Edmund Spenser – “The Faerie Queene” (ctd.)

The hermit leads Redcrosse to the foot of a mountain which Spenser compares to Mount Sinai, Mount Olive and Mount Parnassus. On the top of the mountain they see the city of heavenly Jerusalem (which Spenser spells “Hierusalem”). The city is surrounded by the walls of precious stones, and angels are constantly going down and up from it. The city, in Redcrosse’s opinion, surpasses everything he has seen so far, including Cleopolis, the capital of the Faerie Queene. Cleopolis is probably a strongly idealized version of London, with an imaginary tower “built of christall cleene” called Panthea (the editors of the NAEL think it could be a reference to Westminster Abbey, as a kind of English Pantheon). The hermit says it is perfectly understandable, because Cleopolis is the most perfect city on earth, but Jerusalem is of a quite different order. It is very good that the knight serves the Faerie Queene and Una, but at some point he will have to hang up his shield and wash his hands “from guilt of bloudy field”, implying that war, even for a good purpose, is always sinful. Then the knight will climb to Jerusalem, where he will be numbered among saints as Saint George, the holy patron of England. Will Spenser finally stop referring at least to George as “he”?


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