Kathryn Walls
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Canto VI – the Church’s mission to the Gentiles
in God’s only daughter
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Una’s time with the satyrs represents the Church’s mission to the gentiles as described in the book of Acts. The satyrs’ idolatry of Una and her ass echoes (i) that of the gentiles in their attempt to worship Peter (as described in Acts 10), and (ii) the response of the people of Lystra and Melita to Paul (Acts 14, Acts 28). But the world of the satyrs is insistently mythological. As such, it is more representative of the gentile imagination than it is of the first-century Graeco-Roman world. Spenser implies that, although (as the mythographers emphasized) this mythology was fictional, it nevertheless contains poetic truth, even to the extent of foreshadowing—as Boccaccio allowed—Christian revelation. ust as the gospel history represented in canto iii resonates with Tudor history, so also does the subsequent history represented by canto vi. Spenser’s satyrs are suggestive of late medieval Catholics who, in the eyes of the Reformers, had reverted to paganism. Satyrane may represent those Catholic humanists who found in the forest of pagan mythology a fountain of Christian truth.

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God’s only daughter

Spenser’s Una as the invisible Church


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