December 09, 2022

#08-262: Una and the Lion

Una and the Lion by Briton Rivière (1840–1920) (Wikipedia)

Note: Spenser's Faerie Queene works as an allegory, in which each character represents a virtue (or vice). Let's meet a few of them now.

Get Ready: Do you enjoy a story with clear-cut "good guys" and "bad guys," or do you prefer characters to be portrayed with more subtlety?

In Lesson #08-154 we examined an outline of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. It's a mammoth poem of some 36,000 lines, and just the major characters number over 40. One of the favorites among its dozens of stories is called "Una and the Lion."

Once upon a time near Fairyland there was a princess named Una who was as good as she was beautiful. When a dragon attacked her parents, the king and queen, they hid in a tower for seven years Though many brave knights tried to save them, the tower was their only refuge.

Una--whose name means "One," and who stands for Truth--came to the court of the Faerie Queene to seek a champion. A fearless young knight--called "The Knight of the Red Cross," and representing Holiness--offered to kill the dragon.

Una became separated from the knight by an evil magician named Archimago, who represents Hypocrisy. When she was about to be attacked by a ferocious lion, it saw her lovely face and gently licked her little white hands and feet.

The lion became her constant companion and protector. It kept watch while she slept, and followed her like a faithful dog.

One evening Una saw a young woman carrying a pot of water on her back. When the woman saw the lion, she threw down the pot and ran for her life. She went into the hut where her blind old mother lived, and bolted the door behind her.

The lion, however, broke the door in with a single blow of its paw, and Una was able to stay with the two frightened women for the night.

But in the middle of the night a knock came at the door (now repaired). It was a robber who regularly brought goods he stole to support the women. The women were afraid to move past the lion to open the door, so the robber burst in, and the lion attacked and killed him.

The next morning, as Una and the lion left, the younger woman hurled curses at her for taking away the robber, her only means of support!

Sadly, after more adventures, the lion (who represents Honor) tried to defend Una against a wicked knight whose name meant "Lawless," and the knight was able to drive his sword into the lion's heart, killing it.

How Una rejoined the Red Cross Knight, and how he slew the dragon, are other exciting features of this epic story.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. bolted
  2. burst
  3. a champion
  4. curses
  5. dozens
  6. a hut
  7. hypocrisy
  8. mammoth
  9. a refuge
  10. slew

  1. locked with a strong bar
  2. groups of twelve
  3. killed
  4. a safe place
  5. huge
  6. bad wishes
  7. act of pretending to be better than one is; saying one thing and doing another
  8. broke open
  9. a small, poor house
  10. one to fight on one's side

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 9, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. a; 2. h; 3. j; 4. f; 5. b; 6. i; 7. g; 8. e; 9. d; 10. c