Open Source Shakespeare

Titus Andronicus

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Act III, Scene 2

A room in Titus’s house. A banquet set out.


[Enter TITUS, MARCUS, LAVINIA and Young LUCIUS, a boy]

  • Titus Andronicus. So, so; now sit: and look you eat no more 1445
    Than will preserve just so much strength in us
    As will revenge these bitter woes of ours.
    Marcus, unknit that sorrow-wreathen knot:
    Thy niece and I, poor creatures, want our hands,
    And cannot passionate our tenfold grief 1450
    With folded arms. This poor right hand of mine
    Is left to tyrannize upon my breast;
    Who, when my heart, all mad with misery,
    Beats in this hollow prison of my flesh,
    Then thus I thump it down. 1455
    [To LAVINIA]
    Thou map of woe, that thus dost talk in signs!
    When thy poor heart beats with outrageous beating,
    Thou canst not strike it thus to make it still.
    Wound it with sighing, girl, kill it with groans; 1460
    Or get some little knife between thy teeth,
    And just against thy heart make thou a hole;
    That all the tears that thy poor eyes let fall
    May run into that sink, and soaking in
    Drown the lamenting fool in sea-salt tears. 1465
  • Marcus Andronicus. Fie, brother, fie! teach her not thus to lay
    Such violent hands upon her tender life.
  • Titus Andronicus. How now! has sorrow made thee dote already?
    Why, Marcus, no man should be mad but I.
    What violent hands can she lay on her life? 1470
    Ah, wherefore dost thou urge the name of hands;
    To bid AEneas tell the tale twice o'er,
    How Troy was burnt and he made miserable?
    O, handle not the theme, to talk of hands,
    Lest we remember still that we have none. 1475
    Fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk,
    As if we should forget we had no hands,
    If Marcus did not name the word of hands!
    Come, let's fall to; and, gentle girl, eat this:
    Here is no drink! Hark, Marcus, what she says; 1480
    I can interpret all her martyr'd signs;
    She says she drinks no other drink but tears,
    Brew'd with her sorrow, mesh'd upon her cheeks:
    Speechless complainer, I will learn thy thought;
    In thy dumb action will I be as perfect 1485
    As begging hermits in their holy prayers:
    Thou shalt not sigh, nor hold thy stumps to heaven,
    Nor wink, nor nod, nor kneel, nor make a sign,
    But I of these will wrest an alphabet
    And by still practise learn to know thy meaning. 1490
  • Young Lucius. Good grandsire, leave these bitter deep laments:
    Make my aunt merry with some pleasing tale.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Alas, the tender boy, in passion moved,
    Doth weep to see his grandsire's heaviness.
  • Titus Andronicus. Peace, tender sapling; thou art made of tears, 1495
    And tears will quickly melt thy life away.
    [MARCUS strikes the dish with a knife]
    What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?
  • Marcus Andronicus. At that that I have kill'd, my lord; a fly.
  • Titus Andronicus. Out on thee, murderer! thou kill'st my heart; 1500
    Mine eyes are cloy'd with view of tyranny:
    A deed of death done on the innocent
    Becomes not Titus' brother: get thee gone:
    I see thou art not for my company.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Alas, my lord, I have but kill'd a fly. 1505
  • Titus Andronicus. But how, if that fly had a father and mother?
    How would he hang his slender gilded wings,
    And buzz lamenting doings in the air!
    Poor harmless fly,
    That, with his pretty buzzing melody, 1510
    Came here to make us merry! and thou hast
    kill'd him.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Pardon me, sir; it was a black ill-favor'd fly,
    Like to the empress' Moor; therefore I kill'd him.
  • Titus Andronicus. O, O, O, 1515
    Then pardon me for reprehending thee,
    For thou hast done a charitable deed.
    Give me thy knife, I will insult on him;
    Flattering myself, as if it were the Moor
    Come hither purposely to poison me.— 1520
    There's for thyself, and that's for Tamora.
    Ah, sirrah!
    Yet, I think, we are not brought so low,
    But that between us we can kill a fly
    That comes in likeness of a coal-black Moor. 1525
  • Marcus Andronicus. Alas, poor man! grief has so wrought on him,
    He takes false shadows for true substances.
  • Titus Andronicus. Come, take away. Lavinia, go with me:
    I'll to thy closet; and go read with thee
    Sad stories chanced in the times of old. 1530
    Come, boy, and go with me: thy sight is young,
    And thou shalt read when mine begin to dazzle.