The governor of Damascus with three or four Citizens,
   and four Virgins with branches of laurel in their hands.

GOVERNOR. Still doth this man, or rather god of war,
   Batter our walls and beat our turrets down;
   And to resist with longer stubbornness,
   Or hope of rescue from the Soldan's power,
   Were but to bring our willful overthrow,
   And make us desperate of our threatened lives.
   We see his tents have now been altered
   With terrors to the last and cruel'st hue.
   His coal-black colours, everywhere advanced,
   Threaten our city with a general spoil;
   And if we should with common rites of arms
   Offer our safeties to his clemency,
   I fear the custom proper to his sword.
   Which he observes as parcel of his fame,
   Intending so to terrify the world,
   By any innovation or remorse
   Will never be dispensed with till our deaths.
   Therefore, for these our harmless virgins' sakes,
   Whose honours and whose lives rely on him,
   Let us have hope that their unspotted prayers,
   Their blubbered cheeks, and hearty humble moans
   Will melt his fury into some remorse,
   And use us like a loving conqueror.
1 VIRGIN. If humble suits or imprecations
   (uttered with tears of wretchedness and blood
   Shed from the heads and hearts of all our sex,
   Some made your wives, and some your children,)
   Might have entreated your obdurate breasts
   To entertain some care of our securities
   While only danger beat upon our walls,
   These more than dangerous warrants of our death
   Had never been erected as they be,
   Nor you depend on such weak helps as we.
GOVERNOR. Well, lovely virgins, think our country's care,
   Our love of honour, loath to be enthralled
   To foreign powers and rough imperious yokes,
   Would not with too much cowardice or fear,
   Before all hope of rescue were denied,
   Submit yourselves and us to servitude.
   Therefore, in that your safeties and our own,
   Your honours, liberties, and lives were weighed
   In equal care and balance with our own,
   Endure as we the malice of our stars,
   The wrath of Tamburlaine and power of wars,
   Or be the means the overweighing heavens
   Have kept to qualify these hot extremes,
   And bring us pardon in your cheerful looks.
2 VIRGIN. Then here, before the majesty of heaven
   And holy patrons of Egyptia,
   With knees and hearts submissive we entreat
   Grace to our words and pity to our looks
   That this device may prove propitious,
   And through the eyes and ears of Tamburlaine
   Convey events of mercy to his heart.
   Grant that these signs of victory we yield
   May bind the temples of his conquering head
   To hide the folded furrows of his brows,
   And shadow his displeased countenance
   With happy looks of ruth and lenity.
   Leave us, my lord, and loving countrymen.
   What simple virgins may persuade, we will.
GOVERNOR. Farewell, sweet virgins, on whose safe return
   Depends our city, liberty, and lives.

   Exeunt all except Virgins.
   Enter Tamburlaine, Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane,
   with others. Tamburlaine, all in black and very melancholy.

