Belphoebe


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Belphoebe

perfect maidenhood; epithet of Elizabeth I. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene]
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When Elizabeth was connected to martial women during her lifetime, other associative values were usually stressed: Diana, goddess of the hunt, was often used in court literature, but authors would link Elizabeth to her chastity and beauty rather than any explicitly violent tendencies--The Faerie Queene's virginal huntress Belphoebe, for example (Spenser 1590 and 1596).
These topics of virtue reveal themselves in several different ways throughout the poem: sometimes Spenser has his characters, such as Redcrosse, struggle with interpreting virtue; other times he depicts one virtue in several different ways via several different characters, as is the case with Elizabeth's simultaneous role as Una, Briotomart, Belphoebe, and Gloriana; alternatively, he may allow a character to narrate coming to virtuous knowledge, as is the case with Arthur and Gloriana.
On the contrary, the only fixed identification is that of Gloriana and Belphoebe as the public and private aspects of Elizabeth I:
The images of the warrior king, or David battling Goliath, which had been employed as appropriate to the reign of Henry VIII, (3) yielded under Elizabeth to those of Deborah, Astraea, Belphoebe and Tuccia the Virgin.
42), another clue-giving detail whereby she becomes comparable to Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen who was in the public eye an embodiment of charm and dignity and hailed as Gloriana, Belphoebe alongside the Phoenix Maid (Bell 300).
No record exists of her censure of Spenser for critically depicting in The Faerie Queene her treatment of Ralegh in the allegory of Belphoebe and Timias's relationship.
They saw Judith and Esther, Gloriana and Belphoebe, Diana the virgin huntress, and Minerva the wise protectress, and best of all their own beloved Queen and Mistress, come in this hour of danger in all simplicity to trust herself among them.
A key example of this is the Garden of Adonis, which sexualizes Platonic theories of ideal forms, showing that the chastity of Belphoebe is missing the point so that she serves as an antithesis of Britomart.
So when Belphoebe defeats Braggadocchio in Book II, Spenser is endorsing the Queen's attack on 'the frivolous life of pleasure', hoping to celebrate the nation, Virgilian style, and direct his reader to 'the central tenets of Christian theology', rooting 'these somewhat contradictory ideals in the concrete particulars of the Elizabethan court' (100).
Belphoebe, a virgin huntress, reared by the goddess Diana, who cannot respond to the devotion offered by Prince Arthur's squire, Timias.
Badly injured himself, he is discovered by the virgin huntress Belphoebe.
In a striking inversion of the poem's reflection of Queen Elizabeth in several of its heroines, the Perelandran queen seems to reflect not only the biblical Eve and Spenser's Una, but also the poem's Britomart, Belphoebe, and even Acrasia.