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Titus Andronicus
Act 2, scene 1

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Titus Andronicus overflows with death and violence. Twenty-one sons of the Roman general Titus Andronicus have died in battle, leaving four…

Act 1, scene 1

Saturninus and Bassianus, sons of the deceased Emperor of Rome, challenge each other for the title of emperor. Titus Andronicus,…

Act 2, scene 1

Aaron reveals that he is Tamora’s lover, and then stops a fight between her sons, Chiron and Demetrius, who both…

Act 2, scene 2

As the morning hunt gets under way, Demetrius and Chiron anticipate raping Lavinia.

Act 2, scene 3

Aaron sets a trap to destroy Bassianus and put the blame on Titus’s sons Quintus and Martius. He has Tamora…

Act 2, scene 4

The raped and mutilated Lavinia is discovered by her horrified uncle, Marcus.

Act 3, scene 1

Martius and Quintus are led off to execution. Aaron says their lives can be saved if Titus, Lucius, or Marcus…

Act 3, scene 2

In this scene, which is found in the 1623 Folio text but not in the Quarto, Titus is horrified when…

Act 4, scene 1

Lavinia finds a way to reveal to Titus the story of her rape and mutilation and the names of the…

Act 4, scene 2

Tamora gives birth to a baby whose black skin signals Aaron’s paternity. Aaron arranges for a white baby to take…

Act 4, scene 3

Titus has his friends and family shoot arrows to which are attached messages to the gods begging that Justice (as…

Act 4, scene 4

Saturninus, enraged at the messages on the arrows, reads the letter brought by the country fellow and sentences him to…

Act 5, scene 1

Aaron is captured by Lucius and his army of Goths. After Lucius swears to protect the baby, Aaron confesses to…

Act 5, scene 2

Tamora, disguised as Revenge, tells Titus she has come to his aid, and that if he will invite Lucius to…

Act 5, scene 3

At the feast, Titus serves the pie made from the bodies of Chiron and Demetrius. He then stabs Lavinia, reveals…

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Scene 1
AARON 
 Now climbeth Tamora Olympus’ top,
 Safe out of Fortune’s shot, and sits aloft,
 Secure of thunder’s crack or lightning flash,
 Advanced above pale Envy’s threat’ning reach.
5 As when the golden sun salutes the morn
 And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,
 Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach
 And overlooks the highest-peering hills,
 So Tamora.
10 Upon her wit doth earthly honor wait,
 And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown.
 Then, Aaron, arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts
 To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress,
 And mount her pitch whom thou in triumph long
15 Hast prisoner held, fettered in amorous chains
 And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes
 Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus.
 Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts!
 I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold
20 To wait upon this new-made emperess.
 To wait, said I? To wanton with this queen,
 This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph,
 This siren that will charm Rome’s Saturnine
49

51
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 And see his shipwrack and his commonweal’s.
25 Holla! What storm is this?

Enter Chiron and Demetrius, braving.

DEMETRIUS 
 Chiron, thy years wants wit, thy wits wants edge
 And manners, to intrude where I am graced,
 And may, for aught thou knowest, affected be.
CHIRON 
 Demetrius, thou dost overween in all,
30 And so in this, to bear me down with braves.
 ’Tis not the difference of a year or two
 Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate.
 I am as able and as fit as thou
 To serve and to deserve my mistress’ grace,
35 And that my sword upon thee shall approve
 And plead my passions for Lavinia’s love.
AARON, aside 
 Clubs, clubs! These lovers will not keep the peace.
DEMETRIUS, to Chiron 
 Why, boy, although our mother, unadvised,
 Gave you a dancing rapier by your side,
40 Are you so desperate grown to threat your friends?
 Go to. Have your lath glued within your sheath
 Till you know better how to handle it.
CHIRON 
 Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,
 Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.
DEMETRIUS 
45 Ay, boy, grow you so brave?They draw.
AARON  Why, how now, lords?
 So near the Emperor’s palace dare you draw
 And maintain such a quarrel openly?
 Full well I wot the ground of all this grudge.
50 I would not for a million of gold
 The cause were known to them it most concerns,

53
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 Nor would your noble mother for much more
 Be so dishonored in the court of Rome.
 For shame, put up.
DEMETRIUS 55 Not I, till I have sheathed
 My rapier in his bosom, and withal
 Thrust those reproachful speeches down his throat
 That he hath breathed in my dishonor here.
CHIRON 
 For that I am prepared and full resolved,
60 Foul-spoken coward, that thund’rest with thy tongue
 And with thy weapon nothing dar’st perform.
AARON Away, I say!
 Now by the gods that warlike Goths adore,
 This petty brabble will undo us all.
65 Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous
 It is to jet upon a prince’s right?
 What, is Lavinia then become so loose
 Or Bassianus so degenerate
 That for her love such quarrels may be broached
70 Without controlment, justice, or revenge?
 Young lords, beware! And should the Empress know
 This discord’s ground, the music would not please.
CHIRON 
 I care not, I, knew she and all the world.
 I love Lavinia more than all the world.
DEMETRIUS 
75 Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice.
 Lavinia is thine elder brother’s hope.
AARON 
 Why, are you mad? Or know you not in Rome
 How furious and impatient they be,
 And cannot brook competitors in love?
80 I tell you, lords, you do but plot your deaths
 By this device.
CHIRON  Aaron, a thousand deaths
 Would I propose to achieve her whom I love.

55
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ACT 2. SC. 1

AARON 
 To achieve her how?
DEMETRIUS 85 Why makes thou it so strange?
 She is a woman, therefore may be wooed;
 She is a woman, therefore may be won;
 She is Lavinia, therefore must be loved.
 What, man, more water glideth by the mill
90 Than wots the miller of, and easy it is
 Of a cut loaf to steal a shive, we know.
 Though Bassianus be the Emperor’s brother,
 Better than he have worn Vulcan’s badge.
AARON, aside 
 Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.
DEMETRIUS 
95 Then why should he despair that knows to court it
 With words, fair looks, and liberality?
 What, hast not thou full often struck a doe
 And borne her cleanly by the keeper’s nose?
AARON 
 Why, then, it seems some certain snatch or so
100 Would serve your turns.
CHIRON  Ay, so the turn were served.
DEMETRIUS Aaron, thou hast hit it.
AARON Would you had hit it too!
 Then should not we be tired with this ado.
105 Why, hark you, hark you! And are you such fools
 To square for this? Would it offend you then
 That both should speed?
CHIRON 
 Faith, not me.
DEMETRIUS  Nor me, so I were one.
AARON 
110 For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar.
 ’Tis policy and stratagem must do
 That you affect, and so must you resolve

57
Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 1

 That what you cannot as you would achieve,
 You must perforce accomplish as you may.
115 Take this of me: Lucrece was not more chaste
 Than this Lavinia, Bassianus’ love.
 A speedier course than ling’ring languishment
 Must we pursue, and I have found the path.
 My lords, a solemn hunting is in hand;
120 There will the lovely Roman ladies troop.
 The forest walks are wide and spacious,
 And many unfrequented plots there are,
 Fitted by kind for rape and villainy.
 Single you thither then this dainty doe,
125 And strike her home by force, if not by words.
 This way, or not at all, stand you in hope.
 Come, come, our empress, with her sacred wit
 To villainy and vengeance consecrate,
 Will we acquaint withal what we intend,
130 And she shall file our engines with advice
 That will not suffer you to square yourselves,
 But to your wishes’ height advance you both.
 The Emperor’s court is like the house of Fame,
 The palace full of tongues, of eyes, and ears;
135 The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull.
 There speak and strike, brave boys, and take your
 turns.
 There serve your lust, shadowed from heaven’s eye,
 And revel in Lavinia’s treasury.
CHIRON 
140 Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice.
DEMETRIUS 
 Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the stream
 To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits,
 Per Stygia, per manes vehor.
They exit.