Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion

Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion Glossary


In Greek legends, Arion is a famous musician and singer who wins a prominent and lucrative singing competition. Sailing home, he is accosted by the sailors of the ship who wish to kill him and take his newly-won treasures. Given the choice of killing himself (but having a proper burial once land is reached) or throwing himself into the sea to drown, Arion proposes a third option: he will perform one last song before diving into the ocean. Arion's beautiful song summons several dolphins, one of whom rescues him when he jumps into the sea. The sailors are unaware of his rescue, and presume him dead.


a poetic convenetion in which a woman's beauty is described by singling out her various body parts and describing them with an appropriate metaphor


a flowered shelter, sometimes used as an afternoon resting place; it may also refer to a lady's bedchamber, from the term "boudoir"


A pair of rhyming lines, often used at the end of a poem to draw or reinforce a conclusion based on the preceding verses


In Roman mythology, Cupit (Greek Eros) was the son of Venus (Aphrodite). As a child of the goddess of love and passion, it became Cupid's job to find mortals to inflame with passionate desire for one another.

Cyprian Queene

"Cyprian Queene" is a reference to Venus (Greek Aphrodite), goddess of love and beauty. Some ancient Greek traditions hold her birthplace to be the island of Cyprus.


In classical Greek mythology, Echo was one of the nymphs whom Zeus (Latin Juno) would visit whenever he could dodge the attention of his wife Hera (Latin Juno). If Hera followed Zeus to the nymphs' dwelling, Echo would prattle on to Hera incessantly, distracting her from her husband's affairs with the other nymphs. Echo was known to be in love with the sound of her own voice, so when Hera discovered the ruse she punished Echo by cursing her to never speak on her own again--from that point on, Echo could only repeat the words of others.


In classical mythology, the Furies were the agents of torture and vengeance. They are depicted as winged women who pursue mortals, driving these men to mete out justice as demanded by Fate.


In Greek mythology, Hymen was the god who presided over marriage ceremonies. In order to ensure the success of a marriage, his name was invoked in a song sung at the wedding.


In classical Roman mythology, Juno (Greek Hera) is the wife and sister of Jove or Jupiter (Greek Zeus). She is considered a patron of loving marriage and is invoked on behalf of worshipers seeking a peaceful marriage.


In Greek mythology, Medusa is one of the gorgons, hideous monsters capable of killing anyone who dared draw near to them. In some stories, Medusa was originally a beautiful human woman, a priestess of Athena, until she desecrated Athena's temple by having sexual relations with the god Poseidon within the temple. Athena turned Medusa's hair into snakes and cursed her beauty--from that day on, anyone who looked upon Medusa's face would turn to stone.


a direct comparison of two unlike things, with the purpose of attributing qualities of the one to the other


A motif is an image or set of images repeated throughout a work.


In classical mythology, Narcissus was a young hunter renowned for his physical beauty. One day Narcissus comes upon a quiet pool of water and, seeing his reflection in it, becomes enthralled. Unable to leave the beautiful image in the water, Narcissus eventually wastes away and dies.


In Greek mythology, nymphs were minor nature spirits, usually depicted as beautiful young women. They usually associate with nature gods such as Pan or Artemis, or gods of celebration such as Dionysus.


Pandora is the "first woman" in Greek mythology. In some stories, she was created by the gods to give man a companion; in others, she is sent as a distraction and a punishment for man's inattentiveness to the gods. Some accounts have each of the gods bequeathing some appropriate gift to Pandora's character, making her highly desirable to her new mate. In some cases these gifts are not part of Pandora herself, but are placed within a box, which she is to deliver to her husband. Overcome by curiosity, Pandora opens the box, allowing the gifts to escape away from man--all but one, which she manages to trap within the box at the last instant. This sole gift remaining is hope, which gives man the drive he needs to pursue the others.


In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the long-suffering wife of Odysseus, who is missing for twenty years. During that time, many men of Odysseus' homeland (Ithaca) become Penelope's unwelcome suitors. Penelope is known for her beauty, but she is also in possession of a great estate and the riches and prestige won by her famous husband. In order to keep the suitors at bay, Penelope agrees to decide upon a new husband once she has finished weaving a burial shroud for her father. After each day's work, however, Penelope unravels the threads she has woven so that her work will never be complete. Her deception is discovered by a disloyal handmaid, and Penelope is almost forced to choose a husband. Fortunately, Odysseus arrives in time to reclaim his wife and his estate.


The Spanish form of the Greek name "Phoibos," also known as Helios or Apollo, the god of the sun and, by extension, the god of light and knowledge. As Apollo, he is also considered the god of poetry and the arts.


A group of four lines of poetry, usually with the rhyme scheme ABAB, and focused on one particular subject or image


In poetry, a refrain is a repeated phrase or line. Often a refrain is used to give a poem a more songlike quality, suggesting it should be read aloud. Also, a refrain may highlight a theme of the work, and can even be used to accentuate a change in tone, as when the refrain takes on a new meaning than it has had in previous stanzas following a set of verses that shed new light on it.


a simile is...

Spenserian Sonnet

A sonnet form popularized by Edmund Spenser, having the rhyme scheme abab bcbc cdcd ee. The three quatrains are connected by the shared rhyme, while the couplet usually provides a conclusion or closure for the subject of the sonnet proper.


another word for "spirit," usually meaning a person's inner character or soul. It is often interchangeable with wit, mind, or heart. It is also connected to the term "sprite," meaning tiny nature spirits of pagan origin.