Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1 by Christopher Marlowe - HTML preview

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COSROE. Thus far are we towards Theridamas,

And valiant Tamburlaine, the man of fame,

The man that in the forehead of his fortune

Bears figures of renown and miracle.

But tell me, that hast seen him, Menaphon,

What stature wields he, and what personage?

MENAPHON. Of stature tall, and straightly fashioned,

Like his desire, lift upwards and divine;

So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit,

Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear

Old Atlas' burden; 'twixt his manly pitch,[65]

A pearl more worth than all the world is plac'd,

Wherein by curious sovereignty of art

Are fix'd his piercing instruments of sight,

Whose fiery circles bear encompassed

A heaven of heavenly bodies in their spheres,

That guides his steps and actions to the throne

Where honour sits invested royally;

Pale of complexion, wrought in him with passion,

Thirsting with sovereignty and[66] love of arms;

His lofty brows in folds do figure death,

And in their smoothness amity and life;

About them hangs a knot of amber hair,

Wrapped in curls, as fierce Achilles' was,

On which the breath of heaven delights to play,

Making it dance with wanton majesty;

His arms and fingers long and sinewy,[67]

Betokening valour and excess of strength;--

In every part proportion'd like the man

Should make the world subdu'd[68] to Tamburlaine.

COSROE. Well hast thou pourtray'd in thy terms of life

The face and personage of a wondrous man:

Nature doth strive with Fortune[69] and his stars

To make him famous in accomplish'd worth;

And well his merits shew him to be made

His fortune's master and the king of men,

That could persuade, at such a sudden pinch,

With reasons of his valour and his life,

A thousand sworn and overmatching foes.

Then, when our powers in points of swords are join'd,

And clos'd in compass of the killing bullet,

Though strait the passage and the port[70] be made

That leads to palace of my brother's life,

Proud is[71] his fortune if we pierce it not;

And, when the princely Persian diadem

Shall overweigh his weary witless head,

And fall, like mellow'd fruit, with shakes of death,

In fair[72] Persia noble Tamburlaine

Shall be my regent, and remain as king.

ORTYGIUS. In happy hour we have set the crown

Upon your kingly head, that seeks our honour

In joining with the man ordain'd by heaven

To further every action to the best.

CENEUS. He that with shepherds and a little spoil

Durst, in disdain of wrong and tyranny,

Defend his freedom 'gainst a monarchy,

What will he do supported by a king,

Leading a troop of gentlemen and lords,

And stuff'd with treasure for his highest thoughts!

COSROE. And such shall wait on worthy Tamburlaine.

Our army will be forty thousand strong,

When Tamburlaine and brave Theridamas

Have met us by the river Araris;

And all conjoin'd to meet the witless king,

That now is marching near to Parthia,

And, with unwilling soldiers faintly arm'd,

To seek revenge on me and Tamburlaine;

To whom, sweet Menaphon, direct me straight.

MENAPHON. I will, my lord.




     Enter MYCETES, MEANDER, with other LORDS; and SOLDIERS.

MYCETES. Come, my Meander, let us to this gear.

I tell you true, my heart is swoln with wrath

On this same thievish villain Tamburlaine,

And of[73] that false Cosroe, my traitorous brother.

Would it not grieve a king to be so abus'd,

And have a thousand horsemen ta'en away?

And, which is worse,[74] to have his diadem

Sought for by such scald knaves as love him not?

I think it would:  well, then, by heavens I swear,

Aurora shall not peep out of her doors,

But I will have Cosroe by the head,

And kill proud Tamburlaine with point of sword.

Tell you the rest, Meander:  I have said.

MEANDER. Then, having pass'd Armenian deserts now,

And pitch'd our tents under the Georgian hills,

Whose tops are cover'd with Tartarian thieves,

That lie in ambush, waiting for a prey,

What should we do but bid them battle straight,

And rid the world of those detested troops?

Lest, if we let them linger here a while,

They gather strength by power of fresh supplies.

This country swarms with vile outragious men

That live by rapine and by lawless spoil,

Fit soldiers for the[75] wicked Tamburlaine;

And he that could with gifts and promises

Inveigle him that led a thousand horse,

And make him false his faith unto his[76] king,

Will quickly win such as be[77] like himself.