TAMBURLAINE. What, are the turtles frayed out of their nests?
   Alas, poor fools, must you be first shall feel
   The sworn destruction of Damascus?
   They know my custom; could they not as well
   Have sent ye out when first my milk-white flags,
   Through which sweet mercy threw her gentle beams,
   Reflexing them on your disdainful eyes,
   As now when fury and incensed hate
   Flings slaughtering terror from my coal-black tents,
   And tells for truth submission comes too late?
1 VIRGIN. Most happy king and emperor of the earth,
   Image of honour and nobility,
   For whom the powers divine have made the world
   And on whose throne the holy Graces sit,
   In whose sweet person is comprised the sum
   Of nature's skill and heavenly majesty,
   Pity our plights! O, pity poor Damascus!
   Pity old age, within whose silver hairs
   Honour and reverence evermore have reigned.
   Pity the marriage bed, where many a lord,
   In prime and glory of his loving joy,
   Embraceth now with tears of ruth and blood
   The jealous body of his fearful wife,
   Whose cheeks and hearts, so punished with conceit
   To think thy puissant never-stayed arm
   Will part their bodies and prevent their souls
   From heavens of comfort yet their age might bear,
   Now wax all pale and withered to the death,
   As well for grief our ruthless governor
   Hath thus refused the mercy of thy hand,
   (Whose sceptre angels kiss and Furies dread,
   As for their liberties, their loves, or lives.
   Oh, then, for these, and such as we ourselves,
   For us, for infants, and for all our bloods,
   That never nourished thought against thy rule,
   Pity, o pity, sacred emperor,
   The prostrate service of this wretched town;
   And take in sign thereof this gilded wreath,
   Whereto each man of rule hath given his hand,
   And wished, as worthy subjects, happy means
   To be investors of thy royal brows
   Even with the true Egyptian diadem.
TAMBURLAINE. Virgins, in vain you labour to prevent
   That which mine honour swears shall be performed.
   Behold my sword; what see you at the point?
1 VIRGIN. Nothing but fear and fatal steel, my lord.
TAMBURLAINE. Your fearful minds are thick and misty then,
   For there sits Death; there sits imperious Death,
   Keeping his circuit by the slicing edge.
   But I am pleased you shall not see him there.
   He now is seated on my horsemen's spears,
   And on their points his fleshless body feeds.
   Techelles, straight go charge a few of them
   To charge these dames and show my servant, Death,
   Sitting in scarlet on their armed spears.
VIRGINS. O, pity us!
TAMBURLAINE. Away with them, I say, and show them Death.

   They take them away.

   I will not spare these proud Egyptians,
   Nor change my martial observations
   For all the wealth of Gihon's golden waves.
   Or for the love of Venus, would she leave
   The angry god of arms and lie with me.
   They have refused the offer of their lives
   And know my customs are as peremptory
   As wrathful planets, death, or destiny.

   Enter Techelles.
   What, have your horsemen shown the virgins Death?
TECHELLES. They have, my lord, and on Damascus' walls
   Have hoisted up their slaughtered carcasses.
TAMBURLAINE. A sight as baneful to their souls, I think,
   As are Thessalian drugs or Mithridate:
   But go, my lords, put the rest to the sword.

   Exeunt, all except Tamburlaine.

   Ah, fair Zenocrate! Divine Zenocrate!
   Fair is too foul an epithet for thee,
   That in thy passion for thy country's love,
   And fear to see thy kingly father's harm,
   With hair dishevelled wip'st thy watery cheeks;
   And, like to Flora in her morning's pride,
   Shaking her silver tresses in the air,
   Rain'st on the earth resolved pearl in showers,
   And sprinklest sapphires on thy shining face,
   Where beauty, mother to the Muses, sits,
   And comments volumes with her ivory pen,
   Taking instructions from thy flowing eyes;
   Eyes, when that Ebena steps to heaven,
   In silence of thy solemn evening's walk,
   Making the mantle of the richest night,
   The moon, the planets, and the meteors, light.
   There angels in their crystal armours fight
   A doubtful battle with my tempted thoughts
   For Egypt's freedom and the Soldan's life,
   His life that so consumes Zenocrate,
   Whose sorrows lay more siege unto my soul
   Than all my army to Damascus' walls;
   And neither Persia's sovereign nor the Turk
   Troubled my senses with conceit of foil
   So much by much as doth Zenocrate.
   What is beauty, saith my sufferings, then?
   If all the pens that ever poets held
   Had fed the feeling of their masters' thoughts,
   And every sweetness that inspired their hearts,
   Their minds, and muses on admired themes;
   If all the heavenly quintessence they still
   From their immortal flowers of poesy,
   Wherein, as in a mirror, we perceive
   The highest reaches of a human wit;
   If these had made one poem's period,
   And all combined in beauty's worthiness,
   Yet should there hover in their restless heads
   One thought, one grace, one wonder, at the least,
   Which into words no virtue can digest.
   But how unseemly is it for my sex,
   My discipline of arms and chivalry,
   My nature, and the terror of my name,
   To harbour thoughts effeminate and faint!
   Save only that in beauty's just applause,
   With whose instinct the soul of man is touched;
   And every warrior that is rapt with love
   Of fame, of valour, and of victory,
   Must needs have beauty beat on his conceits.
   I thus conceiving and subduing both,
   That which hath stooped the topmost of the gods,
   Even from the fiery spangled veil of heaven,
   To feel the lovely warmth of shepherds' flames
   And march in cottages of strowed weeds,
   Shall give the world to note, for all my birth,
   That virtue solely is the sum of glory,
   And fashions men with true nobility.
   Who's within there?

