Re: Tamburlaine II

June 19, 2009

I’ve just handed in a deadly 5000-word essay: ‘Marlowe as a Philosopher of the Senses: Aurality and Visualisation in Tamburlaine The Great, Parts One and Two’. It was agony to write. I felt as though I were pulling each word out by its (figurative) teeth. The Tamburlaine plays are also not my favourite Marlowe-creation. But add one hairless scholar and one hairful gerbil into the mix:

From Neil Rhodes, The Power of Eloquence and English Reniassance Literature, New York: St Martin’s Press, 1992:96

“The first false note is struck as Tamburlaine reviews the progress of his sons and promises the youngest, Celebinus, that he will keep ‘in iron cages emperors’, as though this were a suitable pre-adolescent hobby such as keeping gerbils. When he also promises that Celebinus will eventually take over as ‘scourge and terror of the world’ the elder brother complains that he wants to be the scourge and terror of the world. Tamburlaine has to settle the dispute by announcing that they can all be the said scourge and terror. He then warns that he will set up his throne in a field ‘covered with a liquid purple veil / And sprinkled with the brains of slaughtered men’, and that anyone who wishes to claim it will have to ‘wade up to the chin in blood’. His sons are naturally undaunted by this, with Amyras boasting:

And I would strive to swim through pools of blood
Or make a bridge of murdered carcasses
Whose arches should be framed with bones of Turks,
Ere I would lose the title of a king. (I.iii.88-91)

To which Tamburlaine’s paternal response is ‘Well, lovely boys, you shall be emperors both…’.”

hehhehehehheheheee. Ahhhhh.

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