Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Titus Andronicus
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Titus Andronicus
 
Act II. Scene III.
 
A lonely Part of the Forest.
 
Enter AARON, with a bag of gold.
  Aar.  He that had wit would think that I had none,
To bury so much gold under a tree,
And never after to inherit it.        5
Let him that thinks of me so abjectly
Know that this gold must coin a stratagem,
Which, cunningly effected, will beget
A very excellent piece of villany:
And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest        10
That have their alms out of the empress’ chest.  [Hides the gold.
 
Enter TAMORA.
  Tam.  My lovely Aaron, wherefore look’st thou sad,
When every thing doth make a gleeful boast?
The birds chant melody on every bush,        15
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun,
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,
And make a chequer’d shadow on the ground.
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
And, whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,        20
Replying shrilly to the well-tun’d horns,
As if a double hunt were heard at once,
Let us sit down and mark their yelping noise;
And after conflict, such as was suppos’d
The wandering prince and Dido once enjoy’d,        25
When with a happy storm they were surpris’d,
And curtain’d with a counsel-keeping cave,
We may, each wreathed in the other’s arms,
Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber;
Whiles hounds and horns and sweet melodious birds        30
Be unto us as is a nurse’s song
Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep.
  Aar.  Madam, though Venus govern your desires,
Saturn is dominator over mine:
What signifies my deadly-standing eye,        35
My silence and my cloudy melancholy,
My fleece of woolly hair that now uncurls
Even as an adder when she doth unroll
To do some fatal execution?
No, madam, these are no venereal signs:        40
Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,
Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.
Hark, Tamora, the empress of my soul,
Which never hopes more heaven than rests in thee,
This is the day of doom for Bassianus;        45
His Philomel must lose her tongue to-day,
Thy sons make pillage of her chastity,
And wash their hands in Bassianus’ blood.
Seest thou this letter? take it up, I pray thee,
And give the king this fatal-plotted scroll.        50
Now question me no more; we are espied;
Here comes a parcel of our hopeful booty,
Which dreads not yet their lives’ destruction.
  Tam.  Ah! my sweet Moor, sweeter to me than life.
  Aar.  No more, great empress; Bassianus comes:        55
Be cross with him; and I’ll go fetch thy sons
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe’er they be.  [Exit.
 
Enter BASSIANUS and LAVINIA.
  Bas.  Who have we here? Rome’s royal empress,
Unfurnish’d of her well-beseeming troop?        60
Or is it Dian, habited like her,
Who hath abandoned her holy groves,
To see the general hunting in this forest?
  Tam.  Saucy controller of our private steps!
Had I the power that some say Dian had,        65
Thy temples should be planted presently
With horns, as was Actæon’s; and the hounds
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,
Unmannerly intruder as thou art!
  Lav.  Under your patience, gentle empress,        70
’Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning;
And to be doubted that your Moor and you
Are singled forth to try experiments.
Jove shield your husband from his hounds to-day!
’Tis pity they should take him for a stag.        75
  Bas.  Believe me, queen, your swarth Cimmerian
Doth make your honour of his body’s hue,
Spotted, detested, and abominable.
Why are you sequester’d from all your train,
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,        80
And wander’d hither to an obscure plot,
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
If foul desire had not conducted you?
  Lav.  And, being intercepted in your sport,
Great reason that my noble lord be rated        85
For sauciness. I pray you, let us hence,
And let her joy her raven-colour’d love;
This valley fits the purpose passing well.
  Bas.  The king my brother shall have note of this.
  Lav.  Ay, for these slips have made him noted long:        90
Good king, to be so mightily abus’d!
  Tam.  Why have I patience to endure all this?
 
Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON.
  Dem.  How now, dear sovereign, and our gracious mother!
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan?        95
  Tam.  Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?
These two have ’tic’d me hither to this place:
A barren detested vale, you see, it is;
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O’ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe:        100
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:
And when they show’d me this abhorred pit,
They told me, here, at dead time of the night,
A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes,        105
Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,
Would make such fearful and confused cries,
As any mortal body hearing it
Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.
No sooner had they told this hellish tale,        110
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,
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms        115
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,
Or be ye not henceforth call’d my children.        120
  Dem.  This is a witness that I am thy son.  [Stabs BASSIANUS.
  Chi.  And this for me, struck home to show my strength.  [Also stabs BASSIANUS, who dies.
  Lav.  Ay, come, Semiramis, nay, barbarous Tamora;
For no name fits thy nature but thy own.
  Tam.  Give me thy poniard; you shall know, my boys,        125
Your mother’s hand shall right your mother’s wrong.
  Dem.  Stay, madam; here is more belongs to her:
First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw.
This minion stood upon her chastity,
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,        130
And with that painted hope she braves your mightiness:
And shall she carry this unto her grave?
  Chi.  An if she do, I would I were an eunuch.
Drag hence her husband to some secret hole,
And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust.        135
  Tam.  But when ye have the honey ye desire,
Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.
  Chi.  I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice-preserved honesty of yours.        140
  Lav.  O Tamora! thou bear’st a woman’s face,—
  Tam.  I will not hear her speak; away with her!
  Lav.  Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.
  Dem.  Listen, fair madam: let it be your glory
To see her tears; but be your heart to them        145
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.
  Lav.  When did the tiger’s young ones teach the dam?
O! do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee;
The milk thou suck’dst from her did turn to marble;
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.        150
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike:
[To CHIRON.]  Do thou entreat her show a woman pity.
  Chi.  What! wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard?
  Lav.  ’Tis true! the raven doth not hatch a lark:
Yet have I heard, O! could I find it now,        155
The lion mov’d with pity did endure
To have his princely paws par’d all away.
Some say that ravens foster forlorn children,
The whilst their own birds famish in their nests:
O! be to me, though thy hard heart say no,        160
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful.
  Tam.  I know not what it means; away with her!
  Lav.  O, let me teach thee! for my father’s sake,
That gave thee life when well he might have slain thee,
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.        165
  Tam.  Hadst thou in person ne’er offended me,
Even for his sake am I pitiless.
Remember, boys, I pour’d forth tears in vain
To save your brother from the sacrifice;
But fierce Andronicus would not relent:        170
Therefore, away with her, and use her as you will:
The worse to her, the better lov’d of me.
  Lav.  O Tamora! be call’d a gentle queen,
And with thine own hands kill me in this place;
For ’tis not life that I have begg’d so long;        175
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.
  Tam.  What begg’st thou then? fond woman, let me go.
  Lav.  ’Tis present death I beg; and one thing more
That womanhood denies my tongue to tell.
O! keep me from their worse than killing lust,        180
And tumble me into some loathsome pit,
Where never man’s eye may behold my body:
Do this, and be a charitable murderer.
  Tam.  So should I rob my sweet sons of their fee:
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.        185
  Dem.  Away! for thou hast stay’d us here too long.
  Lav.  No grace! no womanhood! Ah, beastly creature,
The blot and enemy to our general name.
Confusion fall—
  Chi.  Nay, then I’ll stop your mouth. Bring thou her husband:        190
This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him.  [DEMETRIUS throws the body of BASSIANUS into the pit; then exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, dragging off LAVINIA.
  Tam.  Farewell, my sons: see that you make her sure.
Ne’er let my heart know merry cheer indeed
Till all the Andronici be made away.
Now will I hence to seek my lovely Moor,        195
And let my spleenful sons this trull deflower.  [Exit.
 
