Shop Now at
Titus Andronicus

A Study Guide

With a Complete Annotated Text of the Play

Prepared by Michael J. Cummings

Copyright © 2016 by Michael J. Cummings

All Rights Reserved

Home Page: Shakespeare Index

Table of Contents

Type of Work
Composition and First Performance
Who Were the Goths?
Plot Summary
Critical Appraisal
Tone and Conflict
Black Humor
Nature Metaphors
Ugly Beauty
Figures of Speech
Allusions and Direct References
Parallel With Othello
Essay: Titus as a Shrewd Business Coup
Study Questions and Essay Topics
Complete Annotated Text of the Play
About the Author of This Study Guide

Type of Work

William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is a tragic stage play that has many characteristics of black comedy. The play was highly popular in Shakespeare's time because of its depiction of extreme violence and gore. Many Elizabethans enjoyed bloody spectacles, whether on the stage or out in the open air. For example, many people who attended Titus Andronicus also attended bear-baiting exhibitions in London arenas. In these exhibitions, a bear was chained to a post in an enclosed area. Fighting dogs were then unleashed to attack the bear. A bloody battled ensued. At times, the bear was released to harry the dogs. Queen Elizabeth I was among the spectators who enjoyed this sport.

Composition and First Performance

Shakespeare wrote the play between 1589 and 1594 (probably 1593). The earliest known performance of Titus Andronicus was at the Rose Theatre in the London borough of Southwark on January 24, 1594. The play was a hit at the box office and was performed again on January 29, February 6, and at other times in Shakespeare's lifetime. 


Titus Andronicus was published in two formats: quarto and folio. The difference between them was size. A quarto page was about 9½ inches wide and 12 inches high; a folio page was much larger: 12 inches wide and 19 inches high. The play was printed in a quarto edition in 1594 by John Danter under the title A Romaine Tragedy of Titus Andronicus for two book dealers, Edward White and Thomas Millington. It was the first Shakespeare play to see print. Other quarto editions followed in 1600, and 1611. The 1594 quarto was a relatively good rendering of Shakespeare's original manuscript, but the other two quartos contain errors. The play was printed again in 1623 in folio format as part of a collection that included thirty-five other Shakespeare plays. Because this book was the first collection of Shakespeare's plays in one volume, it came to be known as the First Folio. Other folios were printed in 1632, 1663 and 1685. The 1623 folio edition, like the 1594 quarto edition, was a close reproduction of the original, proofread manuscript.

Probable Main Sources

One of Shakespeare's main sources for Titus Andronicus was Thyestes, by Seneca the Younger (4 BC-AD 65), a Roman dramatist of Spanish birth and a tutor to Emperor Nero. Seneca wrote plays that described in elaborate detail the grisly horror of murder and revenge. Thyestes contains murder, rape, and cannibalism. Shakespeare also borrowed from Hecuba, by the Greek playwright Euripides (480?-406 BC). This play centers on an event at the end of the Trojan War, after the Greeks conquer and burn the city of Troy. This event focuses on the Greeks' capture and enslavement of the queen of Troy, Hecuba. Over Hecuba's pleas, the Greeks sacrifice one of her daughters, Polyxena, to honor the memory of the great Greek warrior Achilles. In Titus Andronicus, the Romans capture the queen of the Goths, Tamora, and sacrifice one of her sons after Tamora begs the Romans to spare him. Shakespeare also drew upon the story of "Procne and Philomela" as told in Metamorphoses, by Ovid (43 BC-AD 17). In this story, Philomela is raped and mutilated, as is Lavinia, the daughter of Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare may also have imitated the blood-and-guts horror and brutality portrayed in The Spanish Tragedy, by Thomas Kyd (1558-1594). 


The action of the play takes place in Italy—including Rome, a forest near Rome, and plains near Rome—after the Romans defeat an army of Goths (a Germanic people that frequently raided Roman provinces). Titus Andronicus is fictional, but it is set against real events that took place between between the third and fifth centuries AD. At that time, the Roman Empire was in decline and Goths from the north were pushing southward and threatening Rome and its provinces.

Who Were the Goths?

Originally from Sweden, the Goths later settled in regions around the Baltic Sea and later the Black Sea, according to the sixth-century historian Jordanes, himself a Goth. Around AD 370, the Goths broke into two groups: Those that moved eastward became known as Ostrogoths; those that moved westward became known as Visigoths. The Goths gradually extended power and influence in Europe and in 410 entered and pillaged Rome.

Protagonist: Titus Andronicus
Antagonists: Tamora, Aaron, Saturninus

Titus Andronicus: Noble Roman general who has won a long war against the Goths but lost many of his sons in battle. Although he is at first a reasonable man, events of the play transform him into a mentally unstable man bent on revenge. 
Saturninus: Duplicitous and selfish older son of the late Emperor of Rome. Saturninus succeeds his father after Titus Andronicus, citing his advancing age, declines to accept the throne. 
Bassianus: Younger son of the late emperor and brother of Saturninus. He is in love with Lavinia.
Tamora: Queen of the Goths, who is unrelenting in her desire to avenge the execution of her son Alarbus at the hands of her Roman captors. Near the end of the play, she unwittingly eats a meat pie made of the flesh of her dead sons.
Alarbus, Demetrius, Chiron: Sons of Tamora.
Aaron: A diabolical Moor and lover of Tamora. Aaron is evil personified, but he has a redeeming quality: love for his child. A Moor was a Muslim of mixed Arab and Berber descent. Berbers were North African natives who eventually accepted Arab customs and Islam after Arabs invaded North Africa in the seventh century AD. The term has been used to refer in general to Muslims of North Africa and to Muslim conquerors of Spain. The word Moor derives from a Latin word, Mauri, used to name the residents of the ancient Roman province of Mauritania in North Africa. To use the term "black Moor" is not to commit a redundancy, for there are white Moors as well as black Moors, the latter mostly of Sudanese origin. In placing a Moor in a play about ancient Rome, Shakespeare was guilty of a literary faux pas. A Moor was a Muslim, or follower of Islam. However, Islam was not founded until the early seventh century. Titus Andronicus is set between the third and fifth centuries AD.
Lavinia: Innocent daughter of Titus Andronicus. She is the victim of horrible crimes, including rape, the amputation of her hands, and the excision of her tongue.
Marcus Andronicus: Tribune of the people and brother of Titus. A tribune was an elected official dedicated to protecting the rights of the common people, called plebeians, from offenses by the privileged people, or patricians.
Lucius, Quintus, Martius, Mutius: Sons of Titus Andronicus. Lucius is the oldest of Titus's living sons.
Young Lucius: Son of Lucius. He is identified in the dialogue as "Boy."
Publius: Son of Marcus the tribune.
Sempronius, Caius, Valentine: Kinsmen of Titus. Valentine assists in the capture of Chiron and Demetrius, who raped and mutilated Lavinia. 
Aemilius: A noble Roman who acts as a negotiator between the Romans and the Goths. At the end of the play, he recommends that Lucius be crowned as the new emperor.
Nurse: Woman who brings Aaron his baby, the offspring of a tryst between Aaron and Tamora.
A Captain, Tribune, Messenger, Clown
Romans and Goths
Minor Characters: Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers, Attendants.

Plot Summary

When General Titus Andronicus returns to Rome after defeating the Goths in a ten-year campaign, the citizens hail him as a hero. Among his captives are the Queen of the Goths, Tamora, and her three sons, Alarbus, Demetrius, and Chiron. Also accompanying Tamora is her lover Aaron, a Moor. Titus has lost many sons in the war and, when the tomb of the Andronicus family is opened to receive the bodies, Titus grieves deeply, saying:

O sacred receptacle [tomb] of my joys,
Sweet cell of virtue and nobility,
How many sons of mine hast thou in store,
That thou wilt never render to me more! (1.1.97-100)
To give them a fitting funeral, Lucius, the oldest of Titus’s three living sons, suggests a human sacrifice. Titus singles out Alarbus, Tamora’s oldest son. She pleads for her son’s life:
Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,
A mother’s tears in passion for her son:
And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,
O, think my son to be as dear to me! (1.1.110-113)
Titus replies that “die he must, / To appease their groaning shadows that are gone” (1.1.130-131). Lucius and attendants seize Alarbus and remove him to his place of execution. There, they hew his limbs and “feed the sacrificing fire” (1.1.150). The death of Alarbus triggers a series of gruesome murders and mutilations occurring throughout the play. Lavinia, the gentle daughter of Titus, then comes forth to greet her father, shedding tears of grief for her brothers who died in the war and tears of joy at the sight of Titus.

Meanwhile, it so happens that the imperial crown is up for grabs, the emperor having just died. When it is offered to Titus, he refuses it, saying he “shakes for age and feebleness” (1.1.196), and recommends Saturninus, the oldest son of the dead emperor, for the crown. Titus also recommends that Saturninus choose Lavinia, Titus’s daughter, as his wife and empress.
After Saturninus becomes emperor, Tamora's beauty captivates him. He frees her and her sons. Then Bassianus, the brother of Saturninus, objects to the proposed marriage of Saturninus and Lavinia because Lavinia is betrothed to him. With the help of Lavinia’s brothers, he steals her away. Titus is angry—so angry that he kills his son Mucius when he bars Titus from pursuing the lovers. Later, Saturninus decides that he fancies Tamora more than Lavinia, then marries Tamora and makes her empress. Tamora begins plotting revenge against Titus for allowing the slaughter of her son. Before the palace, Tamora’s lover, Aaron, exalts Tamora, and describes how he will serve her and “wanton” her. He predicts that she will bring ruin to Rome, saying, 
I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold,
To wait upon this new-made empress.
To wait, said I? to wanton with this queen,
This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph,
This siren, that will charm Rome’s Saturnine,
And see his ship wrack [shipwreck] and his commonweal’s. (2.1.21-26)
Tamora’s sons Demetrius and Chiron quarrel over Lavinia. Each lusts after her, and each plans to claim the right to take her from Bassianus. Aaron suggests that they share the lovely Lavinia by taking turns raping her in the seclusion of a forest. The occasion will come during a hunt in the woods for game. Emperor Saturninus, Queen Tamora, and many others are to take part in the hunt. On the day of the hunt, Aaron and Tamora rendezvous in the woods. Tamora speaks of her desire that they may soon lie down “wreathed in each other’s arms / [and] . . . possess a golden slumber'' (2.3.29-30). Aaron confides to her that he is preoccupied with seeking revenge against their enemies, then gives her a letter she is to present to Saturninus. Its contents will abet Tamora’s desire to bring down Titus.

When Bassianus and Lavinia discover Aaron and Tamora together, Tamora fears that the intruders will tattletale to the emperor. So she calls out for her sons, Demetrius and Chiron. When they arrive, Tamora pretends Bassianus has threatened her. Ever ready to defend mommy dearest, the sons kill Bassianus, dump him in a pit, then drag Lavinia off to satisfy their lust. But not only do they rape her, they also mutilate her, cutting off her hands and tearing out her tongue so that she will not be able to speak or write their names in attempting to identify her rapists. Aaron leads Titus’s sons Quintus and Martius to the pit where Bassianus lies dead under cover of brush. Martius falls in. While Aaron goes to fetch Saturninus, Quintus falls in, too, trying to rescue Martius. Saturninus arrives with Aaron. With them are Titus, Lucius, and attendants. Martius, who has discovered the body Bassianus, informs Saturninus that his brother is dead. Tamora then presents Aaron’s letter to Saturninus. It falsely implicates Martius and Quintus in the murder of Bassianus.

Saturninus imprisons them. Judges later sentence them to death in spite of Titus’s pleas on their behalf. Lavinia, of course, cannot testify in their favor, for she has no tongue. When Titus, Lucius, and Titus’s brother Marcus discuss their options, the evil Aaron arrives and tells them that Saturninus will free the sons of Titus if Marcus, Lucius, or Titus cuts off his hand and sends it to the emperor. It is Titus, though, who allows Aaron to cut off his hand and take it to Saturninus. Within a half hour, however, the emperor returns the hand, together with the heads of Titus’s imprisoned sons, in a show of scorn and contempt. Titus orders his son Lucius to flee the city and enlist an army of Goths to overthrow Saturninus. The loss of his sons takes a severe toll on Titus: He begins to go mad. Then Lavinia informs Titus and others about her rape and mutilation by writing in sand with a stick held in her mouth. 

Meanwhile, Tamora has a baby. It is obviously Aaron’s because it has the dark complexion of a Moor. Worried that her husband, Saturninus, will find out about it, Tamora wants it killed. Aaron has other plans. First, he kills the baby’s midwife and nurse to keep secret the baby’s existence. Next, he substitutes a white baby for his own, then leaves with his child to go to the Goths to have them raise it. 

By this time, Lucius is marching on Rome with his army of Goths. Aaron and his baby, who have been captured, appear. Aaron agrees to tell all he knows if his child is allowed to live. It is now Titus’s turn for revenge. He cuts the throats of Tamora’s sons Demetrius and Chiron, then has a pie prepared of their remains. At his home, dressed as a cook, he serves the pie to Saturninus and Tamora, who are seated at a banquet table, unaware of recent events, notably the deaths of Demetrius and Chiron. With Titus is Lavinia, dressed in a veil. After welcoming the emperor and the queen, he bids them eat of the pie, which they do—heartily. Titus then kills Lavinia to put her out of her misery. When Tamora asks why he killed his own daughter, Titus tells her that the deed was really done by Demetrius and Chiron. “They ravish’d her, and cut away her tongue” (5.3.61), he explains. Saturninus then asks that Demetrius and Chiron be brought before him. But Titus says:
Why, there they are both, baked in that pie;
Whereof their mother daintily hath fed,
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred. (5.3.64-66)
He flashes the knife he used to prepare the pie, then uses it to kill Tamora. In retaliation, Saturninus kills Titus, and Lucius kills Saturninus. Lucius takes command of Rome as the new emperor. There is unfinished business: Aaron. Lucius orders him to be buried up to his chest, then starved to death.

Critical Appraisal of the Play

Titus Andronicus was a critically acclaimed box-office hit in Shakespeare's time. In Palladis Tamia, English author Francis Meres (1565-1647) singled out Titus Andronicus as one of Shakespeare's "excellent" plays. The play continued to please audiences and critics in performances during Shakespeare's lifetime and beyond. But from 1700 until recent times, critics generally criticized the work as foul and vulgar, with few redeeming qualities. In modern times, the play regained its popularity with audiences and critics. Following are excerpts from commentary of literary critics about the play.
William Hazlitt (1778-1830)

English critic and essayist William Hazlitt described the play as being so bad that he believed Shakespeare could not have written it. He said, in part:

Titus Andronicus is certainly as unlike Shakespeare's usual style as it is possible. It is an accumulation of vulgar physical horrors, in which the power exercised by the poet bears no proportion to the repugnance excited by the subject. The character of Aaron the Moor is the only thing which shows any originality of conception; and the scene in which he expresses his joy at the blackness and ugliness of his child begot in adultery', the only one worthy of Shakespeare. Even this is worthy of him only in the display of power, for it gives no pleasure. Shakespeare managed these things differently. Nor do we think it a sufficient answer to say that this was an embryo or crude production of the author. In its kind it is full grown, and its features decided and overcharged. It is not like a first imperfect essay, but shows a confirmed habit, a systematic preference of violent effect to everything else. There are occasional detached images of great beauty and delicacy, but these were not beyond the powers of other writers then living. The circumstance which inclines us to reject the external evidence in favour of this play being Shakespeare's is, that the grammatical construction is constantly false and mixed up with vulgar abbreviations, a fault that never occurs in any of his genuine plays. A similar defect, and the halting measure of the verse are the chief objections to Pericles of Tyre, if we except the far-fetched and complicated absurdity of the story. The movement of the thoughts and passions has something in it not unlike Shakespeare, and several of the descriptions are either the original hints of passages which Shakespeare has engrafted on his other plays, or are imitations of them by some contemporary poet. The most memorable idea in it is in Marina's speech, where she compares the world to 'a lasting storm, hurrying her from her friends'.—Characters of Shakespeare's Plays. London: C. H. Reynell, 1817. Online at Project Gutenberg <>.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

English critic, essayist, and lexicographer Samuel Johnson also doubted that Shakespeare wrote the play. In Volume III of Notes to Shakespeare, he wrote:
The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience; yet we are told by [Ben] Jonson, that they were not only borne, but praised. That Shakespeare wrote any part . . . , I see no reason for believing.

The testimony produced at the beginning of this play, by which it is ascribed to Shakespeare, is by no means equal to the argument against its authenticity, arising from the total difference of conduct, language, and sentiments, by which it stands apart from all the rest. [Francis] Meres had probably no other evidence than that of a title-page, which, though in our time it be sufficient, was then of no great authority; for all the plays which were rejected by the first collectors of Shakespeare's works, and admitted in later editions, and again rejected by the critical editors, had Shakespeare's name on the title, as we must suppose, by the fraudulence of the printers, who, while there were yet no gazettes, nor advertisements, nor any means of circulating literary intelligence, could usurp at pleasure any celebrated name. Nor had Shakespeare any interest in detecting the imposture, as none of his fame or profit was produced by the press.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

American-British writer and critic T. S. Eliot wrote that Titus Andronicus "is one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written, a play in which it is incredible that Shakespeare had any hand at all." But Eliot also criticized one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, Hamlet, saying, "We must simply admit that here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him."

David Bevington (1931-  )

In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, American literary critic and Shakespeare scholar David Bevington wrote that Titus Andronicus "relates its story of revenge and political strife with a uniformity of tone and consistency of dramatic structure."

Richmond (Indiana) Shakespeare Festival

In an undated Internet article, Indiana's Richmond Shakespeare Festival observed the following: "Titus Andronicus is violent. It is gruesome. It is probably inappropriate for children. But so are most newscasts. And at the heart of Titus Andronicus is a specific and all-too-familiar form of human tragedy, in which the failure of empathy and habit of violence propel well-meaning citizens into cycles of ever-escalating revenge, and give free rein to the worst of human inclinations." <>

Charles Spencer (1955-  )

London Telegraph theatre critic Charles Spencer wrote in December 2016:

For many of us Shakespeare is a fount of wisdom and beauty, and it is shocking to discover him writing the Elizabethan equivalent of a slasher movie. Yet if you have the stomach for it, the play is wonderfully gripping and seems to speak across the centuries to the horrors of our own troubled times, with its catalogue of dreadful violence and burning hatreds.



In Titus Andronicus, revenge becomes a rolling juggernaut that destroys all in its path. Once revenge is set in motion by the execution of Alarbus in the first act, the play becomes a bloodbath, with each side in the conflict taking turns murdering, maiming, immolating, and mutilating. The word revenge and its forms occurs thirty-four times in the play, vengeance seven times, vengeful twice, and avenge once. Words associated with revenge are spoken hundreds of times. They include blood (and its forms, such as bloody), thirty-eight; murder, twenty-six; kill, nineteen; slaughter three; slay, two. Aaron tells Tamora that he is preoccupied with vengeance: "Blood and revenge are hammering in my head." Tamora, enraged by a plot against her, imposes revenge as a duty on her sons, telling them that:

    Had you not by wondrous fortune come,
This vengeance on me had they executed.
Revenge it, as you love your mother's life,
Or be ye not henceforth call'd my children. (2.3.118-121)
In all the acts of vengeance in the play, the protagonist, Titus, outdoes everyone, serving Tamora and Saturninus a baked meat pie made of diced Demetrius and Chiron, the sons of Tamora. Presumably Titus used "corpse helper" to season the pie, for Tamora ate her fill of "the flesh that she herself hath bred." 


Betrayal is the handmaiden of power. In good faith, Titus yields the throne to Saturninus. Saturninus then turns against Titus. Other characters betray one another for their own selfish ends. Tamora even betrays her own child (fathered by Aaron). Believing that Saturninus will find out about it, she recommends that it be put to death. Aaron, however, wants the child and takes it to the Goths to have them raise it. Before he leaves, he murders the baby's nurse and midwife to prevent them from telling others about the existence of the child.

Commiting Evil for Evil's Sake

Aaron does evil for evil’s sake. He delights in the bloody mayhem, no motive required. After cutting off Titus's hand—the price Titus has to pay to secure a promise for the return of his sons—Aaron says:

I go, Andronicus: and for thy hand 
Look by and by to have thy sons with thee. 
Their heads, I mean. O, how this villainy 
Doth fat me with the very thoughts of it! (3.1.208-11)
And near the end of the play, he observes:
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more. (5.1.145-148)
Aaron's actions carry on the tradition of the malevolent Duke of Gloucester in another Shakespeare play, Richard III, and foreshadow the machinations of the diabolical Iago in a later Shakespeare play, Othello.


Violence to gain revenge occurs throughout the play. There are beheadings, stabbings, amputations, the severing of a tongue, the dismemberment of bodies, and other gory events. Apparently, the desire for revenge is so great that it turns human beings into beasts. Titus Andronicus is a relevant in today's world in that in reminds audiences that the kind of barbarity depicted in the play is the same kind of barbarity used by terrorists--and even governments--to pursue their goals. Tactics include decapitation, immolation, torture, assassination, arson, suicide bombings, explosions, rocket attacks, knife attacks, the slaughtering of children, and shootings with automatic weapons.


Aaron is evil. There is no question about that. But how did he get that way? Perhaps prejudice against him turned him against the world. Bassianus says of him:
Believe me, queen, your swarth [dark; black] Cimmerian
[Cimmerian: One of a race of people living in a land of darkness at the edge of the world. Bassianus is comparing Aaron to a Cimmerian.]  
Doth make your honour of his body’s hue,   
Spotted, detested, and abominable. (2.3.76-78).   
When Marcus kills a fly, Titus asks why he killed a harmless creature. Marcus answers,
Pardon me, sir; it was a black ill-favour’d fly,   
Like to the empress’ Moor; therefore I kill’d him. (3.2.68-69)
Titus answers, "Then pardon me for reprehending thee, / For thou hast done a charitable deed" (3.2.71-72). When a nurse presents Aaron the infant he fathered with Tamora, she says,  
Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad   
Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime.   
The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,   
And bids thee christen it with thy dagger’s point.          
Aaron replies, ’Zounds, ye whore! is black so base a hue? (4.2.72-75) 

The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events. The climax of Titus Andronicus occurs, according to the first definition, when Titus descends into madness in Act 3. According to the second definition, the climax begins in the final act when Tamora dines on the meat pie containing the flesh of her sons. It continues when Titus kills Tamora, Saturninus kills Titus, and Lucius kills Saturninus and becomes the new emperor.

Tone and Conflict

The play begins in joy and sorrow—joy, because the Romans under Titus Andronicus have conquered the Goths; sorrow, because Andronicus has lost sons in the war. "Hail, Rome," Titus says, "victorious in thy mourning weeds [clothes]" (1.1.75). But the burial rites become savagely vengeful when Lucius asks for "the proudest prisoner of the Goths / That we may hew his limbs" and sacrifice him to appease the spirits. Titus grants him the oldest son of Tamora, the queen of the Goths. When he is sacrificed forthwith, new conflict erupts between the Romans and the Goths. Bitterness and rancor then dominate the rest of the play as the foes each plot revenge. Another conflict develops when Saturninus, the son of the late emperor of Rome, turns against Titus Andronicus after the latter yields the crown to him.

Black Humor

Black humor is a form of comedy that parodies, satirizes, trivializes, or exaggerates a morbid, solemn, or tragic event. An actor performs black humor with a deadly serious demeanor and a deadpan face. In English literature, Shakespeare became one of the earliest practitioners of black humor when he debuted Titus Andronicus. Following is an example of a darkly hilarious scene in which Aaron tells Titus that he can rescue two of his sons in exchange for one of his hands, to be sent to the emperor. Titus replies:

O gentle Aaron! 
Did ever raven sing so like a lark, 
That gives sweet tidings of the sun’s uprise? 
With all my heart, I’ll send the emperor my hand: 
Good Aaron, wilt thou help to chop it off? (3.1.163-167) 
Titus’s son Lucius, good fellow that he is, then offers his hand in place of his father’s; Titus’s brother Marcus does the same. An argument breaks out over who will part with a hand. While Lucius and Marcus fetch an axe to sever one or the other’s hand, Titus says, “Come hither, Aaron; I'll deceive them both: / Lend me thy hand, and I will give thee mine” (3.1.193-194). Aaron chops off Titus’s hand. When Lucius and Marcus return, Titus coolly says, 
Good Aaron, give his majesty my hand: 
Tell him it was a hand that warded him 
From thousand dangers; bid him bury it. (3.1.201-203) 
Clearly, Shakespeare knew the meaning of black humor long before that term was invented. By the way, during Shakespeare’s time, Titus Andronicus was one of his most popular playsif not the most popular. At the end of the day, he went home with a jingling pocket, recognition, and a brain full of ideas for other tragedies.

Metaphors: Nature
In spite of the gruesome plot, Titus Andronicus contains much beautiful imagery, spoken often, ironically, by villains. For example, Aaron hails Tamora’s ascendancy to the throne as queen with nature metaphors and an allusion to Apollo, the sun god, driving his chariot across the sky: 
Now climbeth Tamora Olympus’ top, 
Safe out of fortune’s shot; and sits aloft, 
Secure of thunder’s crack or lightning flash; 
Advanc’d above pale envy’s threatening reach. 
As when the golden sun salutes the morn, 
And, having gilt the ocean with his beams, 
Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach,
And overlooks the highest-peering hills; 
So Tamora. 
Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait, 
And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown. (2.1.3-11) 
In Act 2, Tamora speaks nature metaphors to charm Aaron. 
My lovely Aaron, wherefore look’st thou sad, 
When every thing doth make a gleeful boast? 
The birds chant melody on every bush, 
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun, 
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind 
And make a chequer’d shadow on the ground: 
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit, 
And, whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds, 
Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns, 
As if a double hunt were heard at once, 
Let us sit down and mark their yelping noise. 
And, after conflict such as was supposed 
The wandering prince and Dido once enjoy’d,
When with a happy storm they were surprised 
And curtain’d with a counsel-keeping cave, 
We may, each wreathed in the other’s arms, 
Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber; 
Whiles hounds and horns and sweet melodious birds 
Be unto us as is a nurse’s song 
Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep. (2.3.24-33) 
Metaphors: Ugly Beauty

Ironically, Shakespeare sometimes wraps repulsive images in pleasing ones or tucks them into rhythmically pleasing lines. Lucius reports in Act 1 that 

Alarbus’ limbs are lopp’d, 
And entrails feed the sacrificing fire, 
Whose smoke, like incense, doth perfume the sky. (1.1.149-151) 
In Act 2, Martius, upon discovering Bassianus dead in a pit, observes: 
Upon his bloody finger he doth wear 
A precious ring, that lightens all the hole, 
Which, like a taper in some monument, 
Doth shine upon the dead man’s earthy cheeks, 
And shows the ragged entrails of the pit: 
So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus
When he by night lay bath’d in maiden blood. (2.3.238) 
Also in Act 2, Marcus greets Laviniawhose hands have just been cut offwith these lines: 
Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands 
Have lopp’d and hew’d and made thy body bare 
Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments, 
Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in. (2.4.19-22) .
Other Figures of Speech

Following are additional examples of figures of speech in the play. 

Alliteration: Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or syllables

Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my right (1.1.11)
spleenful sons  (2.3.196)
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit. (2.3.230)
Anaphora: Repetition of phrases clauses or sentences at the beginning of successive groups of words
If I do dream, would all my wealth would wake me! 
If I do wake, some planet strike me down, (2.4.16-17)

Hear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay! 
For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent
In dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept; 
For all my blood in Rome’s great quarrel shed; 
For all the frosty nights that I have watch’d; 
And For these bitter tears, which now you see. (3.1.3-8)

Witness this wretched stump, witness these crimson lines;           
Witness these trenches made by grief and care;           
Witness the tiring day and heavy night;           
Witness all sorrow, that I know thee well      
For our proud empress, mighty Tamora. (5.2.25-29)

Apostrophe: Addressing an abstraction or a thing, present or absent; addressing an absent entity or person; addressing a deceased person
O earth! I will befriend thee more with rain,   
That shall distill from these two ancient urns,   
Than youthful April shall with all his showers:           
In summer’s drought I’ll drop upon thee still;   
In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow,   
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face,   
So thou refuse to drink my dear sons’ blood. (3.1.18-24)
Metaphor: Comparison of unlike objects without using like, as, or than
Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands 
Have lopp’d and hew’d and made thy body bare 
Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments, (2.4.19-21)
Comparison of severed hands to branches and ornaments

Thou map of woe (3.2.14)
Comparison of Lavinia to a map

Onomatopoeia: Word that imitates a sound
Poor harmless fly, 
That, with his pretty buzzing melody, 
Came here to make us merry! and thou hast kill’d him. (3.2.65-68)
Oxymoron: Placing two contrary or opposite words side by side
charitable murderer (2.3.183)
Paradox: Contradictory statement made in an attempt to convey a truth
A stone is soft as wax, tribunes more hard than stones. (3.1.48)  
Simile: Comparison of unlike objects without using like, as, or than
Lord Bassianus lies embrewed here, 
All on a heap, like to a slaughter’d lamb, (2.3.228-229)
Comparison of Bassianus to a lamb

Sorrow concealed, like to an oven stopp’d,
Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is. (2.4.39-40)

Upon his bloody finger he doth wear  

A precious ring, that lightens all the hole, 
Which, like a taper in some monument, 
Doth shine upon the dead man’s earthy cheeks, (2.3.232-235)
Comparison of a ring to a lighted taper

Alas! a crimson river of warm blood, 
Like to a bubbling fountain stirr’d with wind, 
Doth rise and fall between thy rosed lips, (2.4.25-27)
Comparison of the accumulating blood to a bubbling fountain

Allusions and Direct References

Shakespeare alluded frequently to Greek mythology and history in Titus Andronicus, as well as his other works, to invigorate the dialogue and enrich his descriptions. His knowledge of mythology was remarkable at a time when books on the topic were in severely limited supply. Following is a partial list of allusions in the play. An allusion is an indirect reference to a person, a place, a thing, or an idea in mythology, literature, history, or everyday life. For example, if the leader of a country faced a difficult decision that would affect the lives of millions, he might say, “I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.” His statement would be an indirect reference, or allusion, to the task of the Greek god Atlas, who bore the sky on his shoulders. A direct reference, on the other hand, is a specific mention of a person, a place, a thing, or an idea in mythology, literature, history, or everyday life. For example, a television baseball announcer might say, “This batter has the potential to become another Babe Ruth.” Ruth (1895-1948) was the greatest hitter in baseball when he played for the New York Yankees in the 1920s and 1930s.

Actaeon: In Greek mythology, a hunter who happened upon Diana, the moon goddess, when she was bathing. Her beauty enraptured him. When she noticed him staring, she was deeply offended. She then imposed a penalty on the intruder: he must not speak. If he did so, she would turn him into a stag. When he called out to his hunting companions, she made good on her threat. Actaeon became an antlered stag. His hunting dogs then attacked him and killed him, unaware that their master had been transformed into a deer.]
Aeneas (3.2.27): Trojan warrior. After Troy fell to the Greeks at the end of the ten-year war between Greece and Troy, Aeneas escaped the city and sailed to Italy, where he founded a new Troy, Rome. 
Apollo (4.1.69): God of the sun, depicted as driving a golden chariot across the sky. He was also the god of prophecy, music, poetry, and medicine. He was sometimes referred to as Phoebus or Phoebus Apollo when he was spoken of as the sun god. Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, the daughter of Titans. The Greeks highly revered him and built many temples in his honor. One such temple at Delphi was the site of a famous oracle, the Pythia, who pronounced prophecies as the mouthpiece of Apollo.
Ajax (1.1.393): Powerful Greek warrior in the Trojan War, second second only to Achilles in battlefield prowess among the Greeks. After the war, he killed himself after failing to win the armor of the dead Achilles. 
Cocytus (2.3.242): River in Hades.
Cimmerian (2.3.76): Person residing in a region of everlasting darkness.
Dian (2.3.65): Another name for Diana, the Roman name for Artemis, goddess of the hunt in Greek mythology. She was the twin sister of Apollo.
Dido  (2.3.25): Queen of Carthage, who had a love affair with Aeneas and killed herself after he abandoned her. 
Hymenaeus (1.1.338): God of marriage.
Jove: (4.1.69): King of the Olympian gods. Jove is an alternate Roman name for Jupiter. Jove's Greek name was Zeus.
Laertes (1. 1.394): Father of Odysseus (Roman name, Ulysses), the wily Greek who devised the Trojan horse.
Laertes' son (1. 1.394): Odysseus (Roman name, Ulysses). See the previous entry for more information.
Lucrece (2.1.118): Lucretia, Roman woman raped by Lucius Tarquinius (Tarquin the Proud), the king of Rome before it became a republic.
Mercury (4.1.69): Messenger god. His Greek name was Hermes.
Olympus: (2.1.1): Mountain abode of the Greek gods.
Pallas: (4.1.69): Alternate name for Athena (Roman name, Minerva), the goddess of wisdom and war.
Philomel (2.4.46): Another name for a nightingale. Philomel is derived from the name Philomela. In Greek mythology. Philomela was a princess of Athens. Her sister, Procne, was married to King Tereus of Thrace. Not satisfied with only one of the sisters, Tereus lusted after Philomela and one day raped her. To prevent her from revealing his crime, he cut out her tongue. However, Philomel embroidered a tapestry depicting his brutality and showed it to her sister. The two women then plotted against Tereus and ended up serving him his son, Itys, in a stew. When Tereus discovered what they did, he chased them with an axe. The gods then turned Philomela into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow, enabling them to fly away.
Pyramus  (2.3.237): The lover of Thisbe. Pyramus and Thisbe were Babylonians who were the subject of a story by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) in his long poem Metamorphoses. When Pyramus thinks a lion has killed Thisbe, he kills himself. Thisbe is still alive, however. But when she discovers the body of Pyramus, she also kills herself. 
Phoebe (1.1.329): Alternate name for Diana, the Greek goddess of the hunt. Her Greek name was Artemis.
Priam (1.1.85): King of Troy at the time of the Trojan War.
Queen of Troy (1.1.141): Hecuba, wife of Priam, king of Troy. 
Semiramis (2.1.24): Beautiful Assyrian queen of the Ninth Century BC. After her husband, King Ninus, died, she ruled for many years and built the fabled city of Babylon.
Styx (1.1.93): River in Hades.
Tereus (2.4.44): See Philomel.
Tarquin (3.1.307): See Lucrece.
Thracian tyrant: Polymnestor. After he killed Hecuba's son, Polydorus, Hecuba gained revenge by killing his two sons and blinding him. (1.1.143)
Typhon (4.2.99): In Greek mythology, a monster with a hundred heads.
Venus: (2.3.33): Roman name for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. 

Parallel With Othello
Titus Andronicus introduces an evil Moor named Aaron who displays goodness near the end when he pleads for his child's life. Othello introduces an upright and righteous Moor who displays evil when he suspects his wife of infidelity and, at the end of the play, kills her. Like Othello, Aaron is the brunt of racist comments.

Titus Andronicus: Shrewd Business Coup

Titus Andronicus is evidence that William Shakepeare was a shrewd businessman and self-promoter. Aware that Elizabethan audiences had a huge appetite for bearbaiting, bullbaiting, dog-fighting, and cock-fighting, he may have decided to give the people what they wantedanother bloody spectaclewhen he staged Titus. The play was immensely successful.

When he wrote the play in his late twenties, he was struggling for recognition in a city that already had several established playwrights with enormous talent, such as Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Lodge, and George Peele. To get the attention of the theatre-going public, Shakespeare needed a play that would pack the audiences in. Violent revenge plays happened to be au courant at that time, especially those written after the manner of the ancient Roman playwright Seneca. Many of Seneca's dramas were grisly, verily hemorrhaging with gore. So Shakespeare borrowed a few pages from Seneca’s bloody book, including part of the story line of Seneca’s play Thyestes.

The plot of that play originated in a Greek myth about Thyestes, the son of Pelops of Mycenae. When Thyestes and his older brother, Atreus, were adults, Atreus became the king of Mycenae after Pelops died. Atreus then drove his brother out of the city after the latter challenged him for the throne. One account of this tale says Thyestes had first seduced Atreus’s wife, Aërope, to gain possession of a golden lamb that conferred on its owner the rulership of Mycenae.

When Thyestes left the city, he took with him Atreus’s child, Pleisthenes, and reared the boy. One day, he sent Pleisthenes on a mission to kill Atreus. But the murder plot was foiled and Pleisthenes was killed. Atreus did not immediately realize that his would-be murderer was his own son.
However, after he discovered to his horror the identity of the assailant, Atreus hatched a plot to get even with his brother: He invited Thyestes to a banquet, pretending he was ready to reconcile with his brother. The main course turned out to be the cooked remains of the sons of Thyestes. Thyestes then laid a heavy curse on the house of Atreus, which lasted for generations.

Shakespeare drew upon Seneca’s adaptation of this myth, as well as other works that discussed it, to create his own version of the story. The result was a horrific drama featuring decapitation, amputation, cannibalism, excision of a tongue, and rape. In other words, a bloody good playwith a meat pie to die for. 

Of course, many critics in later timesfrom the eighteenth century onwardattacked the play as “Shakespeare’s worst” because of all the bloodletting; it was politically incorrect, unfit for sensitive audiences. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) wrote of Titus: “The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience.” T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) said it was one of the “stupidest” plays in history. Joseph Sobran, a syndicated newspaper columnist in the U.S., assessed the play this way: "This is generallymore or less universallyregarded as Shakespeare’s worst play. It’s so much worse than anything else he wrote that many scholars have doubted that he wrote it. The critical consensus may be summed up in two words: it stinks." Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom (1930- ), a humanities professor at Yale and New York University and author of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, argues that "Titus Andronicus is ghastly bad. I can concede no intrinsic value to Titus Andronicus.”

In my view, Titus Andronicus is a jolly good play, a running hyperbole which, like Voltaire’s Candide, gives us an unbelievable world in order to make the real world believable. In the real world, whether the real world of four centuries ago or the real world of today, people rape, poison, stab, shoot, lynch, torture, drown, cut off heads, cut out tongues, declare war. Often, we onlookers respond with passive acceptance: This is the way of things. We must accept the fact that there will always be “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”or bombs and missilesraining down on us.

Text of Titus Andronicus

The following version of Titus Andronicus is based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." Notes and definitions (annotations) appear in red type  in brackets.

Annotations by Michael J. Cummings


Act 1, Scene 1: Rome.

Act 2, Scene 1: Rome. Before the palace.
Act 2, Scene 2: A forest.
Act 2, Scene 3: A lonely part of the forest.
Act 2, Scene 4: Another part of the forest.

Act 3, Scene 1: Rome. A street.
Act 3, Scene 2: Rome. A room in Titus's house. A banquet set out.

Act 4, Scene 1: Rome. Titus's garden.
Act 4, Scene 2: Rome. A room in the palace.
Act 4, Scene 3: Rome. A public place.
Act 4, Scene 4: Rome. Before the palace.

Act 5, Scene 1: Plains near Rome.
Act 5, Scene 2: Rome. Before Titus's house.
Act 5, Scene 3: Rome. The court of Titus's house. A banquet set out.

Act 1, Scene 1

The Tomb of the Andronici [plural of Andronicus] appearing.  The Tribunes and Senators aloft [on a balcony above the stage]; and then enter Saturninus and his Followers at one door, and Bassianus and his Followers at the other, with drum and colours [flag].
[Saturninus and Bassianus enter the Roman Senate, which is in view of the tomb of the Adronicus family.]

SATURNINUS:  Noble patricians, patrons of my right,   
Defend the justice of my cause with arms;   
And, countrymen, my loving followers,            5
Plead my successive title with your swords:   
I am his first-born son that was the last   
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome;   
Then let my father’s honours live in me,   
Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.            10
[Lines 3-10. Saturninus is the first-born son of the late emperor of Rome. As such, he believes he has an indisputable right to become the new emperor. He asks the patricians, or noblemen of Rome, to support him in his cause even if it means they must take up arms.]
BASSIANUS:  Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my right,   
If ever Bassianus, Cæsar’s son,   
Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,   
Keep then this passage to the Capitol,   
And suffer not dishonour to approach            15
The imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,   
To justice, continence, and nobility;   
But let desert in pure election shine,   
And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.
[Lines 11-19: Bassianus, the younger son of the late emperor, also curries the favor of the Roman elite. He believes he has the necessary virtues and good judgment to become the new ruler.] 
Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the crown.         20

MARCUS:  Princes, that strive by factions and by friends   
Ambitiously for rule and empery [absolute power],   
Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand   
A special party, have, by common voice,   
In election for the Roman empery,            25
Chosen Andronicus, surnamed Pius [Titus Andronicus],   
For many good and great deserts to Rome:   
A nobler man, a braver warrior,   
Lives not this day within the city walls:   
He by the senate is accited [summoned] home            30
From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;   
That, with his sons, a terror to our foes,   
Hath yok’d [subdued] a nation, strong, train’d up in arms.   
Ten years are spent since first he undertook   
This cause of Rome, and chastised [conquered] with arms            35
Our enemies’ pride: five times he hath return’d   
Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons   
In coffins from the field;   
And now at last, laden with honour’s spoils,   
Returns the good Andronicus to Rome,            40
Renowned Titus, flourishing in arms.   
Let us entreat, by honour of his name,   
Whom worthily you would have now succeed,   
And in the Capitol and senate’s right,   
Whom you pretend to honour and adore,            45
That you withdraw you and abate your strength;   
Dismiss your followers, and, as suitors should,   
Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.
[Lines 42-49: Marcus asks Saturninus and Bassianus to give up their claims and withdraw their armies.]  
SATURNINUS:  How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!   
BASSIANUS:   Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy [trust]           50
In thy uprightness and integrity,   
And so I love and honour thee and thine,   
Thy noble brother Titus and his sons,   
And her to whom my thoughts are humbled all,   
Gracious Lavinia [daughter of Titus], Rome’s rich ornament,            55
That I will here dismiss my loving friends [dismiss my supporters],   
And to my fortunes and the people’s favour   
Commit my cause in balance to be weigh’d.  [Exeunt the Followers of BASSIANUS.   
SATURNINUS:  Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,   
I thank you all and here dismiss you all;            60
And to the love and favour of my country   
Commit myself, my person, and the cause.  [Exeunt the Followers of SATURNINUS.   
Rome, be as just and gracious unto me   
As I am confident and kind to thee.   
Open the gates, and let me in.            65
BASSIANUS:  Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.  [Flourish.  They go up into the Senate-house.   
Enter a Captain.

CAPTAIN:  Romans, make way! the good Andronicus,   
Patron of virtue, Rome’s best champion,   
Successful in the battles that he fights,            70
With honour and with fortune is return’d   
From where he circumscribed with his sword [surrounded with his armies],   
And brought to yoke [brought to submission], the enemies of Rome.   
Drums and trumpets sounded, and then enter MARTIUS and MUTIUS; after them two Men bearing a coffin covered with black; then LUCIUS and QUINTUS.  After them TITUS ANDRONICUS; and then TAMORA, with ALARBUS, CHIRON, DEMETRIUS, AARON, and other Goths, prisoners; Soldiers and people following.  The bearers set down the coffin, and TITUS speaks.

TITUS:  Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds [clothes]!            75
Lo! as the bark [boat], that hath discharg’d her fraught [discharged its freight],   
Returns with precious lading [cargo] to the bay   
From whence at first she weigh’d her anchorage,   
Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs [victory wreaths],   
To re-salute his country with his tears,            80
Tears of true joy for his return to Rome.   
Thou great defender of this Capitol,   
Stand gracious to the rites that we intend!   
Romans, of five-and-twenty valiant sons,   
Half of the number that King Priam had,            85
Behold the poor remains, alive, and dead!   
These that survive let Rome reward with love;   
These that I bring unto their latest home.   
With burial among their ancestors:   
Here Goths have given me leave to sheathe my sword.            90
Titus, unkind and careless of thine own,   
Why suffer’st thou thy sons, unburied yet   
To hover on the dreadful shore of Styx? 
[Styx: A river in the Underworld, or Hades, over which the souls of the dead were ferried to reach their eternal abode.]
Make way to lay them by their brethren.  [The tomb is opened.   
There greet in silence, as the dead are wont,            95
And sleep in peace, slain in your country’s wars!   
O sacred receptacle of my joys,   
Sweet cell of virtue and nobility,   
How many sons of mine hast thou in store,   
That thou wilt never render to me more!            100
LUCIUS:  Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,   
That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile   
Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh,
Before this earthy prison of their bones;   
That so the shadows be not unappeas’d,            105
Nor we disturb’d with prodigies on earth.   
[Lines 103-106: Sacrifice him to the spirits of our brothers before this prison which encloses their bones so that the gods are appeased and will not disturb us with ill omens and prophecies.]   
TITUS:  I give him you, the noblest that survives   
The eldest son of this distressed queen.   
TAMORA:  Stay, Roman brethren! Gracious conqueror,   
Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,            110
A mother’s tears in passion for her son:   
And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,   
O! think my son to be as dear to me.   
Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome,   
To beautify thy triumphs and return,            115
Captive to thee and to thy Roman yoke;   
But must my sons be slaughter’d in the streets   
For valiant doings in their country’s cause?   
O! if to fight for king and commonweal   
Were piety in thine, it is in these.            120
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood:   
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?   
Draw near them then in being merciful;   
Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge:   
Thrice-noble Titus, spare my first-born son.            125
TITUS:  Patient yourself, madam, and pardon me.   
These are their brethren, whom your Goths beheld   
Alive and dead, and for their brethren slain   
Religiously they ask a sacrifice:   
To this your son is mark’d, and die he must,            130
To appease their groaning shadows that are gone.   
LUCIUS:  Away with him! and make a fire straight;   
And with our swords, upon a pile of wood,   
Let’s hew his limbs till they be clean consum’d.  [Exeunt LUCIUS, QUINTUS, MARTIUS, and MUTIUS, with ALARBUS.   
TAMORA:  O cruel, irreligious piety!            135
CHIRON:  Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?   
[Scythia: Ancient region north of the Black Sea inhabited by barbarians]
DEMETRIUS:  Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome.   
Alarbus goes to rest, and we survive   
To tremble under Titus’ threatening look.   
Then, madam, stand resolv’d; but hope withal            140
The self-same gods, that arm’d the Queen of Troy   
With opportunity of sharp revenge   
Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent,   
[Queen of Troy: Hecuba. After the Greeks defeated Troy in the Trojan War, they slaughtered many Trojans, including Hecuba's daughter, Polyxena, and her son, Polydorus. When taken to the king of Thrace, she gained revenge, gouging out his eyes.]
May favour Tamora, the Queen of Goths—   
When Goths were Goths, and Tamora was queen—            145
To quit the bloody wrongs upon her foes.   
Re-enter LUCIUS, QUINTUS, MARTIUS, and MUTIUS, with their swords bloody.

LUCIUS:  See, lord and father, how we have perform’d   
Our Roman rites. Alarbus’ limbs are lopp’d,   
And entrails [intestines] feed the sacrificing fire,            150
Whose smoke, like incense, doth perfume the sky.   
Remaineth nought but to inter our brethren,   
And with loud ’larums welcome them to Rome. 
[Lines 152-153: All that remains is to bury our brethren, welcoming them home to Rome with loud trumpet calls.] 
TITUS:  Let it be so; and let Andronicus   
Make this his latest farewell to their souls.  [Trumpets sounded, and the coffin laid in the tomb.            155
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons;   
Rome’s readiest champions, repose you here in rest,   
Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!   
Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,   
Here grow no damned drugs, here are no storms,            160
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:   
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!   

LAVINIA:  In peace and honour live Lord Titus long;   
My noble lord and father, live in fame!            165
Lo! at this tomb my tributary tears   
I render for my brethren’s obsequies [funeral rites];   
And at thy feet I kneel, with tears of joy   
Shed on the earth for thy return to Rome.   
O! bless me here with thy victorious hand,            170
Whose fortunes Rome’s best citizens applaud.   
TITUS:  Kind Rome, that hast thus lovingly reserv’d   
The cordial of mine age to glad my heart!   
Lavinia, live; outlive thy father’s days,   
And fame’s eternal date, for virtue’s praise!            175
Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS and Tribunes; re-enter SATURNINUS, BASSIANUS and Others.

MARCUS:  Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,   
Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!   
TITUS:  Thanks, gentle Tribune, noble brother Marcus.   
MARCUS:  And welcome, nephews, from successful wars,            180
You that survive, and you that sleep in fame!   
Fair lords, your fortunes are alike in all,   
That in your country’s service drew your swords;   
But safer triumph is this funeral pomp,   
That hath aspir’d to Solon’s happiness,            185
[Solon: Ancient Athenian lawmaker (circa 638-558 BC) known for his wisdom.]
And triumphs over chance in honour’s bed.   
Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome,    [Solon: Ancient Athenian lawmaker known for his wisdom.]
Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been,   
Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust,   
This palliament [robe] of white and spotless hue;            190
And name thee in election for the empire,   
With these our late-deceased emperor’s sons:   
Be candidatus [a candidate for election as emperor] then, and put it on,   
And help to set a head on headless Rome.   
TITUS:  A better head her glorious body fits            195
Than his that shakes for age and feebleness.   
What should I don this robe, and trouble you?   
Be chosen with proclamations to-day,   
To-morrow yield up rule, resign my life,   
And set abroad new business for you all?            200
Rome, I have been thy soldier forty years,   
And led my country’s strength successfully,   
And buried one-and-twenty valiant sons,   
Knighted in field, slain manfully in arms,   
In right and service of their noble country.            205
Give me a staff of honour for mine age,   
But not a sceptre to control the world:   
Upright he held it, lords, that held it last.   
MARCUS:  Titus, thou shalt obtain and ask the empery [obtain and ask to be emperor].   
SATURNINUS:  Proud and ambitious tribune, canst thou tell?            210
TITUS:  Patience, Prince Saturninus.   
SATURNINUS:  Romans, do me right:   
Patricians, draw your swords, and sheathe them not   
Till Saturninus be Rome’s emperor.   
Andronicus, would thou wert shipp’d to hell,            215
Rather than rob me of the people’s hearts!   
LUCIUS:  Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good   
That noble-minded Titus means to thee!   
TITUS:  Content thee, prince; I will restore to thee   
The people’s hearts, and wean them from themselves.            220
BASSIANUS:  Andronicus, I do not flatter thee,   
But honour thee, and will do till I die:   
My faction if thou strengthen with thy friends,   
I will most thankful be; and thanks to men   
Of noble minds is honourable meed [reward].            225
TITUS:  People of Rome, and people’s tribunes here,   
I ask your voices and your suffrages [I ask you to approve my recommendation]:   
Will you bestow them friendly on Andronicus?   
TRIBUNES:  To gratify the good Andronicus,   
And gratulate [welcome joyfully] his safe return to Rome,            230
The people will accept whom he admits.   
TITUS:  Tribunes, I thank you; and this suit I make,   
That you create your emperor’s eldest son,   
Lord Saturnine; whose virtues will, I hope,   
Reflect on Rome as Titan’s [the sun god's] rays on earth,            235
And ripen justice in this commonweal:   
Then, if you will elect by my advice,   
Crown him, and say, ‘Long live our emperor!’   
MARCUS:  With voices and applause of every sort,   
Patricians [noblemen] and plebeians [commoners], we create            240
Lord Saturninus Rome’s great emperor,   
And say, ‘Long live our Emperor Saturnine!’  [A long flourish.   
SATURNINUS:  Titus Andronicus, for thy favours done   
To us in our election this day,   
I give thee thanks in part of thy deserts,            245
And will with deeds requite thy gentleness:   
And, for an onset, Titus, to advance   
Thy name and honourable family,   
Lavinia will I make my empress,   
Rome’s royal mistress, mistress of my heart,            250
And in the sacred Pantheon [temple dedicated to the gods] her espouse [marry].   
Tell me, Andronicus, doth this motion please thee?   
TITUS:  It doth, my worthy lord; and in this match   
I hold me highly honour’d of your Grace:   
And here in sight of Rome to Saturnine,            255
King and commander of our commonweal,   
The wide world’s emperor, do I consecrate   
My sword, my chariot, and my prisoners;   
Presents well worthy Rome’s imperious lord:   
Receive them then, the tribute that I owe,            260
Mine honour’s ensigns humbled at thy feet.   
SATURNINUS:  Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life!   
How proud I am of thee and of thy gifts   
Rome shall record, and, when I do forget   
The least of these unspeakable deserts,            265
Romans, forget your fealty [loyalty] to me.   
it.  [To TAMORA.]  Now, madam, are you prisoner to an emperor;   
To him that, for your honour and your state,   
Will use you nobly and your followers.   
SATURNINUS:  A goodly lady, trust me; of the hue            270
That I would choose, were I to choose anew.   
Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance:   
Though chance of war hath wrought this change of cheer,   
Thou com’st not to be made a scorn in Rome:   
Princely shall be thy usage every way.            275
Rest on my word, and let not discontent   
Daunt all your hopes: madam, he [who] comforts you   
Can make you greater than the Queen of Goths.   
Lavinia, you are not displeas’d with this?   
LAVINIA:  Not I, my lord; sith [since] true nobility            280
Warrants these words in princely courtesy.   
SATURNINUS:  Thanks, sweet Lavinia. Romans, let us go;   
Ransomless here we set our prisoners free:   
Proclaim our honours, lords, with trump and drum.  [Flourish.  SATURNINUS courts TAMORA in dumb show.   
BASSIANUS:   Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine.  [Seizing LAVINIA.            285
TITUS:  How, sir! Are you in earnest then, my lord?   
BASSIANUS:   Ay, noble Titus; and resolv’d withal   
To do myself this reason and this right.   
MARCUS:  Suum cuique is our Roman justice:  
[Suum cuique: May each person have his own; to each his own]
This prince in justice seizeth but his own.            290
LUCIUS:  And that he will, and shall, if Lucius live.   
TITUS:  Traitors, avaunt [get going]! Where is the emperor’s guard?   
Treason, my lord! Lavinia is surpris’d. 
[Line 293: They are committing treason, my lord Saturninus, by taking Lavinia from you.] 
SATURNINUS:  Surpris’d! By whom?   
BASSIANUS:   By him that justly may            295
Bear his betroth’d from all the world away.  [Exeunt MARCUS and BASSIANUS with LAVINIA.   
MUTIUS:  Brothers, help to convey her hence away,   
And with my sword I’ll keep this door safe.  [Exeunt LUCIUS, QUINTUS, and MARTIUS.   
TITUS:  Follow, my lord, and I’ll soon bring her back.   
MUTIUS:  My lord, you pass not here.            300
TITUS:  What! villain boy;   
Barr’st me my way in Rome?  [Stabs MUTIUS.   
MUTIUS: Help, Lucius, help!  [Dies.   
Re-enter LUCIUS.

LUCIUS:  My lord, you are unjust; and, more than so,            305
In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.   
TITUS:  Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine;   
My sons would never so dishonour me.   
Traitor, restore Lavinia to the emperor.  
LUCIUS:  Dead, if you will; but not to be his wife            310
That is another’s lawful promis’d love.  [Exit.   
SATURNINUS:  No, Titus, no; the emperor needs her not,   
Nor her, nor thee, nor any of thy stock:   
I’ll trust, by leisure, him that mocks me once;  
[Line 313: You'll test my patience if you dare to mock me once;]
Thee never, nor thy traitorous haughty sons,            315
Confederates all thus to dishonour me.   
Was none in Rome to make a stale   
But Saturnine? Full well, Andronicus,   
Agreed these deeds with that proud brag of thine,   
That saidst I begg’d the empire at thy hands.            320
[Lines 317-320: Wasn't there anyone else in Rome to make a fool of except me? You, Adronicus, went along with the plans against me and made me beg the empire from you.]
TITUS:  O monstrous! what reproachful words are these!   
SATURNINUS:  But go thy ways; go, give that changing piece [that fickle woman]   
To him that flourish’d for her with his sword.   
A valiant son-in-law thou shalt enjoy;   
One fit to bandy with thy lawless sons,            325
To ruffle in the commonwealth of Rome.   
TITUS:  These words are razors to my wounded heart.   
SATURNINUS:  And therefore, lovely Tamora, Queen of Goths,   
That like the stately Phœbe [Diana, the moon goddess] ’mongst her nymphs,   
Dost overshine the gallant’st dames of Rome,            330
If thou be pleas’d with this my sudden choice,   
Behold, I choose thee, Tamora, for my bride,   
And will create thee Empress of Rome.   
Speak, Queen of Goths, dost thou applaud my choice?   
And here I swear by all the Roman gods,            335
Sith [since] priest and holy water are so near,   
And tapers burn so bright, and every thing   
In readiness for Hymenæus [god of marriage] stand,   
I will not re-salute the streets of Rome,   
Or climb my palace, till from forth this place            340
I lead espous’d my bride along with me.   
TAMORA:  And here, in sight of heaven, to Rome I swear,   
If Saturnine advance the Queen of Goths,   
She will a handmaid be to his desires,   
A loving nurse, a mother to his youth.            345
SATURNINUS:  Ascend, fair queen, Pantheon [temple of the gods]. Lords, accompany   
Your noble emperor, and his lovely bride,   
Sent by the heavens for Prince Saturnine,   
Whose wisdom hath her fortune conquered:   
There shall we consummate our spousal rights.  [Exeunt all but TITUS.            350
TITUS:  I am not bid to wait upon this bride.   
Titus, when wert thou wont to walk alone,   
Dishonour’d thus, and challenged of wrongs?   

MARCUS:  O! Titus, see, O! see what thou hast done;            355
In a bad quarrel slain a virtuous son.   
TITUS:  No, foolish tribune, no; no son of mine,   
Nor thou, nor these, confederates in the deed   
That hath dishonour’d all our family:   
Unworthy brother, and unworthy sons!            360
LUCIUS:  But let us give him burial, as becomes;   
Give Mutius burial with our brethren.   
TITUS:  Traitors, away! he rests not in this tomb.   
This monument five hundred years hath stood,   
Which I have sumptuously re-edified:            365
Here none but soldiers and Rome’s servitors [persons who have distinguished themselves in service to the state]  
Repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls.   
Bury him where you can; he comes not here.   
MARCUS:  My lord, this is impiety in you.   
My nephew Mutius’ deeds do plead for him;            370
He must be buried with his brethren.   
QUINTUS and MARTIUS:  And shall, or him we will accompany.   
TITUS:  And shall! What villain was it spake that word?   
QUINTUS:  He that would vouch it in any place but here.   
TITUS:  What! would you bury him in my despite [would you bury him against my wishes]?            375
MARCUS:  No, noble Titus; but entreat of thee   
To pardon Mutius, and to bury him.   
TITUS:  Marcus, even thou hast struck upon my crest [even you have insulted me],   
And, with these boys, mine honour thou hast wounded:   
My foes I do repute you every one;            380
So, trouble me no more, but get you gone.   
MARTIUS:  He is not with himself [He is not himself]; let us withdraw.   
QUINTUS:  Not I, till Mutius’ bones be buried.  [MARCUS and the sons of TITUS kneel.   
MARCUS:  Brother, for in that name doth nature plead,—   
QUINTUS:  Father, and in that name doth nature speak,—            385
TITUS:  Speak thou no more, if all the rest will speed.   
MARCUS:  Renowned Titus, more than half my soul,—   
LUCIUS:  Dear father, soul and substance of us all,—   
MARCUS:  Suffer thy brother Marcus to inter   
His noble nephew here in virtue’s nest,            390
That died in honour and Lavinia’s cause.   
Thou art a Roman; be not barbarous:   
The Greeks upon advice did bury Ajax   
That slew himself; and wise Laertes’ son   
Did graciously plead for his funerals.            395
[Ajax: Roman name for Aias, a gigantic Greek warrior who fought in the Trojan War. After the death of Achilles—the greatest of the Greek warriors—he goes mad with rage when the Greek generals Agamemnon and Menelaus award Achilles' armor to Odysseus (Roman name: Ulysses) instead of to him. In his madness, he kills sheep in the belief that they are Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Menelaus, then falls on his sword.]
[Laertes: Father of Odysseus (Ulysses).]
Let not young Mutius then, that was thy joy,   
Be barr’d his entrance here.   
TITUS:  Rise, Marcus, rise.   
The dismall’st day is this that e’er I saw,   
To be dishonour’d by my sons in Rome!            400
Well, bury him, and bury me the next.  [MUTIUS is put into the tomb.   
LUCIUS:  There lie thy bones, sweet Mutius, with thy friends,   
Till we with trophies do adorn thy tomb.   
ALL:  [Kneeling.]  No man shed tears for noble Mutius;   
He lives in fame that died in virtue’s cause.            405
MARCUS:  My lord,—to step out of these dreary dumps,—   
How comes it that the subtle Queen of Goths   
Is of a sudden thus advanc’d in Rome?   
TITUS:  I know not, Marcus; but I know it is,   
Whether by device or no, the heavens can tell.            410
Is she not, then, beholding to the man   
That brought her for this high good turn so far?   
MARCUS:  Yes, and will nobly him remunerate.   
Flourish.  Re-enter, on one side, SATURNINUS, attended; TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, and AARON: on the other side, BASSIANUS, LAVINIA and Others.

SATURNINUS:  So, Bassianus, you have play’d your prize:            415
God give you joy, sir, of your gallant bride.   
BASSIANUS:   And you of yours, my lord! I say no more,   
Nor wish no less; and so I take my leave.   
SATURNINUS:  Traitor, if Rome have law or we have power,   
Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape.            420
BASSIANUS:   Rape call you it, my lord, to seize my own,   
My true-betrothed love and now my wife?   
But let the laws of Rome determine all;   
Meanwhile, I am possess’d of that is mine.   
SATURNINUS:  ’Tis good, sir: you are very short [discourteous; curt] with us;            425
But, if we live, we’ll be as sharp with you.   
BASSIANUS:   My lord, what I have done, as best I may,   
Answer I must and shall do with my life.   
Only thus much I give your Grace to know:   
By all the duties that I owe to Rome,            430
This noble gentleman, Lord Titus here,   
Is in opinion and in honour wrong’d;   
That, in the rescue of Lavinia,   
With his own hand did slay his youngest son,   
In zeal to you and highly mov’d to wrath            435
To be controll’d in that he frankly gave:   
Receive him then to favour, Saturnine,   
That hath express’d himself in all his deeds   
A father and a friend to thee and Rome.   
TITUS:  Prince Bassianus, leave to plead my deeds [stop speaking for me]:            440
’Tis thou and those that have dishonour’d me.   
Rome and the righteous heavens be my judge,   
How I have lov’d and honour’d Saturnine!   
TAMORA:  My worthy lord, if ever Tamora   
Were gracious in those princely eyes of thine,            445
Then hear me speak indifferently [objectively; without bias] for all;   
And at my suit, sweet, pardon what is past [let bygones be bygones].   
SATURNINUS:  What, madam! be dishonour’d openly,   
And basely put it up without revenge?
[Lines 48-49: Are you asking that I should not seek revenge for being dishonored openly?]   
TAMORA:  Not so, my lord; the gods of Rome forfend            450
I should be author to dishonour you!   
[Lines 450-451: Not true, my lord. The gods of Rome forbid that I should cause you dishonor.]
But on mine honour dare I undertake   
For good Lord Titus’ innocence in all,   
Whose fury not dissembled [not pretended] speaks his griefs.   
Then, at my suit [request], look graciously on him;            455
Lose not so noble a friend on vain suppose [supposition; suspicion],   
Nor with sour looks afflict his gentle heart.   
[Aside to SATURNINUS.] My lord, be rul’d by me, be won at last;   
Dissemble all your griefs and discontents:   
You are but newly planted in your throne;            460
Lest then, the people, and patricians too,   
Upon a just survey, take Titus’ part,   
And so supplant you for ingratitude,   
Which Rome reputes to be a heinous sin,   
Yield at entreats, and then let me alone.            465
I’ll find a day to massacre them all,   
And raze their faction and their family,   
The cruel father, and his traitorous sons,   
To whom I sued for my dear son’s life;   
And make them know what ’tis to let a queen            470
Kneel in the streets and beg for grace in vain.   
[Lines 458-471: Tamora speaks in a whisper so that only Saturninus can hear her. She urges him to go along with her flattery of Titus and keep his complaints to himself. Otherwise, he might stir up sympathy for Titus, causing the Romans to turn against Saturninus. Tamora promises that she will one day "massacre" the Titus faction, which made her beg for her son's life. She will make Titus and his supporters regret that they ever wronged her.]
[Aloud.]  Come, come, sweet emperor; come, Andronicus;   
Take up this good old man, and cheer the heart   
That dies in tempest of thy angry frown.   
SATURNINUS:  Rise, Titus, rise; my empress hath prevail’d.            475
TITUS:  I thank your majesty, and her, my lord.   
These words, these looks, infuse new life in me.   
TAMORA:  Titus, I am incorporate in [I am part of] Rome,   
A Roman now adopted happily,   
And must advise the emperor for his good.            480
This day all quarrels die, Andronicus;   
And let it be mine honour, good my lord,   
That I have reconcil’d your friends and you.   
For you, Prince Bassianus, I have pass’d   
My word and promise to the emperor,            485
That you will be more mild and tractable.   
And fear not, lords, and you, Lavinia,   
By my advice, all humbled on your knees,   
You shall ask pardon of his majesty.   
LUCIUS:  We do; and vow to heaven and to his highness,            490
That what we did was mildly, as we might,   
Tendering our sister’s honour and our own. 
[Lines 490-491: We do ask pardon. What we did was the least we were expected to do on behalf of our sister's honor and our own.]
MARCUS:  That on mine honour here I do protest.   
SATURNINUS:  Away, and talk not; trouble us no more.   
TAMORA:  Nay, nay, sweet emperor, we must all be friends:            495
The tribune and his nephews kneel for grace;   
I will not be denied: sweet heart, look back.   
SATURNINUS:  Marcus, for thy sake, and thy brother’s here,   
And at my lovely Tamora’s entreats,   
I do remit these young men’s heinous faults:            500
Stand up.   
Lavinia, though you left me like a churl,   
I found a friend, and sure as death I swore   
I would not part a bachelor from the priest.   
Come; if the emperor’s court can feast two brides,            505
You are my guest, Lavinia, and your friends.   
This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.   
TITUS:  To-morrow, an [if] it please your majesty   
To hunt the panther and the hart [male deer] with me,   
With horn and hound we’ll give your Grace bon jour.            510
SATURNINUS:  Be it so, Titus, and gramercy [many thanks] too.  [Trumpets.  Exeunt.   

Act 2, Scene 1

Rome.  Before the palace.
Enter AARON.
AARON:  Now climbeth Tamora Olympus’ top,  
[Olympus: Greece's Mount Olympus, home of the gods, used figuratively here.]
Safe out of Fortune’s shot [safe from misfortune]; and sits aloft,   
Secure of thunder’s crack or lightning flash,            5
Advanc’d above pale envy’s threat’ning reach.   
As when the golden sun salutes the morn,   
And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,   
Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach; 
And overlooks the highest-peering hills;            10
So Tamora.   
[Lines 7-11: Aaron compares Tamora to the sun god, who—after rising in the morning and painting the ocean with his golden rays—drives his golden chariot across the sky, overlooking the highest hills. Tamora, as the new queen, will also be in a lofty position.]
Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait   
And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown.   
Then, Aaron, arm thy heart, and fit thy thoughts   
To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress,            15
And mount her pitch, whom thou in triumph long   
Hast prisoner held, fetter’d in amorous chains,   
And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes   
Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus.
[Lines 14-17: Then I will get ready to join Tamora, who is my mistress, on those lofty heights and make love to her. For she is chained to me by her love for me. She has no more chance of escaping my charms than Prometheus did of escaping from his shackles. (In Greek mythology, the Titan god Prometheus was a benefactor of man. He stole fire from the gods and gave it to humankind. For this offense, the king of the gods, Jupiter (Greek name: Zeus), chained him to a rock on the Caucasus Mountains. Each day, an eagle came to eat away his liver, and each day the liver grew back. Eventually, Hercules freed Prometheus.]
Away with slavish weeds [clothes] and servile thoughts!            20
I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold,   
To wait upon this new-made empress.   
To wait, said I? to wanton with this queen,   
This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph,   
[Semiramis: Legendary Queen of Babylonia, famous for her beauty]
This siren, that will charm Rome’s Saturnine,            25
And see his ship wrack and his commonweal’s.   
[Line 26: And bring him and his commonwealth to ruin.]
Holla! what storm is this?   
Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, braving [quarreling; fighting].
DEMETRIUS: Chiron, thy years want wit, thy wit wants edge   
And manners, to intrude where I am grac’d,            30
And may, for aught thou know’st, affected be.   
[Lines 29-31: Chiron, you lack the intelligence and refinement to intrude upon Lavinia; she favors me and, for all you know, may even love me.]
CHIRON:  Demetrius, thou dost over-ween in all   
And so in this, to bear me down with braves. 
[Lines 32-33: Demetrius, you're exaggerating your qualities while criticizing mine.] 
’Tis not the difference of a year or two   
Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate:            35
I am as able and as fit as thou   
To serve, and to deserve my mistress’ grace;   
And that my sword upon thee shall approve [prove; show],   
And plead my passions for Lavinia’s love.   
AARON:  Clubs, clubs! these lovers will not keep the peace.            40
DEMETRIUS:  Why, boy, although our mother, unadvis’d,   
Gave you a dancing-rapier [sword] by your side,   
Are you so desperate grown, to threat your friends?   
Go to; have your lath glued within your sheath   
Till you know better how to handle it.            45
CHIRON:  Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,   
Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.   
DEMETRIUS:  Ay, boy, grow ye so brave?  [They draw.   
AARON:  Why, how now, lords!   
So near the emperor’s palace dare you draw,            50
And maintain such a quarrel openly?   
Full well I wot [know] the ground of [reason for] all this grudge:   
I would not for a million of gold   
The cause were known to them it most concerns;   
Nor would your noble mother for much more            55
Be so dishonour’d in the court of Rome.   
For shame, put up.   
DEMETRIUS:  Not I, till I have sheath’d   
My rapier in his bosom, and withal   
Thrust those reproachful speeches down his throat            60
That he hath breath’d in my dishonour here.   
CHIRON:  For that I am prepar’d and full resolv’d,   
Foul-spoken coward, that thunder’st with thy tongue,   
And with thy weapon nothing dar’st perform!   
AARON:  Away, I say!            65
Now, by the gods that war-like Goths adore,   
This petty brabble [quarrel] will undo us all.   
Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous   
It is to jet [tread] upon a prince’s right?   
What! is Lavinia then become so loose,            70
Or Bassianus so degenerate,   
That for her love such quarrels may be broach’d   
Without controlment, justice, or revenge?   
Young lords, beware! an [if] should the empress know   
This discord’s ground, the music would not please.            75
CHIRON:  I care not, I, knew she and all the world: [I don't care if she or all the world knows:]  
I love Lavinia more than all the world.   
DEMETRIUS:  Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner [less desirable] choice:   
Lavinia is thine elder brother’s hope.   
AARON:  Why, are ye mad? or know ye not in Rome            80
How furious and impatient they be,   
And cannot brook competitors in love?   
I tell you, lords, you do but plot your deaths   
By this device.   
CHIRON:  Aaron, a thousand deaths            85
Would I propose, to achieve her whom I love.   
AARON:  To achieve her! how?   
DEMETRIUS:  Why mak’st thou it so strange?   
She is a woman, therefore may be woo’d;   
She is a woman, therefore may be won;            90
She is Lavinia, therefore must be lov’d.   
What, man! more water glideth by the mill   
Than wots [knows] the miller of; and easy it is   
Of a cut loaf to steal a shive [slice], we know:   
Though Bassianus be the emperor’s brother,            95
Better than he have worn Vulcan’s badge.
[Vulcan: Roman name for the Greek blacksmith god, Hephaestus]  
AARON:  [Aside.]  Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.
DEMETRIUS:  Then why should he despair that knows to court it   
With words, fair looks, and liberality?   
What! hast thou not full often struck a doe,            100
And borne her cleanly by the keeper’s nose?
[Lines 100-101: Haven't you ever killed a female deer illegally and taken her past the gamekeeper's watchful eye?]  
AARON:  Why, then, it seems, some certain snatch [taste; sampling] or so   
Would serve your turns.   
CHIRON:  Ay, so the turn were serv’d.   
DEMETRIUS:  Aaron, thou hast hit it.            105
AARON:  Would you had hit it too!   
Then should not we be tir’d with this ado.   
Why, hark ye, hark ye! and are you such fools   
To square for [argue over] this? Would it offend you then   
That both should speed [that both of you should have a chance with Lavinia]?            110
CHIRON:  Faith, not me.   
DEMETRIUS:  Nor me, so I were one.   
AARON:  For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar [become partners in seeking what you want]:   
’Tis policy and stratagem must do   
That you affect; and so must you resolve,            115
That what you cannot as you would achieve,   
You must perforce accomplish as you may.  
Take this of me: Lucrece was not more chaste   
Than this Lavinia, Bassianus’ love.   
A speedier course than lingering languishment            120
Must we pursue, and I have found the path.   
[Lines 114-121: You must use shrewdness and cunning to achieve your goal. Keep this is mind. Lavinia, beloved of Bassianus, is just as virtuous as Lucrece was. (Lucrece was raped by an acquaintance of her husband. The rapist entered her home when she was alone.) I have found a way to get to Lavinia.]
My lords, a solemn hunting is in hand;   
There will the lovely Roman ladies troop:   
The forest walks are wide and spacious,   
And many unfrequented plots [open spaces] there are            125
Fitted by kind for rape and villainy:   
[Line 126: Suited by their natural contours for rape and villainy]
Single you thither then this dainty doe,
[Line 127: There you can separate this dainty lady from the others]   
And strike her home by force, if not by words:   
This way, or not at all, stand you in hope.   
Come, come, our empress, with her sacred wit            130
To villainy and vengeance consecrate, 
Will we acquaint with all that we intend;   
[Lines 130-132: Come with me so that we can acquaint our empress, Tamora—who has vowed vengeance and villainy—with all that we intend to do.] 
And she shall file our engines with advice,   
That will not suffer you to square yourselves,   
But to your wishes’ height advance you both.            135
[Lines 133-135: And she shall give advice that will help you to achieve your goal.]
The emperor’s court is like the house of Fame,   
The palace full of tongues, of eyes, and ears: 
The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull;   
[Lines 136-137: The emperor's court has too many eyes and ears for you to do anything, but the woods are dark and secret.]   
There speak, and strike, brave boys, and take your turns;   
There serve your lusts, shadow’d from heaven’s eye,            140
And revel in Lavinia’s treasury.   
CHIRON:  Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice.   
DEMETRIUS:  Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the stream   
To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits,   
Per Styga, per manes vehor.  [Exeunt.            145
[Lines 143-145: Whether it's right or wrong, I'll find a stream to cool this passion of mine for Lavinia, a charm to calm these fits. I am even willing to cross the River Styx in hell and encounter the spirits there to satisfy my desire.]

Act 2, Scene 2

A forest.
Horns and cry of hounds heard. Enter TITUS ANDRONICUS, with Hunters, &c.; MARCUS, LUCIUS, QUINTUS, and MARTIUS.
TITUS:  The hunt is up, the morn is bright and grey,   
The fields are fragrant and the woods are green.   
Uncouple here and let us make a bay,            5
[Line 5: Unleash the hounds and let them howl for prey]
And wake the emperor and his lovely bride,   
And rouse the prince and ring a hunter’s peal,   
That all the court may echo with the noise.   
Sons, let it be your charge, as it is ours,   
To attend the emperor’s person carefully:            10
I have been troubled in my sleep this night,   
But dawning day new comfort hath inspir’d.  [A cry of hounds, and horns winded [blown] in a peal.   
Many good morrows to your majesty;   
Madam, to you as many and as good;            15
I promised your Grace a hunter’s peal.   
SATURNINUS:  And you have rung it lustily, my lord;   
Somewhat too early for new-married ladies.   
BASSIANUS:   Lavinia, how say you?   
LAVINIA:  I say, no;            20
I have been broad awake two hours and more.   
SATURNINUS:  Come on, then; horse and chariots let us have,   
And to our sport.—[To TAMORA.]  Madam, now shall ye see   
Our Roman hunting   
MARCUS:  I have dogs, my lord,            25
Will rouse the proudest panther in the chase,   
And climb the highest promontory top.   
TITUS:  And I have horse will follow where the game   
Makes way, and run like swallows o’er the plain.   
DEMETRIUS:  [Aside.]  Chiron, we hunt not, we, with horse nor hound,            30
But hope to pluck a dainty doe [Lavinia] to ground.  [Exeunt.   

Act 2, Scene 3

A lonely part of the forest.
Enter AARON, with a bag of gold.
AARON:  He that had wit would think that I had none,   
To bury so much gold under a tree,   
And never after to inherit it.            5
Let him that thinks of me so abjectly   
Know that this gold must coin a stratagem,   
Which, cunningly effected, will beget   
A very excellent piece of villainy:   
And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest            10
That have their alms out of the empress’ chest.  [Hides the gold.   
TAMORA:  My lovely Aaron, wherefore [why] look’st thou sad,   
When every thing doth make a gleeful boast?   
The birds chant melody on every bush,            15
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun,   
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,   
And make a chequer’d shadow on the ground.   
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,   
And, whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,            20
Replying shrilly to the well-tun’d horns,   
As if a double hunt were heard at once,   
Let us sit down and mark their yelping noise;   
And after conflict, such as was suppos’d   
The wandering prince and Dido once enjoy’d,            25
When with a happy storm they were surpris’d,   
And curtain’d with a counsel-keeping cave,   
[Lines 25-28: "Wandering prince" is an allusion to Aeneas, the hero of the Aeneid, an epic poem by Virgil (70-19 BC). Aeneas, who escaped by ship from Troy after the Greeks won the Trojan War, stopped at Carthage in North Africa and had a love affair with its queen, Dido. During a storm, they took refuge in a cave and made love.]
We may, each wreathed in the other’s arms,   
Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber;   
Whiles hounds and horns and sweet melodious birds            30
Be unto us as is a nurse’s song   
Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep.   
AARON:  Madam, though Venus govern your desires,   
Saturn [god of agriculture in Roman mythology] is dominator over mine:  
What signifies my deadly-standing eye,            35
My silence and my cloudy melancholy,   
My fleece of woolly hair that now uncurls   
Even as an adder when she doth unroll   
To do some fatal execution?
No, madam, these are no venereal signs:            40
[venereal: Relating to sexual desire]
Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,   
Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.   
Hark, Tamora, the empress of my soul,   
Which never hopes more heaven than rests in thee,   
This is the day of doom for Bassianus;            45
His Philomel must lose her tongue to-day,   
[Philomel: Philomela. In Greek mythology, she was a princess of Athens who was raped by her sister Procne's husband, Tereus, King of Thrace. Tereus then cut out her tongue. To gain revenge, Procne killed her and Tereus's son, cooked him, and served him as food to Tereus. When he found out what he did, he attempted to murder the sisters, but the gods turned them into birds—Philomela into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow. In this passage, Philomel refers to Lavinia]
Thy sons make pillage of her chastity,   
And wash their hands in Bassianus’ blood.   
Seest thou this letter? take it up, I pray thee,   
And give the king this fatal-plotted scroll.            50
Now question me no more; we are espied;   
Here comes a parcel [portion] of our hopeful booty,   
Which dreads not yet their lives’ destruction.   
TAMORA:  Ah! my sweet Moor, sweeter to me than life.   
AARON:  No more, great empress; Bassianus comes:            55
Be cross with him; and I’ll go fetch thy sons   
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe’er they be.  [Exit.   
BASSIANUS:   Who have we here? Rome’s royal empress,   
Unfurnish’d of her well-beseeming troop?            60
Or is it Dian [Diana, Roman goddess of the moon], habited [dressed] like her,   
Who hath abandoned her holy groves,   
To see the general hunting in this forest?   
TAMORA:  Saucy controller of our private steps!
[Line 64: How dare you interrupt our privacy!]   
Had I the power that some say Dian had,            65
Thy temples should be planted presently   
With horns, as was Actæon’s; and the hounds  
[Actaeon: In Greek mythology, a hunter who happened upon Diana, the moon goddess, when she was bathing. Her beauty enraptured him. When she noticed him staring, she was deeply offended. She then imposed a penalty on the intruder: he must not speak. If he did so, she would turn him into a stag. When he called out to his hunting companions, she made good on her threat. Actaeon became an antlered stag. His hunting dogs then attacked him and killed him, unaware that their master had been transformed into a deer.]
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,   
Unmannerly intruder as thou art!   
LAVINIA:  Under your patience, gentle empress,            70
’Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning;   
And to be doubted that your Moor and you   
Are singled forth to try experiments.
Jove shield your husband from his hounds to-day!   
[Lines 71-73: It is thought that you are an adulteress and that you and your Moor plan to go forth separately to try experiments. May Jove, the king of the gods, shield your husband today from his hounds.]  
’Tis pity they should take him for a stag.            75
BASSIANUS:  Believe me, queen, your swarth [dark; black] Cimmerian
[Cimmerian: One of a race of people living in a land of darkness at the edge of the world. Bassianus is comparing Aaron to a Cimmerian.]  
Doth make your honour of his body’s hue,   
Spotted, detested, and abominable.   
Why are you sequester’d [separated] from all your train,   
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,            80
And wander’d hither to an obscure plot,   
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,   
If foul desire had not conducted you?
LAVINIA:  And, being intercepted in your sport,   
Great reason that my noble lord be rated            85
For sauciness. I pray you, let us hence,   
And let her joy [enjoy] her raven-colour’d love;   
[Lines 84-85: Having been discovered in your lovemaking with Aaron, you berated my noble lord for being bold. Bassianus, let us go and leave her to her raven-colored lover.]
This valley fits the purpose passing well.   
BASSIANUS:   The king my brother shall have note of this.   
LAVINIA:  Ay, for these slips have made him noted long:            90
Good king, to be so mightily abus’d!   
TAMORA:  Why have I patience to endure all this?   
DEMETRIUS:  How now, dear sovereign, and our gracious mother!   
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan?            95
TAMORA:  Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?   
These two have ’tic’d [enticed] me hither [here] to this place:   
A barren detested vale, you see, it is;   
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,   
O’ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe:            100
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,   
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:   
And when they show’d me this abhorred pit,   
They told me, here, at dead time of the night,   
A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes,            105
Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,   
Would make such fearful and confused cries,   
As any mortal body hearing it   
Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.   
No sooner had they told this hellish tale,            110
But straight they told me they would bind me here   
Unto the body of a dismal yew,   
And leave me to this miserable death:   
And then they called me foul adulteress,   
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms            115
That ever ear did hear to such effect;   
And, had you not by wondrous fortune come,   
This vengeance on me had they executed.   
Revenge it, as you love your mother’s life,   
Or be ye not henceforth call’d my children.            120
DEMETRIUS:  This is a witness that I am thy son.  [Stabs BASSIANUS.   
CHIRON:  And this for me, struck home to show my strength.  [Also stabs BASSIANUS, who dies.   
LAVINIA:  Ay, come, Semiramis [legendary queen of Assyria], nay, barbarous Tamora;   
For no name fits thy nature but thy own.   
TAMORA:  Give me thy poniard [dagger]; you shall know, my boys,            125
Your mother’s hand shall right your mother’s wrong.   
DEMETRIUS:  Stay, madam; here is more belongs to her:   
First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw.   
This minion [darling, used disdainfully] stood upon her chastity,   
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,            130
And with that painted hope she braves your mightiness:   
And shall she carry this unto her grave?   
CHIRON:  An if she do, I would I were an eunuch.   
Drag hence her husband to some secret hole,   
And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust.            135
TAMORA:  But when ye have the honey ye desire,   
Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.   
CHIRON:  I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.   
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy   
That nice-preserved honesty of yours.            140
LAVINIA:  O Tamora! thou bear’st a woman’s face,—   
TAMORA:  I will not hear her speak; away with her!   
LAVINIA:  Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.   
DEMETRIUS:  Listen, fair madam: let it be your glory   
To see her tears; but be your heart to them            145
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.   
[144-146: Listen, Mother. Take delight in her tears, but don't let them soften your heart.]
LAVINIA:  When did the tiger’s young ones teach the dam [mother]?   
O! do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee;   
The milk thou suck’dst from her did turn to marble;   
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.            150
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike:   
[To CHIRON.]  Do thou entreat her show a woman pity.   
CHIRON:  What! wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard?   
LAVINIA:  ’Tis true! the raven doth not hatch a lark:   
Yet have I heard, O! could I find it now,            155
The lion mov’d with pity did endure   
To have his princely paws par’d [pared] all away.   
Some say that ravens foster forlorn children,   
The whilst their own birds famish in their nests:   
O! be to me, though thy hard heart say no,            160
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful.   
TAMORA:  I know not what it means; away with her!   
LAVINIA:  O, let me teach thee! for my father’s sake,   
That gave thee life when well he might have slain thee,   
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.            165
TAMORA:  Hadst thou in person ne’er offended me,   
Even for his sake am I pitiless.   
Remember, boys, I pour’d forth tears in vain   
To save your brother from the sacrifice;   
But fierce Andronicus would not relent:            170
Therefore, away with her, and use her as you will:   
The worse to her, the better lov’d of me.   
LAVINIA:  O Tamora! be call’d a gentle queen,   
And with thine own hands kill me in this place;   
For ’tis not life that I have begg’d so long;            175
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.   
TAMORA:  What begg’st thou then? fond [crazy; stupid] woman, let me go.   
LAVINIA:  ’Tis present death I beg; and one thing more   
That womanhood denies my tongue to tell.   
O! keep me from their worse than killing lust,            180
And tumble me into some loathsome pit,   
Where never man’s eye may behold my body:   
Do this, and be a charitable murderer.   
TAMORA:  So should I rob my sweet sons of their fee:   
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.            185
DEMETRIUS:  Away! for thou hast stay’d us here too long.   
LAVINIA:  No grace! no womanhood! Ah, beastly creature,   
The blot and enemy to our general name.   
Confusion fall—   
CHIRON:  Nay, then I’ll stop your mouth. Bring thou her husband:            190
This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him.  [DEMETRIUS throws the body of BASSIANUS into the pit; then exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, dragging off LAVINIA.   
TAMORA:  Farewell, my sons: see that you make her sure.   
Ne’er let my heart know merry cheer indeed   
Till all the Andronici be made away.   
Now will I hence to seek my lovely Moor,            195
And let my spleenful [spiteful; bad-tempered] sons this trull [harlot] deflower.  [Exit.   
AARON:  Come on, my lords, the better foot before:   
Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit   
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.            200
QUINTUS:  My sight is very dull, whate’er it bodes.  
[Line 201: I can't see well in this darkness. Maybe that means something bad will happen to me.] 
MARTIUS:  And mine, I promise you: were ’t not for shame,   
Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile.  [Falls into the pit.   
QUINTUS:  What! art thou fall’n? What subtle hole is this,   
Whose mouth is cover’d with rude-growing briers,            205
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood   
As fresh as morning’s dew distill’d on flowers?   
A very fatal place it seems to me.   
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the fall?   
MARTIUS:  O brother! with the dismall’st object hurt            210
That ever eye with sight made heart lament.   
AARON:  [Aside.]  Now will I fetch the king to find them here,   
That he thereby may give a likely guess   
How these were they that made away his brother.  [Exit.   
MARTIUS:  Why dost not comfort me, and help me out            215
From this unhallow’d and blood-stained hole?   
QUINTUS:  I am surprised with an uncouth [peculiar] fear;   
A chilling sweat o’erruns my trembling joints:   
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.   
MARTIUS:  To prove thou hast a true-divining heart,            220
Aaron and thou look down into this den,   
And see a fearful sight of blood and death.   
QUINTUS:  Aaron is gone; and my compassionate heart   
Will not permit mine eyes once to behold   
The thing whereat it trembles by surmise.            225
O! tell me how it is; for ne’er till now   
Was I a child, to fear I know not what.   
MARTIUS:  Lord Bassianus lies embrewed [imbrued: stained with blood] here,   
All on a heap, like to a slaughter’d lamb,   
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.            230
QUINTUS:  If it be dark, how dost thou know ’tis he?   
MARTIUS:  Upon his bloody finger he doth wear   
A precious ring, that lightens all the hole,   
Which, like a taper in some monument,   
Doth shine upon the dead man’s earthy cheeks,            235
And shows the ragged entrails of the pit:   
So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus   
When he by night lay bath’d in maiden blood.
[Lines 237-238: The lover of Thisbe. Pyramus and Thisbe, both Babylonians, were the subject of a story by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) in his long poem Metamorphoses. When Pyramus thinks a lion has killed Thisbe, he kills himself. Thisbe is still alive, however. But when she discovers the body of Pyramus, she also kills herself.]
O brother! help me with thy fainting hand,   
If fear hath made thee faint, as me it hath,            240
Out of this fell devouring receptacle,   
As hateful as Cocytus’ misty mouth.
[Cocytus: In Greek mythology, a river in Hades]   
QUINTUS:  Reach me thy hand, that I may help thee out;   
Or, wanting strength to do thee so much good   
I may be pluck’d into the swallowing womb            245
Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus’ grave.   
I have no strength to pluck thee to the brink.   
MARTIUS:  Nor I no strength to climb without thy help.   
QUINTUS:  Thy hand once more; I will not loose again,   
Till thou art here aloft, or I below.            250
Thou canst not come to me: I come to thee.  [Falls in.   
SATURNINUS:  Along with me: I’ll see what hole is here,   
And what he is that now is leap’d into it.   
Say, who art thou that lately didst descend            255
Into this gaping hollow of the earth?   
MARTIUS:  The unhappy son of old Andronicus;   
Brought hither in a most unlucky hour,   
To find thy brother Bassianus dead.   
SATURNINUS:  My brother dead! I know thou dost but jest:            260
He and his lady both are at the lodge [hunting lodge],   
Upon the north side of this pleasant chase [game preserve; park];   
’Tis not an hour since I left him there.   
MARTIUS:  We know not where you left him all alive;   
But, out alas! here have we found him dead.            265
Enter TAMORA, with Attendants; TITUS ANDRONICUS, and LUCIUS.
TAMORA:  Where is my lord, the king?   
SATURNINUS:  Here, Tamora; though griev’d with killing grief.   
TAMORA:  Where is thy brother Bassianus?   
SATURNINUS:  Now to the bottom dost thou search my wound:            270
Poor Bassianus here lies murdered.   
TAMORA:  Then all too late I bring this fatal writ,  [Giving a letter.   
The complot [plan] of this timeless [unexpected; untimely] tragedy;   
And wonder greatly that man’s face can fold   
In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny.            275
SATURNINUS:  And if we miss to meet him handsomely,   
Sweet huntsman, Bassianus ’tis we mean,   
Do thou so much as dig the grave for him:   
Thou know’st our meaning. Look for thy reward   
Among the nettles at the elder-tree [elderberry]            280
Which overshades the mouth of that same pit   
Where we decreed to bury Bassianus:   
Do this, and purchase us thy lasting friends.   
O Tamora! was ever heard the like?   
This is the pit, and this the elder-tree.            285
Look, sirs, if you can find the huntsman out   
That should have murder’d Bassianus here.   
AARON:  My gracious lord, here is the bag of gold.   
SATURNINUS:  [To TITUS.]  Two of thy whelps [sons], fell curs [dogs] of bloody kind,   
Have here bereft my brother of his life.            290
Sirs, drag them from the pit unto the prison:   
There let them bide until we have devis’d   
Some never-heard-of torturing pain for them.
TAMORA:  What! are they in this pit? O wondrous thing!   
How easily murder is discovered!            295
TITUS:  High emperor, upon my feeble knee   
I beg this boon with tears not lightly shed;   
That this fell fault of my accursed sons,   
Accursed, if the fault be prov’d in them,—   
SATURNINUS:  If it be prov’d! you see it is apparent.            300
Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?   
TAMORA:  Andronicus himself did take it up.   
TITUS:  I did, my lord: yet let me be their bail;   
For, by my father’s reverend tomb, I vow   
They shall be ready at your highness’ will            305
To answer their suspicion with their lives.   
SATURNINUS:  Thou shalt not bail them: see thou follow me.   
Some bring the murder’d body, some the murderers:   
Let them not speak a word; the guilt is plain;   
For, by my soul, were there worse end than death,            310
That end upon them should be executed.   
TAMORA:  Andronicus, I will entreat the king:   
Fear not thy sons, they shall do well enough.   
TITUS:  Come, Lucius, come; stay not to talk with them.  [Exeunt severally [separately].   

Act 2, Scene 4

Another part of the forest.
Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, with LAVINIA, ravished; her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out.
DEMETRIUS:  So, now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,   
Who ’twas that cut thy tongue and ravish’d thee.   
CHIRON:  Write down thy mind, bewray [reveal] thy meaning so;            5
An if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.
[play the scribe: Write a message.]   
DEMETRIUS:  See, how with signs and tokens she can scrowl [write; make a scroll].   
CHIRON:  Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.   
DEMETRIUS:  She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash;   
And so let’s leave her to her silent walks.            10
CHIRON:  An ’twere my case, I should go hang myself.
[Line 11: If I were Lavinia, I would hang myself.]  
DEMETRIUS:  If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.  [Exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON.   
MARCUS:  Who’s this? my niece, that flies away so fast?   
Cousin [used generally to refer to a relative], a word; where is your husband?            15
If I do dream, would all my wealth would wake me!   
If I do wake, some planet strike me down,   
That I may slumber in eternal sleep!   
Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands   
Have lopp’d and hew’d and made thy body bare            20
Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments,   
Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in,   
And might not gain so great a happiness   
As have thy love? Why dost not speak to me?   
Alas! a crimson river of warm blood,            25
Like to a bubbling fountain stirr’d with wind,   
Doth rise and fall between thy rosed lips,   
Coming and going with thy honey breath   
But, sure, some Tereus hath deflower’d thee, 
[Tereus: See Philomel.] 
And, lest thou shouldst detect him, cut thy tongue.            30
Ah! now thou turn’st away thy face for shame;   
And, notwithstanding all this loss of blood,   
As from a conduit with three issuing spouts,   
Yet do thy cheeks look red as Titan’s face   
Blushing to be encounter’d with a cloud.            35
Shall I speak for thee? shall I say ’tis so?   
O! that I knew thy heart; and knew the beast,   
That I might rail at him to ease my mind.   
Sorrow concealed, like to an oven stopp’d,   
Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is.            40
Fair Philomela, she but lost her tongue,   
And in a tedious sampler [an embroidery] sew’d her mind:  
[Line 43: And revealed what happened to her]
But, lovely niece, that mean is cut from thee;   
A craftier Tereus hast thou met withal,   
And he hath cut those pretty fingers off,            45
That could have better sew’d than Philomela.   
O! had the monster seen those lily hands   
Tremble, like aspen-leaves, upon a lute,   
And make the silken strings delight to kiss them,   
He would not, then, have touch’d them for his life;            50
Or had he heard the heavenly harmony   
Which that sweet tongue hath made,   
He would have dropp’d his knife, and fell asleep,   
As Cerberus at the Thracian poet’s feet. 
[Line 54: In Greek mythology, Cerberus was a fierce three-headed dog at the entrance to Hades. When he encountered and heard the great musician and poet Orpheus, who was attempting to rescue his beloved Eurydice, he fell asleep.] 
Come, let us go, and make thy father blind;            55
For such a sight will blind a father’s eye:   
One hour’s storm will drown the fragrant meads;   
What will whole months of tears thy father’s eyes?   
Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee:   
O! could our mourning ease thy misery.  [Exeunt.            60

Act 3, Scene 1

Rome. A street.
Enter Senators, Tribunes, and Officers of Justice, with MARTIUS and QUINTUS, bound, passing on to the place of execution; TITUS going before, pleading.
TITUS:  Hear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay!   
For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent   
In dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept;            5
For all my blood in Rome’s great quarrel shed;   
For all the frosty nights that I have watch’d;   
And for these bitter tears, which now you see   
Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks;   
Be pitiful to my condemned sons,            10
Whose souls are not corrupted as ’tis thought.   
For two and twenty sons I never wept,   
Because they died in honour’s lofty bed.   
For these, these, tribunes, in the dust I write  [He throws himself on the ground.   
My heart’s deep languor and my soul’s sad tears.            15
Let my tears stanch [allay] the earth’s dry appetite;   
My sons’ sweet blood will make it shame and blush.  [Exeunt Senators, Tribunes, &c., with the Prisoners.   
O earth! I will befriend thee more with rain,   
That shall distil from these two ancient urns,   
Than youthful April shall with all his showers:            20
In summer’s drought I’ll drop upon thee still;   
In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow,   
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face,   
So thou refuse to drink my dear sons’ blood.   
Enter LUCIUS, with his sword drawn.             25

O reverend tribunes! O gentle, aged men!   
Unbind my sons, reverse the doom of death:   
And let me say, that never wept before,   
My tears are now prevailing orators.   
LUCIUS:  O noble father, you lament in vain:            30
The tribunes hear you not, no man is by;   
And you recount your sorrows to a stone.   
TITUS:  Ah! Lucius, for thy brothers let me plead.   
Grave tribunes, once more I entreat of you,—   
LUCIUS:  My gracious lord, no tribune hears you speak.            35
TITUS:  Why, ’tis no matter, man: if they did hear,   
They would not mark me, or if they did mark,   
They would not pity me, yet plead I must,   
All bootless [uselessly] unto them.   
Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones,            40
Who, though they cannot answer my distress,   
Yet in some sort they are better than the tribunes,   
For that they will not intercept [interrupt] my tale.  
When I do weep, they humbly at my feet   
Receive my tears, and seem to weep with me;            45
And, were they but attired in grave weeds,   
Rome could afford no tribune like to these.   
A stone is soft as wax, tribunes more hard than stones;   
A stone is silent, and offendeth not,   
And tribunes with their tongues doom men to death.  [Rises.            50
But wherefore [why] stand’st thou with thy weapon drawn?   
LUCIUS:  To rescue my two brothers from their death;   
For which attempt the judges have pronounc’d   
My everlasting doom of banishment.   
TITUS:  O happy man! they have befriended thee.            55
Why, foolish Lucius, dost thou not perceive   
That Rome is but a wilderness of tigers?   
Tigers must prey; and Rome affords no prey   
But me and mine: how happy art thou then,   
From these devourers to be banished!            60
But who comes with our brother Marcus here?   
MARCUS:  Titus, prepare thy aged eyes to weep;   
Or, if not so, thy noble heart to break:   
I bring consuming sorrow to thine age.            65
TITUS:  Will it consume me? let me see it then.   
MARCUS:  This was thy daughter.   
TITUS:  Why, Marcus, so she is.   
LUCIUS:  Ay me! this object kills me.   
TITUS:  Faint-hearted boy, arise, and look upon her.            70
Speak, Lavinia, what accursed hand   
Hath made thee handless in thy father’s sight?   
What fool hath added water to the sea, 
Or brought a faggot to bright-burning Troy?   
[Lines 73-74: What fool has another tragedy to make me cry even more, or brought a bundle of sticks to the already-raging fire at Troy?]
My grief was at the height before thou cam’st;            75
And now, like Nilus [Nile River], it disdaineth bounds.   
Give me a sword, I’ll chop off my hands too;   
For they have fought for Rome, and all in vain;   
And they have nurs’d this woe, in feeding life;   
In bootless [futile; useless] prayer have they been held up,            80
And they have serv’d me to effectless use:   
Now all the service I require of them   
Is that the one will help to cut the other.   
’Tis well, Lavinia, that thou hast no hands,   
For hands, to do Rome service, are but vain.            85
LUCIUS:  Speak, gentle sister, who hath martyr’d thee?   
MARCUS:  O! that delightful engine [tongue] of her thoughts,   
That blabb’d them with such pleasing eloquence,   
Is torn from forth that pretty hollow cage [mouth],   
Where, like a sweet melodious bird, it sung            90
Sweet varied notes, enchanting every ear.   
LUCIUS:  O! say thou for her, who hath done this deed?   
MARCUS:  O! thus I found her straying in the park,   
Seeking to hide herself, as doth the deer,   
That hath receiv’d some unrecuring wound [a wound that won't heal].            95
TITUS:  It was my dear; and he that wounded her   
Hath hurt me more than had he kill’d me dead:   
For now I stand as one upon a rock   
Environ’d with a wilderness of sea,   
Who marks the waxing [increasing] tide grow wave by wave,            100
Expecting ever when some envious surge   
Will in his brinish bowels swallow him.   
This way to death my wretched sons are gone;   
Here stands my other son, a banish’d man,   
And here my brother, weeping at my woes:            105
But that which gives my soul the greatest spurn,   
Is dear Lavinia, dearer than my soul.   
Had I but seen thy picture in this plight   
It would have madded me: what shall I do   
Now I behold thy lively body so?            110
Thou hast no hands to wipe away thy tears,   
Nor tongue to tell me who hath martyr’d thee:   
Thy husband he is dead, and for his death   
Thy brothers are condemn’d, and dead by this.   
Look! Marcus; ah! son Lucius, look on her:            115
When I did name her brothers, then fresh tears   
Stood on her cheeks, as doth the honey-dew   
Upon a gather’d lily almost wither’d.   
MARCUS:  Perchance she weeps because they kill’d her husband;   
Perchance because she knows them innocent.            120
TITUS:  If they did kill thy husband, then be joyful,   
Because the law hath ta’en revenge on them.   
No, no, they would not do so foul a deed;   
Witness the sorrow that their sister makes.   
Gentle Lavinia, let me kiss thy lips;            125
Or make some sign how I may do thee ease.   
Shall thy good uncle, and thy brother Lucius,   
And thou, and I, sit round about some fountain,   
Looking all downwards, to behold our cheeks   
How they are stain’d, like meadows yet not dry,            130
With miry slime left on them by a flood?   
And in the fountain shall we gaze so long   
Till the fresh taste be taken from that clearness,   
And made a brine-pit with our bitter tears?
[Lines 132-134: Shall we gaze so long into the fountain that our tears pollute it with salt?] 
Or shall we cut away our hands, like thine?            135
Or shall we bite our tongues, and in dumb shows [pantomimes]  
Pass the remainder of our hateful days?   
What shall we do? let us, that have our tongues,   
Plot some device of further misery,   
To make us wonder’d at in time to come.            140
LUCIUS:  Sweet father, cease your tears; for at your grief   
See how my wretched sister sobs and weeps.   
MARCUS:  Patience, dear niece. Good Titus, dry thine eyes.   
TITUS:  Ah! Marcus, Marcus, brother; well I wot [know]   
Thy napkin cannot drink a tear of mine,            145
For thou, poor man, hast drown’d it with thine own.   
LUCIUS:  Ah! my Lavinia, I will wipe thy cheeks.   
TITUS:  Mark, Marcus, mark! I understand her signs:   
Had she a tongue to speak, now would she say   
That to her brother which I said to thee:            150
His napkin, with his true tears all bewet,   
Can do no service on her sorrowful cheeks.   
O! what a sympathy of woe is this;   
As far from help as limbo is from bliss.   
Enter AARON.             155

AARON:  Titus Andronicus, my lord the emperor   
Sends thee this word: that, if thou love thy sons,   
Let Marcus, Lucius, or thyself, old Titus,   
Or any one of you, chop off your hand,   
And send it to the king: he for the same            160
Will send thee hither both thy sons alive;   
And that shall be the ransom for their fault.   
TITUS:  O gracious emperor! O gentle Aaron!   
Did ever raven sing so like a lark,   
That gives sweet tidings of the sun’s uprise?            165
With all my heart, I’ll send the emperor my hand:   
Good Aaron, wilt thou help to chop it off?   
LUCIUS:  Stay, father! for that noble hand of thine,   
That hath thrown down so many enemies,   
Shall not be sent; my hand will serve the turn:            170
My youth can better spare my blood than you;   
And therefore mine shall save my brothers’ lives.   
MARCUS:  Which of your hands hath not defended Rome,   
And rear’d aloft the bloody battle-axe,   
Writing destruction on the enemy’s castle?            175
O! none of both but are of high desert:   
My hand hath been but idle; let it serve   
To ransom my two nephews from their death;   
Then have I kept it to a worthy end.   
AARON:  Nay, come, agree whose hand shall go along,            180
For fear they die before their pardon come.   
MARCUS:  My hand shall go.   
LUCIUS: By heaven, it shall not go!   
TITUS:  Sirs, strive no more: such wither’d herbs as these   
Are meet for plucking up, and therefore mine.            185
LUCIUS:  Sweet father, if I shall be thought thy son,   
Let me redeem my brothers both from death.   
MARCUS:  And for our father’s sake, and mother’s care,   
Now let me show a brother’s love to thee.   
TITUS:  Agree between you; I will spare my hand.            190
LUCIUS:  Then I’ll go fetch an axe.   
MARCUS:  But I will use the axe.  [Exeunt LUCIUS and MARCUS.   
TITUS:  Come hither, Aaron; I’ll deceive them both:   
Lend me thy hand, and I will give thee mine.   
AARON:  [Aside.]  If that be call’d deceit, I will be honest,            195
And never, whilst I live, deceive men so:   
But I’ll deceive you in another sort,   
And that you’ll say, ere [before] half an hour pass.  [Cuts off TITUS’ hand.   
Re-enter LUCIUS and MARCUS.
TITUS:  Now stay your strife: what shall be is dispatch’d.            200
Good Aaron, give his majesty my hand:   
Tell him it was a hand that warded him   
From thousand dangers; bid him bury it;   
More hath it merited; that let it have.   
As for my sons, say I account of them            205
As jewels purchas’d at an easy price;   
And yet dear too, because I bought mine own.   
AARON:  I go, Andronicus; and for thy hand,   
Look by and by to have thy sons with thee.   
[Aside.]  Their heads, I mean. O! how this villany            210
Doth fat [delight] me with the very thoughts of it.   
Let fools do good, and fair men call for grace,   
Aaron will have his soul black like his face.  [Exit.   
TITUS:  O! here I lift this one hand up to heaven,   
And bow this feeble ruin to the earth:            215
If any power pities wretched tears,   
To that I call!  [To LAVINIA.]  What! wilt thou kneel with me?   
Do, then, dear heart; for heaven shall hear our prayers,   
Or with our sighs we’ll breathe the welkin [sky] dim,   
And stain the sun with fog, as sometime [sometimes] clouds            220
When they do hug him in their melting bosoms.   
MARCUS:  O! brother, speak with possibilities,   
And do not break into these deep extremes.   
TITUS:  Is not my sorrow deep, having no bottom?   
Then be my passions bottomless with them.            225
MARCUS:  But yet let reason govern thy lament.   
TITUS:  If there were reason for these miseries,   
Then into limits [inside boundaries] could I bind my woes.   
When heaven doth weep, doth not the earth o’erflow?   
If the winds rage, doth not the sea wax [grow] mad,            230
Threat’ning the welkin [sky] with his big-swoln [swollen] face?   
And wilt thou have a reason for this coil [disturbance; trouble]?   
I am the sea; hark! how her sighs do blow;   
She is the weeping welkin, I the earth:   
Then must my sea be moved with her sighs;            235
Then must my earth with her continual tears   
Become a deluge, overflow’d and drown’d;   
For why my bowels cannot hide her woes,   
But like a drunkard must I vomit them.   
Then give me leave, for losers will have leave            240
To ease their stomachs with their bitter tongues.   
Enter a Messenger, with two heads and a hand.
MESSENGER:  Worthy Andronicus, ill art thou repaid   
For that good hand thou sent’st the emperor.   
Here are the heads of thy two noble sons,            245
And here’s thy hand, in scorn to thee sent back:   
Thy griefs their sports, thy resolution mock’d;  
[Line 247: Your griefs entertain them; they mock you.]
That woe is me to think upon thy woes,   
More than remembrance of my father’s death.  [Exit.   
MARCUS:  Now let hot Aetna [volcano] cool in Sicily,            250
And be my heart an ever burning hell!   
These miseries are more than may be borne.   
To weep with them that weep doth ease some deal,   
But sorrow flouted at is double death.
[Line 254: Sorrow that people mock doubles the pain.]  
LUCIUS:  Ah! that this sight should make so deep a wound,            255
And yet detested life not shrink thereat,   
That ever death should let life bear his name,   
Where life hath no more interest but to breathe.  [LAVINIA kisses TITUS.   
[Lines 255-258: Life has become so sorrowful that it is the same thing as death.]
MARCUS:  Alas! poor heart; that kiss is comfortless   
As frozen water to a starved snake.            260
TITUS:  When will this fearful slumber have an end?   
MARCUS:  Now, farewell, flattery: die, Andronicus;   
Thou dost not slumber: see, thy two sons’ heads,   
Thy war-like hand, thy mangled daughter here; 
Thy other banish’d son, with this dear sight            265
Struck pale and bloodless; and thy brother, I,   
Even like a stony image, cold and numb.   
Ah! now no more will I control thy griefs.   
Rent off thy silver hair, thy other hand   
Gnawing with thy teeth; and be this dismal sight            270
The closing up of our most wretched eyes!   
Now is a time to storm; why art thou still?   
TITUS:  Ha, ha, ha!   
MARCUS:  Why dost thou laugh? it fits not with this hour.   
TITUS:  Why, I have not another tear to shed:            275
Besides, this sorrow is an enemy,   
And would usurp upon my watery eyes,   
And make them blind with tributary tears:   
Then which way shall I find Revenge’s cave?   
For these two heads do seem to speak to me,            280
And threat [warns] me I shall never come to bliss   
Till all these mischiefs be return’d again   
Even in their throats that have committed them.   
Come, let me see what task I have to do.   
You heavy people, circle me about,            285
That I may turn me to each one of you,   
And swear unto my soul to right your wrongs.   
The vow is made. Come, brother, take a head;   
And in this hand the other will I bear.   
Lavinia, thou shalt be employ’d in these things:            290
Bear thou my hand, sweet wench, between thy teeth.   
As for thee, boy, go get thee from my sight;   
Thou art an exile, and thou must not stay:   
Hie to the Goths, and raise an army there:   
And if you love me, as I think you do,            295
Let’s kiss and part, for we have much to do.  [Exeunt TITUS, MARCUS, and LAVINIA.   
LUCIUS:  Farewell, Andronicus, my noble father;   
The woefull’st man that ever liv’d in Rome:   
Farewell, proud Rome; till Lucius come again,   
He leaves his pledges dearer than his life.            300
Farewell, Lavinia, my noble sister;   
O! would thou wert as thou tofore [before] hast been;   
But now nor Lucius nor Lavinia lives   
But in oblivion and hateful griefs.   
If Lucius live, he will requite your wrongs,            305
And make proud Saturnine and his empress   
Beg at the gates like Tarquin and his queen.   
[Line 307: Tarquin the Proud, the seventh king of Rome, who was banished for offenses against the state.]
Now will I to the Goths, and raise a power,   
To be reveng’d on Rome and Saturnine.  [Exeunt.   

Act 3, Scene 2

Rome.  A room in Titus's house.  A banquet set out.
Enter TITUS, MARCUS, LAVINIA, and young LUCIUS, a Boy.
TITUS:  So, so; now sit; and look you eat no more 
[Line 3: Do it just so. It may refer to putting food on the table or setting up a chair.]
Than will preserve just so much strength in us   
As will revenge these bitter woes of ours.            5
Marcus, unknit that sorrow-wreathen knot: 
[Line 6: Marcus, unfold your arms.] 
Thy niece and I, poor creatures, want our hands,   
And cannot passionate [express] our ten-fold grief   
With folded arms. This poor right hand of mine   
Is left to tyrannize upon my breast;            10
And when my heart, all mad with misery,   
Beats in this hollow prison of my flesh,   
Then thus I thump it down.   
[To LAVINIA.]  Thou map of woe, that thus dost talk in signs!   
When thy poor heart beats with outrageous beating            15
Thou canst not strike it thus to make it still.   
Wound it with sighing, girl, kill it with groans;   
Or get some little knife between thy teeth,   
And just against thy heart make thou a hole;   
That all the tears that thy poor eyes let fall            20
May run into that sink, and, soaking in,   
Drown the lamenting fool in sea-salt tears.   
MARCUS:  Fie, brother, fie! teach her not thus to lay   
Such violent hands upon her tender life.   
TITUS:  How now! has sorrow made thee dote already?            25
Why, Marcus, no man should be mad but I.   
What violent hands can she lay on her life?   
Ah! wherefore dost thou urge the name of hands;   
To bid Æneas tell the tale twice o’er,   
How Troy was burnt and he made miserable?            30
O! handle not the theme, to talk of hands,   
Lest we remember still that we have none.   
Fie, fie! how frantically I square my talk,   
As if we should forget we had no hands,   
If Marcus did not name the word of hands.            35
Come, let’s fall to; and, gentle girl, eat this:   
Here is no drink. Hark, Marcus, what she says;   
I can interpret all her martyr’d signs:   
She says she drinks no other drink but tears,   
Brew’d with her sorrow, mash’d upon her cheeks.            40
Speechless complainer, I will learn thy thought;   
In thy dumb action will I be as perfect   
As begging hermits in their holy prayers:   
Thou shalt not sigh, nor hold thy stumps to heaven,   
Nor wink, nor nod, nor kneel, nor make a sign,            45
But I of these will wrest an alphabet,   
And by still practice learn to know thy meaning.   
BOY:  Good grandsire, leave these bitter deep laments:   
Make my aunt merry with some pleasing tale.   
MARCUS:  Alas! the tender boy, in passion mov’d.            50
Doth weep to see his grandsire’s heaviness.   
TITUS:  Peace, tender sapling; thou art made of tears,   
And tears will quickly melt thy life away.  [MARCUS strikes the dish with a knife.   
What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?   
MARCUS:  At that that I have kill’d, my lord; a fly.            55
TITUS:  Out on thee, murderer! thou kill’st my heart;   
Mine eyes are cloy’d with view of tyranny:   
[Line 57: I have seen enough tyranny already.]
A deed of death, done on the innocent,   
Becomes not Titus’ brother. Get thee gone;   
I see, thou art not for my company.            60
MARCUS:  Alas! my lord, I have but kill’d a fly.   
TITUS:  But how if that fly had a father and a mother?   
How would he hang his slender gilded wings   
And buzz lamenting doings in the air!   
Poor harmless fly,            65
That, with his pretty buzzing melody,   
Came here to make us merry! and thou hast kill’d him.   
MARCUS:  Pardon me, sir; it was a black ill-favour’d fly,   
Like to the empress’ Moor; therefore I kill’d him.   
TITUS:  O, O, O!            70
Then pardon me for reprehending thee,   
For thou hast done a charitable deed.   
Give me thy knife, I will insult on him;   
Flattering myself, as if it were the Moor   
Come hither purposely to poison me.            75
There’s for thyself, and that’s for Tamora.   
Ah! sirrah.   
Yet I think we are not brought so low,   
But that between us we can kill a fly   
That comes in likeness of a coal-black Moor.            80
MARCUS:  Alas! poor man; grief has so wrought on him,   
He takes false shadows for true substances.   
TITUS:  Come, take away. Lavinia, go with me:   
I’ll to thy closet; and go read with thee   
Sad stories chanced in the times of old.            85
Come, boy, and go with me: thy sight is young,   
And thou shalt read when mine begins to dazzle.  [Exeunt.   

Act 4, Scene 1

The garden of Titus.
Enter TITUS and MARCUS.  Then enter young LUCIUS, LAVINIA running after him.
BOY:  Help, grandsire. help! my aunt Lavinia    
Follows me everywhere, I know not why:    
Good uncle Marcus, see how swift she comes:            5
Alas! sweet aunt, I know not what you mean.    
MARCUS:  Stand by me, Lucius; do not fear thine aunt.    
TITUS:  She loves thee, boy, too well to do thee harm.    
BOY:  Ay, when my father was in Rome, she did.    
MARCUS:  What means my niece Lavinia by these signs?            10
TITUS:  Fear her not, Lucius: somewhat doth she mean.    
See, Lucius, see how much she makes of thee;    
Some whither [somewhere] would she have thee go with her.    
Ah! boy; Cornelia never with more care    
Read to her sons, than she hath read to thee            15
Sweet poetry and Tully’s Orator. 
[Cornelia: Doting mother of two well-known politicians, the Gracchi. She saw that they had a good education.] 
[Tully: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), the famous Roman senator. He wrote a book called On the Orator (De Oratore).]
MARCUS:  Canst thou not guess wherefore [why] she plies thee thus?    
BOY:  My lord, I know not, I, nor can I guess,    
Unless some fit or frenzy do possess her;    
For I have heard my grandsire say full oft,            20
Extremity of griefs would make men mad;    
And I have read that Hecuba of Troy
Ran mad through sorrow; that made me to fear,    
Although, my lord, I know my noble aunt    
Loves me as dear as e’er my mother did,            25
And would not, but in fury, fright my youth;    
Which made me down to throw my books and fly,    
Causeless, perhaps. But pardon me, sweet aunt;    
And, madam, if my uncle Marcus go,    
I will most willingly attend your ladyship.            30
MARCUS:  Lucius, I will.  [LAVINIA turns over the books which LUCIUS had let fall.    
TITUS:  How now, Lavinia! Marcus, what means this?    
Some book there is that she desires to see.    
Which is it, girl, of these? Open them, boy.    
But thou art deeper read, and better skill’d;            35
Come, and take choice of all my library,    
And so beguile thy sorrow, till the heavens    
Reveal the damn’d contriver of this deed.    
Why lifts she up her arms in sequence thus?    
MARCUS:  I think she means that there was more than one            40
Confederate [attacker] in the fact: ay, more there was;    
Or else to heaven she heaves them for revenge.    
TITUS:  Lucius, what book is that she tosseth so?    
BOY:  Grandsire, ’tis Ovid’s Metamorphoses;    
My mother gave it me.            45
MARCUS:  For love of her that’s gone,    
Perhaps, she cull’d it from among the rest.    
TITUS:  Soft! see how busily she turns the leaves [pages]!  [Helping her.    
What would she find? Lavinia, shall I read?    
This is the tragic tale of Philomel,            50
And treats of [Tereus’] treason and his rape;    
And rape, I fear, was root of thine annoy.    
MARCUS:  See, brother, see! note how she quotes the leaves.    
TITUS:  Lavinia, wert thou thus surpris’d, sweet girl,    
Ravish’d and wrong’d, as Philomela was,            55
Forc’d [raped] in the ruthless, vast, and gloomy woods?    
See, see!    
Ay, such a place there is, where we did hunt,—    
O! had we never, never hunted there,—    
Pattern’d by that the poet here describes,            60
By nature made for murders and for rapes.    
MARCUS:  O! why should nature build so foul a den,    
Unless the gods delight in tragedies?    
TITUS:  Give signs, sweet girl, for here are none but friends,    
What Roman lord it was durst do the deed:            65
Or slunk not Saturnine, as Tarquin erst,    
That left the camp to sin in Lucrece’ bed?
[Lines 66-67: Was it Saturnine who raped you, as Sextus Tarquinius, the son of Tarquin the Proud, raped Lucrece?] 
MARCUS:  Sit down, sweet niece: brother, sit down by me.    
Apollo, Pallas, Jove, or Mercury,
[Line 69: In classical mythology, Apollo (Greek and Roman name) was the god of the sun, music, poetry, and prophecy. Pallas was another name for Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom. Her Roman name was Minerva. Jove was a Roman name for Zeus (Greek), king of the gods; Mercury was the Roman name for Hermes (Greek), the messenger god.]   
Inspire me, that I may this treason find!            70
My lord, look here; look here, Lavinia:    
This sandy plot is plain; guide, if thou canst,    
This after me.  [He writes his name with his staff, and guides it with his feet and mouth.    
I have writ my name    
Without the help of any hand at all.            75
Curs’d be that heart that forc’d us to this shift!    
Write thou, good niece, and here display at last    
What God will have discover’d for revenge.    
Heaven guide thy pen to print thy sorrows plain,    
That we may know the traitors and the truth!  [She takes the staff in her mouth, and guides it with her stumps, and writes.            80
TITUS:  O! do you read, my lord, what she hath writ?    
Stuprum [rape], Chiron, Demetrius.    
MARCUS:  What, what! the lustful sons of Tamora    
Performers of this heinous, bloody deed?    
TITUS:  Magni dominator poli,            85
Tam lentus audis scelera? tam lentus vides?
[Lines 85-86: Great god in the heavens, do you hear of this crime without concern? Do you witness it without concern?]   
MARCUS:  O! calm thee, gentle lord; although I know    
There is enough written upon this earth    
To stir a mutiny in the mildest thoughts    
And arm the minds of infants to exclaims.            90
My lord, kneel down with me; Lavinia, kneel;    
And kneel, sweet boy, the Roman Hector’s hope;
[Hector: The greatest Trojan warrior in the Trojan War. Marcus is saying that he hopes the boy will grow up to be another Hector.]  
And swear with me, as, with the woeful fere [wife]   
And father of that chaste dishonour’d dame,    
Lord Junius Brutus sware [swore] for Lucrece’ rape,            95
[Line 95: Junius Brutus was a friend of Lucrece. He spearheaded the effort to banish her rapist and his father, Tarquin the Proud, from Rome.]
That we will prosecute by good advice    
Mortal revenge upon these traitorous Goths,    
And see their blood, or die with this reproach.   
TITUS:  ’Tis sure enough, an [if] you knew how;    
But if you hunt these bear-whelps, then beware:            100
The dam will wake, an if she wind you once:    
She’s with the lion deeply still in league,    
And lulls him whilst she playeth on her back,    
And when he sleeps will she do what she list [desires].    
You’re a young huntsman, Marcus; let it alone;            105
And, come, I will go get a leaf of brass,    
And with a gad of steel will write these words,    
And lay it by: the angry northern wind    
Will blow these sands like Sibyl’s leaves abroad,  
[Sibyl: An oracle who wrote prophecies on leaves.]
And where’s your lesson then? Boy, what say you?            110
BOY:  I say, my lord, that if I were a man,    
Their mother’s bed-chamber should not be safe    
For these bad bond men to the yoke of Rome. 
[Bond men: Demetrius and Chiron were technically still prisoners of the Romans.]
MARCUS:  Ay, that’s my boy! thy father hath full oft    
For his ungrateful country done the like.            115
BOY:  And, uncle, so will I, an if I live.    
TITUS:  Come, go with me into mine armoury:    
Lucius, I’ll fit thee; and withal my boy    
Shall carry from me to the empress’ sons    
Presents that I intend to send them both:            120
Come, come; thou’lt do thy message, wilt thou not?    
BOY:  Ay, with my dagger in their bosoms, grandsire.    
TITUS:  No, boy, not so; I’ll teach thee another course.    
Lavinia, come. Marcus, look to my house;    
Lucius and I’ll go brave it at the court:            125
Ay, marry, will we, sir; and we’ll be waited on.  [Exeunt TITUS, LAVINIA, and Boy.    
MARCUS:  O heavens! can you hear a good man groan,    
And not relent or not compassion [sympathize with] him?    
Marcus, attend him in his ecstasy,    
That hath more scars of sorrow in his heart            130
Than foemen’s marks upon his batter’d shield;    
But yet so just that he will not revenge.    
Revenge, ye heavens, for old Andronicus!  [Exit.    

Act 4, Scene 2

Rome. A room in the palace. 
Enter, from one side, AARON, DEMETRIUS, and CHIRON; from the other young LUCIUS, and an Attendant, with a bundle of weapons, and verses writ upon them.
CHIRON:  Demetrius, here’s the son of Lucius;   
He hath some message to deliver us.   
AARON:  Ay, some mad message from his mad grandfather.            5
BOY:  My lords, with all the humbleness I may,   
I greet your honours from Andronicus;   
[Aside.]  And pray the Roman gods, confound you both!   
DEMETRIUS:  Gramercy [thanks], lovely Lucius: what’s the news?   
BOY:  [Aside.]  That you are both decipher’d [discovered; found out], that’s the news,            10
For villains mark’d with rape.  [Aloud.]  May it please you,   
My grandsire, well advis’d, hath sent by me   
The goodliest weapons of his armoury,   
To gratify your honourable youth,   
The hope of Rome, for so he bade me say;            15
And so I do, and with his gifts present   
Your lordships, that whenever you have need,   
You may be armed and appointed well.   
And so I leave you both:  [Aside.] like bloody villains.  [Exeunt Boy and Attendant.   
DEMETRIUS:  What’s here? A scroll; and written round about?            20
Let’s see:—   
[Reads.]  "Integer vitæ, scelerisque purus,   
        Non eget Mauri jaculis, nec arcu."   
[Lines 22-23: The man who leads a righteous life and commits no crimes does not need the javelins or bow of a Moor.]
CHIRON:  O! ’tis a verse in Horace; I know it well:   
I read it in the grammar long ago.            25
AARON:  Ay just, a verse in Horace; right, you have it.   
[Aside.]  Now, what a thing it is to be an ass!   
Here’s no sound jest! the old man hath found their guilt   
And sends them weapons wrapp’d about with lines,   
That wound, beyond their feeling, to the quick;            30
But were our witty empress well afoot,   
She would applaud Andronicus’ conceit:   
But let her rest in her unrest awhile.   
[To them.]  And now, young lords, was ’t not a happy star   
Led us to Rome, strangers, and more than so,            35
Captives, to be advanced to this height?   
It did me good before the palace gate   
To brave [insult] the tribune in his brother’s hearing.   
DEMETRIUS:  But me more good, to see so great a lord   
Basely insinuate [flatter; kowtow to] and send us gifts.            40
AARON:  Had he not reason, Lord Demetrius?   
Did you not use his daughter very friendly?   
DEMETRIUS:  I would we had a thousand Roman dames   
At such a bay [in such a position, cornered], by turn to serve our lust.   
CHIRON:  A charitable wish and full of love.            45
AARON:  Here lacks but your mother for to say amen.   
CHIRON:  And that would she for twenty thousand more.   
DEMETRIUS:  Come, let us go and pray to all the gods   
For our beloved mother in her pains.   
AARON:  [Aside.]  Pray to the devils; the gods have given us over [have abandoned us].  [Trumpets sound.            50
DEMETRIUS:  Why do the emperor’s trumpets flourish thus?   
CHIRON:  Belike [probably], for joy the emperor hath a son.   
DEMETRIUS:  Soft! [wait a minute; be quiet] who comes here?   
Enter a Nurse, with a blackamoor [dark-skinned] Child.
NURSE:  Good morrow, lords. O! tell me, did you see            55
Aaron the Moor?   
AARON:  Well, more or less, or ne’er a whit at all,   
Here Aaron is; and what with Aaron now?   
NURSE:  O gentle Aaron! we are all undone.   
Now help, or woe betide thee evermore!            60
AARON:  Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep!   
What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine arms?   
NURSE:  O! that which I would hide from heaven’s eye,   
Our empress’ shame, and stately Rome’s disgrace!   
She is deliver’d, lords, she is deliver’d.            65
AARON:  To whom?   
NURSE:  I mean, she’s brought a-bed.   
AARON:  Well, God give her good rest! What hath he sent her?   
NURSE:  A devil.   
AARON:  Why, then she’s the devil’s dam: a joyful issue.            70
NURSE:  A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue.   
Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad   
Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime.   
The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,   
And bids thee christen it with thy dagger’s point.            75
AARON:  ’Zounds [by the wounds of the crucified Christ], ye whore! is black so base a hue?   
Sweet blowse [harlot], you are a beauteous blossom, sure.   
DEMETRIUS:  Villain, what hast thou done?   
AARON:  That which thou canst not undo.   
CHIRON:  Thou hast undone our mother.            80
AARON:  Villain, I have done thy mother.   
DEMETRIUS:  And therein, hellish dog; thou hast undone.   
Woe to her chance, and damn’d her loathed choice!   
Accurs’d the offspring of so foul a fiend!   
CHIRON:  It shall not live.            85
AARON:  It shall not die.   
NURSE:  Aaron, it must; the mother wills it so.   
AARON:  What! must it, nurse? then let no man but I   
Do execution on my flesh and blood.   
DEMETRIUS:  I’ll broach the tadpole [stab the child] on my rapier’s point:            90
Nurse, give it me; my sword shall soon dispatch it.   
AARON:  Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels up.  [Takes the Child from the Nurse, and draws.   
Stay, murderous villains! will you kill your brother? [The child is the half-brother of Demetrius and Chiron.]  
Now, by the burning tapers of the sky,   
That shone so brightly when this boy was got,            95
He dies upon my scimitar’s sharp point   
That touches this my first-born son and heir.   
I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus [a giant],   
With all his threatening band of Typhon’s brood,
[Typhon: Monster with a hundred dragon heads]  
Nor great Alcides [Hercules], nor the god of war,            100
Shall seize this prey out of his father’s hands.   
What, what, ye sanguine [healthy; confident], shallow-hearted boys!   
Ye white-lim’d [limed] walls! ye alehouse painted signs!   
Coal-black is better than another hue,   
In that it scorns to bear another hue;            105
For all the water in the ocean   
Can never turn the swan’s black legs to white,   
Although she lave [wash] them hourly in the flood.   
Tell the empress from me, I am of age   
To keep mine own, excuse it how she can.            110
DEMETRIUS:  Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus?   
AARON:  My mistress is my mistress; this myself;   
The vigour, and the picture of my youth:   
This before all the world do I prefer;   
This maugre [despite] all the world will I keep safe,            115
Or some of you shall smoke [pay for] for it in Rome.   
DEMETRIUS:  By this our mother is for ever sham’d.   
CHIRON:  Rome will despise her for this foul escape.   
NURSE:  The emperor in his rage will doom her death.   
CHIRON:  I blush to think upon this ignomy [ignominy: disgrace].            120
AARON:  Why, there’s the privilege your beauty bears.   
Fie, treacherous hue! that will betray with blushing   
The close enacts and counsels of the heart:   
Here’s a young lad fram’d of another leer [complexion]:   
Look how the black slave smiles upon the father,            125
As who should say, ‘Old lad, I am thine own.’   
He is your brother, lords, sensibly fed   
Of that self blood that first gave life to you;   
And from that womb where you imprison’d were   
He is enfranchised and come to light:            130
Nay, he is your brother by the surer side,   
Although my seal [color] be stamped in his face.   
NURSE:  Aaron, what shall I say unto the empress?   
DEMETRIUS:  Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,   
And we will all subscribe to thy advice:            135
Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.   
AARON:  Then sit we down, and let us all consult,   
My son and I will have the wind [advice] of you:   
Keep there; now talk at pleasure of your safety.  [They sit.   
DEMETRIUS:  How many women saw this child of his?            140
AARON:  Why, so, brave lords! when we join in league,   
I am a lamb; but if you brave the Moor,   
The chafed boar, the mountain lioness,   
The ocean swells not so as Aaron storms.   
But say, again, how many saw the child?            145
NURSE:  Cornelia, the midwife, and myself,   
And no one else but the deliver’d empress.   
AARON:  The empress, the midwife, and yourself:   
Two may keep counsel when the third’s away.   
Go to the empress; tell her this I said:  [Stabbing her.            150
‘Weke, weke!’   
So cries a pig prepared to the spit.   
DEMETRIUS:  What mean’st thou, Aaron? Wherefore [why] didst thou this?   
AARON:  O lord, sir, ’tis a deed of policy:   
Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours,            155
A long-tongu’d babbling gossip? no, lords, no.   
And now be it known to you my full intent.   
Not far, one Muli lives, my countryman;   
His wife but yesternight was brought to bed.   
His child is like to her, fair as you are:            160
Go pack with him, and give the mother gold,   
And tell them both the circumstance of all,   
And how by this their child shall be advanc’d,   
And be received for the emperor’s heir,   
And substituted in the place of mine,            165
To calm this tempest whirling in the court;   
And let the emperor dandle him for his own.   
Hark ye, lords; you see, I have given her physic,  [Pointing to the Nurse.   
And you must needs bestow her funeral;   
The fields are near, and you are gallant grooms.            170
This done, see that you take no longer days,   
But send the midwife presently to me.   
The midwife and the nurse well made away,   
Then let the ladies tattle what they please.   
CHIRON:  Aaron, I see thou wilt not trust the air            175
With secrets.   
DEMETRIUS:  For this care of Tamora,   
Herself and hers are highly bound to thee.  [Exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, bearing off the Nurse’s body.   
AARON:  Now to the Goths, as swift as swallow flies;   
There to dispose this treasure in mine arms,            180
And secretly to greet the empress’ friends.   
Come on, you thick-lipp’d slave, I’ll bear you hence;   
For it is you that puts us to our shifts:   
I’ll make you feed on berries and on roots,   
And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat,            185
And cabin in a cave, and bring you up   
To be a warrior, and command a camp.  [Exit with the Child.   

