Abstract

Edmund Spenser provides a complex allegorical presentation of the Aristotelian mean in book 2 of The Faerie Queene, and draws on Platonic and Stoic treatments of temperance. But Spenser’s depiction of temperance, this article argues, gives primacy to theological approaches which overlie the classical. Protestant theologian Peter Martyr Vermigli had argued, against Aquinas, that Aristotle’s mean can be applied to the theological virtues, because “this mean is prescribed in the holy scriptures.” Spenser’s depiction of Sir Guyon’s fight with Huddibras and Sansloy echoes Paul’s verbal battle with the Stoics and Epicureans in Acts 17, a battle portrayed by Calvin as fighting for “the sound sincerity of the gospel.” Spenser’s use of Christ’s cleansing of the temple in the Bower of Bliss episode resonates with a sermon by Archbishop Edwin Sandys on this gospel story. Both Sandys and Spenser are concerned with those who destroy the souls of men by denying them access to the teaching of the scriptures.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0383
Print ISSN
0039-3738
Pages
pp. 225-254
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-16
Open Access
No
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