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

Tamburlaine the Great

by Christopher Marlowe

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"Virtue Is The Fount Whence Honor Springs"

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Last Updated on June 1, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 223

Context: Tamburlaine, a former scythian shepherd, defeats force after force to become ruler of the East, styling himself Emperor of Asia, and keeping kings and queens as slaves, laughing at their curses. Bajazeth, former ruler of the Turks, Tamburlaine keeps in a cage, letting him out to serve as a footstool upon which to mount the throne. Zenocrate, daughter of the Sultan of Egypt, held as a prisoner by Tamburlaine, comes to love her captor, as he deeply loves her. One day at a banquet Tamburlaine causes three crowns to be brought in for display. He looks to his three lieutenants–Theridamas, Techelles, and Usumcasane–bidding them finger the crowns, but they are hesitant, lest they seem too ambitious and arouse Tamburlaine's distrust. However, Tamburlaine makes Theridamas the King of Argier, Techelles the King of Fez, and Usumcasane the King of Morocco. Having crowned his loyal followers, Tamburlaine speaks in praise of them:

Kings of Argier, Morocco, and of Fez,
You that have marched with happy Tamburlaine,
As far from the frozen place of heaven,
Unto the watry morning's ruddy bower,
And thence by land unto the Torrid Zone,
Deserve these titles I endow you with
By valour and magnanimity.
Your births shall be no blemish to your fame,
For virtue is the fount whence honor springs,
And they are worthy she investeth kings.

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