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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser

Author(s): Philip Hardie

Source: Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici, No. 61, Callida Musa: Papers on
Latin Literature: In Honor of R. Elaine Fantham (2009), pp. 101-115
Published by: Fabrizio Serra Editore
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Philip Hardie
The Word Personified:
Farne and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser*

epic poet clbrtes th fame of his heroes in poetry

through which he himself aspires to undying fame. Fame, for
both hero and poet, defines itself against a number of negatives,
from invasion or contamination by which it must work to maintain
its integrity. Farne, in the sense of that word in modern English,
bona fama, is antithetical to infamy, malafama : both however are the
product of the same processes of noising abroad, Publishing, and
wagging tongues can as easily badmouth as praise. To win fame is
to win a name, but naming is also the most effective way of sham-
ing. Public shame is the reverse of fame, and the fear of shame is a
spur to the avoidance of hrm to one's good name, or fame. Fame
and blame are opposites, but also Siamese twins : praise-poetry and
blame-poetry, oratorical \au.atio and uituperatio, are two sides of
the same coin. Fame is also prey to the more sinister forces of envy,
which afflicts the justly famous and successful perhaps even more
than those who enjoy unmerited success. * Proverbially inuidia is
the invitable concomitant of gloria (or fama).2 Since envy is often
provoked specifically by the perception of fame (or glory), rather
than of other goods in the possession of the target of envy, the
poet is particularly obsessed with envy, for the only good securely
possessed by the poet is the fame of his poetry, his words, whose
power to endure is threatened once envy takes a hold. The poet
himself also runs the risk of being accused of envy in his writ-
ings, of ill-founded and malicious backbiting or defamation, as op-
posed to constructive criticism. Fame and Envy are in comptition

* This paper is offered in iriendship to Elaine, who has done so much for the study
of Virgil and Ovid, in the hope that she will enjoy the Spenserian grace-notes.
1 This duality is built into the Latin inuidia (the two types corresponding to two
words in Greek, and ) : see R. A. Kaster, Emotion, Restraint, and Com-
munity in Ancient Rome, Oxford 2005, eh. 4.
2 Otto, Die Sprichwrter und sprichwrtlichen Redensarten der Rmer, Leipzig 1890, p.
176. E.g. Sali. Bell Jug. 55.4 post gloriam inuidiam sequi ; Nepos Chabr. 3.3 est enim hoc
commune uitium in magnis liberisque ciuitatibus ut inuidia gloriae comes sit; Kaster, op.
cit., p. 88.

MD 6l * 2OO8

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102 Philip Hardie
with each other, a particular
and within competitive hono
Rome or Renaissance Europe
struggle for social and politi
There is a story to tell abou
range of literary genres in
difficulty of keeping separat
served) praise and blame fror
and envy is a source of acut
Ellen Oliensis and Alessand
strated: the male poet's attem
rum and social norm is shado
voice of the witch Canidia. *
matist Martial, as he attempts

In this essay I focus on pisodes and characters in the epic tradi-

tion where the sparation between fame and its opposites breaks
down, and where the boundary between what happens inside and
outside the text is infringed. My anatomy of th duplicities of fama
will concentrate on personifications, demonic embodiments of
psychological, social, and textual nergies which the poet and his
characters struggle to control, with limited success. One sign of
this lack of control is the way that these personifications spl over
and morph into one another. The process seems to start with Vir-
gil, is then formalized in the sries of four major personifications
in Ovid's Mtamorphoses, and continues in a sries of personifica-
tions that punctuate the six books of Spenser's The Faerie Queene.

Virgil, Aeneid

The personification of Fama in Aeneid 4 is the root of much of

the later classical and post-dassical tradition of personification al-
legory. She is a figure of astounding complexity who does far more

1 E. Oliensis, Canidia, Caniada, and the Decorum of Horace' s Epodes, Arethusa 24,
1991, pp. 107-135 ; A. Barchiesi, Ultime difficolt nella carriera di un poeta giambico : l'Epodo
xvii, in Atti Convegno Oravano, Nov. 1993, Venosa 1994, pp. 205-220; see also E. Gowers,
The Loaded Table. Reprsentations of Food in Roman Literature, Oxford 1993, pp. 299-310
on Epode 3.
2 M. W. Dickie, The Disavowal of Invidia in Roman Iamb and Satire, Papers of the
Liverpool Latin Seminar 3, 1981, pp. 183-208, at pp. 193-195; W. Fitzgerald, Martial,
Chicago 2007, pp. 110-112 Praise and blame, on the complex cohabitation of the two in
Martial's epierams.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser 103

than play a part at a certain point in th story of Dido and Aeneas.

