Vocabulary in Doctor Faustus
Vocabulary Examples in Doctor Faustus:
Chorus 1 2
"necromancy..." See in text (Chorus 1)
"Necromancy" is black magic, witchcraft, or magic that comes from the Devil. The prologue outlines Faustus's origins as a gifted theological student who turned to black magic and devil worship when his knowledge became arrogance.
"plaud..." See in text (Chorus 1)
"Plaud" means applause. The characters and famous stories mentioned at the beginning of the prologue are now juxtaposed with "Faustus' fortunes," the subject of Marlowe's play. With this structure, Marlowe both elevates his story to the status of one of these "applause worthy" well-known stories, and distinguishes Faustus as different; his story is not an archetype or a trope, it's something new.
Scene 1 13
"Exhaereditare filium non potest pater, nisi, &c..." See in text (Scene 1)
This latin phrase means "A father cannot disinherit his son unless..." However, notice again that Faustus interrupts the reading in order to offer his opinion. This suggests that Faustus believes that he is more intelligent than the authorities that he has studied.
"Si una eademque res legatur duobus, alter rem, alter valorem rei, &c..." See in text (Scene 1)
This Latin phrase means, "If something is bequeathed to two persons, one shall have the thing itself, the other something of equal value." Notice that Faustus ends this phrase with an "etc," suggesting that he does not finish reading the passage but rather trails off before he gives his comments on it.
"Summum bonum medicinae sanitas..." See in text (Scene 1)
This Latin phrase means "the purpose of medicine is the body's health." Notice that before he states this, Faustus considers medicine for its ability to make him rich and give him a famous legacy (if he discovers a wondrous cure). The juxtaposition of Faustus's perception of medicine and the purpose he reads on his medical textbook demonstrates Faustus's vanity, greed, and arrogance.
"Ubi desinit Philosophus, ibi incipit Medicus:..." See in text (Scene 1)
This Latin phrase means "where the philosopher leaves off the physician begins." Galen was the ancient authority on medicine and his theories were the foundation of Early Modern medicine. Having dismissed philosophy as below his level of wit, Faustus begins to contemplate pursuing medicine.
"Oncaymaeon..." See in text (Scene 1)
"On cay mae on" is Latin for "being and not being." This is a tongue and cheek way to refer to philosophy that demonstrates Faustus's intelligence.
"commenced..." See in text (Scene 1)
By "commenced" Faustus means that he has now received his doctoral degree. He begins this scene trying to decide what to do with his life now that he has achieved the highest level of education.
"want..." See in text (Scene 1)
"Want" in this context means to lack. This is a rhetorical question that signifies that Cornelius believes that these three men will want for nothing if they engage in necromancy.
"canonise us..." See in text (Scene 1)
In the Catholic tradition, canonization was the formal recognition of a martyr or holy person as a saint. Here Valdes claims that Faustus's excellent wit and learning of necromancy will canonize them in many nations, even though necromancy was seen as extremely sacrilegious. Notice how religion and dark magic are conflated and mixed in this play.
"ravished me...." See in text (Scene 1)
By ravished Faustus means "transported in spirit with strong emotion; captivated. However, this word also means carried or dragged away by force, raped, and violated. The double meaning of this word is interesting because it highlights the tension between Faustus's expectations and the reality of his involvement with magic: he believes that he is being enriched and livened with the practice of necromancy, when in fact these actions will cause him to be forcibly dragged to hell.
"Wertenberg;..." See in text (Scene 1)
Wittenberg was on the bank of the Elbe River. Faustus it talking about changing geography to fit his means instead of allowing nature to dictate its own form.
"Jove..." See in text (Scene 1)
Jove is the Roman god also known as Jupiter. He was the god of the sky and father of all of the gods, much like Zeus in the Greek tradition. Notice that the Evil Angel invokes Pagan imagery, then considered sacrilegious, to convince Faustus to keep going.
"Si peccasse negamus fallimur et nulla est in nobis veritas..." See in text (Scene 1)
This Latin phrase means "If we claim not to have sinned, we are liars and there is no truth in us." In the Christian tradition, the idea of Original Sin holds that all men are marked with the sins of Adam and Eve, who defied God in the Garden of Eden. Thus, men must accept Christ in order to be redeemed from their cursed birth. Thus claiming one has no sin is inherently a lie because men are inherently sinners.
"Stipendium peccati mors est...." See in text (Scene 1)
This Latin phase means "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Notice that in Faustus's interpretation of the lines he only focuses on the first half of the phrase rather than the heart of the line—that piety will reward itself in everlasting life.
Scene 2 2
"Go to..." See in text (Scene 2)
"Go to" was a colloquial way of saying get on with it, or modern day "come on." The First Scholar is angry with Wagner because he believes that he is paying a practical joke on him; however, ironically Wagner is telling the truth. Faustus's actions are so outrageous that the truth sounds like a ridiculous prank.
"sic probo..." See in text (Scene 2)
"Sic probo" means "thus I prove." This was a common phrase in scholarly discourse that suggests Faustus's school is disputing his actions.
