SCENE: Rome and the neighbourhood
ACT 1. SCENE I.
Rome. Before the Capitol
Flourish. Enter the TRIBUNES and SENATORS aloft; and then enter below SATURNINUS and his followers at one door, and BASSIANUS and his followers at the other, with drums and trumpets
SATURNINUS. 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.
desert→ Something that is deserved or merited.
From AHD notes: «Word History: When Shakespeare says in Sonnet 72,
“Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,/To do more for me than
mine own desert,” he is using the word desert in the sense of
“worthiness; deserving,” a word perhaps most familiar to us in the
plural, meaning “something that is deserved,” as in the phrase just
deserts. This word goes back to the Latin word dservre, “to devote
oneself to the service of,” which in Vulgar Latin came to mean “to
merit by service.” Dservre is made up of d-, meaning “thoroughly,” and
servre, “to serve.” Knowing this, we can distinguish this desert from
desert, “a wasteland,” and desert, “to abandon,” both of which go back
to Latin dserere, “to forsake, leave uninhabited,” which is made up of
d-, expressing the notion of undoing, and the verb serere, “to link
together.” We can also distinguish all three deserts from dessert, “a
sweet course at the end of a meal,” which is from the French word
desservir, “to clear the table.” Desservir is made up of des-,
expressing the notion of reversal, and servir (from Latin servre), “to
serve,” hence, “to unserve” or “to clear the table.”»
BASSIANUS. 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
accited→ summoned. (JB)
Goths→ A East Germanic tribe who invaded the Roman Empire in the early centuries.
MARCUS. 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 at this day
To the monument of that Andronici
Done sacrifice of expiation,
And slain the noblest prisoner of the Goths.
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.
SATURNINUS. How fair the Tribune speaks to calm my thoughts.
BASSIANUS. Marcus Andronicus, so I do ally
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 soldiers of BASSIANUS
SATURNINUS. 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 soldiers of SATURNINUS
Rome, be as just and gracious unto me
As I am confident and kind to thee.
Open the gates and let me in.
BASSIANUS. Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.
[Flourish. They go up into the Senate House]
Enter a CAPTAIN
yoke→ Any of various emblems of subjugation, such as a structure made of two upright spears with a third laid across them, under which conquered enemies of ancient Rome were forced to march in subjection.
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.
Sound drums and trumpets, and then enter MARTIUS and MUTIUS, two of TITUS' sons; and then two men bearing a coffin covered with black; then LUCIUS and QUINTUS, two other sons; then TITUS ANDRONICUS; and then TAMORA the Queen of Goths, with her three sons, ALARBUS, DEMETRIUS, and CHIRON, with AARON the Moor, and others, as many as can be. Then set down the coffin and TITUS speaks
King Priam→ The king of Troy; father of some 50 sons and several daughters, the most famous being Hector, Paris, and Cassandra.
Styx→ A river that is the boundary between earth and the Underworld.
TITUS. 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.
[They open the tomb]
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 hast thou of mine in store
That thou wilt never render to me more!
Ad manes fratrum→ Latin: To the shades of our brothers. (JB)
LUCIUS. 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.
TITUS. I give him you- the noblest that survives,
The eldest son of this distressed queen.
TAMORA. 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 slaughtered in the streets
For valiant doings in their country's cause?
O, if to fight for king and commonweal
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.
TITUS. 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
T' appease their groaning shadows that are gone.
LUCIUS. 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.
Exeunt TITUS' SONS, with ALARBUS
TAMORA. O cruel, irreligious piety!
An ancient region of Eurasia extending from the mouth of the Danube River on the Black Sea to the territory east of the Aral Sea. The nomadic people of the region flourished from the eighth to the fourth century BC. (AHD)
CHIRON. Was never Scythia half so barbarous!
Thracian→ Ancient group of Indo-European tribes who spoke the extinct Thracian language.
DEMETRIUS. Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome.
Alarbus goes to rest, and we survive
To tremble under Titus' threat'ning 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, the sons of ANDRONICUS, with their swords bloody
'larums→ alarum = A warning or an alarm, especially a call to arms. (AHD)
LUCIUS. 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 nought but to inter our brethren,
And with loud 'larums welcome them to Rome.
TITUS. Let it be so, and let Andronicus
Make this his latest farewell to their souls.
[Sound trumpets and lay the coffin 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.
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!
obsequies→ funeral rites.
fortunes→ Success, especially when at least partially resulting from luck.
LAVINIA. 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!
TITUS. 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, above, MARCUS ANDRONICUS and TRIBUNES;
re-enter SATURNINUS, BASSIANUS, and attendants
MARCUS. Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,
Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!
pomp→ A procession distinguished by ostentation and splendor; a pageant.
Solon→ A celebrated Athenian lawmaker, born about 638 BC. Solon
palliament→ «candidate's gown, from Latin pallium, cloak, and paludementum, garment worn by general.» (JB)
candidatus→ Latin: literally: “clad in a white robe”. (JB)
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.
TITUS. 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.
MARCUS. Titus, thou shalt obtain and ask the empery.
SATURNINUS. Proud and ambitious Tribune, canst thou tell?
TITUS. Patience, Prince Saturninus.
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!
LUCIUS. Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good
That noble-minded Titus means to thee!
TITUS. Content thee, Prince; I will restore to thee
The people's hearts, and wean them from themselves.
BASSIANUS. 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.
TITUS. People of Rome, and people's Tribunes here,
I ask your voices and your suffrages:
Will ye bestow them friendly on Andronicus?
TRIBUNES. To gratify the good Andronicus,
And gratulate his safe return to Rome,
The people will accept whom he admits.
Titan→ any of the primordial giant gods who ruled the Earth until overthrown by Zeus. Titan
TITUS. Tribunes, I thank you; and this suit I make,
That you create our 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!'
MARCUS. 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 till they come down]
SATURNINUS. 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?
TITUS. 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.
SATURNINUS. 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.
TITUS. [To TAMORA] Now, madam, are you prisoner to an
To him that for your honour and your state
Will use you nobly and your followers.
SATURNINUS. [Aside] 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?
LAVINIA. Not I, my lord, sith true nobility
Warrants these words in princely courtesy.
SATURNINUS. Thanks, sweet Lavinia. Romans, let us go.
Ransomless here we set our prisoners free.
Proclaim our honours, lords, with trump and drum.
BASSIANUS. Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine.
TITUS. How, sir! Are you in earnest then, my lord?
BASSIANUS. Ay, noble Titus, and resolv'd withal
To do myself this reason and this right.
Suum cuique→ Latin: To each his own.
MARCUS. Suum cuique is our Roman justice:
This prince in justice seizeth but his own.
LUCIUS. And that he will and shall, if Lucius live.
avaunt→ begone; go away.
surpris'd→ To attack or capture suddenly and without warning. (AHD)
TITUS. Traitors, avaunt! Where is the Emperor's guard?
Treason, my lord- Lavinia is surpris'd!
SATURNINUS. Surpris'd! By whom?
BASSIANUS. By him that justly may
Bear his betroth'd from all the world away.
Exeunt BASSIANUS and MARCUS with LAVINIA
MUTIUS. Brothers, help to convey her hence away,
And with my sword I'll keep this door safe.
Exeunt LUCIUS, QUINTUS, and MARTIUS
TITUS. Follow, my lord, and I'll soon bring her back.
MUTIUS. My lord, you pass not here.
TITUS. What, villain boy!
Bar'st me my way in Rome?
MUTIUS. Help, Lucius, help!
TITUS kills him. During the fray, exeunt SATURNINUS,
TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, and AARON