Titus Andronicus

Act I

SCENE: Rome, and the Country near it.

SCENE I. Rome. Before the Capitol.

[The Tomb of Andronic appearing; the Tribunes and Senators aloft. Enter, below, SATURNINUS and his Followers on one side, and BASSIANUS and his Followers at the other, with drums and colours.]


Noble patricians, patrons of my right,

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:

Then let my father's honours live in me,

Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.


Romans,--friends, followers, favourers of my right,--

If ever Bassianus, Caesar's son,

Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,

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;

And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.

[Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS aloft, with the crown.]


Princes,--that strive by factions and by friends

Ambitiously for rule and empery,--

Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand

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,

Lives not this day within the city walls.:

He by the senate is accited home

From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;

That with his sons, a terror to our foes,

Hath yok'd a nation strong, train'd up in arms.

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;

And now at last, laden with honour'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,

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.


How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!


Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy

In thy uprightness and integrity,

And so I love and honour thee and thine,

Thy noble brother Titus and his sons,

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 favour

Commit my cause in balance to be weigh'd.

[Exeunt the Followers of BASSIANUS.]


Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,

I thank you all and here dismiss you all;

And to the love and favour of my country

Commit myself, my person, and the cause.

[Exeunt the Followers of SATURNINUS.]

Rome, be as just and gracious unto me

As I am confident and kind to thee.--

Open the gates, tribunes, and let me in.


Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.

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

[Enter a Captain.]


Romans, make way. The good Andronicus,

Patron of virtue, Rome's best champion,

Successful in the battles that he fights,

With honour and with fortune is return'd

From where he circumscribed with his sword

And brought to yoke the enemies of Rome.

[Flourish of trumpets, &c. Enter MARTIUS and MUTIUS; after them

two Men bearing a coffin covered with black; then LUCIUS and

QUINTUS. After them TITUS ANDRONICUS; and then TAMORA, with

ALARBUS, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, AARON, and other Goths, prisoners;

soldiers and People following. The bearers set down the coffin,

and TITUS speaks.]


Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!

Lo, as the bark that hath discharg'd her fraught

Returns with precious lading to the bay

From whence at first she weigh'd her anchorage,

Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,

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,

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;

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.--

[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,

How many sons of mine hast thou in store,

That thou wilt never render to me more!


Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,

That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile

Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh

Before this earthy prison of their bones;

That so the shadows be not unappeas'd,

Nor we disturb'd with prodigies on earth.


I give him you,--the noblest that survives,

The eldest son of this distressed queen.


Stay, Roman brethen!--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!

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?

O, if to fight for king and common weal

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:

Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge:

Thrice-noble Titus, spare my first-born son.


Patient yourself, madam, and pardon me.

These are their brethren, whom your Goths beheld

Alive and dead; and for their brethren slain

Religiously they ask a sacrifice:

To this your son is mark'd; and die he must,

To appease their groaning shadows that are gone.


Away with him! and make a fire straight;

And with our swords, upon a pile of wood,

Let's hew his limbs till they be clean consum'd.



O cruel, irreligious piety!


Was ever Scythia half so barbarous!


Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome.

Alarbus goes to rest; and we survive

To tremble under Titus' threatening look.

Then, madam, stand resolv'd; but hope withal

The self-same gods that arm'd the Queen of Troy

With opportunity of sharp revenge

Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent,

May favour 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 their swords



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.

Remaineth naught but to inter our brethren,

And with loud 'larums welcome them to Rome.


Let it be so, and let Andronicus

Make this his latest farewell to their souls.

[Trumpets sounded and the coffin laid in the tomb.]

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,

No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:

[Enter LAVINIA.]

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!


In peace and honour live Lord Titus long;

My noble lord and father, live in fame!

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 this earth for thy return to Rome;

O, bless me here with thy victorious hand,

Whose fortunes Rome's best citizens applaud!


Kind Rome, that hast thus lovingly reserv'd

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!

[Enter, below, MARCUS ANDRONICUS and Tribunes; re-enter SATURNINUS, BASSIANUS, and Attendants.]


Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,

Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!


Thanks, gentle tribune, noble brother Marcus.


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

That hath aspir'd 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,

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.


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,

And set abroach 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,

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.


Titus, thou shalt obtain and ask the empery.


Proud and ambitious tribune, canst thou tell?


Patience, Prince Saturninus.


