Titus Andronicus, Act 2 Scene 1
ACT II. SCENE I. Rome. Before the palace Enter AARON
Olympus the mountain where gods reside. Mount Olympus
Fortune refers to Fortuna, the goddess of luck and fate. Fortuna.
Prometheus Caucasus was one of the pillars supporting the world. Prometheus was chained there by Zeus. See Prometheus, Caucasus
Semiramis legendary Assyrian queen, ~1400 BCE. Semiramis
nymph A semi-goddess of the mountains, forests, meadows, or waters. nymph
Saturnine probably refers to Saturn (mythology), son of f Gaia and Uranus, father of Zeus.
AARON Now climbeth Tamora Olympus' top, Safe out of Fortune's shot, and sits aloft, Secure of thunder's crack or lightning flash, Advanc'd above pale envy's threat'ning reach. As when the golden sun salutes the morn, And, having gilt the ocean with his beams, Gallops the zodiac in his glistening coach And overlooks the highest-peering hills, So Tamora. Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait, And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown. Then, Aaron, arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress, And mount her pitch whom thou in triumph long Hast prisoner held, fett'red in amorous chains, And faster bound to Aaron's charming eyes Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus. Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts! I will be bright and shine in pearl and gold, To wait upon this new-made empress. To wait, said I? To wanton with this queen, This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph, This siren that will charm Rome's Saturnine, And see his shipwreck and his commonweal's. Hullo! what storm is this?
Enter CHIRON and DEMETRIUS, braving
DEMETRIUS Chiron, thy years wants wit, thy wits wants edge And manners, to intrude where I am grac'd, And may, for aught thou knowest, affected be.
ween think. (archaic)
bear me down vanquish
braves To make a courageous show or to put up a stalwart front. (archaic)
CHIRON Demetrius, thou dost over-ween in all; And so in this, to bear me down with braves. 'Tis not the difference of a year or two Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate: I am as able and as fit as thou To serve and to deserve my mistress' grace; And that my sword upon thee shall approve, And plead my passions for Lavinia's love.
AARON [Aside] Clubs, clubs! These lovers will not keep the peace.
DEMETRIUS Why, boy, although our mother, unadvis'd, Gave you a dancing rapier by your side, Are you so desperate grown to threat your friends? Go to; have your lath glued within your sheath Till you know better how to handle it.
CHIRON Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have, Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.
DEMETRIUS Ay, boy, grow ye so brave? [They draw]
draw taking out weapons.
wot pp of wit = to know; see.
AARON [Coming forward] Why, how now, lords! So near the Emperor's palace dare ye draw And maintain such a quarrel openly? Full well I wot the ground of all this grudge: I would not for a million of gold The cause were known to them it most concerns; Nor would your noble mother for much more Be so dishonoured in the court of Rome. For shame, put up.
DEMETRIUS Not I, till I have sheath'd My rapier in his bosom, and withal Thrust those reproachful speeches down his throat That he hath breath'd in my dishonour here.
CHIRON For that I am prepar'd and full resolv'd, Foul-spoken coward, that thund'rest with thy tongue, And with thy weapon nothing dar'st perform.
brabble a noisy contest; a wrangle.
AARON Away, I say! Now, by the gods that warlike Goths adore, This pretty brabble will undo us all. Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous It is to jet upon a prince's right? What, is Lavinia then become so loose, Or Bassianus so degenerate, That for her love such quarrels may be broach'd Without controlment, justice, or revenge? Young lords, beware; an should the Empress know This discord's ground, the music would not please.
CHIRON I care not, I, knew she and all the world: I love Lavinia more than all the world.
meaner (mean) Low in quality or grade; inferior; Low in social status; of humble origins. (AHD)
DEMETRIUS Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice: Lavina is thine elder brother's hope.
AARON Why, are ye mad, or know ye not in Rome How furious and impatient they be, And cannot brook competitors in love? I tell you, lords, you do but plot your deaths By this device.
CHIRON Aaron, a thousand deaths Would I propose to achieve her whom I love.
AARON To achieve her- how?
wots the miller of More water glides by the water mill than the mill owner sees. (alluding to having sex with a married woman and her husband shouldn't know or loose anything.)
steal a shive it is easy to steal a slice of a loaf that has already been sliced. (compare to virgins and married women)
Vulcan Hephaestus, a god of technology. Hephaestus is married with Aphrodite (Venus), and Aphrodite fornicates with Ares (Mars), among others. See Hephaestus. This passage refers to how problem-free it is to fuck Lavinia despite her marital status with Bassianus.
DEMETRIUS Why mak'st thou it so strange? She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd; She is a woman, therefore may be won; She is Lavinia, therefore must be lov'd. What, man! more water glideth by the mill Than wots the miller of; and easy it is Of a cut loaf to steal a shive, we know. Though Bassianus be the Emperor's brother, Better than he have worn Vulcan's badge.
AARON [Aside] Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.
struck a doe steal a doe and not have the owner knowing.
DEMETRIUS Then why should he despair that knows to court it With words, fair looks, and liberality? What, hast not thou full often struck a doe, And borne her cleanly by the keeper's nose?
AARON Why, then, it seems some certain snatch or so Would serve your turns.
CHIRON Ay, so the turn were served.
DEMETRIUS Aaron, thou hast hit it.
square To bring (oneself) into a better position or relation: He tried to square himself with his parents. (AHD)
speed prosper; succeed. (archaic)
AARON Would you had hit it too! Then should not we be tir'd with this ado. Why, hark ye, hark ye! and are you such fools To square for this? Would it offend you, then, That both should speed?
CHIRON Faith, not me.
DEMETRIUS Nor me, so I were one.
jar To cause a short, tremulous motion of; to shake; to shock.
affect To act on the emotions of; touch or move. (AHD)
Lucrece A legendary figure of the Roman Republic. She was raped, then committed suicide. Lucrece
AARON For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar. 'Tis policy and stratagem must do That you affect; and so must you resolve That what you cannot as you would achieve, You must perforce accomplish as you may. Take this of me: Lucrece was not more chaste Than this Lavinia, Bassianus' love. A speedier course than ling'ring languishment Must we pursue, and I have found the path. My lords, a solemn hunting is in hand; There will the lovely Roman ladies troop; The forest walks are wide and spacious, And many unfrequented plots there are Fitted by kind for rape and villainy. Single you thither then this dainty doe, And strike her home by force if not by words. This way, or not at all, stand you in hope. Come, come, our Empress, with her sacred wit To villainy and vengeance consecrate, Will we acquaint with all what we intend; And she shall file our engines with advice That will not suffer you to square yourselves, But to your wishes' height advance you both. The Emperor's court is like the house of Fame, The palace full of tongues, of eyes, and ears; The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull. There speak and strike, brave boys, and take your turns; There serve your lust, shadowed from heaven's eye, And revel in Lavinia's treasury.
CHIRON Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice.
Sit fas aut nefas Latin: be it right or wrong. (JB)
Per Styga, per manes vehor «“I am carried through the Stygian regions, through the realm of shades”, i.e. “I am in hell”» (JB)
DEMETRIUS Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the stream To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits, Per Styga, per manes vehor.