Between courtesy and constancy: The Faerie Queene, books 6 and 7

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Matthew Lownes’s 1609 edition of The Faerie Queene claims that the Mutabilitie Cantos, printed for the very first time, “appeare to be parcell of some following Booke of the FAERIE QVEENE, VNDER THE LEGEND OF Constancie.” This essay reads the figure of Meliboe, in book 5 of Spenser’s poem, as a spokesperson for the constant, Neostoic world-view, and his debate with Calidore as an exploration of what might be at stake in the transition between courtesy and constancy. It looks at the associations of constancy in late sixteenth-century culture. Finally, it offers a reading of The Mutabilitie Cantos as attempting to reconstitute the features of a constant virtue, in part through a revision of Stoic and Nestoic discourses of property and possession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-679
JournalEnglish Literary History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2016


  • Edmund Spenser
  • Stoicism
  • Inheritance
  • The Faerie Queene


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