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Lucanic irony in Marlowe's Tamburlaine.

ABSTRACT

This article shows how Marlowe departs from his primary historical sources (Mexia and Perondinus) in his retelling of the life of Tamburlaine. Marlowe employed the heavily ironic tone of Lucan's discussion of Julius Caesar's apparently 'divine' barbarism in his characterization of tyranny, obedience, and rebellion in Tamburlaine. By applying Lucanic irony to the paradoxical discussions of tyranny and obedience that permeated late Tudor culture, Marlowe's tragedy subverts the de casibus form and raises questions about divine providence.

Literary documents from the Tudor period--what a modern readership might call 'cultural treasures' (1)--abound with subtle references to the tyranny and barbarity taking hold in England at that time. (2) The documents dealing with government and policy that were in circulation during this period exhibit what Greg Walker (p. 2) identifies as the 'slide into English tyranny' during the last part of Henry VIII's reign, starting with the matter of his first divorce, from Catherine of Aragon. These texts transmit the nuances of discontent caused by the subversive discord with Rome and the monarch's claim to the divine right of kings. Such documents are valuable tools for understanding the atmosphere of trepidation inherent in discussing modes of sovereignty in Tudor England. Given that these discussions of kingship were intimately bound to the discussions of religion, especially divine providence, it is not surprising that Christopher Marlowe found contemporary relevance in Lucan's portrait of Neronian Rome when he came to write Tamburlaine (published 1590).

Emrys Jones once stated that the influence of Lucan's epic on Elizabethan tragedy has been largely overlooked in Renaissance studies. He cites J. A. K. Thomson's evaluation that 'the influence of Lucan on Elizabethan style is seriously underestimated'. (3) Jones prompts further research into the context of Lucanic imitation: 'we need to go beyond saying that Shakespeare was merely "influenced" by Lucan: he was doing something much more purposeful and deliberate. He was imitating him, and imitation implies at least some close knowledge of the model' (p. 276). Andrew Hadfield acknowledges the influence of Lucan on republican writings during the 'Age of Shakespeare', stating that the poem was one of the cornerstones of republican texts in the seventeenth century. Hadfield recognizes Marlowe's debt to Lucan regarding his representation of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre:

[The Massacre at Paris] implicitly invites its audience to see that spectacularly violent event as one of the many destructive battles, most prominent of which was the Pharsalia, that left the Roman republic bereft of leadership and vulnerable to the ruthless ambitions of the many would-be tyrants who subsequently rose to prominence. (4)

Roma Gill, Jones, and William Godshalk ignited some interest in Marlowe's use of Lucan, but since the 1970s few critics have noted the Neronian poet's influence on English literature before Shakespeare. (5)

During Elizabeth's reign both Barnabe Googe and George Turberville attempted to translate Lucan's epic before Marlowe--Googe around 1560 and Turberville in 1576. The problems that Googe and Turberville encountered in this task stem from their attempts to limit or categorize Lucan's difficult text in terms of history or tragedy. But Marlowe, well versed in epic, tragedy, and history from his reading at Cambridge, approached Lucan with a wider perspective than his two predecessors. He abandoned the approach of scholars trying to translate Lucan into 'lofty' verse and instead found the 'mighty line' in his blank verse translation. There is some debate concerning the date at which Marlowe translated the first book of Lucan's epic. The reading of Tamburlaine offered here, a play first performed in 1587, supports the theory that he worked on the translation while studying for his Master's degree at Cambridge, which was awarded that same year. (6) Marlowe's translation was entered in the Stationers' Register by publisher John Wolfe in September 1593 but did not appear in print until 1600, when Thomas Thorpe published it alongside Marlowe's Hero and Leander. (7)

It is perhaps the attention paid to Samuel Daniel's use of Lucan in his epic The Civil Wars (1595) that has led to the comparative neglect of Lucan's influence on earlier Elizabethan tragedy. (8)Jones cites some examples from Shakespeare's plays that echo Lucan's epic, (9) and says that there are enough 'decorous Lucanic touches' in Shakespeare's 2 Henry VI, including an inaccurate quotation from Lucan's epic, to 'suggest that Shakespeare knew enough of the flavour of Lucan's poetry to wish to imitate it' (p. 274). Hadfield reads Shakespeare's first tetralogy as an attempt to recreate Lucan's Republican epic of civil war from English history, stating plainly: 'The three Henry VI plays--as well as Richard III--are Shakespeare's Pharsalia.' (10) Jones (p. 276) also notes that in the speech on the fall of Troy which Hamlet asks the Player to recite (II. 2. 448-514), Shakespeare was consciously imitating Lucan.

It is the contention of this article that by making explicit reference to Lucan's De bello civili in his two-part tragedy Tamburlaine, Marlowe illustrates the irony in Reformation theories of divine kingship and tyranny. He transmits the horrors of tyranny through his reading of documents of past barbarism, especially Book I of Lucan's epic, by enhancing the historical figure of the tyrant Tamburlaine and his exploits for dramatic purposes in order to create a more ruthless, more wrathful, and more sinister version of his sources' conquering Scythian: Tamburlaine lays waste to the East, kills his own child, and lives unpunished until death. The Prologue invites the audience: 'View but his picture in this tragic glass And then applaud his fortunes as you please' (1 Tamburlaine, Prologue, ll. 7-8). I propose that the mirror Marlowe invites us to witness in Tamburlaine reverberates with the pessimistic tone of Lucan's epic by recognizing the ironic futility of virtue in a world governed by destiny.

Lucan was appointed quaestor by the emperor Nero until he was implicated in the Pisonian conspiracy, along with his uncle Seneca, to overthrow Nero. At the age of just twenty-six he was ordered to commit suicide and died before completing his epic on the Civil War. Comprising ten books of Latin hexameters, Lucan's De bello civili (11) depicts the Roman civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar, which Caesar won in 46 BC, thus ending the Roman Republic. Throughout the poem, Lucan uses Caesar's tyranny to parallel the atmosphere in Neronian Rome.

