Please wait

The text you requested is loading.
This shouldn't take more than a minute, depending on
the speed of your Internet connection.

progress graphic

I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.

      — King Lear, Act III Scene 7


Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

Titus Andronicus

Act IV

print/save print/save view

Scene 1. Rome. Titus’s garden.

Scene 2. The same. A room in the palace.

Scene 3. The same. A public place.

Scene 4. The same. Before the palace.


Act IV, Scene 1

Rome. Titus’s garden.

      next scene .

[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!


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

The same. A room in the palace.

      next scene .

[Enter, from one side, AARON, DEMETRIUS, and] [p]CHIRON; from the other side, Young LUCIUS, and an [p]Attendant, with a bundle of weapons, and verses [p]writ upon them]

  • Chiron. Demetrius, here's the son of Lucius; 1680
    He hath some message to deliver us.
  • Aaron. Ay, some mad message from his mad grandfather.
  • Young Lucius. My lords, with all the humbleness I may,
    I greet your honours from Andronicus.
    [Aside] 1685
    And pray the Roman gods confound you both!
  • Demetrius. Gramercy, lovely Lucius: what's the news?
  • Young Lucius. [Aside] That you are both decipher'd, that's the news,
    For villains mark'd with rape.—May it please you,
    My grandsire, well advised, hath sent by me 1690
    The goodliest weapons of his armoury
    To gratify your honourable youth,
    The hope of Rome; for so he bade me say;
    And so I do, and with his gifts present
    Your lordships, that, whenever you have need, 1695
    You may be armed and appointed well:
    And so I leave you both:
    like bloody villains.

[Exeunt Young LUCIUS, and Attendant]

  • Demetrius. What's here? A scroll; and written round about?
    Let's see;
    'Integer vitae, scelerisque purus,
    Non eget Mauri jaculis, nec arcu.' 1705
  • Chiron. O, 'tis a verse in Horace; I know it well:
    I read it in the grammar long ago.
  • Aaron. Ay, just; a verse in Horace; right, you have it.
    Now, what a thing it is to be an ass! 1710
    Here's no sound jest! the old man hath found their guilt;
    And sends them weapons wrapped about with lines,
    That wound, beyond their feeling, to the quick.
    But were our witty empress well afoot,
    She would applaud Andronicus' conceit: 1715
    But let her rest in her unrest awhile.
    And now, young lords, was't not a happy star
    Led us to Rome, strangers, and more than so,
    Captives, to be advanced to this height?
    It did me good, before the palace gate 1720
    To brave the tribune in his brother's hearing.
  • Demetrius. But me more good, to see so great a lord
    Basely insinuate and send us gifts.
  • Aaron. Had he not reason, Lord Demetrius?
    Did you not use his daughter very friendly? 1725
  • Demetrius. I would we had a thousand Roman dames
    At such a bay, by turn to serve our lust.
  • Chiron. A charitable wish and full of love.
  • Aaron. Here lacks but your mother for to say amen.
  • Chiron. And that would she for twenty thousand more. 1730
  • Demetrius. Come, let us go; and pray to all the gods
    For our beloved mother in her pains.
  • Aaron. [Aside] Pray to the devils; the gods have given us over.

[Trumpets sound within]

  • Demetrius. Why do the emperor's trumpets flourish thus? 1735
  • Chiron. Belike, for joy the emperor hath a son.

[Enter a Nurse, with a blackamoor Child in her arms]

  • Nurse. Good morrow, lords:
    O, tell me, did you see Aaron the Moor? 1740
  • Aaron. Well, more or less, or ne'er a whit at all,
    Here Aaron is; and what with Aaron now?
  • Nurse. O gentle Aaron, we are all undone!
    Now help, or woe betide thee evermore!
  • Aaron. Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep! 1745
    What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine arms?
  • Nurse. O, that which I would hide from heaven's eye,
    Our empress' shame, and stately Rome's disgrace!
    She is deliver'd, lords; she is deliver'd.
  • Nurse. I mean, she is brought a-bed.
  • Aaron. Well, God give her good rest! What hath he sent her?
  • Aaron. Why, then she is the devil's dam; a joyful issue.
  • Nurse. A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue: 1755
    Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad
    Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime:
    The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,
    And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point.
  • Aaron. 'Zounds, ye whore! is black so base a hue? 1760
    Sweet blowse, you are a beauteous blossom, sure.
  • Aaron. That which thou canst not undo.
  • Chiron. Thou hast undone our mother.
  • Aaron. Villain, I have done thy mother. 1765
  • Demetrius. And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone.
    Woe to her chance, and damn'd her loathed choice!
    Accursed the offspring of so foul a fiend!
  • Aaron. It shall not die. 1770
  • Nurse. Aaron, it must; the mother wills it so.
  • Aaron. What, must it, nurse? then let no man but I
    Do execution on my flesh and blood.
  • Demetrius. I'll broach the tadpole on my rapier's point:
    Nurse, give it me; my sword shall soon dispatch it. 1775
  • Aaron. Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels up.
    [Takes the Child from the Nurse, and draws]
    Stay, murderous villains! will you kill your brother?
    Now, by the burning tapers of the sky,
    That shone so brightly when this boy was got, 1780
    He dies upon my scimitar's sharp point
    That touches this my first-born son and heir!
    I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus,
    With all his threatening band of Typhon's brood,
    Nor great Alcides, nor the god of war, 1785
    Shall seize this prey out of his father's hands.
    What, what, ye sanguine, shallow-hearted boys!
    Ye white-limed walls! ye alehouse painted signs!
    Coal-black is better than another hue,
    In that it scorns to bear another hue; 1790
    For all the water in the ocean
    Can never turn the swan's black legs to white,
    Although she lave them hourly in the flood.
    Tell the empress from me, I am of age
    To keep mine own, excuse it how she can. 1795
  • Demetrius. Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus?
  • Aaron. My mistress is my mistress; this myself,
    The vigour and the picture of my youth:
    This before all the world do I prefer;
    This maugre all the world will I keep safe, 1800
    Or some of you shall smoke for it in Rome.
  • Demetrius. By this our mother is forever shamed.
  • Chiron. Rome will despise her for this foul escape.
  • Nurse. The emperor, in his rage, will doom her death.
  • Chiron. I blush to think upon this ignomy. 1805
  • Aaron. Why, there's the privilege your beauty bears:
    Fie, treacherous hue, that will betray with blushing
    The close enacts and counsels of the heart!
    Here's a young lad framed of another leer:
    Look, how the black slave smiles upon the father, 1810
    As who should say 'Old lad, I am thine own.'
    He is your brother, lords, sensibly fed
    Of that self-blood that first gave life to you,
    And from that womb where you imprison'd were
    He is enfranchised and come to light: 1815
    Nay, he is your brother by the surer side,
    Although my seal be stamped in his face.
  • Nurse. Aaron, what shall I say unto the empress?
  • Demetrius. Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,
    And we will all subscribe to thy advice: 1820
    Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.
  • Aaron. Then sit we down, and let us all consult.
    My son and I will have the wind of you:
    Keep there: now talk at pleasure of your safety.

[They sit]

  • Demetrius. How many women saw this child of his?
  • Aaron. Why, so, brave lords! when we join in league,
    I am a lamb: but if you brave the Moor,
    The chafed boar, the mountain lioness,
    The ocean swells not so as Aaron storms. 1830
    But say, again; how many saw the child?
  • Nurse. Cornelia the midwife and myself;
    And no one else but the deliver'd empress.
  • Aaron. The empress, the midwife, and yourself:
    Two may keep counsel when the third's away: 1835
    Go to the empress, tell her this I said.
    [He kills the nurse]
    Weke, weke! so cries a pig prepared to the spit.
  • Demetrius. What mean'st thou, Aaron? wherefore didst thou this?
  • Aaron. O Lord, sir, 'tis a deed of policy: 1840
    Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours,
    A long-tongued babbling gossip? no, lords, no:
    And now be it known to you my full intent.
    Not far, one Muli lives, my countryman;
    His wife but yesternight was brought to bed; 1845
    His child is like to her, fair as you are:
    Go pack with him, and give the mother gold,
    And tell them both the circumstance of all;
    And how by this their child shall be advanced,
    And be received for the emperor's heir, 1850
    And substituted in the place of mine,
    To calm this tempest whirling in the court;
    And let the emperor dandle him for his own.
    Hark ye, lords; ye see I have given her physic,
    [Pointing to the nurse] 1855
    And you must needs bestow her funeral;
    The fields are near, and you are gallant grooms:
    This done, see that you take no longer days,
    But send the midwife presently to me.
    The midwife and the nurse well made away, 1860
    Then let the ladies tattle what they please.
  • Chiron. Aaron, I see thou wilt not trust the air
    With secrets.
  • Demetrius. For this care of Tamora,
    Herself and hers are highly bound to thee. 1865
    [Exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON bearing off the]
    Nurse's body]
  • Aaron. Now to the Goths, as swift as swallow flies;
    There to dispose this treasure in mine arms,
    And secretly to greet the empress' friends. 1870
    Come on, you thick lipp'd slave, I'll bear you hence;
    For it is you that puts us to our shifts:
    I'll make you feed on berries and on roots,
    And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat,
    And cabin in a cave, and bring you up 1875
    To be a warrior, and command a camp.


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 3

The same. A public place.

      next scene .

[Enter TITUS, bearing arrows with letters at the] [p]ends of them; with him, MARCUS, Young LUCIUS, [p]PUBLIUS, SEMPRONIUS, CAIUS, and other Gentlemen, [p]with bows]

