[Forwarded from Thomas Herron.]
On the Finn Mac Cool note, Roland Smith long ago writes that Sp appears more familiar with the Munster-based Ossianic story cycle, starring Finn, than with the Ulster one, starring Cu Chulainn, but I suspect more can be found pertaining to both in FQ. For example, Clarence Steinberg sees CuChulainn and his squire Laeg operating in the Pyrochles episode in Bk II, and I read the Souldan in Bk V as in part figuring Cu Chulainn in his war-chariot (Herron, forthcoming; Pauline Henley made a brief comment about the same in her Spenser in Ireland book). This would be further relevant in that Arthur is the one to defeat the Souldan, so here Wales (or Britain) trumps Ireland? Or, put less crudely, Sp is contesting celtic heroes and traditions.
Christopher Highley in his book *Shakespeare, Spenser and the Crisis in Ireland* writes a lot on Merlin (pp. 15-21, incl. the statement that "If [based on argument of William Blackburn] Merlin is a generic poet-surrogate, I would also argue that his appearance is a nexus for the anxieties and desires surrounding Spenser's predicament in Ireland. This claim hinges upon similar geopolitical locations of Merlin and Spenser on the fringes of their respective realms." (16) Merlin becomes a Celtic-Irish druid figure. More interesting/specific is Merlin's role in Geoffrey of Monmouth in helping Uther Pendragon invade Ireland with 15,000 men, defeat the Irish king, and bring back as trophy the "giant's ring" (19), aka Stonehenge.
Highley continues: John Hooker in his glosses on his translation of Giraldus Cambrensis' Expugnatio Hibernica (Conquest of Ireland), put into the 2nd ed. of Holinshed's Chronicles, discusses the dual Merlin tradition (Ambrosius vs. Sylvestris) and states that Merlin Sylvestris (aka Merlin Calidonius, who is also Scottish), or Arthur's Merlin, was one of "'foure Irish prophets'" who prophecied that English conquest would never be fully complete. More anxiety.
Back to Finn, Sheryl Forste-Gruppe wrote a good article about a decade ago in SP on the giant Coulin in Sp's historical chronicles being a conflation of Fin Mac Cool and Cu Chulainn, based both on the name and actions in the text. Coulin is defeated by Devon, representing Raleigh's and Gilbert's Devonshire and the planter faction therefrom.
All of which seems to indicate, at least, that Spenser is interested in and writing poetic conquest narratives and historical chronicles involving Celtic heroes vs English ones, and Celts vs each other. Where the concept of "British" allegiance and identity fits into all this is even more unclear although Maley, Hadfield, Ivic, Canny, McCabe, Baker et al. have all taken good stabs at that question. Since Henry Sidney was both President of Wales and repeatedly Lord Dep of Ireland, both he and his son would naturally be interested in political histories and prophecies concerning interaction between the two places. But there are other Wales-involved people in Ireland, notably Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy of Ireland 1584-8 and supposed bastard of Henry VIII: another prince's son raised elsewhere.
Best wishes, Thomas
----- Original Message -----
From: Charles Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2007 4:12 am
Subject: Re: A friend's question about Arthur
> On 24/06/07, HANNIBAL HAMLIN <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > >(P.S. Charles, I'm naturally curious about your email address!
> Do you
> > live in Missouri?)
> Alas no, it's just a relic of an old email address, where I was
> hannibal-at-thegates. Like most Spenserians, I guess, I've
> weakness for
> I like the Taliesin idea, by the way! I don't think we ever learn
> who his
> parents were when he was Gwion Bach, but he certainly has Ceridwen
> as both a
> foster and then a real parent, before being taken under the wing
> of Elphin.
> Not quite the Arthurian pattern, admittedly: but perhaps (as with
> Merlin) it
> was more of an attempt to give Taliesin a semi-supernatural parentage,
> without quite claiming him as a supernatural creature himself.
> Website: www.charlesbutler.co.uk
> Teach CanIt if this mail (ID 346361105) is spam:
> spam: https://antispam.osu.edu/b.php?c=n&i=346361105&m=24b7798d8847
> Forget vote: