Titus Andronicus, Act 3 Scene 1
ACT III. SCENE I. Rome. A street Enter the JUDGES, TRIBUNES, and SENATORS, with TITUS' two sons MARTIUS and QUINTUS bound, passing on the stage to the place of execution, and TITUS going before, pleading
Tribunes Officer of ancient Rome, somewhat like today's judges. Tribune
stanch To stop the flowing of, as blood.
TITUS Hear me, grave fathers; noble Tribunes, stay! For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent In dangerous wars whilst you securely slept; For all my blood in Rome's great quarrel shed, For all the frosty nights that I have watch'd, And for these bitter tears, which now you see Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks, Be pitiful to my condemned sons, Whose souls are not corrupted as 'tis thought. For two and twenty sons I never wept, Because they died in honour's lofty bed. [ANDRONICUS lieth down, and the judges pass by him with the prisoners, and exeunt] For these, Tribunes, in the dust I write My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears. Let my tears stanch the earth's dry appetite; My sons' sweet blood will make it shame and blush. O earth, I will befriend thee more with rain That shall distil from these two ancient urns, Than youthful April shall with all his show'rs. In summer's drought I'll drop upon thee still; In winter with warm tears I'll melt the snow And keep eternal spring-time on thy face, So thou refuse to drink my dear sons' blood. Enter Lucius with his weapon drawn O reverend Tribunes! O gentle aged men! Unbind my sons, reverse the doom of death, And let me say, that never wept before, My tears are now prevailing orators.
LUCIUS O noble father, you lament in vain; The Tribunes hear you not, no man is by, And you recount your sorrows to a stone.
TITUS Ah, Lucius, for thy brothers let me plead! Grave Tribunes, once more I entreat of you.
LUCIUS My gracious lord, no tribune hears you speak.
TITUS Why, 'tis no matter, man: if they did hear, They would not mark me; if they did mark, They would not pity me; yet plead I must, And bootless unto them. Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones; Who though they cannot answer my distress, Yet in some sort they are better than the Tribunes, For that they will not intercept my tale. When I do weep, they humbly at my feet Receive my tears, and seem to weep with me; And were they but attired in grave weeds, Rome could afford no tribunes like to these. A stone is soft as wax: tribunes more hard than stones. A stone is silent and offendeth not, And tribunes with their tongues doom men to death. [Rises] But wherefore stand'st thou with thy weapon drawn?
LUCIUS To rescue my two brothers from their death; For which attempt the judges have pronounc'd My everlasting doom of banishment.
TITUS O happy man! they have befriended thee. Why, foolish Lucius, dost thou not perceive That Rome is but a wilderness of tigers? Tigers must prey, and Rome affords no prey But me and mine; how happy art thou then From these devourers to be banished! But who comes with our brother Marcus here?
Enter MARCUS with LAVINIA
MARCUS Titus, prepare thy aged eyes to weep, Or if not so, thy noble heart to break. I bring consuming sorrow to thine age.
TITUS Will it consume me? Let me see it then.
MARCUS This was thy daughter.
TITUS Why, Marcus, so she is.
LUCIUS Ay me! this object kills me.
Troy The city of Troy was burned down at the end in Trojan War. Trojan War
Nilus God of the Nile river. Nilus
TITUS Faint-hearted boy, arise, and look upon her. Speak, Lavinia, what accursed hand Hath made thee handless in thy father's sight? What fool hath added water to the sea, Or brought a fagot to bright-burning Troy? My grief was at the height before thou cam'st, And now like Nilus it disdaineth bounds. Give me a sword, I'll chop off my hands too, For they have fought for Rome, and all in vain; And they have nurs'd this woe in feeding life; In bootless prayer have they been held up, And they have serv'd me to effectless use. Now all the service I require of them Is that the one will help to cut the other. 'Tis well, Lavinia, that thou hast no hands; For hands to do Rome service is but vain.
LUCIUS Speak, gentle sister, who hath martyr'd thee?
MARCUS O, that delightful engine of her thoughts That blabb'd them with such pleasing eloquence Is torn from forth that pretty hollow cage, Where like a sweet melodious bird it sung Sweet varied notes, enchanting every ear!
LUCIUS O, say thou for her, who hath done this deed?
MARCUS O, thus I found her straying in the park, Seeking to hide herself as doth the deer That hath receiv'd some unrecuring wound.
brinish Like brine; saltish.
TITUS It was my dear, and he that wounded her Hath hurt me more than had he kill'd me dead; For now I stand as one upon a rock, Environ'd with a wilderness of sea, Who marks the waxing tide grow wave by wave, Expecting ever when some envious surge Will in his brinish bowels swallow him. This way to death my wretched sons are gone; Here stands my other son, a banish'd man, And here my brother, weeping at my woes. But that which gives my soul the greatest spurn Is dear Lavinia, dearer than my soul. Had I but seen thy picture in this plight, It would have madded me; what shall I do Now I behold thy lively body so? Thou hast no hands to wipe away thy tears, Nor tongue to tell me who hath martyr'd thee; Thy husband he is dead, and for his death Thy brothers are condemn'd, and dead by this. Look, Marcus! Ah, son Lucius, look on her! When I did name her brothers, then fresh tears Stood on her cheeks, as doth the honey dew Upon a gath'red lily almost withered.
MARCUS Perchance she weeps because they kill'd her husband; Perchance because she knows them innocent.
TITUS If they did kill thy husband, then be joyful, Because the law hath ta'en revenge on them. No, no, they would not do so foul a deed; Witness the sorrow that their sister makes. Gentle Lavinia, let me kiss thy lips, Or make some sign how I may do thee ease. Shall thy good uncle and thy brother Lucius And thou and I sit round about some fountain, Looking all downwards to behold our cheeks How they are stain'd, like meadows yet not dry With miry slime left on them by a flood? And in the fountain shall we gaze so long, Till the fresh taste be taken from that clearness, And made a brine-pit with our bitter tears? Or shall we cut away our hands like thine? Or shall we bite our tongues, and in dumb shows Pass the remainder of our hateful days? What shall we do? Let us that have our tongues Plot some device of further misery To make us wonder'd at in time to come.
LUCIUS Sweet father, cease your tears; for at your grief See how my wretched sister sobs and weeps.
MARCUS Patience, dear niece. Good Titus, dry thine eyes.
TITUS Ah, Marcus, Marcus! Brother, well I wot Thy napkin cannot drink a tear of mine, For thou, poor man, hast drown'd it with thine own.
LUCIUS Ah, my Lavinia, I will wipe thy cheeks.
Limbo the place souls are held, of which who cannot go to heaven nor hell. limbo
TITUS Mark, Marcus, mark! I understand her signs. Had she a tongue to speak, now would she say That to her brother which I said to thee: His napkin, with his true tears all bewet, Can do no service on her sorrowful cheeks. O, what a sympathy of woe is this As far from help as Limbo is from bliss!
Enter AARON the Moor
AARON Titus Andronicus, my lord the Emperor Sends thee this word, that, if thou love thy sons, Let Marcus, Lucius, or thyself, old Titus, Or any one of you, chop off your hand And send it to the King: he for the same Will send thee hither both thy sons alive, And that shall be the ransom for their fault.
TITUS O gracious Emperor! O gentle Aaron! Did ever raven sing so like a lark That gives sweet tidings of the sun's uprise? With all my heart I'll send the Emperor my hand. Good Aaron, wilt thou help to chop it off?
LUCIUS Stay, father! for that noble hand of thine, That hath thrown down so many enemies, Shall not be sent. My hand will serve the turn, My youth can better spare my blood than you, And therefore mine shall save my brothers' lives.
MARCUS Which of your hands hath not defended Rome And rear'd aloft the bloody battle-axe, Writing destruction on the enemy's castle? O, none of both but are of high desert! My hand hath been but idle; let it serve To ransom my two nephews from their death; Then have I kept it to a worthy end.
AARON Nay, come, agree whose hand shall go along, For fear they die before their pardon come.
MARCUS My hand shall go.
LUCIUS By heaven, it shall not go!
TITUS Sirs, strive no more; such with'red herbs as these Are meet for plucking up, and therefore mine.
LUCIUS Sweet father, if I shall be thought thy son, Let me redeem my brothers both from death.
MARCUS And for our father's sake and mother's care, Now let me show a brother's love to thee.
TITUS Agree between you; I will spare my hand.
LUCIUS Then I'll go fetch an axe.
MARCUS But I will use the axe.
Exeunt LUCIUS and MARCUS
TITUS Come hither, Aaron, I'll deceive them both; Lend me thy hand, and I will give thee mine.
AARON [Aside] If that be call'd deceit, I will be honest, And never whilst I live deceive men so; But I'll deceive you in another sort, And that you'll say ere half an hour pass. [He cuts off TITUS' hand]
Re-enter LUCIUS and MARCUS
TITUS Now stay your strife. What shall be is dispatch'd. Good Aaron, give his Majesty my hand; Tell him it was a hand that warded him From thousand dangers; bid him bury it. More hath it merited- that let it have. As for my sons, say I account of them As jewels purchas'd at an easy price; And yet dear too, because I bought mine own.
AARON I go, Andronicus; and for thy hand Look by and by to have thy sons with thee. [Aside] Their heads I mean. O, how this villainy Doth fat me with the very thoughts of it! Let fools do good, and fair men call for grace: Aaron will have his soul black like his face. [Exit]
welkin The visible regions of the air; the vault of heaven; the sky.
TITUS O, here I lift this one hand up to heaven, And bow this feeble ruin to the earth; If any power pities wretched tears, To that I call! [To LAVINIA] What, would'st thou kneel with me? Do, then, dear heart; for heaven shall hear our prayers, Or with our sighs we'll breathe the welkin dim And stain the sun with fog, as sometime clouds When they do hug him in their melting bosoms.
MARCUS O brother, speak with possibility, And do not break into these deep extremes.
TITUS Is not my sorrow deep, having no bottom? Then be my passions bottomless with them.
MARCUS But yet let reason govern thy lament.
TITUS If there were reason for these miseries, Then into limits could I bind my woes. When heaven doth weep, doth not the earth o'erflow? If the winds rage, doth not the sea wax mad, Threat'ning the welkin with his big-swol'n face? And wilt thou have a reason for this coil? I am the sea; hark how her sighs do blow. She is the weeping welkin, I the earth; Then must my sea be moved with her sighs; Then must my earth with her continual tears Become a deluge, overflow'd and drown'd; For why my bowels cannot hide her woes, But like a drunkard must I vomit them. Then give me leave; for losers will have leave To ease their stomachs with their bitter tongues.
Enter a MESSENGER, with two heads and a hand
MESSENGER Worthy Andronicus, ill art thou repaid For that good hand thou sent'st the Emperor. Here are the heads of thy two noble sons; And here's thy hand, in scorn to thee sent back- Thy grief their sports, thy resolution mock'd, That woe is me to think upon thy woes, More than remembrance of my father's death. [Exit]
MARCUS Now let hot Aetna cool in Sicily, And be my heart an ever-burning hell! These miseries are more than may be borne. To weep with them that weep doth ease some deal, But sorrow flouted at is double death.
LUCIUS Ah, that this sight should make so deep a wound, And yet detested life not shrink thereat! That ever death should let life bear his name, Where life hath no more interest but to breathe! [LAVINIA kisses TITUS]
MARCUS Alas, poor heart, that kiss is comfortless As frozen water to a starved snake.
TITUS When will this fearful slumber have an end?
MARCUS Now farewell, flatt'ry; die, Andronicus. Thou dost not slumber: see thy two sons' heads, Thy warlike hand, thy mangled daughter here; Thy other banish'd son with this dear sight Struck pale and bloodless; and thy brother, I, Even like a stony image, cold and numb. Ah! now no more will I control thy griefs. Rent off thy silver hair, thy other hand Gnawing with thy teeth; and be this dismal sight The closing up of our most wretched eyes. Now is a time to storm; why art thou still?
TITUS Ha, ha, ha!
MARCUS Why dost thou laugh? It fits not with this hour.
TITUS Why, I have not another tear to shed; Besides, this sorrow is an enemy, And would usurp upon my wat'ry eyes And make them blind with tributary tears. Then which way shall I find Revenge's cave? For these two heads do seem to speak to me, And threat me I shall never come to bliss Till all these mischiefs be return'd again Even in their throats that have committed them. Come, let me see what task I have to do. You heavy people, circle me about, That I may turn me to each one of you And swear unto my soul to right your wrongs. The vow is made. Come, brother, take a head, And in this hand the other will I bear. And, Lavinia, thou shalt be employ'd in this; Bear thou my hand, sweet wench, between thy teeth. As for thee, boy, go, get thee from my sight; Thou art an exile, and thou must not stay. Hie to the Goths and raise an army there; And if ye love me, as I think you do, Let's kiss and part, for we have much to do.
Exeunt all but Lucius
wert A second person singular past indicative and past subjunctive of be.
tofore before (obsolete)
Tarquin a king of ancient Rome. Tarquin.
LUCIUS Farewell, Andronicus, my noble father, The woefull'st man that ever liv'd in Rome. Farewell, proud Rome; till Lucius come again, He leaves his pledges dearer than his life. Farewell, Lavinia, my noble sister; O, would thou wert as thou tofore hast been! But now nor Lucius nor Lavinia lives But in oblivion and hateful griefs. If Lucius live, he will requite your wrongs And make proud Saturnine and his empress Beg at the gates like Tarquin and his queen. Now will I to the Goths, and raise a pow'r To be reveng'd on Rome and Saturnine.