This article examines a central narrative and ethical motif of Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene-the golden chain-in the context of Spenser's broader debts to Homeric epic. While largely neglected in favor of more immediate sources, such as Virgil's Aeneid and Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, the influence of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey is profoundly felt in Spenser's mythography of strife. In its representation of the consequences of cosmological and spiritual strife, The Faerie Queene realizes the classical and late antique allegorical tradition of interpreting Homeric epic as illustrative of the doctrines of pre-Socratic philosophers such as Heraclitus and Empedocles. Its moral landscape structured according to the oppositional yet complementary forces of love and strife, Spenser's epic enacts the Homeric-Empedoclean epic of the allegorists so as to offer its own etiology of discord, one sympathetic with, but also distinct from, that of Homer.


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Print ISSN
pp. 1220-1288
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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