From Ken Gross:
Yes, poor St. George in the latter part of his legend becomes a martyr.
But then there's the other bit Spenser doesn't use, George's shackling the
still living dragon, and saying that he will only finally kill it if the
king and his subjects convert to Christianity.
Re the dragon of Book I as remaining a threat: I suppose Spenser's Adam and
Eve in the Eden of FQ I.xi-xii have already converted to Xtianity, and that
the shackled dragon has been converted (in another sense) too: to the
shackled Archimago at the end of Book I (xii.35-36), and analogously to the
beasts tamed and led about in bonds in Book III by Satyrane (vii.36) and
near the end of Book VI by Calidore (xii.35-37). But the defunct dragon of
Book I itself still poses a threat, in the eyes of the fearfull populace of
I.xii.9-11: because "in his wombe might lurke some hidden nest / Of many
Dragonets, his fruitfull seed; / Another said, that in his eyes did rest /
Yet sparckling fire ... Another said, he saw him moue his eyes indeed."
Spenser is reminding us of the etymology of dragon, Latin darconem from
Greek drakon serpent but conjecturally from derkomai see, via the stem drak-
. See the Cupid-idol with the blinded but only wounded dragon of III.xi.48
(--"shot through either eye"--) that Britomart found so fascinating: "That
wondrous sight faire Britomart amazed, / Ne seeing could her wonder
satisfie, / But euermore and more vpon it gazed, / The whiles the passing
brightness her fraile sences dazed" [st. 49]. It is an image of her own
potentially impaired and Dianaesque vigilence in the guarding of a virgin.
-- Jim N.
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