Friday, May 2, 2008

Marlowe and the Persians

Marlowe is a fantastic writer but he apparently knows next to nothing about the Persian empire and Persians in general. In his play Tamburlaine, he has the Persians constantly invoke Jove, "And Jove may never let me longer live..." (Act 1 Scene 1). In one part he has the Persian Cosroe invoke both Jupiter and a Christian concept of Hell

"What means this devilish shepherd to aspire
With such a giantly presumption
To cast up hills against the face of Heaven,
And dare the force of angry Jupiter?...
So will I send this monstrous slave to hell
Where flames shall ever feed upon his soul." (Act 1 Scene 6)

The Persians of this time would certainly not invoke Jove, nor would they have any concept of a soul burning in Hell. This jab against Marlowe, to be sure, does nothing to detract from the literary merit of his work; I'm merely pointing out slight historical inconsistencies.

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