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(WRITTEN ABOUT 1588-90.)
The great majority of English critics either reject this play altogether, upon the ground that in style and subject it is unlike any other work of Shakespeare, or accept as true the tradition of Ravenscroft, who altered the play in 1687, that "it was not his [Shakespeare's]," but that he only gave some master-touches to one or two of the principal parts or characters." Says one critic Shakespeare's tragedy is never bloodily sensual;. this play is a perfect slaughter-house, and the blood makes appeal to all the senses. It reeks blood, it smells of blood, we almost feel
that we have handled blood-it is so gross.' Besides the tradition of Ravenscroft, the external evidence with reference to the authorship of Titus is the following: (1) It is mentioned by Meres (1598) among other undoubted plays of Shakespeare. (2) It is printed in the First Folio. A play called Titus and Vespasian was acted in 1592, and though itself lost, a translation into German, acted early in the 17th century by English comedians in Germany, remains in existence. It is not the play attributed to Shakespeare. Henslowe also mentions a Titus and Andronicus as a new play, acted January 23, 1594: it is doubtful whether this was the Shakespearean play. If it be, and it was then written, the tragedy is certainly not by Shakespeare. It is impossible to believe that in 1394, when Shakespeare had written his Venus and Adonis and his Lucrece, he could have dealt so coarsely with details of cutrage and unnatural cruelty as does the author of this tragedy. Jonson, in the introduction to Bartholomew Fair (1614), speaks of Titus Andronicus, with Jeronimo, as belonging to "twenty-five or thirty years" previously: this would carry back the date of the play (if it be of this Titus Andronicus that Jonson speaks) to 1589, or earlier. That it was a play of that period, and was re-touched by Shakespeare, we may accept as the opinion best supported by internal evidence and by the weight of critical authority. The importance of the tragedy lies in the fact that, if Shakespeare wrote it, we find him as a young man carried away by the influence of a storm and stress" movement similar to that which urged Schiller to write his Robbers. Titus Andronicus belongs essentially to the pre-Shakespearean group of bloody tragedies, of which Kyd's Spanish Tragedy is the most conspicuous example. If it is of Shakespearean authorship, it may be regarded as representing the years of crude and violent youth before he had found his true self; his second tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, as representing the years of transition; and Hamlet, the period of maturity and adult power.
SCENE I. Rome. Before the Capitol. The Tomb of the ANDRONICI appearing; the Tribunes and Senators aloft. Enter, below, from one side, SATURNINUS and his Followers; and, from the other side. BASSIANUS and his Followers; with drum and colors.
Sat. Noble patricians, patrons of my right, Defend the justice of my cause with arms, And, countrymen, my loving followers, Plead my successive title with your swords : I am his first-born son, that was the last That wore the imperial diadem of Rome; Then let my father's honors live in me, Nor wrong mine age with this indignity. Bas. Romans, friends, followers, favorers of my right,
If ever Bassianus, Cæsar's son,
Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the
Ten years are spent since first he undertook
Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons
And now at last, laden with honor's spoils,
Dismiss your followers and, as suitors should, Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness. Sat. How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!
Bas. Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy In thy uprightness and integrity,
And so I love and honor thee and thine,
Gracious Lavinia, Rome's rich ornament,
I thank you all and here dismiss you all,
[Exeunt the followers of Saturninus. Rome, be as just and gracious unto me As I am confident and kind to thee. Open the gates, and let me in. Bas. Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor. [Flourish. Saturninus and Bassianus go up into the Capitol.
Enter a Captain.
Cap. Romans, make way: the good Andronicus,
Patron of virtue, Rome's best champion, Successful in the battles that he fights, With honor and with fortune is return'd From where he circumscribed with his sword, And brought to yoke, the enemies of Rome. Drums and trumpets sounded. Enter MARTIUS and MUTIUS; after them, two Men bearing a coffin covered with black; then LUCIUS and QUINTUS. After them, TITUS ANDRONICUS ; and then TAMORA, with ALARBUS, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, AARON, and other Goths, prisoners; Soldiers and people following. The Bearers set down the coffin, and TITUS speaks.
Tit. Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning
70 Lo, as the bark, that hath discharged her fraught,
Returns with precious lading to the bay
Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,
Titus, unkind and careless of thine own,
[The tomb is opened. There greet in silence, as the dead are wont,90 And sleep in peace,slain in your country's wars!
Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood:
These are their brethren, whom you Goths beheld
Alive and dead, and for their brethren slain Religiously they ask a sacrifice :
To this your son is mark'd, and die he must, To appease their groaning shadows that are gone. [straight;
Luc. Away with him! and make a fire And with our swords, upon a pile of wood, Let's hew his limbs till they be clean consumed. [Exeunt Lucius, Quintus, Martius, and Mutius, with Alarbus.
Tam. O cruel, irreligious piety!
Alarbus goes to rest; and we survive
With opportunity of sharp revenge
To quit the bloody wrongs upon her foes. Renter LucIUS, QUINTUS, MARTIUS, and MUTIUS, with their swords bloody.
Laic. See, lord and father, how we have perform'd
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep :
Lav. In peace and honor live Lord Titus long;
My noble lord and father, live in fame!
The cordial of mine age to glad my heart!
Enter, below, MARCUS ANDRONICUS and Tribunes; re-enter SATURNINUS and BASSIANUS attended.
Marc. Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,
Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome! 170 Tit. Thanks, gentle tribune, noble brother Marcus.
Marc. And welcome, nephews, from suc
You that survive, and you that sleep in fame!
But safer triumph is this funeral pomp,
Tit. A better head her glorious body fits Than his that shakes for age and teebleness: What should I don this robe, and trouble you? Be chosen with proclamations to-day, 190 To-morrow yield up rule, resign my life,
And set abroad new business for you all?
Sat. Proud and ambitious tribune, canst. thou tell?
Till Saturninus be Rome's emperor. Andronicus, would thou wert shipp'd to hell, Rather than rob me of the people's hearts! Luc. Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good
That noble-minded Titus means to thee !
Tit. Content thee, prince; I will restore to thee 210
The people's hearts, and wean them from themselves.
Bas. Androniens, I do not flatter thee, But honor thee, and will do till I die:
My faction if thou strengthen with thy friends, I will most thankful be; and thanks to men Of noble minds is honorable meed.
Tit. People of Rome, and people's tribunes here,
I ask your voices and your suffrages:
Tit. Tribunes, I thank you: and this suit I make,
That you create your emperor's eldest son,
Patricians and plebeians, we create
[A long flourish till they come down. Sat. Titus Andronicus, for thy favors done To us in our election this day,
I give thee thanks in part of thy deserts,
Tit. It doth, my worthy lord; and in this match
I hold me highly honor'd of your grace:
Sat. Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life!
Tit. [To Tamora] Now, madam, are you prisoner to an emperor ;
To him that, for your honor and your state,
change of cheer,
Thou comest not to be made a scorn in Rome:
Ransomless here we set our prisoners free: Proclaim our honors, lords, with trump and drum.
[Flourish. Saturninus courts Tamora in dumb show. Bas. Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine. [Seizing Lavinia. Tit. How, sir! are you in earnest then, my lord ?
Bas. Ay, noble Titus; and resolved withal To do myself this reason and this right,
Marc. Suum cuique' is our Roman jus280