[sweet maid ] (see below). Daughter of King
Ryence of Wales, whose desire was to be a heroine. She is the
impersonation of saintly chastity and purity of mind. She encounters
the “savage, fierce bandit and mountaineer” without injury; is assailed
by “hag and unlaid ghost, goblin, and swart fairy of the mine,” but
“dashes their brute violence into sudden adoration and blank awe.”
Britomart is not the impersonation of celibacy, as she is in love with an unknown hero, but of “virgin
purity.” (Spenser: Faërie Queene, book iii. Her marriage, book
She charmed at once and tamed the heart,
A Cretan nymph, very fond of the chase. King Minos fell in love
with her, and persisted in his advances for nine months, when she threw
herself into the sea. (Cretan, britus-martis, sweet maiden.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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