Come, Mephistopheles, let us dispute again

Doctor Faustus. By Christopher Marlowe

“He that is grounded in astrology,
Enriched with tongues, well seen in minerals,
Hath all the principles magic doth require.
Then doubt not, Faustus, but to be renowned
And more frequented for this mystery
Than henceforth the Delphian oracle.”


“I am resolv’d; Faustus shall ne’er repent.—
Come, Mephistophilis, let us dispute again,
And argue of divine astrology.
Tell me, are there many heavens above the moon
Are all celestial bodies but one globe,
As is the substance of this centric earth?

MEPHIST. As are the elements, such are the spheres,
Mutually folded in each other’s orb,
And, Faustus,
All jointly move upon one axletree,
Whose terminine is term’d the world’s wide pole;
Nor are the names of Saturn, Mars, or Jupiter
Feign’d, but are erring stars.

FAUSTUS. But, tell me, have they all one motion, both situ et

MEPHIST. All jointly move from east to west in twenty-four hours
upon the poles of the world; but differ in their motion upon
the poles of the zodiac.

These slender trifles Wagner can decide:
Hath Mephistophilis no greater skill?
Who knows not the double motion of the planets?
The first is finish’d in a natural day;
The second thus; as Saturn in thirty years; Jupiter in twelve;
Mars in four; the Sun, Venus, and Mercury in a year; the Moon in
twenty-eight days. Tush, these are freshmen’s suppositions.
But, tell me, hath every sphere a dominion or intelligentia?


FAUSTUS. How many heavens or spheres are there?

MEPHIST. Nine; the seven planets, the firmament, and the empyreal

FAUSTUS. Well, resolve me in this question; why have we not
conjunctions, oppositions, aspects, eclipses, all at one time,
but in some years we have more, in some less?

MEPHIST. Per inoequalem motum respectu totius.

FAUSTUS. Well, I am answered. Tell me who made the world?

MEPHIST. I will not.”

The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, by Christoper Marlowe.

Although astrology was never taught formally in English universities…

“Although astrology was never taught formally in English universities either, and was also regarded with suspicion by the majority of the clergy, it nevertheless began to enjoy a popular reception there during the later half of the sixteenth century. This sixteenth century renewal in England of interest in astrology, indeed to a level of interest that surpassed that of the middle ages, is attributed mainly to the mathematical revival brought about by the most famous Elizabethan astrologer John Dee (1527-1608), along with the help of Leonard Digges and his son Thomas, both astrologers and mathematicians as well.

Dee and the Digges’s practiced and advocated rigorous mathematical calculations in the study of astronomy as it applied to astrology, and in doing so raised the standard for the English astrological community from that time on.

John Dee was a long-time consultant of Queen Elizabeth I, and was commissioned for everything from the proper time for her coronation in 1559 to drawing an accurate map of the world in I580.”


“The revival of astrology in England then, began during the reign of Elizabeth I with Dee and the Digges’s, but was practiced at first mainly among the upper classes, only slowly trickling down to the rest of society. Such was the state of astrology in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century.”

From: Kemp, David (2003) The scientific revolution’s axiomatic rejection of magical thinking : the case of astrology in England (1600-1700). Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Rodrigo Lopez was Queen Elizabeth’s physician during the time of

[Rodrigo Lopez was Queen Elizabeth’s physician during the time of Christopher Marlowe, and is mentioned in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus—but not by Marlowe.]

From Wikipedia on Rodrigo Lopez:

“Rodrigo Lopez (c. 1525 – June 7, 1594) was physician to Queen Elizabeth, and may have been an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.”

He was born in Crato, Portugal and raised as a New Christian. He was driven away from Portugal by the Portuguese Inquisition and was known to be a Marrano (a hidden Jew).

He made London his home in 1559 and successfully resumed his practice as a doctor, soon becoming house physician at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He developed a large practice among powerful people, including Robert Dudley and Francis Walsingham. His success was less due to his medical skill and more to his skill at flattery and self-promotion. A 1584 libelous pamphlet attacking Dudley suggested that Lopez distilled poisons for Dudley and other noblemen as well. In 1586, Lopez reached the pinnacle of his profession; he was made physician-in-chief to Queen Elizabeth. Lopez earned the queen’s favour for in 1589 she granted him a monopoly on the importation of aniseed and sumac. His success continued as he neared retirement. He was viewed, at least outwardly, as being a dutiful practicing Protestant.

In October of 1593, Lopez was wealthy and generally respected. At that time, he owned a house in Holborn and had a son enrolled at Winchester College. However, also in October, a complex web of conspiracy against Dom António, Prior of Crato began to come to light. Subsequently, Robert Devereux accused Lopez of conspiring with Spanish emissaries to poison the Queen. He was arrested on January 1, 1594, convicted in February, and subsequently hanged, drawn and quartered on June 7. His trial at London’s Guildhall was referred to by Charles, Prince of Wales in his Guildhall address to the Board of Deputies of British Jews on 5 July 2011.

The Queen herself was uncertain of his guilt and delayed his execution. Lopez maintained his innocence and his true conversion from Judaism to Christianity. According to the 16th century historian William Camden, just before Lopez was hanged, he said to the crowd that he loved his queen as well as he loved Jesus Christ. The crowd laughed at this statement, taking it for a thinly veiled confession.

Some historians and literary critics consider Lopez and his trial to have been an influence on William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. “Many Shakespearean scholars believe Dr. Lopez was the prototype for Shylock,” which is believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. There is also a mention of Lopez in the posthumously published text of The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, comparing him to the titular hero: “Doctor Lopus was never such a doctor!” This reference was presumably added after Marlowe’s death in 1593.

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[If the final point was missed: Marlowe was dead by the time Lopez’s problems began, so clearly he didn’t write it. Like other works of the time Doctor Faustus was written for the stage and could have had several contributors as well as multiple revisions for performances over time. See further:]

From Old English Drama

Old English Drama. Select Plays: Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus; Greene : Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, Edited by A. W. Ward. Clarendon Press series. Edition 2. Clarendon Press, 1887.

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…Or see it at Google Books: