Scene seven, version B

[Note: A large part of this scene, including the action concerning Bruno, the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, does not appear in the A-text, which is less than half the length of the B-text.]

Synopsis of scene 7 version B

In this much longer version of the scene, Faustus and Mephastophilis play a much more elaborate trick on the Pope. Bruno (a fictitious character), the ‘false' Pope who has the support of the Holy Roman Emperor, is brought before the Pope on charges of treachery. Faustus and Mephastophilis assume the forms of the cardinals appointed to decide on Bruno's fate and tell the Pope that he has been condemned to death by burning. Meanwhile, the true cardinals have been put to sleep and then Bruno escapes to rejoin the Emperor. As a result, the cardinals themselves are condemned to death while Faustus and Mephastophilis, who have made themselves invisible, indulge in some farcical tricks against the Pope and his friars.

Commentary on scene 7 version B

holy Peter's feast See note on Chorus 2.

cloyed Sated, stuffed, surfeited.

liberty Freedom to act as he pleases and freedom from the fear of Hell.

bright frame The world.

Thou know'st … earth and hell The brief summary gives a flavour of what Faustus has experienced without the necessity for showing it on stage. Renaissance dramatists relied on the power of their words to stimulate the imagination of their audience.

By cunning … the pride of this solemnity These plans are distinctly anti-papal and anti-clerical on the part of both Mephastophilis and Marlowe.

Triple Crownhis triple crown The Pope's triple crown represents his universal episcopate, his supremacy over the whole Church of Christ and his temporal power.

the beads The rosary beads used by Catholics for prayer.

huge horns upon the cardinals' heads Once again, the play refers to the cuckold's horns as a means of humiliating a man by suggesting that his wife is unfaithful. However, the suggestion has added piquancy here, since all Catholic clergy took vows of celibacy. Even in the Middle Ages, the promiscuity of many clerics had become a running joke.

Bruno A fictional character, designed to represent the typical opponents of the Pope, Adrian. In Marlowe's day, the Pope had extensive political as well as ecclesiastical power. Sometimes, there were attempts to install alternative papal leaders. This occurred in the medieval era with two rival popes at Avignon and in Rome, supported by different factions.

Such a situation is the background to this scene: Bruno is the defeated German challenger to the Pope, who had been the candidate of the Emperor.

More on challenges to the Pope: There were frequent power struggles between the leaders of England, Germany, Holland, Spain and France. Once Henry VIII left the Catholic Church and established the Church of England in 1554, there was an attempt to delineate the political, cultural and theological differences between a very English church and continental Catholicism. Anti-Catholic laws were passed in England and Catholicism became associated with treason or support for foreign governments.

Cast down … St Peter's chair The pope is proud of his triumph over Bruno. He stresses his heritage as the spiritual and political heir of Peter, as well as humiliating Bruno by using him as a footstool. The irony is that the Pope, presented as cruelly lording it over the defeated Bruno, is about to be fooled and tricked by Faustus, enabling Marlowe to indulge in some fairly crude anti-papal comedy.

Lord cardinals …Go forthwith The cardinals are sent to discuss the judgement on Bruno and, in this version of the play (the B-text), Mephastophilis and Faustus take over the bodies of the cardinals.

parley Talk.

Pope Adrian … right of law' Bruno appeals to legality and justice, pointing out that he was elected by the Holy Roman Emperor.

We will depose … from his regal government This speech shows how closely intermingled are the Pope's spiritual and temporal powers. His threat of deposition and excommunication against the Emperor portrays the power the Pope believes he holds over both religious and political matters.

Emperor Frederick IIPope Alexander … the Emperor Frederick Pope Alexander III excommunicated the Emperor Frederick in 1165.

Peter's heirs … adder's back Another example of the pope's power. Because he is an inheritor of the apostle Peter, he uses this to justify his right to dispense justice. The implication is that emperors are snakes. Marlowe's audience would recognise an allusion to the Fall of humankind in Genesis, prompted by the devil in the form of a serpent.

Treading the lion … the dragon … the killing basilisk Lions are frequently a symbol of a monarch or ruler. The dragon is used in Revelation as a symbol of Satan and the corrupt society he rules. The basilisk was a mythological creature, in appearance a lizard, whose gaze and breath were fatal.

Schismatic Adrian turns from the general role of popes to specific concerns about schismatics, who sought to divide either the Church internally or the Church and the Empire.

by authority apostolical The earliest leaders of the church in the first century CE were the twelve surviving disciples of Jesus Christ (after Judas was replaced by Matthias), known as the apostles. These were people who knew and had been taught by Christ. The priestly role of apostle, descending from Peter as first Bishop of Rome, was inherited by succeeding Popes.

Pope Julius … Sigismund These references are not historical, since Sigismund was Holy Roman Emperor from 1411-37 and Julius II and III were Popes in the sixteenth century. No doubt Marlowe includes them to allow Adrian to make yet a further assertion of his power over both the spiritual and the temporal realms.

Seven … seals These symbolise the absolute powers of the Pope, echoing chapters 4-8 of the last book of the New Testament, Revelation.

Resign Unseal.

Light Alight or land on.

quittance Retaliation.

Lollards Literally, followers of the English religious reformer John Wycliffe (1320-1384), but also used to describe heretics in general.

triple diadem Another reference to the papal triple crown.

He shall be straight condemned of heresy Faustus pretends that he has met with the synod to make a recommendation on the fate of Bruno.

grave Sober, serious-minded.

But now … charm me here Mephastophilis makes Faustus invisible, ready for the tricks he intends to play on the Pope and his court.

Pluto's blue flames Pluto was the Roman god of the underworld, where the flames were said to burn blue.

Hecate's tree Hecate was a witch-like goddess of magic; her tree may represent the gallows.

shaven crowns The cardinals have shaven heads, a common practice for monks and clerics

lade … gyves Weigh them down with shackles.

prelates High officers of the Church such as bishops, archbishops and cardinals.

Frolic Mischievous.

Lubbers Oafs or fools.

our sanctitude Pope Adrian is using the first person plural – the ‘royal we' – to refer to himself.

Some ghost … pardon According to the teaching of the Catholic Church at that time, after death a person's soul entered a state known as purgatory. People hoped that good deeds or special acts of devotion would reduce the time they must spend in Purgatory. It is suggested, therefore, that the pranks are being performed by the unsettled spirit of a dead person who hopes to enter Heaven with a pardon from the Pope.

Spiced with a cross Faustus is sarcastically referring to the automatic performance of a religious gesture. Priests crossed themselves to reflect the death of Jesus on a wooden cross.

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