   Enter two or three.

   Hath Bajazeth been fed today?
ATTENDANT. Ay, my lord.
TAMBURLAINE. Bring him forth; and let us know if the town be ransacked.

   Exeunt Attendants.
   Enter Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane, and others.

TECHELLES. The town is ours, my lord, and fresh supply
   Of conquest and of spoil is offered us.
TAMBURLAINE. That's well, Techelles. What's the news?
TECHELLES. The Soldan and the Arabian king together
   March on us with such eager violence
   As if there were no way but one with us.
TAMBURLAINE. No more there's not, I warrant thee, Techelles.

   They bring in the Turk, Bazajeth, in his cage,
   and Zabina

THERIDAMAS. We know the victory is ours, my lord,
   But let us save the reverend Soldan's life
   For fair Zenocrate that so laments his state.
TAMBURLAINE. That will we chiefly see unto, Theridamas,
   For sweet Zenocrate, whose worthiness
   Deserves a conquest over every heart.
   And now, my footstool, if I lose the field,
   You hope of liberty and restitution?
   Here let him stay, my masters, from the tents,
   Till we have made us ready for the field.
   Pray for us, Bajazeth; wher we are going..

   Exeunt all except Bazajeth and Zabina.

BAJAZETH. Go, never to return with victory!
   Millions of men encompass thee about,
   And gore thy body with as many wounds!
   Sharp forked arrows light upon thy horse!
   Furies from the black Cocytus lake,
   Break up the earth, and with their firebrands
   Enforce thee run upon the baneful pikes!
   Volleys of shot pierce through thy charmed skin,
   And every bullet dipped in poisoned drugs!
   Or roaring cannons sever all thy joints,
   Making thee mount as high as eagles soar!
ZABINA. Let all the swords and lances in the field
   Stick in his breast as in their proper rooms!
   At every pore let blood come dropping forth,
   That lingering pains may massacre his heart
   And madness send his damned soul to hell!
BAJAZETH. Ah, fair Zabina! We may curse his power,
   The heavens may frown, the earth for anger quake,
   But such a star hath influence in his sword
   As rules the skies and countermands the gods
   More than Cimmerian Styx or destiny.
   And then shall we in this detested guise,
   With shame, with hunger, and with horror -- ay,
   Griping our bowels with retorqued thoughts
   And have no hope to end our ecstasies.
ZABINA. 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? Oh, wretches, beggars, slaves!
   Why live we, Bajazeth, and build up nests
   So high within the region of the air,
   By living long in this oppression,
   That all the world will see and laugh to scorn
   The former triumphs of our mightiness
   In this obscure infernal servitude?
BAJAZETH. O life, more loathsome to my vexed thoughts
   Than noisome parbreak of the Stygian snakes,
   Which fills the nooks of hell with standing air,
   Infecting all the ghosts with cureless griefs!
   O dreary engines of my loathed sight,
   That see my crown, my honour, and my name
   Thrust under yoke and thralldom of a thief,
   Why feed ye still on day's accursed beams,
   And sink not quite into my tortured soul?
   You see my wife, my queen, and emperess,
   Brought up and propped by the hand of Fame,
   Queen of fifteen contributory queens,
   Now thrown to rooms of black abjection,
   Smeared with blots of basest drudgery,
   And villainess to shame, disdain, and misery.
   Accursed Bajazeth, whose words of ruth,
   That would with pity cheer Zabina's heart,
   And make our souls resolve in ceaseless tears,
   Sharp hunger bites upon and gripes the root
   From whence the issue of my thoughts do break.
   O poor Zabina! O my queen, my queen!
   Fetch me some water for my burning breast,
   To cool and comfort me with longer date,
   That in the shortened sequel of my life
   I may pour forth my soul into thine arms
   With words of love whose moaning intercourse
   Hath hitherto been stayed with wrath and hate
   Of our expressless banned inflictions.
ZABINA. Sweet Bajazeth, I will prolong thy life
   As long as any blood or spark of breath
   Can quench or cool the torments of my grief.

