Scene 1

[Enter Faustus in his study.]

Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin
To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess;
Having commenced, be a divine in show,
Yet level at the end of every art,
And live and die in Aristotle's works.(5)
Sweet Analytics, 'tis thou hast ravished me!
[Reads.] 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 attained that end;(10)
A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit:
Bid Oncaymaeon farewell, Galen come,
Seeing, Ubi desinit Philosophus, ibi incipit Medicus:
Be a physician, Faustus; heap up gold,
And be eternised for some wondrous cure. (15)
[Reads.] Summum bonum medicinae sanitas,
The end of physic is our body's health.
Why, Faustus, hast thou not attained that end?
Is not thy common talk sound aphorisms?
Are not thy bills hung up as monuments,(20)
Whereby whole cities have escaped the plague,
And thousand desperate maladies been eased?
Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man.
Wouldst thou make men to live eternally,
Or, being dead, raise them to life again,(25)
Then this profession were to be esteemed.
Physic, farewell!—Where is Justinian?
[Reads.] Si una eademque res legatur duobus,
alter rem, alter valorem rei, &c.

A pretty case of paltry legacies! (30)
[Reads.] Exhaereditare 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;(35)
Too servile and illiberal for me.
When all is done, divinity is best:
Jerome's Bible, Faustus; view it well.
[Reads.] Stipendium peccati mors est. Ha! Stipendium, &c.
The reward of sin is death. That's hard. (40)
[Reads.] 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.(45)
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:(50)
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 promised to the studious artisan!(55)
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,(60)
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.

[Enter Wagner.]

Wagner, commend me to my dearest friends,(65)
The German Valdes and Cornelius;
Request them earnestly to visit me.

I will, sir.

[Exit Wagner.]

Their conference will be a greater help to me
Than all my labours, plod I ne'er so fast.(70)

[Enter Good Angel and Evil Angel.]

O, Faustus! lay that damned book aside,
And gaze not upon it, lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God's heavy wrath upon thy head!
Read, read the Scriptures:—that is blasphemy.
Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art,(75)
Wherein all Nature's treasure is contained:
Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky,
Lord and commander of these elements.

[Exeunt Angels.]

How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,(80)
Resolve me of all ambiguities,
Perform what desperate enterprise I will?
I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world(85)
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates;
I'll have them read me strange philosophy,
And tell the secrets of all foreign kings;
I'll have them wall all Germany with brass,
And make the swift Rhine circle fair Wertenberg;(90)
I'll have them fill the public schools with silk,
Wherewith the students shall be bravely clad;
I'll levy soldiers with the coin they bring,
And chase the Prince of Parma from our land,
And reign sole king of all the provinces;(95)
Yea, stranger engines for the brunt of war,
Than was the fiery keel at Antwerp's bridge,
I'll make my servile spirits to invent.
Come, German Valdes, and Cornelius,
And make me blest with your sage conference.(100)

[Enter Valdes and Cornelius.]

Valdes, sweet Valdes, and Cornelius,
Know that your words have won me at the last
To practice magic and concealed arts:
Yet not your words only, but mine own fantasy
That will receive no object, for my head(105)
But ruminates on necromantic skill.
Philosophy is odious and obscure,
Both law and physic are for petty wits;
Divinity is basest of the three,
Unpleasant, harsh, contemptible, and vile:(110)
'tis magic, magic, that hath ravished me.
Then, gentle friends, aid me in this attempt;
And I that have with concise syllogisms
Gravelled the pastors of the German church,
And made the flowering pride of Wertenberg(115)
Swarm to my problems, as the infernal spirits
On sweet Musaeus when he came to hell,
Will be as cunning as Agrippa was,
Whose shadow made all Europe honour him.
Faustus, these books, thy wit, and our experience, (120)
Shall make all nations to canonise us.
As Indian Moors obey their Spanish lords,
So shall the spirits of every element
Be always serviceable to us three;(125)
Like lions shall they guard us when we please;
Like Almain rutters with their horsemen's staves,
Or Lapland giants, trotting by our sides;
Sometimes like women or unwedded maids,
Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows(130)
Than have the white breasts of the queen of love:
From Venice shall they drag huge argosies,
And from America the golden fleece
That yearly stuffs old Philip's treasury;
If learned Faustus will be resolute.(135)
Valdes, as resolute am I in this
As thou to live; therefore object it not.
The miracles that magic will perform
Will make thee vow to study nothing else.
He that is grounded in astrology,(140)
Enriched with tongues, well seen in minerals,
Hath all the principles magic doth require.
Then doubt not, Faustus, but to be renowned,
And more frequented for this mystery
Than heretofore the Delphian Oracle.(145)
The spirits tell me they can dry the sea,
And fetch the treasure of all foreign wrecks,
Ay, all the wealth that our forefathers hid
Within the massy entrails of the earth;
Then tell me, Faustus, what shall we three want?(150)
Nothing, Cornelius! O this cheers my soul!
Come, show me some demonstrations magical,
That I may conjure in some bushy grove,
And have these joys in full possession.
Then haste thee to some solitary grove,(155)
And bear wise Bacon's and Albanus' works,
The Hebrew Psalter, and New Testament;
And whatsoever else is requisite
We will inform thee ere our conference cease.
Valdes, first let him know the words of art;(160)
And then, all other ceremonies learned,
Faustus may try his cunning by himself.
First I'll instruct thee in the rudiments,
And then wilt thou be perfecter than I.
Then come and dine with me, and after meat,(165)
We'll canvas every quiddity thereof;
For ere I sleep I'll try what I can do:
This night I'll conjure tho' I die therefore.



