the first seminary Of all
things that are borne to live and dye According to their kinds "
(F. Q. 3. 6. 21 ff.). The idea which pervades the passage the
indestructibility of life, which appears again and again under
new forms is familiar to us from the Pythagorean doctrine of

Moreover, Pliny (19. 9) says that the gardens of the Hesper-
ides and of Kings Adonis and Alcinous were famous among the


ancients; and Homer (Od. 7. 112 ff.) describes that of Alcinous
a description which it is evident Spenser had in mind.

There are further references to the Gardens of Adonis in
F. Q. 2. 10. 71 and Co. Cl. 804.

. F. Q. 6. 10. 22. See Peleus.
^EJACIDES (Ajax and Achilles). V. 6.66.

Ajax and Achilles are each appropriately referred to under
this patronymic, since they were the descendants of ^Eacus. In
this stanza and the preceding, where Ajax is called the son of
Telamon, the single combat of Hector and Ajax, and the bravery
of the latter in defending the Greek ships against the fire which,
under the instigation of Hector, the Trojans were bringing
against them, are referred to. For the first incident see //. 7. 1
ff. ; for the second see 11 15. 718 ff. -Compare V. G. 62.

With V. G. 67, which states that Ulysses killed Ajax, com-
pare Hyg. Fab. 107, according to which, Ajax killed himself
when the arms of Achilles were awarded to Ulysses. For
JEacides as name of Achilles, see Achilles.

JEACUS. - V. 6. 61.

.ZEacus is here mentioned as the father of Peleus and Tela-
mon, and as the judge of the Lower World. Compare 11. 16. 15 ;
Met. 13. 25 ff.

(shield). Mui. 821.

This is the -3Egis, or shield of Jove, which was an attribute
of his daughter Pallas also. It is described in //. 5. "738 ff., as
" the tasselled aegis terrible, whereon is Panic as a crown all round
about; and Strife is therein and Valour and horrible Onslaught
withal ; and therein is the dreadful monster's Gorgon head, dread-
ful and grim, portent of aegis-bearing Zeus." It is to be noticed
that, at this point, Pallas appropriates this shield, with the other
armor of her father.

In JEn. 8. 435 ff., the aegis is described as " the armour
of angry Pallas, with serpent-scales and gold, and the twine of
snakes, and on the breast of the goddess the Gorgon's self, with
eyes still rolling in her severed head." Compare F. Q. 3. 9. 22.
See also Met. 6. 79.


.S3GLNA. F. Q. 3. 11. 35.

When Spenser makes the statement that Jove won ^Egina in
the form of fire, he is supported by Met. 6. 113. Both Apollo-
dorus (3. 12. 6) and Hyginus (Fab. 52) mention the union of
jEgina 5nd Jove. Though neither speaks of the metamorphosis,
Apollodorus says that when Asopus, the father of JEgina, at-
tempted to pursue Jove when he was escaping with JDgina, the
Thunderer struck him with lightning.

. F. Q. 2. 10. 42.

jEgeria is here mentioned as a fay who taught Kuma. With
this compare Ov. Fast. 3. 263 and 275.

J3NEAS. F. Q. 3. 9. 40; H. L. 232.

The first of these passages is an outline of the story of the
JEneid. The sacking of Troy ; the escape of ^Eneas with his band
of followers ; his subsequent wanderings ; the arrival in Latium,
followed by wars ; the founding of Alba Longa by lulus, and that
of Rome by Romulus, all these points are touched upon.

2EOLUS.-F. Q. 1. 7. 9; 8. 6. 44 ; 3. 11. 42; 4. 9. 23; Mui. 420.

Our poet, as he wrote these passages, must have had in mind
those lines from the Odyssey (10. 1 ff.) where ^olus is described
as the heaven-appointed lord of the winds, or that more familiar
passage in the JEneid (1. 52 ff.) in which the winds are de-
scribed as shut up in caves and restrained by the weight of
mountains. They chafe under their confinement ; but only at the
bidding- of .<Eolus, their ruler, may they go forth over land and

In keeping with these accounts is the " blustring .ZEolus " of
the first passage from Spenser, and the " sharp blast " of .(Eolus
mentioned in the second, as is also the " gate " of ^Eolus in Mui.

In making JEolus the father of Arne (F. Q. 3. 11. 42 ; 4. 9.
23), Spenser follows Met. 6. 115 and Diod. Sic. 4. 67. The
picture of ./Eolus as an irate father, raving over the elopement
of his daughter, is, in the fact of the rage, quite in keeping with
life itself, while the manner in which the rage is exhibited is
consistent with classical mythology.


