The subject of Batten's painting is taken from Book III of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which is devoted to the legend of Chastity. The twins Amoretta and Belphoebe were the daughters of the nymph Chrysogone. The two babies were adopted, Belphoebe by the goddess of the hunt Diana, and Amoretta by Venus, goddess of love. Venus took Amoretta to the Garden of Adonis, her `joyous Paradise', the flowers of which dame Nature doth her beautify, and decks the girlonds of her Paramoures. However, the faire flowre of beautie fades away, as doth the lilly fresh before the sunny ray, for:
Great enimy to it, and to all the rest
That in the Gardin of Adonis springs,
Is wicked Tyme; who with his scyth addrest
Does mow the flowring herbes and goodly things,
And all their glory to the ground downe flings,
Where they do wither, and are fowly mard:
He flyes about, and with his flaggy winges
Beates downe both leaves and buds withourt regard,
Ne ever pitty may relent his malice hard.
In this garden Amoretta was brought up by Psyche, and trained up in trew feminitee and goodly womanhead,
In which when she to perfect ripenes grew,
Of grace and beautie noble Paragone,
She brought her forth into the worldes vew,
To be th'ensample of true love alone,
And Lodestarre of all chaste affection
To all fayre Ladies that doe live on grownd.
To Faery court she came; where many one
Admyred her goodly haveour, and fownd
His feeble hart wide launched with loves cruel wownd.