Doctor Faustus is based on an older tale; it is believed to be the first dramatisation of the Faust legend. Some scholars believe that Marlowe developed the story from a popular 1592 translation, commonly called The English Faust Book. There is thought to have been an earlier, lost German edition of 1587, the Historia von D. Johann Fausten, which itself may have been influenced by even earlier, equally ill-preserved pamphlets in Latin (such as those that likely inspired Jacob Bidermann's treatment of the damnation of the doctor of Paris, Cenodoxus (1602)).
The Chorus explains that Faustus was low-born, but quickly achieved a doctorate in theology at the University of Wittenberg. However, his interest in learning and his pride soon led him to necromancy.
One of the most durable myths in Western culture, the story of Faust tells of a learned German doctor who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. There are florid visions of an enraged Lucifer, dueling angels, the Seven Deadly Sins, Faustus tormenting the Pope and his summoning of the spirit of Alexander the Great. Marlowe created in Dr. Faustus one of the first true tragedies in English. Vividly dramatic, rich in poetic grandeur, this classic play is a robust and lively exemplar of the glories of Elizabethan drama. 041b061a72