The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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The Faerie Queene: Book IV: Canto III Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The day comes when Priamond, Diamond, and Triamond are set to fight with Cambell for Canacee. Cambell comes in first, looking confident. His first opponent is Priamond. The two begin to fight, and at first, it seems they’re evenly matched. Priamond manages to strike a glancing blow on Cambell’s shoulder, but he is shocked to see that the wound doesn’t bleed. Cambell just gets angrier.
Tournaments are an important part of knighthood in this poem and a chance for knights to test their prowess against each other. Although some tournaments are friendly, this one is life or death.
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Eventually, Cambell manages to kill Priamond, but his ghost doesn’t fly directly to the underworld, going instead to Diamond. Though Diamond grieves the death of his brother, this doesn’t stop him from taking up the fight against Cambell.
The predictions of the fates turn out to be correct as Priamond dies young, but the sudden flight of his ghost into Diamond suggests that the Fates also honored their promise.
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Diamond and Cambell are also evenly matched, and the crowd wonders at their fiercely clashing axes. Finally, Diamond decides to end it one way or the other. He strikes a harsh blow that seems like it could rip Cambell’s soul out of his body, but Cambell sees it coming and steps aside. Diamond is in a vulnerable position, and so Cambell chops his head off. Diamond’s soul flies out and finds a new home in Triamond.
The brothers die in the order that their mother discussed with the Fates. The fact that Cambell is willing to kill knights just for attempting to win his sister suggests that knighthood could involve a brutal survival-of-the-fittest mentality at times.
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Triamond is also full of grief but unwilling to give up the challenge against Cambell. They fight, and Triamond is amazed that Cambell can keep standing after so much fighting (since Triamond doesn’t know about the magic ring). Nevertheless, Triamond lands many fierce blows that knock Cambell back.
With the souls of his two dead brothers to fortify him, Triamond is the strongest competitor that Cambell has faced yet.
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As the fight drags on, however, Triamond becomes feeble from lack of blood, while Cambell stays strong. He uses his advantage to smite Triamond through the throat and seemingly kill him. But the crowd is amazed to see how, after seemingly dying, Triamond gets up again, as if waking from a dream. The fight continues with Cambell being more cautious.
Triamond’s seeming death is prevented because he has three souls: his own, plus two from his dead brothers. This finally makes him a worthy opponent against Cambell and his ring of protection.
Themes
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Triamond and Cambell both manage to strike each other so hard at the same time that it looks like each of them is dead. But to the surprise of everyone in the audience, each rises up again, fighting as if the battle has just begun. As the two are fighting, however, suddenly there’s a loud noise. They look and see a chariot pulled by two lions coming forward.
The combined strikes of Triamond and Cambell at the same time suggest that the two of them are equally matched. Both would have died if not for their protection (Triamond from his brothers’ souls, Cambell from his sister’s ring).
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On the chariot is a fair lady who is skilled in magic. The woman rides through the crowd, carrying in her right hand the rod of peace. It turns out she’s Cambina, Triamond’s sister. Cambina falls in love with Cambell, but Cambell and Triamond soon start fighting again. Cambina intervenes by hitting each of them with her rod, and suddenly instead of attacking each other, they kiss each other and become friends.
The story of Cambell and Triamond works out with a neat ending that ties up all the conflict. Cambell and Triamond become double brothers-in-law, cementing a friendship that was forged on the battlefield.
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Canacee is delighted to see an end to the conflict. Triamond marries Canacee, and Cambell marries Cambina, and they all stay friends.
Despite the bloodshed earlier in the tournament, the canto has a harmonious ending.
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon