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Titus Andronicus

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Act I, Scene 1

Rome. Before the Capitol.


[The Tomb of the ANDRONICI appearing; the Tribunes] [p]and Senators aloft. Enter, below, from one side, [p]SATURNINUS and his Followers; and, from the other [p]side, BASSIANUS and his Followers; with drum and colours]

  • Saturninus. Noble patricians, patrons of my right, 5
    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; 10
    Then let my father's honours live in me,
    Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.
  • Bassianus. Romans, friends, followers, favorers of my right,
    If ever Bassianus, Caesar's son,
    Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome, 15
    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, 20
    And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.

[Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the crown]

  • Marcus Andronicus. Princes, that strive by factions and by friends
    Ambitiously for rule and empery,
    Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand 25
    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, 30
    Lives not this day within the city walls:
    He by the senate is accit'd home
    From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;
    That, with his sons, a terror to our foes,
    Hath yoked a nation strong, train'd up in arms. 35
    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; 40
    And now at last, laden with horror'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. 45
    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. 50
  • Saturninus. How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!
  • Bassianus. Marcus Andronicus, so I do ally
    In thy uprightness and integrity,
    And so I love and honour thee and thine,
    Thy noble brother Titus and his sons, 55
    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 favor
    Commit my cause in balance to be weigh'd. 60

[Exeunt the followers of BASSIANUS]

  • Saturninus. Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,
    I thank you all and here dismiss you all,
    And to the love and favor of my country
    Commit myself, my person and the cause. 65
    [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.
  • Bassianus. Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor. 70

[Flourish. SATURNINUS and BASSIANUS go up into the Capitol]

[Enter a Captain]

  • Captain. Romans, make way: the good Andronicus.
    Patron of virtue, Rome's best champion,
    Successful in the battles that he fights, 75
    With honour and with fortune is return'd
    From where he circumscribed with his sword,
    And brought to yoke, the enemies of Rome.
    [Drums and trumpets sounded. Enter MARTIUS and]
    MUTIUS; After them, two Men bearing a coffin 80
    covered with black; then LUCIUS and QUINTUS. After
    them, TITUS ANDRONICUS; and then TAMORA, with
    prisoners; Soldiers and people following. The
    Bearers set down the coffin, and TITUS speaks] 85
  • Titus Andronicus. Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!
    Lo, as the bark, that hath discharged her fraught,
    Returns with precious jading to the bay
    From whence at first she weigh'd her anchorage,
    Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs, 90
    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, 95
    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: 100
    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. 105
    [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, 110
    How many sons of mine hast thou in store,
    That thou wilt never render to me more!
  • 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, 115
    Before this earthy prison of their bones;
    That so the shadows be not unappeased,
    Nor we disturb'd with prodigies on earth.
  • Titus Andronicus. I give him you, the noblest that survives,
    The eldest son of this distressed queen. 120
  • Tamora. Stay, Roman brethren! 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! 125
    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? 130
    O, if to fight for king and commonweal
    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: 135
    Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge:
    Thrice noble Titus, spare my first-born son.
  • Titus Andronicus. Patient yourself, madam, and pardon me.
    These are their brethren, whom you Goths beheld
    Alive and dead, and for their brethren slain 140
    Religiously they ask a sacrifice:
    To this your son is mark'd, and die he must,
    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, 145
    Let's hew his limbs till they be clean consumed.


  • Tamora. O cruel, irreligious piety!
  • Chiron. Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?
  • Demetrius. Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome. 150
    Alarbus goes to rest; and we survive
    To tremble under Titus' threatening looks.
    Then, madam, stand resolved, but hope withal
    The self-same gods that arm'd the Queen of Troy
    With opportunity of sharp revenge 155
    Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent,
    May favor 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] 160
    their swords bloody]
  • Lucius. 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. 165
    Remaineth nought, but to inter our brethren,
    And with loud 'larums welcome them to Rome.
  • Titus Andronicus. Let it be so; and let Andronicus
    Make this his latest farewell to their souls.
    [Trumpets sounded, and the coffin laid in the tomb] 170
    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, 175
    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! 180
    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 the earth, for thy return to Rome:
    O, bless me here with thy victorious hand, 185
    Whose fortunes Rome's best citizens applaud!
  • Titus Andronicus. Kind Rome, that hast thus lovingly reserved
    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! 190
    [Enter, below, MARCUS ANDRONICUS and Tribunes;]
    re-enter SATURNINUS and BASSIANUS, attended]
  • Marcus Andronicus. Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,
    Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!
  • Marcus Andronicus. 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, 200
    That hath aspired 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, 205
    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. 210
  • Titus Andronicus. 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, 215
    And set abroad 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, 220
    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.
  • Saturninus. Proud and ambitious tribune, canst thou tell?
  • Saturninus. Romans, do me right:
    Patricians, draw your swords: and sheathe them not
    Till Saturninus be Rome's emperor. 230
    Andronicus, would thou wert shipp'd to hell,
    Rather than rob me of the people's hearts!
  • Lucius. Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good
    That noble-minded Titus means to thee!
  • Titus Andronicus. Content thee, prince; I will restore to thee 235
    The people's hearts, and wean them from themselves.
  • 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 240
    Of noble minds is honourable meed.
  • Titus Andronicus. People of Rome, and people's tribunes here,
    I ask your voices and your suffrages:
    Will you bestow them friendly on Andronicus?
  • Tribunes. To gratify the good Andronicus, 245
    And gratulate his safe return to Rome,
    The people will accept whom he admits.
  • Titus Andronicus. Tribunes, I thank you: and this suit I make,
    That you create your emperor's eldest son,
    Lord Saturnine; whose virtues will, I hope, 250
    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!'
  • Marcus Andronicus. With voices and applause of every sort, 255
    Patricians and plebeians, we create
    Lord Saturninus Rome's great emperor,
    And say 'Long live our Emperor Saturnine!'