  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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Faustus finds medicine problematic because it does not offer him enough power. He could not use it to raise the dead from their graves or give everlasting life to his patients. These are two powers that Marlowe's Early Modern audience would have recognized as powers unique to Jesus Christ. This implicit comparison shows that Faustus envisions himself with godlike power.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. "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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Analytics is the title of Aristotle's treatise on logic. This phrase in Latin means "to carry on a debate well is the end or purpose of logic." Notice that Faustus kind of misses the point of this phrase when he translates it to mean, "arguing is the point of logic" when Aristotle is instead talking about debating, discussion fueled by opposing positions.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Notice that Faustus recognizes the danger in his actions. He mentions the death that comes with engaging in necromancy and decides that power is more important to him. This end to Scene 1 simultaneously foreshadows Faustus's tragic end and demonstrates the character's careless vanity.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Pietro d'Abano was a 13th century alchemist. Alchemy was the medieval practice of trying to transform matter, specifically valueless stones like granite into precious materials like gold. It was a seemingly mysterious process in which people were thought to magically create something out of nothing.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Roger Bacon was a Franciscan friar, philosopher, and a scientist in the 13th century. He is now remembered for his use of empirical science and Aristotle's scientific method, however, in the Early Modern period, he was thought to be a wizard who engaged in black magic.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. "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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. The Delphian Oracle was the most powerful and famous priest in ancient Greece who was able to communicate with the gods. This oracle originated to worship Gaea the goddess of the earth. But it soon passed to Apollo. The site of the oracle became one of the most famous shrines to Apollo in the summer and Dionysus in the winter when Apollo was absent.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. Here, Valdas compares Prince Philip of Spain's treasury, rich with silver and gold from the New World, to the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. Jason and his band of Argonauts went on a quest to find the Golden Fleece because it was a symbol of authority and kingship. King Pelias sent Jason to find it so that he could claim rightful kingship to the throne of Iolcus and was only able to complete his mission with the help of Medea.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Almain rutters are German horsemen. Valdes's list of similes here demonstrates the physical nature of all of his fantasies. he cannot conceptualize the power he seeks without comparisons to power in the physical world.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. Cornelius could be an allusion to Cornelius Agrippa, a German author who wrote The Vanity and Uncertainty of Arts and Sciences. He was believed to have the power to call shades or shadows back from the dead.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Musaeus was a legendary singer and the son of Orpheus. He was looked up to by other souls in Elysian, and featured in Virgil's Aeneid.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. Agrippa was a Roman statesman and close advisor of Octavian. He is remembered for his military prowess in battles against Antony and Cleopatra, and the renovation of Rome. He repaired the aqueducts, and provided public services for every social class. He also created multiple baths, porticoes, and the Pantheon.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  21. These are Faustus's friends who are already practitioners of magic. Like all of the other characters in this play, except for Mephistophilis, Valdes and Cornelius appear in one scene and disappear for the rest of the play.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  22. The "Prince of Parma" was the Spanish governor general of the Low Countries, modern Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of Germany, from 1579-1592.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  23. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  24. The Good Angel and the Bad Angel appear to Faustus throughout this play and represent a literary trope called psychomachia. Psychomachia is the embodiment of the battle over one's soul: generally a "Good Angel" that represents Christianity battles a "Bad Angel" that represents Paganism. Generally the angels stand on opposing sides of the character experiencing the crisis and offer the character arguments to resolve his crisis.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  25. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  26. This statement is ironic. While Faustus believes that he will become a "deity" by practicing necromancy, in reality the only "deity" he will gain is the Devil.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  27. These are the qualities that Faustus was looking for and did not find in his consideration of other professions. Notice that all of these traits are condemned as sinful in the Christian tradition. This established Faustus as the anti-Christian hero, very different from the main characters of other plays at this time.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  28. After dismissing all legitimate forms of study and profession, Faustus picks up necromancy books and decides that they are "heavenly." Faustus rhetorically replaces theology and church practices with dark magic.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  29. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  30. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  31. Jerome's Bible, or the Vulgate Bible, was a Latin translation of the Bible by Saint Jerome in the 4th century. Faustus's final consideration is theology after he has dismissed all other disciplines.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  32. Justinian I was the Byzantine Emperor from 482-565. In his Institutiones, Justinian proposed a complete revision of Roman law known as the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is the basis for modern day civil law. In turning to Justinian, Faustus begins to contemplate the law.

    — Owl Eyes Reader