Damaged Gods: Adonis and the Pain of Allegory

Joseph Campana

in The Pain of Reformation

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239108
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823239146 | DOI:
Damaged Gods: Adonis and the Pain of Allegory

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My final chapter assesses Spenser's interrogation of the gendered violence endemic to allegorical representation in “The Legend of Chastity.” By foregrounding damaged iterations of human encounters with divinity, Spenser reformulates the erotic contracts that govern not only the logic of gender position but also the relationships between matter and form that govern the workings of allegory. When Venus descends to search for Cupid she surprises the disarmed, bathing Diana. This revision of the myth of Actaeon severs the identification between eros and violence secured by Diana's retribution. Venus and Diana develop a new relationship to matter as both become parental figures that mark Belphoebe and Amore, the progeny of Chrysogonee, with their own character. No longer is matter the receptacle of masculine self-reproduction; rather, matter emerges as in aftermath of an erotic scene between female divinities drawn into a vulnerable materiality culminating in the idealized representation of Adonis. In valorizing Adonis, Spenser closes his poem by replacing the violent if disarmed Mars with a figure of vulnerability thus completing the reformation of masculinity and his critique of violence.

Keywords: Spenser; allegory; violence; vulnerability; disarmament; Venus; Diana; Mars; matter; Legend of Chastity

Chapter.  7405 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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