‘Magic, and the Mathematic Rules’: Greene’s Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  • Joseph JarrettEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This chapter explores the troubling distinction between magic and mathematics presented in Greene’s Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. It considers early modern debates surrounding what magic is, and how it was often confused, conflated or bound up with mathematical skill. It goes on to argue that Greene utilised the set of difficult, ambiguous distinctions that arose from such debates for their dramatic potential because they lay also at the heart of similar anxieties surrounding the threatening potential of theatrical spectacles.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Magdalene CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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