The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus
William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

Part 1 out of 3


by William Shakespeare


SATURNINUS, Son to the late Emperor of Rome, afterwards declared
BASSIANUS, Brother to Saturninus, in love with Lavinia.
TITUS ANDRONICUS, a noble Roman, General against the Goths.
MARCUS ANDRONICUS, Tribune of the People, and Brother to Titus.

LUCIUS, Son to Titus Andronicus.
QUINTUS, Son to Titus Andronicus.
MARTIUS, Son to Titus Andronicus.
MUTIUS, Son to Titus Andronicus.

YOUNG LUCIUS, a Boy, Son to Lucius.
PUBLIUS, Son to Marcus the Tribune.

AEMILIUS, a noble Roman.

ALARBUS, Son to Tamora.
DEMETRIUS, Son to Tamora.
CHIRON, Son to Tamora.

AARON, a Moor, beloved by Tamora
A Captain, Tribune, Messenger,and Clown--Romans
Goths and Romans.

TAMORA, Queen of the Goths
LAVINIA, Daughter to Titus Andronicus
A NURSE, and a black CHILD.

Kinsmen to Titus, Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers, and

SCENE: Rome, and the Country near it.

ACT 1.

SCENE I. Rome. Before the Capitol.

[The Tomb of Andronic appearing; the Tribunes and Senators aloft.
Enter, below, SATURNINUS and his Followers on one side, and
BASSIANUS and his Followers at the other, with drums and

Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Defend the justice of my cause with arms;
And, countrymen, my loving followers,
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.

Romans,--friends, followers, favourers of my right,--
If ever Bassianus, Caesar's son,
Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,
Keep then this passage to the Capitol;
And suffer not dishonour to approach
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.

[Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS aloft, with the crown.]

Princes,--that strive by factions and by friends
Ambitiously for rule and empery,--
Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand
A special party, have by common voice,
In election for the Roman empery
Chosen Andronicus, surnamed Pius
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 home
From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;
That with his sons, a terror to our foes,
Hath yok'd a nation strong, train'd up in arms.
Ten years are spent since first he undertook
This cause of Rome, and chastised with arms
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,
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,--
That you withdraw you and abate your strength;
Dismiss your followers, and, as suitors should,
Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.

How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!

Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy
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, Rome's rich ornament,
That I will here dismiss my loving friends;
And to my fortunes and the people's favour
Commit my cause in balance to be weigh'd.

[Exeunt the Followers of BASSIANUS.]

Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,
I thank you all and here dismiss you all;
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, tribunes, and let me in.

Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.

[Flourish. Exeunt; SATURNINUS and BASSIANUS go up into the

[Enter a Captain.]

Romans, make way. The good Andronicus,
Patron of virtue, Rome's best champion,
Successful in the battles that he fights,
With honour and with fortune is return'd
From where he circumscribed with his sword
And brought to yoke the enemies of Rome.

[Flourish of trumpets, &c. 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, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, AARON, and other Goths, prisoners;
soldiers and People following. The bearers set down the coffin,
and TITUS speaks.]

Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!
Lo, as the bark that hath discharg'd her fraught
Returns with precious lading to the bay
From whence at first she weigh'd her anchorage,
Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,
To re-salute his country with his tears,--
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,
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 amongst their ancestors;
Here Goths have given me leave to sheathe my sword.
Titus, unkind, and careless of thine own,
Why suffer'st thou thy sons, unburied yet,
To hover on the dreadful shore of Styx?--
Make way to lay them by their brethren.--

[The tomb is opened.]

There greet in silence, as the dead are wont,
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!

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,
Nor we disturb'd with prodigies on earth.

I give him you,--the noblest that survives,
The eldest son of this distressed queen.

Stay, Roman brethen!--Gracious conqueror,
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!
Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome,
To beautify thy triumphs and return,
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 common weal
Were piety in thine, it is in these.
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.

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,
To appease their groaning shadows that are gone.

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.


O cruel, irreligious piety!

Was ever Scythia half so barbarous!

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
The self-same gods that arm'd the Queen of Troy
With opportunity of sharp revenge
Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent,
May favour Tamora, the queen of Goths,--
When Goths were Goths and Tamora was queen,--
To quit the bloody wrongs upon her foes.

[Re-enter LUCIUS, QUINTUS, MARTIUS,and MUTIUS, with their swords

See, lord and father, how we have perform'd
Our Roman rites: Alarbus' limbs are lopp'd,
And entrails feed the sacrificing fire,
Whose smoke like incense doth perfume the sky.
Remaineth naught but to inter our brethren,
And with loud 'larums welcome them to Rome.

Let it be so, and let Andronicus
Make this his latest farewell to their souls.

[Trumpets sounded and the coffin laid in the tomb.]

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 grudges; here are no storms,
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:

[Enter LAVINIA.]

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!

In peace and honour live Lord Titus long;
My noble lord and father, live in fame!
Lo, at this tomb my tributary tears
I render for my brethren's obsequies;
And at thy feet I kneel, with tears of joy
Shed on this earth for thy return to Rome;
O, bless me here with thy victorious hand,
Whose fortunes Rome's best citizens applaud!

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!

[Enter, below, MARCUS ANDRONICUS and Tribunes; re-enter

Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,
Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!

Thanks, gentle tribune, noble brother Marcus.

And welcome, nephews, from successful wars,
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
And triumphs over chance in honour's bed.--
Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome,
Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been,
Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust,
This palliament of white and spotless hue;
And name thee in election for the empire
With these our late-deceased emperor's sons:
Be candidatus then, and put it on,
And help to set a head on headless Rome.

A better head her glorious body fits
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 abroach new business for you all?
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:
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.

Titus, thou shalt obtain and ask the empery.

Proud and ambitious tribune, canst thou tell?

Patience, Prince Saturninus.

Romans, do me right;--
Patricians, draw your swords, and sheathe them not
Till Saturninus be Rome's Emperor.--
Andronicus, would thou were shipp'd to hell
Rather than rob me of the people's hearts!

Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good
That noble-minded Titus means to thee!

Content thee, prince; I will restore to thee
The people's hearts, and wean them from themselves.

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.

People of Rome, and people's tribunes here,
I ask your voices and your suffrages:
Will you bestow them friendly on Andronicus?

To gratify the good Andronicus,
And gratulate his safe return to Rome,
The people will accept whom he admits.

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 rays on earth,
And ripen justice in this commonweal:
Then, if you will elect by my advice,
Crown him, and say 'Long live our Emperor!'

With voices and applause of every sort,
Patricians and plebeians, we create
Lord Saturninus Rome's great emperor;
And say 'Long live our Emperor Saturnine!'
[A long flourish.]

Titus Andronicus, for thy favours done
To us in our election this day
I give thee thanks in part of thy deserts,
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,
And in the sacred Pantheon her espouse:
Tell me, Andronicus, doth this motion please thee?

It doth, my worthy lord; and in this match
I hold me highly honoured of your grace:
And here in sight of Rome, to Saturnine,--
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,
Mine honour's ensigns humbled at thy feet.

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,
Romans, forget your fealty to me.

[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.

A goodly lady, trust me; of the hue
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.
Rest on my word, and let not discontent
Daunt all your hopes: madam, he comforts you
Can make you greater than the Queen of Goths.--
Lavinia, you are not displeas'd with this?

Not I, my lord, sith true nobility
Warrants these words in princely courtesy.

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.]

Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine.

[Seizing LAVINIA.]

How, sir! are you in earnest then, my lord?

Ay, noble Titus; and resolv'd withal
To do myself this reason and this right.

Suum cuique is our Roman justice:
This prince in justice seizeth but his own.

And that he will and shall, if Lucius live.

Traitors, avaunt!--Where is the emperor's guard?--
Treason, my lord,--Lavinia is surpris'd!