An embodiment of rumour, she is also a demonic version of the
aims and working methods of the epic poet, performing a poetics
of intertextuality and of the sublime. * Her unstoppable expansion
on the vertical and horizontal axes is fuelled by the motions of
anger and sexual jealousy. Hre I want only to draw out some of
the connections between Fama and the other major embodiment
of a demonic allegorical energy in the Aeneid, the Fury Allecto. 2
Fama is a personification who aspires to the fll status of divinity
(she is called dea at Aen. 4.195) ; Allecto is a fully mythological being
who tends to the status of a personification offuror.
Fama was borne by a Mother Earth ira inaiata deorum (4.178),
hinting at an etymology of Dira from dei ira. 3 Like that other Fury
Allecto the 'unceasing' (), the untiring Fama is a distorter
and a shape-shifter, whose twistings and perversions hve the effect
of transforming the narrative of the human actions of the poem.
Fama and Allecto both riot like maenads through cities, disrupting
the normal workings of civil society (Aen. 4.666, 10.41). The mon-
ster Allecto manifests herself in multiple appearances, 7.328-329
tot sese uertit in ora, / tarn saeuae facies, tot pullult atra colubris; the
single body of Fama is anatomized into a pullulating multiplicity
of features, 4.182-183 tot uigiles oculi subter..., / tot linguae, totidem ora
sonantf tot subngit auris.
At the end of Allecto's interventions in Aeneid 7 Virgil as it were
footnotes her affiliation with Fama. 4 At 7.545 Allecto announces
to Juno 'en, perfetta tibi bello discordia tristi7: she has completed her
reenactment of the role of Discordia in book 7 of Ennius' Annah,
and now has leisure to try out another part, 7.548-550 hoc etiam his
addam, tua si mihi certa uolunta: / finitimas in betta feram rumoribus
urbeSy / accendamele animos insani Martis amore. She will go round
the cities of Italy, in the way that Fama does (4.173 magnas Libyae
it Fama per urbes). Having worked up the ero tic motions of her
previous victims into a frenzy of violent impulse, she will inflame
the peoples of Italy with a heady love of war. Juno, however, d-
clines this further service. Allecto has done enough already, and

1 As I argue in Rceptions of Lucretius, Cambridge 2009.

2 For some of the connections see S. Clment-Tarantino, Fama ou la renomme du
genre. Recherches sur la reprsentation de la tradition dans l'Enide, Ph.D. diss. Lille 2006,
p. 211.

3 R. Maltby, A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies, Leeds 1991, s.v. dirus.

4 Noted by Clment-Tarantino, op. cit., p. 670.

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104 Philip Hardie
to do more would risk transformation into a clone of Fama her-
To do more would also be to become her own scriptwriter (in-
serting an pisode that would replicate th incendiary actions of
Fama in book 4), whereas hitherto she has been th faithful actor in
a script written by Juno. ! The intervention of Fama in book 4 had
seemed to initiate a hellishly inspired train of events in opposition
to th script of th epic poet and of his presiding Olympian divinity
Jupiter, but it had quickly become apparent that th consquence
of th wildfire rumours kindled by Fama was a course-correction
to a sries of events in danger of running away from a Jupiter who
seemed to have taken his eye off th plot. Via Iarbas's prayer th
words of Fama draw Jupiter's attention to what Fama has already
put about on earth. Jupiter looks down to see oblitosfamae mlions
amantis (Aen. 4.221). As Initiator of a verbal relay that leads to th
delivery to Aeneas by Mercury of th unequivocal words of Jupi-
ter, bad Fama recalls Aeneas to a melior fama. We might wonder
whether Allecto's disruption of events in Latium was not always a
part of th plan of Jupiter.

