The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus

Author: Christopher Marlowe  | Date: 1590



CHORUS. NOT marching now in fields of Thrasimene,

Where Mars did mate * the Carthaginians;

Nor sporting in the dalliance of love,

In courts of kings where state is overturn’d;

Nor in the pomp of proud audacious deeds,

Intends our Muse to vaunt his heavenly verse:

Only this, gentlemen,- we must perform

The form of Faustus’ fortunes, good or bad.

To patient judgments we appeal our plaud, *(2)

And speak for Faustus in his infancy.

Now is he born, his parents base of stock,

In Germany, within a town call’d Rhodes; *(3)

Of riper years to Wittenberg he went,

Whereas his kinsmen chiefly brought him up.

So soon he profits in divinity,

The fruitful plot of scholarism grac’d, *(4)

That shortly he was grac’d with doctor’s name,

Excelling all those sweet delight disputes

In heavenly matters of theology;

Till swollen with cunning, *(5) of a self-conceit,

His waxen wings *(6) did mount above his reach,

And, melting, Heavens conspir’d his overthrow;

For, falling to a devilish exercise,

And glutted [now] with learning’s golden gifts,

He surfeits upon cursed necromancy.

Nothing so sweet as magic is to him,

Which he prefers before his chiefest bliss.

And this the man that in his study sits! [Exit.

* Confound. But Hannibal was victorious at Lake Trasumennus,

B.C. 217.

*(2) For applause.

*(3) Roda, in the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg, near Jena.

*(4) The garden of scholarship being adorned by him.

*(5) Knowledge.

*(6) An allusion to the myth of Icarus, who flew too near the sun.


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Chicago: Christopher Marlowe, "Prologue.," The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus Original Sources, accessed July 4, 2022,

MLA: Marlowe, Christopher. "Prologue." The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, Original Sources. 4 Jul. 2022.

Harvard: Marlowe, C, 'Prologue.' in The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Original Sources, retrieved 4 July 2022, from