Surpris'd! by whom?

By him that justly may
Bear his betroth'd from all the world away.


Brothers, help to convey her hence away,
And with my sword I'll keep this door safe.


Follow, my lord, and I'll soon bring her back.

My lord, you pass not here.

What, villain boy!
Barr'st me my way in Rome?

[Stabbing MUTIUS.]

Help, Lucius, help!


[Re-enter Lucius.]

My lord, you are unjust; and more than so:
In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.

Nor thou nor he are any sons of mine;
My sons would never so dishonour me.
Traitor, restore Lavinia to the Emperor.

Dead, if you will; but not to be his wife,
That is another's lawful promis'd love.


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;
Thee never, nor thy traitorous haughty sons,
Confederates all thus to dishonour me.
Was there none else in Rome to make a stale
But Saturnine? Full well, Andronicus,
Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine
That said'st I begg'd the empire at thy hands.

O monstrous! what reproachful words are these?

But go thy ways; go, give that changing piece
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,
To ruffle in the commonwealth of Rome.

These words are razors to my wounded heart.

And therefore, lovely Tamora, Queen of Goths,--
That, like the stately Phoebe 'mongst her nymphs,
Dost overshine the gallant'st dames of Rome,--
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,--
Sith priest and holy water are so near,
And tapers burn so bright, and everything
In readiness for Hymenaeus stand,--
I will not re-salute the streets of Rome,
Or climb my palace, till from forth this place
I lead espous'd my bride along with me.

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.

Ascend, fair queen, Pantheon.--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 rites.

[Exeunt SATURNINUS and his Followers; TAMORA and her Sons; AARON
and Goths.]

I am not bid to wait upon this bride.--
Titus, when wert thou wont to walk alone,
Dishonour'd thus, and challenged of wrongs?


O Titus, see, O, see what thou hast done!
In a bad quarrel slain a virtuous son.

No, foolish tribune, no; no son of mine,--
Nor thou, nor these, confederates in the deed
That hath dishonoured all our family;
Unworthy brother and unworthy sons!

But let us give him burial, as becomes;
Give Mutius burial with our bretheren.

Traitors, away! He rests not in this tomb:--
This monument five hundred years hath stood,
Which I have sumptuously re-edified:
Here none but soldiers and Rome's servitors
Repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls:--
Bury him where you can, he comes not here.

My lord, this is impiety in you:
My nephew Mutius' deeds do plead for him;
He must be buried with his bretheren.

And shall, or him we will accompany.

And shall! What villain was it spake that word?

He that would vouch it in any place but here.

What, would you bury him in my despite?

No, noble Titus; but entreat of thee
To pardon Mutius, and to bury him.

Marcus, even thou hast struck upon my crest,
And with these boys mine honour thou hast wounded:
My foes I do repute you every one;
So trouble me no more, but get you gone.

He is not with himself; let us withdraw.

Not I, till Mutius' bones be buried.

[MARCUS and the Sons of TITUS kneel.]

Brother, for in that name doth nature plead,--

Father, and in that name doth nature speak,--

Speak thou no more, if all the rest will speed.

Renowned Titus, more than half my soul,--

Dear father, soul and substance of us all,--

Suffer thy brother Marcus to inter
His noble nephew here in virtue's nest,
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:
Let not young Mutius, then, that was thy joy,
Be barr'd his entrance here.

Rise, Marcus, rise:
The dismall'st day is this that e'er I saw,
To be dishonour'd by my sons in Rome!--
Well, bury him, and bury me the next.

[MUTIUS is put into the tomb.]

There lie thy bones, sweet Mutius, with thy friends,
Till we with trophies do adorn thy tomb.

[Kneeling.] No man shed tears for noble Mutius;
He lives in fame that died in virtue's cause.

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?

I know not, Marcus, but I know it is,--
Whether by device or no, the heavens can tell:
Is she not, then, beholding to the man
That brought her for this high good turn so far?

