DOI link for Tamburlaine's Urine
Tamburlaine's Urine book
This essay begins at an ending: Tamburlaine, the protagonist of Christopher Marlowe's late sixteenth-century, two-part historical tragedy Tamburlaine the Great, dies of a fever. I This is an unexpectedly mundane death given that he has been well established in parts 1 and 2 as the evil and unyielding 'scourge and wrath of God, / The only fear and terror of the world' (126.96.36.199-5)? That Tamburlaine - who with his men 'use to march upon the slaughtered foe, / Trampling their bowels with [their] horses' hooves' (188.8.131.52-50), and who would, 'without respect of sex, degree or age,' kill 'all his foes with fire and sword' (184.108.40.206-3), and whose men 'hoisted up' the 'slaughtered carcasses' (220.127.116.11) of virgins sacrificed to prevent his ravaging of Damascus - should die of a fever and not in battle is a narrative turn in itself that warrants closer attention. But a detail Marlowe appends to Tamburlaine's demise renders it all the more unusual: his death is heralded by a uroscopic diagnosis.