Classic Horror Plays > Tamburlaine the Great, Part I > Act I
Tamburlaine the Great, Part I
By Christopher Marlowe
Published in 1587
Act I: Scene II
Enter TAMBURLAINE leading ZENOCRATE, TECHELLES, USUMCASANE, AGYDAS, MAGNETES, LORDS, and SOLDIERS loaden with treasure.
Come, lady, let not this appal your thoughts;
The jewels and the treasure we have ta'en
Shall be reserv'd, and you in better state
Than if you were arriv'd in Syria,
Even in the circle of your father's arms,
The mighty Soldan of Aegyptia.
Ah, shepherd, pity my distressed plight!
(If, as thou seem'st, thou art so mean a man,)
And seek not to enrich thy followers
By lawless rapine from a silly maid,
Who, travelling with these Median lords
To Memphis, from my uncle's country of Media,
Where, all my youth, I have been governed,
Have pass'd the army of the mighty Turk,
Bearing his privy-signet and his hand
To safe-conduct us thorough Africa.
And, since we have arriv'd in Scythia,
Besides rich presents from the puissant Cham,
We have his highness' letters to command
Aid and assistance, if we stand in need.
But now you see these letters and commands
Are countermanded by a greater man;
And through my provinces you must expect
Letters of conduct from my mightiness,
If you intend to keep your treasure safe.
But, since I love to live at liberty,
As easily may you get the Soldan's crown
As any prizes out of my precinct;
For they are friends that help to wean my state
Till men and kingdoms help to strengthen it,
And must maintain my life exempt from servitude.--
But, tell me, madam, is your grace betroth'd?
I am, my lord,--for so you do import.
I am a lord, for so my deeds shall prove;
And yet a shepherd by my parentage.
But, lady, this fair face and heavenly hue
Must grace his bed that conquers Asia,
And means to be a terror to the world,
Measuring the limits of his empery
By east and west, as Phoebus doth his course.--
Lie here, ye weeds, that I disdain to wear!
This complete armour and this curtle-axe
Are adjuncts more beseeming Tamburlaine.--
And, madam, whatsoever you esteem
Of this success, and loss unvalued,
Both may invest you empress of the East;
And these that seem but silly country swains
May have the leading of so great an host
As with their weight shall make the mountains quake,
Even as when windy exhalations,
Fighting for passage, tilt within the earth.
As princely lions, when they rouse themselves,
Stretching their paws, and threatening herds of beasts,
So in his armour looketh Tamburlaine.
Methinks I see kings kneeling at his feet,
And he with frowning brows and fiery looks
Spurning their crowns from off their captive heads.
And making thee and me, Techelles, kings,
That even to death will follow Tamburlaine.
Nobly resolv'd, sweet friends and followers!
These lords perhaps do scorn our estimates,
And think we prattle with distemper'd spirits:
But, since they measure our deserts so mean,
That in conceit bear empires on our spears,
Affecting thoughts coequal with the clouds,
They shall be kept our forced followers
Till with their eyes they view us emperors.
The gods, defenders of the innocent.
Will never prosper your intended drifts,
That thus oppress poor friendless passengers.
Therefore at least admit us liberty,
Even as thou hop'st to be eternized
By living Asia's mighty emperor.
I hope our lady's treasure and our own
May serve for ransom to our liberties:
Return our mules and empty camels back,
That we may travel into Syria,
Where her betrothed lord, Alcidamus,
Expects the arrival of her highness' person.
And wheresoever we repose ourselves,
We will report but well of Tamburlaine.
Disdains Zenocrate to live with me?
Or you, my lords, to be my followers?
Think you I weigh this treasure more than you?
Not all the gold in India's wealthy arms
Shall buy the meanest soldier in my train.
Zenocrate, lovelier than the love of Jove,
Brighter than is the silver Rhodope,
Fairer than whitest snow on Scythian hills,
Thy person is more worth to Tamburlaine
Than the possession of the Persian crown,
Which gracious stars have promis'd at my birth.
A hundred Tartars shall attend on thee,
Mounted on steeds swifter than Pegasus;
Thy garments shall be made of Median silk,
Enchas'd with precious jewels of mine own,
More rich and valurous than Zenocrate's;
With milk-white harts upon an ivory sled
Thou shalt be drawn amidst the frozen pools,
And scale the icy mountains' lofty tops,
Which with thy beauty will be soon resolv'd:
My martial prizes, with five hundred men,
Won on the fifty-headed Volga's waves,
Shall we all offer to Zenocrate,
And then myself to fair Zenocrate.
What now! in love?
Techelles, women must be flattered:
But this is she with whom I am in love.
Enter a SOLDIER.
How now! what's the matter?
A thousand Persian horsemen are at hand,
Sent from the king to overcome us all.
How now, my lords of Egypt, and Zenocrate!
Now must your jewels be restor'd again,
And I, that triumph'd so, be overcome?
How say you, lordings? is not this your hope?
We hope yourself will willingly restore them.
Such hope, such fortune, have the thousand horse.
Soft ye, my lords, and sweet Zenocrate!
You must be forced from me ere you go.--
A thousand horsemen! we five hundred foot!
An odds too great for us to stand against.
But are they rich? and is their armour good!
Their plumed helms are wrought with beaten gold,
Their swords enamell'd, and about their necks
Hang massy chains of gold down to the waist;
In every part exceeding brave and rich.
