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Titus Andronicus

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Act IV, Scene 1

Rome. Titus’s garden.


[Enter young LUCIUS, and LAVINIA running after him,] [p]and the boy flies from her, with books under his [p]arm. Then enter TITUS and MARCUS]

  • Young Lucius. Help, grandsire, help! my aunt Lavinia
    Follows me every where, I know not why:
    Good uncle Marcus, see how swift she comes.
    Alas, sweet aunt, I know not what you mean. 1540
  • Titus Andronicus. Fear her not, Lucius: somewhat doth she mean: 1545
    See, Lucius, see how much she makes of thee:
    Somewhither would she have thee go with her.
    Ah, boy, Cornelia never with more care
    Read to her sons than she hath read to thee
    Sweet poetry and Tully's Orator. 1550
  • Young Lucius. My lord, I know not, I, nor can I guess,
    Unless some fit or frenzy do possess her:
    For I have heard my grandsire say full oft,
    Extremity of griefs would make men mad; 1555
    And I have read that Hecuba of Troy
    Ran mad through sorrow: that made me to fear;
    Although, my lord, I know my noble aunt
    Loves me as dear as e'er my mother did,
    And would not, but in fury, fright my youth: 1560
    Which made me down to throw my books, and fly—
    Causeless, perhaps. But pardon me, sweet aunt:
    And, madam, if my uncle Marcus go,
    I will most willingly attend your ladyship.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Lucius, I will. 1565
    [LAVINIA turns over with her stumps the books which]
    LUCIUS has let fall]
  • Titus Andronicus. How now, Lavinia! Marcus, what means this?
    Some book there is that she desires to see.
    Which is it, girl, of these? Open them, boy. 1570
    But thou art deeper read, and better skill'd
    Come, and take choice of all my library,
    And so beguile thy sorrow, till the heavens
    Reveal the damn'd contriver of this deed.
    Why lifts she up her arms in sequence thus? 1575
  • Marcus Andronicus. I think she means that there was more than one
    Confederate in the fact: ay, more there was;
    Or else to heaven she heaves them for revenge.
  • Young Lucius. Grandsire, 'tis Ovid's Metamorphoses; 1580
    My mother gave it me.
  • Marcus Andronicus. For love of her that's gone,
    Perhaps she cull'd it from among the rest.
  • Titus Andronicus. Soft! see how busily she turns the leaves!
    [Helping her] 1585
    What would she find? Lavinia, shall I read?
    This is the tragic tale of Philomel,
    And treats of Tereus' treason and his rape:
    And rape, I fear, was root of thine annoy.
  • Titus Andronicus. Lavinia, wert thou thus surprised, sweet girl,
    Ravish'd and wrong'd, as Philomela was,
    Forced in the ruthless, vast, and gloomy woods? See, see!
    Ay, such a place there is, where we did hunt—
    O, had we never, never hunted there!— 1595
    Pattern'd by that the poet here describes,
    By nature made for murders and for rapes.
  • Marcus Andronicus. O, why should nature build so foul a den,
    Unless the gods delight in tragedies?
  • Titus Andronicus. Give signs, sweet girl, for here are none 1600
    but friends,
    What Roman lord it was durst do the deed:
    Or slunk not Saturnine, as Tarquin erst,
    That left the camp to sin in Lucrece' bed?
  • Marcus Andronicus. Sit down, sweet niece: brother, sit down by me. 1605
    Apollo, Pallas, Jove, or Mercury,
    Inspire me, that I may this treason find!
    My lord, look here: look here, Lavinia:
    This sandy plot is plain; guide, if thou canst
    This after me, when I have writ my name 1610
    Without the help of any hand at all.
    [He writes his name with his staff, and guides it]
    with feet and mouth]
    Cursed be that heart that forced us to this shift!
    Write thou good niece; and here display, at last, 1615
    What God will have discover'd for revenge;
    Heaven guide thy pen to print thy sorrows plain,
    That we may know the traitors and the truth!
    [She takes the staff in her mouth, and guides it]
    with her stumps, and writes] 1620
  • Titus Andronicus. O, do ye read, my lord, what she hath writ?
    'Stuprum. Chiron. Demetrius.'
  • Marcus Andronicus. What, what! the lustful sons of Tamora
    Performers of this heinous, bloody deed?
  • Titus Andronicus. Magni Dominator poli, 1625
    Tam lentus audis scelera? tam lentus vides?
  • Marcus Andronicus. O, calm thee, gentle lord; although I know
    There is enough written upon this earth
    To stir a mutiny in the mildest thoughts
    And arm the minds of infants to exclaims. 1630
    My lord, kneel down with me; Lavinia, kneel;
    And kneel, sweet boy, the Roman Hector's hope;
    And swear with me, as, with the woful fere
    And father of that chaste dishonour'd dame,
    Lord Junius Brutus sware for Lucrece' rape, 1635
    That we will prosecute by good advice
    Mortal revenge upon these traitorous Goths,
    And see their blood, or die with this reproach.
  • Titus Andronicus. 'Tis sure enough, an you knew how.
    But if you hunt these bear-whelps, then beware: 1640
    The dam will wake; and, if she wind you once,
    She's with the lion deeply still in league,
    And lulls him whilst she playeth on her back,
    And when he sleeps will she do what she list.
    You are a young huntsman, Marcus; let it alone; 1645
    And, come, I will go get a leaf of brass,
    And with a gad of steel will write these words,
    And lay it by: the angry northern wind
    Will blow these sands, like Sibyl's leaves, abroad,
    And where's your lesson, then? Boy, what say you? 1650
  • Young Lucius. I say, my lord, that if I were a man,
    Their mother's bed-chamber should not be safe
    For these bad bondmen to the yoke of Rome.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Ay, that's my boy! thy father hath full oft
    For his ungrateful country done the like. 1655
  • Titus Andronicus. Come, go with me into mine armoury;
    Lucius, I'll fit thee; and withal, my boy,
    Shalt carry from me to the empress' sons
    Presents that I intend to send them both: 1660
    Come, come; thou'lt do thy message, wilt thou not?
  • Young Lucius. Ay, with my dagger in their bosoms, grandsire.
  • Titus Andronicus. No, boy, not so; I'll teach thee another course.
    Lavinia, come. Marcus, look to my house:
    Lucius and I'll go brave it at the court: 1665
    Ay, marry, will we, sir; and we'll be waited on.

[Exeunt TITUS, LAVINIA, and Young LUCIUS]

  • Marcus Andronicus. O heavens, can you hear a good man groan,
    And not relent, or not compassion him?
    Marcus, attend him in his ecstasy, 1670
    That hath more scars of sorrow in his heart
    Than foemen's marks upon his batter'd shield;
    But yet so just that he will not revenge.
    Revenge, ye heavens, for old Andronicus!