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Titus Andronicus

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Act IV, Scene 4

The same. Before the palace.


[Enter SATURNINUS, TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON,] [p]Lords, and others; SATURNINUS with the arrows in [p]his hand that TITUS shot]

  • Saturninus. Why, lords, what wrongs are these! was ever seen 2010
    An emperor in Rome thus overborne,
    Troubled, confronted thus; and, for the extent
    Of egal justice, used in such contempt?
    My lords, you know, as know the mightful gods,
    However these disturbers of our peace 2015
    Buz in the people's ears, there nought hath pass'd,
    But even with law, against the willful sons
    Of old Andronicus. And what an if
    His sorrows have so overwhelm'd his wits,
    Shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks, 2020
    His fits, his frenzy, and his bitterness?
    And now he writes to heaven for his redress:
    See, here's to Jove, and this to Mercury;
    This to Apollo; this to the god of war;
    Sweet scrolls to fly about the streets of Rome! 2025
    What's this but libelling against the senate,
    And blazoning our injustice every where?
    A goodly humour, is it not, my lords?
    As who would say, in Rome no justice were.
    But if I live, his feigned ecstasies 2030
    Shall be no shelter to these outrages:
    But he and his shall know that justice lives
    In Saturninus' health, whom, if she sleep,
    He'll so awake as she in fury shall
    Cut off the proud'st conspirator that lives. 2035
  • Tamora. My gracious lord, my lovely Saturnine,
    Lord of my life, commander of my thoughts,
    Calm thee, and bear the faults of Titus' age,
    The effects of sorrow for his valiant sons,
    Whose loss hath pierced him deep and scarr'd his heart; 2040
    And rather comfort his distressed plight
    Than prosecute the meanest or the best
    For these contempts.
    Why, thus it shall become 2045
    High-witted Tamora to gloze with all:
    But, Titus, I have touched thee to the quick,
    Thy life-blood out: if Aaron now be wise,
    Then is all safe, the anchor's in the port.
    [Enter Clown] 2050
    How now, good fellow! wouldst thou speak with us?
  • Clown. Yea, forsooth, an your mistership be emperial.
  • Tamora. Empress I am, but yonder sits the emperor.
  • Clown. 'Tis he. God and Saint Stephen give you good den:
    I have brought you a letter and a couple of pigeons here. 2055

[SATURNINUS reads the letter]

  • Saturninus. Go, take him away, and hang him presently.
  • Clown. How much money must I have?
  • Tamora. Come, sirrah, you must be hanged.
  • Clown. Hanged! by'r lady, then I have brought up a neck to 2060
    a fair end.

[Exit, guarded]

  • Saturninus. Despiteful and intolerable wrongs!
    Shall I endure this monstrous villany?
    I know from whence this same device proceeds: 2065
    May this be borne?—as if his traitorous sons,
    That died by law for murder of our brother,
    Have by my means been butcher'd wrongfully!
    Go, drag the villain hither by the hair;
    Nor age nor honour shall shape privilege: 2070
    For this proud mock I'll be thy slaughterman;
    Sly frantic wretch, that holp'st to make me great,
    In hope thyself should govern Rome and me.
    [Enter AEMILIUS]
    What news with thee, AEmilius? 2075
  • Aemilius. Arm, arm, my lord;—Rome never had more cause.
    The Goths have gather'd head; and with a power
    high-resolved men, bent to the spoil,
    They hither march amain, under conduct
    Of Lucius, son to old Andronicus; 2080
    Who threats, in course of this revenge, to do
    As much as ever Coriolanus did.
  • Saturninus. Is warlike Lucius general of the Goths?
    These tidings nip me, and I hang the head
    As flowers with frost or grass beat down with storms: 2085
    Ay, now begin our sorrows to approach:
    'Tis he the common people love so much;
    Myself hath often over-heard them say,
    When I have walked like a private man,
    That Lucius' banishment was wrongfully, 2090
    And they have wish'd that Lucius were their emperor.
  • Tamora. Why should you fear? is not your city strong?
  • Saturninus. Ay, but the citizens favor Lucius,
    And will revolt from me to succor him.
  • Tamora. King, be thy thoughts imperious, like thy name. 2095
    Is the sun dimm'd, that gnats do fly in it?
    The eagle suffers little birds to sing,
    And is not careful what they mean thereby,
    Knowing that with the shadow of his wings
    He can at pleasure stint their melody: 2100
    Even so mayst thou the giddy men of Rome.
    Then cheer thy spirit : for know, thou emperor,
    I will enchant the old Andronicus
    With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,
    Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep, 2105
    When as the one is wounded with the bait,
    The other rotted with delicious feed.
  • Saturninus. But he will not entreat his son for us.
  • Tamora. If Tamora entreat him, then he will:
    For I can smooth and fill his aged ear 2110
    With golden promises; that, were his heart
    Almost impregnable, his old ears deaf,
    Yet should both ear and heart obey my tongue.
    [To AEmilius]
    Go thou before, be our ambassador: 2115
    Say that the emperor requests a parley
    Of warlike Lucius, and appoint the meeting
    Even at his father's house, the old Andronicus.
  • Saturninus. AEmilius, do this message honourably:
    And if he stand on hostage for his safety, 2120
    Bid him demand what pledge will please him best.
  • Aemilius. Your bidding shall I do effectually.


  • Tamora. Now will I to that old Andronicus;
    And temper him with all the art I have, 2125
    To pluck proud Lucius from the warlike Goths.
    And now, sweet emperor, be blithe again,
    And bury all thy fear in my devices.
  • Saturninus. Then go successantly, and plead to him.