   She goes out.

BAJAZETH. Now, Bajazeth, abridge thy baneful days,
   And beat the brains out of thy conquered head,
   Since other means are all forbidden me,
   That may be ministers of my decay.
   O highest lamp of everliving Jove,
   Accursed day, infected with my griefs,
   Hide now thy stained face in endless night,
   And shut the windows of the lightsome heavens.
   Let ugly darkness with her rusty coach
   Engirt with tempests, wrapped in pitchy clouds,
   Smother the earth with never fading mists,
   And let her horses from their nostrils breathe
   Rebellious winds and dreadful thunderclaps,
   That in this terror Tamburlaine may live,
   And my pined soul, resolved in liquid air,
   May still excruciate his tormented thoughts!
   Then let the stony dart of senseless cold
   Pierce through the centre of my withered heart,
   And make a passage for my loathed life!

   He brains himself against the cage.
   Enter Zabina.

ZABINA. What do mine eyes behold? My husband dead!
   His skull all riven in twain, his brains dashed out!
   The brains of Bajazeth, my lord and sovereign!
   O Bajazeth, my husband and my lord!
   O Bajazeth! O Turk! O Emperor!
   Give him his liquor? Not I. Bring milk and fire, and my
   blood I bring him again. Tear me in pieces. Give me
   the sword with a ball of wild fire upon it. Down with him!
   Down with him! Go to, my child; away, away, away! Ah,
   save that infant, save him, save him! I, even I, speak to her.
   The sun was down. Streamers white, red, black. Here,
   here, here! Fling the meat in his face! Tamburlaine,
   Tamburlaine! Let the soldiers be buried. Hell, death,
   Tamburlaine, hell! Make ready my coach, my chair, my
   jewels. I come, I come, I come!

   She runs against the cage, and brains herself
   Enter Zenocrate with Anippe. .

ZENOCRATE. Wretched Zenocrate, that livest to see
   Damascus' walls dyed with Egyptian blood,
   Thy father's subjects and thy countrymen;
   The streets strowed with dissevered joints of men,
   And wounded bodies gasping yet for life;
   But most accursed, to see the sun-bright troop
   Of heavenly virgins and unspotted maids,
   Whose looks might make the angry god of arms
   To break his sword and mildly treat of love,
   On horsemen's lances to be hoisted up,
   And guiltlessly endure a cruel death.
   For every fell and stout Tartarian steed,
   That stamped on others with their thundering hooves,
   When all their riders charged their quivering spears,
   Began to check the ground and rein themselves,
   Gazing upon the beauty of their looks.
   Ah, Tamburlaine, wert thou the cause of this,
   That term'st Zenocrate thy dearest love?
   Whose lives were dearer to Zenocrate
   Than her own life, or aught save thine own love.
   But see, another bloody spectacle!
   Ah, wretched eyes, the enemies of my heart,
   How are ye glutted with these grievous objects,
   And tell my soul more tales of bleeding ruth!
   See, see, Anippe, if they breathe or no.
ANIPPE. No breath, nor sense, nor motion, in them both.
   Ah, madam, this their slavery hath enforced,
   And ruthless cruelty of Tamburlaine!
ZENOCRATE. Earth, cast up fountains from thy entrails,
   And wet thy cheeks for their untimely deaths.
   Shake with their weight in sign of fear and grief.
   Blush, heaven, that gave them honour at their birth
   And let them die a death so barbarous.
   Those that are proud of fickle empery
   And place their chiefest good in earthly pomp,
   Behold the Turk and his great emperess!
   Ah, Tamburlaine my love, sweet Tamburlaine,
   That fights for sceptres and for slippery crowns,
   Behold the Turk and his great emperess!
   Thou, that in conduct of thy happy stars,
   Sleep'st every night with conquest on thy brows,
   And yet wouldst shun the wavering turns of war,
   In fear and feeling of the like distress,
   Behold the Turk and his great empress!
   Ah, mighty Jove and holy Mahomet,
   Pardon my love! O, pardon his contempt
   Of earthly fortune and respect of pity,
   And let not conquest, ruthlessly pursued,
   Be equally against his life incensed
   In this great Turk and hapless emperess!
   And pardon me that was not moved with ruth
   To see them live so long in misery!
   Ah, what may chance to thee, Zenocrate?
ANIPPE. Madam, content yourself, and be resolved,
   Your love hath Fortune so at his command,
   That she shall stay, and turn her wheel no more,
   As long as life maintains his mighty arm
   That fights for honour to adorn your head.