Scene 3 3
"Quin regis Mephistophilis fratris imagine!..." See in text (Scene 3)
This Latin phrase is a command that means "Return Mephistophilis, in the shape of a friar." Faustus has already given this command once. His repetition in Latin demonstrates not only his arrogance, but his desire to boast his power.
"Orion's..." See in text (Scene 3)
This is an allusion to the star constellation Orion's Belt. Faustus uses this flowery description to narrate the change from day to night. Now that it is night, he can begin to perform his magic spells.
"Sint ..." See in text (Scene 3)
This Latin incantation translates to: May the gods of the lower regions favor me! Farewell to the Trinity! Hail, spirits of fire, air , water, and earth! Prince of the East, Belzelbub, monarch of burning hell, and Demogorgon, we pray to you that Mephistophilis may appear and raise. What are you waiting for? By Jehovah, Gehenna, and the holy water that I now sprinkle, and the sign of the cross that I now make, and by our vows, may Mephistophilis himself now rise to serve us." Notice the tone of this incantation is arrogant and impatient. Faustus does not seem to realize the implications of his actions.
Scene 4 3
"Qui mihi discipulus?..." See in text (Scene 4)
This Latin phrase means "You who are my pupil." It was the first line in Lily's Latin Grammar, the standard grammar textbook in English schools after it was published in 1509. Wagner uses this line to demonstrates his learned social class and tell the Clown to behave like a proper slave.
"blood-raw..." See in text (Scene 4)
"Blood-raw" is a quality of meat that is so undercooked that it is red and bloody. A "blood-raw" mutton would be an extremely bad meal, and a sign of someone's poverty as they did not have the means to prepare the food better. Wagner torments the Clown by comparing his soul to such a debased form of food.
"Swowns..." See in text (Scene 4)
Swowns, or Zounds, is a euphemistic abbreviation of "God's Wounds." It references the injuries that Jesus endured on the cross. Since it was considered a sin to take the lord's name in vain this euphemism negated the sin by making subject God's wounds instead of God himself.
Scene 5 17
"Tut..." See in text (Scene 5)
"Tut" is a verbal ejaculation to express impatience or dissatisfaction with a statement or notion. Faustus is still speaking of delight and feeding his soul rather than focusing on the suffering he will endure. As Mephistophilis claimed Lucifer wanted souls because misery loves company, Lucifer's displeasure at Faustus's delight can be seen as frustration that Faustus does not yet fear hell.
"mutton..." See in text (Scene 5)
"Mutton" in this context is a bawdy slang term for the penis. Lechery poses herself against Gluttony saying that she would rather have an inch of "mutton" than an ell, forty-five inches, of fried fish. Notice how food and sex are conflated here to imply the sinfulness of any indulgence in the body.
"chimney sweeper and an oyster-wife..." See in text (Scene 5)
This parentage places Envy in the position of common people. It suggests a classed understanding of the Seven Deadly Sins: those who are poor are more likely to experience envy and sin.
"begotten..." See in text (Scene 5)
"Begotten" means born of, usually referring to the father. Begotten has strong Biblical connotations as in the Christian Bible Jesus is referred to as the "only begotten son of God."
"COVETOUSNESS..." See in text (Scene 5)
Covetousness is avarice, greed, or the extreme desire for material wealth or monetary gain. Notice that by using this word instead of "greed," Marlowe makes a direct parallel with the Biblical language; the Seven Deadly Sins are directly contrary to piety.
"think of the devil, And of his dam too...." See in text (Scene 5)
The "devil and his dam" was a common expression in this time. "Dam" can either mean something's mother, as to dam is to give birth to, but it can also mean wife. Since women were considered the lesser of the two sexes, this expression means the devil and something worse than the devil.
"Per inqualem motum respectu totius. ..." See in text (Scene 5)
This Latin response means, "Because of their unequal movements in respect of the whole."
"aspects..." See in text (Scene 5)
In this context, "aspects" is an archaic word used in astronomy to refer to configurations of celestial bodies in relation to each other. "Aspects" were used at this time astrologically as well since they were thought to influence human affairs.
"oppositions..." See in text (Scene 5)
In this context, "oppositions" is a word used in astronomy to refer to the positions of two celestial bodies that are opposite each other.
"conjunctions..." See in text (Scene 5)
In this context, "conjunctions" is a word used in astronomy to refer to the positions of two celestial bodies that share the same longitude.
"situ et tempore..." See in text (Scene 5)
By this Faustus means "in position and in time." Mephistophilis presents a Renaissance theory of astronomy in which all of the plants and stars in the sky were part of a fixed sphere that rotated together. This theory was called the Celestial Spheres.
"spirit..." See in text (Scene 5)
Spirit in this context means demon or devil. The Evil Angel's remark means that Faustus is irrevocably damned. This either suggests that there are actions one can take that cannot be redeemed by prayer, or it means that Faustus was damned from birth and never had another choice.