Then shall we fight courageously with them?
Or look you I should play the orator?
No; cowards and faint-hearted runaways
Look for orations when the foe is near:
Our swords shall play the orators for us.
Come, let us meet them at the mountain-top,
And with a sudden and an hot alarum
Drive all their horses headlong down the hill.
Come, let us march.
Stay, Techelles; ask a parle first.
The SOLDIERS enter.
Open the mails, yet guard the treasure sure:
Lay out our golden wedges to the view,
That their reflections may amaze the Persians;
And look we friendly on them when they come:
But, if they offer word or violence,
We'll fight, five hundred men-at-arms to one,
Before we part with our possession;
And 'gainst the general we will lift our swords,
And either lance his greedy thirsting throat,
Or take him prisoner, and his chain shall serve
For manacles till he be ransom'd home.
I hear them come: shall we encounter them?
Keep all your standings, and not stir a foot:
Myself will bide the danger of the brunt.
Enter THERIDAMAS with others.
Where is this Scythian Tamburlaine?
Whom seek'st thou, Persian? I am Tamburlaine.
A Scythian shepherd so embellished
With nature's pride and richest furniture!
His looks do menace heaven and dare the gods;
His fiery eyes are fix'd upon the earth,
As if he now devis'd some stratagem,
Or meant to pierce Avernus' darksome vaults
To pull the triple-headed dog from hell.
Noble and mild this Persian seems to be,
If outward habit judge the inward man.
His deep affections make him passionate.
With what a majesty he rears his looks!--
In thee, thou valiant man of Persia,
I see the folly of thy emperor.
Art thou but captain of a thousand horse,
That by characters graven in thy brows,
And by thy martial face and stout aspect,
Deserv'st to have the leading of an host?
Forsake thy king, and do but join with me,
And we will triumph over all the world:
I hold the Fates bound fast in iron chains,
And with my hand turn Fortune's wheel about;
And sooner shall the sun fall from his sphere
Than Tamburlaine be slain or overcome.
Draw forth thy sword, thou mighty man-at-arms,
Intending but to raze my charmed skin,
And Jove himself will stretch his hand from heaven
To ward the blow, and shield me safe from harm.
See, how he rains down heaps of gold in showers,
As if he meant to give my soldiers pay!
And, as a sure and grounded argument
That I shall be the monarch of the East,
He sends this Soldan's daughter rich and brave,
To be my queen and portly emperess.
If thou wilt stay with me, renowmed man,
And lead thy thousand horse with my conduct,
Besides thy share of this Egyptian prize,
Those thousand horse shall sweat with martial spoil
Of conquer'd kingdoms and of cities sack'd:
Both we will walk upon the lofty cliffs;
And Christian merchants, that with Russian stems
Plough up huge furrows in the Caspian Sea,
Shall vail to us as lords of all the lake;
Both we will reign as consuls of the earth,
And mighty kings shall be our senators.
Jove sometime masked in a shepherd's weed;
And by those steps that he hath scal'd the heavens
May we become immortal like the gods.
Join with me now in this my mean estate,
(I call it mean, because, being yet obscure,
The nations far-remov'd admire me not,)
And when my name and honour shall be spread
As far as Boreas claps his brazen wings,
Or fair Bootes sends his cheerful light,
Then shalt thou be competitor with me,
And sit with Tamburlaine in all his majesty.
Not Hermes, prolocutor to the gods,
Could use persuasions more pathetical.
Nor are Apollo's oracles more true
Than thou shalt find my vaunts substantial.
We are his friends; and, if the Persian king
Should offer present dukedoms to our state,
We think it loss to make exchange for that
We are assur'd of by our friend's success.
And kingdoms at the least we all expect,
Besides the honour in assured conquests,
Where kings shall crouch unto our conquering swords,
And hosts of soldiers stand amaz'd at us,
When with their fearful tongues they shall confess,
These are the men that all the world admires.
What strong enchantments tice my yielding soul
To these resolved, noble Scythians!
But shall I prove a traitor to my king?
No; but the trusty friend of Tamburlaine.
Won with thy words, and conquer'd with thy looks,
I yield myself, my men, and horse to thee,
To be partaker of thy good or ill,
As long as life maintains Theridamas.
Theridamas, my friend, take here my hand,
Which is as much as if I swore by heaven,
And call'd the gods to witness of my vow.
Thus shall my heart be still combin'd with thine
Until our bodies turn to elements,
And both our souls aspire celestial thrones.--
Techelles and Casane, welcome him.
Welcome, renowmed Persian, to us all!
Long may Theridamas remain with us!
These are my friends, in whom I more rejoice
Than doth the king of Persia in his crown;
And, by the love of Pylades and Orestes,
Whose statues we adore in Scythia,
Thyself and them shall never part from me
Before I crown you kings in Asia.
Make much of them, gentle Theridamas,
And they will never leave thee till the death.
Nor thee nor them, thrice-noble Tamburlaine,
Shall want my heart to be with gladness pierc'd,
To do you honour and security.
A thousand thanks, worthy Theridamas.--
And now, fair madam, and my noble lords,
If you will willingly remain with me,
You shall have honours as your merits be;
Or else you shall be forc'd with slavery.
We yield unto thee, happy Tamburlaine.
For you, then, madam, I am out of doubt.
I must be pleas'd perforce,--wretched Zenocrate!
Act I: Scene I |
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