In the epic Lucan imagines the most terrible aspects of civil war and magnifies their intensity, sometimes through invention, often reiterating the horrors of events that occurred after Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC. Marlowe's translation of the first lines of Lucan's epic reads:
   Wars worse than civil on Thessalian plains,
   And outrage strangling law, and people strong
   We sing, whose conquering swords their own breasts launched,
   Armies allied, the kingdom's league uprooted,
   Th' affrighted world's force bent on public spoil,
   Trumpets and drums like deadly threat'ning other,
   Eagles alike displayed, darts answering darts. (12)


The nature of Lucan's theme, a severe condemnation of civil war, corresponds to the form and style of his poem: he rejects the flowing and melodious treatment of Virgil's lofty and heroic epic and chooses a style more suitable to his topic, 'the grim portrayal of the horrors perpetrated by citizens against their fellow- citizens'. (13) Lucan's epic presents a pessimistic view of the Roman political atmosphere by focusing on three protagonists, Caesar, Pompey, and Cato, none of whom can offer Rome an attractive and plausible system of government. The poet first indicates how the civil war broke out after the collapse of the first triumvirate, which he refers to as a 'pact of tyranny', and he continues this theme of the consequences of tyrannical regimes throughout the epic, with Caesar representing an extreme of tyranny and the cause of the end of the Republic, while Pompey and Cato are unable to mount any effective opposition against him. Despite the praise conferred upon Pompey and the admiration for him that the poem seems to imply at times, Lucan does not present Pompey as the hero. Through the pessimistic tone of his epic and the suggestion that Rome lacks the hero it needs, he shows that both tyranny and opposition to tyranny cause civil warfare. The poem is a subversion of traditional epic in its depiction of Roman history as lacking a positive telos (such as the founding of Rome), and in its dedication to a tyrannous emperor, contrasting with Virgil's dedication to Augustus.

In the first explanation of the causes of war, Lucan addresses Fortune, who will later be identified as Caesar's ally:
   You were the causes of ruin,
   Rome, made common property of masters three, and tyranny's
   ill-omened pact, never shared among a crowd.
   (I. 84-86)


This is the second time in eighty lines that Lucan has referred to the first triumvirate as a pact of tyranny and a cause of the civil war. He even goes as far as to promote justified tyrannicide: see Book x, where Pothinus appeals to Achillas for his help in the assassination of Caesar:
   Fates, avert this crime
   afar, that [Caesar's] neck should be severed without Brutus there.
   The Roman tyrant's punishment is being added to the wickedness of
   Pharos
   and the warning lost.
   (x. 341-44)


Lucan says that all tyrants should be warned since the trusted Brutus will eventually kill Caesar without any attempt to conceal the act:
   he does not try to entrust the murder to hidden trickery
   but challenges the undefeated general with war unsheathed.
   (x. 345-46)


In her introduction to the text Braund intimates that Lucan's epic is both a warning to the emperor Nero to conduct himself in a way that will guarantee loyalty and a depiction of how failure to offer such loyalty to the emperor provokes civil war.

Lucan's justification for tyrannicide relates closely to the perspective on providence offered in the epic in that the poet questions the philosophy of a preordained world order and thus the legitimacy of Caesar's claim to divine ordinance. This ironic portrayal of Roman tyranny, where the primary cause of civil war and Rome's greatest tyrant justifies his claims by calling on the gods, takes its cue from the philosophical works of Lucan's uncle Seneca, who in De providentia discusses a moral order controlled by providence in a text which also contains his bitter condemnation of any type of cruelty inflicted by men on their fellow human beings.

In the essay Seneca explains his perspective on fortune and providence and establishes that everything happens for a reason, nothing simply by chance:

For the present purpose, it is unnecessary to show that this mighty structure of the world does not endure without someone to guard it, and that the assembling and the separate flight of the stars above are not due to the workings of chance. (14)

Here Seneca emphasizes that since nothing happens accidentally and all events must have a reason, all events must have a pre-arranged order, so ordained by providence.

The philosopher explains that the world does not work arbitrarily but that all events are governed by a higher power: 'Even those phenomena which seem irregular and undetermined [...] no matter how suddenly they occur, do not happen without a reason' (i. 3-4). He continues to explain wickedness by confirming that while fortune may adversely affect the good man, God does not allow sin to corrupt him:

Evil of every sort he keeps far from them--sin and crime, evil counsel and schemes for greed, blind lust and avarice intent upon another's goods. (VI. 1)

So, although good men suffer hardship at the hands of fortune, they do not turn to sin, as bad men do. Seneca introduced the force of furor into his exploration of human psychology and of the motivation behind wicked deeds, and he linked this insatiable madness with tragedy by making furor the cause of ruin. Lucan brings in this idea of furor as a force of unreason that cannot be controlled right at the start of his epic: 'Quis furor, o cives, quae tanta licentia ferri?' (i. 8). Susan Braund translates: 'What madness was this, O citizens? What this excessive freedom with the sword' (i. 8-9). The emphasis on the 'madness' of civil war, and Lucan's decision to use the word furor, place the topic of civil war, and the poem itself, within the realm of tragedy.

After describing the terrible criminality of the wars, Lucan breaks off with a brief apostrophe to the emperor Nero, which serves both to include ironic praise of his patron and also to mock the role of the gods in men's affairs:
   But if for Nero (then unborn) the fates
   Would find no other means (and gods not slightly
   Purchase immortal thrones; nor Jove joyed heaven
   Until the cruel Giants' war was done)
   We plainer not heavens, but gladly bear these evils
   For Nero's sake: Pharsalia groan with slaughter;
   And Carthage souls be glutted with our bloods;
   At Munda let the dreadful battles join;
   Add, Caesar, to these ills Perusian famine;
   TheMutin toils; the fleet at Leuca sunk;
   And cruel field, near burning Aetna fought.
   Yet Rome is much bound to these civil arms,
   Which made thee Emperor.
   (Marlowe, Lucan, 11. 33-45)


This apostrophe to Nero should not be read out of context; it is important that just thirty lines earlier Lucan had explained that the poem deals with the madness of civil war. So when he says that Roman blood was shed and the people were divided all for Nero, there is an undercurrent of strong distaste for the emperor. (15)

Although Lucan deifies Nero, the gods patently exercise no control in his epic and they remain noticeably absent from the work, except for the figure of mutable Fortune. Lucan's apotheosis of Nero in De bello civili is ambiguous and often ludicrous. Near the start of the poem, for example, his advice to Nero on how to pick his seat among the gods borders on sedition:
   But neither choose the north t' erect thy seat,
   Nor yet the adverse reeking southern pole,
   Whence thou shouldst view thy Rome with squinting beams.
   If any one part of vast heaven thou swayest,
   The burdened axis with thy force will bend.
   (Marlowe, Lucan, ll. 53-57)


Here the poet suggests that if Nero took a seat in heaven it would disrupt the balance of the celestial realm. Lucan's comments highlight Nero's physical weight and thus undermine the ostensible tone of flattery: he is not a true god because the heavens would feel his weight.

