David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s TITUS ANDRONICUS: A Retelling in Prose — Cast of Character, and Act 1, Scene 1


Male Characters

SATURNINUS, Son to the late Emperor of Rome, and afterwards declared Emperor.

BASSIANUS, Brother to Saturninus, in love with Lavinia.

TITUS ANDRONICUS, a Roman, General against the Goths.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS, Tribune of the People, and brother to Titus.

LUCIUS, QUINTUS, MARTIUS, and MUTIUS, Sons to Titus Andronicus. Lucius is Titus’ oldest son.

YOUNG LUCIUS, a Boy, Son to Lucius.

PUBLIUS, Son to Marcus Andronicus.


AEMILIUS, a noble Roman.

ALARBUS, DEMETRIUS, and CHIRON, Sons to Tamora. Alarbus is Tamora’s oldest son; he becomes a human sacrifice.

AARON, a Moor, beloved by Tamora. Aaron’s skin color is black.

A Captain, Tribune, Messenger, and Clown; Romans.

Goths and Romans.

Female Characters

TAMORA, Queen of the Goths.

LAVINIA, Daughter to Titus Andronicus.

Minor Characters

A Nurse, and a black Child.

Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers, and Attendants.


Rome, and the country near it.



SIRRAH: A term used to address a male who is of lower social status than the speaker.

— 1.1 —

The Roman Emperor had recently died, and his two sons hoped to become the new Emperor. Saturninus based his claim on being the oldest son, while Bassianus based his claim on merit — Bassianus believed that he was more worthy than his older brother to be the new Emperor.

Before the Capitol, Saturninus and his supporters arrived at the same time that Bassianus and his supporters arrived. Both Saturninus and Bassianus wanted to enter the gates and climb up to the Capitol. The gates to the Capitol were located by the Tomb of the Andronici.

Saturninus said, “Noble patricians, supporters of my right to succeed as Emperor,defend the justice of my cause with your weapons,and, countrymen, my loving followers,plead my right to succeed my father as Emperor with your swords. I am my father’s first-born son; my father was the most recent to wear the imperial crown of Rome. Therefore, let my father’s honors, fame, and glory live on in me by making me Emperor. Do not wrong my seniority and insult me by making my younger brother Emperor.”

Bassianus said, “Romans, friends, followers, all of you who support my right to be Emperor,if ever Bassianus, Caesar’s son,has been gracious and esteemed in the eyes of royal Rome,then guard this passage to the Capitoland do not allow a dishonorable man to approachthe imperial seat. Instead, be dedicated to virtue and to justice, continence and self-control, and nobility. Let desert and worth prevail in a free election, and, Romans, fight for the freedom to make your own choice.”

Marcus Andronicus arrived, holding the Emperor’s crown. He was in the Capitol, looking down at Saturninus and Bassianus. Marcus was a Tribune and the brother of Titus Andronicus.

Marcus Andronicus said, “You two Princes, who strive by factions and by friends ambitiously for rule and authority, know that the people of Rome, for whom we act as a special party and whose interest we represent as a Tribune, have, by common voice, in election for the Roman Emperor, chosen Titus Andronicus, who has been given the surname Pius — which means pious, patriotic, and dutiful — for the many good and great deeds he has done for Rome. A nobler man, a braver warrior, does not live this day within the city walls. He is our General, and the Roman Senate has summoned him home from fighting weary wars against the barbarous Germanic people known as the Goths. With his sons, Titus Andronicus, a terror to our foes, has yoked a strong nation that has been trained up in weapons. He has made the Goths submit to Roman rule. Ten years have passed since he first undertook this cause of Rome and wielded weapons to chastise our enemies’ pride. Five times he has returned bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons in coffins from the battlefield, and now at last, laden with the spoils of honor, good Titus Andronicus returns to Rome — he is renowned and flourishing in arms.

“Let us entreat you, Saturninus and Bassianus, out of respect for the name of the late Emperor, the man whom you would like to now worthily succeed as Emperor, and out of respect for the rights of the Capitol and the Senate, rights that you profess to honor and adore, that you withdraw and abate your strength by disarming. Dismiss your followers and, as suitors should, plead your merits and make your case to be Emperor in peace and humbleness.”

