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Archimago is a sorcerer in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. His name means "Arch-Image". In the narrative, he is continually engaged in deceitful magics, as when he makes a false Una to tempt the Red-Cross Knight into lust, and when this fails, conjures another image, of a squire, to deceive the knight into believing that Una was false to him.[1]


It is a statement by the Protestant Spenser against the extensive use of images by the Roman Catholic Church.[citation needed] It also carries the implication of "Arch Mage", "Arch Magician." Disguised as a reverend hermit, and by the help of Duessa or Deceit, he seduces the Red-Cross Knight from Una or Truth.

Book 1, Canto XII, lines 303 and 305 describe Archimago as "clokt with simpleness". Much of The Faerie Queene is allegory, reflecting the religious/historical framework of 16th century England. Thus the "cloak of simpleness" may refer to monks' garb, or more specifically to the monks themselves, whom Spenser and Protestant England did not tolerate.[citation needed] Furthermore, the iconoclastic Dissolution of the Monasteries links the monks to iconography, just like Archimago's name.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Colin Manlove, Christian Fantasy: from 1200 to the Present p 59-60 ISBN 0-268-00790-X