Tamburlaine (TAM-bur-layn), the magniloquent Scythian shepherd who, becoming the ruler of vast lands in Africa and the Middle East, calls himself “the Scourge of God.” Absolutely ruthless, he kills the defenseless women and children in conquered cities and stabs his own son when he finds him gambling during an important battle. He is pre-eminently theatrical, delighting in triumphal pageants and in such spectacular effects as changing the color of his tents from white to red to black while he waits outside a city for its surrender or its challenge. This dramatic instinct inspires the imprisonment of Emperor Bajazeth in a cage and the harnessing of four defeated rulers to Tamburlaine’s chariot. Invulnerable to injury from men, Tamburlaine wages a strong battle against death and meets it in characteristic theatrical fashion when he has himself carried by his servants and friends to the head of his army.
Zenocrate (zeh-NO-kruh-tee), his wife and the daughter of the soldan of Egypt. Although she is enraged when Tamburlaine captures her, she is quickly enthralled by his grand ambition and proudly wears her crown. She attempts on occasion to assuage her husband’s cruelty by pleading for the life of her father and urging tolerance for the weakness of their son, Calyphas.
Bajazeth (BA-ja-zehth), the proud emperor of the Turks. Defeated by Tamburlaine in spite of his confidence in his own power, he is drawn about in a cage, like a beast, until he submits to his despair and dashes his brains out against the bars of his cage.
Zabina (za-BI-na), the arrogant wife of Bajazeth. She scorns...
(The entire section is 755 words.)