Romans, do me right;--

Patricians, draw your swords, and sheathe them not

Till Saturninus be Rome's Emperor.--

Andronicus, would thou were shipp'd to hell

Rather than rob me of the people's hearts!


Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good

That noble-minded Titus means to thee!


Content thee, prince; I will restore to thee

The people's hearts, and wean them from themselves.


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

Of noble minds is honourable meed.


People of Rome, and people's tribunes here,

I ask your voices and your suffrages:

Will you bestow them friendly on Andronicus?


To gratify the good Andronicus,

And gratulate his safe return to Rome,

The people will accept whom he admits.


Tribunes, I thank you: and this suit I make,

That you create your emperor's eldest son,

Lord Saturnine; whose virtues will, I hope,

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!'


With voices and applause of every sort,

Patricians and plebeians, we create

Lord Saturninus Rome's great emperor;

And say 'Long live our Emperor Saturnine!'

[A long flourish.]


Titus Andronicus, for thy favours done

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,

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?


It doth, my worthy lord; and in this match

I hold me highly honoured 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;

Presents well worthy Rome's imperious lord:

Receive them then, the tribute that I owe,

Mine honour's ensigns humbled at thy feet.


Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life!

How proud I am of thee and of thy gifts

Rome shall record; and when I do forget

The least of these unspeakable deserts,

Romans, forget your fealty to me.


[To TAMORA.] Now, madam, are you prisoner to an emperor;

To him that for your honour and your state

Will use you nobly and your followers.


A goodly lady, trust me; of the hue

That I would choose, were I to choose anew.--

Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance:

Though chance of war hath wrought this change of cheer,

Thou com'st 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

Can make you greater than the Queen of Goths.--

Lavinia, you are not displeas'd with this?


Not I, my lord, sith true nobility

Warrants these words in princely courtesy.


Thanks, sweet Lavinia.--Romans, let us go:

Ransomless here we set our prisoners free:

Proclaim our honours, lords, with trump and drum.

[Flourish. SATURNINUS courts TAMORA in dumb show.]


Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine.

[Seizing LAVINIA.]


How, sir! are you in earnest then, my lord?


Ay, noble Titus; and resolv'd withal

To do myself this reason and this right.


Suum cuique is our Roman justice:

This prince in justice seizeth but his own.


And that he will and shall, if Lucius live.


Traitors, avaunt!--Where is the emperor's guard?--

Treason, my lord,--Lavinia is surpris'd!


Surpris'd! by whom?


By him that justly may

Bear his betroth'd from all the world away.



Brothers, help to convey her hence away,

And with my sword I'll keep this door safe.



Follow, my lord, and I'll soon bring her back.


My lord, you pass not here.


What, villain boy!

Barr'st me my way in Rome?

[Stabbing MUTIUS.]


Help, Lucius, help!


[Re-enter Lucius.]


My lord, you are unjust; and more than so:

In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.


Nor thou nor he are any sons of mine;

My sons would never so dishonour me.

Traitor, restore Lavinia to the Emperor.


Dead, if you will; but not to be his wife,

That is another's lawful promis'd love.



No, Titus, no; the emperor needs her not,

Nor her, nor thee, nor any of thy stock:

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,

Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine

That said'st I begg'd the empire at thy hands.


O monstrous! what reproachful words are these?


But go thy ways; go, give that changing piece

To him that flourish'd for her with his sword;

A valiant son-in-law thou shalt enjoy;

One fit to bandy with thy lawless sons,

To ruffle in the commonwealth of Rome.


These words are razors to my wounded heart.


And therefore, lovely Tamora, Queen of Goths,--

That, like the stately Phoebe 'mongst her nymphs,

Dost overshine the gallant'st dames of Rome,--

If thou be pleas'd with this my sudden choice,

Behold, I choose thee, Tamora, for my bride

And will create thee empress of Rome.

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 everything

In readiness for Hymenaeus stand,--

I will not re-salute the streets of Rome,

Or climb my palace, till from forth this place

I lead espous'd my bride along with me.


And here in sight of heaven to Rome I swear,

If Saturnine advance the Queen of Goths,

She will a handmaid be to his desires,

A loving nurse, a mother to his youth.


Ascend, fair queen, Pantheon.--Lords, accompany

Your noble emperor and his lovely bride,

Sent by the heavens for Prince Saturnine,

Whose wisdom hath her fortune conquered:

There shall we consummate our spousal rites.

[Exeunt SATURNINUS and his Followers; TAMORA and her Sons; AARON

and Goths.]


I am not bid to wait upon this bride.--

Titus, when wert thou wont to walk alone,

Dishonour'd thus, and challenged of wrongs?



O Titus, see, O, see what thou hast done!

In a bad quarrel slain a virtuous son.


No, foolish tribune, no; no son of mine,--

Nor thou, nor these, confederates in the deed

That hath dishonoured all our family;

Unworthy brother and unworthy sons!


But let us give him burial, as becomes;

Give Mutius burial with our bretheren.


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:--

Bury him where you can, he comes not here.


My lord, this is impiety in you:

My nephew Mutius' deeds do plead for him;

He must be buried with his bretheren.


And shall, or him we will accompany.


And shall! What villain was it spake that word?


He that would vouch it in any place but here.


What, would you bury him in my despite?


No, noble Titus; but entreat of thee

To pardon Mutius, and to bury him.


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.


He is not with himself; let us withdraw.


Not I, till Mutius' bones be buried.

[MARCUS and the Sons of TITUS kneel.]


Brother, for in that name doth nature plead,--


Father, and in that name doth nature speak,--


Speak thou no more, if all the rest will speed.


Renowned Titus, more than half my soul,--


Dear father, soul and substance of us all,--


Suffer thy brother Marcus to inter

His noble nephew here in virtue's nest,

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:

Let not young Mutius, then, that was thy joy,

Be barr'd his entrance here.


Rise, Marcus, rise:

The dismall'st day is this that e'er I saw,

To be dishonour'd by my sons in Rome!--

Well, bury him, and bury me the next.

[MUTIUS is put into the tomb.]


There lie thy bones, sweet Mutius, with thy friends,

Till we with trophies do adorn thy tomb.


[Kneeling.] No man shed tears for noble Mutius;

He lives in fame that died in virtue's cause.


My lord,--to step out of these dreary dumps,--

How comes it that the subtle Queen of Goths

Is of a sudden thus advanc'd in Rome?


I know not, Marcus, but I know it is,--

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, at one side, SATURNINUS, attended; TAMORA


and others.]


So, Bassianus, you have play'd your prize:

God give you joy, sir, of your gallant bride!


And you of yours, my lord! I say no more,

Nor wish no less; and so I take my leave.


Traitor, if Rome have law or we have power,

Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape.


Rape, call you it, my lord, to seize my own,

My true betrothed love, and now my wife?

But let the laws of Rome determine all;

Meanwhile am I possess'd of that is mine.


'Tis good, sir. You are very short with us;

But if we live we'll be as sharp with you.


My lord, what I have done, as best I may,

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,

That, in the rescue of Lavinia,

With his own hand did slay his youngest son,

In zeal to you, and highly mov'd to wrath

To be controll'd in that he frankly gave:

Receive him then to favour, Saturnine,

That hath express'd himself in all his deeds

A father and a friend to thee and Rome.


Prince Bassianus, leave to plead my deeds:

'Tis thou and those that have dishonour'd me.

Rome and the righteous heavens be my judge

How I have lov'd and honour'd Saturnine!


My worthy lord, if ever Tamora

Were gracious in those princely eyes of thine,

Then hear me speak indifferently for all;

And at my suit, sweet, pardon what is past.


What, madam! be dishonoured openly,

And basely put it up without revenge?


Not so, my lord; the gods of Rome forfend

I should be author to dishonour you!

But on mine honour dare I undertake

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.--

[Aside.] My lord, be rul'd 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,

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,

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.--

Come, come, sweet emperor,--come, Andronicus,--

Take up this good old man, and cheer the heart

That dies in tempest of thy angry frown.


Rise, Titus, rise; my empress hath prevail'd.


I thank your majesty and her, my lord:

These words, these looks, infuse new life in me.


Titus, I am incorporate in Rome,

A Roman now adopted happily,

And must advise the emperor for his good.

This day all quarrels die, Andronicus;--

And let it be mine honour, good my lord,

That I have reconcil'd your friends and you. --

For you, Prince Bassianus, I have pass'd

My word and promise to the emperor

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.


We do; and vow to heaven and to his highness

That what we did was mildly as we might,

Tendering our sister's honour and our own.


That on mine honour here do I protest.


Away, and talk not; trouble us no more.


Nay, nay, sweet emperor, we must all be friends:

The tribune and his nephews kneel for grace;

I will not be denied: sweet heart, look back.


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.--

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.

This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.


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.


Be it so, Titus, and gramercy too.