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The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe

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The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus is Christopher Marlowe's drama based off the classic legend of Johann Georg Faust, a German alchemist and magician. It was first performed by the Admiral's Men (considered one of the most important acting troupes of English Renaissance theatre) in 1592. It tells the story of how Faustus does a deal with the devil in return for magical powers, unlimited knowledge, and the ability of command over Mephistopheles, a demon. Predictably, Faust regrets this decision when faced with eternal damnation. Doctor Faustus was the last play Christopher Marlowe wrote before his murder at age 29, in a drinking tavern.

There are two versions of this play in existance; a 1604 version (usually called the A text), and a 1616 version (the B text). The A text is considered to be the closest to Marlowe's original, although at various points, the consensus has swung the other way in favour of text B. This edition is based on the 1604 text.

This book has 76 pages in the PDF version. This 1800's version was edited by Alexander Dyce, based on the 1604 text.

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Excerpt from 'The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus'

(FAUSTUS discovered in his study. )

FAUSTUS. Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin

To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess:

Having commenc'd, be a divine in shew,

Yet level at the end of every art,

And live and die in Aristotle's works.

Sweet Analytics, 'tis thou hast ravish'd me!

Bene disserere est finis logices.

Is, to dispute well, logic's chiefest end?

Affords this art no greater miracle?

Then read no more; thou hast attain'd that end:

A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit:

Bid Economy farewell, and Galen come,

Seeing, Ubi desinit philosophus, ibi incipit medicus:

Be a physician, Faustus; heap up gold,

And be eterniz'd for some wondrous cure:

Summum bonum medicinae sanitas,

The end of physic is our body's health.

Why, Faustus, hast thou not attain'd that end?

Is not thy common talk found aphorisms?

Are not thy bills hung up as monuments,

Whereby whole cities have escap'd the plague,

And thousand desperate maladies been eas'd?

Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man.

Couldst thou make men to live eternally,

Or, being dead, raise them to life again,

Then this profession were to be esteem'd.

Physic, farewell!  Where is Justinian?


Si una eademque res legatur duobus, alter rem,

alter valorem rei, &c.

A pretty case of paltry legacies!


Exhoereditare filium non potest pater, nisi, &c.

Such is the subject of the institute,

And universal body of the law:

This study fits a mercenary drudge,

Who aims at nothing but external trash;

Too servile and illiberal for me.

When all is done, divinity is best:

Jerome's Bible, Faustus; view it well.


Stipendium peccati mors est.


Stipendium, &c.

The reward of sin is death:  that's hard.


Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas;

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and

there's no truth in us.  Why, then, belike we must sin, and so

consequently die:

Ay, we must die an everlasting death.

What doctrine call you this, Che sera, sera,

What will be, shall be?  Divinity, adieu!

These metaphysics of magicians,

And necromantic books are heavenly;

Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters;

Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.

O, what a world of profit and delight,

Of power, of honour, of omnipotence,

Is promis'd to the studious artizan!

All things that move between the quiet poles

Shall be at my command:  emperors and kings

Are but obeyed in their several provinces,

Nor can they raise the wind, or rend the clouds;

But his dominion that exceeds in this,

Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man;

A sound magician is a mighty god:

Here, Faustus, tire thy brains to gain a deity.

Production notes: This edition of The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 29th April 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Faust and Mephistofle' by Eugène Siberdt.

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