(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )
Saturninus — new Emperor of Rome
Bassianus — brother of Saturninus
Titus Andronicus — Roman general
Lucius, Quintus, Martius, and Mutius — sons of Titus
Lavinia — daughter of Titus
Marcus Andronicus — tribune, and brother of Titus
Publius — son of Marcus
Young Lucius — son of Lucius
Sempronius, Caius, and Valentine — kinsmen of Titus (non-speaking roles)
Tamora — Queen of the Goths, and new Empress
Alarbus, Demetrius, and Chiron — sons of Tamora
Aaron — Moorish lover of Tamora
Aemilius — Roman noble
Gist of the story: Titus Andronicus has returned to Rome after a victorious war against the Goths. The Goth Queen, Tamora, and her three sons are prisoners. The eldest, Alarbus, is executed as a just sacrifice for the loss of 21 of Titus’s sons. The newly-declared Emperor, Saturninus, seeks to marry Lavinia, but she is promised to Bassianus. Bassianus takes her away with the help of Titus’s sons, one of whom, Mutius, is killed by Titus for his disobedience. Saturninus changes his mind and marries Tamora instead. Now suddenly elevated from prisoner to Empress, Tamora plots revenge against the Andronici with the help of the evil Aaron, her Moorish lover. Demetrius and Chiron rape Lavinia, cut off her hands, and cut out her tongue. They also kill her new husband, Bassianus, and throw his body into a pit. Aaron lures Quintus and Martius into the pit and frames them for Bassianus’s murder. He then tricks Titus into giving up one of his hands to save them from execution, but they are executed anyway. Lucius is banished for attempting to rescue them. Titus tells him to go to the Goths and enlist their help. Lavinia has identified her attackers by scratching their names in the sand. Tamora gives birth to Aaron’s baby, which is black. Aaron suspects Titus knows who raped Lavinia. He kills the two witnesses who know about the black baby and then takes him to the Goths, expecting protection. Titus plots revenge. Tamora and her sons disguise themselves as Revenge, Murder, and Rape and attempt to con Titus into stopping Lucius and the Goths from attacking. Tamora assumes Titus is mad and offers to deliver all his enemies at a banquet in his house. But Titus knows who they are. He cons Tamora into leaving her sons behind. Then he and his kinsmen capture them. He kills the sons and uses their bodies to make a meat pie, which he serves to Tamora and Saturninus at the banquet. Titus kills Lavinia to end her suffering. Then he kills Tamora. Saturninus kills Titus, and Lucius kills Saturninus. Aaron, the Moor, who has confessed to all his crimes to spare his baby, is sentenced to a slow death by starvation. Lucius becomes the new Emperor by popular demand.
(Titus Andronicus is notorious for its gruesomeness, but it has been a generally popular play. It is quasi-historical in that it is set in Imperial Rome but all the characters are fictitious. The famous scene in which the Empress is fed a meat pie made from the bodies of her sons was suggested to Shakespeare by a story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Philomela, the sister of Procne, was raped by Procne’s husband, Tereus. For revenge, Procne killed their own child, Itys, and used his body as food for Tereus. Titus is a heroic figure, but he has one defect — an exaggerated and very rigid sense of honour. He represents an old, traditional Roman conservatism that predates the Imperial era (roughly, the first four centures A.D.), which we remember more for its degenerate Emperors, like Nero and Caligula. There is a movie version of the play, Titus, from 1999, produced and directed by Julie Taymor, and starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. Buy it and own it forever. It’s a masterpiece. Divine spirits got into everyone’s heads when they made this movie. It’s beyond excellent. It’s sublime.)
Act 1, Scene 1. Near the senate house in Rome. The stage has an upper tier that spans the entire stage. Somewhere at the rear is a curtain or door representing the burial vault of the Andronici. Tribunes and Senators gather on the upper tier and are conversing amongst themselves. Crowd noises and drums are heard offstage on both sides. Then Saturninus and his followers come in from one side, and Bassianus and his followers come in from the other. Rivalry is evident. Saturninus and Bassianus signal for quiet.
Saturninus (To his party): My good friends, let everyone know that you support me–Saturninus–to be the next Emperor of Rome. Defend my right as the elder son of the late Emperor to succeed him on the throne.
(Noisy reaction from his party, boos from the other.)
Bassianus (To his party): My fellow Romans, stand by me–Bassianus–as the one most deserving to succeed my late father as the next Emperor of Rome. You know my reputation for justice, moderation, and nobility. For these qualities I would be your Emperor.
(Noisy reaction from both parties. Then Marcus Andronicus appears on the upper tier holding the crown.)
Marcus: Noble princes–Saturninus and Bassianus–as tribune of the people, I ask you kindly to set aside your ambitions. The citizens of Rome, by common consent, have chosen Titus Andronicus, my noble brother, to be their next Emperor. There is no braver or nobler man in all of Rome than him. He has fought for ten years to subdue our barbarous enemies, the Goths, and he has lost twenty-one valiant sons in that cause. Now he returns to us victorious and bearing the spoils of war for the glory of Rome. The senate shall decide who will be the next Emperor. Therefore, I call upon you princes to send your followers home and come into the senate and make your pleas and arguments so that all shall be heard fairly, and the senate in its wisdom shall make the best choice for Rome.
Saturninus: Marcus Andronicus, good tribune that you are, you speak reasonably, as always.
Bassianus: We trust you, Marcus. And out of respect for you and your noble brother and his sons, and his gracious daughter, Lavinia–for whom I have a special affection–I will dismiss my followers. (To his party) Peace to you all. Go home now. I thank you from my heart for your love and support.
(His party leaves.)
Saturninus (To his party): And you, my friends, may go home, too. But remember that you are always with me in my heart and in my thoughts, just as I am sure I am always in yours.
(His party leaves.)
Saturninus: Tribunes and senators, be gracious to me, who has the utmost confidence in you. Allow me into the senate.
Bassianus: And I as well, who have the same confidence in you.
Marcus: Come. We will do this the right way, as Romans should.
(Saturninus and Bassianus go out where they came in and then join the Tribunes and Senators above. Then all leave together. Just when they are all gone, a Captain comes in below. He addresses the audience as the Romans.)
Captain (To the audience): Romans! Your hero has returned! The great Titus Andronicus, my beloved General, has conquered the Goths and brings with him as prisoners the Queen of the Goths, Tamora, and her three sons, Alarbus, Demetrius, and Chiron.–And he brings back the remains of twenty-one of his own valiant sons who died in battle.–Now show your love to your greatest champion–Titus Andronicus!
(The audience is prompted to cheer and applaud as trumpets and drums herald the arrival of Titus. He comes in with his four sons Lucius, Quintus, Martius, and Mutius, who carry a large casket, meant to represent the remains of all the dead sons. Soldiers escort the prisoners Tamora and her three sons, as well as Aaron, the Moor. The sons of Titus set down the casket before the door or curtain representing the vault of the Andronici. Then Titus speaks to the audience.)
Titus: Hail, Romans! I cry tears of joy to see you again, and I thank the gods for protecting you. Of twenty-five sons I bring back four alive. The others shall be interred with the honour they deserve in the family vault of the Andronici.
(At this point, the four sons of Titus open the door or part the curtain to the vault at rear stage.)
Lucius: Father, before we bury our brothers, it is only proper that we sacrifice the eldest son of the Goths.
Titus: Take him. He’s all yours.
(Titus’s sons grab Alarbus. Tamora falls to her knees, and her other sons kneel beside her.)
Tamora: My lord Titus, have mercy on my son! He has done nothing wrong. He has only fought for his side the same as your sons fought for your side. I love him no less than you love your sons. Be merciful, my lord. Of all the virtues given to men, mercy is the godliest. Be then god-like in your nobility and spare my son.
Titus: But madam, it is only proper that a sacrifice be made. The souls of my dead sons cry out for retribution. For the sake of our honour, your eldest son, Alarbus, must die.
Lucius (To his brothers): Come on, let’s take him. He will be cut to pieces and burned to ashes.
(The four sons take Alarbus out. He remains silent. Tamora, crying, rises with her other sons, who embrace her.)
Tamora: Cruelty! Cruelty!
Chiron: Scythia was never so barbarous as Rome!
Demetrius (Aside to Tamora): You’ll have your revenge someday. The gods will see to it.
(Screams are heard offstage. Then the sons of Titus return.)
Lucius: It’s done. Now we can bury our brothers.
Titus: Very well.
(The four sons lay the casket in the vault.)
Titus (Holding back tears): Rest in peace–my good sons.
(Titus and his sons observe a moment of silence. Then Lavinia comes in, holding flowers.)
Lavinia: My noble father. I’ve prayed for your safe return.
Titus: The true happiness of my old age.
(The four brothers embrace Lavinia. They take the flowers and place them on or before the casket. Then Marcus Andronicus, Saturninus, Bassianus, and Tribunes and Senators return on the main stage. Marcus is holding a white cape or robe, representing the emperorship.)
Marcus: Long live Titus Andronicus, my beloved brother!
Titus: The same to you, Marcus!
Marcus: And welcome home, nephews.
The Sons: Thank you, uncle.
Marcus: Titus, the people and the senate of Rome have decided that you should be our next Emperor.
(He holds out the white robe, but Titus does not take it.)
Titus: Oh!–Shall I accept now and die of old age in a few years? You’d only have to do it all over again. Better to choose a younger man now.
Marcus (To Titus): But you are the people’s choice. Of course, you will accept.
Saturninus (Annoyed): He said he didn’t want it. I’m the elder son. Everyone knows that. The crown and robe are mine.–Don’t steal them from me, Titus!
Lucius: Show some courtesy, good prince!
Titus: It’s all right. We don’t have to quarrel. I don’t intend to steal anything.
Bassianus: My lord Titus, I am as worthy as my brother. If you will support me, I’ll be most grateful.
Titus: People of Rome–senators–and the people’s tribunes–will you support the choice I make?
Titus: Good. Then by rights the next Emperor should be Saturninus, because he is the elder son. And I have full confidence that his virtues will shine like the sun and spread justice and goodness throughout Rome.
Saturninus: Thank you, Titus!
(Marcus exchanges nods with the Senators and Tribunes.)
Marcus: Then we agree.–Long live our new Emperor, Saturninus!
(Trumpets and drums. Everyone cheers.)
Saturninus: Titus Andronicus, I thank you for your support, and you will always have my gratitude. And to advance the honour of your family, I have decided to marry your daughter, Lavinia. She shall be my Empress. Does this please you?
Titus: It pleases me very much, my lord. It is a great honour to me. And to you I give all my prisoners.
Saturninus: Thank you, Titus. (He gives Tamora a lascivious look.)
Titus (To Tamora): Now, madam, you and your sons belong to the Emperor. He will treat you honourably, don’t worry.
Saturninus (Aside): Boy, she’s hot. I really like her. (To Tamora) Be happy, madam. You will be even greater here in Rome than you were as Queen of the Goths, I promise you.–Lavinia, you don’t mind, do you?
Lavinia: No, my lord. You are noble to show such kindness to the lady.
Saturninus: Thank you, Lavinia.–The prisoners now have the freedom of the city–and, of course, the palace.–Now, Romans, let’s celebrate!
(Saturninus is leaving with the Tribunes and Senators, and the Goths. Just as he is offstage, Bassianus grabs Lavinia and pulls her back.)
Bassianus: Lord Titus, your daughter is promised to me.
Titus: What do you mean?
Bassianus: She loves me, sir. She is sworn to me.
Marcus: It’s true, Titus.
Lucius: And I will defend his right.
Titus: What! This is treason!–My lord Saturninus!
(Saturninus returns with the Goths behind him.)
Saturninus: What’s the matter?
Bassianus: Lavinia belongs to me!
(Bassianus runs out with Lavinia, and Marcus following.)
Titus: I’ll get her back, my lord!
(Titus turns to pursue but is blocked by Mutius.)
Mutius: Brothers, go with them!
(Lucius, Quintus, and Martius run out, following.)
Titus: Get out of my way, Mutius. I’m bringing your sister back.
Mutius: No, father, you’re not.
Titus: You turn against your own father!
(Titus takes out a knife and stabs Mutius.)
(Mutius falls dead. Saturninus and the Goths leave quickly. Lucius returns and bends over Mutius’s body.)
Lucius: He’s dead! You killed your own son!
Titus: I killed a traitor! Would you dishonour me? Return Lavinia at once!
Lucius: No! She belongs to Bassianus!
(Lucius leaves. Saturninus and the Goths appear on the upper tier.)
Saturninus: Let her go, Titus. I don’t need her–and I don’t need any of your family. You think you’re a king-maker, don’t you? You think I begged to be made Emperor!
Titus: What?–How can you say that, my lord?
Saturninus: Go with your sons–and your fickle daughter! Enjoy your new son-in-law. He’s just like your sons–no good!
Titus: Sir, you are hurting me greatly now.
Saturninus: Tamora. you shall be my wife. You will be Empress of Rome. Does that please you?
Tamora: Very much, my lord. If you want me, I’ll be the willing wife to your every desire.
Saturninus: Come. We will be married at once.
(All leave except Titus.)
Titus: When have I ever been treated so badly?
(Marcus returns with Lucius, Quintus, and Martius.)
Marcus: Brother, what have you done? You killed your son for no reason.
Titus: I had a good reason. I will not have a traitor in my family–and that includes all of you.
Lucius: At least let us bury him.
Titus: In the family vault? No! Take him out and bury him somewhere else.
Marcus: Brother, this is wrong. Mutius deserves to lie with his brothers.
Martius: And he will–or we will die with him.
Titus: You would bury him here against my wishes?
Marcus: No, brother. With your consent. I’m pleading with you. Pardon Mutius and let him be buried properly with his own kin.
Titus: You dishonour me, Marcus–you and these disloyal sons of mine.
Quintus: It’s no use. We can’t reason with him. We should go.
Martius: No. Not until Mutius is given the burial he deserves.
(Marcus and the three sons kneel.)
Marcus: Brother–if you love me as a brother–
Martius: And if you love us as sons–
Lucius: Will you not listen to your own flesh and blood?
Marcus: Don’t be like the Goth barbarians. You are a Roman. Allow us to bury Mutius here where he belongs.
(A pause. Titus is unhappy.)
Titus (Grudgingly): Do what you will.–But you dishonour me.
(Titus turns his back on them and moves apart. Marcus and the three sons place Mutius’s body in the vault. Then they kneel beside his body.)
Lucius: He died nobly–for what was right.
(The sons rise after a moment of silence and then leave, in the last direction of Bassianus, whom they are going to meet up with again. Marcus goes to Titus and tries to soothe him by changing the subject.)
Marcus: So–Tamora’s going to be the Empress. How is it that the Queen of the Goths has advanced herself so suddenly?
Titus: I don’t know.–But one thing I do know. She has me to thank for it. I brought her here.
(A trumpet flourish. From one side, Saturninus, Tamora, her two sons, and Aaron come in. They are looking happy because the marriage has just taken place. From the other side, Bassianus and Lavinia come in, with Lucius, Quintus, and Martius. There is obvious tension between Saturninus and Bassianus. [Author’s note: At this point we’re supposed to assume that Bassianus and Lavinia have gotten married, although there was hardly enough time. Shakespeare is notoriously loose in his treatment of time, as we have seen many times throughout this series.])
Saturninus (Sarcastically): Good luck in your marriage, Bassianus. May you enjoy your bride.
Bassianus: And you yours, my lord.–I have nothing else to say, so I shall leave you.
Bassianus: Rapist? You call me a rapist for claiming my own?
Saturninus: You think you’ve beaten me, don’t you? Well, enjoy your little moment of triumph–while it lasts.
Bassianus: You don’t seem to appreciate the fact that lord Titus killed his own son out of loyalty to you, and now you turn against him.
Titus: I don’t need you to defend me, Bassianus. The gods and all of Rome are my witnesses that I have honoured Saturninus–(He kneels)–and still do.
Tamora (To Saturninus): My lord, you must pardon them.
Saturninus: And be dishonoured?
Tamora: No, no, my lord. I would never advise you in a way that would lead you to dishonour. Lord Titus is your friend. You must keep him as your friend. (Aside to Saturninus) My lord, you’ve only just become Emperor. Titus has many friends. If you quarrel with him, the people may take his side. Be discreet now and keep your feelings to yourself. When the time is right, I’ll find a way to destroy all these Andronici. (Normal voice) Come, my lord. Be friends with lord Titus. He loves you. He’s loyal to you.
Saturninus (Half-heartedly): Oh, all right.–Stand up, Titus. My Empress has prevailed. We are friends.
Titus (Rising): Thank you, my lord. And I thank the Empress, too.
Tamora: Titus, now that I’m Empress, I seek only what is best for the Emperor. So as of this moment, all quarrels are forgotten.–And that includes you, too, Prince Bassianus. I’ve promised the Emperor that you will be more gentle and agreeable from now on.–Now, please, the rest of you should ask pardon of the Emperor.
(Marcus, Lavinia, Lucius, Quintus, and Martius kneel.)
Lucius: We ask pardon, my lord. We were thinking only of our sister’s honour and our own.
Marcus: Yes, my lord.
(Saturninus frowns, being somewhat angry again.)
Saturninus: I wish you’d all go away.
Titus: No, no, my lord. We must all be friends. See how they are kneeling? For my sake, forgive them all and be friends again.
(Pause for effect. This is all about Tamora’s ability to influence Saturninus.)
Saturninus: All right.–Marcus, for your sake as a tribune, and the rest of your family–and for my lovely new bride–I forgive you all. (He gestures to them to stand up, and they do.) We’ll have a big feast–in honour of both brides. You’re all invited.
Titus: And tomorrow, my lord, let’s go hunting. It’ll be fun.
Saturninus: Yes, why not.–Come along, everyone.
(All leave except Aaron, the Moor. This is a scene break, but a quick segue is needed, without the curtain.)
Act 2, Scene 1. When everyone else has cleared the stage, leaving Aaron alone, he turns and faces the audience. Some stage effects are called for here, to signal Aaron’s malevolent character.
Aaron: Now Tamora has the power she wants over her enemies. Empress of Rome!–And my mistress.–She will always be bound to me before any husband. She will be the neck that turns the Emperor’s head–and mine will be the tongue that licks the neck. (He tugs at his poor clothes.) I’ll be getting a fine new wardrobe.
(A commotion is heard offstage. Then Chiron and Demetrius come in fighting with swords, but not seriously.)
Demetrius: Chiron, you’re a jackass! Know your place!
Chiron: Yeah, big brother Demetrius! Fuck you!
Demetrius: Oh, yeah? Take that!
Chiron: Fuck you! Lavinia’s mine!
Demetrius: Like hell! She’s mine!
Chiron: I’ll fight you for her!
Demetrius: She’s too good for you! Go fuck a leper!
(Aaron grabs their arms and stops the fight.)
Aaron: Knock it off, you morons! What the hell’s the matter with you? Where do you think you are?
Chiron: I’ve had enough of him! He thinks he can walk all over me because he’s a year older!
Demetrius: Yes, I can!
Aaron: Shut the fuck up, both of you.–Do you know where you are? This is Rome. They don’t tolerate this kind of shit here. Now listen to me. Your mother has just become Empress. Do you want to ruin everything for her?
Demetrius: He’s a jerk. He thinks he can have Lavinia.
Chiron: That’s right. If I want her, I can have her.
Aaron: Shut up, both of you. You’re crazy to fight over Lavinia. Your mother would be pissed off if she knew.
Chiron: I love Lavinia and I want her.
Demetrius: Yeah, to fuck her.
Chiron: So what? The same as you.
Demetrius: Yeah, so what?
Aaron: And you guys think you can make a cuckold of Bassianus?
Demetrius: Yes, why not? If I can get away with it.
Aaron: Boys, boys, boys–just calm down for a minute, okay? You both want to fuck Lavinia, right?
Demetrius and Chiron: Yes.
Aaron: Well, if you fight with each other, neither one of you will get to fuck her.–But–if you were to cooperate–you could both fuck her.
Chiron: That’s okay with me.
Demetrius: Yeah. Okay. So what should we do?
Aaron: The nobles are going hunting tomorrow. Lavinia will be with them. There’s a lot of space out there–a lot of remote places in the woods. All you have to do is follow her until you can grab her in some secluded spot. Then you can do whatever you want.
Chiron: Yeah! That’s a good idea!
Demetrius: I like it.
Aaron: Fine. Now just keep your big mouths shut and behave yourselves when you’re in the palace, because there are eyes and ears everywhere.–Now–let’s go confer with your mother. She wants her revenge against the Andronici. She’ll advise us. And you’ll get what you want.
Demetrius and Chiron: All right!
Act 2, Scene 2. Outdoors in the morning. (This is a hunting party on horseback, but you’ll have to imagine the horses.) Background sounds of hunting horns and barking dogs. Coming in are Titus, Lucius, Quintus, Martius, and Marcus.
Titus: A fine morning for hunting. I want you boys to stay close to the Emperor.–Ah, here they come.
(Coming in are Saturninus, Tamora, Bassianus, Lavinia, Demetrius, and Chiron.)
Titus: Good morning, your Majesty–and madam.–Did we wake you up too early?
Saturninus: A bit early for the ladies perhaps.
Lavinia: No, no. I’m wide awake.
Saturninus: Fine.–Tamora, now you’ll see how we Romans hunt wild animals.
Marcus: Sometimes panthers!
Tamora: I’ve seen panthers before.
Titus: They won’t get away from us. Our horses can go anywhere, and our hounds can smell anything.
Demetrius (Aside to Chiron): We don’t need horses or hounds.
Chiron (Aside to Demetrius): We’ll just follow the smell of pussy.
(They all leave.)
Act 2, Scene 3. In the forest. (This is a problem scene for the Director. Somewhere on stage there is supposed to be a pit. If there is a convenient trap door in the stage, that’s it. Otherwise, you probably have to fake it by suggesting it offstage.) Aaron comes in with a bag of gold. He looks very serious.
Aaron: This bag of gold is going to help me incriminate Titus’s sons.
(He hides the gold at rear stage beneath a tree. Then Tamora comes in.)
Tamora: There you are, Aaron. You look awfully serious. This is such a beautiful day. And this place is so secluded. We should make the most of it.
(She kisses him.)
Aaron: Right now I’m thinking more of revenge than sex. We’re going to start eliminating the Andronici. But first, Bassianus has to die. And your sons will have their way with Lavinia–that obnoxious virgin.
(He produces a letter.)
Tamora: What’s this?
Aaron: Part of the plan. This will ruin Quintus and Martius. You’ll give this to the Emperor at the right time.
(She takes the letter, then kisses Aaron passionately. [Author’s note: Shakespeare changes the plan later. The letter will be left where Titus will find it. He will give it to Tamora, and she will give it to the Emperor.])
Tamora: Fuck me now.
Aaron: We’re being watched–Bassianus and Lavinia.–Listen. I’ll go get your sons while you get into an argument with him. When I bring them, pretend you’re in danger.
(Aaron leaves. Then Bassianus and Lavinia come in from the opposite side.)
Bassianus: Well, well–what have we here? Is the Empress having a bit of horizontal exercise with her Moorish boyfriend?
Lavinia (Laughing): Or did we interrupt?
Tamora: How dare you spy on me!
Lavinia: I wonder if the Emperor realizes what a sluttish Goth he has married.
Bassianus: I shall have to tell him. (To Tamora) Is it true what they say about black men? You know–that they’re well-endowed?
Tamora: You’ll both pay for this insult!
(Demetrius and Chiron come in.)
Demetrius: Mother, what’s the matter?
Tamora: These two lured me here and threatened to throw me into a pit full of snakes! They called me a whore!
Bassianus: We did not!
Demetrius: You threatened my mother?
Chiron: You called her a whore?–We’ll have to do something about that.
(Demetrius and Chiron draw their knives and position themselves on both sides of Bassianus, who is unarmed.)
Lavinia: Tamora! Stop them!
Tamora: Oh!–Now you’re sorry, aren’t you?
(Demetrius and Chiron stab Bassianus to death. Lavinia screams.)
Tamora (To Demetrius): Give me your knife. I’ll kill her myself.
Demetrius: But we want to have our way with her.
Chiron: You said we could.
Tamora: Do whatever you want. Just make sure she can’t talk afterward.
Lavinia: No! Tamora! You can’t!
Tamora: Don’t expect any pity from me. No one showed me any when my son was executed.
(Lavinia throws herself at Tamora’s feet and clutches at her dress.)
Lavinia: I’m a virgin! Don’t let them! I’d rather have you kill me!
Tamora: I would, but my sons are entitled to have their satisfaction.–You Andronici. How I hate all of you.
Demetrius: Go now, mother. Don’t be seen here.
Tamora: Just remember what I said. She mustn’t talk.
(Tamora walks out. Chiron grabs Lavinia.)
Chiron: Throw Bassianus into that pit and cover it over.
(Demetrius drags Bassianus’s body and dumps it into the pit. Then he covers it over with branches. Then both sons drag Lavinia out screaming. After the stage is quiet again, Aaron leads in Quintus and Martius.)
Aaron (In a hushed voice): I’m telling you, I saw a panther sleeping in its den. It’s over here.
Quintus: I’ve never seen a panther around here.
Martius: I think this is a waste of time.
Aaron: No, no. I told you. Go on.–Straight ahead.–That way. (He points.)
(Martius falls into the pit and screams.)
Quintus: What the hell?
(When Quintus goes to investigate, Aaron leaves stealthily.)
Quintus: Are you all right, Martius?
Martius: Oh, bloody hell!–Quintus, there’s a body down here!–It’s Bassianus!
Quintus: Bassianus? Dead? Are you sure?
Martius: Yes. He’s dead. Get me out of here.
Quintus: Oh, my God–where’s Aaron?–Oh, hell.–There’s something bad going on here.
Martius: Help me up, will you!
(Quintus lies flat and reaches down into the pit.)
Quintus: Can you reach my hand?
Martius: Not–quite.–Can you stretch a bit?
Quintus: I’ll try.
(Quintus tries to stretch but falls in himself. Then Aaron returns, leading Saturninus and a couple of Attendants. Aaron points to the pit.)
Aaron: Down there, my lord.
(Saturninus looks down.)
Saturninus: Who’s down there?
Martius: Martius and Quintus, sir.–And your brother, sir.
Saturninus: My brother?
Martius: His body, sir. He’s dead. He’s got bloody wounds.
Saturninus: You’re crazy. He went back to the lodge.
Martius: No, sir. His body is down here.
Saturninus: I don’t believe it!
Quintus: It’s true, sir. Can you get us up, please?
(Tamora comes in with Attendants. Behind them are Titus and Lucius.)
Tamora: We heard shouting. What’s the matter?
Saturninus: Tamora! Bassianus is dead!–Murdered!
Tamora: Murdered!–Then–I’m too late.
Saturninus: Too late? What do you mean?
Tamora: This will explain it. (She hands Saturninus the fake letter written by Aaron.) There was a plot–to kill him.
Saturninus: A plot? (He reads the letter, referring to it aloud.) Quintus and Martius–a huntsman–bag of gold–under the elder tree.–They paid a huntsman to dig this grave, kill Bassianus, and throw him in it! And they left a bag of gold for him under the elder tree.
(Aaron comes in, holding the gold.)
Aaron: I found it–just where they said it would be. Evidently the huntsman never collected it because he only dug the grave. Quintus and Martius must have done the murder themselves.
Saturninus (To Titus): Your sons killed my brother! And for this they will suffer the worst death my executioners can think of!
Titus (Kneeling before Saturninus): My lord, I beg you not to be hasty. If my sons really did this–
Saturninus: If? Isn’t this proof enough? (Indicating the letter. To the Attendants) Get them out.–Tamora, where did you find this letter?
Tamora: It was lord Titus who found it.
Titus: Yes. I did. But I beg you, let me take charge of them, and I promise you they will answer all your questions.
Saturninus: What can they possibly say? They’re obviously guilty. They will have to die.
(The Attendants raise Quintus, Martius, and the body of Bassianus from the pit. Tamora goes to Titus and pretends to console him.)
Tamora: My lord Titus, don’t worry about your sons. I’ll speak to the Emperor.
(Titus is too numb to reply and just nods. Lucius helps Titus to his feet.)
Titus: Lucius, take me home.
(Titus and Lucius leave first. Some Attendants guard Martius and Quintus as prisoners, and others carry Bassianus’s body as all leave.)
Act 2, Scene 4. Elsewhere in the forest. The scene is introduced by stage effects that transform the forest into a harsh, surreal environment. Lavinia is at one side, propped up like a scarecrow, partially undressed, and semi-conscious. Her hands have been cut off and are now bloody stumps. There is blood on her clothing. Marcus is heard within calling her name. He comes in at the opposite side of the stage.
(As he approaches, he is shocked by what he sees.)
(She opens her eyes and can only shake her head slightly.)
Marcus: Lavinia–who did this?
(She opens her mouth, and blood pours out. She tries to speak, but her tongue has been cut out.)
Marcus: My poor girl!–I’ll take you home.
(He carries her out.)
Act 3, Scene 1. A street. Coming in are Judges, Tribunes, and Senators, with Guards escorting Martius and Quintus, who are bound and gagged. They are on their way to a place of execution. Titus is following beside them, being ignored.
Titus: Judges! Tribunes! Senators! Don’t execute them! Have pity on me! I have served Rome all my life! Don’t take my sons! They’re innocent! I beg you! I beg you!
(Titus falls to the ground crying, as the procession passes through.)
Titus: Earth, take my tears, not the blood of my sons.–My sons.
(Lucius comes in with his sword out and kneels beside his father.)
Lucius: Father, all your tears are in vain. The judges don’t care.
Titus: Then I will cry to the stones. They must have more heart in them than the judges.–Lucius, why is your sword out?
Lucius: I tried to rescue Quintus and Martius. And for that I’ve been banished from Rome.
Titus (Rising): Banished!–Ha, ha!–Good for you, son! Rome is not fit for honest men any more. It’s only fit for beasts. And they will devour us all. Consider yourself lucky. (Looking past him) Lucius–it’s your uncle–and–(Amazed) Lavinia?
(Marcus comes in with Lavinia in his arms.)
Marcus: Brother–prepare your heart.
Titus: What’s happened, Marcus?
Marcus: This was your daughter.
Titus: Her hands! What happened to her hands?
Marcus: They’ve been cut off.
(Marcus sets Lavinia on her feet.)
Titus: Lavinia, who did this to you?
(Lavinia turns her head away.)
Marcus: She cannot speak, brother. Her tongue has been cut out.
Lucius: Uncle, do you have any idea who did this?
Marcus: I don’t know. I found her in the woods, bound like a scarecrow.
Titus: This is worse than my own death.–My Lavinia.–How can a heart still beat and not simply die of pain?–How much can a man bear?–My daughter mutilated–her husband murdered–and my sons accused of murdering him.
(Lavinia reacts with agitation, shaking her head.)
Titus: What are you trying to say, girl?
Marcus: Perhaps she means that Quintus and Martius are innocent.
Titus: And those that killed Bassianus did this to you?
(She nods again.)
Lucius: Of course, they’re innocent. They would’ve had no reason to kill him. They were friends.
Titus: Brother, give me your handkerchief.
(Marcus gives it to him.)
Titus: It’s wet.
Marcus: With my own tears. brother.
(Lucius takes out his handkerchief.)
Lucius: Let me wipe your cheeks, Lavinia.
(She turns away and shakes her head. Lucius holds her to comfort her.)
Lucius: My poor Lavinia!
(Aaron comes in.)
Aaron: Titus, my lord the Emperor sends you this message. If you want to save your sons from execution, cut off your hand and send it to him–either you or Lucius or Marcus. And for one of your hands, the Emperor will return your sons to you.
Titus: Yes! Gladly!–Oh, generous Emperor!–Aaron, you’ll help me. You’ll cut it off.
Lucius: No, father. I will give my hand.
Marcus: No. I will give mine. You two have fought for Rome, but I’ve done nothing with these hands but write letters. Now let me give one to save your sons.
Aaron: It doesn’t matter whose hand it is. Just make up your minds quick before it’s too late.
Marcus: My hand.
Lucius: No, uncle. It’ll be mine.
Titus: Then go get an axe and decide between the two of you.
Lucius: I’ll get one.
(Lucius and Marcus leave.)
Titus: Come, Aaron, let’s get this over with before they come back. You’ll help me.
Aaron (Aside): These fools are so easy to dupe.
(Aaron produces a meat cleaver and holds Titus’s left hand to the ground and chops it off. Lucius and Marcus return.)
Titus: It’s done.–Aaron, take my hand to the Emperor. Tell him it was a hand that defended Rome from its enemies. Let him bury it–and bid him return my sons.
Aaron: I shall, my lord.
(Aaron leaves, remarking aside, “How my black heart rejoices!”)
Titus: I lift my one hand up to heaven. (He kneels.) If any power in heaven has pity for wretched tears, to that power I pray.
(Lavinia kneels beside him.)
Titus: Pray with me, Lavinia. Heaven must hear our prayers or we shall cover the sun with the mist of our tears. The sky will be dim, and the stars will not shine.
Marcus: Brother, don’t let your misery make you lose all sense of reason.
Titus: Reason? Is there reason in these events? Is there reason in a storm? Is there reason in lightning and thunder? Let me lament in my own way and don’t talk of reason. Better to be mad in such a world filled with evil.
(A Messenger comes in with the heads of Quintus and Martius, and Titus’s hand.)
Messenger: My good lord, how badly are you repaid. The Emperor sends the heads of your noble sons–and your hand. He and the Empress made great sport of the whole business. I am so sorry. You don’t deserve this.
(The Messenger puts the heads and hand on the ground and leaves in tears.)
Marcus (Covering his face): I can’t bear it!–No more!
Lucius: Do we live, Marcus? Or are we dead? I feel myself breathing, but I know I do not live.
(Lavinia cries on Titus’s shoulder, and he hugs her.)
Marcus: We are dead, brother. There is no reason left. Lament as you will.
(Titus gets up laughing.)
Marcus: Why do you laugh?
Titus: Because I have no more tears to shed. And therefore I have none to blind me. I must see clearly if I am to find revenge. These heads are speaking to me, Marcus.
Marcus: I hear them not.
Titus: Yet I hear them nevertheless. They are saying that I shall have no peace–on earth or in heaven–until I have avenged myself for all these bloody crimes.–Come. (He beckons.) Gather round me.–Marcus–Lucius–Lavinia.–We are almost all that’s left of the Andronici.
(They come close together.)
Titus: Now pledge yourselves to me–and to all the generations of the Andronici–that we will punish these devils–all of them.
Marcus: I swear, brother.
Lucius: And I swear, father.
Titus: Lucius, listen to me. You must leave Rome now. You are exiled. You must go to the Goths and raise an army. Tell them their queen has betrayed them and joined in with murderers. Tell them they can have their satisfaction from Rome if they will follow you.
Lucius: I will, father.–We’ll see each other again. Have faith.
Titus: Marcus–Lavinia–come. We have much to do.
(Titus and Marcus pick up the heads and the hand, and they all leave.)
Act 3, Scene 2. This scene is deleted. (Author’s note: In this scene, Marcus kills a fly at the dinner table, but in the movie it’s Young Lucius who kills the fly — which I think I like better.)
Act 4, Scene 1. Outdoors. Young Lucius comes in running, carrying books as Lavinia chases him.
Young Lucius: Grandpa! Grandpa!
(Titus and Marcus come in.)
Young Lucius: Aunt Lavinia is chasing me!
Titus: There, there, Lucius. She’s just playing with you.
(Lavinia shakes her head and appears agitated.)
Marcus: What’s the matter, niece?
(Lavinia gestures toward the books.)
Titus: Something to do with the books?
Titus: Give me those books, Lucius. (He takes them and looks at at them.)–Which book, Lavinia?–Ovid? (She nods excitedly.) Ovid’s Metamorphoses.–Something in here you want me to read? (She nods excitedly.)–Lucius, you have two good hands. You can turn the pages faster. Aunt Lavinia will tell you when to stop.
(Young Lucius sets the book down and starts turning pages. Lavinia is impatient.)
Titus: Skip ahead, Lucius.
(Young Lucius skips ahead and then continues to turn pages, with Lavinia watching very closely. At a certain page she stops him by putting her stump on the page. Marcus picks up the book and shows the page to Titus.)
Marcus: It’s the story of Philomela.
Titus: I know it. She was raped by Tereus.–Is that what happened to you, Lavinia?
Titus: Who did it? Try to tell us. Give us some sign.
(Marcus is carrying a staff. He scratches the ground with it.)
Marcus: It’s sandy over here. Can you write the name with my staff?
(Lavinia grabs the staff eagerly, puts the end in her mouth, and uses her stumps to scratch the names in the sand.)
Titus: Demetrius–and Chiron. (Lavinia nods.) And they killed Bassianus? (She nods again.)
Marcus: The bastards! We’ll kill them!
Titus: Patience, Marcus. They are protected by their mother, the Empress. We must do this by guile.–Lucius, would you like to help?
Young Lucius: Yes! I’ll kill them for hurting Aunt Lavinia!
Marcus: Your father would be proud to hear it.
Titus: No, Lucius. I have something else in mind. You’ll come with me to my armoury, and I’ll give you some weapons to deliver to Demetrius and Chiron–with a message attached.
Young Lucius: I’m not afraid to kill them, Grandpa!
Titus: I know you’re not. But if you love me, you’ll carry out my instructions and do this errand–like a good soldier.
Young Lucius: All right.
Marcus: Why are you sending them weapons?
Titus: It’s a gift.
Marcus: A gift?
Titus: Yes, Marcus. It’s all right. You come along and wait at the house while I walk Lucius to the palace.
(They all leave. Marcus is shaking his head in bewilderment.)
Act 4, Scene 2. In the palace. Curtain up finds Chiron and Demetrius playing darts, drinking beer, and insulting each other humourously. Aaron slouches in a chair, drinking beer. Then Young Lucius comes in with a bundle of weapons with a message attached.
Chiron: Hey, look! It’s little Lucius!
Demetrius: Give him a beer!
Chiron: What have you got–a present?
Young Lucius: Yes, sir–and a message.
Aaron: From your mad grandfather?
Young Lucius (Ignoring the insult): My lords, with all humbleness, my grandfather sends these weapons from his armoury as a gift–as well as a message.
(Demetrius rudely takes the bundle.)
Demetrius: Tell him thanks. We like to get presents.–(To Chiron) Don’t we?
Chiron: Of course. We’re the Empress’s sons. We should get presents.–Here–give me that message.
(Chiron takes the message and reads it.)
Chiron: It’s in Latin. It’s a verse from Horace. It says, “He who is spotless and free of crime needs not the Moorish javelin or bow.”
(Aaron clears his throat with annoyance.)
Aaron (To Young Lucius): You–beat it.
(Young Lucius leaves.)
Chiron: We should have given him a beer at least.
(He and Chiron play around with the weapons.)
Aaron (Aside): The old man is on to them. (To Chiron and Demetrius) Imagine. You rape his daughter, and he sends you presents.
Demetrius: He knows who’s got the power.
Chiron: Or else he’s just out of his mind.
Demetrius: We should rape a thousand more virgins.
Aaron: Your mother would probably approve.
Demetrius: She should be having her baby pretty soon–any time now.
Chiron: We ought to go and pray for her.
(A trumpet is heard. The sons exchange a look.)
Demetrius: Is that it, do you think?
Chiron: Could be. I hope she had a boy.
(The Nurse comes in with the baby, well-wrapped. She looks worried.)
Nurse: Good day, my lords. Is Aaron here?
Aaron: I’m here. What do you want with me?
Nurse: Oh, sir, there is great trouble.
Aaron: What sort of trouble?
Nurse: You’d better see for yourself, sir.
(She holds out the baby to him. He takes it and uncovers it. The baby is black. Demetrius and Chiron are shocked.)
Demetrius: He’s black as the ace of spades!
Aaron: Like his father.
Nurse: It’s horrible, sir. It’s a disgrace to us all. The Empress begs you to kill it.
Aaron (Smiling and fondling the baby): Kill him? Why, he’s beautiful. He’s a fine baby.
Demetrius: You villain! What have you done!
Aaron: What’s done cannot be undone.
Chiron: But you’ve ruined our mother! That baby has to die!
(Aaron picks up a sword.)
Aaron: No one touches this baby but me.
Nurse: But Aaron, the Empress wants it killed.
Demetrius (Picking up a sword): I’ll do it.
Aaron: You’d kill your own brother?
Demetrius: Brother? That? My brother?
Aaron: Put your sword down if you know what’s good for you.
Demetrius: You would destroy our mother?
Aaron: Your mother is my mistress. And this baby is my flesh and blood. I love this baby before anyone else. (To the Nurse) I’m keeping this baby.
Nurse: The Empress will be very angry.
Chiron: This is a total disaster. This is the worst thing ever.
Aaron: He’s smiling at me. He knows I’m his father.–He’s your brother whether you like it or not.–Put down your sword, Demetrius. I have no qualms about killing you to defend this baby.
(Demetrius puts down his sword. Aaron puts down his.)
Demetrius: What are we supposed to do, then? This affects all of us.
Aaron: Sit down and calm yourselves, both of you. We will deal with this rationally. (To the Nurse) How many people know about this?
Nurse: Just myself and the midwife.
(Aaron stealthily unsheathes his knife.)
Aaron: Ah–well, that’s not too big a problem.
(He stabs the Nurse, who falls dead.)
Demetrius: Aaron! What are you doing!
Aaron: Policy–that’s all. She would’ve gossiped. She’s a woman.–Now listen. I have a countryman named Muly. He lives not far from here. His wife just had a baby–a white baby. You go to them and give them a bag of gold in exchange for their baby. Tell them he’ll be the child of the Empress. No one in the palace with know about the switch.
Chiron: What about the midwife?
Aaron: Send her to me and I’ll take care of her the same as the nurse.–This one you can dump somewhere where she’ll never be found. I think the Empress will be quite happy with the way I’ve solved the problem.
Demetrius: Okay. I guess it works out.
Chiron: Yeah.–Good thinking, Aaron.
(Demetrius and Chiron carry out the Nurse’s body.)
Aaron (To the baby): Now, my thick-lipped little Moor, I’m taking you to the Goths, your mother’s people. She’s going to be needing their help. And you’ll grow up to be a warrior and lead an army–and learn to kill.
(Aaron leaves with the baby.)
Act 4, Scene 2. A street in Rome. Evening. Coming in are Titus, Marcus, his son Publius, and several Gentlemen, including Caius and Sempronius. (Young Lucius is deleted from this scene.) They are all carrying bows. Titus is carrying a bundle of arrows with notes wrapped around them.
Titus: Come, my friends. We’ll engage in an exercise of archery, for the goddess of justice is nowhere to be found on earth. Some of you can go to the beach and cast a net into the ocean to see if you can pull her up.–Publius and Sempronius, you can dig a hole all the way to Pluto’s realm and see if she’s there. Just tell old Pluto that Titus Andronicus seeks Justice.
Publius (Aside to Marcus): Father, has uncle Titus gone mad?
Marcus (Aside to Publius): It’s possible. Let’s just humour him.
Titus: Ah, Rome! Blame me for supporting Saturninus as Emperor. I should have known better. Where has he cast out Justice? Into the earth, into the sea, or into the sky?
Publius: Uncle, Pluto says you may have your revenge from hell, but Justice is busy in heaven with Jove, so you must wait if you want her.
Titus: He shouldn’t make me wait. I hate delays. But we will move the gods ourselves–eh, Marcus? They’re in heaven, and that is where we will direct our appeals. (He hands out the arrows.) You all know how to shoot. We’ll send for Justice to come down to earth and right our wrongs.
Marcus (Aside to the other Gentlemen): Shoot your arrows into the court so the Emperor finds them.
Titus: Now, masters, aim for the gods in heaven. Each arrow has a letter written in my blood. They’ll know it’s from me. I’ve told them all my sorrows, and all my accusations against the Emperor and his Queen.
(All take aim upwards.)
(They all shoot their arrows.)
Titus: Good shooting! Well done!
(A Clown comes in with two pigeons.)
Titus: Have you a message from Jupiter?
Clown: Jupiter? I don’t know him, sir.
Titus: What are you doing with those pigeons?
Clown: I’m going to the tribunal to settle a grievance, sir.
Titus: Can you deliver a message to the Emperor with grace?
Clown: I’ve never said grace in my life, sir.
Titus: No matter. I’ll write it out.–Who has a pencil and paper?
(Someone produces a pencil and paper. Titus writes a message.)
Titus: Now I need a knife to wrap it around.
Clown: Take mine, sir.
(The Clown gives him a small knife.)
Titus: Good. I’ll wrap the message around it–like so–and you just give it to the Emperor very politely and then bring me back his reply.
Clown: I shall, sir.
Titus: And take this for your trouble.
(He gives the Clown some money.)
Clown: Oh! The gods bless you, sir. I go at once.
(The Clown leaves.)
Titus: Now, my friends, come with me.–Come on.
(They all go out, with Titus leading.)
Act 4, Scene 4. In the palace. The Emperor comes in, furious, followed by Tamora, Demetrius, Chiron, and Attendants. He is holding a bunch of arrows.
Saturninus: This is an outrage! This is the greatest insult in the history of Rome! He’s a lunatic! He’s a traitor! Shooting these arrows into my court! Where people will find them! Accusing me of crimes! Destroying my reputation! God knows where he’s been spreading this filth! Maybe all over Rome! (He holds up several of the letters.) He’s praying to Jove!–To Mercury!–To Apollo!–To Mars!–Libelling me! Calling out for justice! His sons murdered Bassianus, yet he has the nerve to call me unjust! Wait till I get my hands on him! I’ll have him chopped to pieces! Him and his whole family!
Tamora: Calm down, calm down. He’s obviously deranged. Don’t let yourself be overcome with emotion.
(The Clown comes in, escorted by an Attendant.)
Tamora: What do you want?
Clown: Madam, I am sent by lord Titus with a message for the Emperor.
Saturninus: I’ll take that!
(Saturninus snatches the letter rudely. He unfolds it, finds the knife, and reads the letter. [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t tell us what the letter says, but it is obviously insulting.])
Saturninus: Take him away! Hang him!
Clown: But, my lord–!
(The Attendants drag the Clown out.)
Saturninus: Lies! Filth! Treason! Insults! I won’t stand for it! That goddamn son of a bitch!
(Aemilius comes in as a messenger.)
Aemilius: Your Majesty.
Saturninus: What is it, Aemilius?
Aemilius: There’s trouble, my lord. The Goths are marching toward Rome. Lucius is leading them.
(Saturninus is stunned and speechless. He moans and seems afraid.)
Saturninus: What’ll I do? The people love Lucius. Ever since I exiled him, they’ve been saying they want him as Emperor.
Tamora: My lord, calm down. It doesn’t matter what a few malcontents say. Rome is strong. There’s no danger.
Saturninus: It’s not just a few malcontents. My spies have been reporting this for some time. The people will revolt when they find out he’s coming. They’ll go over to his side.
(Tamora hugs him maternally, and his body language becomes child-like in response.)
Tamora: No, no, no. You are the Emperor. You are still in command. Don’t lose heart. You must maintain an attitude of control and power. Everything will be all right.
Saturninus: How will it be all right? How, Tamora?
Tamora: My lord, you should know by now that you married a very smart queen. I will help you. I know how to deal with the situation. I will charm that old fool Titus. I’ll wrap him around my finger–the way he wraps foolish notes around arrows.
Saturninus: Do you expect him to stop Lucius for my sake? He won’t.
Tamora: Oh, but he will. I will get inside that sick mind of his and bend him to my will. Believe me, I can do it.
Saturninus: If you really think you can–
Tamora: Trust me, my lord.–Aemilius, you will be our ambassador. Go find Lucius in the Goth camp. Tell him we want to talk things over. We will meet him at his father’s house.
Saturninus: It’ll be an honourable parley, Aemilius. We’ll guarantee his safety. We’ll pledge whatever hostages he wants for goodwill.
Aemilius: I understand perfectly, my lord. Leave it to me.
Tamora: And now I will go to old Andronicus and see to it that Lucius is stopped. He’s insane–and I’m clever–so I will get what I want.
Saturninus: Then go, Tamora. I leave it to you. Do whatever it takes.
Tamora: Come, my lord.
(Tamora and Saturninus leave.)
Act 5, Acene 1. The Goth camp. Trumpet flourish and drums. Lucius comes in with some Goth Officers and Soldiers.
Lucius: Goths! Now my faithful friends. I’ve received letters from Rome informing me how much the people hate their Emperor and Empress. They beg us to come and end his tyranny. Now you will have satisfaction.
1st Goth: Lucius–son of Titus Andronicus–you share our anger. We will follow you. We’ll overthrow Tamora, who betrayed us.
All the Goths: Aye! Aye! Down with Tamora!
Lucius: I thank you all.
(Two Goth soldiers come in leading Aaron and his child.)
2nd Goth: Lucius! Here’s Aaron–and his child–by Tamora.
Some Goths: He’s black!
(Loud reactions of outrage from all the Goths.)
Lucius: This is the villain that chopped off my father’s hand! We’ll hang him–and the child!
(Loud approval by the Goths.)
Aaron: Lucius, don’t harm the child. If you spare him, I’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Lucius: You will, will you? Like what?
Aaron: All the things that happened to your family. I know the truth about everything. I’ll tell you–if you swear to the gods to spare the child.
Lucius: You speak of the gods? You don’t believe in any gods.
Aaron: No, but you do. All you religious fools have a peculiar thing called a conscience. If you swear, that’ll be good enough for me.
Lucius: All right. I swear by the gods to spare the child. Now speak.
Aaron: It was the Empress’s sons, Demetrius and Chiron, who murdered Bassianus and raped and mutilated Lavinia.
Lucius: They’ll die for that.
Aaron: Of course, I encouraged them.
Lucius: Then you’re the worst monster that ever lived.
Aaron: Yes, I admit it. And I lured your brothers into that pit. And I wrote the letter that your father found that incriminated them. And I planted the bag of gold. And I tricked your father into giving up his hand. It was so funny I almost broke out laughing. And when I told the Empress about it, she was so delighted she kissed me twenty times.
A Goth: You fiend! How can you confess all these things and not feel any shame?
Aaron: A black dog cannot blush.
Lucius: You feel no guilt at all, do you? You have no soul. You’re just pure evil.
Aaron: So I am. I’ve led a wicked life, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. If I’ve commited a thousand crimes, my only regret is that I did not do ten thousand.
Lucius (To the Goths): He will not hang. Hanging’s too good for him. (To Aaron) I’ll think of something worse–something slower.
Aaron: When I get to hell, the devil will greet me. And we’ll figure out how to drag you in, too.
Lucius: Gag him!
(Aaron laughs as he is gagged by a couple of Goths. Then Aemilius comes in, escorted by Goths.)
Lucius: I know this man.–Aemilius, what news do you have for me?
Aemilius: My lord Lucius–and princes of the Goths–his Majesty the Emperor sends greetings. He knows that you have taken up arms against him, and he requests–most politely and earnestly–a parley–at your father’s house. He will pledge any hostages you require for goodwill.
(Lucius exchanges looks with the Goth princes. They appear to approve.)
Lucius: All right. I’ll meet him.
Aemilius: Thank you, my lord.
Lucius (To the Goths): Let’s go.
(All leave. [Author’s note: The hostages are never identified or seen. A pledge of hostages was normal procedure when warring parties wanted to parley on one side’s turf.])
Act 5, Scene 2. Evening. Before Titus’s house. Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron come in disguised weirdly as Revenge, Murder, and Rape, respectively.
Tamora: Remember, I am Revenge–you are Murder–and you are Rape.
Demetrius: Are you sure he’s going to buy this?
Tamora: Absolutely. He’s out of his mind. He’ll believe anything I say. I’ll get him to send for Lucius and hold a banquet here. If I can get Lucius away from the Goths, I’ll figure out some way to win them back to me. You just play along with whatever I say.
Chiron: This should be fun.
(They knock at Titus’s door. He appears at a window above.)
Titus: Who disturbs me at this hour? I am making my plans–written in my own blood–see? (He holds up some papers.)
[For the rest of the scene Tamora alters her voice slightly, and so do her sons until they are captured.]
Tamora: Titus, I have come to help you. Come down.
Titus: Who are you?
Tamora: I am Revenge–sent from hell to help you.
Titus: Don’t go away! I’ll be right down!
(Titus disappears from the window and comes in below.)
Titus: Are you really Revenge?
Tamora: Yes. And these are my servants, Murder and Rape.
Titus: Gee, you look a lot like the Empress Tamora.
Tamora: Ha, ha, ha! No, no. She is much–fatter.
Titus: And your servants look a lot like the Empress’s sons.
Tamora: No, no. Your mind is playing tricks on you.
Titus: I suppose. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Tamora: Now be of good cheer, my lord Titus. We have come to help you destroy your enemies.
Titus: Ah! That’s awfully good news. You’re most welcome. I’ve been praying for help. What can you do for me?
Tamora: I will take revenge on all who have done you wrong.
Demetrius: Show me a murderer and I’ll kill him.
Chiron: And show me a rapist and I’ll kill him, too.
Titus (To Demetrius): You should search the streets of Rome, and when you find someone who looks like you, he’s a murderer. Kill him. (To Chiron) And you look for someone who looks like you. And when you find him, kill him because he’s a rapist. (To Tamora) Revenge, you go to the Emperor’s court and look for the Empress and her Moorish friend–and do to them some sort of violent death.
Tamora: We will do all these things, good Andronicus.–But even better, I suggest this. Invite your son Lucius, who is leading an army of Goths, to attend a banquet here at your house. I will bring in the Empress and all your other enemies, and you will have them at your mercy. Would that please you?
Titus: Yes! Very much!–Hold on. My brother is here.
(Marcus comes in. He looks suspiciously at Tamora and her sons but says nothing.)
(Tamora and her sons cover their faces partially to avoid being recognized by Marcus.)
Titus: Go find Lucius. He’s marching with the Goths. Tell him to come here and bring the Goth princes with him. I’m having a banquet for the Emperor and Empress, and I want him to join us. (He changes his tone as a subtle signal to Marcus to play along.) Do this if you love me, Marcus.
Marcus: I will.
Tamora: Now my servants and I will set about our business for you, lord Titus.
(She and her sons start to leave.)
Titus: Wait, wait! Let Murder and Rape stay with me–or else I’ll call back Marcus and let Lucius do whatever he wants with his army of Goths.
(Tamora and her sons confer apart.)
Tamora (Aside to her sons): Just humour him until I get back. Can you do that?
Demetrius and Chiron (Aside to Tamora): Sure.–No problem.
(Titus gives a knowing grin to the audience.)
Tamora: Very well, Andronicus. I leave Murder and Rape to attend you while I go to deliver your enemies. Farewell.
Titus: Farewell, sweet Revenge. Thank you so much.
Chiron: Tell us, old man, what shall we do for you?
Titus: You’ll see. (He signals toward the house.) Publius!–Caius!–Valentine!
(Publius, Caius, and Valentine come out from the house.)
Publius: Yes, uncle.
Titus: Do you recognize these two?
Publius: Yes. They’re the Empress’s sons, Chiron and Demetrius.
Titus: Ha, ha! That’s what I thought at first. No, no. They are Murder and Rape.–And now they’re mine. Tie them and gag them.
(Publius, Caius, and Valentine seize Chiron and Demetrius.)
Chiron: Stop! We’re the Empress’s sons!
Publius: Yes, we know.
(Publius, Caius, Valentine, and Titus drag Chiron and Demetrius, screaming, into the house.)
Act 5, Scene 3. (This is an extra scene break, which Shakespeare should have put in.) Inside the house. Curtain up finds Chiron and Demetrius stripped, bound, and gagged. Their backs are to the audience because their throats are going to be cut. (In the movie they’re hanging upside down!) Titus is holding a knife, and Lavinia is holding a basin.
Titus: Here they are, Lavinia. Now you’ll get your revenge. (To Chiron and Demetrius) You killed her husband. And her two brothers were wrongly executed for it. And you raped her, cut off her hands, and cut out her tongue. And now you’re going to get what you deserve. Do you know what I’m going to do to you? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m going to cut your throats, and Lavinia will collect your blood. And I’m going to chop up your flesh and grind your bones and make a nice, big meat pie. And I’m going to serve it to your mother.–Hold the basin, Lavinia–right there. That’s it.
(Titus cuts their throats. The curtain comes down as they are writhing and moaning.)
Act 5, Scene 4. The banquet hall in Titus’s house. A table is set. Coming in first are Marcus and Lucius, arms linked.
Marcus: Nephew, you’re a step away from being Emperor. You can speak from a position of strength, so lead the discussion. But let’s keep everything polite.
(Saturninus comes in and gives Lucius a forced, insincere smile. Behind him come the Empress, Aemilius, and Tribunes.)
Saturninus: So–the sky has another sun in it. Is that it?
Lucius: Another? Don’t call yourself one.
Marcus (Interrupting quickly): Ahem–yes, let’s all sit down, shall we? We’ll enjoy a nice meal and have a friendly discussion–all very honourable.
Saturninus: Yes. We shall.
(Everyone sits down. Titus comes in dressed like a chef, pushing a wheeled serving cart. On it is a tray with a big meat pie. Lavinia, covered in a veil, also comes in but remains standing apart. [Author’s note: In the original play, Young Lucius is also in this scene, but his presence is inappropriate and I’ve deleted him. What the heck was Shakespeare thinking?])
Titus: Welcome, my lord Emperor–and formidable Queen. The food is humble but filling. I trust you will enjoy it.
Saturninus: Why are you dressed like a chef, my lord Titus?
Titus: Because I am the chef. I made this meat pie myself. I wanted to make sure it was perfect for your Majesty and the Queen.
Tamora: How very thoughtful, good Andronicus.
Titus: Thoughtful, indeed, madam. Much thought has gone into it. Let me serve you.
(Titus serves slices of the meat pie to Tamora and Saturninus first. He pours wine for them and gestures for them to eat. Tamora and Saturninus taste the food tentatively.)
Saturninus: It’s–somewhat unusual. What’s in it?
Titus: My secret recipe, my lord. Quite special.
Tamora (Unsure): It’s all right.–It’s good.
Titus: My lord Emperor, answer me a question if you can.
Saturninus: Of course.
Titus: You know the story of Virginius, who killed his daughter because she had been raped?
Titus: Do you think he was justified?
Saturninus: Yes, I’d say so.
Titus: And your reason, sir?
Saturninus: Because the girl could not outlive her shame, and her presence would be a constant sorrow to her father.
Titus: A valid reason, sir–and an example to follow. (He pulls Lavinia gently before him and stands behind her, with his arms around her neck.) I am just like Virginius. And to Lavinia, this is an act of mercy.–And to me an end to my sorrow.
(Titus breaks Lavinia’s neck, and she falls dead.)
Saturninus (Rising, shocked): What have you done!
Titus: Lavinia was raped but could not speak her grief. She suffered, but now she suffers no more.
Saturninus: Who raped her?
Titus: It was Chiron and Demetrius.
Titus: They raped her, cut out her tongue, and cut off her hands. And it was they who killed Prince Bassianus.
Saturninus: Bring them to me at one! I will hang them!
Titus: They’re already here, my lord.
Saturninus: Where? I don’t see them.
Titus: They’re within you–and the Queen.
Saturninus: What do you mean?
(Titus points to the meat pie, smiling gleefully.)
Titus: That meat pie. That’s them.
(Tamora gags. Titus produces a knife.)
Titus: Good, wasn’t it?
(He stabs her in the neck, killing her.)
(Saturninus produces a knife and stabs Titus, killing him. Lucius reacts immediately by stabbing Saturninus.)
Lucius: Die! Rot in hell!
(Scene ends without an exit.)
Act 5, Scene 5. (Author’s note: This is another extra scene break, which Shakespeare should have put in.) A large public place in Rome. A crowd of Citizens is at stage level. On a raised tier stand Marcus and Lucius. On the stage the body of Titus is laid out in a funereal manner. Also present are the Kinsmen of Titus, Tribunes, Senators, Young Lucius (dressed in white), and Attendants.
Marcus: Romans, you have been vexed and confused by recent events. Now it is time to reunite as one whole and restore Rome to its place of strength and leadership. I could not tell you all the terrible things that have happened without losing myself in tears. So I will let Lucius speak. You know him well–my worthy nephew, noble son of Titus Andronicus, and a worthy captain of Rome.
Lucius: Romans, it was Chiron and Demetrius who murdered the Emperor’s brother, Prince Bassianus–for which our brothers Quintus and Martius were wrongly executed. And it was Chiron and Demetrius who raped and mutilated our sister, Lavinia. Our father, who served Rome loyally and bravely all his life, was robbed of his left hand by the Empress’s illicit Moorish lover, Aaron. And I was banished and forced to seek help from our enemies, the Goths. I, the castaway, have preserved Rome by turning our enemies into our friends. But I am not here to praise myself, only to tell you what is true.
Marcus: I wish to speak.–Behold this child. (An Attendant comes in carrying Aaron’s child.) This is the child of Tamora and the Moor Aaron. He was the evil architect of all the plots–all the horrors–that beset us. A man beyond ordinary wickedness. A devil on earth. Now that you have heard the truth, judge us, Romans. We, the last remaining Andronici, live or die by your verdict. If you decide that we have acted wrongly, Lucius and I will give up our lives right now.
(Reaction from the crowd. Aemilius steps forward.)
Aemilius: Honourable Marcus, we all love you. I know the feelings of all these people, and I can speak for them. There is common agreement.–Lucius shall be Emperor.
Citizens: Hail, Lucius!–Lucius!–Emperor!
(Marcus and Lucius come down to the main stage.)
Marcus (To Attendants): Bring in the Moor.
(The Attendants go out.)
Citizens: Hail, Lucius!–Lucius!
Lucius: Thank you, Romans. May the gods guide me to govern wisely.–But now I must pause to pay my last respects to my father, Titus Andronicus.
(Lucius kisses Titus on the forehead.)
Marcus: My brother.–No amount of tears and kisses could ever be enough.
(Marcus kisses Titus on the forehead.)
Lucius (To Young Lucius): Come, boy. Say goodbye to your grandfather. He loved you well.
(Young Lucius, tears in his eyes, kisses Titus on the forehead, then steps back into the arms of his father. Then the Attendants return with Aaron.)
Citizens: Kill him! Kill him!
Lucius: I promised you a slow death, and you shall have it. You shall be buried in earth up to your neck and left to die of starvation and thirst.
Aaron (Defiantly): Yet will I have the last word! If ever in my life I did a good deed–I do repent it now!
(Angry reaction from the crowd.)
Lucius (To the Attendants): Take him away. Bury him.
(The Attendants take Aaron out.)
Lucius: The Emperor Saturninus shall be buried beside his father. My father and Lavinia shall be buried in the vault of the Andronici. As for Tamora–the beast–she shall have no burial. Her body shall be left in a wilderness to be food for other beasts. She had no pity, and they will show her none.
(Marcus, Lucius, and Attendants carry out Titus’s body. As the crowd follows them out, Young Lucius goes to the Attendant holding Aaron’s baby and says something. Everyone else has cleared the stage. Young Lucius, carrying the baby, walks out slowly with the Attendant.)
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