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c. 1590

Christopher Marlowe Arranges A Deal

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Faustus: Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin
To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess:
Having commenced, be a divine in show,
Yet level at the end of every art,
And live and die in Aristotle’s works.
Sweet analytics, ’tis thou hast ravished me!
Bene disserere est finis logices.
Is, to dispute well, logic’s chiefest end?
Affords this art no greater miracle?
Then read no more; thou hast attained that end:
A greater subject fitteth Faustus’ wit:
Bid economy farewell, Galen come:
Seeing Ubi desinit Philosophus, ibi incipit Medicus:
Be a physician, Faustus; heap up gold,
And be eternized for some wondrous cure.
Summum bonum medicinae sanitas,
The end of physic is our body’s health.
Why, Faustus, hast thou not attained that end?
Is not thy common talk sound aphorisms?
Are not thy bills hung up as monuments,
Whereby whole cities have escaped the plague,
And thousand desperate maladies been eased?
Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man.
Couldst thou make men to live eternally,
Or, being dead, raise them to life again,
Then this profession were to be esteemed.
Physic, farewell! Where is Justinian? [reads]
Si una eademque res legatur duobus, alter rem,
Alter valorem rei
, etc.
A pretty case of paltry legacies! [reads]
Exhereditare filium non potest pater nisi, etc.
Such is the subject of the Institute,
And universal body of the law.
This study fits a mercenary drudge,
Who aims at nothing but external trash;
Too servile and illiberal for me.
When all is done, divinity is best:
Jerome’s Bible, Faustus; view it well. [reads]
Stipendium peccati mors est: Ha! Stipendium, etc.
The reward of sin is death: that’s hard.
Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas;
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and there is no truth in us. Why, then,
Belike we must sin, and so consequently die:
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this, Che sera, sera,
What will be shall be? Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians
And necromantic books are heavenly;
Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters;
Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.
O, what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honor, of omnipotence,
Is promised to the studious artisan!
All things that move between the quiet poles
Shall be at my command: emperors and kings
Are but obeyed in their several provinces,
Nor can they raise the winds or rend the clouds;
But his dominion that exceeds in this,
Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man;
A sound magician is a mighty god:
Here, Faustus, tire thy brains to gain a deity. [enter Wagner]

Wagner, commend me to my dearest friends,
The German Valdes and Cornelius;
Request them earnestly to visit me.

Wagner: I will, sir. [exits]

Faustus: Their conference will be a greater help to me
Than all my labors, plod I never so fast.

[Enter Good Angel and Evil Angel.]

Good Angel: O, Faustus, lay that damned book aside,
And gaze not on it lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God’s heavy wrath upon thy head!
Read, read the Scriptures: that is blasphemy.

Evil Angel: Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art,
Wherein all Nature’s treasure is contained:
Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky,
Lord and commander of these elements.

[Exit Angels.]

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About the Text

From The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus. Marlowe’s play is believed to be the first dramatization of the Faust legend. Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council quelled the worries of Cambridge University in 1587 over Marlowe’s absences, stating that he was employed in “matters touching the benefit of his country”; it is the earliest record of his clandestine government service. Around the same time, his first play, Dido, Queen of Carthage, was performed. He died at the age of twenty-nine, from a stab wound received in a tavern, in 1593.

No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, or who practices divination, is a soothsayer, an augur, or a sorcerer, or one who casts spells, consults ghosts or spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead. For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord; it is because of such abhorrent practices that the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
Book of Deuteronomy, c. 620 BC
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