The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus
by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]
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[A ladder brought, which AARON is obliged 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: If thou wilt not, befall what may befall, I'll speak no more,—but vengeance rot you all!

LUCIUS. Say on: an 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, '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 of mischief, treason, villainies, Ruthful to hear, yet piteously perform'd: And this shall all be buried in 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;: 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 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 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 naught to thee.

LUCIUS. Even by my god I swear to thee I will.

AARON. First know thou, I begot him on the empress.

LUCIUS. O most insatiate and luxurious woman!

AARON. Tut, Lucius, this was but a deed of charity To that which thou shalt hear of me anon. 'Twas her two sons that murder'd Bassianus; 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 which had the doing of it.

LUCIUS. O barbarous, beastly villains, like thyself!

AARON. Indeed, I was their tutor to instruct them: That codding 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, As true a dog as ever fought at head. Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth. I train'd thy brethren to that guileful hole Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay: I wrote the letter that thy father found, And hid the gold within that 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't? I play'd the cheater for thy father's hand; And, when I had it, drew myself apart, And almost broke my heart with extreme laughter: I pry'd 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 That both mine eyes were rainy like to his: And when I told the empress of this sport, She swooned almost at my pleasing tale, And for my tidings gave me twenty kisses.

GOTH. What, canst thou say all this and never blush?

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,— Wherein I did not some notorious ill: 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; Make poor men's cattle stray and 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, 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 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.

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.

[Enter a GOTH.}

THIRD GOTH. My lord, there is a messenger from Rome Desires to be admitted to your presence.

LUCIUS. Let him come near.


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, 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. And we will come.—March away.


SCENE II. 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 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.]

[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? 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, 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; 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?

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. 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 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?

TAMORA. I am; therefore come down and welcome me.

TITUS. Do me some service ere 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; And then I'll come and be thy waggoner, And whirl along with thee about the globe. Provide thee two proper palfreys, black as jet, To hale thy vengeful waggon swift away, And find out murderers in their guilty caves: 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 Until his very downfall in the sea: 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 they thy ministers? what are they call'd?

TAMORA. Rapine and Murder; therefore called so '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; And, if one arm's embracement will content thee, I will embrace thee in it by and by.

[Exit from above.]

TAMORA. This closing with him fits his lunacy: Whate'er I forge to feed his brain-sick fiits, Do you uphold and maintain in your speeches, 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 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: 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?— For well I wot 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?

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 hath done thee wrong, 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 To find another that is like to thee, Good Rapine, stab him; he is 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 thine own proportion, 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, To send for Lucius, thy thrice-valiant son, Who leads towards Rome a band of warlike 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, 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.

[Enter MARCUS.]

Go, gentle Marcus, to thy nephew Lucius; Thou shalt inquire him out among the Goths: Bid him repair to me, and bring with him Some of the chiefest princes of the Goths; 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.

MARCUS. This will I do, and soon return again.


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, And cleave to no revenge but Lucius.

TAMORA. [Aside to them.] 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, And tarry with him till I come again.

TITUS. [Aside.] I knew 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. Madam, depart at pleasure; leave us here.

TAMORA. Farewell, Andronicus: Revenge now goes To lay a complot to betray thy foes.

TITUS. I know thou dost; and, sweet Revenge, farewell!

[Exit TAMORA.]

CHIRON. Tell us, old man, how shall we be employ'd?

TITUS. Tut, I have work enough for you to do.— Publius, come hither, Caius, and Valentine.

[Enter PUBLIUS and others.]

PUBLIUS. What is your will?

TITUS. Know you these two?

PUBLIUS. The empress' sons, I take them: Chiron, 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:— 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., lay hands on CHIRON and DEMETRIUS.]

CHIRON. Villains, forbear! we are the empress' sons.

PUBLIUS. And therefore do we what we are commanded.— Stop close their mouths, let them not speak a word. Is he sure bound? look that you bind them fast.

[Re-enter TITUS ANDRONICUS, with LAVINIA; he bearing a knife and she a basin.]

TITUS. Come, come, Lavinia; look, thy foes are bound.— Sirs, stop their mouths, let them not speak to me; 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 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, Inhuman traitors, you constrain'd and forc'd. 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, Whiles that Lavinia 'tween her stumps doth hold 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; And of the paste 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. This is the feast that I have bid her to, And this the banquet she shall surfeit on; For worse than Philomel you us'd my daughter, And worse than Progne 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, Let me go grind their bones to powder small, And with this hateful liquor temper it; And in that paste let their vile heads be bak'd. Come, come, be every one officious To make this banquet; which I wish may prove More stern and bloody than the Centaurs' feast. So, now bring them in, for I will play the cook, And see them ready against their mother comes.

[Exeunt, bearing the dead bodies.]

SCENE III. Rome. A Pavilion in TITUS'S Gardens, with tables, &c.

[Enter LUCIUS, MARCUS, and GOTHS, with AARON prisoner.]

