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University of Chicago Press

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Spenser Studies

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DOI: 10.1086/717094


Figuring the enforcement of authority against rebellion, the war between the Olympians and the earth-spawned Giants is typically read as a marker of ideology. In The Faerie Queene, Spenser’s abundant allusions to the Gigantomachia can seem straightforwardly ideological, aligning Olympian rule with his virtue-knights, avatars of Elizabethan hegemony, and his giants with subversion. This essay explores another significance for the Gigantomachia, reviewing a different tradition of meaning for the myth-pattern and locating it in the poem—a tradition wherein, rather than liberation in the political realm, the Giants portend the radical oversimplification and even the nullification of thought within the mind. Through conflict with giants, Spenser argues the importance of logic: investigating, idea inventing, discriminating, dialoguing. Giants help clarify the picture of the place of logic, particularly in a Ramist vein, in The Faerie Queene. The foci are the Egalitarian Giant and the correspondences between Orgoglio and Disdaine.


Published version. Spenser Studies, Vol. 36 (2022): 179-207. DOI. © 2022 University of Chicago. Used with permission.

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