Lucan's emphasis on Nero as Caesar makes the important point that he behaves not like a princeps but like a dictator. In Book I Lucan praises Nero as a deity and asks him to inspire his poetry:
   Thou, Caesar [Nero] at this instant art my God:
   Thee if I invocate, I shall not need
   To crave Apollo's aid, or Bacchus' help,
   Thy power inspires the Muse that sings this war.
   (Marlowe, Lucan, ll. 63-66)


Lucan's claim that he does not need the traditional gods to inspire his poetry because he has Nero is matched by Tamburlaine's self-made claim that he controls the deities:
   I hold the Fates bound fast in iron chains,
   And with my hand turn Fortune's wheel about.
   (1 Tamburlaine, i. 2. 173-74)


Lucan 's epic makes the point that civil war is worse than other types of war because it divides a nation and the loss of lives is not compensated for by an increase in power or empire. This is suggested first in the line 'Will ye wage war, for which you shall not triumph?' (Marlowe, Lucan, l. 12). A triumphal march was awarded only for victory over a foreign enemy, and so Lucan warns his Roman readers:
   Rome, if thou take delight in impious war,
   First conquer all the earth, then turn thy force
   Against thyself: as yet thou want'st not foes.
   (Marlowe, Lucan, ll. 21-23)


He then laments that the loss of life in the civil wars served no purpose. Rome, Lucan explains, was brought to civil war because of the rivalry between two illustrious leaders, Pompey and Caesar:
   Dominion cannot suffer parternship.
   (Marlowe, Lucan, l. 93)


Caesar, the most prominent character in the epic, represents, in Frederick Ahl's phrase, an evil genius who brought the end of the Republic. (16)

In Lucan's epic blood flows freely, brothers fight brothers, Romans kill Romans, and corpses lie rotting unburied while crows pick at their flesh. All of this is linked back to Caesar, who is depicted as bloodthirsty, fierce, and hungry for war:
   Caesars renown for war was less, he restless,
   Shaming to strive but where he did subdue,
   When ire or hope provoked, heady and bold.
   At all times charging home, and making havoc;
   Urging his fortune, trusting in the gods,
   Destroying what withstood his proud desires,
   And glad when blood and ruinmade himway:
   So thunder which the wind tears from the clouds,
   With crack of riven air and hideous sound,
   [...]
   Such humours stirred them up; but this war's seed,
   Was even the same that wrack's all dominions.

   (Marlowe, Lucan, ll. 145-60)


Lucan's discussion of Caesar's tyranny is, I argue, brought sharply into focus by Reformation discussions of divine providence and fortune. The notion that the gods would decree the suffering of humans and the horrors of civil war for just one man is treated with irony in the epic, and it is this important aspect of Lucan's text that relates significantly to Marlowe's theatrical dictator Tamburlaine.

In De bello civili Caesar abandons peace to follow Fortune when he crosses the Rubicon and, through an analogy with the historical figure Hannibal, he is portrayed as an ambitious military leader who inspires fear. The comparison with Hannibal works to illustrate that Caesar is both a tyrant and a traitor--or enemy to Rome. Lucan takes this further by emphasizing the extent of the terror that Caesar spreads. There is irony in the description of the inhabitants' suppressed fear in response to Caesar's hunger for war when he landed at Ariminum:
   And then, (when Lucifer did shine alone,
   And some dim stars) he Ariminum entered.

   Day rose, and viewed these tumults of the war;
   Whether the gods, or blust'ring south were cause
   I know not, but the cloudy air did frown;
   [...]
   But seeing white Eagles, and Rome's flags well known,
   And lofty Caesar in the thickest throng,
   They shook for fear, and cold benumbed their limbs,
   And muttering much, thus to themselves complained:
   'O walls unfortunate, too near to France,
   Predestinate to ruin!'

   (Marlowe, Lucan, ll. 233-51)


The final line of this quotation captures Lucan's point that the citizens of Ariminum resigned themselves to passive complaint because they understood that it was their destiny to submit to Caesar's tyranny. Lucan points to the paradox of celebrating the victory of Caesar by deifying him and his descendants in Rome when so much Roman blood was lost for his cause. Through the example of Caesar, the epic shows how, in Ahl's words, 'the elevation of humans to divine estate will be man's vengeance on the gods for their indifference to human affairs' (p. 8). Instead of looking ahead to a new golden age, in the way that Virgil's epic did, Lucan's poem shows how men are helpless under a tyrannous ruler, even one who claims divine lineage; it shows a world where the gods have abandoned all concern for men and Fortune presides over Rome.

The historical evidence of Tamburlaine's life in the accounts that Marlowe had access to provided the playwright with an example of tyranny similar to the paradigm of tyranny depicted in De bello civili: both Lucan and Marlowe examine the nature of monarchy through a subversion of accepted doctrines, cultural beliefs, and traditional genres (heroic epic and de casibus drama). (17) All the horrors and bloodshed in Marlowe's two-part tragedy are caused by just one man, who, it seems, is chosen by God to tyrannize his subjects. Marlowe's drama reproduces Lucan's world as one in which there is a divine presence but only in the form of a self-declared scourge of God, Tamburlaine, who sees his role in the context of bringing hell to earth, thus reproducing the horrors of Book I of Lucan's epic. Marlowe cleverly applied Lucanic material to the history and characterization of Tamburlaine in dramatic form and embellished it with Elizabethan doctrines of divine providence.

In Tamburlaine Marlowe departs from the aims and motives of his historical sources concerning tyranny and punishment, and, as I shall argue, employs the heavily ironic tone of Lucan's discussion of Julius Caesar's apparently 'divine' barbarism. In this way, Marlowe's de casibus drama subverts the popular 'mirror' literature and asks the audience to judge for themselves from the evidence what type of lesson Tamburlaine offers. The tragedy subverts the traditional de casibus form because Tamburlaine's earthly sins never lead to his fall, but rather his hellish actions create an endless cycle of tragedy in the East that the scope of the drama does not bring to a conclusion.

