In [Act II, Scene 3] of The Jew of Malta, Barabas buys the slave Ithimore. The name could go back to the biblical Itamar, the fourth son of Aaron and progenitor of the House of Eli.1 Against this speaks the fact that Ithimore himself states that he came from Thrace and grew up in Arabia (II,3,130) The Thracians were considered fierce fighters in antiquity. Spartacus is said to have come from Thrace, which does not necessarily speak in favour of taking a Thracian home as a slave.2

From the very beginning, Ithimore and Barabas share a kind of grotesque affinity. They boast of having committed the most ludicrous crimes – a list that seems completely absurd in its cliché load. The relationship is more reminiscent of a father-son relationship. Initially, Ithimore replaces Barabas' daughter Abigail in her role as accomplice. She was willing to help her father and deceive the nuns so that he could get his hidden fortune. She wants nothing to do with his perfidious plans for revenge. This task is taken on by Ithimore, who is adopted by Barabas in place of the child after Abigail’s murder by him and Barabas. Unsurprisingly, he takes revenge on Ithimore for his betrayal as much as he does on Abigail. As quickly as the two have found each other, they turn on each other. Without thinking twice, Ithimore betrays his benefactor for the courtesan Bellamira. Barabas, in turn, does not hesitate and poisons Ithimore together with his mistress and her pimp. Ithimore’s declaration of love for Bellamira (III,2,99-109), with which Marlowe paraphrases his poem The Passionate Shepherd to his Love, deserves attention.

  1. Marlowe (1995)↩︎
  2. For more details on the passage see Hutchings (2000).↩︎

Aktualisiert am 10.05.2024

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