Study Guide


When Mycetes becomes king of Persia, his brother, Cosroe, tells him openly that he is not fit for the office. Among Mycetes’ greatest concerns are the raids of Tamburlaine, the Scythian shepherd who became a bandit. Because it is rumored that this robber chief aspires to rule the East, Mycetes sends Theridamas with a thousand troops to capture Tamburlaine, and he orders another lord named Menaphon to follow Theridamas. Cosroe sarcastically points out to the king that Menaphon is needed in Babylon, where the province is about to revolt against a sovereign as inferior as Mycetes. At this insult, Mycetes threatens he will be revenged against his brother.

Menaphon asks Cosroe if he is afraid of the king’s threat, but Cosroe assures the Persian lord that there is a plot afoot to make Cosroe himself emperor of Asia. He claims that it hurts him to witness the scorn now heaped on Persia, which formerly awed the entire world. Soon afterward, the revolt Cosroe predicts takes place. The rebellious lords offer Cosroe the crown, and he sets out to annex the thousand troops of Theridamas and conquer his brother Mycetes.

On a Scythian hill, Tamburlaine is holding Zenocrate, the daughter of the sultan of Egypt. He speaks grandly of kingdoms he will conquer, and Techelles and Usumcasane echo his boasts, vowing to follow Tamburlaine to the death. The ambitious leader is in love with Zenocrate, and he promises her all the wealth and power in his kingdom. Suddenly, Mycetes’ thousand horse troops attack Tamburlaine’s five hundred foot soldiers. When Theridamas accosts the Scythian, he is so impressed with his appearance and with Tamburlaine’s visions of mighty kingdoms and power that the outlaw is able to persuade Theridamas to become an ally.

Cosroe prepares to send troops to join Tamburlaine and Theridamas by the river Araris and there to engage the forces of Mycetes, who is fuming with rage at the revolt. Meander, a follower of Mycetes, conceives the proposal that he who conquers Tamburlaine will be offered the province of Albania, and he who takes Theridamas can have Media. Mycetes stipulates, however, that Cosroe be captured alive. Mycetes is convinced that the followers of the bandit Tamburlaine can be bribed to desert their leader, since he purchased their loyalty by bribes in the first place.

When Cosroe meets Tamburlaine, the Scythian boasts of his great future; Theridamas indicates to Cosroe that he believes in Tamburlaine’s ability. Certain of victory, Cosroe promises Techelles and Usumcasane rewards for their deeds, and, indeed, Mycetes is defeated. After the victory, Tamburlaine then bribes Theridamas, Techelles, and Usumcasane with a promise of kingdoms of their own if they will attack Cosroe. Marveling at Tamburlaine’s arrogance and daring, Cosroe prepares for battle. Cosroe is wounded in battle, and Tamburlaine, gloating over his easy conquest, proclaims himself king of Persia.

At the court in Algiers, the kings of Fez, Morocco, and Algiers fume at the thought that a bandit took Persia and is now forcing them to raise their siege of Greek Constantinople. Bajazeth, king of the Turks, dispatches a message to Tamburlaine, threatening him if he dares set foot in Africa. Meanwhile the kings plan to take Greece by siege.

Zenocrate slowly grows to admire Tamburlaine, who is now plotting the conquest of the Turkish kings. Zabina, wife of Bajazeth, sneers at Zenocrate and calls her a concubine. After subduing Bajazeth, Tamburlaine makes Zabina Zenocrate’s attendant slave. To show his might, Tamburlaine puts Bajazeth in a cage and uses it as a footstool. Bajazeth and Zabina continue, however, to hurl disdainful remarks and threats at him.

The next victim of the Scythian’s lust for power is the sultan of Egypt, Zenocrate’s father. As Tamburlaine’s armies prepare to take Damascus, Zenocrate gently asks her lover to deal kindly with the city of her father, but he refuses. Zenocrate grieves until Tamburlaine promises not to harm...

(The entire page is 1,168 words.)

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