Ovid, Mtamorphoses

The close connection between VirgiTs Fama and Allecto is reflected

in th genealogy of th four major personifications in Ovid's Mta-
morphoses: Inuidia (Met 2.760-805), Farnes (Met. 8.782-822), Somnus
+ Morpheus (Met. 11.583-673), Fama (Met. 12.39-65). 2 Their persons
and modes of opration combine allusion to both Fama and Al-
lecto, and this shared allusion forms part of th intricate network
of intratextuality that weaves together th four personifications
within th Mtamorphoses itself. 3 The squence is framed by th
two personifications that relate most directly to Virgilian Fama.
Envy and fame, are, as we have seen, related as negative and posi-
tive, although th immediate function of Ovid's Inuidia and Fama
in their respective narratives is not th detraction or clbration of

1 For a poetological reading of th Juno and Allecto pisode as th scripting of a

counter-plot to Jupiter's plot see Clment-Tarantino, op. cit., pp. 434 ff Le pome de
Junon et Allecto.
2 I have touched on some of th issues in Ovid's Poetics of Illusion, Cambridge 2002,
pp. 198-199, 231-238.
3 For some or th points in what follows see Ph. Hardie, Metamorphosis, Metaphor,
and Allegory in Latin Epie, in M. Beissinger, J. Tylus, S. Wofford (eds.), Epie Traditions in
th Contemporary World, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London 1999, pp. 89-107.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser 105

outstanding achievement. But, just as Virgil's Fama turns out to be

intimately connected with the aims of poet and his heroes, first ap-
pearances notwithstanding, so Ovid's Inuidia and Fama are replte
with poetological allusion.
I will look in most dtail at Inuidia, because in her case the
connections with th Virgilian Fama and Allecto are particularly
dense and complicated, and because it is possible to read Inuidia
as already containing, often in appropriately distorted and twisted
form, many of the lments of the three following personification
pisodes. 1
Inuidia is the agent of a goddess, Minerva, envious at the good
fortune of a mortai, Aglauros. Minerva uses Inuidia to infect
Aglauros with acute envy of the sexual good fortune - marriage to
the god Mercury - of her sister Herse (Met. 2.803-804), as VirgiTs
Fama works on Iarbas by inflaming him with jealousy at Aeneas'
good fortune in his coniugium (as Dido calls it) with the Carthag-
inian queen. 2 The physical dtails of Inuidia s attack on Aglauros
(Met. 2.797-801, the breathing in of a poison that infects the victim's
bones), are dosely modelled on Allecto's attack on Amata at Aeneid
7.346-353. VirgiTs language there is suggestively sexual, and Allecto
exploits th anger felt by both Amata and Turnus at the proposed
marriage of Lavinia to Aeneas, instead of Turnus. Through allu-
sion to both of the Virgilian pisodes Ovid thus puts his finger on
the motif of a jilted suitor that links the narratives of Dido and

Envy oftentimes soundeth Fame's trumpet, as Bellaria says in

Robert Greene's Pandosto. 3 Ovid's Envy cunctaque magna facit (Met.
2.805) 4 in the eyes of the envious Aglauros, a power of magnifica-
tion that she shares with the Virgilian and th Ovidian Fama (cf.
Met. 12.57-58 mensuraque ficti / crescit). Envy has a keen if oblique
gaze, and she conjures up painfully vivid images of the object of
envy in her victims, a power of enargeia that she shares with Fama
and with the poet. 5 The larger context for the appearance of In-
uidia in Mtamorphoses 2 adds further layers to her relevance for

1 The most penetrating analysis of Ovid's Inuidia is A. M. Keith, The Play of Fic-
tions. Studies in Ovid's Mtamorphoses Book 2, Ann Arbor (mi) 1992, pp. 124-134.
2 Aen. 4.197 incenditele animum ; cf. Met. 2.809 felicisque bonis non lenius untur Herses.
3 Cited from J. H. P. Pafford (ed.), The Winter' s Tale, London 1963, p. 199.
4 In contrast to the murmura parua (788), her first response as Minerva dparts.
5 G. Tissol, The Face of Nature. Wit, Narrative, and Cosmic Ongins in Ovid s Mtamor-
phoses, Princeton 1997, p. 67.

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io6 Philip Hardie
the poet, as Alison Keith no
self-consciously reflects ...
had enjoyed a long history o
ous", and it is typical of Ov
the specifically literary natu
the risks and rewards of sto
pulse to tell taies on Herse
crimen ngido narrare parenti
in a sries, reaching over th
of stories of tale-telling, n
with rcurrent rfrence to Callimachus' Hekale.2 Minerva's hos-
tile gaze at Aglauros (752), which anticiptes Inuidia s own destruc-
tive gaze, may allude to a fragment of the Hekale (72 Hollis), and
crucial intertexts for a personification of Envy in a poetic context
are Callimachus' Aitia prologue and the end of the Hymn to Apollo.
The story of Aglauros and Herse does not take the (possible) path
of being another in the catalogue of stories about a lingua loquax
(Met. 2.540, programmatically at the threshold of the squence) ;
the etymology of the Latin word for Envy, In-uidia, from uideo,
diverts this taie from being one about speaking to one about see-
ing;3 but under the pressure of the preceding squence of stories
about story-telling there materializes a creature who relates both
to Callimachean texts on the envy that attacks the wordsmith, and
to the Virgilian personification of tale-telling, Fama. 4
Fams, the second of the four Ovidian personifications, has an
emaciated and pallid body like that of Inuidia. She is close to Vir-
gil's Allecto in her mode of action and in her effects on her victim,
Ery sichthon, breathing herself into him, Met. 8.819 seque uiro inspi-
rt, as Allecto breathes a snaky spirit into Amata, Aen. 7.351 uipeream
inspirons animam; she works on a sleeping Erysichthon, as Allecto
on a sleeping Turnus; both men awake to a raging juror. Hunger
might seem to hve little to do with Fama, but Cicero plays on the

1 Keith, op. cit., p. 131.

2 Detailed analysis in Keith, op. cit. ; summary in A. Barchiesi, Ovidio Metamorfosi,
vol. i, Libn i-ii, Rome 2005, pp. 279-281.
3 On the rle of vision in the Inuidia pisode see D. Feeney, The Gods in Epie, Ox-
ford 1991, pp. 244-247.
4 A further intricate network of allusion connects the actions of Mercury in the
stories of Battus and Aglauros to the descent of Mercury to Carthage as a resuit of
the intervention of Fama in Aeneid 4.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser 107

assonance of fams and fama. * Cupido glonae, inanisfamae cupiditas

as Augustine puts it (Contra Acad. 2.2.58) can be an all-consuming
rage. Erysicthon's hunger is a kind of desire or love, 8.828 funi
ardor edendi; 838-839 quo copia maior / est data, plura petit turbaque
uoracior ipsa est, the self-fuelling and insatiable desire that is typical
both of greed for money and material goods in Roman moraliz-
ing discourse, and of another of Ovid's self-consuming characters,
Narcissus, the depiction of whose insatiable love owes much to Lu-
cretius' contrast between an erotic desire which can never be filled,
and physical hunger and thirst, which under normal circumstances
are easily satiated, drn 4.1093 hoc facile expletur \aticum frugumque
cupido. Erysichthon, transformed himself into something like a
personification of Fams, has ambitions over the whole world,
in the way that Fama expands unstoppably in all directions, Met.
8.830-831 nec mora, quod pontus, quod terra, quod educai aer, / post.
He becomes a grotesque caricature of the prminent unus homo,
832-833 quodque urbibus esse / quodque satis poterat populo, non sufficit
uni. But ail this filling leaves only an aching emptiness, 842 semper-
que locusfit inanis edendo. Empty /fll is one of the defining internai
dichotomies of fama, which can be vacuous in various ways. What
fills the world is nothing but words, air, letters on a page. The per-
son desirous of fame can never hve enough, because what he or
she acquires is nothing more substantial than empty words, what
people say. Fame can be empty in a more radical way, if what she
says does not correspond to reality, famamque fouemus inanem as
Iarbas taunts Jupiter at Aeneid 4.218.
The last two of the four personifications, Somnus + Morpheus
and Fama, are less demonic than Envy and Hunger. Yet the Hous-
es of both are versions of a Virgilian Underworld,2 and it is from
Hades that Juno summons Allecto. Morpheus is related to Allecto
through their shared power of shape-shifting. Morpheus, the most
powerful of ail the metapoetic figures for the writer in the Mta-
morphoses, and Fama are most directly related to the poet's func-
tion. 3
The Ovidian squence begins with a personification generated
in large part out of the Virgilian Fama and her close relative Al-
lecto, and works towards a rewriting of Fama herseif, as if finally

1 Cic. An. 1.16.5 xxxifuerunt quos fams magis quant fama commouent.
2 Hardie, op. cit. [n. 3 on p. 104], p. 89.
3 Idem, op. cit. [n. 2 on p. 104], pp. 276-278.

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io8 Philip Hardie
she can put off her disguise
th Ovidian Fama is very dif
- so th game of disguises c
Ovidian personifications, Fa
while Inuidia (together with
this point of view Inuidia an
invert the Virgilian squence

The close connections betw

of demonic forces, and betw
between the Virgilian and O
epic poets in their rewritin
els. Lucan's witch Erictho is
and she apparently has th
from the Underworld, as Ju
Dinter has shown, has many
is herself a source of metap
contains traces of ail four o
Envy, Hunger, Sleep, and F
the Venus who incites the Lemnian men to murder their menfolk
is a goddess of love who has a lot in common with the spirit of
hatred and discord, Allecto (so commenting on the links between
the actions of Venus and of Allecto within the Aeneid). 4 Venus uses
Fama as her agent to work on the Lemnian women, and in what
follows Fama and Venus take turns to disguise themselves as one
of the Lemnian women to incite their fellows. The fact that the
goddess Venus is easily interchangeable with the personification
(or motion) of love makes the two goddessesV personifications'
modes of opration closely comparable, as does also the fact that
the Virgilian Fama and Allecto work in similar ways : Valerius' Ve-
nus slips easily into the rles of both Fama and Allecto.

1 At BC 6.730-732 Erictho calls on two of the three Furies, Tisiphone and Megaera ;
does she omit the name Allecto, because that would be to cali on herself (by the logic
of intertextuality)?
2 M. Dinter, Lucan's Epic Body. Corporeality in the Bellum Civile, Ph.D. thesis, Cam-
bridge 2005, ch. 1.
3 See Idem, Lucan's Hungry Fama, 2nd M.Phil, essay, Cambridge.
* See D. Elm von der Osten, Liebe ah Wahnsinn. Die Konzeption der Goettin Venus in
den Argonautica des Valenus Flaccus, Stuttgart 2007, pp. 18-52.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser 109

Spenser, The Faerie Queene

OvicTs personifications make a systematic practice of the tendency
of VirgiTs demonic characters, above ali Fama and Alletto, to mu-
tate and bleed into each other. In The Faene Queene Edmund Spenser
follows Ovidian and Virgilian prcdent in developing the relation-
ships between his various personifications and demonic cratures.
In another respect Spenser follows a more specifically Ovidian
model, in the plot that unfolds in The Faene Queene of th contest
between the pursuit of praise and glory, and the gathering forces of
envy and detraction. There are in fact two orderings of the relation-
ship between envy and fame in Ovid. The sries of the four major
personifications of the Mtamorphoses begins with Inuidia and ends
with Fama; in the Epilogue to the poem the multiple meanings of
fama are refined into th undying fame of Ovid, whose posthu-
mous fate is to be metamorphosed into something like another
personification of Fama. The second Ovidian squence is one that
unfolds as a plot in the life of the poet himself, mapped in the s-
quence of his pre- and post-exilic works. At the end of Amores 1,
Ovid stages an unequal contest between Liuor and his confident
quest for fama erennis {Am. 1.15.7). By the end of the third and last
book of the Amores the poet boldly predicts that (3.15.8) Paelignae di-
car glona gentis ego. At the end of the Mtamorphoses Ovid envisages
a more universal scope for his everlasting fame. Exile changes ail
that: the physical security of the poet's works and the permanence
of his fame are thrown into doubt. The last poem of Ex Ponto, 4.16,
readily ofers itself as an pilogue to the book and to the career, *
an address to an inuidus who is tearing to pices his carmina. Ovid,
feebly now, repeats th commonplace that fama grows after death,
before with an address to a personified Liuor, and a futile request to
stop th defamatory sparagmos (proscindere) of th poet and scat-
tering of his (figurative) ashes.
The overarching thme of The Faene Queene is Arthur's quest for
Gloriana, the Faery Queene, in whom Spenser tells us, in the Let-
ter to Raleigh, I meane glory in my generali intention, but in my
particular I concerne the most excellent and glorious person of our
soueraine the Queene, and her kingdome in Faery land. The 1590

1 See E. Theodorakopoulos, Closure and transformation in Ovid's Mtamorphoses, in

Ph. Hardie, A. Barchiesi, S. Hinds (eds.), Ovidian Transformations, Cambridge 1999, pp.
142-161, at pp. 160-161.

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no Philip Hardie
Faerie Queene (books 1-3) is
in th heroic quest, and abo
symbiosis with royal glory
humilitie dedicate, prsent
with th eternitie of her [
1 defines th subject of th
Prince in his quest for Tan
kindled glorious fire ... in
za th poet asks for illumin
Gloriana, Queen Elizabeth,
thoughts To thinke of tha
of both hero and poet is en
or eroticized attachment to
- but compare th fame wh
sharing with his puela (Am.
Book 1 lays out a normativ
Knight has been sent on an
worship, and her grce to
is linked to the love of a
glory is dviation from th
seduced by Duessa (i.vii.7,
grassy grownd, Both carele
ngligence that provokes t
of sound and fury Orgog
is a close relative of Fama,
blustring Aeolus, his boa
Braggadochio, the embodim
condition into which Red C
the proper pursuit of fame
th lady, he, and the reader
relationship between earthl
lis, 'fame city', the seat of
rusalem. In prospect book
fame or glory both earthly
job of the following books
and finally complete. Some
Jupiter in Aeneid 1.257-296,

1 Rfrence to Aeolus draws attention to the connections within the Aeneid be-
tween Fama s windy words and her thunderbolt-like power to inflame and the storm
unleashed by Aeolus' winds in Aen. 1.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser ni

future trajectory of the history of Aeneas and his descendants,

culminating in a fame that reaches the heavens (287 famam qui ter-
minet astris), and in the final chaining of the beast Furor that has
rampaged through th previous story of the race. But this simple
plot-line is inadequate to the complications and backslidings of the
story told in the rest of the Aeneid, and which ends with fury very
much on the rampage.
The Redcross Knight enjoys an easy and seemingly conclusive
success against the first of the Faene Queene s monstrous personi-
fications in the first canto (i.i.14-26). Error, half serpent and half
woman, is the embodiment of a specifically textual kind of error:
when the Knight throttles her (i.i.20), she spewd out of her filthy
maw / A floud of poison horrible and blacke ...Her vomit fll
of bookes and papers was. Her prompt despatch is in fact only
the beginning of the wanderings, dceptions, and defamations on
which is imposed a provisionai dosure at the end of the Legend of
Holiness, and which will proliferate further in later books. Mihoko
Suzuki notes that Spenser consistently figures linguistic duplicity
through iemale monsters, who seduce by concealing their hideous
deformity under an attractive appearance. . . Spenser, unlike Virgil,
finally accepts the monstrous Other as part of the self, in his cr-
ation of the maie Blatant Beast, the final monster of language...
The rest of the Faene Queene... is animated by monsters of lan-
guage that appear to issue from Errour's dead body.1 My only
correction to this would be that Virgil too accepts the monstrous
Other as part of his poetic self, a self is deeply implicated in the
workings of the monster Fama in Aeneid 4.
In the 1596 Faene Queene (books 1-6) book i's plot of fame is put
under increasing pressure. Isabel MacCaffrey, following Northrop
Frye, identifies as a central thme of books 4-6 an interest in the
good use of human words and in the dire threat posed to human
Community by slander, as Spenser cornes increasingly to comment
self-reflexively on the oprations of his own text. 2 The monsters
of perverted speech appear as distorted reflections of the poet's

1 M. Suzuki, Mtamorphoses of Helen. Authonty, Diffrence, and the Epie, Ithaca-Lon-

don 1989, pp. 195-206 Monsters of language : from Errour to the Blatant Beast, at pp. 196
and 198.
2 I. G. MacCaffirey, Spenser' s Allegory. The Anatomy of Imagination, Princeton 1976, p.
314. See also T. H. Cain, Fraise in The Faene Queene, Lincoln-London 1978, p. 184 on the
way in which the 1596 books undermine the Renaissance idealism that informs the
encomium of Una /Elizabeth.