Therefore cheer up your minds; prepare to fight:

He that can take or slaughter Tamburlaine,

Shall rule the province of Albania;

Who brings that traitor's head, Theridamas,

Shall have a government in Media,

Beside[78] the spoil of him and all his train:

But, if Cosroe (as our spials say,

And as we know) remains with Tamburlaine,

His highness' pleasure is that he should live,

And be reclaim'd with princely lenity.

     Enter a SPY.

SPY. An hundred horsemen of my company,

Scouting abroad upon these champion[79] plains,

Have view'd the army of the Scythians;

Which make report it far exceeds the king's.

MEANDER. Suppose they be in number infinite,

Yet being void of martial discipline,

All running headlong, greedy after[80] spoils,

And more regarding gain than victory,

Like to the cruel brothers of the earth,

Sprung[81] of the teeth of[82] dragons venomous,

Their careless swords shall lance[83] their fellows' throats,

And make us triumph in their overthrow.

MYCETES. Was there such brethren, sweet Meander, say,

That sprung of teeth of dragons venomous?

MEANDER. So poets say, my lord.

MYCETES. And 'tis a pretty toy to be a poet.

Well, well, Meander, thou art deeply read;

And having thee, I have a jewel sure.

Go on, my lord, and give your charge, I say;

Thy wit will make us conquerors to-day.

MEANDER. Then, noble soldiers, to entrap these thieves

That live confounded in disorder'd troops,

If wealth or riches may prevail with them,

We have our camels laden all with gold,

Which you that be but common soldiers

Shall fling in every corner of the field;

And, while the base-born Tartars take it up,

You, fighting more for honour than for gold,

Shall massacre those greedy-minded slaves;

And, when their scatter'd army is subdu'd,

And you march on their slaughter'd carcasses,

Share equally the gold that bought their lives,

And live like gentlemen in Persia.

Strike up the[84] drum, and march courageously:

Fortune herself doth sit upon our crests.

MYCETES. He tells you true, my masters; so he does.--

Drums, why sound ye not when Meander speaks?

     [Exeunt, drums sounding.]





     and ORTYGIUS, with others.

COSROE. Now, worthy Tamburlaine, have I repos'd

In thy approved fortunes all my hope.

What think'st thou, man, shall come of our attempts?

For, even as from assured oracle,

I take thy doom for satisfaction.

TAMBURLAINE. And so mistake you not a whit, my lord;

For fates and oracles [of] heaven have sworn

To royalize the deeds of Tamburlaine,

And make them blest that share in his attempts:

And doubt you not but, if you favour me,

And let my fortunes and my valour sway

To some[85] direction in your martial deeds,

The world will[86] strive with hosts of men-at-arms

To swarm unto the ensign I support.

The host of Xerxes, which by fame is said

To drink the mighty Parthian Araris,

Was but a handful to that we will have:

Our quivering lances, shaking in the air,

And bullets, like Jove's dreadful thunderbolts,

Enroll'd in flames and fiery smouldering mists,

Shall threat the gods more than Cyclopian wars;

And with our sun-bright armour, as we march,

We'll chase the stars from heaven, and dim their eyes

That stand and muse at our admired arms.

THERIDAMAS. You see, my lord, what working words he hath;

But, when you see his actions top[87] his speech,

Your speech will stay, or so extol his worth

As I shall be commended and excus'd

For turning my poor charge to his direction:

And these his two renowmed[88] friends, my lord,

Would make one thirst[89] and strive to be retain'd

In such a great degree of amity.

TECHELLES. With duty and[90] with amity we yield

Our utmost service to the fair[91] Cosroe.

COSROE. Which I esteem as portion of my crown.

Usumcasane and Techelles both,

When she[92] that rules in Rhamnus'[93] golden gates,

And makes a passage for all prosperous arms,

Shall make me solely emperor of Asia,

Then shall your meeds[94] and valours be advanc'd

To rooms of honour and nobility.

TAMBURLAINE. Then haste, Cosroe, to be king alone,

That I with these my friends and all my men

May triumph in our long-expected fate.

The king, your brother, is now hard at hand:

Meet with the fool, and rid your royal shoulders

Of such a burden as outweighs the sands

And all the craggy rocks of Caspia.

