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

Tamburlaine the Great

by Christopher Marlowe

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"Tamburlaine, The Scourge Of God, Must Die"

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Last Updated on June 1, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 240

Context: Tamburlaine rose from being an unknown Scythian shepherd, by devastating war and unbridled cruelty, to become ruler of the East. His good fortune seems boundless for many years, as victory follows victory. But every life has its sorrows and its end. Zenocrate, daughter of the Sultan of Egypt, who is Tamburlaine's deeply beloved queen, dies, leaving the conqueror so unconsolable in his grief that he causes her body to be placed in a golden coffin, to remain unburied, vowing she should not receive burial before him. Then one of his three sons by Zenocrate, Calyphas, refuses to go into a battle. In vengeance the father stabs him. Victorious over the Turks, Tamburlaine seems irresistible in his power. But illness strikes the great conqueror. He calls his remaining two sons to his bedside and traces his conquests on a map for them. Knowing he must die, Tamburlaine places his crown on the head of Amyras, as his heir. Then he causes the hearse laden with Zenocrate's body to be brought, to be by him in his dying hour. He bids Amyras rule strongly and well, lest the lands and peoples subdued by the father slip from the son's grasp. Tamburlaine then bids farewell to Amyras, Celebinus, and the courtiers standing about:

Farewell my boys, my dearest friends, farewell,
My body feels, my soul doth weep to see
Your sweet desires depriv'd my company,
For Tamburlaine, the Scourge of God, must die.

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