Symbolism In Tamburlaine's Poem In Relation To War

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Only in one or two situations, white is used in connection with military actions, notably in the reference to “Brave horses bred on the white Tartarian hills” (p.10) that destroy the bowels of his enemies, or, in the same speech, the allusion to victory “resting herself upon my milk-white tent.” (p.35) It can be noted that the only consistent use of the impression of whiteness in relation to war is in connection with the white tents which Tamburlaine displays on the first day as a sign of mercy for peaceful surrender, before the gloomy red and black colours are displayed on successive days. The messenger reports to the Soldan of Egypt:
“The first day when he pitcheth down his tents,
White is their hue, and on his silver crest,
A snowy feather
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His humble position and his high hopes suggest to him the similarity between himself and the leader among the immortals:
“Jove sometimes masked in a shepherd’s weed;
And by those steps that he hath scaled the heavens,
May we become immortal like the gods!” (p.13)
These allusions are reflected in Menaphon’s report to Cosroe: “Of stature tall, and straightly fashioned, / Like his desire, lift upwards and divine.” (p.15) And the analogy, with its combination of the ideas of divinity and aspiring assertion of power, reaches its full development in Tamburlaine’s speech to the dying Cosroe:
“The thirst of reign and sweetness of a crown
That caused the eldest son of heavenly Ops
To thrust his doting father from his chair,
And place himself in the imperial
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Throughout the beginning of Tamburlaine’s rise, rival kings and emperors consistently referred to him and his men in animalistic terminology, for example calling Tamburlaine savage or incivil (p.4), or, doubly implying that he is either deity or beast, noting that he “was never sprung of human race” (p.24), and that his troops “lie in ambush waiting for a prey.” (p.17) The imagery of animalism in reference to Tamburlaine is not only an insult to his character, but also a hint at his low birth. While Tamburlaine may never directly hear these insults, it is almost as if he perceives them as he turns around and punishes formerly mighty kings as animals once he has gained authority. Marlowe is reinforcing Tamburlaine comparison to a beast in the latter’s abuses of former royalty. Though, like all things Tamburlaine does, he takes fighting like a beast to the extreme. The effect is a monarch almost entirely devoid of a human nature, or a
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