Yes, and will nobly him remunerate.

[Flourish. Re-enter, at one side, SATURNINUS, attended; TAMORA
and others.]

So, Bassianus, you have play'd your prize:
God give you joy, sir, of your gallant bride!

And you of yours, my lord! I say no more,
Nor wish no less; and so I take my leave.

Traitor, if Rome have law or we have power,
Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape.

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 am I possess'd of that is mine.

'Tis good, sir. You are very short with us;
But if we live we'll be as sharp with you.

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,
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
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.

Prince Bassianus, leave to plead my deeds:
'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!

My worthy lord, if ever Tamora
Were gracious in those princely eyes of thine,
Then hear me speak indifferently for all;
And at my suit, sweet, pardon what is past.

What, madam! be dishonoured openly,
And basely put it up without revenge?

Not so, my lord; the gods of Rome forfend
I should be author to dishonour you!
But on mine honour dare I undertake
For good Lord Titus' innocence in all,
Whose fury not dissembled speaks his griefs:
Then at my suit look graciously on him;
Lose not so noble a friend on vain suppose,
Nor with sour looks afflict his gentle heart.--
[Aside.] 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;
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:
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
Kneel in the streets and beg for grace in vain.--
Come, come, sweet emperor,--come, Andronicus,--
Take up this good old man, and cheer the heart
That dies in tempest of thy angry frown.

Rise, Titus, rise; my empress hath prevail'd.

I thank your majesty and her, my lord:
These words, these looks, infuse new life in me.

Titus, I am incorporate in Rome,
A Roman now adopted happily,
And must advise the emperor for his good.
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
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.

We do; and vow to heaven and to his highness
That what we did was mildly as we might,
Tendering our sister's honour and our own.

That on mine honour here do I protest.

Away, and talk not; trouble us no more.

Nay, nay, sweet emperor, we must all be friends:
The tribune and his nephews kneel for grace;
I will not be denied: sweet heart, look back.

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:
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,
You are my guest, Lavinia, and your friends.
This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.

To-morrow, an it please your majesty
To hunt the panther and the hart with me,
With horn and hound we'll give your grace bonjour.

Be it so, Titus, and gramercy too.



SCENE I. Rome. Before the palace.

[Enter AARON.]

Now climbeth Tamora Olympus' top,
Safe out of fortune's shot; and sits aloft,
Secure of thunder's crack or lightning's 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 glistening coach,
And overlooks the highest-peering hill;
So Tamora:
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,
And mount her pitch, whom thou in triumph long
Hast prisoner held, fett'red in amorous chains,
And faster bound to Aaron's charming eyes
Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus.
Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts!
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 shipwreck and his commonweal's.--
Holla! what storm is this?

[Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON braving.]

Chiron, thy years wants wit, thy wit wants edge
And manners, to intrude where I am grac'd;
And may, for aught thou know'st, affected be.

Demetrius, thou dost over-ween in all;
And so in this, to bear me down with braves.
'Tis not the difference of a year or two
Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate:
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,
And plead my passions for Lavinia's love.

[Aside.] Clubs, clubs! These lovers will not keep the peace.

Why, boy, although our mother, unadvis'd,
Gave you a dancing-rapier by your side,
Are you so desperate grown to threat your friends?
Go to; have your lath glu'd within your sheath
Till you know better how to handle it.

Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,
Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.

Ay, boy, grow ye so brave?

[They draw.]

[Coming forward.] Why, how now, lords!
So near the emperor's palace dare ye draw,
And maintain such a quarrel openly?
Full well I wot the ground of 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
Be so dishonour'd in the court of Rome.
For shame, put up.

Not I, till I have sheath'd
My rapier in his bosom, and withal
Thrust those reproachful speeches down his throat
That he hath breath'd in my dishonour here.

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.