Critics vary little in pinpointing which primary historical sources Marlowe consulted and generally accept the conclusions reached in the nineteenth century by C. H. Herford and A. Wagner, who recognized the relevance of two particular source texts from Spain and Italy. (18) The Spanish collection by Pedro Mexia, Silva de varia lecion (1540), was available in two English adaptations by 1586: first in Sir Thomas Fortescue's The Forest or Collection of Histories (1571) and later in George Whetstone's The English Mirror (1586). (19) The points on which Marlowe diverges from his sources serve to distance the play from historical fact and show the author engaged in the creation of an unconventional type of mirror where the protagonist behaves like an infernal tyrant but is rewarded with earthly success.

The characterization of tyranny in Tamburlaine relies on Lucanic irony applied to the paradoxical discussions of divine providence and tyranny that permeated late Tudor culture. Discussions of historical tyrants at this time reflect a growing concern with the question of the appropriate Christian response to tyranny. Put briefly, the debates oscillated between advocating total obedience in the face of tyranny and distinguishing between different degrees of resistance. Initially Martin Luther, for example, decreed that any resistance to a magistrate was unlawful because all authority is ordained by God. In his essay 'Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should be Obeyed' (1523) he attributed all temporal authority to an ordained secular minister, the prince, and proposed that since this authority was based on God's providence, the prince's power should always be obeyed.

The German Reformer's teaching alternates between the idea that all rulers must be obeyed because God must be obeyed, and the belief that tyrants should be passively resisted yet still endured. After the German Peasants' Revolt of 1524 Luther revised his doctrine of non-resistance to tyranny. In his essay 'Whether Soldiers, Too, Can be Saved' (1526) he still maintains the position that all political rule is ordained by God and that resisting this rule is tantamount to resisting God's will; but now Luther includes the contentious argument that tyrants are appointed by God periodically to punish men for their sinfulness.

Luther was persistent in his belief that rulers, good or bad, should not be opposed with violence. Basically, God reserves the right to punish ungodly rulers; but still, Luther says that God allows evil rulers a period on earth. Citing Scripture, he says that '[God] permits a knave to rule because of the people's sins'. (20) Since a tyrant cannot harm one's soul, Luther advises men to suffer the injustices of tyranny. God, he says, will punish the tyrant, but if men actively resist their ruler, they too will be punished for defying God. Reformers, both on the Continent and in England, struggled to define the degrees of resistance that God might allow and the extent to which tyranny should, if at all, be opposed.

The Calvinists developed theories for dealing with tyranny and resistance alongside Luther's treatises. The exiled English Reformers John Ponet (Strasburg) and Christopher Goodman (Geneva) both published political tracts in defence of certain degrees of resistance that were tolerable in a Christian universe. The arguments of these two vary in their methodology but in the end they both reach the same conclusions: 'When our rulers are tyrants or oppressors, "they are not God's ordinance", so that "in disobeying and resisting such, we do not resist God's ordinance".' (21) Tyrannous magistrates, argue Ponet and Goodman, come to their position accidentally--or when the people make the wrong choice. They determined, from evidence in Scripture, that God preordained magistrates and enabled his people to recognize and accept his choice (by God's gift of grace). Ponet and Goodman supplied lists of criteria for choosing and electing a ruler: if the ruler turns out to be tyrannical, that is the fault of the people, not God.

Marlowe's drama problematizes Protestant doctrine (sola scriptura, sola fide [...]) by presenting a mirror of tyranny where the tyrant is never punished and never loses faith in divine providence. Crucially, Tamburlaine proclaims his own quasi-divinity even as he is about to die:
   Villains, these terrors and these tyrannies
   (If tyrannies war's justice ye repute)
   I execute, enjoined me from above,
   To scourge the pride of such as Heaven abhors--
   Nor am I made arch-monarch of the world,
   Crowned and invested by the hand of Jove,
   For deeds of bounty or nobility:
   But since I exercise a greater name,
   The scourge of God and terror of the world,
   I must apply myself in those terms,
   In war, in blood, in death, in cruelty.
   (2 Tamburlaine, iv. 1. 146-56)


Here, Marlowe's Tamburlaine repeats the claims of divine sanction found in his historical sources: 'Thou supposest that I am a man, but thou art deceived, for I am none other than the ire of God, and the destruction of the world.' (22) Marlowe's Tamburlaine even offers an ironic interpretation of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone; he never suffers a fall from power because he never loses faith in himself or falls into despair, as Marlowe's Faustus does. Because Tamburlaine does not suffer an earthly fall, his example offers no obvious moral lesson. In the Prologue Marlowe identifies his play as a mirror, but he does not specify the type of lesson that the drama presents; Tamburlaine's actions in fact create a replica hell on earth in which conventional notions of damnation come close to being realized. The mirror presented is an image of hell which is enhanced, in part, by the tension surrounding contemporaory discussions of tyranny and resistance. The historical material on Tamburlaine already detailed his excesses and desire for power, but, as I argue, Marlowe extends the boundaries of Tamburlaine's terror through allusion to Lucan's Caesar, another hubristic tyrant who claimed divine approval for his actions.

Marlowe's tragedy does not seek to stress a moral lesson in the example of Tamburlaine but has more to do with the plight of ordinary men in the face of unstoppable tyranny. Recognizing a link between himself and the Roman conqueror Caesar, Tamburlaine explains his actions in terms of divine power. In the first act of Marlowe's play the King of Persia (Mycetes) and his lord Meander discuss the threat to Persia:
   Of Tamburlaine, that sturdy Scythian thief,
   That robs [Mycetes'] merchants of Persepolis
   Trading by land unto the Western Isles,
   And in your confines with his lawless train
   Daily commits incivil outrages,
   Hoping, misled by dreaming prophecies,
   To reign in Asia, and with barbarous arms
   To make himself the monarch of the East.
   (1 Tamburlaine, I. 1. 36-43)


Marlowe's tyrant is motivated by his ambition to conquer the world and desire to remove libertas from the people he conquers. The world depicted the two part drama is one ruled by a wrathful and unforgiving God, where a self-declared scourge exerts his hellish power over others. When Theridamas meets him for the first time in the tragedy, he comments on Tamburlaine's hellish qualities:
   His looks do menace heaven and dare the gods;
   His fiery eyes are fixed upon the earth,
   As if he now devised some stratagem,
   Or meant to pierce Avernus' darksome vaults
   And pull the triple-headed dog from hell.
   (1 Tamburlaine, I. 2. 156-60)


When he attempts to persuade Theridamas, Usumcasane, and Techelles that he is invincible, Tamburlaine, emphasizing his power over fate (1 Tamburlaine, I. 2. 173-4, quoted above), swears:
   And sooner shall the sun fall from his sphere
   Than Tamburlaine be slain or overcome.
   (1 Tamburlaine, I. 2. 175-76)


And in a verbal battle with Bajazeth in the third act, Tamburlaine, without acknowledging the irony in his boasts, compares himself to Lucan's tyrant:
   My camp is like to Julius Caesar's host,
   That never fought but had the victory;
   Nor in Pharsalia was there such hot war
   As these my followers willingly would have.
   (1 Tamburlaine, III. 3. 152-55)


Tamburlaine appeals to Theridamas, Usumcasane, and Techelles to join him by offering them immortality and deification:
   Both we will walk upon the lofty cliffs,
   [...]
   And by those steps that he hath scaled the heavens
   May we become immortal like the gods.
   (1 Tamburlaine, I. 2. 192-200)


Without questioning how the Scythian shepherd proposes to reward them with divinity, the Persians dismiss their own gods:
   Not Hermes, prolocutor to the gods,
   Could use persuasionsmore pathetical.
   (1 Tamburlaine, I. 2. 209-10)


Tamburlaine encourages them to submit and offer their allegiance to him. He repeats the claims that he is a scourge of God in order to assert his own power and emphasize his fearlessness:
   I that am termed the scourge and wrath of God,
   The only fear and terror of the world.
   (I Tamburlaine, III. 3. 44-45)


He envisages not only a world at war succumbing to his domination but also the heavens and hell consumed by the phenomenon that is Tamburlaine. Nietzsche's observation that 'a consequence of the true will to power, which is simply the will to life [...] is the [fundamental] fact of all history' (23) helps to decode a histrionic purpose in Tamburlaine's inborn drive towards domination and exploitation of others: in his will to power, his insatiable appetite for destruction, and his willingness to shed blood, including that of his own kin, Lucan's Caesar prompted Marlowe's characterization of Tamburlaine.

Marlowe's tyrant even imagines that the deities Jove and Mars concede some of their power to him:
   The god of war resigns his room to me,
   Meaning to make me general of the world:
   Jove, viewing me in arms, looks pale and wan,
   Feeling my power should pull him from his throne.
   (1 Tamburlaine, v. 1. 451-54)


Then he pictures his fame spreading throughout the underworld:
   Millions of souls sit on the banks of Styx,
   Waiting the back return of Charon's boat;

   Hell and Elysium swarm with ghosts of men
   That I have sent from sundry foughten fields
   To spreadmy fame through hell and up to heaven.
   (1 Tamburlaine, v. 1. 464-68)


For Tamburlaine, the whole world, including the underworld, is a battlefield where he is glorious and respected as a scourge of God:
   Thus am I right the scourge of highest Jove,
   And see the figure of my dignity
   By which I hold my name and majesty.
   (2 Tamburlaine, iv. 3. 24-26)


As a self-declared scourge, Tamburlaine interprets his role on earth to be that of an infernal representative, sent to inflict punishments on mankind and answerable only to his god. He reiterates this in the final act when he claims:
   There is a God full of revenging wrath,
   From whom the thunder and the lightning breaks,
   Whose scourge I am, and him will I obey.
   (2 Tamburlaine, v. 1. 182-84)


Rebecca Bushnell does not recognize Marlowe's protagonist as a tyrant. She argues instead that the dramatist explores issues of ambition in his tragedies: 'Tamburlaine I and II obsessively repeat the scene of the conqueror's consumption of any obstacle he encounters in quenching his "thirst of reign".' (24) So, Bushnell argues, Marlowe exhibits the contradictions implicit in ambition and questions traditional types of tyranny by showing how possession of the crown actually confounds the goals of ambition. Because Tamburlaine continuously chases conquest and never stays to exercise power, Bushnell argues that he cannot be described as a tyrant. Ironically, Gordon Braden uses the same principles to identify Seneca's protagonists as tyrants. He says that the Senecan tyrant understands his own ability to command praise of himself by the maxim quod nolunt velint (25) and that when power is brought into imperial completeness the rules always change. (26)

The primary problem with Bushnell's reading of Tamburlaine lies in her conclusion that at the end of the play the Scythian conqueror is driven by his desire for power in the abstract: 'Tamburlaine himself never stays to rule the people of the lands he conquers; his goal is to augment his power' (Bushnell, p. 117). But he does not stay to rule because his desire for power extends beyond the boundaries of his martial successes; even as sickness overwhelms him, Tamburlaine wishes to conquer the heavens:
   Techelles and the rest, come take your swords
   And threaten him whose hand afflicts my soul;
   Come let us march against the powers of heaven
   And set black streamers in the firmament
   To signify the slaughter of the gods.
   (2 Tamburlaine, v. 3. 46-50)


Tamburlaine's desire for power extends indefinitely; he even vows to wage war with heaven after death, and asks his son to carry on his work on earth:
   But I perceive my martial strength is spent:
   In vain I strive and rail against those powers
   That mean t' invest me in a higher throne,
   As much too high for this disdainful earth.
   Give me a map, then let me see how much
   Is left for me to conquer all the world,
   That these my boys may finish all my wants.
   (2 Tamburlaine, v. 3. 119-25)


His desire for deification works against a traditional de casibus moral reading of Tamburlaine's end: in his final moments before death he does not lament his wicked ways or fear the consequences of his actions. Contrary to Bushnell's understanding of Tamburlaine's desires, the conquering tyrant actually thinks that he will be rewarded with a 'higher throne' after death. Furthermore, as a scourge, Tamburlaine contends that he is feared even in hell:
   Should I but touch the rusty gates of hell,
   The triple-headed Cerberus would howl
   And wake black Jove to crouch and kneel to me.
   (2 Tamburlaine, v. 1 96-98)


As with Lucan's analogous portrait of Neronian Rome, life on the earth over which Tamburlaine reigns is insufferable and the non-aggressive characters meet the most unheroic ends. Those who disagree with his mode of government cannot voice their opinions for fear of torture. Agydas begs Zenocrate to abandon Tamburlaine:
   Let not a man so vile and barbarous,
   That holds you from your father in despite,
   And keeps you from the honours of a queen--
   Being supposed his worthless concubine--
   Be honoured with your love, but for necessity.
   (1 Tamburlaine, III. 2. 26-30)


But when Tamburlaine, Techelles, and 'others' overhear Agydas's complaint, he accepts a knife from Techelles with which to commit suicide.

For Marlowe, Tamburlaine's extreme tyranny over men is just one symptom of a world in which resistance to tyranny is forbidden and where men believe that all magistrates, even self-appointed ones, are ordained by God. Marlowe's tragedy brings the human cost of tyranny to the fore by examining the effects of a fearless tyrant on earth. In De bello civili Lucan lamented the inevitable suicide of the Druids in response to Caesar's tyranny, and of Cato, for whom, in this account, suicide was not motivated by a desire to preserve dignity but was the only choice available. When he wrote his poem, Lucan could not have envisaged the parallel with his and Seneca's fate under Nero. Tamburlaine's two most traditionally heroic characters choose suicide rather than endure the emperor's reign of terror.

For Agydas is not the only character to choose suicide in response to Tamburlaine's tyranny. Unable to escape her imprisonment, Zabina laments:
   Then is there left no Mahomet, no God,
   No fiend, no Fortune, nor no hope of end
   To our infamous, monstrous slaveries?
   Gape earth, and let the fiends infernal view
   A hell as hopeless and as full of fear
   As are the blasted banks of Erebus,
   Where shaking ghosts with ever-howling groans
   Hover about the ugly ferryman
   To get a passage to Elysium.
   Why should we live, O wretches, beggars, slaves,
   Why live we?
   (1 Tamburlaine, v. 1. 239-49)


Zenocrate's cry that the gods have abandoned their posts and allowed hell to invade earth confirms Tamburlaine's claim to have brought hell to earth through his role as a scourge of mankind. Like Lucan's Cato, Agydas and Zabina surrender their attempts (both active and passive) to counter oppression and tyranny when they choose suicide. Their examples reveal different forms of resignation and acceptance of tyranny, like Ariminum's resignation to Caesar's tyranny and Cato's suicide in Lucan. (47)

Near the end of the tragedy Tamburlaine is enraged that his son Calyphas had remained indoors while his brothers fought in Tamburlaine's name. He asks Amyras if he recognizes the divine nature of warfare:
   tell me if the wars
   Be not a life that may illustrate gods,
   And tickle not your spirits with desire
   Still to be train'd in arms and chivalry?
   (2 Tamburlaine, iv. 1. 78-81)


When he realizes that Calpyhas is not present, he fumes at his son's soft humanity and threatens to execute 'martial justice on his wretched soul' (l. 96). The witnesses all beg for Calyphas to be spared but their pleas are in vain, since Tamburlaine is determined to make an example of the boy:
   Stand up, my boys, and I will teach ye arms
   And what the jealousy of wars must do.
   [...]
   Here, Jove, receive his fainting soul again,
   A form not meet to give that subject essence
   Whose matter is the flesh of Tamburlaine,
   Wherein an incorporeal spirit moves,
   Made of the mould whereof thyself consists,
   Which makes me valiant, proud, ambitious,
   Ready to levy power against thy throne,

   That I might move the turning spheres of heaven:
   For earth and all this airy region
   Cannot contain the state of Tamburlaine.
   [Stabs CALYPHAS
   (2 Tamburlaine, iv. 1. 103-20)


By murdering his child in front of witnesses who both support and oppose him, Tamburlaine reveals that he cannot control all men: since he has no control over Calyphas, he destroys his young son. This scene in which Tamburlaine claims to move the heavens also demonstrates his belief in his inexorable power over men and his diabolical disposition. (28) Tamburlaine's act of murder is made worse by the familial tie with the victim, echoing Lucan's condemnation of a civil war in which brothers battle each other to death in Caesar's name:
   Love overrules my will, I must obey thee,
   Caesar; he whom I hear thy trumpets charge
   I hold no Roman; by these ten blest ensigns
   And all thy several triumphs, shouldst thou bid me
   Entomb my sword within my brother's bowels
   Or father's throat; or women's groaning womb;
   This hand (albeit unwilling) should perform it;
   Or rob the gods; or sacred temples fire.
   These troupes should soon pull down the church of Jove.
   (Marlowe, Lucan, ll. 373-81)


Marlowe's translation of this passage in Lucan, in which Roman cohorts vow to kill even their own brothers for Caesar, is matched by the horrors Tamburlaine inflicts on his own child and the virgins of Damascus. Herein lies the paradox of Reformation theories on divine providence that Marlowe presents in the 'mirror' of his tragedy: firstly, the fact that God is the author of both kingship and tyranny suggests that he knowingly causes suffering; and secondly, men must endure this wrath of tyranny because tyrants are divinely appointed.

Appalled at Tamburlaine's actions, Jerusalem, like Kyd's Hieronimo and Seneca's Thyestes, anticipates justice from heaven:
   Thy victories are grown so violent
   That shortly heaven, filled with the meteors
   Of blood and fire thy tyrannies have made,
   Will pour down blood and fire on thy head,
   Whose scalding drops will pierce thy seething brains
   And with our bloods revenge our bloods on thee.
   (2 Tamburlaine, iv. 1. 140-45)


But in the world of the play, governed by an infernal destiny, Jerusalem's prayers are in vain and justice is never executed, so that the play is devoid of any lesson for posterity. Marlowe furthers the paradox by eliminating any discussion of Tamburlaine's punishment after death, or the loss of his empire by his other two children (mentioned in the historical sources). Instead, the play ends with the possibility that the tyrant's other two warlike sons will continue the scourge of his reign, Amyras pledging to take his father's place:
   Heavens witness me, with what a broken heart
   And damned spirit I ascend this seat.
   (2 Tamburlaine, v. 3. 206-07)


When the play closes, Bajazeth's son Callapine is still a threat to Tamburlaine's empire, since he has escaped captivity and gathered allies to attack Tamburlaine's army. The tragedy of the world is mirrored in the lack of closure in Marlowe's drama: the world of the play stages the repetitive cycle of warfare, changes of leadership, and death and opens up the possibility that this cycle is endless.