Enter AARON, with QUINTUS and MARTIUS.
  Aar.  Come on, my lords, the better foot before:
Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.        200
  Quin.  My sight is very dull, whate’er it bodes.
  Mart.  And mine, I promise you: were ’t not for shame,
Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile.  [Falls into the pit.
  Quin.  What! art thou fall’n? What subtle hole is this,
Whose mouth is cover’d with rude-growing briers,        205
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood
As fresh as morning’s dew distill’d on flowers?
A very fatal place it seems to me.
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the fall?
  Mart.  O brother! with the dismall’st object hurt        210
That ever eye with sight made heart lament.
  Aar.  [Aside.]  Now will I fetch the king to find them here,
That he thereby may give a likely guess
How these were they that made away his brother.  [Exit.
  Mart.  Why dost not comfort me, and help me out        215
From this unhallow’d and blood-stained hole?
  Quin.  I am surprised with an uncouth fear;
A chilling sweat o’erruns my trembling joints:
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.
  Mart.  To prove thou hast a true-divining heart,        220
Aaron and thou look down into this den,
And see a fearful sight of blood and death.
  Quin.  Aaron is gone; and my compassionate heart
Will not permit mine eyes once to behold
The thing whereat it trembles by surmise.        225
O! tell me how it is; for ne’er till now
Was I a child, to fear I know not what.
  Mart.  Lord Bassianus lies embrewed here,
All on a heap, like to a slaughter’d lamb,
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.        230
  Quin.  If it be dark, how dost thou know ’tis he?
  Mart.  Upon his bloody finger he doth wear
A precious ring, that lightens all the hole,
Which, like a taper in some monument,
Doth shine upon the dead man’s earthy cheeks,        235
And shows the ragged entrails of the pit:
So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus
When he by night lay bath’d in maiden blood.
O brother! help me with thy fainting hand,
If fear hath made thee faint, as me it hath,        240
Out of this fell devouring receptacle,
As hateful as Cocytus’ misty mouth.
  Quin.  Reach me thy hand, that I may help thee out;
Or, wanting strength to do thee so much good
I may be pluck’d into the swallowing womb        245
Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus’ grave.
I have no strength to pluck thee to the brink.
  Mart.  Nor I no strength to climb without thy help.
  Quin.  Thy hand once more; I will not loose again,
Till thou art here aloft, or I below.        250
Thou canst not come to me: I come to thee.  [Falls in.
 
Re-enter AARON with SATURNINUS.
  Sat.  Along with me: I’ll see what hole is here,
And what he is that now is leap’d into it.
Say, who art thou that lately didst descend        255
Into this gaping hollow of the earth?
  Mart.  The unhappy son of old Andronicus;
Brought hither in a most unlucky hour,
To find thy brother Bassianus dead.
  Sat.  My brother dead! I know thou dost but jest:        260
He and his lady both are at the lodge,
Upon the north side of this pleasant chase;
’Tis not an hour since I left him there.
  Mart.  We know not where you left him all alive;
But, out alas! here have we found him dead.        265
 
Enter TAMORA, with Attendants; TITUS ANDRONICUS, and LUCIUS.
  Tam.  Where is my lord, the king?
  Sat.  Here, Tamora; though griev’d with killing grief.
  Tam.  Where is thy brother Bassianus?
  Sat.  Now to the bottom dost thou search my wound:        270
Poor Bassianus here lies murdered.
  Tam.  Then all too late I bring this fatal writ,  [Giving a letter.
The complot of this timeless tragedy;
And wonder greatly that man’s face can fold
In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny.        275
  Sat.  And if we miss to meet him handsomely,
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        280
Which overshades the mouth of that same pit
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.        285
Look, sirs, if you can find the huntsman out
That should have murder’d Bassianus here.
  Aar.  My gracious lord, here is the bag of gold.
  Sat.  [To TITUS.]  Two of thy whelps, fell curs of bloody kind,
Have here bereft my brother of his life.        290
Sirs, drag them from the pit unto the prison:
There let them bide until we have devis’d
Some never-heard-of torturing pain for them.
  Tam.  What! are they in this pit? O wondrous thing!
How easily murder is discovered!        295
  Tit.  High emperor, upon my feeble knee
I beg this boon with tears not lightly shed;
That this fell fault of my accursed sons,
Accursed, if the fault be prov’d in them,—
  Sat.  If it be prov’d! you see it is apparent.        300
Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?
  Tam.  Andronicus himself did take it up.
  Tit.  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        305
To answer their suspicion with their lives.
  Sat.  Thou shalt not bail them: see thou follow me.
Some bring the murder’d body, some the murderers:
Let them not speak a word; the guilt is plain;
For, by my soul, were there worse end than death,        310
That end upon them should be executed.
  Tam.  Andronicus, I will entreat the king:
Fear not thy sons, they shall do well enough.
  Tit.  Come, Lucius, come; stay not to talk with them.  [Exeunt severally.
 
 
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