Britomart

[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 v. 6.)

She charmed at once and tamed the heart,
Incomparable Britomart.

Scott.

Britomartis
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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