  • Titus Andronicus. Come, Marcus; come, kinsmen; this is the way.
    Sir boy, now let me see your archery;
    Look ye draw home enough, and 'tis there straight.
    Terras Astraea reliquit: 1885
    Be you remember'd, Marcus, she's gone, she's fled.
    Sirs, take you to your tools. You, cousins, shall
    Go sound the ocean, and cast your nets;
    Happily you may catch her in the sea;
    Yet there's as little justice as at land: 1890
    No; Publius and Sempronius, you must do it;
    'Tis you must dig with mattock and with spade,
    And pierce the inmost centre of the earth:
    Then, when you come to Pluto's region,
    I pray you, deliver him this petition; 1895
    Tell him, it is for justice and for aid,
    And that it comes from old Andronicus,
    Shaken with sorrows in ungrateful Rome.
    Ah, Rome! Well, well; I made thee miserable
    What time I threw the people's suffrages 1900
    On him that thus doth tyrannize o'er me.
    Go, get you gone; and pray be careful all,
    And leave you not a man-of-war unsearch'd:
    This wicked emperor may have shipp'd her hence;
    And, kinsmen, then we may go pipe for justice. 1905
  • Marcus Andronicus. O Publius, is not this a heavy case,
    To see thy noble uncle thus distract?
  • Publius. Therefore, my lord, it highly us concerns
    By day and night to attend him carefully,
    And feed his humour kindly as we may, 1910
    Till time beget some careful remedy.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Kinsmen, his sorrows are past remedy.
    Join with the Goths; and with revengeful war
    Take wreak on Rome for this ingratitude,
    And vengeance on the traitor Saturnine. 1915
  • Titus Andronicus. Publius, how now! how now, my masters!
    What, have you met with her?
  • Publius. No, my good lord; but Pluto sends you word,
    If you will have Revenge from hell, you shall:
    Marry, for Justice, she is so employ'd, 1920
    He thinks, with Jove in heaven, or somewhere else,
    So that perforce you must needs stay a time.
  • Titus Andronicus. He doth me wrong to feed me with delays.
    I'll dive into the burning lake below,
    And pull her out of Acheron by the heels. 1925
    Marcus, we are but shrubs, no cedars we
    No big-boned men framed of the Cyclops' size;
    But metal, Marcus, steel to the very back,
    Yet wrung with wrongs more than our backs can bear:
    And, sith there's no justice in earth nor hell, 1930
    We will solicit heaven and move the gods
    To send down Justice for to wreak our wrongs.
    Come, to this gear. You are a good archer, Marcus;
    [He gives them the arrows]
    'Ad Jovem,' that's for you: here, 'Ad Apollinem:' 1935
    'Ad Martem,' that's for myself:
    Here, boy, to Pallas: here, to Mercury:
    To Saturn, Caius, not to Saturnine;
    You were as good to shoot against the wind.
    To it, boy! Marcus, loose when I bid. 1940
    Of my word, I have written to effect;
    There's not a god left unsolicited.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Kinsmen, shoot all your shafts into the court:
    We will afflict the emperor in his pride.
  • Titus Andronicus. Now, masters, draw. 1945
    [They shoot]
    O, well said, Lucius!
    Good boy, in Virgo's lap; give it Pallas.
  • Marcus Andronicus. My lord, I aim a mile beyond the moon;
    Your letter is with Jupiter by this. 1950
  • Titus Andronicus. Ha, ha!
    Publius, Publius, what hast thou done?
    See, see, thou hast shot off one of Taurus' horns.
  • Marcus Andronicus. This was the sport, my lord: when Publius shot,
    The Bull, being gall'd, gave Aries such a knock 1955
    That down fell both the Ram's horns in the court;
    And who should find them but the empress' villain?
    She laugh'd, and told the Moor he should not choose
    But give them to his master for a present.
  • Titus Andronicus. Why, there it goes: God give his lordship joy! 1960
    [Enter a Clown, with a basket, and two pigeons in]
    News, news from heaven! Marcus, the post is come.
    Sirrah, what tidings? have you any letters?
    Shall I have justice? what says Jupiter? 1965
  • Clown. O, the gibbet-maker! he says that he hath taken
    them down again, for the man must not be hanged till
    the next week.
  • Clown. Alas, sir, I know not Jupiter; I never drank with him 1970
    in all my life.
  • Clown. Ay, of my pigeons, sir; nothing else.
  • Clown. From heaven! alas, sir, I never came there God 1975
    forbid I should be so bold to press to heaven in my
    young days. Why, I am going with my pigeons to the
    tribunal plebs, to take up a matter of brawl
    betwixt my uncle and one of the emperial's men.
  • Marcus Andronicus. Why, sir, that is as fit as can be to serve for 1980
    your oration; and let him deliver the pigeons to
    the emperor from you.
  • Titus Andronicus. Tell me, can you deliver an oration to the emperor
    with a grace?
  • Clown. Nay, truly, sir, I could never say grace in all my life. 1985
  • Titus Andronicus. Sirrah, come hither: make no more ado,
    But give your pigeons to the emperor:
    By me thou shalt have justice at his hands.
    Hold, hold; meanwhile here's money for thy charges.
    Give me pen and ink. Sirrah, can you with a grace 1990
    deliver a supplication?
  • Titus Andronicus. Then here is a supplication for you. And when you
    come to him, at the first approach you must kneel,
    then kiss his foot, then deliver up your pigeons, and 1995
    then look for your reward. I'll be at hand, sir; see
    you do it bravely.
  • Clown. I warrant you, sir, let me alone.
  • Titus Andronicus. Sirrah, hast thou a knife? come, let me see it.
    Here, Marcus, fold it in the oration; 2000
    For thou hast made it like an humble suppliant.
    And when thou hast given it the emperor,
    Knock at my door, and tell me what he says.
  • Clown. God be with you, sir; I will.


. previous scene      

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.