     Enter a MESSENGER.


We have discovered the enemy

Ready to charge you with a mighty army.

COSROE. Come, Tamburlaine; now whet thy winged sword,

And lift thy lofty arm into[95] the clouds,

That it may reach the king of Persia's crown,

And set it safe on my victorious head.

TAMBURLAINE. See where it is, the keenest curtle-axe

That e'er made passage thorough Persian arms!

These are the wings shall make it fly as swift

As doth the lightning or the breath of heaven,

And kill as sure[96] as it swiftly flies.

COSROE. Thy words assure me of kind success:

Go, valiant soldier, go before, and charge

The fainting army of that foolish king.

TAMBURLAINE. Usumcasane and Techelles, come:

We are enow to scare the enemy,

And more than needs to make an emperor.

     [Exeunt to the battle.]


     SCENE IV.

     Enter MYCETES with his crown in his hand.[97]

MYCETES. Accurs'd be he that first invented war!

They knew not, ah, they knew not, simple men,

How those were[98] hit by pelting cannon-shot

Stand staggering[99] like a quivering aspen-leaf

Fearing the force of Boreas' boisterous blasts!

In what a lamentable case were I,

If nature had not given me wisdom's lore!

For kings are clouts that every man shoots at,

Our crown the pin[100] that thousands seek to cleave:

Therefore in policy I think it good

To hide it close; a goodly stratagem,

And far from any man that is a fool:

So shall not I be known; or if I be,

They cannot take away my crown from me.

Here will I hide it in this simple hole.


TAMBURLAINE. What, fearful coward, straggling from the camp,

When kings themselves are present in the field?

MYCETES. Thou liest.

TAMBURLAINE. Base villain, darest thou give me[101] the lie?

MYCETES. Away! I am the king; go; touch me not.

Thou break'st the law of arms, unless thou kneel,

And cry me "mercy, noble king!"

TAMBURLAINE. Are you the witty king of Persia?

MYCETES. Ay, marry,[102] am I:  have you any suit to me?

TAMBURLAINE. I would entreat you to speak but three wise words.

MYCETES. So I can when I see my time.

TAMBURLAINE. Is this your crown?

MYCETES. Ay:  didst thou ever see a fairer?

TAMBURLAINE. You will not sell it, will you?

MYCETES. Such another word, and I will have thee executed.  Come,

give it me.

TAMBURLAINE. No; I took it prisoner.

MYCETES. You lie; I gave it you.

TAMBURLAINE. Then 'tis mine.

MYCETES. No; I mean I let you keep it.

TAMBURLAINE. Well, I mean you shall have it again.

Here, take it for a while:  I lend it thee,

Till I may see thee hemm'd with armed men;

Then shalt thou see me pull it from thy head:

Thou art no match for mighty Tamburlaine.


MYCETES. O gods, is this Tamburlaine the thief?

I marvel much he stole it not away.

     [Trumpets within sound to the battle:  he runs out.]


     SCENE V.



TAMBURLAINE. Hold thee, Cosroe; wear two imperial crowns;

Think thee invested now as royally,

Even by the mighty hand of Tamburlaine,

As if as many kings as could encompass thee

With greatest pomp had crown'd thee emperor.

COSROE. So do I, thrice-renowmed man-at-arms;[103]

And none shall keep the crown but Tamburlaine:

Thee do I make my regent of Persia,

And general-lieutenant of my armies.--

Meander, you, that were our brother's guide,

And chiefest[104] counsellor in all his acts,

Since he is yielded to the stroke of war,

On your submission we with thanks excuse,

And give you equal place in our affairs.

MEANDER. Most happy[105] emperor, in humblest terms

I vow my service to your majesty,

With utmost virtue of my faith and duty.

COSROE. Thanks, good Meander.--Then, Cosroe, reign,

And govern Persia in her former pomp.

Now send embassage to thy neighbour kings,

And let them know the Persian king is chang'd,

From one that knew not what a king should do,

To one that can command what 'longs thereto.

And now we will to fair Persepolis

With twenty thousand expert soldiers.

The lords and captains of my brother's camp

With little slaughter take Meander's course,

And gladly yield them to my gracious rule.--

Ortygius and Menaphon, my trusty friends,

Now will I gratify your former good,

And grace your calling with a greater sway.

