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Scene 2

A room in Titus’ house.

(Titus Andronicus; Marcus; Lavinia; Young Lucius)

Titus, Marcus, Lavinia, and Lucius’s son (Young Lucius) sit down to dinner. Titus urges them not to gorge themselves. Titus still seems to understand Lavinia best. Young Lucius wants him to try and cheer her up instead of harping on how wrong things are going. Marcus kills a fly, and Titus berates him for cruelty, but when Marcus excuses himself by saying that it was a black fly, like Aaron, Titus joins in pounding on it. Marcus is convinced his brother is mad. Titus goes out to read to Lavinia, telling his grandson to come along and help when his eyes grow tired. (85 lines)

A banquet set out.

Enter Titus Andronicus, Marcus, Lavinia, and the boy, young Lucius.


So, so, now sit, and look you eat no more

Than will preserve just so much strength in us

As will revenge these bitter woes of ours.

Marcus, unknit that sorrow-wreathen knot;

Thy niece and I, poor creatures, want our hands

And cannot passionate our tenfold grief

With folded arms. This poor right hand of mine

Is left to tyrannize upon my breast,

Who, when my heart, all mad with misery,

Beats in this hollow prison of my flesh,

Then thus I thump it down.

To Lavinia.

Thou map of woe, that thus dost talk in signs!

When thy poor heart beats with outrageous beating,

Thou canst not strike it thus to make it still.

Wound it with sighing, girl, kill it with groans;

Or get some little knife between thy teeth,

And just against thy heart make thou a hole,

That all the tears that thy poor eyes let fall

May run into that sink, and soaking in,

Drown the lamenting fool in sea-salt tears.


Fie, brother, fie, teach her not thus to lay

Such violent hands upon her tender life.


How now! Has sorrow made thee dote already?

Why, Marcus, no man should be mad but I.

What violent hands can she lay on her life?

Ah, wherefore dost thou urge the name of hands,

To bid Aeneas tell the tale twice o’er

How Troy was burnt and he made miserable?

O, handle not the theme, to talk of hands,

Lest we remember still that we have none.

Fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk,

As if we should forget we had no hands,

If Marcus did not name the word of hands!

Come, let’s fall to, and, gentle girl, eat this.

Here is no drink! Hark, Marcus, what she says;

I can interpret all her martyr’d signs:

She says, she drinks no other drink but tears,

Brew’d with her sorrow, mesh’d upon her cheeks.

Speechless complainant, I will learn thy thought;

In thy dumb action will I be as perfect

As begging hermits in their holy prayers.

Thou shalt not sigh, nor hold thy stumps to heaven,

Nor wink, nor nod, nor kneel, nor make a sign,

But I, of these, will wrest an alphabet,

And by still practice learn to know thy meaning.


Good grandsire, leave these bitter deep laments,

Make my aunt merry with some pleasing talc.


Alas, the tender boy, in passion mov’d,

Doth weep to see his grandsire’s heaviness.


Peace, tender sapling, thou art made of tears,

And tears will quickly melt thy life away.

Marcus strikes the dish with a knife.

What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?


At that that I have kill’d, my lord—a fly.


Out on thee, murderer! Thou kill’st my heart!

Mine eyes are cloy’d with view of tyranny.

A deed of death done on the innocent

Becomes not Titus’ brother. Get thee gone,

I see thou art not for my company.


Alas, my lord, I have but kill’d a fly.


“But”? How if that fly had a father and mother?

How would he hang his slender gilded wings

And buzz lamenting doings in the air!

Poor harmless fly,

That, with his pretty buzzing melody,

Came here to make us merry! And thou hast kill’d him.


Pardon me, sir, it was a black ill-favor’d fly,

Like to the Empress’ Moor, therefore I kill’d him.


O, O, O,

Then pardon me for reprehending thee,

For thou hast done a charitable deed.

Give me thy knife, I will insult on him,

Flattering myself as if it were the Moor

Come hither purposely to poison me.—

There’s for thyself, and that’s for Tamora.

Ah, sirrah!

Yet I think we are not brought so low,

But that between us we can kill a fly

That comes in likeness of a coal-black Moor.


Alas, poor man, grief has so wrought on him,

He takes false shadows for true substances.


Come, take away. Lavinia, go with me.

I’ll to thy closet, and go read with thee

Sad stories chanced in the times of old.

Come, boy, and go with me, thy sight is young,

And thou shalt read when mine begin to dazzle.



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