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112 Philip Hardie
own verbal practice. The six
glory (1 proem) and detracti
tell a story of heroic deeds in
that de tract from fame. Boo
and Marinell; book 5 works
Grantorto, but at the very e
tant Beast, in the Company o
and Detraction. Prominent am
bears is VirgiTs Fama, and t
for him in the poem (vi.i.8, v
monsters associated with th word. 1 Thus is unleashed a monster
which will rampage through book 6, until he is put in chains by
Calidore. Closure is reached, only to be re-opened (vi.xii.38) as the
Blatant Beast breaks his chain to burst out again into the world,
and to cross the boundary from the land of Faery into the present-
day world, 40.1: So now he raungeth through the world againe,
attacking gentle Poets rime, induding Spenser's own homely
verse. Self-reference by the poet forms a ring with the Proem to
book 4, with its complaint at the rugged forhead, usually identi-
fied as William CeciTs, which blmes the poet's looser rimes.
In making a leap from the fictional to the real world, the last two
stanzas of book 6 also form a ring with the Proem to book 1, yield-
ing the harshest contrast between the figures of Gloriana and the
Blatant Beast, glory and biting slander. The apparently endless
ranging abroad of the Blatant Beast is comparable to the endless
attacks of Liuor on Ovid in Ex Ponto 4.16, vulnrable because of the
displeasure of th emperor that originally cast him into exile.2
Selecting from the rieh materials for the student of the Virgilio-
Ovidian tradition in Spenser, I conclude with a doser look at the
monster at the threshold of the second half of The Faene Queene
(iv.i.18-30), Ate, a figure of verbal perversion, and negative image
of the poet's verbal power.
Ate appears in the Company of Duessa, each riding by the side
of a knight (respectively Blandamour and Paridell). Ate has been
raised from the Underworld by Duessa as a companion to her own

1 K. Gross, Reflections on the Blatant Beast, Spenser Studies 13, 1999, pp. 101-123,
at p. 106 : It seems appropriate that there are two divergent mythographic rumours
ciruclating in the text abou the parentage of this monster of rumour. Note also the
Alexandrian footnote at vi.vi.9, 9 Begot of foule Echidna, as in bookes is taught.
2 So S. Pugh, Spenser and Ovid, Aldershot 2005, ch. 6 Sors mea rupit opus : exile and
the 1596 Faerie Queene.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser 113

duplicity, and like the fair and foui Duessa she appears in th dis-
guise of beauty. Ate as a personification of Discord is th negative
principle in the Legend of Friendship (or Concord). In Virgilian
terms she is a conflation of th Fury Alletto, summoned from
Hell at the beginning of the second half of the Aeneid (a significant
structural parallelism, th more so since Alletto is a direct descen-
dant of Ennian Discordia) to disrupt harmonious relationships be-
tween the Trojans and th Italians, and of Fama in Aeneid 4.
Her name was Ate, mother of debate (iv.i.19): debate
is strife in generai, but we may also hear the narrower sens of
'contention in argument', verbal strife. She is used as a weapon by
Duessa against the central chivalrous pursuit of fame as honour:
Her false Duessa . . . well did know To be most fit to trouble noble
knights, Which hunt for honor. Ate's House, Hard by the gtes
of hell * is a place of poetic memory (as the Underworld often is),
its walls hung With ragged monuments of times forepast, / ail
which the sad effects of discord sung. The three stanzas (21-23)
devoted to her effects on publike states are largely a catalogue
of epic subjects: Babylon, Thebes, Rome, Salem, Ilion; Nimrod,
Alexander; the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs, and the Argonauts.
The final term is an example of discord only resolved through the
words of the poet Orpheus; the power of this 'godlike man' is
celebrated at the beginning of th next canto, together with the
celestiali Psalmist and the prudent Romane Menenius Agrip-
pa,2 examples of concord or harmony in the verbal realm. This is
fama not of amor, but of strife and war, leaving abiding monu-
ments of the 'broken bandes' of friends, brethren, and lovers (iv.
i.24), the three kinds of love of which friendship, adjudged the
highest, is celebrated later in the book for its aspirations to fame,
iv.ix.2i But faithfull friendship doth them both suppresse, And
them with maystring discipline doth tame, Through thoughts as-
pyring to eternali fame.
These monuments of strife are 'all within' ; 'all without' Ate's
House is surrounded by wicked weedes, Which she her seife had
sowen ail about, Now growen great, at first of little seedes, The
seedes of euill wordes, and factious deedes; this propensity to 'in-
finite increase' from small seeds aligns her both with the Homeric