Act 4, Scene 3

Rome. A public place.
Enter TITUS, bearing arrows, with letters on the ends of them; with him MARCUS, young LUCIUS, PUBLIUS, SEMPRONIUS, CAIUS, and other Gentlemen, with bows.
TITUS:  Come, Marcus, come; kinsmen, this is the way.   
Sir boy, now let me see your archery:   
Look ye draw home enough, and ’tis there straight.            5
[Line 5: Draw back far enough before releasing your arrow.
Terras Astrœa reliquit:   
[Line 6: Astroea (also spelled Astraea) has left the earth. Astraea was the Roman name for the Greek goddess of justice, Dike.]
Be you remember’d, Marcus, she’s gone, she’s fled.   
Sirs, take you to your tools. You, cousins, shall   
Go sound the ocean, and cast your nets;   
Happily you may find her in the sea;            10
Yet there’s as little justice as at land.   
No; Publius and Sempronius, you must do it;   
’Tis you must dig with mattock and with spade,   
And pierce the inmost centre of the earth:   
Then, when you come to Pluto’s region,            15
[Pluto: Roman name for Hades, King of the Underworld]
I pray you, deliver him this petition;   
Tell him, it is for justice and for aid,   
And that it comes from old Andronicus,   
Shaken with sorrows in ungrateful Rome.   
Ah! Rome. Well, well; I made thee miserable            20
What time [at the time when] I threw the people’s suffrages [votes; support]   
On him [Saturninus] that thus doth tyrannize o’er me.   
Go, get you gone; and pray be careful all,   
And leave you not a man-of-war unsearch’d:   
This wicked emperor may have shipp’d her hence;            25
And, kinsmen, then we may go pipe for justice.   
MARCUS:  O Publius! is not this a heavy [worrisome] case,   
To see thy noble uncle thus distract [mad; insane]?   
PUBLIUS:  Therefore, my lord, it highly us concerns   
By day and night to attend him carefully,            30
And feed his humour kindly as we may,   
Till time beget some careful remedy.   
MARCUS:  Kinsmen, his sorrows are past remedy.   
Join with the Goths, and with revengeful war   
Take wreak on Rome for this ingratitude,            35
And vengeance on the traitor Saturnine.   
TITUS:  Publius, how now! how now, my masters!   
What! have you met with her?   
PUBLIUS:  No, my good lord; but Pluto sends you word,   
If you will have Revenge from hell, you shall:            40
Marry [by the Virgin Mary], for Justice, she is so employ’d,   
He thinks, with Jove in heaven, or somewhere else,   
So that perforce you must needs stay [wait] a time.   
TITUS:  He doth me wrong to feed me with delays.   
I’ll dive into the burning lake below,            45
And pull her out of Acheron [a river in Hades] by the heels.   
Marcus, we are but shrubs, no cedars we;   
No big-boned men framed of the Cyclops’ [one-eyed giant] size;   
But metal, Marcus, steel to the very back,   
Yet wrung with wrongs more than our backs can bear:            50
And sith [since] there’s no justice in earth nor hell,   
We will solicit heaven and move the gods   
To send down Justice for to wreak our wrongs.   
Come, to this gear [business; affair; matter]. You are a good archer, Marcus.  [He gives them the arrows.   
Ad Jovem [by Jove], that’s for you: here, ad Apollinem [by Apollo]:            55
Ad Martem [by Mars], that’s for myself:   
Here, boy, to Pallas: here, to Mercury:   
[Pallas: Another name for Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, known to the Romans as Minerva]
To Saturn [god of agriculture in Roman mythology], Caius, not to Saturnine; 
[Lines 55-58: Jove, Apollo, Mars, Athena, Mercury] 
You were as good to shoot against the wind.   
To it, boy! Marcus, loose when I bid.            60
Of my word, I have written to effect;   
There’s not a god left unsolicited.   
MARCUS:  Kinsmen, shoot all your shafts into the court:   
We will afflict the emperor in his pride.   
TITUS:  Now, masters, draw.  [They shoot.]  O! well said, Lucius!            65
Good boy, in Virgo’s lap: give it Pallas.
[Virgo: One who claims the right to succeed as emperor]  
MARCUS:  My lord, I aim a mile beyond the moon;   
Your letter is with Jupiter by this.   
TITUS:  Ha! Publius, Publius, what hast thou done?   
See, see! thou hast shot off one of Taurus’ horns.            70
[Taurus: The Bull, a star constellation]
MARCUS:  This was the sport, my lord: when Publius shot,   
The Bull, being gall’d, gave Aries [the Ram, a constellation near Taurus] such a knock   
That down fell both the Ram’s horns in the court;   
And who should find them but the empress’ villain?   
She laugh’d, and told the Moor, he should not choose            75
But give them to his master for a present.   
TITUS:  Why, there it goes: God give his lordship joy!   
Enter a Clown, with a basket, and two pigeons in it.
News! news from heaven! Marcus, the post is come.   
Sirrah, what tidings? have you any letters?            80
Shall I have justice? what says Jupiter?   

CLOWN:  O! the gibbet-maker? He says that he hath taken them down again, for the man must not be hanged till the next week.   
TITUS:  But what says Jupiter [Jove, king of the gods], I ask thee?   
CLOWN:  Alas! sir, I know not Jupiter; I never drank with him in all my life.   
TITUS:  Why, villain, art not thou the carrier?            85
CLOWN:  Ay, of my pigeons, sir; nothing else.   
TITUS:  Why, didst thou not come from heaven?   
CLOWN:  From heaven! alas! sir, I never came there. God forbid I should be so bold to press to heaven in my young days. Why, I am going with my pigeons to the tribunal plebs, to take up a matter of brawl betwixt my uncle and one of the emperial’s [emperor's] men.   
MARCUS:  Why, sir, that is as fit as can be to serve for your oration; and let him deliver the pigeons to the emperor from you.   
TITUS:  Tell me, can you deliver an oration to the emperor with a grace?            90
CLOWN:  Nay, truly, sir, I could never say grace in all my life.   
TITUS:  Sirrah, come hither: make no more ado,   
But give your pigeons to the emperor:   
By me thou shalt have justice at his hands.   
Hold, hold; meanwhile, here’s money for thy charges.            95
Give me pen and ink.   
Sirrah, can you with a grace deliver a supplication?   
CLOWN:  Ay, sir.   
TITUS:  Then here is a supplication for you. And when you come to him, at the first approach you must kneel; then kiss his foot; then deliver up your pigeons; and then look for your reward. I’ll be at hand, sir; see you do it bravely.   
CLOWN:  I warrant you, sir; let me alone.            100
TITUS:  Sirrah, hast thou a knife? Come, let me see it.   
Here, Marcus, fold it in the oration;   
For thou hast made it like a humble suppliant:   
And when thou hast given it to the emperor,   
Knock at my door, and tell me what he says.            105
CLOWN:  God be with you, sir; I will.   
TITUS:  Come, Marcus, let us go. Publius, follow me.  [Exeunt.

Act 4, Scene 4

Rome. Before the palace.
Enter SATURNINUS, TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, Lords, and Others: SATURNINUS with the arrows in his hand that TITUS shot.
SATURNINUS:  Why, lords, what wrongs are these! Was ever seen   
An emperor of Rome thus overborne [overburdened; put upon],   
Troubled, confronted thus; and, for the extent            5
Of egal [equal] justice, us’d in such contempt?   
My lords, you know, as do the mightful gods,—   
However these disturbers of our peace   
Buzz in the people’s ears,—there nought hath pass’d,   
But even with law [according to law], against the willful sons            10
Of old Andronicus. And what an if   
His sorrows have so overwhelm’d his wits,   
Shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks,   
His fits, his frenzy, and his bitterness?   
And now he writes to heaven for his redress:            15
See, here’s to Jove, and this to Mercury;   
This to Apollo; this to the god of war;   
Sweet scrolls to fly about the streets of Rome!   
What’s this but libelling against the senate,   
And blazoning [announcing; advertising] our injustice every where?            20
A goodly humour, is it not, my lords?   
As who would say, in Rome no justice were.   
But if I live, his feigned ecstasies   
Shall be no shelter to these outrages;   
But he and his shall know that justice lives            25
In Saturninus’ health; whom, if she sleep,   
He’ll so awake, as she in fury shall   
Cut off the proud’st conspirator that lives.   
TAMORA:  My gracious lord, my lovely Saturnine,   
Lord of my life, commander of my thoughts,            30
Calm thee, and bear the faults of Titus’ age,   
The effects of sorrow for his valiant sons,   
Whose loss hath pierc’d him deep and scarr’d his heart;   
And rather comfort his distressed plight   
Than prosecute the meanest or the best            35
For these contempts.—[Aside.]  Why, thus it shall become   
High-witted Tamora to gloze [flatter; deceive] with all:   
But, Titus, I have touch’d thee to the quick,   
Thy life-blood out: if Aaron now be wise,   
Then is all safe, the anchor’s in the port.            40
Enter Clown.
How now, good fellow! wouldst thou speak with us?   
CLOWN:  Yea, forsooth [in truth], an [if] your mistership be emperial.   
TAMORA:  Empress I am, but yonder sits the emperor.   
CLOWN:  ’Tis he. God and Saint Stephen give you good den [good day; good afternoon].            45
[Saint Stephen: First Christian martyr, who was stoned to death]
I have brought you a letter and a couple of pigeons here.  [SATURNINUS reads the letter.   
SATURNINUS:  Go, take him away, and hang him presently.   
CLOWN:  How much money must I have?   
TAMORA:  Come, sirrah, you must be hanged.   
CLOWN:  Hanged! By ’r [our] lady, then I have brought up a neck to a fair end.  [Exit, guarded.            50
SATURNINUS:  Despiteful and intolerable wrongs!   
Shall I endure this monstrous villainy?   
I know from whence this same device proceeds:   
May this be borne? As if his [Titus's] traitorous sons,   
That died by law for murder of our brother,            55
Have by my means been butcher’d wrongfully!   
Go, drag the villain hither by the hair;   
Nor age nor honour shall shape privilege.   
For this proud mock I’ll be thy slaughterman;   
Sly frantic wretch, that holp’st [helped] to make me great,            60
In hope thyself should govern Rome and me.   
What news with thee, AEMILIUS?   
AEMILIUS:  Arm, arm, my lord! Rome never had more cause.   
The Goths have gather’d head, and with a power            65
Of high-resolved men, bent to the spoil,   
They hither march amain [with great strength and speed], under conduct   
Of Lucius, son to old Andronicus;   
Who threats, in course of this revenge, to do   
As much as ever Coriolanus did.            70
[Coriolanus: Roman soldier who turned against Rome.]
SATURNINUS:  Is war-like Lucius general of the Goths?   
These tidings nip me, and I hang the head   
As flowers with frost or grass beat down with storms.   
Ay, now begin our sorrows to approach:   
’Tis he the common people love so much;            75
Myself hath often heard them say,   
When I have walked like a private man,   
That Lucius’ banishment was wrongfully,   
And they have wish’d that Lucius were their emperor.   
TAMORA:  Why should you fear? is not your city strong?            80
SATURNINUS:  Ay, but the citizens favour Lucius,   
And will revolt from me to succour [help] him.   
TAMORA:  King, be thy thoughts imperious, like thy name.   
Is the sun dimm’d, that gnats do fly in it?   
The eagle suffers little birds to sing,            85
And is not careful what they mean thereby,   
Knowing that with the shadow of his wings   
He can at pleasure stint their melody;   
Even so mayst thou the giddy men of Rome.
[Line 89: Like the eagle that can stop the birds from singing, you can stop rebellious citizens of Rome.]  
Then cheer thy spirit; for know, thou emperor,            90
I will enchant the old Andronicus   
With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,   
Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks [clover] to sheep,   
Whenas [when] the one is wounded with the bait,   
The other rotted with delicious feed.            95
SATURNINUS:  But he [Titus] will not entreat his son for us.   
TAMORA:  If Tamora entreat him, then he will:   
For I can smooth and fill his aged ear   
With golden promises, that, were his heart   
Almost impregnable, his old ears deaf,            100
Yet should both ear and heart obey my tongue.   
[To AEMILIUS.]  Go thou before, be our ambassador:   
Say that the emperor requests a parley   
Of war-like Lucius, and appoint the meeting,   
Even at his father’s house, the old Andronicus.            105
SATURNINUS:  AEMILIUS, do this message honourably:   
And if he stand on hostage for his safety,   
Bid him demand what pledge will please him best.   
AEMILIUS:  Your bidding shall I do effectually.  [Exit.   
TAMORA:  Now will I to that old Andronicus,            110
And temper him with all the art I have,   
To pluck proud Lucius from the war-like Goths.   
And now, sweet emperor, be blithe again,   
And bury all thy fear in my devices.   
SATURNINUS:  Then go successantly [successfully], and plead to him.  [Exeunt.            115

Act 5, Scene 1

Plains near Rome.
Flourish.  Enter LUCIUS, and an army of Goths, with drums and colours.
LUCIUS:  Approved warriors, and my faithful friends,   
I have received letters from great Rome,   
Which signify what hate they bear their emperor,            5
And how desirous of our sight they are.   
Therefore, great lords, be, as your titles witness,   
Imperious and impatient of your wrongs;   
And wherein Rome hath done you any scath [injustice; wrong],   
Let him make treble [triple] satisfaction.            10
FIRST GOTH:  Brave slip, sprung from the great Andronicus,   
Whose name was once our terror, now our comfort;   
Whose high exploits and honourable deeds   
Ingrateful Rome requites with foul contempt,   
Be bold in us: we’ll follow where thou lead’st,            15
Like stinging bees in hottest summer’s day   
Led by their master to the flower’d fields,   
And be aveng’d on cursed Tamora.   
GOTHS:  And, as he saith, so say we all with him.   
LUCIUS:  I humbly thank him, and I thank you all.            20
But who comes here, led by a lusty Goth?   
Enter a Goth, leading AARON, with his Child in his arms.

SECOND GOTH:  Renowned Lucius, from our troops I stray’d,   
To gaze upon a ruinous monastery;   
And as I earnestly did fix mine eye            25
Upon the wasted building, suddenly   
I heard a child cry underneath a wall.   
I made unto the noise; when soon I heard   
The crying babe controll’d with this discourse:   
‘Peace, tawny slave, half me and half thy dam!            30
Did not thy hue bewray [betray; reveal] whose brat thou art,   
Had nature lent thee but thy mother’s look,   
Villain, thou mightst have been an emperor:   
But where the bull and cow are both milk-white,   
They never do beget a coal-black calf.            35
Peace, villain, peace!’—even thus he rates the babe,—   
‘For I must bear thee to a trusty Goth;   
Who, when he knows thou art the empress’ babe,   
Will hold thee dearly for thy mother’s sake.’   
With this, my weapon drawn, I rush’d upon him,            40
Surpris’d him suddenly, and brought him hither,   
To use as you think needful of the man.   
LUCIUS:  O worthy Goth, this is the incarnate devil   
That robb’d Andronicus of his good hand:   
This is the pearl that pleas’d your empress’ eye,            45
And here’s the base fruit of his burning lust.   
Say, wall-ey’d [staring; glaring] slave, whither wouldst thou convey   
This growing image of thy fiend-like face?   
Why dost not speak? What! deaf? not a word?   
A halter, soldiers! hang him on this tree,            50
And by his side his fruit of bastardy.   
AARON:  Touch not the boy; he is of royal blood.   
LUCIUS:  Too like the sire for ever being good.   
First hang the child, that he may see it sprawl;   
A sight to vex the father’s soul withal.            55
Get me a ladder.  [A ladder brought, which AARON is made to ascend.   
AARON:  Lucius, save the child;   
And bear it from me to the empress.   
If thou do this, I’ll show thee wondrous things,   
That highly may advantage thee to hear:            60
If thou wilt not, befall what may befall,   
I’ll speak no more but ‘Vengeance rot you all!’   
LUCIUS:  Say on; and if it please me which thou speak’st,   
Thy child shall live, and I will see it nourish’d.   
AARON:  An if it please thee! why, assure thee, Lucius,            65
’Twill vex thy soul to hear what I shall speak;   
For I must talk of murders, rapes, and massacres,   
Acts of black night, abominable deeds,   
Complots [plans; plots] of mischief, treason, villainies   
Ruthful [heart-rending; pitiful] to hear, yet piteously perform’d:            70
And this shall all be buried by my death,   
Unless thou swear to me my child shall live.   
LUCIUS:  Tell on thy mind: I say, thy child shall live.   
AARON:  Swear that he shall, and then I will begin.   
LUCIUS:  Who should I swear by? thou believ’st no god:            75
That granted, how canst thou believe an oath?   
AARON:  What if I do not? as, indeed, I do not;   
Yet, for I know thou art religious,   
And hast a thing within thee called conscience,   
With twenty popish tricks and ceremonies,            80
Which I have seen thee careful to observe,   
Therefore I urge thy oath; for that I know   
An idiot holds his bauble for a god,   
And keeps the oath which by that god he swears,   
To that I’ll urge him: therefore thou shalt vow            85
By that same god, what god soe’er it be,   
That thou ador’st and hast in reverence,   
To save my boy, to nourish and bring him up:   
Or else I will discover nought to thee.   
LUCIUS:  Even by my god I swear to thee I will.            90
AARON:  First, know thou, I begot him on the empress.   
LUCIUS:  O most insatiate and luxurious [promiscuous; lustful] woman!   
AARON:  Tut! Lucius, this was but a deed of charity   
To that which thou shalt hear of me anon [in a moment].   
’Twas her two sons that murder’d Bassianus;            95
They cut thy sister’s tongue and ravish’d her,   
And cut her hands and trimm’d her as thou saw’st.   
LUCIUS:  O detestable villain! call’st thou that trimming?   
AARON:  Why, she was wash’d, and cut, and trimm’d, and ’twas   
Trim sport for them that had the doing of it.            100
LUCIUS:  O barbarous, beastly villains, like thyself!   
AARON:  Indeed, I was their tutor to instruct them.   
That codding [lustful] spirit had they from their mother,   
As sure a card as ever won the set;   
That bloody mind, I think, they learn’d of me            105
As true a dog as ever fought at head.   
Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth.   
I train’d [pointed; lured] thy brethren to that guileful hole   
Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay;   
I wrote the letter that thy father found,            110
And hid the gold within the letter mention’d,   
Confederate with the queen and her two sons:   
And what not done, that thou hast cause to rue,   
Wherein I had no stroke of mischief in it?   
I play’d the cheater for thy father’s hand,            115
And, when I had it, drew myself apart,   
And almost broke my heart with extreme laughter.   
I pry’d [pried] me through the crevice of a wall   
When, for his hand, he had his two sons’ heads;   
Beheld his tears, and laugh’d so heartily,            120
That both mine eyes were rainy like to his:   
And when I told the empress of this sport,   
She swounded [swooned] almost at my pleasing tale,   
And for my tidings gave me twenty kisses.   
FIRST GOTH:  What! canst thou say all this, and never blush?            125
AARON:  Ay, like a black dog, as the saying is.   
LUCIUS:  Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?   
AARON:  Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.   
Even now I curse the day, and yet, I think,   
Few come within the compass of my curse,            130
Wherein I did not some notorious ill: 
[Lines 130-131: Few come near me who do not suffer some calamity.]
As kill a man, or else devise his death;   
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it;   
Accuse some innocent, and forswear myself;   
Set deadly enmity between two friends;            135
Make poor men’s cattle break their necks;   
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,   
And bid the owners quench them with their tears,   
Oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,   
And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,            140
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;   
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,   
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,   
‘Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.’   
Tut! I have done a thousand dreadful things            145
As willingly as one would kill a fly,   
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed   
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.   
LUCIUS:  Bring down the devil, for he must not die   
So sweet a death as hanging presently.            150
AARON:  If there be devils, would I were a devil,   
To live and burn in everlasting fire,   
So I might have your company in hell,   
But to torment you with my bitter tongue!   
LUCIUS:  Sirs, stop his mouth, and let him speak no more.            155
Enter a Goth.
GOTH:  My lord, there is a messenger from Rome   
Desires to be admitted to your presence.   
LUCIUS:  Let him come near.   
Enter ÆMILIUS.             160

Welcome, AEMILIUS! what’s the news from Rome?   
AEMILIUS:  Lord Lucius, and you princes of the Goths,   
The Roman emperor greets you all by me;   
And, for he understands you are in arms,   
He craves a parley at your father’s house,            165
Willing you to demand your hostages,   
And they shall be immediately deliver’d.   
FIRST GOTH:  What says our general?   
LUCIUS:  AEMILIUS, let the emperor give his pledges   
Unto my father and my uncle Marcus,            170
And we will come. March away.  [Exeunt.