"fond..." See in text (Scene 5)
Fond in this context means "foolish." Ironically, Faustus's rhetorical statement here is accurate: his decisions and beliefs were foolish and he will be punished for them.
"Homo, fuge..." See in text (Scene 5)
"Homo fuge" means "O man, fly!" These words imprinted in his arm are a divine or psychological warning to not sign this contract with Mephistophilis. However, Faustus once again dismisses this thought by stating his inability to do anything else: if he were to walk away from the Devil, where would he go? This claim supports reading Faustus's decision as a reaction to his predestined damned nature.
"Consummatum est:..." See in text (Scene 5)
This Latin phrase means, "it is finished." This is a direct allusion to Jesus's final words on the cross cited in John 19:30: "When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He yielded up His spirit." Faustus thus seals his bond to the devil with blasphemy.
"Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris...." See in text (Scene 5)
This phase translates into "misery loves company." Mephistophilis claims that the devil does not tempt man in order to have more power in hell or because he is evil but because he wants others to suffer as he suffers. This paints hell not only as a place of torment but also shows the extreme limits to the powerful beings that Faustus has dedicated his soul: they themselves have no power over their fate, they are trapped in hell just like the souls they own.
"Embden..." See in text (Scene 5)
Embden is a seaport town northwest of Germany. It was a wealthy German trading center. A "signiory" is the lordship or domain over a piece of land. In claiming Embden for himself, Faustus claims both extreme wealth and power in the material world.
Scene 7 2
"compass..." See in text (Scene 7)
Compass in this context means to take part in. Notice how Faustus's grand plans of world domination and power have been reduced to playing practical jokes on monks.
"summum bonum..." See in text (Scene 7)
"Summum bonum" means the greatest good. This is usually a religious saying that refers to the grace or presence of God. However, here Mephistophilis manipulates the words to refer to "belly-cheer," or indulgence in food and feasting. Mephistophilis mocks religion by using it's pious terms to refer to bodily pleasures.
Scene 8 3
"Peccatum peccatorum..." See in text (Scene 8)
This Latin phrase means "Sin of sins!" It is used as a type of curse or swearing.
"Misericordia pro nobis!..." See in text (Scene 8)
This Latin phrase means "Have mercy on us!" Notice that as soon as Ralph actually encounters Mephistophilis and the magic he seeks, he immediately retreats to a Christian context. He immediately revokes his dark magic, unlike Faustus who refused to repent every time he was given an opportunity.
"O nomine Domini!..." See in text (Scene 8)
This Latin phrase means "In the name of the Lord." This phrase, and the two Ralph and Robin say following this were common in church mass and a part of the vernacular. Unlike the imitation spells that Robin comically fails to read, these phrases would have been understood by the low characters and the audience members.
Scene 9 1
Scene 10 5
"niggard of my cunning..." See in text (Scene 10)
This was a colloquial term that meant to be stingy or ungenerous. Essentially, Faustus means that he must generously display his skill to this nobleman.
"ostry..." See in text (Scene 10)
This is a low class pronunciation of hostelry, which is another term for an inn. Faustus uses his lost leg to blackmail the Horse-courser into giving him forty more dollars. Notice again that Faustus uses his powers for a measly sum; Faustus is wasting the power for which he sold is soul.
"snipper-snapper..." See in text (Scene 10)
Snipper-snapper was a colloquial phrase that meant insignificant youth, or whipper-snapper. The Horse-courser is looking for the "boy" who delivered the horse, who in reality is Mephistophilis.
"hey-ding-ding..." See in text (Scene 10)
This was a colloquial term that meant ability to breed. The Horse-courser muses on how much his fortunes would be if the horse were a stallion instead of a gelding. But promises that he will not sell him regardless.
"HORSE-COURSER...." See in text (Scene 10)
A "Horse-Courser" is a horse trader. Horse traders were known as tricky bargainers or cheats. They were considered disreputable people.
Scene 11 1
"great-bellied women..." See in text (Scene 11)
By this Faustus means pregnant women. Though the audience does not get to see Faustus's demonstration of magical powers, we understand that there was something shocking, displeasing, or potentially blasphemous in it from the Duchess's response.
Scene 12 3
"extinguish clean These thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow..." See in text (Scene 12)
Notice how Faustus twists language at the end of this scene. To "clean" his thoughts should be to repent his sins. However, he uses "clean" to signify his desire to purge all thoughts of repentance.
"snares of death..." See in text (Scene 12)
Notice that Faustus is worried not about Hell but about death itself. He is not repenting for his sinful actions but wondering how he can escape death all together and continue living.
"heavy cheer..." See in text (Scene 12)
"Heavy cheer" in this context means "heavy heart." This colloquial saying means to be weighed down with sadness. The Old Man reluctantly leaves because he knows that Faustus will not repent his sins.
Scene 13 1
"O lente, lente, currite noctis equi..." See in text (Scene 13)
This Latin phrase means "O horses of the night, slowly, slowly run." This is an allusion to Ovid's Amores in which Time's chariot is pulled by horses. Faustus uses this reference to wish that time would slow down.