The First Part of Tamburlaine the Great, by Christopher Marlowe

Act 4.

Scene 1.

[Enter the Soldan Of Egypt, Capolin, Lords, and a Messenger.]

Soldan. Awake, ye men of Memphis!186 hear the clang
Of Scythian trumpets; hear the basilisks,187
That, roaring, shake Damascus’ turrets down!
The rogue of Volga holds Zenocrate,
The Soldan’s daughter, for his concubine,
And, with a troop of thieves and vagabonds,
Hath spread his colours to our high disgrace,
While you, faint-hearted base Egyptians,
Lie slumbering on the flowery banks of Nile,
As crocodiles that unaffrighted rest
While thundering cannons rattle on their skins.

Messenger. Nay, mighty Soldan, did your greatness see
The frowning looks of fiery Tamburlaine,
That with his terror and imperious eyes
Commands the hearts of his associates,
It might amaze your royal majesty.

Soldan. Villain, I tell thee, were that Tamburlaine
As monstrous188 as Gorgon prince of hell,
The Soldan would not start a foot from him.
But speak, what power hath he?

Messenger. Mighty lord,
Three hundred thousand men in armour clad,
Upon their prancing steeds, disdainfully
With wanton paces trampling on the ground;
Five hundred thousand footmen threatening shot,
Shaking their swords, their spears, and iron bills,
Environing their standard round, that stood
As bristle-pointed as a thorny wood;
Their warlike engines and munition
Exceed the forces of their martial men.

Soldan. Nay, could their numbers countervail the stars,
Or ever-drizzling189 drops of April showers,
Or wither’d leaves that autumn shaketh down,
Yet would the Soldan by his conquering power
So scatter and consume them in his rage,
That not a man should190 live to rue their fall.

Capolin. So might your highness, had you time to sort
Your fighting men, and raise your royal host;
But Tamburlaine by expedition
Advantage takes of your unreadiness.

Soldan. Let him take all th’ advantages he can:
Were all the world conspir’d to fight for him,
Nay, were he devil,191 as he is no man,
Yet in revenge of fair Zenocrate,
Whom he detaineth in despite of us,
This arm should send him down to Erebus,
To shroud his shame in darkness of the night.

Messenger. Pleaseth your mightiness to understand,
His resolution far exceedeth all.
The first day when he pitcheth down his tents,
White is their hue, and on his silver crest
A snowy feather spangled-white he bears,
To signify the mildness of his mind,
That, satiate with spoil, refuseth blood:
But, when Aurora mounts the second time,
As red as scarlet is his furniture;
Then must his kindled wrath be quench’d with blood,
Not sparing any that can manage arms:
But, if these threats move not submission,
Black are his colours, black pavilion;
His spear, his shield, his horse, his armour, plumes,
And jetty feathers, menace death and hell;
Without respect of sex, degree, or age,
He razeth all his foes with fire and sword.

Soldan. Merciless villain, peasant, ignorant
Of lawful arms or martial discipline!
Pillage and murder are his usual trades:
The slave usurps the glorious name of war.
See, Capolin, the fair Arabian king,192
That hath been disappointed by this slave
Of my fair daughter and his princely love,
May have fresh warning to go war with us,
And be reveng’d for her disparagement.


186 Awake, ye men of Memphis!] These words are put into the mouth of Judas, in Fletcher’s BONDUCA, at the commencement of act ii.; and in Fletcher’s WIT WITHOUT MONEY, act v. sc. 2. we find “thou man of Memphis.”

187 basilisks] Pieces of ordnance so called. They were of immense size; see Douce’s ILLUST. OF SHAKESPEARE, i. 425.

188 monstrous] To be read as a trisyllable.

189 Or ever-drizzling] So the 4to. — The 8vo “Or drisling.”

190 should] So the 4to. — The 8vo “shal.”

191 he devil] So the 8vo. — The 4to “he THE deuill.”

192 Arabian king] Scil. Alcidamus: see p. 10, l. 9, sec. col.

{Page 10, Second Column, Line 9, This Play:
“Where her betrothed lord, Alcidamus,”}

Scene 2.

[Enter Tamburlaine, Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane, Zenocrate, Anippe, two Moors drawing Bajazeth in a cage, and Zabina following him.]

Tamburlaine. Bring out my footstool.

[They take Bajazeth out of the cage.]

Bajazeth. Ye holy priests of heavenly Mahomet,
That, sacrificing, slice and cut your flesh,
Staining his altars with your purple blood,
Make heaven to frown, and every fixed star
To suck up poison from the moorish fens,
And pour it193 in this glorious tyrant’s throat!

Tamburlaine. The chiefest god, first mover of that sphere
Enchas’d with thousands ever-shining lamps,
Will sooner burn the glorious frame of heaven
Than it should194 so conspire my overthrow.
But, villain, thou that wishest this195 to me,
Fall prostrate on the low disdainful earth,
And be the footstool of great Tamburlaine,
That I may rise into196 my royal throne.

Bajazeth. First shalt thou rip my bowels with thy sword,
And sacrifice my heart197 to death and hell,
Before I yield to such a slavery.

Tamburlaine. Base villain, vassal, slave to Tamburlaine,
Unworthy to embrace or touch the ground
That bears the honour of my royal weight;
Stoop, villain, stoop! stoop;198 for so he bids
That may command thee piecemeal to be torn,
Or scatter’d like the lofty cedar-trees
Struck with the voice of thundering Jupiter.

Bajazeth. Then, as I look down to the damned fiends,
Fiends, look on me! and thou, dread god of hell,
With ebon sceptre strike this hateful earth,
And make it swallow both of us at once!

[Tamburlaine gets up on him into his chair.]

Tamburlaine. Now clear the triple region of the air,
And let the Majesty of Heaven behold
Their scourge and terror tread on emperors.
Smile, stars that reign’d at my nativity,
And dim the brightness of your199 neighbour lamps;
Disdain to borrow light of Cynthia!
For I, the chiefest lamp of all the earth,
First rising in the east with mild aspect,
But fixed now in the meridian line,
Will send up fire to your turning spheres,
And cause the sun to borrow light of you.
My sword struck fire from his coat of steel,
Even in Bithynia, when I took this Turk;
As when a fiery exhalation,
Wrapt in the bowels of a freezing cloud,
Fighting for passage, make[s] the welkin crack,
And casts a flash of lightning to200 the earth:
But, ere I march to wealthy Persia,
Or leave Damascus and th’ Egyptian fields,
As was the fame of Clymene’s brain-sick son
That almost brent201 the axle-tree of heaven,
So shall our swords, our lances, and our shot
Fill all the air with fiery meteors;
Then, when the sky shall wax as red as blood,
It shall be said I made it red myself,
To make me think of naught but blood and war.

Zabina. Unworthy king, that by thy cruelty
Unlawfully usurp’st the Persian seat,
Dar’st thou, that never saw an emperor
Before thou met my husband in the field,
Being thy captive, thus abuse his state,
Keeping his kingly body in a cage,
That roofs of gold and sun-bright palaces
Should have prepar’d to entertain his grace?
And treading him beneath thy loathsome feet,
Whose feet the kings202 of Africa have kiss’d?

Techelles. You must devise some torment worse, my lord,
To make these captives rein their lavish tongues.

Tamburlaine. Zenocrate, look better to your slave.

Zenocrate. She is my handmaid’s slave, and she shall look
That these abuses flow not from203 her tongue. —
Chide her, Anippe.

Anippe. Let these be warnings, then, for you,204 my slave,
How you abuse the person of the king;
Or else I swear to have you whipt stark nak’d.205

Bajazeth. Great Tamburlaine, great in my overthrow,
Ambitious pride shall make thee fall as low,
For treading on the back of Bajazeth,
That should be horsed on four mighty kings.

Tamburlaine. Thy names, and titles, and thy dignities206
Are fled from Bajazeth, and remain with me,
That will maintain it ‘gainst a world of kings. —
Put him in again.

[They put him into the cage.]

Bajazeth. Is this a place for mighty Bajazeth?
Confusion light on him that helps thee thus!