[A long flourish till they come down]

  • Saturninus. Titus Andronicus, for thy favors done 260
    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, 265
    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?
  • Titus Andronicus. It doth, my worthy lord; and in this match 270
    I hold me highly honour'd 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; 275
    Presents well worthy Rome's imperial lord:
    Receive them then, the tribute that I owe,
    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 280
    Rome shall record, and when I do forget
    The least of these unspeakable deserts,
    Romans, forget your fealty to me.
  • Titus Andronicus. [To TAMORA] Now, madam, are you prisoner to
    an emperor; 285
    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
    That I would choose, were I to choose anew.
    Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance: 290
    Though chance of war hath wrought this change of cheer,
    Thou comest 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 295
    Can make you greater than the Queen of Goths.
    Lavinia, you are not displeased with this?
  • Lavinia. Not I, my lord; sith true nobility
    Warrants these words in princely courtesy.
  • Saturninus. Thanks, sweet Lavinia. Romans, let us go; 300
    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]

  • Bassianus. Ay, noble Titus; and resolved withal
    To do myself this reason and this right.
  • Marcus Andronicus. 'Suum cuique' is our Roman justice:
    This prince in justice seizeth but his own. 310
  • Lucius. And that he will, and shall, if Lucius live.
  • Titus Andronicus. Traitors, avaunt! Where is the emperor's guard?
    Treason, my lord! Lavinia is surprised!
  • Bassianus. By him that justly may 315
    Bear his betroth'd from all the world away.


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


  • Mutius. My lord, you pass not here.

[Stabbing MUTIUS]

  • Mutius. Help, Lucius, help!
    [During the fray, SATURNINUS, TAMORA, DEMETRIUS,]
    CHIRON and AARON go out and re-enter, above]

[Re-enter LUCIUS]

  • Lucius. My lord, you are unjust, and, more than so,
    In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.
  • Titus Andronicus. Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine;
    My sons would never so dishonour me:
    Traitor, restore Lavinia to the emperor. 335
  • Lucius. Dead, if you will; but not to be his wife,
    That is another's lawful promised love.


  • Saturninus. No, Titus, no; the emperor needs her not,
    Nor her, nor thee, nor any of thy stock: 340
    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, 345
    Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine,
    That said'st I begg'd the empire at thy hands.
  • Saturninus. But go thy ways; go, give that changing piece
    To him that flourish'd for her with his sword 350
    A valiant son-in-law thou shalt enjoy;
    One fit to bandy with thy lawless sons,
    To ruffle in the commonwealth of Rome.
  • Saturninus. And therefore, lovely Tamora, queen of Goths, 355
    That like the stately Phoebe 'mongst her nymphs
    Dost overshine the gallant'st dames of Rome,
    If thou be pleased with this my sudden choice,
    Behold, I choose thee, Tamora, for my bride,
    And will create thee empress of Rome, 360
    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 every thing
    In readiness for Hymenaeus stand, 365
    I will not re-salute the streets of Rome,
    Or climb my palace, till from forth this place
    I lead espoused my bride along with me.
  • Tamora. And here, in sight of heaven, to Rome I swear,
    If Saturnine advance the Queen of Goths, 370
    She will a handmaid be to his desires,
    A loving nurse, a mother to his youth.
  • Saturninus. Ascend, fair queen, Pantheon. Lords, accompany
    Your noble emperor and his lovely bride,
    Sent by the heavens for Prince Saturnine, 375
    Whose wisdom hath her fortune conquered:
    There shall we consummate our spousal rites.