Act 5, Scene 2

Rome.  Before Titus's house.
Enter TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, and CHIRON, disguised.
TAMORA:  Thus, in this strange and sad habiliment,   
I will encounter with Andronicus,   
And say I am Revenge, sent from below            5
To join with him and right his heinous wrongs.   
Knock at his study, where, they say, he keeps,   
To ruminate strange plots of dire revenge;   
Tell him, Revenge is come to join with him,   
And work confusion on his enemies.  [They knock.            10
Enter TITUS, above.
TITUS:  Who doth molest my contemplation?   
Is it your trick to make me ope the door,   
That so my sad decrees may fly away,   
And all my study be to no effect?            15
You are deceiv’d; for what I mean to do,   
See here, in bloody lines I have set down;   
And what is written shall be executed.   
TAMORA:  Titus, I am come to talk with thee.   
TITUS:  No, not a word; how can I grace my talk,            20
Wanting a hand to give it action?   
Thou hast the odds of me; therefore no more.   
TAMORA:  If thou didst know me, thou wouldst talk with me.   
TITUS:  I am not mad; I know thee well enough:   
Witness this wretched stump, witness these crimson lines;            25
Witness these trenches made by grief and care;   
Witness the tiring day and heavy night;   
Witness all sorrow, that I know thee well   
For our proud empress, mighty Tamora.   
Is not thy coming for my other hand?            30
TAMORA:  Know, thou sad man, I am not Tamora;   
She is thy enemy, and I thy friend:   
I am Revenge, sent from the infernal kingdom,   
To ease the gnawing vulture of thy mind,   
By working wreakful vengeance on thy foes.            35
Come down, and welcome me to this world’s light;   
Confer with me of murder and of death.   
There’s not a hollow cave or lurking-place,   
No vast obscurity or misty vale,   
Where bloody murder or detested rape            40
Can couch for fear, but I will find them out;   
And in their ears tell them my dreadful name,   
Revenge, which makes the foul offender quake.   
TITUS:  Art thou Revenge? and art thou sent to me,   
To be a torment to mine enemies?            45
TAMORA:  I am; therefore come down, and welcome me.   
TITUS:  Do me some service ere [before] I come to thee.   
Lo, by thy side where Rape and Murder stands;   
Now give some surance that thou art Revenge:   
Stab them, or tear them on thy chariot-wheels,            50
And then I’ll come and be thy waggoner,   
And whirl along with thee about the globe.   
Provide two proper palfreys [small horses for leisurely riding], black as jet,   
To hale thy vengeful waggon swift away,   
And find out murderers in their guilty caves:            55
And when thy car is loaden with their heads,   
I will dismount, and by the waggon-wheel   
Trot like a servile footman all day long,   
Even from Hyperion’s rising in the east
[Hyperion: Father of the sun god Helios. Here, Hyperion is spoken of as the sun god.]
Until his very downfall [sunset] in the sea:            60
And day by day I’ll do this heavy task,   
So thou destroy Rapine and Murder there.   
TAMORA:  These are my ministers, and come with me.   
TITUS:  Are these thy ministers? what are they call’d?   
TAMORA:  Rapine and Murder; therefore called so,            65
’Cause they take vengeance of such kind of men.   
TITUS:  Good Lord, how like the empress’ sons they are,   
And you the empress! but we worldly men   
Have miserable, mad, mistaking eyes.   
O sweet Revenge! now do I come to thee;            70
And, if one arm’s embracement will content thee,   
I will embrace thee in it by and by.  [Exit above.   
TAMORA:  This closing with him fits his lunacy.   
Whate’er I forge to feed his brain-sick fits,   
Do you uphold and maintain in your speeches,            75
For now he firmly takes me for Revenge;   
And, being credulous in this mad thought,   
I’ll make him send for Lucius his son;   
And, whilst I at a banquet hold him sure,   
I’ll find some cunning practice out of hand            80
To scatter and disperse the giddy Goths,   
Or, at the least, make them his enemies.   
See, here he comes, and I must ply my theme.   
Enter TITUS.
TITUS:  Long have I been forlorn, and all for thee:            85
Welcome, dread Fury, to my woeful house:   
Rapine and Murder, you are welcome too.   
How like the empress and her sons you are!   
Well are you fitted had you but a Moor:   
Could not all hell afford you such a devil?            90
For well I wot [know] the empress never wags   
But in her company there is a Moor;   
And would you represent our queen aright,   
It were convenient you had such a devil.   
But welcome as you are. What shall we do?            95
TAMORA:  What wouldst thou have us do, Andronicus?   
DEMETRIUS:  Show me a murderer, I’ll deal with him.   
CHIRON:  Show me a villain that hath done a rape,   
And I am sent to be reveng’d on him.   
TAMORA:  Show me a thousand that have done thee wrong,            100
And I will be revenged on them all.   
TITUS:  Look round about the wicked streets of Rome,   
And when thou find’st a man that’s like thyself,   
Good Murder, stab him; he’s a murderer.   
Go thou with him; and when it is thy hap            105
To find another that is like to thee,   
Good Rapine, stab him; he’s a ravisher.   
Go thou with them; and in the emperor’s court   
There is a queen attended by a Moor;   
Well mayst thou know her by thy own proportion,            110
For up and down she doth resemble thee:   
I pray thee, do on them some violent death;   
They have been violent to me and mine.   
TAMORA:  Well hast thou lesson’d us; this shall we do.   
But would it please thee, good Andronicus,            115
To send for Lucius, thy thrice-valiant son,   
Who leads towards Rome a band of war-like Goths,   
And bid him come and banquet at thy house:   
When he is here, even at thy solemn feast,   
I will bring in the empress and her sons,            120
The emperor himself, and all thy foes,   
And at thy mercy shall they stoop and kneel,   
And on them shalt thou ease thy angry heart.   
What says Andronicus to this device?   
TITUS:  Marcus, my brother! ’tis sad Titus calls.            125
Go, gentle Marcus, to thy nephew Lucius;   
Thou shalt inquire him out among the Goths:   
Bid him repair [come] to me, and bring with him   
Some of the chiefest princes of the Goths;            130
Bid him encamp his soldiers where they are:   
Tell him, the emperor and the empress too   
Feast at my house, and he shall feast with them.   
This do thou for my love; and so let him,   
As he regards his aged father’s life.            135
MARCUS:  This will I do, and soon return again.  [Exit.   
TAMORA:  Now will I hence about thy business,   
And take my ministers along with me.   
TITUS:  Nay, nay, let Rape and Murder stay with me;   
Or else I’ll call my brother back again,            140
And cleave to no revenge but Lucius.   
TAMORA:  [Aside to her sons.]  What say you, boys? will you abide with him,   
Whiles I go tell my lord the emperor   
How I have govern’d our determin’d jest?   
Yield to his humour, smooth and speak him fair,            145
And tarry with him till I turn again.   
TITUS:  [Aside.]  I know them all, though they suppose me mad;   
And will o’er-reach them in their own devices;   
A pair of cursed hell-hounds and their dam.   
DEMETRIUS:  [Aside to TAMORA.]  Madam, depart at pleasure; leave us here.            150
TAMORA:  Farewell, Andronicus: Revenge now goes   
To lay a complot [plan; plot] to betray thy foes.  [Exit TAMORA.   
TITUS:  I know thou dost; and, sweet Revenge, farewell.   
CHIRON:  Tell us, old man, how shall we be employ’d?   
TITUS:  Tut! I have work enough for you to do.            155
Publius, come hither, Caius, and Valentine!   
Enter PUBLIUS and Others.
PUBLIUS:  What is your will?   
TITUS:  Know you these two?   
PUBLIUS:  The empress’ sons,            160
I take them, Chiron and Demetrius.   
TITUS:  Fie, Publius, fie! thou art too much deceiv’d;   
The one is Murder, Rape is the other’s name;   
And therefore bind them, gentle Publius;   
Caius and Valentine, lay hands on them;            165
Oft have you heard me wish for such an hour,   
And now I find it: therefore bind them sure,   
And stop their mouths, if they begin to cry.  [Exit.  PUBLIUS, &c., seize CHIRON and DEMETRIUS.   
CHIRON:  Villains, forbear! we are the empress’ sons.   
PUBLIUS:  And therefore do we what we are commanded.            170
Stop close their mouths, let them not speak a word.   
Is he sure bound? look that you bind them fast.   
Re-enter TITUS, with LAVINIA; she bearing a basin, and he a knife.
TITUS:  Come, come, Lavinia; look, thy foes are bound.   
Sirs, stop their mouths, let them not speak to me,            175
But let them hear what fearful words I utter.   
O villains, Chiron and Demetrius!   
Here stands the spring whom you have stain’d with mud,   
This goodly summer with your winter mix’d.   
You kill’d her husband, and for that vile fault            180
Two of her brothers were condemn’d to death,   
My hand cut off and made a merry jest:   
Both her sweet hands, her tongue, and that more dear   
Than hands or tongue, her spotless chastity,   
In human traitors, you constrain’d and forc’d.            185
What would you say if I should let you speak?   
Villains! for shame you could not beg for grace.   
Hark, wretches! how I mean to martyr you.   
This one hand yet is left to cut your throats,   
Whilst that Lavinia’ tween her stumps doth hold            190
The basin that receives your guilty blood.   
You know your mother means to feast with me,   
And calls herself Revenge, and thinks me mad.   
Hark! villains, I will grind your bones to dust,   
And with your blood and it I’ll make a paste;            195
And of the paste a coffin [dough shaped like a coffin] I will rear,   
And make two pasties of your shameful heads;   
And bid that strumpet, your unhallow’d dam,   
Like to the earth swallow her own increase [eat her own children].   
This is the feast that I have bid her to,            200
And this the banquet she shall surfeit on [shall eat her fill];   
For worse than Philomel you us’d my daughter,   
And worse than Procne I will be reveng’d.
And now prepare your throats. Lavinia, come.  [He cuts their throats.   
Receive the blood: and when that they are dead,            205
Let me go grind their bones to powder small,   
And with this hateful liquor temper [mix] it;   
And in that paste let their vile heads be bak’d.   
Come, come, be every one officious [busy]  
To make this banquet, which I wish may prove            210
More stern and bloody than the Centaurs’ feast. 
So, now bring them in, for I will play the cook,   
And see them ready ’gainst their mother comes.  [Exeunt, bearing the dead bodies.   
[Line 211: In Greek mythology is a story of a wedding feast at which centaurs—creatures with the body of a horse and the head, arms, and trunk of a man—became drunk and attempted to abduct the bride and other women. A brawl ensued.]

Act 5, Scene 3

Rome. The court of Titus's house. A banquet set out.
Enter LUCIUS, MARCUS and Goths, with AARON prisoner.
LUCIUS:  Uncle Marcus, since it is my father’s mind   
That I repair to Rome, I am content.   
First Goth.  And ours with thine, befall what fortune will.            5
LUCIUS:  Good uncle, take you in this barbarous Moor,   
This ravenous tiger, this accursed devil;   
Let him receive no sustenance, fetter him,   
Till he be brought unto the empress’ face,   
For testimony of her foul proceedings:            10
And see the ambush [hidden group] of our friends be strong;   
I fear the emperor means no good to us.   
AARON:  Some devil whisper curses in mine ear,   
And prompt me, that my tongue may utter forth   
The venomous malice of my swelling heart!            15
LUCIUS:  Away, inhuman dog! unhallow’d slave!   
Sirs, help our uncle to convey him in.  [Exeunt Goths, with AARON.  Trumpets sound.   
The trumpets show the emperor is at hand.   
Enter SATURNINUS and TAMORA, with ÆMILIUS, Senators, Tribunes, and Others.
SATURNINUS:  What! hath the firmament more suns than one?            20
LUCIUS:  What boots it thee [it is useless], to call thyself a sun?   
MARCUS:  Rome’s emperor, and nephew, break the parle [stop arguing];   
These quarrels must be quietly debated.   
The feast is ready which the careful Titus   
Hath ordain’d to an honourable end,            25
For peace, for love, for league [concord; agreement], and good to Rome:   
Please you, therefore, draw nigh, and take your places.   
SATURNINUS:  Marcus, we will.  [Hautboys [oboes] sound.   
Enter TITUS, dressed like a cook, LAVINIA, veiled, young LUCIUS, and Others.  TITUS places the dishes on the table.
TITUS:  Welcome, my gracious lord; welcome, dread queen;            30
Welcome, ye war-like Goths; welcome, Lucius;   
And welcome, all. Although the cheer be poor,   
’Twill fill your stomachs; please you eat of it.   
SATURNINUS:  Why art thou thus attir’d, Andronicus?   
TITUS:  Because I would be sure to have all well            35
To entertain your highness, and your empress.   
TAMORA:  We are beholding to you, good Andronicus.   
TITUS:  An if your highness knew my heart, you were.   
My lord the emperor, resolve [answer; assure] me this:   
Was it well done of rash Virginius            40
To slay his daughter with his own right hand,   
Because she was enforced, stain’d, and deflower’d?   
SATURNINUS:  It was, Andronicus.   
TITUS:  Your reason, mighty lord?   
SATURNINUS:  Because the girl should not survive her shame,            45
And by her presence still renew his sorrows.   
TITUS:  A reason mighty, strong, and effectual;   
A pattern, precedent, and lively warrant,   
For me most wretched, to perform the like.   
Die, die, Lavinia, and thy shame with thee;            50
And with thy shame thy father’s sorrow die!  [Kills LAVINIA.   
SATURNINUS:  What hast thou done, unnatural and unkind?   
TITUS:  Kill’d her, for whom my tears have made me blind.   
I am as woeful as Virginius was,   
And have a thousand times more cause than he            55
To do this outrage: and it is now done.   
SATURNINUS:  What! was she ravish’d? tell who did the deed.   
TITUS:  Will ’t please you eat? will ’t please your highness feed?   
TAMORA:  Why hast thou slain thine only daughter thus?   
TITUS:  Not I; ’twas Chiron and Demetrius:            60
They ravish’d her, and cut away her tongue:   
And they, ’twas they, that did her all this wrong.   
SATURNINUS:  Go fetch them hither to us presently.   
TITUS:  Why, there they are both, baked in that pie;   
Whereof their mother daintily hath fed,            65
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.   
’Tis true, ’tis true; witness my knife’s sharp point.  [Kills TAMORA.   
SATURNINUS:  Die, frantic wretch, for this accursed deed!  [Kills TITUS.   
LUCIUS:  Can the son’s eye behold his father bleed?   
There’s meed for meed, death for a deadly deed!  [Kills SATURNINUS.  A great tumult.  The people in confusion disperse.  MARCUS, LUCIUS, and their partisans, go up into the balcony.            70
MARCUS:  You sad-fac’d men, people and sons of Rome,   
By uproar sever’d, like a flight of fowl   
Scatter’d by winds and high tempestuous gusts,   
O! let me teach you how to knit again   
This scatter’d corn into one mutual sheaf,            75
These broken limbs again into one body;   
Lest Rome herself be bane unto herself,   
And she whom mighty kingdoms curtsy to,   
Like a forlorn and desperate castaway,   
Do shameful execution on herself.            80
But if my frosty signs and chaps of age,   
Grave witnesses of true experience,   
Cannot induce you to attend my words,   
[To LUCIUS.]  Speak, Rome’s dear friend, as erst [formerly] our ancestor,   
When with his solemn tongue he did discourse            85
To love-sick Dido’s sad attending ear   
The story of that baleful burning night   
When subtle Greeks surpris’d King Priam’s Troy;   
Tell us what Sinon hath bewitch’d our ears,   
[Sinon: In the Trojan War, a Greek soldier who told the Trojans that the giant wooden horse the Greeks left behind was a gift. The Trojans pulled the horse inside the city. At night, Greek soldiers in the belly of the horse dropped down through a trap door and opened the gates of the city, allowing other other Greek soldiers to enter the city and conquer Troy.]
Or who hath brought the fatal engine in            90
[fatal engine: The wooden horse that the Greeks used to gain entry to Troy near the end of the Trojan War.]
That gives our Troy, our Rome, the civil wound.   
My heart is not compact [made] of flint nor steel,   
Nor can I utter all our bitter grief,   
But floods of tears will drown my oratory,   
And break my very utterance, even in the time            95
When it should move you to attend me most,   
Lending your kind commiseration.   
Here is a captain, let him tell the tale;   
Your hearts will throb and weep to hear him speak.   
LUCIUS:  Then, noble auditory [listeners], be it known to you,            100
That cursed Chiron and Demetrius   
Were they that murdered our emperor’s brother;   
And they it was that ravished our sister.   
For their fell faults our brothers were beheaded,   
Our father’s tears despis’d, and basely cozen’d [cheated]           105
Of that true hand that fought Rome’s quarrel out,   
And sent her enemies unto the grave:   
Lastly, myself unkindly banished,   
The gates shut on me, and turn’d weeping out,   
To beg relief among Rome’s enemies;            110
Who drown’d their enmity in my true tears,   
And op’d [opened] their arms to embrace me as a friend:   
And I am the turn’d forth, be it known to you,   
That have preserv’d her welfare in my blood,   
And from her bosom took the enemy’s point,            115
Sheathing the steel in my adventurous body.   
Alas! you know I am no vaunter [braggart], I;   
My scars can witness, dumb although they are,   
That my report is just and full of truth.   
But, soft! methinks I do digress too much,            120
Citing my worthless praise: O! pardon me;   
For when no friends are by, men praise themselves.   
MARCUS:  Now is my turn to speak. Behold this child;   
Of this was Tamora delivered,   
The issue [child] of an irreligious Moor,            125
Chief architect and plotter of these woes.   
The villain is alive in Titus’ house,   
Damn’d as he is, to witness this is true.   
Now judge what cause had Titus to revenge   
These wrongs, unspeakable, past patience,            130
Or more than any living man could bear.   
Now you have heard the truth, what say you Romans?   
Have we done aught [anything] amiss, show us wherein,   
And, from the place where you behold us now,   
The poor remainder of Andronici            135
Will, hand in hand, all headlong cast us down,   
And on the ragged stones beat forth our brains,   
And make a mutual closure of our house.   
Speak, Romans, speak! and if you say we shall,   
Lo! hand in hand, Lucius and I will fall.            140
AEMILIUS:  Come, come, thou reverend man of Rome,   
And bring our emperor gently in thy hand,   
Lucius, our emperor; for well I know   
The common voice do cry it shall be so.   
Romans.  Lucius, all hail! Rome’s royal emperor!            145
MARCUS:  [To Attendants.]  Go, go into old Titus’ sorrowful house,   
And hither hale that misbelieving Moor,   
To be adjudg’d some direful slaughtering death,   
As punishment for his most wicked life.  [Exeunt Attendants.   
LUCIUS, MARCUS, and the Others descend.             150

ROMANS: Lucius, all hail! Rome’s gracious governor!   
LUCIUS:  Thanks, gentle Romans: may I govern so,   
To heal Rome’s harms, and wipe away her woe!   
But, gentle people, give me aim [time] awhile,   
For nature puts me to a heavy task.            155
Stand all aloof; but, uncle, draw you near,   
To shed obsequious tears upon this trunk.   
O! take this warm kiss on thy pale cold lips,  [Kisses TITUS.   
These sorrowful drops upon thy blood-stain’d face,   
The last true duties of thy noble son!            160
MARCUS:  Tear for tear, and loving kiss for kiss,   
Thy brother Marcus tenders on thy lips:   
O! were the sum of these that I should pay   
Countless and infinite, yet would I pay them.   
LUCIUS:  Come hither, boy; come, come, and learn of us            165
To melt in showers: thy grandsire lov’d thee well:   
Many a time he danc’d thee on his knee,   
Sung thee asleep, his loving breast thy pillow;   
Many a matter hath he told to thee,   
Meet and agreeing with thine infancy;            170
In that respect, then, like a loving child,   
Shed yet some small drops from thy tender spring,   
Because kind nature doth require it so:   
Friends should associate friends in grief and woe.   
Bid him farewell; commit him to the grave;            175
Do him that kindness, and take leave of him.   
BOY:  O grandsire, grandsire! even with all my heart   
Would I were dead, so you did live again.   
O Lord! I cannot speak to him for weeping;   
My tears will choke me if I ope my mouth.            180
FIRST ROMAN:  You sad Andronici, have done with woes:   
Give sentence on this execrable wretch [Aaron],   
That hath been breeder of these dire events.   
LUCIUS:  Set him breast-deep in earth, and famish him;            185
There let him stand, and rave, and cry for food:   
If any one relieves or pities him,   
For the offence he dies. This is our doom:   
Some stay to see him fasten’d in the earth.   
AARON:  O! why should wrath be mute, and fury dumb?            190
I am no baby, I, that with base prayers   
I should repent the evils I have done.   
Ten thousand worse than ever yet I did   
Would I perform, if I might have my will:   
If one good deed in all my life I did,            195
I do repent it from my very soul.   
LUCIUS:  Some loving friends convey the emperor hence,   
And give him burial in his father’s grave.   
My father and Lavinia shall forthwith   
Be closed in our household’s monument.            200
As for that heinous tiger, Tamora,   
No funeral rite, nor man in mournful weeds [clothes],   
No mournful bell shall ring her burial;   
But throw her forth to beasts and birds of prey.   
Her life was beast-like, and devoid of pity;            205
And, being so, shall have like want of pity.   
See justice done on Aaron, that damn’d Moor,   
By whom our heavy haps [misfortunes] had their beginning:   
Then, afterwards, to order well the state,   
That like events may ne’er it ruinate.  [Exeunt.            210

Aside: Words whispered or spoken softly so that only the character (or characters) near the speaker can hear them. The audience hears everything, however.
Exeunt: The specified characters—or all the characters—leave the stage.
Flourish: Playing of trumpets; fanfare.

Study Questions and Essay Topics

The following questions ask for your viewpoints on the play. Your task is to present these viewpoints and defend them. If a particular viewpoint disagrees with scholarly interpretations of the play, that's all right. Just make sure you support your viewpoints with convincing evidence and other material.

  1. Which character in the play is the most despicable? Explain your answer.
  2. Are there any admirable characters in the play? Explain your answer.
  3. Write an essay that analyzes the main character, Titus Andronicus. There is plenty of evidence in the play to draw conclusions about him. For example, he recommends Saturninus as the new emperor. But after Saturninus accedes to the throne, he betrays Titus. Does this turn of events suggest that Titus is a poor judge of character? Also, in a fit of anger, Titus kills his own son, Mucius. Does this action suggest that he cannot control his emotions?
  4. Tamora ostensibly seeks revenge against Titus because he ordered the execution of her son, Alarbus. Are there other motives that fire her with vengeance?
  5. Titus kills Lavinia to put her out of her misery. Was he right to do so?
  6. Aaron has no admirable qualities except his love for his child. Is his love merely instinctual or genuine and heartfelt?

About the Author of This Study Guide

Michael J. Cummings, a native of Williamsport, Pa., was a public-school teacher, journalist, freelance writer, author, and college instructor before retiring and devoting his time to writing. He graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and undertook additional studies at Elmira (N.Y) College and Lycoming College in Williamsport. He also underwent training at the American Press Institute in New York and Reston, Va. Mr. Cummings is the author of five print books, fourteen e-books, and more than 2,500 newspaper and magazine articles. Among those he interviewed over the years were actors Peter Ustinov and Dennis Weaver, Merrill-Lynch chairman William Schreyer, Indy race-car champion Rick Mears, and George W. Bush (while he was running for vice president on Ronald Reagan's ticket). Mr. Cummings continues to reside in his hometown.