The Concept of Empire in the Elizabethan Literature: Reading Persia in Sidney’s Apology for Poetry and Marlowe’s Tamburlaine Plays

Ramin Farhadi, Mohammad Amin Mozaheb, Ehsan Honarjou


The Elizabethan literature was fascinated by the representations of ancient and contemporary Persian Empire, as well as the figures like Cyrus the Great. The main historical sources about Persia that the English writers used, beside the Old Testament, were the writings of Xenophon and Herodotus. However, it was Xenophon that caught the attention of two prominent Elizabethan: Sir Philip Sidney and Christopher Marlowe. Their use of Persian images and figures in their texts was as an act of opposition to the Tudor foreign policy that supported Anglo-Ottoman ties in the 1570s and 1580s. The researchers, therefore, aim to analyse the anti-Ottoman discourse by using Persian Empire and identity in Sidney’s An Apology for Poetry (1595) and Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great plays (1590) by applying comparative analysis and close reading. The researchers, moreover, explore the way in which the Sidney’s and Marlowe’s aesthetic engagements aim at the initiation of the project of English empire-building based upon the Achaemenid and Safavid Persia along with representation of Persians as an imaginatively alternative self for the English people.



Persia; Empire; Cyrus; Philip Sidney; Christopher Marlowe; Elizabethan Literature

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