Away, I say!--
Now, by the gods that warlike Goths adore,
This pretty brabble will undo us all.--
Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous
It is to jet upon a prince's right?
What, is Lavinia then become so loose,
Or Bassianus so degenerate,
That for her love such quarrels may be broach'd
Without controlment, justice, or revenge?
Young lords, beware! and should the empress know
This discord's ground, the music would not please.

I care not, I, knew she and all the world:
I love Lavinia more than all the world.

Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice:
Lavina is thine elder brother's hope.

Why, are ye mad? or know ye not in Rome
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.

Aaron, a thousand deaths
Would I propose to achieve her whom I love.

To achieve her!--How?

Why mak'st thou it so strange?
She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore may be won;
She is Lavinia, therefore must be lov'd.
What, man! more water glideth by the mill
Than wots the miller of; and easy it is
Of a cut loaf to steal a shive, we know:
Though Bassianus be the emperor's brother,
Better than he have worn Vulcan's badge.

[Aside.] Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.

Then why should he despair that knows to court it
With words, fair looks, and liberality?
What, hast not thou full often struck a doe,
And borne her cleanly by the keeper's nose?

Why, then, it seems some certain snatch or so
Would serve your turns.

Ay, so the turn were serv'd.

Aaron, thou hast hit it.

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 this? Would it offend you, then,
That both should speed?

Faith, not me.

Nor me, so I were one.

For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar:
'Tis policy and stratagem must do
That you affect; and so must you resolve
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
Must we pursue, and I have found the path.
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 there are
Fitted by kind for rape and villainy:
Single you thither, then, this dainty doe,
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
To villainy and vengeance consecrate,
Will we acquaint with all what we intend;
And she shall file our engines with advice
That will not suffer you to square yourselves,
But to your wishes' height advance you both.
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;
There speak and strike, brave boys, and take your turns;
There serve your lust, shadowed from heaven's eye,
And revel in Lavinia's treasury.

Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice.

Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the stream
To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits,
Per Styga, per manes vehor.


SCENE II. A Forest near Rome; a Lodge seen at a distance. Horns
and cry of hounds heard.

[Enter TITUS ANDRONICUS, with hunters, &c., MARCUS, LUCIUS,

The hunt is up, the morn is bright and gay,
The fields are fragrant, and the woods are green.
Uncouple here, and let us make a bay,
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:
I have been troubled in my sleep this night,
But dawning day new comfort hath inspir'd.

DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, and Attendants.]

Many good morrows to your majesty:--
Madam, to you as many and as good:--
I promised your grace a hunter's peal.

And you have rung it lustily, my lord;
Somewhat too early for new-married ladies.

Lavinia, how say you?

I say no; I have been broad awake two hours and more.

Come on then, horse and chariots let us have,
And to our sport.--[To TAMORA.] Madam, now shall ye see
Our Roman hunting.

I have dogs, my lord,
Will rouse the proudest panther in the chase,
And climb the highest promontory top.

And I have horse will follow where the game
Makes way, and run like swallows o'er the plain.

Chiron, we hunt not, we, with horse nor hound,
But hope to pluck a dainty doe to ground.


SCENE III. A lonely part of the Forest.

[Enter AARON with a bag of gold.]

He that had wit would think that I had none,
To bury so much gold under a tree,
And never after to inherit it.
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

[Hides the gold.]

That have their alms out of the empress' chest.

[Enter TAMORA.]

My lovely Aaron, wherefore look'st thou sad
When everything does make a gleeful boast?
The birds chant melody on every bush;
The snakes lie 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-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,
When with a happy storm they were surpris'd,
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.

Madam, though Venus govern your desires,
Saturn is dominator over mine:
What signifies my deadly-standing eye,
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,
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;
His Philomel must lose her tongue to-day,
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.--
Now question me no more,--we are espied;
Here comes a parcel of our hopeful booty,
Which dreads not yet their lives' destruction.

Ah, my sweet Moor, sweeter to me than life!