Marlowe's Tamburlaine and Lucan's Caesar are both driven by ambition, an Atrean will to power, and a willingness to shed blood. Both protagonists claim divine approval for their actions, Caesar declaring that he enjoys Fortune's favour and Tamburlaine calling himself the 'scourge of God'. Aside from sardonically deifying the emperor Nero, Lucan completely dismisses the gods in De bello civili. In the most recent printed edition of Marlowe's poetry Patrick Cheney eloquently summarizes the tone of Lucan that Marlowe captured and then imitated in Tamburlaine: 'For Lucan, as for his English transcriber, the gods conspire with men to perform a grand annihilation, complete with self-butchery, civil broil, and cosmic disintegration' (p. 16). Marlowe's tragedy questions the paradoxes inherent in orthodox doctrine and presents a mirror in which to see the possible results of these doctrines. In modelling his material after the ironic tone of Lucan's picture of wars worse than civil, Marlowe creates a mirror of hell on earth by allowing Tamburlaine the stage space as his own personal arena in which to prove himself a scourge. Towards the end of the epic drama he tells Amyras of his divine nature (2 Tamburlaine, iv. 3. 24-26, quoted above). Tamburlaine's allegiance to Jove is founded on his understanding of his role as scourge, bringing terror to the entire known world. In Marlowe's heavily ironic mirror text, the tyrant is rewarded on the basis of his undying faith in himself and his own divinity.

During the Henrican Reformation, Robert Redman reissued John Lydgate's Serpent of Division (1422), a short prose account that focused on the social and political divisions in Rome caused by Julius Caesar. (29) Redman's timely publication of Lydgate, when the King's divorce was the primary topic of debate between the government and Church, illustrates how the text was deeply connected to the political concerns in England. The work contains a warning against division in a kingdom, and Lydgate claims the authority of Lucan. Although Lydgate's text, like Lucan's, concerns the wars between Caesar and Pompey, Maura Nolan has recently shown that Lydgate reveals no direct reading of the Latin author:

Certainly the general notion that fate or Fortune caused the downfall of Rome ultimately derives from Lucan, but Lydgate nowhere uses language or deploys details from [Lucan's text] De Bello Civili that cannot be found in a later translation or redaction of the classical source. (30)

Nolan argues that Lydgate's text draws on the tensions surrounding Caesar's actions and his death to talk about the atmosphere in England after Henry V's untimely death:

If the death of Henry V produced a condition of danger, what might be called [...] a state of emergency, in doing so it also created a perspectival point from which to consider the possibility of a world without a king--indeed without kings. The whole of the Caesar story can in this light be seen as a narrative anatomy of a floating sovereignty. (p. 60)

When Lydgate details the purpose of his prose account, he inadvertently participates in the formation of a rhetoric for English tyranny. (31) He claims that the 'serpent of division' was planted by ambition and pride:

dreding also in his imagination yet Julius wold of presumptious pride usurp by tyranny to take [...] the lordship and the dominacion of Rome [...] And in this [way] entred in the Snake of wanhope and of discord, which cause everiche to suspect other. (This lytell treatyse [...], sig. Aviir)

Lydgate then mentions Lucan's discussion of Caesar in De bello civili when he identifies what caused the struggle in Rome:

And as Lucan reherceth in his poetical boke: the deneyng of this worshipe to Iulius: was the chefe grounde & occasion of all the warre that began in Rome. (sig. Aviiir)

Lydgate knew enough of Lucan to think that not just Caesar, but Caesar as he is presented in Lucan's epic, was relevant to the political instability following the death of Henry V. For the Tudor period, Caesar--as he is remembered in literary documents--evokes memories of the division in Rome that was caused by his tyranny and the civil war. The moral implications of Lydgate's story are highlighted in a short poetical envoi at the end of the text. The poem formulates this lesson in terms of Lydgate's articulation of the threats to political stability when a regent causes division within a kingdom:
   This lytel prose declareth in figure
   The great damage & destruction
   That whylome fell by fatall aventure
   Unto Rome the mighty royall towne
   Caused onely by false Division
   [...]
   Through couvetise and vaine Ambicion
   Of Pompey and of Cesar Julius.
   (sig. Civr)


In the 1590 edition, to which is appended Sackville and Norton's Gorboduc, a warning to England is included that states the text's relevance for Elizabethans in clear terms: 'England take hede, such a chance to thee may come: Foelix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum [Happy is he who can learn prudence from the dangers of others].' (32) In the final envoi Lydgate links the division of a kingdom to the discussions of tyranny when he mentions covetousness and ambition, in the context of the fall of the Roman Republic.

The spoils of Tamburlaine are decorated with the documents of barbarism Marlowe found in Lucan. The Elizabethan playwright modernizes Lucan's pessimistic world-view by applying it to Protestant Christianity: in making Tamburlaine claim divine ordinance and allowing him a natural death, Marlowe makes a comparison between the Augustinian God, who preordains all eternal destinies irrespective of merit, and the bloody tyrant Tamburlaine, who assigns limitless sufferings to innocents irrespective of merit (most poignantly demonstrated in the slaughter of the innocent virgins of Damascus). Men and women are unable to resist Tamburlaine in the tragedy because they must defer to the ordinance that men will obey all of God's appointed magistrates; he is, like Seneca's hell and Kyd's Revenge, a force too powerful to contend with. Marlowe uses Lucan's material on the barbarism of the Civil War and Rome's most honoured hero, Julius Caesar, to make an ironic comment on Tudor attitudes towards preordained and 'divinely appointed' tyranny.

(1) 'According to traditional practice, the spoils are carried along in the procession. They are called cultural treasures' (Walter Benjamin, 'Theses on the Philosophy of History', in Illuminations, ed. with an introduction by Hannah Arendt, trans. by Harry Zohn (London: Pimlico, 1999), pp. 245-56 (p. 248)).

(2) See Greg Walker, Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

(3) Emrys Jones, The Origins of Shakespeare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 276. Jones cites Thomson from his study Shakespeare and the Classics (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1952), pp. 230-31.

(4) Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 63.

(5) See Roma Gill, 'Marlowe, Lucan, and Sulpitius', Review of English Studies, 24 (1973), 401-13; on Marlowe's use of Lucan in Edward II see William Godshalk, 'Marlowe and Lucan', Notes and Queries, 18 (1971), 13. For evidence of Lucan in English culture before Marlowe see Edgar Finley Shannon, 'Chaucer and Lucan's Pharsalia', Modern Philology, 16 (1919), 609-14; E.M. Sanford, 'Quotations from Lucan in Medieval Literature', American Journal of Philology, 55 (1934), 1-19.

(6) The arguments have been recently summed up in Mike Frohnsdorff, 'Marlowe's First Book of Lucan and Thomas Thorpe's Dedicatory Epistle to it', Marlowe Society, 3 (2005), 3-11.

