Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1
Flourish. Enter the Tribunes and Senators, aloft. And then enter Saturninus and his followers at one door [below], and Bassianus and his followers at the other, with Drum and Colours
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 was the 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.
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
Th’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
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, surnamèd 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 yoked a nation strong, trained up in arms.
Ten years are spent since first he undertook
This cause of Rome and chastisèd with arms
Our enemies’ pride: five times he hath returned
Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons
In coffins from the field,
And now at last, laden with horror’s spoils,
Returns the good Andronicus to Rome,
Renownèd 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 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 weighed.
Exeunt [his] Soldiers
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 his Soldiers]
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 [Saturninus and Bassianus] go up into the senate house. Enter a Captain
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 returned
From whence he circumscribèd with his sword
And brought to yoke, the enemies of Rome.
Sound drums and trumpets, and then enter two of Titus’ sons [Martius and Mutius]. After them, two men bearing a coffin covered with black, then two other sons [Lucius and Quintus]. After them, Titus Andronicus, and then Tamora, Queen of Goths, and her two sons Chiron and Demetrius, with Aaron the Moor and others, as many as can be. They set down the coffin and Titus speaks
TITUS Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!
Lo, as the bark that hath discharged his freight
Returns with precious lading to the bay
From whence at first she weighed her anchorage,
Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,
To resalute 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 of mine hast thou in store,
That thou wilt never render to me more!
LUCIUS Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile
Ad manus fratrum sacrifice his flesh
Before this earthly prison of their bones,
That so the shadows be not unappeased,
Nor we disturbed with prodigies on earth.
TITUS I give him you, the noblest that survives,
The eldest son of this distressèd queen.
TAMORA Stay, Roman brethren, gracious conqueror, ØKneelsØ
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 sons 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 the brethren whom you Goths beheld
Alive and dead, and for their brethren slain
Religiously they ask a sacrifice:
To this your son is marked, and die he must,
To 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 consumed.
Exeunt Sons [Lucius, Quintus,
Martius and Mutius] with Alarbus
TAMORA O cruel, irreligious piety! Rises
CHIRON Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?
DEMETRIUS Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome.
Alarbus goes to rest and we survive
To tremble under Titus’ threat’ning looks.
Then, madam, stand resolved, but hope withal
The self-same gods that armed 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.
Enter the Sons of Andronicus again
LUCIUS See, lord and father, how we have performed
Our Roman rites: Alarbus’ limbs are lopped,
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.
Flourish. Then sound trumpets, and lay the coffins 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 damnèd grudges, here are no storms,
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons.
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 Kneels
Shed on the earth for thy return to Rome.
O, bless me here with thy victorious hand,
Whose fortune Rome’s best citizens applaud.
TITUS Kind Rome, that hast thus lovingly reserved
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. Lavinia rises
[Enter Marcus, below]
MARCUS Long live Lord Titus, my belovèd brother,
Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!
TITUS Thanks, gentle tribune, noble brother Marcus.
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 aspired 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-deceasèd emperor’s sons:
Be candidatus then and put it on, Offers a robe
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 today,
Tomorrow yield up rule, resign my life
And set abroad 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 wert shipped 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 noble tribunes here,
I ask your voices and your suffrages,
Will you 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.
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 emperess,
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 imperial lord:
Receive them then, the tribute that I owe, Titus’ sword, chariot (?)
Mine honour’s ensigns humbled at thy feet. and prisoners are given
SATURNINUS Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life. to Saturninus
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 Now, madam, are you prisoner to an To Tamora
To him that for your honour and your state,
Will use you nobly and your followers.
SATURNINUS A goodly lady, trust me, of the hue Aside?
That I would choose, were I to choose anew.-
Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance: To Tamora
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 displeased 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 Sound music;
drum. prisoners released
BASSIANUS Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine. Seizes
TITUS How, sir? Are you in earnest then, my lord? Lavinia
BASSIANUS Ay, noble Titus, and resolved withal
To do myself this reason and this right.
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.
TITUS Traitors, avaunt! Where is the emperor’s guard?-
Treason, my lord: Lavinia is surprised!
SATURNINUS Surprised? By whom?
BASSIANUS By him that justly may
Bear his betrothed from all the world away.
MUTIUS Brothers, help to convey her hence away,
And with my sword I’ll keep this door safe.
[Exeunt Bassianus, Lavinia, Marcus,
TITUS Follow, my lord, and I’ll soon bring her back.
[Exeunt Saturninus and Goths]
MUTIUS My lord, you pass not here.
TITUS What, villain boy, barr’st me my way in Rome?
He kills him
MUTIUS Help, Lucius, help!
LUCIUS My lord, you are unjust, and, more than so:
In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.
TITUS Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine:
My sons would never so dishonour me.
Traitor, restore Lavinia to the emperor.
LUCIUS Dead, if you will, but not to be his wife
That is another’s lawful promised love. [Exit]
Enter aloft the Emperor with Tamora and her two sons, and Aaron
SATURNINUS 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 none in Rome to make a stale
But Saturnine? Full well, Andronicus,
Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine,
That said’st I begged the empire at thy hands.
Excerpted from Titus Andronicus & Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare. Copyright © 2011 by William Shakespeare. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.