A German schoolteacher who lived c. 1480 - c. 1540 and who made a living by telling fortunes and performing magic tricks. Contemporaries depicted him as an unscrupulous charlatan, but he is also said to have become under the patronage of the archbishop of Cologne, after which he became a prominent and respected citizen. Faust is, however, noted for the legends that formed around him and not for the actual events of his life.

The first tales appeared in literature in Historia von Dr. Johann Fausten, published in Frankfurt in 1587. It relates how the scholar Faust made a pact with Mephistopheles: in exchange for an increase in knowledge of magic and twenty-four years of pleasure, Faust would surrender his soul to the Devil. When those years had passed, Faust was carried off to hell and Faust regretted to having bartered his soul.

The English playwright Christopher Marlowe based on this his play The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus (c. 1588). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poetic drama Faust (1802 and 1832) is the most famous work. It differs from most earlier other versions in that Faust makes a pact with Mephistopheles because he truly desires to expand his knowledge, and in the end he is not damned.



  • Bonnerjea, Biren. (1920). A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology. Thomson Gale.
  • Cobham Brewer, E. (2001). The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Cassell reference.