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What remains to us of Christopher Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris is unfortunately only about half the length of the original; yet it is enough to show that it can be sorted, along with Dido, Queen of Carthage, with the Shakespeare First Folio family of plays. It is rich, more so than DQC, in the types of legerdemains and allegorical techniques with we have become so familiar in the plays of Sir Francis Bacon; and so it may plausibly be dated toward the latter end of Marlowe’s career, when the general strategies of the Shakespeare plays were becoming well established. A fascinating trend is becoming evident here, of the broad allegorical brush strokes of Tamburlaine I & II (1587) acquiring detail and refinement, in parallel with their more important cousins.


MP concerns, on the literal plane, the conflict between the French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots), which culminated in the massacre of 1589 (another point of reference for its dating). On the plane of allegory, however, the Protestant King of Navarre bears the value of the Gnostic or Rosicrucian world-feeling, which admits and honours the world that lies unseen below the surface of things; while the Catholic King of France is the Puritan ego which is stricken by resurgence of this unseen world as the libido or will-to-eros, into his conscious ego, which has hitherto denied it, in the Puritan way. That is to say, he is a Lear/Othello/Antony/&c-analogue. His is yet another representation of the Will Shaksper type of vulnerable inner life, which it is the aim of the First Folio plays, as forming Part IV of Bacon’s Instauratio Magna, exhaustively to analyse in the Freudian-Jungian way.


Let us briefly allocate the allegorical roles. King Charles of France represents the stricken Puritan ego. His mother Queen Catherine, the Queen Mother of France, is a typical Queen of Hell, but in her raw aspect, as uncontrolled by Gnostic reason. The Duke of Guise, Navarre’s principal antagonist, is the blind libido or will-to-eros, which derives and draws its energy from the Queen of Hell; so that he is, in mythic terms, Queen Catherine’s son. The presence of the Cardinal of Lorraine in the villainous troika (Guise-Dumaine-Lorraine) indicates that the party as a whole, including Queen Catherine, is to be regarded as representing the Roman Catholic Church. This is a fascinating echo of the philosophy presented repeatedly in the Shakespeare plays – including the Henry the Sixth trilogy, in the writing of which Marlowe played a major (probably the leading) role – that the Church of Rome, in its antagonism to and violent suppression of the Gnostic tradition, which had lately bloomed again in Florence in the 1490s, to spread its hardy seeds throughout Europe, predisposed to the rise of the vile upstart Puritan sect, which offered to the mindlessly vulnerable a facile and spurious control of nature.





Navarre is clearly identified with the unseen world, but as idea rather than blind will:


Guise  I, but, Navarre, Navarre – ‘tis but a nook of France…


-Where ‘I’ for the expected ‘Ay’ betokens as always – in the plays of Marlowe just as in those of Bacon – the phallos or more broadly, the unseen world, specifically here of the collective unconscious.


We have seen in DQC its final scene’s anticipation of the tomb scene in Romeo and Juliet. Just so does the apothecary whose gift of poisoned gloves will do for the old Queen of Navarre anticipate his namesake in the later play, with this important difference, that in R&J he is agent of the libido, whereas here he is identified with Puritanism. The old Queen of Navarre bears the value, of course, of the underworld as subject of enquiry of the immensely ancient broadly Gnostic tradition (I use this term to include the tradition extending back at least as far as Sumer, of intellectual engagement with, rather than denial of in the Roman Catholic and Puritan ways, the natural world.) In terms of the Shakespeare plays, she is a Queen of Hell-Grail Queen.


The Admiral is of the Navarre party, and his wounding by the Duke of Guise, as he is bearing away the body of the old Queen, represents again the assault by Puritanism on the underworld:


Conde  What, are you hurt, my Lord High Admiral?

Admiral  I, my good lord, shot through the arm.


King Charles of France is the Puritan subject; and his ensconcing of the wounded Admiral in a room with a surrounding guard represents, just as Polonius’ self-concealment behind the arras, the Freudian mechanism of repression of libido. The Admiral is therefore a Polonius-analogue, a token of the libido. And, just as Hamlet’s stabbing of Polonius betokens, not the death of the libido, but its activation in the ego (the blade bearing always in the Shakespeare plays the value of the unseen world or ‘I’ principle) to precipitate the breakdown, just so does the Guise faction’s blade-murder of the Admiral represent the moment of the breakdown: the final reference being to the coup that befell Will Shaksper in 1587, to prompt his quitting of Stratford and his family in search of healing and a new life in the metropolis.