-AESCULAPIUS. F. Q. 1. 5. 86; 1. 5. 39; 1. 6. 41. See Apollo and

JESON. B. B. 10. See Argonautic Expedition.

Since Agamemnon was the chief commander of the Greek
forces in the Trojan War, even though not their hero, he is appro-
priately referred to here. 'See Iliad, passim.

For his relation to Tantalus, see Tantalus.

AGAVE. F. Q. 4. 11. 49. See Nereids.

AGAVE V. G. 22. See Bacchus.

AGENOR. F. Q. 4. 11. 15. See Founders of Nations.

AGLAIA. F. Q. 6. 10. 22. See Graces.

ALBION. F. Q. 2. 10. 11; 4. 11. 16. See Founders of Nations.


Compare Eurip. Alcestis, where the incident here referred to
is enlarged upon.

ALCZDES. F. Q. 1. 7. 17; 2. 5. 31; 3. 12. 7; 4. 1. 23 ; 6. 8. 31; 6.
12. 32; Mui. 71. See Hercules.

ALCMENA. F. Q. 3. 11. 33; B. T. 380; M. H. T. 1299; Ep. 328.

Spenser follows Met. 6. 112 when he mentions the affair with
Alcmena among the amours of Jove ; but when he says that Jove
put three nights in one for her sake, he differs from Ovid, who
says it was two nights (Amor. 1. 13. 45). Hyginus, also, says two
nights (Fab. 29). Orpheus, on the other hand, says that on the
occasion of this amour the sun did not shine for three days (Ar-
gonaut. 118). Apollodorus (2. 3. 8) also says the same. Spenser,
then, may have been indebted to one of these for his statement,
or to Lucian (Dial. Deor. 10).

Spenser further states that Mercury, with his caduceus,
brought about this lengthened night. See Mercury.

ALEBIUS. F. Q. 4. 11. 14. See Sea-Gods.
ALIMEDA. F. Q. 4. 11. 51. See Nereids.
AMAZON. F. Q. 2. 3. 31.

This is a reference to the queen of the Amazons, Penthesilea,
who came to the assistance of Priam in the Trojan War.


In JEn. 1. 491 if., we have a graphic picture of Penthesilea
at the head of her troops of Amazons. Servius, commenting
upon this passage, says that she was killed by Achilles, and this
was the commonly accepted account of her death. Spenser,
however, says she was slain by Pyrrhus, thus following Dares
Phrygius, 36.

In the numerous passages of the fifth book of the Faerie
Queene where the name " Amazon " occurs, it is freely used to
designate a character of the poem whose warlike nature and
deeds are patterned after the classical conception of the warlike

F. Q. 4, 11. 21 derives the name of the River Amazon from
a race of maiden warriors who possess it. This is in keeping
with the story that the discoverer of that river named it Amazon
because he saw some armed women on its banks.

AMMON. F. Q. 1. 6. 48. See Jove.
AMPHION. -B. B. 25.

Amphion's instrument, here mentioned, is the golden shell
whose music raised the walls of Thebes. See Apoll. 3. 5. 5, also
Ap. Rh. 1. 740:

Behind, Amphion tuned his golden shell,
Amphion, deem'd in music to excel:
Rocks still pursued him as he moved along,
Charm'd by the music of his magic song.


Fair Amphitrite, most divinely faire,
Whose yvorie shoulders weren covered all
As with a robe, with her owne silver haire,
And deckt with pearles which th' Indian seas for her prepaire.

F. Q. 4. 11. 11.

In Theog. 930 she is mentioned as the wife of Neptune, and
in the Horn. Hymn to Apollo (Deliari) she is enumerated among
the supreme goddesses of heaven who were present at the birth
of Apollo.

In F. Q. 4. 11. 49 she appears simply as one of the Nereids.
See Nereids.

She was a favorite subject with ancient artists, who delighted
to linger over her beauties, as our poet does in the lines above


AMPHITRYONIDES F. Q. 7. 7. 36. See Hercules.
ANCHISES. F. Q. 3. 9. 41. See Venus.

The peril from which Perseus freed Andromeda forms the
subject of one of the favorite myths of antiquity. Apollodorus
(2. 3. 3) relates that Cassiopea, the mother of Andromeda, boasted
that her beauty surpassed that of the Nereids. In return for this
presumption, Neptune caused the land to be flooded, and sent a
sea-monster which terrified the people. According to an oracle,
there was no escape from these calamities unless Andromeda
should be exposed to the monster. Her father, Cepheus, was

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