No more, great empress: Bassianus comes:
Be cross with him; and I'll go fetch thy sons
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe'er they be.



Who have we here? Rome's royal empress,
Unfurnish'd of her well-beseeming troop?
Or is it Dian, habited like her,
Who hath abandoned her holy groves
To see the general hunting in this forest?

Saucy controller of my private steps!
Had I the power that some say Dian had,
Thy temples should be planted presently
With horns, as was Actaeon's; and the hounds
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,
Unmannerly intruder as thou art!

Under your patience, gentle empress,
'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!
'Tis pity they should take him for a stag.

Believe me, queen, your swarth Cimmerian
Doth make your honour of his body's hue,
Spotted, detested, and abominable.
Why are you sequester'd from all your train,
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,
And wander'd hither to an obscure plot,
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
If foul desire had not conducted you?

And, being intercepted in your sport,
Great reason that my noble lord be rated
For sauciness.--I pray you let us hence,
And let her joy her raven-coloured love;
This valley fits the purpose passing well.

The king my brother shall have notice of this.

Ay, for these slips have made him noted long:
Good king, to be so mightily abus'd!

Why have I patience to endure all this?


How now, dear sovereign, and our gracious mother!
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan?

Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?
These two have 'ticed me hither 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:
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,
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
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 call'd me foul adulteress,
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms
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.

This is a witness that I am thy son.


And this for me, struck home to show my strength.

[Also stabs BASSIANUS, who dies.]

Ay, come, Semiramis,--nay, barbarous Tamora,
For no name fits thy nature but thy own!

Give me thy poniard;--you shall know, my boys,
Your mother's hand shall right your mother's wrong.

Stay, madam; here is more belongs to her;
First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw:
This minion stood upon her chastity,
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,
And with that painted hope braves your mightiness:
And shall she carry this unto her grave?

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.

But when ye have the honey we desire,
Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.

I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.--
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice-preserved honesty of yours.

O Tamora! thou bear'st a woman's face,--

I will not hear her speak; away with her!

Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.

Listen, fair madam: let it be your glory
To see her tears; but be your heart to them
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.

When did the tiger's young ones teach the dam?
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.--
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike:
[To CHIRON.] Do thou entreat her show a woman's pity.

What, wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard?

'Tis true, the raven doth not hatch a lark:
Yet have I heard,--O, could I find it now!--
The lion, mov'd with pity, did endure
To have his princely paws par'd 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,
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful!

I know not what it means:--away with her!

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.

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:
Therefore away with her, and use her as you will;
The worse to her the better lov'd of me.

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;
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.

What begg'st thou, then? fond woman, let me go.

'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,
And tumble me into some loathsome pit,
Where never man's eye may behold my body:
Do this, and be a charitable murderer.

So should I rob my sweet sons of their fee:
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.

Away! for thou hast stay'd us here too long.

No grace? no womanhood? Ah, beastly creature!
The blot and enemy to our general name!
Confusion fall,--

Nay, then I'll stop your mouth:--bring thou her husband.
This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him.

[DEMETRIUS throws BASSIANUS'S body into the pit; then exit with
CHIRON, dragging off LAVINIA.]

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,
And let my spleenful sons this trull deflower.


[Re-enter AARON, with QUINTUS and MARTIUS.]

Come on, my lords, the better foot before:
Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.

My sight is very dull, whate'er it bodes.

And mine, I promise you; were't not for shame,
Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile.

[Falls into the pit.]

What, art thou fallen?--What subtle hole is this,
Whose mouth is cover'd with rude-growing briers,
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood
As fresh as morning dew distill'd on flowers?
A very fatal place it seems to me.--
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the fall?

O brother, with the dismallest object hurt
That ever eye with sight made heart lament!

[Aside] Now will I fetch the king to find them here,
That he thereby may have a likely guess
How these were they that made away his brother.


Why dost not comfort me, and help me out
From this unhallow'd and blood-stained hole?