   Enter Philemus, a messenger.

ZENOCRATE. What other heavy news now brings Philemus?
PHILEMUS. Madam, your father, and th' Arabian king,
   The first affecter of your excellence,
   Comes now, as Turnus 'gainst Aeneas did,
   Armed with lance into the Egyptian fields,
   Ready for battle 'gainst my lord the King.
ZENOCRATE. Now shame and duty, love and fear present
   A thousand sorrows to my martyred soul.
   Whom should I wish the fatal victory,
   When my poor pleasures are divided thus,
   And racked by duty from my cursed heart?
   My father and my first-betrothed love
   Must fight against my life and present love,
   Wherein the change I use condemns my faith
   And makes my deeds infamous through the world.
   But as the gods, to end the Trojans' toil,
   Prevented Turnus of Lavinia
   And fatally enriched Aeneas' love,
   So, for a final issue to my griefs,
   To pacify my country and my love,
   Must Tamburlaine by their resistless powers,
   With virtue of a gentle victory,
   Conclude a league of honour to my hope;
   Then, as the powers divine have preordained,
   With happy safety of my father's life
   Send like defense of fair Arabia.

   They sound to the battle and Tamburlaine enjoys
   the victory. After, Arabia enters wounded.

ARABIA. What cursed power guides the murdering hands
   Of this infamous tyrant's soldiers,
   That no escape may save their enemies,
   Nor fortune keep themselves from victory?
   Lie down, Arabia, wounded to the death,
   And let Zenocrate's fair eyes behold
   That, as for her thou bear'st these wretched arms,
   Even so for her thou diest in these arms,
   Leaving thy blood for witness of thy love.
ZENOCRATE. Too dear a witness for such love, my lord.
   Behold Zenocrate, the cursed object
   Whose fortunes never mastered her griefs.
   Behold her wounded in conceit for thee,
   As much as thy fair body is for me!
ARABIA. Then shall I die with full contented heart,
   Having beheld divine Zenocrate,
   Whose sight with joy would take away my life,
   As now it bringeth sweetness to my wound,
   If I had not been wounded as I am.
   Ah, that the deadly pangs I suffer now
   Would lend an hour's license to my tongue,
   To make discourse of some sweet accidents,
   Have chanced thy merits in this worthless bondage,
   And that I might be privy to the state
   Of thy deserved contentment and thy love.
   But, making now a virtue of thy sight,
   To drive all sorrow from my fainting soul,
   Since death denies me further cause of joy,
   Deprived of care, my heart with comfort dies,
   Since thy desired hand shall close mine eyes.

   Dies. Enter Tamburlaine, leading the Soldan;
   Enter Techelles, Theridamas, Usumcasane, with others.

