The Tragedy of Dr Faustus
Mephostophilis and Faustus now set out on an eight-day tour of the universe. They flew around the stars together and Faustus learned a great deal about astronomy1.
Faustus was delighted with this experience and soon started on another grand2 journey, this time around the world. He and Mephostophilis finally travelled through the important cities of Germany, France and Italy. At last they arrived in Rome. They saw the historical sights of Rome together and Faustus was again delighted with the experience.
Mephostophilis now told him that he had planned something special for him.
‘We’re going to the papal3 palace!’ he announced.
Faustus knew that Pope Adrian was about to celebrate his victory over the rival German Pope, Bruno. An important feast4 had been planned. Suddenly he decided that the feast would be a splendid occasion for him to show his powers.
‘This feast is a very important one for the Pope,’ he said to Mephostophilis, ‘and I’d like to play some part in it. Can you devise5 some way that I can do that?’
Mephostophilis promised to organise something for Faustus and the two of them hurried to the palace. When they arrived they were just in time to see Pope Adrian, his guest King Raymond of Hungary and the Cardinals with their prisoner Bruno.
The Cardinals threw the rival Pope to the ground and Pope Adrian walked over him to reach his throne.
‘Bruno helps the rightful Pope to climb into Peter’s chair,’ commented Raymond.
‘That place is mine!’ cried Bruno bitterly. ‘I am the Pope.’
Pope Adrian sneered at Bruno’s words.
‘You’re my prisoner,’ he told him, ‘and you’ll soon find out what your rightful place is.’ He signalled to the Cardinals of France and Padua. ‘Go and find out what the Synod has decided to do with Bruno,’ he commanded.
The two Cardinals hurried from the chamber.
Faustus suddenly had an idea, and began whispering hurriedly to Mephostophilis.
‘You go with the Cardinals,’ he hissed. ‘Make them fall asleep, and then you and I will take their places. We’ll talk to the Pope, and we’ll set Bruno free!’ he concluded boldly.
The rival Pope meanwhile was trying to argue with Pope Adrian.
‘You know that I was appointed by the German Emperor,’ he said.
‘I’m going to punish the German Emperor as well,’ Adrian said proudly.
‘First I’ll excommunicate1 him and then I’ll take his crown from him.’ Bruno tried once more to argue his case.
‘What about the promise that Pope Julius made to the German Emperor
Sigismund?’ he went on. ‘He promised that the Popes of Rome would always acknowledge the German Emperor as their lord!’
Adrian dismissed1 the argument with a wave of the hand.
‘Julius broke the rules of the church when he made that promise,’ he said. ‘His decrees2 mean nothing. The power of the whole world belongs to the Pope, not to Emperors and Kings.’
Just then Faustus and Mephostophilis entered the chamber, disguised as the Cardinals of France and Padua.
‘Well,’ asked Adrian, ‘what has the Synod decided to do with Bruno?’
‘They have decided to punish Bruno and the German Emperor,’ Faustus replied solemnly. ‘They say that Bruno should be executed if his actions were not forced by the Emperor. He should be burned at the stake.’
Pope Adrian smiled cruelly.
‘Take him away with you,’ he ordered Faustus and Mephostophilis. ‘Put him in prison and we will decide what to do with him tomorrow. And take his crown with you,’ he added. ‘Put it in the Papal treasury3.’
Faustus and Mephostophilis hurried away with Bruno and the crown. Mephostophilis soon smuggled4 the rival Pope away from the city. Now Faustus wanted to attend5 the Pope’s celebratory6 feast.
‘Make me invisible, Mephostophilis,’ he ordered. ‘I want to see what happens to the Cardinals whose place we took earlier. I wonder what Pope Adrian will do to them!’
The guests were beginning to arrive for the feast when Faustus reached the palace. Pope Adrian was welcoming the Cardinals.
‘Would you like to know what the Synod has decided to do with Bruno?’ one of the Cardinals asked him.
The Pope looked at him in surprise.
‘What are you talking about?’ he asked impatiently. ‘You’ve already told me the Synod’s decision that Bruno and the German Emperor should be punished. You know I’m making my own decision about him tomorrow.’
‘But we haven’t said anything!’ the Cardinal said in astonishment.
King Raymond intervened angrily.
‘Don’t deny it!’ he said sternly. ‘I was there. I heard you tell Pope Adrian what the Synod had decided. You took Bruno away to prison with you, and you took his crown away with you as well.’
‘You’re mistaken!’ cried the Cardinal fearfully. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
Suddenly Pope Adrian got very angry.
‘Take these two to prison!’ he commanded his soldiers. ‘If they don’t tell us where Bruno and the crown are, they will die for their sins!’
Soldiers suddenly appeared, and removed the two terrified Cardinals. Soon the Pope and his guests moved to the table to eat.
Faustus went with them, moving unseen around the room.
He was determined to enjoy himself as much as he could. Every time the Pope tried to lift some food to his mouth, an invisible hand snatched1 it away. When the Pope tried to drink, an in visible hand snatched his glass away. The Pope and his guests were astonished, and some of them were frightened.
‘I think there’s a ghost at the feast,’ one of the archbishops said. ‘It must be the unhappy soul of some dead person who cannot find rest. He has come here to ask for your blessing.’
‘You may be right,’ the Pope agreed. He ordered some priests to say prayers for the dead man. Then he crossed himself.
Suddenly Faustus struck1 a hard blow at the Pope’s ear. Pope Adrian jumped up from the table, holding his ear. He was furious at the insult.
‘I curse this soul!’ he cried angrily.
‘What will you do now, Faustus?’ Mephostophilis asked. ‘The Pope will ask the priests to curse you with bell, book and candle.’
Leave a Comment