illustration of main character Tamburlaine standing in armor with sword and shield

Tamburlaine the Great

by Christopher Marlowe

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"Accurst Be He That First Invented War"

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Last Updated on June 1, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 261

Context: Mycetes, King of Persia, finds his kingdom menaced by the forces of Tamburlaine, a former Scythian shepherd. Anxious to rid his crown and his lands of this threat, Mycetes sends Theridamas at the head of a thousand richly armed cavalrymen to subdue Tamburlaine and his few hundred foot soldiers. But Theridamas, impressed by Tamburlaine at a parley, decides to join forces with him. Mycetes' brother, Cosroe, meanwhile, plots to become king, disdaining Mycetes as a weak monarch. He joins forces with Tamburlaine, expecting to use Tamburlaine to defeat Mycetes and thus win the crown of Persia. During the ensuing battle Mycetes leaves the field to hide his crown. He is found alone by Tamburlaine, who tells Mycetes he may keep the crown till Tamburlaine can pull it publicly from his head. Mycetes makes his comment about war just before meeting Tamburlaine:

Accurst be he that first invented war,
They knew not, ah, they knew not simple men,
How those were hit by pelting Cannon shot,
Stand staggering like a quivering Aspen leaf,
Fearing the force of Boreas boisterous blasts.
In what a lamentable case were I,
If Nature had not given me wisedomes lore?
For Kings are clouts that every man shoots at,
Our Crown the pin that thousands seek to cleave.
Therefore in pollicy I think it good
To hide it close: a goodly Strategem,
And far from any man that is a fool.
So shall I not be knowen, or if I be,
They cannot take my crown from me.
Here will I hide it in this simple hole.

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