Scene 9

[Enter Emperor, Faustus, and a Knight, with Attendants.]

Master Doctor Faustus, I have heard strange
report of thy knowledge in the black art, how that none
in my empire nor in the whole world can compare with
thee for the rare effects of magic: they say thou hast a
familiar spirit, by whom thou canst accomplish what(5)
thou list. This therefore is my request, that thou let me
see some proof of thy skill, that mine eyes may be wit-
nesses to confirm what mine ears have heard reported:
and here I swear to thee by the honour of mine imperial
crown, that, whatever thou doest, thou shalt be no ways(10)
prejudiced or endamaged.
[Aside] I'faith, he looks much like a conjuror.
My gracious sovereign, though I must confess
myself far inferior to the report men have published,
and nothing answerable to the honour of your imperial(15)
majesty, yet for that love and duty binds me thereunto,
I am content to do whatsoever your majesty shall command me.
Then, Doctor Faustus, mark what I shall say.
As I was sometime solitary set(20)
Within my closet, sundry thoughts arose
About the honour of mine ancestors,
How they had won by prowess such exploits,
Got such riches, subdued so many kingdoms
As we that do succeed, or they that shall(25)
Hereafter possess our throne, shall
(I fear me) ne'er attain to that degree
Of high renown and great authority;
Amongst which kings is Alexander the Great,
Chief spectacle of the world's pre-eminence,(30)
The bright shining of whose glorious acts
Lightens the world with his reflecting beams,
As when I hear but motion made of him
It grieves my soul I never saw the man.
If therefore thou by cunning of thine art(35)
Canst raise this man from hollow vaults below,
Where lies entombed this famous conqueror,
And bring with him his beauteous paramour,
Both in their right shapes, gesture, and attire
They used to wear during their time of life,(40)
Thou shalt both satisfy my just desire,
And give me cause to praise thee whilst I live.
My gracious lord, I am ready to accomplish
your request so far forth as by art, and power of my
Spirit, I am able to perform.(45)
[Aside] I'faith that's just nothing at all.
But, if it like your grace, it is not in my ability
to present before your eyes the true substantial bodies
of those two deceased princes, which long since are
consumed to dust.(50)
[Aside] Ay, marry, Master Doctor, now there's a sign of
grace in you, when you will confess the truth.
But such spirits as can lively resemble Alexander
and his paramour shall appear before your grace, in
that manner that they both lived in, in their most(55)
flourishing estate; which I doubt not shall sufficiently
content your imperial majesty.
Go to, Master Doctor; let me see them presently.
Do you hear, Master Doctor? You bring Alexander(60)
and his paramour before the Emperor!
How then, sir?
I'faith, that's as true as Diana turned me to a stag!
No, sir, but when Actaeon died, he left the horns
for you. Mephistophilis, begone.(65)

[Exit Mephistophilis.]

Nay, an you go to conjuring, I'll be gone.

[Exit Knight.]

I'll meet with you anon for interrupting me so.
Here they are, my gracious lord.

[Enter Mephistophilis with Alexander and his Paramour.]

Master Doctor, I heard this lady while she lived
had a wart or mole in her neck: how shall I know whether(70)
it be so or no?
Your highness may boldly go and see.
Sure these are no spirits, but the true substantial
bodies of those two deceased princes.

[Exit Alexander and his Paramour.]

Will't please your highness now to send for the(75)
knight that was so pleasant with me here of late?
One of you call him forth!

[Enter the Knight with a pair of horns on his head.]