Saturninus said, “How civilly the Tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!”

Bassianus said, “Marcus Andronicus, I so trust in your uprightness and integrity, and I so love and honor you and yours, your noble brother Titus and his sons, and Titus’ daughter, gracious Lavinia, who humbles all my thoughts and is Rome’s rich ornament, that I will here dismiss my loving friends, and to my fortunes and the people’s favor I will commit my cause in balance to be weighed.”

The followers of Bassianus left.

Saturninus said, “Friends, who have been thus forward in supporting my right to be Emperor, I thank you all and here dismiss you all, and to the love and favor of my country I commit myself, my person, and my cause.”

The followers of Saturninus left.

Saturninus added, “Rome, be as just and gracious to me as I am confident and kind to you.”

He then said to the people in the Capital, “Open the gates, and let me in.”

Bassianus added, “Tribunes, let me, a poor candidate, in.”

The gates opened, and Saturninus and Bassianus went inside the Capitol.

A Captain arrived before the Capitol and said, “Romans, make way. Clear a path for the good Titus Andronicus, patron of virtue, Rome’s best champion, successful in the battles that he fights. He has returned to Rome with honor and with fortune from the place where he rounded up the enemies of Rome with his sword and brought them to yoke.”

Drums and trumpets sounded.

Martius and Mutius, two of Titus Andronicus’ four remaining living sons, entered. Next came men carrying two coffins covered with black. Next came Titus Andronicus’ two remaining living sons: Lucius and Quintus — Lucius was Titus’ oldest living son. Next Titus Andronicus himself arrived. He was followed by Tamora, the Queen of the Goths, and by her sons: Alarbus, Demetrius, and Chiron. Tamora and her sons were Titus’ prisoners. With them was Aaron, a Moor who was Tamora’s lover. Some other Goths, who were also prisoners, followed, along with some Roman soldiers and Roman citizens.

The men carrying the coffins set them down.

Titus Andronicus said, “Hail, Rome, victorious in your mourning clothes!Just as the ship, which has discharged her freight,returns with precious new cargo to the bayfrom whence at first she weighed her anchors, here returns me, Andronicus, my temples bound with laurel boughs,to re-salute my country with his tears — tears of true joy for my return to Rome.

“Jupiter, King of the gods and great defender of this Capitol, show favor to the rites that we intend to observe!

“Romans, of my twenty-five valiant sons, half of the fifty sons that King Priam of Troy had, behold the poor remains, alive and dead! Here are two of my sons in coffins, and only four of my sons are left alive! Let Rome reward with love these sons of mine who still live. Let Rome reward with burial among their ancestors these of my sons whom I bring to their final home.”

He paused and then said, “The Goths have given me leave to sheathe my sword.”

Titus meant that by being conquered, the Goths had made it unnecessary for him to brandish his sword and fight them.

He then said, addressing himself, “Titus, you are unkind and negligent to your own dead. Why do you allow your sons, who are still unburied, to hover on the dreadful shore of the River Styx in the Underworld? Until your sons have been properly buried, their spirits cannot cross the River Styx and enter the Land of the Dead.”

He ordered, “Make way so that I can lay them in the tomb by their brethren.”

Some men opened the Tomb of the Andronici.

Titus Andronicus said, “Dead sons of mine, greet your ancestors in silence, as the dead are accustomed to be, and sleep in peace, you who were slain in your country’s wars!

“Oh, sacred repository of my joys, sweet room of virtue and nobility, how many sons of mine you have inside you — sons whom you will never give to me again!”

Lucius, Titus’ oldest living son, said to him, “Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths so that we may cut off his limbs and on a pile of wood sacrifice his flesh ad manes fratrum— to the spirits of our brothers — in front of this earthy prison of their bones. That way, their spirits will not be unappeased and we will not be disturbed by unnatural happenings on Earth.”

Titus Andronicus replied, “I give to you the noblest Goth who survives — the eldest son of this distressed Queen.”

