A lonely part of the forest.
(Aaron the Moor; Tamora; Bassianus; Lavinia; Chiron; Demetrius; Quintus; Martius; Emperor Saturnine; Lucius)
Aaron hides a bag of gold under a tree. He is met by Tamora, who hopes for a tryst with him, but Aaron is in no mood for love-making, and explains to her that he is plotting Bassianus’s death. As they embrace, Bassianus and Lavinia come upon them. They mock Tamora soundly for being not only an adulteress, but having the bad taste to choose Aaron for a lover. They are about to leave to inform Saturninus of this, but Aaron has fetched Chiron and Demetrius. Tamora tells them that Bassianus and Lavinia have insulted her and threatened to tie her up and throw her in a pit. The boys stab Bassianus. Tamora is about to kill Lavinia, but the lads asks if they couldn’t have their way with her first. Despite all of her pleas, Tamora shows Lavinia no mercy, and the lads drag her off after throwing Bassianus’s body in a pit. Aaron brings in two of Titus’s sons, Quintus and Martius, having promised them that there is a panther in the pit for them to kill. Martius falls in and is horrified to find Bassianus’s body. Trying to get his brother out, Quintus falls in as well. Aaron meanwhile has gone to fetch Saturninus and the court, who arrive. The emperor is shocked and confused over his brother’s death. Tamora brings a false letter purporting to be a plan to kill Bassianus, and Saturninus immediately concludes that Titus’s two sons are responsible. Titus begs that they be tried, but Saturninus is convinced of their guilt and refuses to let them speak, announcing his intention to have them immediately executed. (306 lines)
Enter Aaron alone with 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
Know that this gold must coin a stratagem,
Which cunningly effected will beget
A very excellent piece of villainy.
And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest,
Hides the gold.
That have their alms out of the Empress’ chest.
Enter Tamora alone to the Moor.
My lovely Aaron, wherefore look’st thou sad,
When every thing doth make a gleeful boast?
The birds chaunt melody on every bush,
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun,
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind
And make a checker’d shadow on the ground.
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
And whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,
Replying shrilly to the well-tun’d horns,
As if a double hunt were heard at once,
Let us sit down and mark their yellowing noise;
And after conflict such as was suppos’d
The wand’ring prince and Dido once enjoyed,
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
Be unto us as is a nurse’s song
Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep.
Madam, though Venus govern your desires,
Saturn is dominator over mine:
What signifies my deadly-standing eye,
My silence, an’ 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.
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:
His Philomel must lose her tongue today,
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.
Now question me no more, we are espied.
Here comes a parcel of our hopeful booty,
Which dreads not yet their lives’ destruction.
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.
Who have we here? Rome’s royal Emperess,
Unfurnish’d of her well-beseeming troop?
Or is it Dian habited like her,
Who hath abandoned her holy groves
To see the general hunting in this forest?
Saucy controller of my private steps!
Had I the pow’r that some say Dian had,
Thy temples should be planted presently
With horns, as was Actaeon’s, and the hounds
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,
Unmannerly intruder as thou art!
Under your patience, gentle Emperess,
’Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning,
And to be doubted that your Moor and you
Are singled forth to try thy experiments.
Jove shield your husband from his hounds today!
’Tis pity they should take him for a stag.
Believe me, Queen, your swart Cimmerian
Doth make your honor of his body’s hue,
Spotted, detested, and abominable.
Why are you sequest’red from all your train,
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,
And wand’red hither to an obscure plot,
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
If foul desire had not conducted you?
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.
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?
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,
Overcome with moss and baleful mistletoe;
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,
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,
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 call’d me foul adulteress,
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,
Or be ye not henceforth call’d my children.
This is a witness that I am thy son.
And this for me, struck home to show my strength.
Also stabs Bassianus, who dies.
Ay, come, Semiramis, nay, barbarous Tamora,
For no name fits thy nature but thy own!
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,
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,
And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust.
But when ye have the honey we desire,
Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.
I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice-preserved 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.
Listen, fair madam, let it be your glory
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,
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny;
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike—
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,
Yet have I heard—O, could I find it now!—
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,
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,
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf years.
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.
Therefore away with her, and use her as you will;
The worse to her, the better lov’d of me.
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,
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.
What beg’st thou then? Fond woman, let me go.
’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,
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.
No, let them satisfice their lust on thee.
Away, for thou hast stay’d us here too long.
No grace? No womanhood? Ah, beastly creature,
The blot and enemy to our general name!
Nay then I’ll stop your mouth. Bring thou her husband;
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.
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,
And let my spleenful sons this trull deflow’r.
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
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.
My sight is very dull, what e’er it bodes.
And mine, I promise you; were it not for shame,
Well could I leave our sport to sleep a while.
Falls into the pit.
What, art thou fallen? What subtile hole is this,
Whose mouth is covered with rude-growing briers,
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood
As fresh as morning dew distill’d on flowers?
A very fatal place it seems to me.
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the fall?
O brother, with the dismall’st object hurt
That ever eye with sight made heart lament!
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.
Why dost not comfort me and help me out
From this unhallow’d and blood-stained hole?
I am surprised with an uncouth fear,
A chilling sweat o’erruns my trembling joints,
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.
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
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 beray’d in blood,
All on a heap, like to a slaughtered lamb,
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,
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 bath’d in maiden blood.
O brother, help me with thy fainting hand—
If fear hath made thee faint, as me it hath—
Out of this fell devouring receptacle,
As hateful as Cocytus’ misty mouth.
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
Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus’ grave.
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,
Till thou art here aloft or I below.
Thou canst not come to me—I come to thee.
Enter the Emperor 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
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.
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 with Attendants, Titus Andronicus, and Lucius.
Where is my lord the King?
Here, Tamora, though griev’d with killing grief.
Where is thy brother Bassianus?
Now to the bottom dost thou search my wound;
Poor Bassianus here lies murdered.
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.
Reads the letter.
“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,
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.
Look, sirs, if you can find the huntsman out,
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,
There let them bide until we have devis’d
Some never-heard-of tortering pain for them.
What, are they in this pit? O wondrous thing!
How easily murder is discovered!
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—
If it be prov’d! You see it is apparent.
Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?
Andronicus himself did take it up.
I did, my lord, yet let me be their bail,
For by my fathers’ reverent tomb I vow
They shall be ready at your Highness’ will,
To answer their suspicion with their lives.
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.
Andronicus, I will entreat the King.
Fear not thy sons, they shall do well enough.
Come, Lucius, come, stay not to talk with them.