1 Like the Virgilian Discordia dmens, Aen. 6.279-280 aduerso in limine.

2 As the manipulator of a social allegory perhaps a forerunner of the allegorist

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114 Philip Hardie
Eris, Strife (Riad 4.440-445)
gilian Fama. VirgiTs Allecto i
whom Juno calls (Aen. 7.339)
tween the monuments within and the seeds and weeds without cor-
responds to passive and active aspects of Fama, as fame recorder,
and as 'rumour' instigator, of epic deeds (the seeds 'without' are
seeds both of words and of deeds). In her own person (i.27-29) Ate
is a figure of distorted seeing, speaking, and hearing: this sequen-
tial attention to her monstrous eyes, mouth, tongue, and ears par-
allels the enumeration of the multiple organs of VirgiTs Fama, Aen.
4.182-183 tot uigiles oculi subter... / tot linguae, totidem ora sortant, tot
subngit auris. Her squinting eyes and venom-filled mouth make her
a close relative of the more direct Spenserian descendants of Ovid's
Inuidia: Sclaunder (iv.viii.23-26), Envy and Detraction (v.xii.28-36).
Her matchlesse eares are Fild with false rumors and seditious
trouble, Bred in assemblies of the vulgr sort: this last dtail be-
trays the politics of the class struggle, and also points us in the di-
rection of the Ovidian House of Fama. * Her lying tongue was in
two parts diuided. . . Als as she double spake, so heard she double :
her double speaking and double hearing make her uncomfortably
like the allegorical poet and his reader.
The monuments in the House of Ate include memorials of strife
that broke out over women: the golden appi, cause of the Trojan
War, relies of the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs at the wedding
of Peirithous and Hippodameia, and the despoiled bowers of lov-
ers. Ate's first intervention in the narrative is to stir up hostility in
Scudamour against Britomart with a false story about Britomart
sleeping with Amoret, to which Ate claims to have been an eye-
witness (iv.i.49: I saw ... I saw ... I saw ... I saw ...), working
discord through sexual jealousy in the way that VirgiTs many-eyed
Fama works on Iarbas in Aeneid 4, and Inuidia, with her obsessive
and painful viewings, works on Aglauros in Mtamorphoses 2.
[Ate] may be said to generate all the negative characters and
scnes in the second half of The Faerie Queene:2 Clarinda, Envy

1 The last of her anatomie self-divisions also has an Ovidian parallel : 28.6-9 : And
as her eares so eke her feet were odde, And much unlike, th'one long, the other short,
And both misplast; that when th'one forward yode, The other backe retired, and
contrarie trode. Unlike Ovid's limping Elegy, this monster will not Step to pleasing
poetic rhythms.
2 J. H. Blythe, s.v. Ate, in The Spenser Encyclopedia, Toronto-Buffalo-London 1990,
p. 76.

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The Word Personified: Fame and Envy in Virgil, Ovid, Spenser 115

and Detraction, Malengin, Corflambo, Sekunder, Occasion, the

poet Malfont, and climactically the Blatant Beast. This propensi-
ty to self-propagate and to merge with other personifications she
shares with the Virgilian and Ovidian cratures discussed above,
and out of whom she herself is largely generated.

Tnnity College, Cambndge

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