ORTYGIUS. And as we ever aim'd[106] at your behoof,

And sought your state all honour it[107] deserv'd,

So will we with our powers and our[108] lives

Endeavour to preserve and prosper it.

COSROE. I will not thank thee, sweet Ortygius;

Better replies shall prove my purposes.--

And now, Lord Tamburlaine, my brother's camp

I leave to thee and to Theridamas,

To follow me to fair Persepolis;

Then will we[109] march to all those Indian mines

My witless brother to the Christians lost,

And ransom them with fame and usury:

And, till thou overtake me, Tamburlaine,

(Staying to order all the scatter'd troops,)

Farewell, lord regent and his happy friends.

I long to sit upon my brother's throne.

MEANDER. Your majesty shall shortly have your wish,

And ride in triumph through Persepolis.

     [Exeunt all except TAMBURLAINE, THERIDAMAS, TECHELLES, and


TAMBURLAINE. And ride in triumph through Persepolis!--

Is it not brave to be a king, Techelles?--

Usumcasane and Theridamas,

Is it not passing brave to be a king,

And ride in triumph through Persepolis?

TECHELLES. O, my lord, it is sweet and full of pomp!

USUMCASANE. To be a king is half to be a god.

THERIDAMAS. A god is not so glorious as a king:

I think the pleasure they enjoy in heaven,

Cannot compare with kingly joys in[110] earth;--

To wear a crown enchas'd with pearl and gold,

Whose virtues carry with it life and death;

To ask and have, command and be obey'd;

When looks breed love, with looks to gain the prize,--

Such power attractive shines in princes' eyes.

TAMBURLAINE. Why, say, Theridamas, wilt thou be a king?

THERIDAMAS. Nay, though I praise it, I can live without it.

TAMBURLAINE. What say my other friends? will you be kings?

TECHELLES. I, if I could, with all my heart, my lord.

TAMBURLAINE. Why, that's well said, Techelles:  so would I;--

And so would you, my masters, would you not?

USUMCASANE. What, then, my lord?

TAMBURLAINE. Why, then, Casane,[111] shall we wish for aught

The world affords in greatest novelty,

And rest attemptless, faint, and destitute?

Methinks we should not.  I am strongly mov'd,

That if I should desire the Persian crown,

I could attain it with a wondrous ease:

And would not all our soldiers soon consent,

If we should aim at such a dignity?

THERIDAMAS. I know they would with our persuasions.

TAMBURLAINE. Why, then, Theridamas, I'll first assay

To get the Persian kingdom to myself;

Then thou for Parthia; they for Scythia and Media;

And, if I prosper, all shall be as sure

As if the Turk, the Pope, Afric, and Greece,

Came creeping to us with their crowns a-piece.[112]

TECHELLES. Then shall we send to this triumphing king,

And bid him battle for his novel crown?

USUMCASANE. Nay, quickly, then, before his room be hot.

TAMBURLAINE. 'Twill prove a pretty jest, in faith, my friends.

THERIDAMAS. A jest to charge on twenty thousand men!

I judge the purchase[113] more important far.

TAMBURLAINE. Judge by thyself, Theridamas, not me;

For presently Techelles here shall haste

To bid him battle ere he pass too far,

And lose more labour than the gain will quite:[114]

Then shalt thou see this[115] Scythian Tamburlaine

Make but a jest to win the Persian crown.--

Techelles, take a thousand horse with thee,

And bid him turn him[116] back to war with us,

That only made him king to make us sport:

We will not steal upon him cowardly,

But give him warning and[117] more warriors:

Haste thee, Techelles; we will follow thee.

     [Exit TECHELLES.]

What saith Theridamas?

THERIDAMAS. Go on, for me.



     SCENE VI.



COSROE. What means this devilish shepherd, to aspire

With such a giantly presumption,

To cast up hills against the face of heaven,

And dare the force of angry Jupiter?

But, as he thrust them underneath the hills,

And press'd out fire from their burning jaws,

So will I send this monstrous slave to hell,

Where flames shall ever feed upon his soul.