“Stop, Roman brethren — Roman religious observers!” Tamora, the Queen of the Goths, and a mother, said as she knelt. “Gracious conqueror, victorious Titus, pity the tears I am shedding. These are a mother’s tears shed in great grief for her son. If your sons were ever dear to you, then think that my son is as dear to me! Isn’t it enough that we have been brought to Rome, captive to you and to your Roman yoke, to appear in and beautify your triumphal procession at your return, but must my sons be slaughtered in the streets because of their valiant doings in their country’s cause?

“If to fight for King and nation is piety in your sons, it is also piety in these boys — my sons. Andronicus, do not stain your tomb with blood. Do you want to emulate the nature of the gods? Then emulate them in being merciful. Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge. Thrice noble Titus, spare my first-born son.”

“Be calm, madam, and pardon me,” Titus Andronicus said. “These are their brethren, their brothers, whom you Goths beheld alive and dead, and for their slain brethren, they ask for a sacrifice as part of their religion. To be this sacrifice, your son has been selected, and he must die to appease the groaning spirits of those who are dead and gone.”

“Away with him!” Lucius ordered. “Make a fire right away, and with our swords, upon a pile of wood, let’s cut off his limbs and burn them until they are entirely consumed.”

Titus Andronicus’ four living sons — Lucius, Martius, Mutius, and Quintus — exited with Alarbus, Tamora’s oldest son, as their prisoner.

“This is cruel, irreligious piety!” Tamora mourned as she stood up.

“Scythia is known for the barbarism of its inhabitants,” Tamora’s son Chiron said, “but have the Scythians ever been half as barbarous as these Romans?”

“Don’t compare the Scythians to the ambitious Romans,” Tamora’s son Demetrius said. “Alarbus goes to his eternal rest, and we survive to tremble under Titus’ threatening looks. Therefore, madam, accept that this sacrifice will happen, but hope as well that the same gods who gave Hecuba, the Queen of Troy, the opportunity to exact severe and merciless revenge upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent will favor Tamora, the Queen of the Goths — when Goths were Goths and Tamora was Queen — to avenge these bloody wrongs upon her foes.”

The Thracian tyrant was Polymestor, to whom Hecuba’s son Polydorus had been sent — with treasure — for his safety during the Trojan War. After Troy fell, King Polymestor of Thrace killed Polydorus so he could keep the treasure. The leader of the Greeks, Agamemnon, had fallen in love with Cassandra, one of Hecuba’s daughters, and Hecuba was able to get Agamemnon to allow her and some other Trojan women to see Polymestor and his sons. The Trojan women killed Polymestor’s sons, and Hecuba scratched out his eyes and blinded him, thus getting revenge for the death of her son Polydorus.

Titus Andronicus’ four living sons — Lucius, Martius, Mutius, and Quintus — returned. Their swords were bloody.

Lucius said to his father, Titus, “See, lord and father, how we have performed our Roman rites. Alarbus’ limbs have been cut off, and his entrails now feed the sacrificing fire, whose smoke, like incense, perfumes the sky. Nothing remains to be done except to inter our brethren in the tomb, and with loud trumpet calls welcome them to Rome.”

Titus Andronicus replied, “Let it be done, and let Titus Andronicus make this his last farewell to their souls.”

Trumpets sounded, and the two coffins were placed in the Tomb of the Andronici.

Titus said, “In peace and honor rest here, my sons. Rome’s readiest champions, repose here in rest, secure from worldly chances and mishaps! Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells, here grow no damned grudges; here are no storms, no noise, but only silence and eternal sleep. In peace and honor rest here, my sons!”

Lavinia, Titus’ daughter, arrived in time to hear the end of Titus’ speech.

She said, “In peace and honor may Lord Titus live long. My noble lord and father, live on in fame! At this tomb my tears I render as tribute for my brethren’s funeral obsequies, and at your feet I kneel, with tears of joy, shed on the earth, for your return to Rome. Oh, bless me here with your victorious hand, whose fortunes Rome’s best citizens applaud!”

“Kind Rome, you have thus lovingly kept safe the comfort of my old age to gladden my heart! Lavinia, live; outlive your father’s days, and as a reward for your virtue outlive even eternal fame!”

Marcus Andronicus and the Tribunes came out of the Capitol to greet Titus Andronicus. So did Saturninus and Bassianus.

Marcus Andronicus said, “Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother, who is a gracious conquering general in the eyes of Rome!”

“Thanks, gentle Tribune, my noble brother Marcus,” Titus replied.

“And welcome, nephews, home from successful wars,” Marcus Andronicus said. “I mean you who survive, as well as you who sleep in fame! Fair lords who drew your swords in your country’s service, your fortunes are alike. But the safer triumph belongs to those for whom we hold this funeral pomp because they have aspired to Solon’s happiness and they have triumphed over chance by being in honor’s bed — the grave!”

When Croesus, King of Lydia, asked the wise Athenian Solon who was happier than he, Croesus, Solon named three men, all of whom were dead. He then said, “Call no man happy until he is dead.” By this, he meant that the goddess Fortune is fickle, and a man who is happy and fortunate today may be unhappy and unfortunate tomorrow.

Marcus continued, “Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome, whose friend in justice you have ever been, send to you by me, their Tribune and their trust, this robe of white and spotless hue, and they have nominated you as a candidate to be Emperor, as are these our late-deceased Emperor’s sons. Therefore, be a candidate and put on this white robe and help to set a head on headless Rome.”

“Rome’s glorious body needs a better head than mine, which shakes because of old age and feebleness,” Titus replied. “Why should I don this white robe, and trouble you? I might be chosen with proclamations today, but tomorrow yield up my rule and give up my life and die, and then all of you will have to redo all this business.

“Romans, I have been your soldier for forty years, and I have led my country’s strength successfully and buried twenty-one valiant sons who were knighted on the battlefield, slain manfully while bearing weapons and performing rightful service for their noble country. Give me a staff of honor for my old age, but do not give me a scepter with which I can control the world. The man who held that scepter most recently, lords, wielded it justly.”

Marcus Andronicus, who knew the will of the people, said, “Titus, if you ask to be Emperor, you will be elected.”

Saturninus said, “Proud and ambitious Tribune, are you really quite sure of that?”

“Be calm, Prince Saturninus,” Titus said.

Saturninus, who was not calm, said, “Romans, do right by me. Patricians, draw your swords and do not sheathe them until I, Saturninus, am Rome’s Emperor.

“Titus Andronicus, I wish you would be shipped to Hell rather than rob me of the people’s hearts!”

Lucius, who understood what his father, who respected old customs and values, wanted to do, said, “Proud Saturninus, you are interrupting the good thing that noble-minded Titus intends to do for you!”

Titus said, “Be calm, Prince Saturninus. I will restore to you the people’s hearts, and I will have them elect you as Emperor although you are not their first choice.”

Bassianus made a bid for Titus’ support: “Andronicus, I do not flatter you, but I do honor you, and I will honor you until I die. I will be most thankful if you strengthen my faction — those who want me to be Emperor — with your friends. To men of noble minds, thanks are an honorable reward.”

Titus did not change his mind about supporting Saturninus’ candidacy to be Emperor: “People of Rome, and people’s Tribunes here, I ask for your support and your votes: Will you bestow them in a friendly way and support whom Andronicus supports?”

The Tribunes replied, “To gratify the good Andronicus and to welcome his safe return to Rome, the people will accept as Emperor whomever he supports.”

“Tribunes, I thank you,” Titus said, “and I make a formal request that you elect your old Emperor’s eldest son, Lord Saturninus, as Emperor. His virtues will, I hope, reflect on Rome the way that the Sun-god’s rays reflect on Earth, and ripen justice and make it flourish in this commonwealth. Therefore, if you will elect to be Emperor the person whom I support, crown Saturninus and say, ‘Long live our Emperor!’”

Romans shouted their approval, and Marcus Andronicus crowned Saturninus as Emperor.

Saturninus said, “Titus Andronicus, for your favors doneto us in our election as Emperor this day,I give you thanks in partial payment of what you deserve from me, and I will with deeds reward your nobility and courtesy. And, for the first deed, Titus, I will advance your name and honorable family by making your daughter, Lavinia, my Empress, Rome’s royal mistress, and mistress of my heart. In the sacred Pantheon, I will marry her. Tell me, Andronicus, does this proposal please you?”

Titus replied, “It does, my worthy lord; and in this match I regard myself to be highly honored by your grace. Here in sight of the Romans, I consecrate my sword, my chariot, and my prisoners to Saturninus. These presents are well worthy of Rome’s imperial lord. Receive them; they are the tribute that I owe you. These are the symbols of my honor, and they lie humbled at your feet.”

“Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life!” Saturninus said. “Rome shall record how proud I am of you and of your gifts, and when I forget the least of these indescribable rewards, Romans, forget your duty to be loyal to me.”

Titus said to Tamora, “Now, madam, you are prisoner to an Emperor. He is a man who, because of your honor and your status, will treat you and your followers nobly.”

Looking at Tamora closely for the first time, Saturninus thought, Tamora is a beautiful lady, believe you me. She is of the hue and complexion that I would choose, were I to choose anew. If I had not already chosen to marry Lavinia, I would choose to marry Tamora.

He said to Tamora, “Clear up, fair Queen, your cloudy countenance. Though the deeds of war have wrought this change in your countenance, you have not been brought to Rome to be made an object of mockery. You shall be treated like nobility in every way. Believe what I say, and do not let unhappiness daunt all your hopes. Madam, he who comforts you — and I am the one comforting you — can make you greater than the Queen of the Goths.”

He then said to Lavinia, who of course had heard what he said to Tamora, “Lavinia, are you displeased by what I have said?”

“No, my lord,” Lavinia replied, “I know that your true nobility has caused you to say these words with a Princely courtesy.”

“Thanks, sweet Lavinia,” Saturninus said. “Romans, let us go. Here we set our prisoners free without ransom.”

He added, “Proclaim our honors, lords, with trumpets and drums.”

As the trumpets and drums sounded, Saturninus spoke quietly to Tamora.

Bassianus, who was previously engaged to Lavinia, said, “Lord Titus, by your leave, this maiden is mine.”

He put his arms around Lavinia.

Titus said to him, “What, sir! Are you in earnest then, my lord?”

“Yes, noble Titus,” Bassianus replied, “and I am entirely resolved to do myself the right and reasonable course of action of marrying Lavinia.”

“‘Suum cuique’ — ‘to each his own’ — is our Roman justice,” Marcus Andronicus said. “This Prince is justly seizing nothing but what is already his own.”

Lucius said, “And he will and shall have Lavinia if I, Lucius, live.”

Titus Andronicus, who had just given permission to Saturninus to marry Lavinia, said, “Traitors, get away from here! Where is the Emperor’s guard? Treason, my lord! Lavinia is ambushed and captured!”

“Captured!” Saturninus said. “By whom?”

Bassianus answered, “By him who justly may carry his betrothed away from all the world.”

Bassianus, Marcus Andronicus, and Lavinia ran through a door.

Titus’ son Mutius said, “Brothers, help to convey Lavinia away from here, and with my sword I’ll guard this door and keep anyone from pursuing Lavinia.”

Titus’ sons Lucius, Martius, and Quintus ran through the door to help Lavinia run safely away.

Titus said to Saturninus, “My lord, continue to follow your plan to marry Lavinia. I’ll soon bring her back.”

He approached the door through which Saturninus and Lavinia had fled.

His son Mutius said, “My lord, you shall not pass through the door here.”

“What, villain boy!” Titus said. “Do you bar my way anywhere in Rome?”

He stabbed his son.

Mutius cried, “Help, Lucius, help!”

Then he died.

During the fight, Saturninus, Tamora, Demetrius, Chiron, and Aaron went through a door and climbed up into the Capitol. They were able to look down and see Titus Andronicus.

Lucius came back, saw that Titus had killed Mutius, and said to his father, “My lord, you are unjust, and more than unjust, because you have slain your son without a just reason.”

Titus replied, “Neither you, nor he, are any sons of mine. My sons would never so dishonor me as you have done. Traitor, restore Lavinia to the Emperor.”

“I will restore her dead, if you wish,” Lucius said, “but I will not give Lavinia to him to be his wife because she is another man’s lawfully promised love.”

He exited through the door.

Looking down on Titus, Emperor Saturninus said, “No, Titus, no; the Emperor does not need Lavinia. The Emperor does not need her, or you, or any of your stock. I’ll trust, but only very slowly, a man after he mocks me once, but I will never trust you or your traitorous haughty sons — all of you worked together to dishonor me in this way. Was there no one else in Rome to make a laughingstock other than me? Very well, Andronicus, this deed is consistent with that proud brag of yours — you said that I begged you to make me Emperor.”

Of course, this accusation was not true.

“Monstrous!” Titus said. “What reproachful words are these?”

“Go. Now. Leave here,” Emperor Saturninus said. “Go and give that fickle woman to the man who drew his sword and flourished it in the air to win her. You shall enjoy a valiant son-in-law; he is fit to join with and fight beside your lawless sons in the commonwealth of Rome.”

“These words are like razors to my wounded heart,” Titus said.

Saturninus then proposed to Tamora: “And therefore, lovely Tamora, Queen of Goths, who like the stately Moon goddess Phoebe among her nymphs outshines the most splendid dames of Rome, if you should be pleased with this my sudden choice, behold, I choose you, Tamora, to be my bride, and I will make you Empress of Rome.

“Speak, Queen of Goths, do you applaud my choice? Will you marry me?

“I swear here by all the Roman gods, since priest and holy water are so near and candles burn so brightly and everything stands in readiness for Hymenaeus, the god of marriage, I will not walk the streets of Rome, or climb up to my palace, until from forth this place I lead my married bride beside me.”

Kneeling, Tamora replied, “And here, in the sight of Heaven, to the Romans I swear that if Saturninus marries the Queen of Goths and makes her Empress, she will be a handmaid to his desires, and a loving nurse and mother to his youth.”

“Arise, fair Queen, and let us go to the Pantheon to be married,” Saturninus said. He ignored Titus as he said, “Lords, accompany your noble Emperor and his lovely bride, sent by the Heavens for Prince Saturninus; her wisdom in agreeing to marry me has conquered her misfortune. Go with us to the Pantheon, and there we shall perform our marriage rites.”

Everyone except Titus departed.

Alone, Titus said to himself, “I am not invited to wait upon this bride. Titus, when were you ever accustomed to walk alone, dishonored like this, and accused of wrongs and crimes?”

Marcus Andronicus and Titus’ three remaining living sons — Lucius, Martius, and Quintus — returned.

Marcus Andronicus said, “Titus, see, oh, see what you have done! You have killed a virtuous son in a bad quarrel. You did not have a good reason to kill him.”

“No, foolish Tribune,” Titus replied. “I have not killed unworthily any son of mine, and I have not killed you, or these sons of mine, who are confederates in the deed that has dishonored all our family. You are an unworthy brother, and these are unworthy sons!”

Lucius requested, “Allow us to give our brother burial, as is fitting. Allow us to give Mutius burial with our brethren.”

“Traitors, go away!” Titus shouted. “He will not rest in this tomb. For five hundred years has stood this monument, which I have sumptuously re-built. Here none but soldiers and Rome’s officers repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls are buried here. Bury him wherever you can; he will not be buried here.”

Marcus said to Titus, “My lord, this is impiety in you. My nephew Mutius’ honorable deeds plead for him. He must be buried with his brethren.”

Quintus and Martius said, “And he shall, or we will accompany him in death.”

Titus asked, “What villain was it who said, ‘And he shall’?”

Quintus replied, “He who would maintain it in any place but here.”

“What, would you bury him to spite me?” Titus asked.

“No, noble Titus,” Marcus Andronicus said, “but I beg you to pardon Mutius and to bury him.”

“Marcus, even you have metaphorically struck my helmet,” Titus replied. “And, with these boys, you have wounded my honor. I consider every one of you to be my enemy, so trouble me no more, but get you gone.”

Martius said, “He is not himself; let us withdraw.”

Quintus said, “Not I — not until Mutius’ bones have been buried.”

Marcus Andronicus and Titus’ three living sons kneeled before him.

Marcus Andronicus said, “Brother, for that is what you are to me —”

Quintus said, “Father, for that is what you are to me —”

Titus said, “Speak no more, if you know what is good for you.”

Marcus said, “Renowned Titus, you are more than half my soul —”

Lucius said, “Dear father, you are the soul and substance of us all —”

Marcus pleaded, “Permit me, your brother, to inter my noble nephew here in the nest of virtue. Mutius died honorably as he helped Lavinia. You are Roman; do not be barbarous. The Greeks after careful consideration buried Great Ajax, who slew himself; wise Laertes’ son, Ulysses, graciously pleaded for Great Ajax’ funeral. Let not young Mutius, then, who was your joy, be barred his entrance here into the Tomb of the Andronici.”

Great Ajax was the second strongest warrior of the Greeks during the Trojan War; Achilles was the first. After Achilles died, Achilles’ mother, the sea goddess Thetis, wanted to award Achilles’ magnificent armor, which had been made by the blacksmith god Vulcan, to one of the Greek warriors. Both Great Ajax and Ulysses argued that he should be awarded the armor, which was eventually given to Ulysses. Great Ajax went insane and killed some sheep, thinking that they were Ulysses and Agamemnon, who was the leader of the Greeks. When Great Ajax regained his sanity, he was so ashamed that he committed suicide. Ulysses convinced his fellow Greeks that Great Ajax should be given a proper funeral.

Marcus had pleaded well. He knew that Titus, his brother, would respond favorably to an ancient exemplum, especially one involving famous warriors.

Titus said, “Rise, Marcus, rise. This is the most dismal day that I have ever seen. On this day my sons dishonored me in Rome! Well, bury him, and next you shall bury me.”

Marcus Andronicus and Titus’ living sons placed Mutius in the Tomb of the Andronici. Great Ajax had died because he valued honor so much; Titus realized that Mutius, his son, had believed that he was protecting the honor of Lavinia, his sister, who was engaged to Saturninus.

Lucius said, “There your bones will lie, sweet Mutius, with your friends, until we adorn your tomb with memorial tokens.”

All knelt and said, “Let no man shed tears for noble Mutius: He who died for the sake of virtue lives on in fame.” Then they stood again.

“My lord, let us step out of these dreary dumps and this melancholy,” Marcus said to Titus. “How came it to happen that the cunning Queen of Goths is so suddenly advanced in Rome? She has gone from being a captive to being the Roman Empress!”

“I don’t know how it happened, Marcus,” Titus replied, “but I know it did happen. Whether or not it happened as part of a plot, the Heavens can tell. Is she not then indebted to the man who brought her to such a height? Yes, and she will nobly remunerate him.”

Saturninus and Tamora walked through one door. With them were Tamora’s sons Demetrius and Chiron, and Aaron the Moor. Saturninus and Tamora were now married.

Bassianus, Lavinia, and some attendants walked through another door. Bassianus and Lavinia were now married.

Angry, Saturninus said, “So, Bassianus, you have won your bout.” He added, sarcastically, “May God give you joy, sir, of your gallant bride!”

“And you of yours, my lord!” Bassianus said. “I have no more to say to you, nor do I wish any less for you; and so, I take my leave of you.”

“Traitor, if Rome has law or we have power,” Saturninus said, using the royal plural, “you and your faction shall repent this kidnapping of Lavinia.”

“Do you call it kidnapping, my lord, when I seize what is my own — my truly betrothed love who is now my wife? But let the laws of Rome determine all; in the meanwhile I possess what is mine.”

“Very well, sir,” Saturninus said. “You are very short with us, but if we live, we’ll be as sharp with you.”

Bassianus replied, “My lord, what I have done, as best I may I must answer for it and shall do with my life. However, I want your grace to know this: By all the duties that I owe to Rome, this noble gentleman, Lord Titus here, has had his reputation and honor wronged. When I rescued Lavinia, Titus with his own hand slew his youngest son because of his zeal to serve you and because he was so highly moved to wrath when his desire to freely give Lavinia to you was balked. Return him, then, to your favor, Saturninus. Titus has shown in all his deeds that he is a father and a friend to you and Rome.”

Titus Andronicus said, “Prince Bassianus, stop pleading for me and my deeds. It is you and those who helped you who have dishonored me.”

He knelt and said, “May Rome and the righteous Heavens be my judge for how I have loved and honored Saturninus!”

Tamora said to Saturninus, her husband, “My worthy lord, if ever Tamora were gracious in those Princely eyes of yours, then hear me speak impartially for all, and at my request, sweetheart, pardon what is past.”

Saturninus replied, “What, madam! Shall I be dishonored openly, and basely put my sword in its sheath without getting revenge?”

Tamora said, “No, my lord; may the gods of Rome forbid that I should be a person who causes you to be dishonored! But on my honor I vouch for good Lord Titus’ innocence in everything; his fury — which is not faked — shows that his grievances are real. Therefore, at my request, look graciously on him. Do not lose so noble a friend on an idle supposition, and do not afflict his gentle heart with sour looks.”

She then said quietly to Saturninus so that others could not hear, “My lord, do as I advise you. Be won over at last. Hide all your feelings of grief and discontent. You are only newly planted in your throne. Be afraid, then, that the common people — and the patricians, too — after justly considering the situation, will take Titus’ part and replace you as Emperor because you are showing ingratitude, which Rome considers to be a heinous sin. Yield to my entreaty; and then leave it to me. I’ll find a day to massacre them all and raze their faction and their family, the cruel father and his traitorous sons, to whom I begged for my dear son’s life, and I will make them know what it is to let a Queen kneel in the streets and beg for mercy in vain.”

She said out loud so all could hear, “Come, come, sweet Emperor; come, Titus Andronicus. Emperor, tell this good old man to stand up, and cheer up Titus’ heart that now dies in the tempest of your angry frown.”

“Rise, Titus, rise,” Saturninus said. “My Empress has prevailed over me.”

“I thank your Majesty, and her, my lord,” Titus said, standing up. “These words, these looks, infuse new life in me.”

“Titus, I am now a part of Rome,” Tamora said. “I am now a happily adopted and naturalized Roman, and I must advise the Emperor for his good. This day all quarrels die, Andronicus. Let it be to my honor, my good lord, that I have reconciled your friends and you. As for you, Prince Bassianus, I have given my word and promise to the Emperor that you will be more mild and obedient. Do not be afraid, my lords, and you, Lavinia. Take my advice, all of you, and humble yourselves by getting on your knees and asking for a pardon from his Majesty.”

Marcus, Lavinia, and Titus’ three remaining living sons knelt.

Lucius said, “We kneel, and we vow to Heaven and to his Highness that what we did was done as mildly as we could, considering the situation — we protected our sister’s honor and our own.”

Marcus said, “On my honor, I say that this is true.”

Saturninus said, “Go away now, and talk no more; trouble us no more.”

“No, no, sweet Emperor, we must all be friends,” Tamora said. “Marcus the Tribune and his nephews kneel and ask for your grace. I will not be denied: Sweetheart, look at them.”

Saturninus said, “Marcus, for your sake and your brother Titus’ here, and at my lovely Tamora’s entreaty, I pardon these young men’s heinous faults. All of you, stand up.”

They stood up.

Saturninus continued, “Lavinia, although you left me as if I were a churl — a peasant — I found a sweetheart, and as sure as death I swore I would not part from the priest as a bachelor. If the Emperor’s court can feast two brides, you are my guest, Lavinia, and so are your friends.

“This day shall be a love-day, Tamora. On this day, I shall forgive faults and resolve disputes.”

Titus Andronicus said, “Tomorrow, if it will please your Majesty to hunt the panther and the male deer with me, with horns and hounds we’ll give your grace bonjour— a good day.”

Saturninus replied, “So be it, Titus, and gramercy — great thanks — too.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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