List iconTitus Andronicus:
Act 2, scene 3
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Titus Andronicus
Act 2, scene 3



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Entire Play

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 3
Enter Aaron, alone, carrying a bag of gold.

 He that had wit would think that I had none,
 To bury so much gold under a tree
 And never after to inherit it.
 Let him that thinks of me so abjectly
5 Know that this gold must coin a stratagem
 Which, cunningly effected, will beget
 A very excellent piece of villainy.He hides the bag.
 And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest
 That have their alms out of the Empress’ chest.

Enter Tamora alone to Aaron the Moor.

10 My lovely Aaron, wherefore look’st thou sad,
 When everything doth make a gleeful boast?
 The birds chant melody on every bush,
 The snakes lies rollèd in the cheerful sun,
 The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind
15 And make a checkered shadow on the ground.
 Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
 And whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns,
 As if a double hunt were heard at once,
20 Let us sit down and mark their yellowing noise.
 And after conflict such as was supposed
 The wand’ring prince and Dido once enjoyed
 When with a happy storm they were surprised,
 And curtained with a counsel-keeping cave,
25 We may, each wreathèd in the other’s arms,
 Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber,
 Whiles hounds and horns and sweet melodious birds
 Be unto us as is a nurse’s song
 Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep.
30 Madam, though Venus govern your desires,
 Saturn is dominator over mine.
 What signifies my deadly standing eye,
 My silence, and my cloudy melancholy,
 My fleece of woolly hair that now uncurls
35 Even as an adder when she doth unroll
 To do some fatal execution?
 No, madam, these are no venereal signs.
 Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,
 Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.
40 Hark, Tamora, the empress of my soul,
 Which never hopes more heaven than rests in thee,
 This is the day of doom for Bassianus.
 His Philomel must lose her tongue today,
 Thy sons make pillage of her chastity
45 And wash their hands in Bassianus’ blood.
He takes out a paper.
 Seest thou this letter? Take it up, I pray thee,
 And give the King this fatal-plotted scroll.
He hands her the paper.
 Now, question me no more. We are espied.
 Here comes a parcel of our hopeful booty,
50 Which dreads not yet their lives’ destruction.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter Bassianus and Lavinia.

 Ah, my sweet Moor, sweeter to me than life!
 No more, great empress. Bassianus comes.
 Be cross with him, and I’ll go fetch thy sons
 To back thy quarrels, whatsoe’er they be.
He exits.
55 Who have we here? Rome’s royal empress,
 Unfurnished of her well-beseeming troop?
 Or is it Dian, habited like her,
 Who hath abandonèd her holy groves
 To see the general hunting in this forest?
60 Saucy controller of my private steps,
 Had I the power that some say Dian had,
 Thy temples should be planted presently
 With horns, as was Acteon’s, and the hounds
 Should drive upon thy new-transformèd limbs,
65 Unmannerly intruder as thou art.
 Under your patience, gentle empress,
 ’Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning,
 And to be doubted that your Moor and you
 Are singled forth to try experiments.
70 Jove shield your husband from his hounds today!
 ’Tis pity they should take him for a stag.
 Believe me, queen, your swarthy Cimmerian
 Doth make your honor of his body’s hue,
 Spotted, detested, and abominable.
75 Why are you sequestered from all your train,
 Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,
 And wandered hither to an obscure plot,

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
 If foul desire had not conducted you?
80 And being intercepted in your sport,
 Great reason that my noble lord be rated
 For sauciness.—I pray you, let us hence,
 And let her joy her raven-colored love.
 This valley fits the purpose passing well.
85 The King my brother shall have notice of this.
 Ay, for these slips have made him noted long.
 Good king to be so mightily abused!
 Why, I have patience to endure all this.

Enter Chiron and Demetrius.

 How now, dear sovereign and our gracious mother,
90 Why doth your Highness look so pale and wan?
 Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?
 These two have ticed me hither to this place,
 A barren, detested vale you see it is;
 The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
95 Overcome with moss and baleful mistletoe.
 Here never shines the sun, here nothing breeds,
 Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven.
 And when they showed me this abhorrèd pit,
 They told me, here at dead time of the night
100 A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes,
 Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,
 Would make such fearful and confusèd cries
 As any mortal body hearing it
 Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.
105 No sooner had they told this hellish tale

