Scene 3

[Enter Faustus to conjure.]

Now that the gloomy shadow of the earth
Longing to view Orion's drizzling look,
Leaps from the antarctic world unto the sky,
And dims the welkin with her pitchy breath,
Faustus, begin thine incantations,(5)
And try if devils will obey thy hest,
Seeing thou hast prayed and sacrificed to them.
Within this circle is Jehovah's name,
Forward and backward anagrammatised,
The breviated names of holy saints,(10)
Figures of every adjunct to the Heavens,
And characters of signs and erring stars,
By which the spirits are enforced to rise:
Then fear not, Faustus, but be resolute,
And try the uttermost magic can perform.(15)

Sint mihi dei Acherontis propitii! Valeat numen triplex
Jehovoe! Ignei, aerii, aquatani spiritus, salvete!
Orientis princeps Belzebub, inferni ardentis monarcha,
et Demogorgon, propitiamus vos, ut appareat et surgat
Mephistophilis. Quid tu moraris? per Jehovam, Gehennam,(20)
et consecratam aquam quam nunc spargo, signumque
crucis quod nunc facio, et per vota nostra, ipse nunc
surgat nobis dicatus Mephistophilis!

[Enter Mephistophilis.]

I charge thee to return and change thy shape;
Thou art too ugly to attend on me.(25)
Go, and return an old Franciscan friar;
That holy shape becomes a devil best.

[Exit Mephistophilis.]

I see there's virtue in my heavenly words;
Who would not be proficient in this art?
How pliant is this Mephistophilis,(30)
Full of obedience and humility!
Such is the force of magic and my spells:
Now Faustus, thou art conjuror laureat,
That canst command great Mephistophilis:
Quin regis Mephistophilis fratris imagine! (35)

[Re-enter Mephistophilis dressed like a Franciscan Friar.]

Now, Faustus, what would'st thou have me
to do?
I charge thee wait upon me whilst I live,
To do whatever Faustus shall command,
Be it to make the moon drop from her sphere,(40)
Or the ocean to overwhelm the world.
I am a servant to great Lucifer,
And may not follow thee without his leave
No more than he commands must we perform.
Did not he charge thee to appear to me?(45)
No, I came hither of mine own accord.
Did not my conjuring speeches raise thee? Speak.
That was the cause, but yet per accidens;
For when we hear one rack the name of God,(50)
Abjure the Scriptures and his Saviour Christ,
We fly in hope to get his glorious soul;
Nor will we come, unless he use such means
Whereby he is in danger to be damned:
Therefore the shortest cut for conjuring(55)
Is stoutly to abjure the Trinity,
And pray devoutly to the Prince of Hell.
So Faustus hath
Already done; and holds this principle,
There is no chief but only Belzebub;(60)
To whom Faustus doth dedicate himself.
This word “damnation” terrifies not him,
For he confounds hell in Elysium;
His ghost be with the old philosophers!
But, leaving these vain trifles of men's souls,(65)
Tell me what is that Lucifer thy lord?
Arch-regent and commander of all spirits.
Was not that Lucifer an angel once?
Yes, Faustus, and most dearly loved of God.
How comes it then that he is prince of devils?(70)
O, by aspiring pride and insolence;
For which God threw him from the face of Heaven.
And what are you that live with Lucifer?
Unhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer,
Conspired against our God with Lucifer,(75)
And are for ever damned with Lucifer.
Where are you damned?
In hell.
How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Why this is hell, nor am I out of it:(80)
Think'st thou that I who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of Heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells,
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
O, Faustus! leave these frivolous demands,(85)
Which strike a terror to my fainting soul.
What, is great Mephistophilis so passionate
For being deprived of the joys of Heaven?
Learn thou of Faustus manly fortitude,
And scorn those joys thou never shalt possess.(90)
Go bear these tidings to great Lucifer:
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against Jove's deity,
Say he surrenders up to him his soul,
So he will spare him four and twenty years,(95)
Letting him live in all voluptuousness;
Having thee ever to attend on me;
To give me whatsoever I shall ask,
To tell me whatsoever I demand,
To slay mine enemies, and aid my friends,(100)
And always be obedient to my will.
Go and return to mighty Lucifer,
And meet me in my study at midnight,
And then resolve me of thy master's mind.
I will, Faustus.(105)

[Exit Mephistophilis.]

Had I as many souls as there be stars,
I'd give them all for Mephistophilis.
By him I'll be great Emperor of the world,
And make a bridge thorough the moving air,
To pass the ocean with a band of men:(110)
I'll join the hills that bind the Afric shore,
And make that country continent to Spain,
And both contributory to my crown.
The Emperor shall not live but by my leave,
Nor any potentate of Germany.(115)
Now that I have obtained what I desire,
I'll live in speculation of this art
Till Mephistophilis return again.

