Algebra and the Art of War: Marlowe's Military Mathematics in Tamburlaine 1 and 2
In his Tamburlaine plays, Marlowe broached a difficulty of dramaturgy: how can an acting company of a dozen men convey to their audience the scale of military battles involving thousands? Here, I argue that algebra provided Marlowe his solution. I reconsider the numbers critics have noticed are ubiquitous throughout Tamburlaine 1 and 2 in terms of their algebraic functions and their role in effecting an algebraic stage. My contention is that Marlowe utilized algebra to create a unique aesthetic of warfare, in which the enormity of battle could be played out imaginatively within the small space of the Elizabethan theatre.