I am surprised with an uncouth fear;
A chilling sweat o'er-runs my trembling joints;
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.

To prove thou hast a true divining heart,
Aaron and thou look down into this den,
And see a fearful sight of blood and death.

Aaron is gone; and my compassionate heart
Will not permit mine eyes once to behold
The thing whereat it trembles by surmise:
O, tell me who it is; for ne'er till now
Was I a child to fear I know not what.

Lord Bassianus lies embrewed here,
All on a heap, like to a slaughter'd lamb,
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.

If it be dark, how dost thou know 'tis he?

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.
O brother, help me with thy fainting hand,--
If fear hath made thee faint, as me it hath,--
Out of this fell devouring receptacle,
As hateful as Cocytus' misty mouth.

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
Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus' grave.
I have no strength to pluck thee to the brink.

Nor I no strength to climb without thy help.

Thy hand once more; I will not lose again,
Till thou art here aloft, or I below:
Thou canst not come to me,--I come to thee.

[Falls in.]


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
Into this gaping hollow of the earth?

The unhappy sons of old Andronicus,
Brought hither in a most unlucky hour,
To find thy brother Bassianus dead.

My brother dead! I know thou dost but jest:
He and his lady both are at the lodge
Upon the north side of this pleasant chase;
'Tis not an hour since I left them there.

We know not where you left them all alive;
But, out, alas! here have we found him dead.

[Re-enter TAMORA, with Attendants; TITUS ANDRONICUS and LUCIUS.]

Where is my lord the king?

Here, Tamora; though griev'd with killing grief.

Where is thy brother Bassianus?

Now to the bottom dost thou search my wound;
Poor Bassianus here lies murdered.

Then all too late I bring this fatal writ,

[Giving a letter.]

The complot of this timeless tragedy;
And wonder greatly that man's face can fold
In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny.

[Reads] 'An 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
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:--
Look, sirs, if you can find the huntsman out
That should have murder'd Bassianus here.

My gracious lord, here is the bag of gold.

[Showing it.]

[To TITUS] Two of thy whelps, fell curs of bloody kind,
Have here bereft my brother of his life.--
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.

What, are they in this pit? O wondrous thing!
How easily murder is discovered!

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,--

If it be prov'd! You see it is apparent.--
Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?

Andronicus himself did take it up.

I did, my lord: yet let me be their bail;
For, by my fathers' reverend tomb, I vow
They shall be ready at your highness' will
To answer their suspicion with their lives.

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,
That end upon them should be executed.

Andronicus, I will entreat the king:
Fear not thy sons; they shall do well enough.

Come, Lucius, come; stay not to talk with them.

[Exeunt severally. Attendants bearing the body.]

SCENE IV. Another part of the Forest.

[Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, with LAVINIA, ravished; her hands
cut off, and her tongue cut out.]

So, now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,
Who 'twas that cut thy tongue and ravish'd thee.

Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so,
An if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.

See how with signs and tokens she can scrowl.

Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.

She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash;
And so let's leave her to her silent walks.

An 'twere my case, I should go hang myself.

If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.


[Enter MARCUS.]

Who is this?--my niece,--that flies away so fast?
Cousin, a word; where is your husband?--
If I do dream, would all my wealth would wake me!
If I do wake, some planet strike me down,
That I may slumber an eternal sleep!--
Speak, gentle niece,--what stern ungentle hands
Hath 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,
And might not gain so great a happiness
As half thy love? Why dost not speak to me?--
Alas, a crimson river of warm blood,
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 deflowered thee,
And, lest thou shouldst detect him, cut thy tongue.
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.
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 an oven stopp'd,
Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is.
Fair Philomela, why she but lost her tongue,
And in a tedious sampler sew'd her mind;
But, lovely niece, that mean is cut from thee;
A craftier Tereus, cousin, hast thou met,
And he hath cut those pretty fingers off
That could have better sew'd than Philomel.
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!
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.
Come, let us go, and make thy father blind;
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 case thy misery!



