Julia Lupton

Tamburlaine's footstool, part 1

Footstool by David Scher
Footstool by David Scher

Marlowe was fascinated by the image of a man stepping on another man’s back to climb into a chair. The short scene from Faustus revises and condenses a relationship that Marlowe explores more thoroughly in two acts of Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1. Here is a relevant sample.

Tamburlaine: Bring out my footstool.

. . .

Fall prostrate on the low, disdainful earth

And be the footstool of great Tamburlaine,

That I may rise into my royal throne.

Bajazeth: First thou shalt rip my bowels with thy sword

And sacrifice my heart to death and hell

Before I yield to such a slavery.

Tamburlaine: Base villain, vassal, slave to Tamburlaine,

Unworthy to embrace or touch the ground

That bears the honor of my royal weight,

Stoop, villain, stoop, stoop, for so he bids

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