Tamburlaine. There, whiles207 he lives, shall Bajazeth be kept;
And, where I go, be thus in triumph drawn;
And thou, his wife, shalt208 feed him with the scraps
My servitors shall bring thee from my board;
For he that gives him other food than this,
Shall sit by him, and starve to death himself:
This is my mind, and I will have it so.
Not all the kings and emperors of the earth,
If they would lay their crowne before my feet,
Shall ransom him, or take him from his cage:
The ages that shall talk of Tamburlaine,
Even from this day to Plato’s wondrous year,
Shall talk how I have handled Bajazeth:
These Moors, that drew him from Bithynia
To fair Damascus, where we now remain,
Shall lead him with us wheresoe’er we go. —
Techelles, and my loving followers,
Now may we see Damascus’ lofty towers,
Like to the shadows of Pyramides
That with their beauties grace209 the Memphian fields.
The golden stature210 of their feather’d bird,211
That spreads her wings upon the city-walls,
Shall not defend it from our battering shot:
The townsmen mask in silk and cloth of gold,
And every house is as a treasury;
The men, the treasure, and the town are212 ours.

Theridamas. Your tents of white now pitch’d before the gates,
And gentle flags of amity display’d,
I doubt not but the governor will yield,
Offering Damascus to your majesty.

Tamburlaine. So shall he have his life, and all the rest:
But, if he stay until the bloody flag
Be once advanc’d on my vermilion tent,
He dies, and those that kept us out so long;
And, when they see me march in black array,
With mournful streamers hanging down their heads,
Were in that city all the world contain’d,
Not one should scape, but perish by our swords.

Zenocrate. Yet would you have some pity for my sake,
Because it is my country213 and my father’s.

Tamburlaine. Not for the world, Zenocrate, if I have sworn. —
Come; bring in the Turk.


193 it] So the 4to. — Omitted in the 8vo.

194 it should] So the 4to. — The 8vo “should it.”

195 this] So the 8vo. — The 4to “it.”

196 into] So the 4to. — The 8vo “vnto.”

197 heart] So the 4to. — The 8vo “soul.”

198 stoop] Qy. “stoop, STOOP”?

199 your] Old eds. “their.”— Compare the tenth line of the speech.

200 to] So the 8vo. — The 4to “on.”

201 brent] i.e. burnt. So the 8vo. — The 4to “burnt.”

202 kings] So the 8vo. — The 4to “king.”

203 from] So the 4to. — The 8vo “in.”

204 then, for you] So the 4to. — The 8vo “for you then.”

205 stark nak’d] Compare (among many passages which might be cited from our early poets) —

“rather on Nilus’ mud
Lay me STARK NAK’D, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring!”
Shakespeare’s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, act v. sc. 2. (where
the modern editors print “naked.”)

206 dignities] So the 8vo. — The 4to “dignitie.”

207 whiles] So the 8vo. — The 4to “while.”

208 shalt] So the 4to. — The 8vo “shal.”

209 grace] Olds eds. “grac’d.”

210 stature] So the 8vo. — The 4to “statue:” but again, in the SECOND PART of this play, act ii. sc. 4, we have, according to the 8vo —

“And here will I set up her STATURE.”

and, among many passages that might be cited from our early authors, compare the following;

“The STATURES huge, of Porphyrie and costlier matters made.”
Warner’s ALBIONS ENGLAND, p. 303. ed. 1596.

“By them shal Isis STATURE gently stand.”
Chapman’s BLIND BEGGER OF ALEXANDRIA, 1598, sig. A 3.

“Was not Anubis with his long nose of gold preferred before
Neptune, whose STATURE was but brasse?”
Lyly’s MIDAS, sig. A 2. ed. 1592.

211 bird] i.e. the ibis.

212 are] Old eds. “is.”

213 country] Old eds. “countries.”

Scene 3.

[Enter Soldan, King Of Arabia,214 Capolin, and Soldiers, with streaming colours.]

