by Christopher Marlowe
Doctor Faustus Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
"Exhaereditare filium non potest pater, nisi—"
Such is the subject of the Institute
And universal body of the law.
This study fits a mercenary drudge,
Who aims at nothing but external trash;
Too servile and illiberal for me. (1.1.29-34)
The line from Justininan's Institutes that Faustus reads here translates into "a father may not disinherit his son unless—". What Faustus seems to be objecting to, then, is the focus of the law on issues of inheritance and property. Maybe that's why he calls it fitting for a "mercenary drudge"—someone who serves for money, and nothing else. Of course we're a little suspicious of his logic here, because when he learns magic, he doesn't exactly complain about the wealth it brings him.
Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art
Wherein all Nature's treasure is contained. (1.1.72-73)
Although by referring to "Nature's treasure" the Bad Angel seems to be holding out the promise of wealth to Faustus, he could also be referring to the knowledge of Nature. Medieval and Renaissance scholars often described Nature as a book whose secrets could be discovered by the careful reader.
How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,
Resolve me of all ambiguities.
I'll have them read me strange philosophy
And tell the secrets of all foreign kings. (1.1.76-78, 84-85)
Faustus's quest for knowledge transforms into a need to learn the "secrets of all foreign kings," suggesting how much Faustus's desire for knowledge is tied up with his equally strong need to have a ton of power.