A goodly Lady clad in scarlot red,
Purfled with gold and pearle of rich assay
And like a Persian mitre on her hed
She wore, with crownes and owches garnished,
The which her lauish louers to her gaue. (The Faerie Queene, I.2.13.2–6)
This description of Duessa’s outfit in the scene of her first encounter with the Redcrosse knight in Book I of The Faerie Queene gets primarily glossed in Spenser editions as an anti-Catholic reference. Indeed, the mitre and scarlet both recall a bishop’s outfit and that of the Whore of Babylon in Revelation 17.4, ‘arraied in purple and skarlet, and gilded with gold and precious stones and pearles’ in the Geneva version. Read more…
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