Anjou’s “Away with him! Cut off his [the Admiral’s] head and hands” recalls, of course, Titus Andronicus, one of the earliest Shakespeare plays, and so likely to have predated or been contemporaneous with MP. Lavinia in TA is the Queen of Hell-Grail Queen, and the severing of her tongue and hands means that the unseen world is no longer the subject of the spoken or written word of the Puritan. Precisely the same mechanism is at work here in MP. The blade-murders of the scholar and schoolmaster perhaps suggest Shaksper’s Puritan high-minded scholasticism, and his occupation, at the time of his breakdown.


The circumstances of the Admiral’s wounding before his immurement and murder are highly significant. He is shot, though not mortally, by a pistolman. This adumbrates the similar pistol-wounding of Mugeroun in Act IV. We recall that Pistol in Henry the Fifth bears the value of the tumid phallos; and the pistolman’s value in MP is precisely the same. The will-to-eros ideally as engaged by the reasoning imagination of the Gnostic noble is depowered and controlled; but here, the Puritan fear of erotic excitement causes it to be repressed, with what terrible Freudian consequences Will Shaksper could testify. It is all a beautiful piece of choreography by Marlowe. But – and here is an interesting question – who thought of the ‘pistol’ technique first, Bacon or Marlowe? The frequency of so many related allegorical techniques in the Old Arcadia (1578-80) ( argues against it being Marlowe, although not definitively so.


There are more ‘I’ for ‘Ay’s in this Act, the placing of all of them consistent with their allegorical value:


Retes  I, let the Admiral be first despatch’d.


Guise  Gonzago, what, is he [the Admiral] dead?

Gonzago  I, my lord.


Mountsorrell  I, I, for this, Seroune; and thou shalt ha’it.

Showing his dagger

Seroune  O, let me pray, before I take my death!





The Duke of Anjou is the brother of King Charles (Puritan subject). He is in fact that aspect of the subject which is undergoing rebirth under the influence of the Gnostic tradition, just as did Shaksper through the ministry of Sir Francis Bacon; and his acceptance of the crown of Poland, and later return on Charles’ death, represents the success of the enterprise: an outcome which is reinforced by his death, and the assumption of the crown of France by Navarre; to signify the complete transformation of the subject.


The two men who hang the Admiral’s body on a tree on Mount Faucon anticipate the two gravediggers in Act V of Hamlet. There, Ophelia is the Queen of Hell-Grail Queen; while the Admiral here represents the related principle of the libido. This clearly refers to the crucifixion of (the Gnostic) Christ; and The Queen Mother Catherine’s spurning of the body – having it thrown into a ditch – shows the contempt of her and her party for the principle of psychic death and rebirth through the Gnostic tradition. King Charles is the Puritan; and his mother Catherine is his sworn enemy: “As I do live, so surely shall he die…” She represents therefore the raw underworld, agent of the breakdown, and so dangerous to humanity, unless engaged with by the reasoning imagination of the Gnostic (or Rosicrucian) enquirer, who is also present here, in the fauçon, ‘falcon’ of the mount’s name.





It is highly significant that King Charles dies of a heart sickness. We recall the ‘pound of flesh’ – Antony’s heart – in The Merchant of Venice, which it is the task of Portia (a typical Queen of Hell-Grail Queen) to save; and Cordelia, whose name Ted Hughes brilliantly analysed to ‘Coeur-de-lia’, ‘heart of Lear’. 


Should anyone doubt that MP encrypts an allegory of psychic transformation, they have only to look at the derivations of the names ‘Mugeroun’ and ‘Epernoun’, who accompany the new King Henry (formerly Duke of Anjou). We have seen in the Shakespeare plays their richness of Greek nomenclature, as in the names Othello, Ophelia, Thurio, and so on, which were precisely formed to serve the allegory. And so it is in the plays of Marlowe, who was a fine Greek scholar. ‘Mugeroun’ is formed from mu, ‘a muttering sound’ (made with the lips), and gerōn, ‘old man’: the implication being that an old man is speaking close to the ear of the listener. This ‘old man’ is precisely cognate with the various Adams and old men of the Shakespeare plays, who represent always the principle of the truth (and see also the Father Adam in the rituals of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, as retrieved by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas in their book The Second Messiah.). ‘Epernoun’ is formed from epi-, ‘in the presence of’ (with genitive), and ernou, genitive case of ernos, ‘shoot’ (n.), ‘scion’, with a final ‘n’ added for euphony.  This is beautifully suited to the allegory, for Epernoun is indeed in the presence of a new upgrowth, a reborn ego.





