285. Tamburlaine the Great, Part Two, by Christopher Marlowe, 1587.

“The monster that hath drunk a sea of blood,

And yet gapes still for more to quench his thirst”

King of Amasia, Act V, Scene II, lines 14-15

It seems that Hollywood is indebted to Marlowe for inventing the sequel, by following his hit play Tamburlaine the Great with more of the same.

Source : Again I relied on the online text at http://elizabethandrama.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Tamburlaine-Part-Two-Annotated.pdf

Thoughts : Some years have passed since the end of Part One. Tamburlaine and Zenocrate have married and have three sons almost full-grown. Tamburlaine has spent the intervening years expanding his empire, and has captured Callapine, son of the late Turkish emperor Bajazeth. His next targets, the Ottoman Turks, under the leadership of Orcanes, King of Natolia, reach a hasty peace treaty with the Hungarians so they can turn their attention and forces to meet Tamburlaine.

Once again, the play is a series of battles where Tamburlaine emerges victorious and unscathed. It is not his human adversaries that bring him low, but the irresistable force of nature, first as Zenocrate sickens and dies, and eventually his own collapse, although it feels the latter may be a result of his own hubris, contemptuous blasphemy in burning Korans and insulting Mohammad, or Fortune finally turning her wheel around from its abnormally stalled position.

There are more secondary plotlines in Part Two but they are generally raised and then resolved quite quickly – the eldest son’s disinterest in warfare and Tamburlaine’s subsequent displeasure turned to a swift remedy, the death of a captured widow with whom one of Tamburlaine’s generals has become obsessed, and the Hungarians breaking their treaty with the Turks mere days after swearing to it on their oath as Christians.  More interesting is again the fate of captured kings mirroring the caging of Bajazeth in Part One; here the kings are forced to pull Tamburlaine’s chariot like horses with bits in their mouths for miles, and fed bloody meat to emulate the flesh-eating horses of King Diomedes from Hercules’ eighth labour.

Favourite quotes/scenes:

Tamburlaine’s angry rant to his eldest son who shows little appetite for war

“Bastardly boy, sprong from some coward’s loins,

And not the issue of great Tamburlaine!

Of all the provinces I have subdued,

Thou shalt not have a foot, unless thou bear

A mind courageous and invincible;

For he shall wear the crown of Persiä

Whose head hath deepest scars, whose breast most wounds,

Which being wroth sends lightning from his eyes,

And in the furrows of his frowning brows

Harbours revenge, war, death, and cruëlty  ….

My royal chair of state shall be advanced;

And he that means to place himself therein,

Must armèd wade up to the chin in blood.”

Tamburlaine, Act I, Scene iii, lines 79-94

(Father’s Day presents certainly must be hard to choose!)

Personal rating:  Yes its a sequel but with more plot, so again 6/10

And now, like the chronometer on a time-travelling Delorean’s dashboard slowly settling to a specific year, we are about to come to a stop in the year 1589, and from there enjoy a succession of consecutive years filled with classics …


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