TAMBURLAINE. Come, happy father of Zenocrate,
   A title higher than thy Soldan's name.
   Though my right hand have thus enthralled thee,
   Thy princely daughter here shall set thee free,
   She that hath calmed the fury of my sword,
   Which had ere this been bathed in streams of blood
   As vast and deep as Euphrates or Nile.
ZENOCRATE. O sight thrice welcome to my joyful soul,
   To see the king, my father, issue safe
   From dangerous battle of my conquering love!
SOLDAN. Well met, my only dear Zenocrate,
   Though with the loss of Egypt and my crown.
TAMBURLAINE. 'twas I, my lord, that gat the victory,
   And therefore grieve not at your overthrow,
   Since I shall render all into your hands,
   And add more strength to your dominions
   Than ever yet confirmed th' Egyptian crown.
   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,
   Fearing my power should pull him from his throne.
   Where'er I come the Fatal Sisters sweat,
   And grisly Death, by running to-and-fro
   To do their ceaseless homage to my sword.
   And here in Afric, where it seldom rains,
   Since I arrived with my triumphant host,
   Have swelling clouds, drawn from wide-gasping wounds,
   Been oft resolved in bloody purple showers,
   A meteor that might terrify the earth,
   And make it quake at every drop it drinks.
   Millions of souls sit on the banks of Styx,
   Waiting the back return of Charon's boat;
   Hell and Elysium swarm with men
   That I have sent from sundry foughten fields
   To spread my fame through hell and up to heaven.
   And see, my lord, a sight of strange import,
   Emperors and kings lie breathless at my feet.
   The Turk and his great empress, as it seems,
   Left to themselves while we were at the fight,
   Have desperately dispatched their slavish lives:
   With them Arabia, too, hath left his life;
   All sights of power to grace my victory.
   And such are objects fit for Tamburlaine,
   Wherein, as in a mirror, may be seen
   His honour, that consists in shedding blood
   When men presume to manage arms with him.
SOLDAN. Mighty hath God and Mahomet made thy hand,
   Renowned Tamburlaine, to whom all kings
   Of force must yield their crowns and emperies;
   And I am pleased with this my overthrow,
   If, as beseems a person of thy state,
   Thou hast with honour used Zenocrate.
TAMBURLAINE. Her state and person want no pomp, you see,
   And for all blot of foul inchastity,
   I record heaven, her heavenly self is clear.
   Then let me find no further time to grace
   Her princely temples with the Persian crown;
   But here these kings that on my fortunes wait,
   And have been crowned for proved worthiness
   Even by this hand that shall establish them,
   Shall now, adjoining all their hands with mine,
   Invest her here my Queen of Persia.
   What saith the noble Soldan and Zenocrate?
SOLDAN. I yield with thanks and protestations
   Of endless honour to thee for her love.
TAMBURLAINE. Then doubt I not but fair Zenocrate
   Will soon consent to satisfy us both.
ZENOCRATE. Else should I much forget myself, my lord.
THERIDAMAS. Then let us set the crown upon her head,
   That long hath lingered for so high a seat.
TECHELLES. My hand is ready to perform the deed,
   For now her marriage time shall work us rest.
USUMCASANE. And here's the crown, my lord; help set it on.
TAMBURLAINE. Then sit thou down, divine Zenocrate,
   And here we crown thee Queen of Persia,
   And all the kingdoms and dominions
   That late the power of Tamburlaine subdued.
   As Juno, when the giants were suppressed,
   That darted mountains at her brother Jove,
   So looks my love, shadowing in her brows
   Triumphs and trophies for my victories;
   Or as Latona's daughter, bent to arms,
   Adding more courage to my conquering mind.
   To gratify thee, sweet Zenocrate,
   Egyptians, Moors, and men of Asia,
   From Barbary unto the Western Inde,
   Shall pay a yearly tribute to thy sire;
   And from the bounds of Afric to the banks
   Of Ganges shall his mighty arm extend.
   And now, my lords and loving followers,
   That purchased kingdoms by your martial deeds,
   Cast off your armour, put on scarlet robes,
   Mount up your royal places of estate,
   Environed with troops of noblemen,
   And there make laws to rule your provinces.
   Hang up your weapons on Alcides' post,
   For Tamburlaine takes truce with all the world.
   Thy first-betrothed love, Arabia,
   Shall we with honour, as beseems, entomb
   With this great Turk and his fair emperess.
   Then, after all these solemn exequies,
   We will our rites of marriage solemnize.


© This edition and HTML version, Peter Farey, 2001-2
Based upon an e-text from:
The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe. Fredson Bowers, ed.
Cambridge, England: The University Press, 1973
Welcome corrections to my original attempt supplied by Michael Blanc.