Soldan. Methinks we march as Meleager did,
Environed with brave Argolian knights,
To chase the savage Calydonian215 boar,
Or Cephalus, with lusty216 Theban youths,
Against the wolf that angry Themis sent
To waste and spoil the sweet Aonian fields.
A monster of five hundred thousand heads,
Compact of rapine, piracy, and spoil,
The scum of men, the hate and scourge of God,
Raves in Aegyptia, and annoyeth us:
My lord, it is the bloody Tamburlaine,
A sturdy felon, and217 a base-bred thief,
By murder raised to the Persian crown,
That dare control us in our territories.
To tame the pride of this presumptuous beast,
Join your Arabians with the Soldan’s power;
Let us unite our royal bands in one,
And hasten to remove Damascus’ siege.
It is a blemish to the majesty
And high estate of mighty emperors,
That such a base usurping vagabond
Should brave a king, or wear a princely crown.

King Of Arabia. Renowmed218 Soldan, have you lately heard
The overthrow of mighty Bajazeth
About the confines of Bithynia?
The slavery wherewith he persecutes
The noble Turk and his great emperess?

Soldan. I have, and sorrow for his bad success;
But, noble lord of great Arabia,
Be so persuaded that the Soldan is
No more dismay’d with tidings of his fall,
Than in the haven when the pilot stands,
And views a stranger’s ship rent in the winds,
And shivered against a craggy rock:
Yet in compassion to his wretched state,
A sacred vow to heaven and him I make,
Confirming it with Ibis’ holy name,219
That Tamburlaine shall rue the day, the220 hour,
Wherein he wrought such ignominious wrong
Unto the hallow’d person of a prince,
Or kept the fair Zenocrate so long,
As concubine, I fear, to feed his lust.

King Of Arabia. Let grief and fury hasten on revenge;
Let Tamburlaine for his offences feel
Such plagues as heaven and we can pour on him:
I long to break my spear upon his crest,
And prove the weight of his victorious arm;
For fame, I fear, hath been too prodigal
In sounding through the world his partial praise.

Soldan. Capolin, hast thou survey’d our powers?

Capolin. Great emperors of Egypt and Arabia,
The number of your hosts united is,
A hundred and fifty thousand horse,
Two hundred thousand foot, brave men-at-arms,
Courageous and221 full of hardiness,
As frolic as the hunters in the chase
Of savage beasts amid the desert woods.

King Of Arabia. My mind presageth fortunate success;
And, Tamburlaine, my spirit doth foresee
The utter ruin of thy men and thee.

Soldan. Then rear your standards; let your sounding drums
Direct our soldiers to Damascus’ walls. —
Now, Tamburlaine, the mighty Soldan comes,
And leads with him the great Arabian king,
To dim thy baseness and222 obscurity,
Famous for nothing but for theft and spoil;
To raze and scatter thy inglorious crew
Of Scythians and slavish Persians.


214 King of Arabia] i.e. Alcidamus; see p. 10, l. 9, sec. col.

{Page 10, Second Column, Line 9, This Play:
“Where her betrothed lord, Alcidamus,”}

215 Calydonian] So the 8vo. — The 4to “Calcedonian.”

216 lusty] So the 8vo. — Omitted in the 4to.

217 and] So the 4to. — 0mitted in the 8vo.

218 Renowmed] See note ||. p. 11.{i.e. note 52.} So the 8vo. — The 4to “Renow{ned.”}

219 Ibis’ holy name] The ibis has been already alluded to in the lines (p. 27, sec. col.) —

“The golden stature of their feather’d bird,
That spreads her wings upon the city-walls”;

and it is well known to have been a sacred bird among the Egyptians (see Cicero DE NAT. DEORUM, I. 36). Compare the old play of THE TAMING OF A SHREW;

More faire and radiente is my bonie Kate
Then siluer Zanthus,” &c.
p. 22. ed. Shakespeare Soc.

In the passage of our text the modern editors substitute “Isis’” for “Ibis’.”

220 the] So the 8vo. — The 4to “and.”

221 and] So the 8vo. — Omitted in the 4to.

222 thy baseness and] So the 8vo. — The 4to “THE basnesse OF.”

Scene 4.