We are again of familiar territory here, for the letter as symbolic of the written word in general – Puritan or Gnostic or Roman Catholic – is a staple of the Folio plays. The Duchess of Guise writes a letter to Mugeroun, her secret lover, which means, in the symbolic language of this and the Folio plays, that she is a Queen of Hell-Grail Queen: the underworld dimension of nature, which is being described in the Gnostic written word, which is associated with the truth.


It is the Duke of Joyeux (‘joyous’) who leads the French troops against Navarre, rather than Guise. This is a deliberate touch by Marlowe, to emphasise the joyous nature of the psychic transformation, as the raw libido is conquered by the initiate. The truths of Gnosticism will endure long after the travesty of Roman Catholicism is dead, because of its acknowledgement of the unseen world:


Mugeroun  I may be stabb’d, and live until he [Guise] be dead.


Guise’s murder of Mugeroun has some fascinating connotations. Mugeroun is shot by a pistol; and we remember that Pistol in Henry the Fifth (1598-9) bears the allegoric value of phallos. Further, Guise qualifies this pistolman as a ‘tall soldier’; and we remember that Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night (1601) is said to be ‘as tall as any man in Illyria’; and Aguecheek bears also this value, of the phallos. There can be no doubt therefore that Mugeroun’s murder portrays the subversion of Gnostic nobility by raw desire. This victory over the libido was a fundamental aspect of the esoteric tradition to which Bacon adhered: specifically, the Freemasonic tradition. Knight and Lomas (The Second Messiah) describe the ritual of the Knight of the Sun degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite as including the injunction: ‘Ye who have not the power to subdue passion, flee from this place of truth.’ Guise rewards the pistolman with gold (raw will-to-eros exciting phallos).


Here are some more precisely placed ‘I’s for ‘Ay’s:


Henry  I, those are they that feed him [Guise]  with their gold,

To countermand our will…


Guise  And know, my lord, the Pope will sell his triple crown,

I, and the Catholic Philip, King of Spain…


Here is a fascinating turn of events. Henry now begins to write, which identifies him with Orlando in As You Like It, who represents Will Shaksper as writer. Melancholy Jacques is Shaksper as reader; and we know, from the last scene of Mr. Arden of Feversham, that Shaksper’s initial phase of intense reading under the guidance of Sir Francis Bacon lasted ‘two years and more’. He then took the natural next step and began to put pen to paper, upon which he felt himself entirely cured. Thus Guise’s murder of Mugeroun could be taken as portraying Shaksper’s continuing vulnerability to the resurgent libido; and Henry’s reading, and revenge on Guise, his subsequent phase of writing and final cure. King Henry (ego in rebirth) puts it in a nutshell: ‘But, as I live, so sure the Guise shall die.’





The choreography of the three murderers’ assassination of Guise is highly significant in its detail, in a way we have come to know so well from the Shakespeare plays. Firstly, it is perpetrated in the presence of King Henry (ego-in-transformation, as reinforced by the presence also of Epernoun). The Captain bears here, as in King Lear (1605-6) and elsewhere in the First Folio, the value of reason or ratiocination. The subject of this ratiocination will be the libido itself, of which the subject need now have no fear:


All Three Murderers  You will give us our money?

Captain  I, I fear not…


The element of deliberation in the thought process is portrayed in Guise’s willingness to go forth to meet his assailants, after the third murder has informed him of their plans. It is the gross libido that will be conquered:


Guise  To murder me, villain?

Third Murderer  I, my lord…


The cardinal is strangled by the king’s agents (malign influence of Roman Catholic Church will no more infect the ego). This is put another way in the Friar’s miscarried attempt to murder the King, only to be murdered himself in retaliation. That is the ego can now have knowledge of the libido, without succumbing to it. Used repeatedly in the First Folio to illustrate this principle is the vividly described seduction of Lucius by Fotis, in the early chapters of Apuleius’ magical esoteric work The Golden Ass. It may even have been this precise passage that tempted Shaksper to an act of auto-erotism, with its sequela of the breakdown. The initiate, however, should be able to read this passage without giving to it, to absorb the wisdom of the later chapters. Navarre must assume the throne; and this is accomplished by Marlowe’s neat legerdemain of having King Henry die by the poison on the friar’s dagger (rather than the dagger thrust itself, as kills the friar: for the reborn ego cannot die by this principle). Navarre is now the new king: it is the Gnostic tradition that reigns.



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