[Exit Faustus.]


  1. Faustus sells his soul for 24 years of power, magic, and living in excess. While this seems like an incredibly short time to exchange for an eternity in hell, the average life span for someone in Marlowe's time was 42. Faustus, who is presumably in his late twenties or early thirties since he has a doctorate would have essentially been doubling his time left on earth.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. "Desperate" means having abandoned hope or being driven to despair. Faustus's use of this adjective to describe his denunciation of God supports the reading of his decision as a reaction to predestined damnation. Faustus can be seen as embracing his damnation because he is "desperate;" God has already forsaken him.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Notice that Faustus dismisses Mephistophilis's warning about Hell with an assertion of his ego. He believes that it is not Hell that is terrifying but rather Mephistophilis who is weak. Faustus's pride and ego will be his downfall.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Predestination was a theological philosophy in Protestantism that states that souls are predestined to be saved or damned despite one's actions or character on earth. Scholars have looked to this exchange to argue that Faustus's decision to pursue magic comes from his knowledge that his is predestined to be damned and "never shalt possess" heaven. With this reading, his deal with Mephistophilis becomes a way in which he makes the most out of his inevitable fate, the only thing he can do, rather than an arrogant and erroneous decision.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Mephistophilis presents Hell as a place that even demons fear, a place where even Lucifer its king suffers. He is so tormented and terrified of Hell that he cannot even answer Faustus's questions about the place. This should be a warning to Faustus about the price he will pay for the magic and power he desires.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. The description of Hell and damnation that Mephistophilis presents here radically contradicts Faustus's vision of Elysium. This exchange can be seen as the point at which Faustus gradually beings to realize that his expectations do not line up with reality and that he cannot undo his decision.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. The characteristics Mephistophilis ascribes to Lucifer underscore the traits that Faustus has shown. Lucifer's story foreshadows Faustus's ultimate downfall and tragic end; like Lucifer, Faustus's insolence and pride will cause him to fall.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. In the pagan tradition, Elysium was a conception of the afterlife that was separate from Hades. Elysium is where mortals related to the gods, heroes, great philosophers, and other figures chosen by the gods. It was a blessed and happy place of indulgence and enjoyment. Faustus imagines Hell as Elysium, where he will be rewarded for his actions rather than punished and tormented as in Christian Hell.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Faustus's grand ideas of enacting whatever magic he wishes and commanding ultimate power in the world here devolves into dedicating himself to a higher power. Ironically, thought Faustus initially turns to black magic because he believes it will give him the most power, it takes away all of his power and makes him a servant to the devil.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. "Per accidens" is a way to say that Faustus's incantations were an immediate but not ultimate cause. In other words, Mephistophilis was going to appear to Faustus because his soul is damned whether or not Faustus actively called to him. This is another way in which Mephistophilis deflates Faustus's inflated perception of his own power: he does not command this demon, this demon already owns his soul.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Mephistophilis immediately contradicts Faustus's illusion of power. He is not here to serve Faustus's every whim, but rather to serve Lucifer's purposes. Ironically, black magic does not give Faustus ultimate power as he believed, but rather makes him a servant to Lucifer.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. Notice that Faustus imagines Mephistophilis as subservient to his power. Faustus believes that he controls the demon and has supernatural power.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. Franciscan friars were a mendicant order in the Catholic Church. The mendicant orders were Christian religious groups of priests that adopted a life of poverty to travel to different urban centers in order to preach and baptize people, especially the poor. They adopted many of the habits of monks, but abandoned the removed lifestyle of remaining and working in a monastery. Instead, they relied on the goodwill of the people they preached to in order to survive. Faustus asks Mephistophilis to return dressed as a Friar to both visual depict the demon as dependent on him and to mock Christianity's most pious practitioners.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. Mephistophilis is a demon from German folklore that is featured prominently in German folklore. Unlike other conniving demons that represent evil incarnate, Mephistophilis is a more complex character. He is trapped in his own hell and punishment serving the devil. He does not use trickery to capture righteous souls but rather collects souls that are already damned. His presence in this tale demonstrates Faustus's damnation from the beginning of the play.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. In the Christian tradition, Belzebub is a high demon Hell's heriarchy. He is the chief lieutenant of Lucifer, the Lord of the Flies, and one of the seven princes in Hell. In some Biblical sources, Belzebub is another name for the Devil himself.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Demogorgon is a pagan demon that came from the underworld. It was envisioned as beast so powerful it's very name was dangerous to say. Notice that in his incantation, Faustus conflates mythology from all of the religions, not just Christianity.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. In the Jewish tradition, Gehennam is the cursed land outside of Jerusalem's old city. Kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire in this valley and made it a cursed land akin to Christian hell. It was a place where the wicked were sent.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff