The gold belt of Florimell (also sometimes called a girdle) symbolizes chastity and, in particular, how true chastity is worth as much as gold—if not more. Florimell is one of the most chaste and beautiful women in the story. Her belt, which makes its wearer worthy of chaste love and which originally belonged to Venus, first becomes significant when a beast attacks Florimell and the belt gets left behind, leaving some characters like Sir Satyrane to fear that Florimell has died. Later, the gold belt plays a key role in a tournament of knights, when a beauty contest among the ladies leads to the belt being given as a prize to a false version of Florimell created by a hag. The belt rejects its new wearer, slipping off, and many other women at the tournament try to wear the belt, only to find it also slipping off of them, too. This suggests that chastity—particularly of the kind Florimell demonstrates—is rare among women and should be valued. (Notably, the chaste Amoretta is able to wear Florimell’s belt, suggesting that she is similarly worthy of chaste love.) The return of the gold belt back to the real Florimell in Book V suggests that false women and false chastity won’t hold up to scrutiny, whereas patience and endurance like Florimell’s will be rewarded.
Florimell’s Gold Belt Quotes in The Faerie Queene
Now when the Beast, which by her wicked art
Late forth she sent, she backe returning spyde,
Tyde with her broken girdle, it a part
Of her rich spoyles, whom he had earst destroyd,
She weend, and woundrous gladnesse to her hart applyde.
Then was that golden belt by doome of all
Graunted to her, as to the fairest Dame.
Which being brought, about her middle small
They thought to gird, as best it her became;
But by no meanes they could it thereto frame.