(7) 'Hero and Leander: begunne by Christopher Marloe: whereunto is added the first booke of Lucan translated line for line by the same author' (STC 17415).

(8) There are some substantial studies on Lucan and Samuel Daniel, e.g. George M. Logan, 'Daniel's Civil Wars and Lucan's Pharsalia', Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 11 (1971), 53-68; Gillian Wright, 'What Daniel Really Did with the Pharsalia: The Civil Wars, Lucan, and King James', Review of English Studies, 55 (2004), 210-32. Wright reads Daniel's appropriation and development of Lucanic materials in conjunction with his use of chronicle histories for his historical matter and his several revisions to the poem, and the article argues that the final version (1609) shows a cautiously critical attitude towards King James.

(9) See Jones, Appendix b, pp. 273-77.

(10) Hadfield, Chapter 3, 'Shakespeare's Pharsalia', pp. 103-29 (p. 105).

(11) In the absence of evidence to indicate what title, if any, Lucan gave to the work, some scholars, including Frederick Ahl, argue that it was called Pharsalia because of a passage in Book ix together with an allusion in Statius, who referred to the work as 'the Pharsalian wars'. Other critics, such as Susan Braund, discount this and support the view that the title On the Civil War better reflects the numerous horrors of civil warfare in Rome. I shall refer to the poem as De bello civili and cite the Latin from Lucan, The Civil War, ed. and trans. by J. D. Duff, Loeb Classical Library (London: Harvard University Press, 1928).

(12) The Collected Poems of Christopher Marlowe, ed. by Patrick Cheney and Brian J. Striar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), ll. 1-7. Unless otherwise stated I have used Marlowe's translation (pp. 12-17 of the Oxford edition) and refer to line numbers.

(13) Lucan, The Civil War, trans. with an introduction by Susan H. Braund (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. xlvi. All quotations in English from Books II-x will be from this translation.

(14) Seneca, The Moral Essays, ed. and trans. by John W. Basore, Loeb Classical Library (London: Harvard University Press, 1928), 1. 2.

(15) W. R. Johnson and Elaine Fantham have discussed Lucan's subversion of traditional epic at length. See Johnson, Momentary Monsters: Lucan and his Heroes (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), and Fantham's commentary on Book ii, Lucan: 'De bello civili', Book II, Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

(16) Frederick Ahl, Lucan: An Introduction, Cornell Studies in Classical Philology (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976), p. 58.

(17) The term de casibus in literary history comes from Boccaccio's De casibus virorum illustrium [On the Falls of Famous Men]. In English, the tradition with reference to tragedy developed from Chaucer's Monk, who explains that he will tell a series of stories about those who fall from prosperity into misery by a twist of fortune. See Paul Budra, 'A Mirror for Magistrates' and the 'de casibus' Tradition (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2000), for a detailed analysis of the tradition.

(18) C. H. Herford and A. Wagner, 'The Sources of Marlowe's Tamburlaine', Academy, 598 (20 October 1883), 266; see Christopher Marlowe: The Plays and their Sources, ed. by Vivien Thomas and William Tydeman (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 69-170.

(19) Petrus Perondinus's Latin account Magni Tamerlanis Scytharum imperatoris vita was published posthumously in 1553 in Florence. See Christopher Marlowe, ed. by Thomas and Tydeman, pp. 67-170. Thomas and Tydeman note that there were such frequent allusions to Perondinus's work in vernacular accounts in the 1580s that determining precisely how Marlowe gained access to the information is difficult. For a detailed history of the Tamburlaine legend in European written accounts see Thomas and Tydeman, pp. 69-75.

(20) 'Whether Soldiers, Too, Can be Saved' (1526), in Luther: Selected Political Writings, ed. by J.M. Porter (London: University Press of America, 1974), pp. 101-20 (p. 109).

(21) John Ponet, quoted in Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), ii: The Age of Reformation, p. 228. The reference is to John Ponet, A Short Treatise on Political Power (Strasburg, 1556; STC 20178); cf. Christopher Goodman, How Superior Powers Oght to be Obeyd (Geneva, 1558; STC 12020). See also The Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450-1700, ed. by J. H. Burns and Mark Goldie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), esp. Chapter 7 by J. H. M. Salmon, 'Calvinism and Resistance Theory, 1550-1580' (pp. 193-218).

(22) George Whetstone, The English Mirror: A Regard Wherein All Estates May Behold the Conquest of Envy (London, 1586; STC 25336), quoted in Thomas and Tydeman, p. 93.

(23) Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, trans. and ed. by Marion Faber (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 153.

(24) Rebecca Bushnell, Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance (London: Cornell University Press, 1990), p. 117.

(25) 'Let them will what they do not wish' (Seneca, Thyestes, l. 212, spoken by Atreus).

(26) Gordon Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger's Privilege (London: Yale University Press, 1985), pp. 31-33.

(27) For a detailed discussion of the uniqueness of Lucan's epic and of how he dismantles Cato's Stoic virtue to show how that Cato, and Stoicism in general, failed to protect Rome from civil war, see Johnson, Momentary Monsters.

(28) Emily C. Bartels's study, Spectacles of Strangeness: Imperialism, Alienation, and Marlowe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), recognizes the early modern fascination with 'the strange' in Marlowe's stage dramas. Her reading of Marlowe's plays places them in a subversive context through depicting the spectacle of otherness onstage: 'Marlowe's plays, in bringing alien types to centre stage, subversively resist that exploitation and expose the demonization of an other as a strategy for self-authorization and self-empowerment, whether on the foreign or the domestic front' (p. xv).

(29) John Lydgate, This lytell treatyse compendiously declareth the damage and destruction in realmes caused by the serpente of diuision (London, [1535]; STC 17027.5).

(30) Maura Nolan, John Lydgate and the Making of Public Culture, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 38.

(31) Cathy Shrank traces the development of rhetoric for English nationhood, starting with the break with Rome and its significant impact on the literary culture of mid-Tudor England: Writing the Nation in Reformation England 1530-1580 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

(32) John Lydgate, Thomas Sackville, and Thomas Norton, The serpent of deuision VVherein is conteined the true history [...] of Romes ouerthrowe [...] Whereunto is annexed the tragedye of Gorboduc, sometime king of this land [...] (London, 1590; STC 17029), sig. C1v. Created on 18 December 2007 at 17.15 hours page 329 MLR 103. 2 (APRIL) 2008

ALLYNA E. WARD

NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
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