[A banquet set out; and to it come Tamburlaine all in scarlet, Zenocrate, Theridamas, Techelles, Usumcasane, Bajazeth drawn in his cage, Zabina, and others.]

Tamburlaine. Now hang our bloody colours by Damascus,
Reflexing hues of blood upon their heads,
While they walk quivering on their city-walls,
Half-dead for fear before they feel my wrath.
Then let us freely banquet, and carouse
Full bowls of wine unto the god of war,
That means to fill your helmets full of gold,
And make Damascus’ spoils as rich to you
As was to Jason Colchos’ golden fleece. —
And now, Bajazeth, hast thou any stomach?

Bajazeth. Ay, such a stomach, cruel Tamburlaine, as I could
willingly feed upon thy blood-raw heart.

Tamburlaine. Nay, thine own is easier to come by: pluck out
that; and ’twill serve thee and thy wife. — Well, Zenocrate,
Techelles, and the rest, fall to your victuals.

Bajazeth. Fall to, and never may your meat digest! —
Ye Furies, that can mask223 invisible,
Dive to the bottom of Avernus’ pool,
And in your hands bring hellish poison up,
And squeeze it in the cup of Tamburlaine!
Or, winged snakes of Lerna, cast your stings,
And leave your venoms in this tyrant’s dish?

Zabina. And may this banquet prove as ominous
As Progne’s to th’ adulterous Thracian king
That fed upon the substance of his child!

Zenocrate. My lord,224 how can you suffer these
Outrageous curses by these slaves of yours?

Tamburlaine. To let them see, divine Zenocrate,
I glory in the curses of my foes,
Having the power from the empyreal heaven
To turn them all upon their proper heads.

Techelles. I pray you, give them leave, madam; this speech
is a goodly refreshing for them.225

Theridamas. But, if his highness would let them be fed,
it would do them more good.

Tamburlaine. Sirrah, why fall you not to? are you so daintily
brought up, you cannot eat your own flesh?

Bajazeth. First, legions of devils shall tear thee in pieces.

Usumcasane. Villain, knowest thou to whom thou speakest?

Tamburlaine. O, let him alone. — Here;226 eat, sir; take it
from227 my sword’s point, or I’ll thrust it to thy heart.

[Bajazeth takes the food, and stamps upon it.]

Theridamas. He stamps it under his feet, my lord.

Tamburlaine. Take it up, villain, and eat it; or I will make thee
slice228 the brawns of thy arms into carbonadoes and eat them.

Usumcasane. Nay, ’twere better he killed his wife, and then she
shall be sure not to be starved, and he be provided for a month’s
victual beforehand.

Tamburlaine. Here is my dagger: despatch her while she is fat;
for, if she live but a while longer, she will fall229 into a
consumption with fretting, and then she will not be worth the

Theridamas. Dost thou think that Mahomet will suffer this?

Techelles. ’Tis like he will, when he cannot let230 it.

Tamburlaine. Go to; fall to your meat. What, not a bit! — Belike
he hath not been watered to-day: give him some drink.

[They give Bajazeth water to drink, and he flings it on the ground.]

Fast, and welcome, sir, while231 hunger make you eat. — How now,
Zenocrate! doth not the Turk and his wife make a goodly show at a

Zenocrate. Yes, my lord.

Methinks ’tis a great deal better than a consort232 of music.

Tamburlaine. Yet music would do well to cheer up Zenocrate.
Pray thee, tell why art thou so sad? if thou wilt have a song,
the Turk shall strain his voice: but why is it?

Zenocrate. My lord, to see my father’s town besieg’d,
The country wasted where myself was born,
How can it but afflict my very soul?
If any love remain in you, my lord,
Or if my love unto your majesty
May merit favour at your highness’ hands,
Then raise your siege from fair Damascus’ walls,
And with my father take a friendly truce.

Tamburlaine. Zenocrate, were Egypt Jove’s own land,
Yet would I with my sword make Jove to stoop.
I will confute those blind geographers
That make a triple region in the world,
Excluding regions which I mean to trace,
And with this pen233 reduce them to a map,
Calling the provinces, cities, and towns,
After my name and thine, Zenocrate:
Here at Damascus will I make the point
That shall begin the perpendicular:
And wouldst thou have me buy thy father’s love
With such a loss? tell me, Zenocrate.