SCENE I. 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.]

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
Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks;
Be pitiful to my condemned sons,
Whose souls are not corrupted as 'tis thought.
For two and twenty sons I never wept,
Because they died in honour's lofty bed.

[Throwing himself on the ground.]

For these, tribunes, in the dust I write
My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears:
Let my tears stanch 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:
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.]

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.

O noble father, you lament in vain:
The tribunes hear you not, no man is by;
And you recount your sorrows to a stone.

Ah, Lucius, for thy brothers let me plead.--
Grave tribunes, once more I entreat of you.

My gracious lord, no tribune hears you speak.

Why, 'tis no matter, man: if they did hear,
They would not mark me; if they did mark,
They would not pity me; yet plead I must,
And bootless unto them.
Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones;
Who, though they cannot answer my distress,
Yet in some sort they are better than the tribunes,
For that they will not intercept my tale:
When I do weep they humbly at my feet
Receive my tears, and seem to weep with me;
And were they but attired in grave weeds,
Rome could afford no tribunes 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.


But wherefore stand'st thou with thy weapon drawn?

To rescue my two brothers from their death:
For which attempt the judges have pronounc'd
My everlasting doom of banishment.

O happy man! they have befriended thee.
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!--
But who comes with our brother Marcus here?


Titus, prepare thy aged eyes to weep;
Or if not so, thy noble heart to break:
I bring consuming sorrow to thine age.

Will it consume me? let me see it then.

This was thy daughter.

Why, Marcus, so she is.

Ay me! this object kills me!

Faint-hearted boy, arise, and look upon her.--
Speak, my Lavinia, what accursed hand
Hath made thee handless in thy father's sight?
What fool hath added water to the sea,
Or brought a fagot to bright-burning Troy?
My grief was at the height before thou cam'st;
And now, like Nilus, 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 prayer have they been held up,
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.

Speak, gentle sister, who hath martyr'd thee?

O, that delightful engine of her thoughts,
That blabb'd them with such pleasing eloquence,
Is torn from forth that pretty hollow cage,
Where, like a sweet melodious bird, it sung
Sweet varied notes, enchanting every ear!

O, say thou for her, who hath done this deed?

O, thus I found her straying in the park,
Seeking to hide herself, as doth the deer
That hath receiv'd some unrecuring wound.

It was my deer; 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 tide grow wave by wave,
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:
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?
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!
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.

Perchance she weeps because they kill'd her husband:
Perchance because she knows them innocent.

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;
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,
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?
Or shall we cut away our hands like thine?
Or shall we bite our tongues, and in dumb shows
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.

Sweet father, cease your tears; for at your grief
See how my wretched sister sobs and weeps.

Patience, dear niece.--Good Titus, dry thine eyes.

Ah, Marcus, Marcus! brother, well I wot
Thy napkin cannot drink a tear of mine,
For thou, poor man, hast drown'd it with thine own.

Ah, my Lavinia, I will wipe thy cheeks.

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:
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.]

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
Will send thee hither both thy sons alive:
And that shall be the ransom for their fault.

O gracious emperor! 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?

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:
My youth can better spare my blood than you;
And therefore mine shall save my brothers' lives.

Which of your hands hath not defended Rome,
And rear'd aloft the bloody battle-axe,
Writing destruction on the enemy's castle?
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.

Nay, come, agree whose hand shall go along,
For fear they die before their pardon come.

My hand shall go.

By heaven, it shall not go!

Sirs, strive no more: such wither'd herbs as these
Are meet for plucking up, and therefore mine.

Sweet father, if I shall be thought thy son,
Let me redeem my brothers both from death.

And for our father's sake and mother's care,
Now let me show a brother's love to thee.

Agree between you; I will spare my hand.

Then I'll go fetch an axe.

But I will use the axe.

[Exeunt LUCIUS and MARCUS.]


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