[Exeunt all but TITUS]

  • Titus Andronicus. I am not bid to wait upon this bride.
    Titus, when wert thou wont to walk alone, 380
    Dishonour'd thus, and challenged of wrongs?


  • Marcus Andronicus. O Titus, see, O, see what thou hast done!
    In a bad quarrel slain a virtuous son.
  • Titus Andronicus. No, foolish tribune, no; no son of mine, 385
    Nor thou, nor these, confederates in the deed
    That hath dishonour'd all our family;
    Unworthy brother, and unworthy sons!
  • Lucius. But let us give him burial, as becomes;
    Give Mutius burial with our brethren. 390
  • Titus Andronicus. 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: 395
    Bury him where you can; he comes not here.
  • Marcus Andronicus. My lord, this is impiety in you:
    My nephew Mutius' deeds do plead for him
    He must be buried with his brethren.
  • Quintus. And shall, or him we will accompany. 400
  • Quintus. He that would vouch it in any place but here.
  • Marcus Andronicus. No, noble Titus, but entreat of thee 405
    To pardon Mutius and to bury him.
  • Titus Andronicus. 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. 410
  • Martius. He is not with himself; let us withdraw.
  • Quintus. Not I, till Mutius' bones be buried.

[MARCUS and the Sons of TITUS kneel]

  • Quintus. Father, and in that name doth nature speak,— 415
  • Lucius. Dear father, soul and substance of us all,—
  • Marcus Andronicus. Suffer thy brother Marcus to inter
    His noble nephew here in virtue's nest, 420
    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: 425
    Let not young Mutius, then, that was thy joy
    Be barr'd his entrance here.
  • Titus Andronicus. Rise, Marcus, rise.
    The dismall'st day is this that e'er I saw,
    To be dishonour'd by my sons in Rome! 430
    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; 435
    He lives in fame that died in virtue's cause.
  • Marcus Andronicus. My lord, to step out of these dreary dumps,
    How comes it that the subtle Queen of Goths
    Is of a sudden thus advanced in Rome?
  • Titus Andronicus. I know not, Marcus; but I know it is, 440
    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, from one side, SATURNINUS] 445
    attended, TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON and AARON; from
    the other, BASSIANUS, LAVINIA, and others]
  • Saturninus. So, Bassianus, you have play'd your prize:
    God give you joy, sir, of your gallant bride!
  • Bassianus. And you of yours, my lord! I say no more, 450
    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.
  • Bassianus. Rape, call you it, my lord, to seize my own,
    My truth-betrothed love and now my wife? 455
    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 with us;
    But, if we live, we'll be as sharp with you.
  • Bassianus. My lord, what I have done, as best I may, 460
    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; 465
    That in the rescue of Lavinia
    With his own hand did slay his youngest son,
    In zeal to you and highly moved to wrath
    To be controll'd in that he frankly gave:
    Receive him, then, to favor, Saturnine, 470
    That hath express'd himself in all his deeds
    A father and a friend to thee and Rome.
  • Titus Andronicus. Prince Bassianus, leave to plead my deeds:
    'Tis thou and those that have dishonour'd me.
    Rome and the righteous heavens be my judge, 475
    How I have loved and honour'd Saturnine!
  • Tamora. My worthy lord, if ever Tamora
    Were gracious in those princely eyes of thine,
    Then hear me speak in indifferently for all;
    And at my suit, sweet, pardon what is past. 480
  • Saturninus. What, madam! be dishonour'd openly,
    And basely put it up without revenge?
  • Tamora. Not so, my lord; the gods of Rome forfend
    I should be author to dishonour you!
    But on mine honour dare I undertake 485
    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. 490
    [Aside to SATURNINUS] My lord, be ruled 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, 495
    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 500
    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. 505
    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. 510
  • Titus Andronicus. I thank your majesty, and her, my lord:
    These words, these looks, infuse new life in me.
  • Tamora. Titus, I am incorporate in Rome,
    A Roman now adopted happily,
    And must advise the emperor for his good. 515
    This day all quarrels die, Andronicus;
    And let it be mine honour, good my lord,
    That I have reconciled your friends and you.
    For you, Prince Bassianus, I have pass'd
    My word and promise to the emperor, 520
    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, 525
    That what we did was mildly as we might,
    Tendering our sister's honour and our own.
  • Saturninus. Away, and talk not; trouble us no more.
  • Tamora. Nay, nay, sweet emperor, we must all be friends: 530
    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: Stand up. 535
    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. 540
    This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.
  • Titus Andronicus. 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.
  • Saturninus. Be it so, Titus, and gramercy too. 545

[Flourish. Exeunt]