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 But straight they told me they would bind me here
 Unto the body of a dismal yew
 And leave me to this miserable death.
 And then they called me foul adulteress,
110 Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms
 That ever ear did hear to such effect.
 And had you not by wondrous fortune come,
 This vengeance on me had they executed.
 Revenge it as you love your mother’s life,
115 Or be you not henceforth called my children.
DEMETRIUS, drawing his dagger 
 This is a witness that I am thy son.
CHIRON, drawing his dagger 
 And this for me, struck home to show my strength.
They stab Bassianus.
 Ay, come, Semiramis, nay, barbarous Tamora,
 For no name fits thy nature but thy own!
120 Give me the poniard! You shall know, my boys,
 Your mother’s hand shall right your mother’s wrong.
 Stay, madam, here is more belongs to her.
 First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw.
 This minion stood upon her chastity,
125 Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,
 And with that painted hope braves your mightiness;
 And shall she carry this unto her grave?
 And if she do, I would I were an eunuch!
 Drag hence her husband to some secret hole,
130 And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust.
 But when you have the honey you desire,
 Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.
 I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.—

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
135 That nice-preservèd honesty of yours.
 O Tamora, thou bearest a woman’s face—
 I will not hear her speak. Away with her.
 Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.
DEMETRIUS, to Tamora 
 Listen, fair madam. Let it be your glory
140 To see her tears, but be your heart to them
 As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.
 When did the tiger’s young ones teach the dam?
 O, do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee.
 The milk thou suck’st from her did turn to marble.
145 Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.
 Yet every mother breeds not sons alike.
 To Chiron. Do thou entreat her show a woman’s pity.
 What, wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard?
 ’Tis true; the raven doth not hatch a lark.
150 Yet have I heard—O, could I find it now!—
 The lion, moved with pity, did endure
 To have his princely paws pared all away.
 Some say that ravens foster forlorn children,
 The whilst their own birds famish in their nests.
155 O, be to me, though thy hard heart say no,
 Nothing so kind, but something pitiful.
 I know not what it means.—Away with her.
 O, let me teach thee! For my father’s sake,
 That gave thee life when well he might have slain thee,
160 Be not obdurate; open thy deaf ears.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Hadst thou in person ne’er offended me,
 Even for his sake am I pitiless.—
 Remember, boys, I poured forth tears in vain
 To save your brother from the sacrifice,
165 But fierce Andronicus would not relent.
 Therefore away with her, and use her as you will;
 The worse to her, the better loved of me.
 O Tamora, be called a gentle queen,
 And with thine own hands kill me in this place!
170 For ’tis not life that I have begged so long;
 Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.
 What begg’st thou, then? Fond woman, let me go!
 ’Tis present death I beg, and one thing more
 That womanhood denies my tongue to tell.
175 O, keep me from their worse-than-killing lust,
 And tumble me into some loathsome pit
 Where never man’s eye may behold my body.
 Do this, and be a charitable murderer.
 So should I rob my sweet sons of their fee.
180 No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.
DEMETRIUS, to Lavinia 
 Away, for thou hast stayed us here too long!
LAVINIA, to Tamora 
 No grace, no womanhood? Ah, beastly creature,
 The blot and enemy to our general name,
 Confusion fall—
185 Nay, then, I’ll stop your mouth.—Bring thou her
 This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him.
They put Bassianus’ body in the pit and
exit, carrying off Lavinia.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Farewell, my sons. See that you make her sure.
 Ne’er let my heart know merry cheer indeed
190 Till all the Andronici be made away.
 Now will I hence to seek my lovely Moor,
 And let my spleenful sons this trull deflower.
She exits.

Enter Aaron with two of Titus’ sons,
Quintus and Martius.

 Come on, my lords, the better foot before.
 Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit
195 Where I espied the panther fast asleep.
 My sight is very dull, whate’er it bodes.
 And mine, I promise you. Were it not for shame,
 Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile.
He falls into the pit.
 What, art thou fallen? What subtle hole is this,
200 Whose mouth is covered with rude-growing briers
 Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood
 As fresh as morning dew distilled on flowers?
 A very fatal place it seems to me.
 Speak, brother! Hast thou hurt thee with the fall?
205 O, brother, with the dismal’st object hurt
 That ever eye with sight made heart lament!
AARON, aside 
 Now will I fetch the King to find them here,
 That he thereby may have a likely guess
 How these were they that made away his brother.
He exits.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

210 Why dost not comfort me and help me out
 From this unhallowed and bloodstainèd hole?
 I am surprisèd with an uncouth fear.
 A chilling sweat o’erruns my trembling joints.
 My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.
215 To prove thou hast a true-divining heart,
 Aaron and thou look down into this den
 And see a fearful sight of blood and death.
 Aaron is gone, and my compassionate heart
 Will not permit mine eyes once to behold
220 The thing whereat it trembles by surmise.
 O, tell me who it is, for ne’er till now
 Was I a child to fear I know not what.
 Lord Bassianus lies berayed in blood,
 All on a heap, like to a slaughtered lamb,
225 In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.
 If it be dark, how dost thou know ’tis he?
 Upon his bloody finger he doth wear
 A precious ring that lightens all this hole,
 Which like a taper in some monument
230 Doth shine upon the dead man’s earthy cheeks
 And shows the ragged entrails of this pit.
 So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus
 When he by night lay bathed in maiden blood.
 O, brother, help me with thy fainting hand—
235 If fear hath made thee faint as me it hath—
 Out of this fell devouring receptacle,
 As hateful as Cocytus’ misty mouth.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

QUINTUS, reaching into the pit 
 Reach me thy hand, that I may help thee out,
 Or, wanting strength to do thee so much good,
240 I may be plucked into the swallowing womb
 Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus’ grave.
He pulls Martius’ hand.
 I have no strength to pluck thee to the brink.
 Nor I no strength to climb without thy help.
 Thy hand once more. I will not loose again
245 Till thou art here aloft or I below.
 Thou canst not come to me. I come to thee.
He falls in.

Enter the Emperor Saturninus, with Attendants,
and Aaron the Moor.

 Along with me! I’ll see what hole is here
 And what he is that now is leapt into it.—
 Say, who art thou that lately didst descend
250 Into this gaping hollow of the earth?
 The unhappy sons of old Andronicus,
 Brought hither in a most unlucky hour
 To find thy brother Bassianus dead.
 My brother dead! I know thou dost but jest.
255 He and his lady both are at the lodge
 Upon the north side of this pleasant chase.
 ’Tis not an hour since I left them there.
 We know not where you left them all alive,
 But, out alas, here have we found him dead.

Enter Tamora, Titus Andronicus, and Lucius.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

TAMORA 260Where is my lord the King?
 Here, Tamora, though grieved with killing grief.
 Where is thy brother Bassianus?
 Now to the bottom dost thou search my wound.
 Poor Bassianus here lies murderèd.
265 Then all too late I bring this fatal writ,
 The complot of this timeless tragedy,
 And wonder greatly that man’s face can fold
 In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny.
She giveth Saturnine a letter.
SATURNINUS (reads the letter): 
 An if we miss to meet him handsomely,
270 Sweet huntsman—Bassianus ’tis we mean—
 Do thou so much as dig the grave for him;
 Thou know’st our meaning. Look for thy reward
 Among the nettles at the elder tree
 Which overshades the mouth of that same pit
275 Where we decreed to bury Bassianus.
 Do this, and purchase us thy lasting friends.

 O Tamora, was ever heard the like?
 This is the pit, and this the elder tree.—
 Look, sirs, if you can find the huntsman out
280 That should have murdered Bassianus here.
 My gracious lord, here is the bag of gold.
 Two of thy whelps, fell curs of bloody kind,
 Have here bereft my brother of his life.—
 Sirs, drag them from the pit unto the prison.
285 There let them bide until we have devised
 Some never-heard-of torturing pain for them.

Titus Andronicus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 What, are they in this pit? O wondrous thing!
 How easily murder is discoverèd.
Attendants pull Quintus, Martius, and
the body of Bassianus from the pit.

TITUS, kneeling 
 High Emperor, upon my feeble knee
290 I beg this boon with tears not lightly shed,
 That this fell fault of my accursèd sons—
 Accursèd if the faults be proved in them—
 If it be proved! You see it is apparent.
 Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?
295 Andronicus himself did take it up.
 I did, my lord, yet let me be their bail,
 For by my father’s reverend tomb I vow
 They shall be ready at your Highness’ will
 To answer their suspicion with their lives.
300 Thou shalt not bail them. See thou follow me.—
 Some bring the murdered body, some the murderers.
 Let them not speak a word. The guilt is plain.
 For, by my soul, were there worse end than death,
 That end upon them should be executed.
305 Andronicus, I will entreat the King.
 Fear not thy sons; they shall do well enough.
TITUS, rising 
 Come, Lucius, come. Stay not to talk with them.
They exit, with Attendants leading Martius and
Quintus and bearing the body of Bassianus.