MEANDER. Some powers divine, or else infernal, mix'd

Their angry seeds at his conception;

For he was never sprung[118] of human race,

Since with the spirit of his fearful pride,

He dares[119] so doubtlessly resolve of rule,

And by profession be ambitious.

ORTYGIUS. What god, or fiend, or spirit of the earth,

Or monster turned to a manly shape,

Or of what mould or mettle he be made,

What star or fate[120] soever govern him,

Let us put on our meet encountering minds;

And, in detesting such a devilish thief,

In love of honour and defence of right,

Be arm'd against the hate of such a foe,

Whether from earth, or hell, or heaven he grow.

COSROE. Nobly resolv'd, my good Ortygius;

And, since we all have suck'd one wholesome air,

And with the same proportion of elements

Resolve,[121] I hope we are resembled,

Vowing our loves to equal death and life.

Let's cheer our soldiers to encounter him,

That grievous image of ingratitude,

That fiery thirster after sovereignty,

And burn him in the fury of that flame

That none can quench but blood and empery.

Resolve, my lords and loving soldiers, now

To save your king and country from decay.

Then strike up, drum; and all the stars that make

The loathsome circle of my dated life,

Direct my weapon to his barbarous heart,

That thus opposeth him against the gods,

And scorns the powers that govern Persia!

     [Exeunt, drums sounding.]



     Alarms of battle within.  Then enter COSROE wounded,


COSROE. Barbarous[122] and bloody Tamburlaine,

Thus to deprive me of my crown and life!--

Treacherous and false Theridamas,

Even at the morning of my happy state,

Scarce being seated in my royal throne,

To work my downfall and untimely end!

An uncouth pain torments my grieved soul;

And death arrests the organ of my voice,

Who, entering at the breach thy sword hath made,

Sacks every vein and artier[123] of my heart.--

Bloody and insatiate Tamburlaine!

TAMBURLAINE. The thirst of reign and sweetness of a crown,

That caus'd the eldest son of heavenly Ops

To thrust his doting father from his chair,

And place himself in the empyreal heaven,

Mov'd me to manage arms against thy state.

What better precedent than mighty Jove?

Nature, that fram'd us of four elements

Warring within our breasts for regiment,[124]

Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds:

Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend

The wondrous architecture of the world,

And measure every wandering planet's course,

Still climbing after knowledge infinite,

And always moving as the restless spheres,

Will us to wear ourselves, and never rest,

Until we reach the ripest fruit[125] of all,

That perfect bliss and sole felicity,

The sweet fruition of an earthly crown.

THERIDAMAS. And that made me to join with Tamburlaine;

For he is gross and like the massy earth

That moves not upwards, nor by princely deeds

Doth mean to soar above the highest sort.

TECHELLES. And that made us, the friends of Tamburlaine,

To lift our swords against the Persian king.

USUMCASANE. For as, when Jove did thrust old Saturn down,

Neptune and Dis gain'd each of them a crown,

So do we hope to reign in Asia,

If Tamburlaine be plac'd in Persia.

COSROE. The strangest men that ever nature made!

I know not how to take their tyrannies.

My bloodless body waxeth chill and cold,

And with my blood my life slides through my wound;

My soul begins to take her flight to hell,

And summons all my senses to depart:

The heat and moisture, which did feed each other,

For want of nourishment to feed them both,

Are[126] dry and cold; and now doth ghastly Death

With greedy talents[127] gripe my bleeding heart,

And like a harpy[128] tires on my life.--

Theridamas and Tamburlaine, I die:

And fearful vengeance light upon you both!

     [Dies.--TAMBURLAINE takes COSROE'S crown, and puts it on

     his own head.]

TAMBURLAINE. Not all the curses which the[129] Furies breathe

Shall make me leave so rich a prize as this.

Theridamas, Techelles, and the rest,

Who think you now is king of Persia?

ALL. Tamburlaine!  Tamburlaine!

TAMBURLAINE. Though Mars himself, the angry god of arms,

And all the earthly potentates conspire

To dispossess me of this diadem,

Yet will I wear it in despite of them,

As great commander of this eastern world,

If you but say that Tamburlaine shall reign.

ALL. Long live Tamburlaine, and reign in Asia!

TAMBURLAINE. So; now it is more surer on my head

Than if the gods had held a parliament,

And all pronounc'd me king of Persia.