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

Tamburlaine the Great

by Christopher Marlowe

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"His Looks Do Menace Heaven And Dare The Gods"

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Last Updated on June 1, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 193

Context: Mycetes, newly crowned as King of Persia, becomes concerned about the raids of Tamburlaine, a former Scythian shepherd, upon his kingdom, as it is rumored that Tamburlaine seeks to rule all of the East. Mycetes sends Theridamas, in command of a thousand cavalrymen, to defeat Tamburlaine and destroy the menace. When news comes to Tamburlaine that the richly clad and armored Persian force is near, he bids Techelles, one of his subordinate leaders, to ask for a parley between the Persian commander and himself. Tamburlaine also bids his men make ready to fight, if the need arises, and to display their treasure so the Persians can see it. Theridamas comes to speak with Tamburlaine, and he is mightily impressed by the Scythian, so much so that he becomes Tamburlaine's ally:

Where is this Scythian Tamberlaine?
Whom seekest thou, Persian? I am Tamburlain.
Tamburlaine? A Scythian Shepheard so imbellished
With Nature's pride, and richest furniture,
His looks do menace heauen and dare the Gods,
His fierie eies are fixt upon the earth,
As if he now devis'd some Strategeme:
Or meant to pierce Avernas darksome vaults,
To pull the triple headed dog from hell.

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