Zenocrate. Honour still wait on happy Tamburlaine!
Yet give me leave to plead for him, my lord.

Tamburlaine. Content thyself: his person shall be safe,
And all the friends of fair Zenocrate,
If with their lives they will be pleas’d to yield,
Or may be forc’d to make me emperor;
For Egypt and Arabia must be mine. —
Feed, you slave; thou mayst think thyself happy to be fed from
my trencher.

Bajazeth. My empty stomach, full of idle heat,
Draws bloody humours from my feeble parts,
Preserving life by hastening234 cruel death.
My veins are pale; my sinews hard and dry;
My joints benumb’d; unless I eat, I die.

Zabina. Eat, Bajazeth; let us live in spite of them, looking
some happy power will pity and enlarge us.

Tamburlaine. Here, Turk; wilt thou have a clean trencher?

Bajazeth. Ay, tyrant, and more meat.

Tamburlaine. Soft, sir! you must be dieted; too much eating
will make you surfeit.

Theridamas. So it would, my lord, ‘specially235 having so small
a walk and so little exercise.

[A second course is brought in of crowns.]

Tamburlaine. Theridamas, Techelles, and Casane, here are the
cates you desire to finger, are they not?

Theridamas. Ay, my lord: but none save kings must feed with

Techelles. ’Tis enough for us to see them, and for Tamburlaine
only to enjoy them.

Tamburlaine. Well; here is now to the Soldan of Egypt, the King
of Arabia, and the Governor of Damascus. Now, take these three
crowns, and pledge me, my contributory kings. I crown you here,
Theridamas, king of Argier; Techelles, king of Fez; and
king of Morocco.236 — How say you to this, Turk? these are
not your contributory kings.

Bajazeth. Nor shall they long be thine, I warrant them.

Tamburlaine. Kings of Argier, Morocco, and of Fez,
You that have march’d with happy Tamburlaine
As far as from the frozen plage237 of heaven
Unto the watery Morning’s ruddy bower,
And thence by land unto the torrid zone,
Deserve these titles I endow you with
By valour238 and by magnanimity.
Your births shall be no blemish to your fame;
For virtue is the fount whence honour springs,
And they are worthy she investeth kings.

Theridamas. And, since your highness hath so well vouchsaf’d,
If we deserve them not with higher meeds
Than erst our states and actions have retain’d,
Take them away again,239 and make us slaves.

Tamburlaine. Well said, Theridamas: when holy Fates
Shall stablish me in strong Aegyptia,
We mean to travel to th’ antarctic pole,
Conquering the people underneath our feet,
And be renowm’d240 as never emperors were. —
Zenocrate, I will not crown thee yet,
Until with greater honours I be grac’d.


223 mask] So the 8vo. — The 4to “walke.”

224 My lord, &c.] Something has dropt out: qy. “TAMELY suffer”?

225 a goodly refreshing for them] So the 8vo. — The 4to “a GOOD refreshing TO them.”

226 Here] So the 8vo. — The 4to “there.”

227 it from] So the 8vo. — The 4to “it VP from.”

228 slice] So the 8vo. — The 4to “fleece.”

229 will fall] So the 8vo. — The 4to “will NOT fall.”

230 let] i.e. hinder.

231 while] i.e. until.

232 consort] i.e. band.

233 pen] i.e. his sword.

234 hastening] So the 4to. — The 8vo “hasting.”

235 ‘specially] So the 8vo. — The 4to “especially.”

236 Morocco] Here and in the next speech the old eds. have “Morocus” and “Moroccus:” but see note ‡, p. 22.{i.e. note 162.}

237 plage] i.e. region. — Old eds. “place.”

238 valour] Old eds. “value.”

239 again] So the 8vo. — Omitted in the 4to.

240 renowm’d] See note ||. p. 11.{i.e. note 52.} So the 8vo. — The 4to “renown’d.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58