LUCIUS. Uncle Marcus, since 'tis my father's mind That I repair to Rome, I am content.

FIRST GOTH. And ours with thine, befall what fortune will.

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: And see the ambush of our friends be strong; I fear the emperor means no good to us.

AARON. Some devil whisper curses in my ear, And prompt me that my tongue may utter forth The venomous malice of my swelling heart!

LUCIUS. Away, inhuman dog, unhallowed slave!— Sirs, help our uncle to convey him in.—

[Exeunt GOTHS with AARON. Flourish within. The trumpets show the emperor is at hand.]

[Enter SATURNINUS and TAMORA, with AEMILIUS, Tribunes, Senators, and others.]

SATURNINUS. What, hath the firmament more suns than one?

LUCIUS. What boots it thee to call thyself the sun?

MARCUS. Rome's emperor, and nephew, break the parle; These quarrels must be quietly debated. The feast is ready, which the careful Titus Hath ordain'd to an honourable end, For peace, for love, for league, and good to Rome: Please you, therefore, draw nigh and take your places.

SATURNINUS. Marcus, we will.

[Hautboys sound. The company sit at table.]

[Enter TITUS, dressed like a cook,LAVINIA, valed,YOUNG LUCIUS, and others. TITUS places the dishes on the table.]

TITUS. Welcome, my lord; welcome, dread queen; Welcome, ye warlike 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 To entertain your highness and your empress.

TAMORA. We are beholden to you, good Andronicus.

TITUS. An if your highness knew my heart, you were. My lord the emperor, resolve me this: Was it well done of rash Virginius To slay his daughter with his own right hand, Because she was enforc'd, stain'd, and deflower'd?

SATURNINUS. It was, Andronicus.

TITUS. Your reason, mighty lord.

SATURNINUS. Because the girl should not survive her shame, 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;

[Kills LAVINIA.]

And with thy shame thy father's sorrow die!

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 To do this outrage;—and it now is 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: 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, 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. LUCIUS, MARCUS, and their partisans, ascend the steps before TITUS'S house.]

MARCUS. You sad-fac'd men, people and sons of Rome, By uproar sever'd, as a flight of fowl Scatter'd by winds and high tempestuous gusts, O, let me teach you how to knit again This scattered corn into one mutual sheaf, These broken limbs again into one body: Lest Rome herself be bane unto herself, And she whom mighty kingdoms court'sy to, Like a forlorn and desperate castaway, Do shameful execution on herself. But if my frosty signs and chaps of age, Grave witnesses of true experience, Cannot induce you to attend my words,— Speak, Rome's dear friend,[ to Lucius]: as erst our ancestor, When with his solemn tongue he did discourse 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, Or who hath brought the fatal engine in That gives our Troy, our Rome, the civil wound. My heart is not compact 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 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, be it known to you That cursed Chiron and Demetrius Were they that murdered our emperor's brother; And they it were that ravished our sister: For their fell faults our brothers were beheaded; Our father's tears despis'd, and basely cozen'd 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; Who drown'd their enmity in my true tears, And op'd their arms to embrace me as a friend: I am the turned-forth, be it known to you, That have preserv'd her welfare in my blood; And from her bosom took the enemy's point, Sheathing the steel in my adventurous body. Alas! you know I am no vaunter, 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, Citing my worthless praise: O, pardon me; For when no friends are by, men praise themselves.

MARCUS. Now is my turn to speak. Behold the child.

[Pointing to the CHILD in an Attendant's arms.]

Of this was Tamora delivered; The issue of an irreligious Moor, 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, Or more than any living man could bear. Now have you heard the truth, what say you, Romans? Have we done aught amiss,—show us wherein, And, from the place where you behold us now, The poor remainder of Andronici 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.

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. [Several speak.] Lucius, all hail, Rome's royal emperor!

MARCUS. Go, go into old Titus' sorrowful house,

[To attendants, who go into the house.]

And hither hale that misbelieving Moor To be adjudg'd some direful slaughtering death, As punishment for his most wicked life.

[LUCIUS, MARCUS, &c. descend.]

ROMANS. [Several speak.] 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 awhile,— For nature puts me to a heavy task:— 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!

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 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; 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; Do him that kindness, and take leave of him.

YOUNG LUCIUS. 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.

[Re-enter attendants with AARON.]

AEMILIUS. You sad Andronici, have done with woes: Give sentence on the execrable wretch, That hath been breeder of these dire events.

LUCIUS. Set him breast-deep in earth, and famish him; 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. Ah, why should wrath be mute and fury dumb? 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, 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. As for that ravenous tiger, Tamora, No funeral rite, nor man in mournful weeds, 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; And, being so, shall have like want of pity. See justice done on Aaron, that damn'd Moor, By whom our heavy haps had their beginning: Then, afterwards, to order well the state, That like events may ne'er it ruinate.



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