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Theatre / Tamburlaine

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As Marlowe's plays are Older Than Steam and this one is based on historical events, all spoilers on this page are unmarked.

Come, let us march against the powers of heaven,
And set black streamers in the firmament,
To signify the slaughter of the gods.

Tamburlaine (or Tamburlaine the Great) is a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is very loosely based on the life of the 14th-century Central Asian emperor Timur the Lame.

This play contains examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Zenocrete.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The only way to get anywhere in the world is to murder your way to the top. Subverted in that it's presented as a noble activity.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Agydas. Actually, it's a case of either stabbing himself and dying instantly or being tortured to death.
  • Break the Haughty: Tamburlaine in the second part. Bajazeth in the first.
  • Byronic Hero: Tamburlaine.
  • Bury Your Gays: Mycetes.
  • The Caligula: Tamburlaine as the story progresses.
  • Camp Gay: King Mycetes.
  • Come to Gawk: After Tamburlaine conquers the Turks, he keeps the former Emperor Bajazeth in a cage and feeds him on table scraps.
  • Death Seeker: Olympia
  • The Determinator: Tamburlaine.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Tamburlaine can massacre Muslims by the million without any divine retaliation, but when he burns the Koran and says Muhammad is nothing specialů
  • Driven to Suicide: Bajazeth, the deposed Emperor of the Turks.
  • Emergency Multifaith Prayer: When after solemnly swearing peace by Christ the much more numerous Christian army attack the Turkish army, Turkish commander Orcanes calls on Christ to intervene. The Turks win handily.
  • The Epic
  • Evil Redhead: Tamburlaine is described as having amber curls.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: "Tamburlaine? He's just a sheep herder..."
  • The Hypocrite: the governor of Babylon urges his soldiers and population to resist to the last man, resulting in the city being destroyed and the population massacred. When he is brought before Tamburlaine, he offers him his treasure to be spared. It doesn't work.
  • Leave No Survivors: When one kingdom sends in their maidens pleading that Tamburlaine have mercy on them his response is essentially "you should have surrendered when I gave you the chance."
  • Self-Made Man: Tamburlaine. Sheep-herder turned world conqueror.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Tamburlaine's younger sons, although they seem to like their ineffectual older brother and try to shield him from the consequences of his actions.
  • Take Over the World: Tamburlaine's goal.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The play is inspired by the life of the 14th-century Central Asian emperor Timur, but with a large quantity of dramatic license.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tamburlaine.
  • We Have Reserves: Bajazeth boasts that he has so many troops that it doesn't matter how many Tamburlaine's men kill; the reinforcements will just use the corpses as building material.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tamburlaine does this to the conspirators when he takes the Persian crown.
  • You Killed My Father: In part 2, the son of Bajazeth raises an army and comes after Tamburlaine, and another after the defeat of the first. Subverted as Tamburlaine routs them with the greatest ease.
  • Young Conqueror: Tamburlaine.