How now, sir knight! why, I had thought thou had'st been
a bachelor, but now I see thou hast a wife, that not only
gives thee horns, but makes thee wear them. Feel on thy head.(80)
Thou damned wretch and execrable dog,
Bred in the concave of some monstrous rock,
How darest thou thus abuse a gentleman?
Villain, I say, undo what thou hast done!(85)
O, not so fast, sir; there's no haste; but, good,are you
remembered how you crossed me in my conference
with the Emperor? I think I have met with you for it.
Good Master Doctor, at my entreaty release(90)
him: he hath done penance sufficient.
My gracious lord, not so much for the injury
he offered me here in your presence, as to delight you
with some mirth, hath Faustus worthily requited this
injurious knight: which being all I desire, I am content(95)
to release him of his horns: and, sir knight, hereafter
speak well of scholars. Mephistophilis, transform him straight.

[Mephistophilis removes the horns.]

Now, my good lord, having done my duty,
I humbly take my leave.(100)
Farewell, Master Doctor; yet, ere you go,
Expect from me a bounteous reward.

[Exit Emperor and his attendants.]

Now, Mephistophilis, the restless course
That Time doth run with calm and silent foot,
Shortening my days and thread of vital life,
Calls for the payment of my latest years:
Therefore, sweet Mephistophilis, let us(105)
Make haste to Wertenberg.
What, will you go on horseback or on foot?
Nay, till I'm past this fair and pleasant green,
I'll walk on foot.
Now, Mephistophilis, the restless course
That Time doth run with calm and silent foot,
Shortening my days and thread of vital life,
Calls for the payment of my latest years:
Therefore, sweet Mephistophilis, let us(110)
Make haste to Wertenberg.


  1. Notice that Faustus calls himself a "scholar" rather than a magician. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Humanism became a dominant philosophical idea. Humanism held that humans could achieve divine grace by the cultivation of intellect, human goodness, and rational thinking. Some scholars have considered this play an exploration of this humanist idea: Faustus demonstrates the reality of a man focusing entirely on learning instead of the power of God?

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. This is another instance in which we see Faustus unable to execute his own magic. He controls Mephistophilis, but wields no power of his own. Ironically, Faustus sells his soul for power and gains none.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The horns on his head are symbolic of an adulterous wife. Faustus gives the Knight horns to humiliate him.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. "Horns" here refers to both the horns Actaeon wore as a stag and the metaphorical horns a man wears when he is cuckolded according to Greek legend. In this retort Faustus threatens the Knight in two ways. First, he threatens the Knight's life, as wearing the horns of Actaeon means being torn apart. Second, he threatens the Knight's livelihood since being cuckolded in this context would mean being replaced in the Emperor's favor.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Diana is the Greek goddess of chastity and hunting. In Ovid's Metamorphosis, Diana turns Actaeon, a young hunter, into a stag when he comes across her bathing naked and watches her for too long. Actaeon is then torn apart by his own hunting dogs. The Knight mocks mythology here with this allusion by comparing Faustus's magic with Diana's mythological ability to turn a man into a stag.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. The "power of my spirit" can mean two things. Spirit could refer to Faustus's own soul and signify that he is the person performing the magic. However, spirit could also refer to Mephistophilis, the demon he can control because he sold his soul. This line either demonstrates Faustus's power in black magic, or his ironic powerlessness if he must ask Mephistophilis to do his bidding.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. A paramour is a lover, especially an illicit adulterous partner. Marlowe never specifies who this paramour is, but it has been suggested that the woman is Thais, a famous courtesan who accompanied Alexander the Great on multiple military campaigns. She is remembered for inciting the burning of Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. However, other scholars have argued that the woman is Roxana, Alexander's wife.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Alexander the Great was the King of Macedonia, a kingdom in ancient Greece, from 336-323 BCE. He is remembered as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, and spent the majority of his years as a ruler leading military campaigns into Asia, India, and Northern Africa. He created the largest empire in the ancient world and was undefeated in battle. The Emperor traces his linage to this great commander from Greece.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. "Closet" in this context means private chamber. The Emperor says that while he sat alone in his chambers he considered the history of his ancestors.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Notice that Faustus is subservient to Charles V. Unlike his visions of grandeur at the beginning of the play, Faustus ends up being servile rather than ruling the world.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff