Rome. Before the Palace.
(Emperor Saturninus; Empress Tamora; Demetrius; Chiron; Lords; Clown; Nuntius Aemilius)
Saturninus complains about the arrows shot at him and their messages, insisting that he has done everything according to the law and that Titus has no justification for his accusations. Tamora calms him down, who is delighted that she has clearly managed to drive Titus mad. The commoner arrives with his message; Saturninus reads it and promptly has the messenger hanged. Ranting, Saturninus orders that Titus be brought to him, swearing to kill him. Aemilius runs in to call on the Romans to arm themselves: the Goths are coming, and they are being led by Lucius. Saturninus is immediately discouraged, as he knows that the people of Rome love Lucius far more than they do him. He fears rebellion. Tamora stiffens his spine while promising to appease Titus. She sends Aemilius to arrange for a parley with the Goth leaders, to be held at Titus’s house. Her intent is to use Titus to get Lucius to leave the Goths. (111 lines)
Enter Emperor and Empress and her two sons (Demetrius and Chiron), Lords, and others; the Emperor brings the arrow in his hand that Titus shot at him.
Why, lords, what wrongs are these! Was ever seen
An emperor in Rome thus overborne,
Troubled, confronted thus, and, for the extent
Of equal justice, us’d in such contempt?
My lords, you know, as know the mightful gods,
However these disturbers of our peace
Buzz in the people’s ears, there nought hath pass’d,
But even with law, against the willful sons
Of old Andronicus. And what and if
His sorrows have so overwhelm’d his wits?
Shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks,
His fits, his frenzy, and his bitterness?
And now he writes to heaven for his redress.
See, here’s to Jove, and this to Mercury,
This to Apollo, this to the god of war:
Sweet scrolls to fly about the streets of Rome!
What’s this but libelling against the Senate,
And blazoning our unjustice every where?
A goodly humor, is it not, my lords?
As who would say, in Rome no justice were.
But if I live, his feigned ecstasies
Shall be no shelter to these outrages,
But he and his shall know that justice lives
In Saturninus’ health, whom, if he sleep,
He’ll so awake as he in fury shall
Cut off the proud’st conspirator that lives.
My gracious lord, my lovely Saturnine,
Lord of my life, commander of my thoughts,
Calm thee, and bear the faults of Titus’ age,
Th’ effects of sorrow for his valiant sons,
Whose loss hath pierc’d him deep and scarr’d his heart,
And rather comfort his distressed plight
Than prosecute the meanest or the best
For these contempts.
Why, thus it shall become
High-witted Tamora to gloze with all;
But, Titus, I have touch’d thee to the quick;
Thy life-blood out, if Aaron now be wise,
Then is all safe, the anchor in the port.
How now, good fellow, wouldst thou speak with us?
Yea forsooth, and your mistriship be emperial.
Empress I am, but yonder sits the Emperor.
’Tis he. God and Saint Steven give you godde. I have brought you a letter and a couple of pigeons here.
Saturninus reads the letter.
Go take him away and hang him presently.
How much money must I have?
Come, sirrah, you must be hang’d.
Hang’d! By’ lady, then I have brought up a neck to a fair end.
Despiteful and intolerable wrongs!
Shall I endure this monstrous villainy?
I know from whence this same device proceeds.
May this be borne as if his traitorous sons,
That died by law for murder of our brother,
Have by my means been butchered wrongfully?
Go drag the villain hither by the hair,
Nor age nor honor shall shape privilege;
For this proud mock I’ll be thy slaughter-man,
Sly frantic wretch, that holp’st to make me great,
In hope thyself should govern Rome and me.
Enter Nuntius Aemilius.
What news with thee, Aemilius?
Arm, my lords! Rome never had more cause.
The Goths have gathered head, and with a power
Of high-resolved men, bent to the spoil,
They hither march amain, under conduct
Of Lucius, son to old Andronicus,
Who threats, in course of this revenge, to do
As much as ever Coriolanus did.
Is warlike Lucius general of the Goths?
These tidings nip me, and I hang the head
As flowers with frost, or grass beat down with storms.
Ay, now begins our sorrows to approach.
’Tis he the common people love so much;
Myself hath often heard them say,
When I have walked like a private man,
That Lucius’ banishment was wrongfully,
And they have wish’d that Lucius were their emperor.
Why should you fear? Is not your city strong?
Ay, but the citizens favor Lucius,
And will revolt from me to succor him.
King, be thy thoughts imperious, like thy name.
Is the sun dimm’d, that gnats do fly in it?
The eagle suffers little birds to sing,
And is not careful what they mean thereby,
Knowing that with the shadow of his wings
He can at pleasure stint their melody;
Even so mayest thou the giddy men of Rome.
Then cheer thy spirit, for know thou, Emperor,
I will enchant the old Andronicus
With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,
Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep,
When as the one is wounded with the bait,
The other rotted with delicious feed.
But he will not entreat his son for us.
If Tamora entreat him, then he will,
For I can smooth and fill his aged ears
With golden promises, that, were his heart
Almost impregnable, his old years deaf,
Yet should both ear and heart obey my tongue.
Go thou before, to be our ambassador.
Say that the Emperor requests a parley
Of warlike Lucius, and appoint the meeting
Even at his father’s house, the old Andronicus.
Aemilius, do this message honorably,
And if he stand on hostage for his safety,
Bid him demand what pledge will please him best.
Your bidding shall I do effectually.
Now will I to that old Andronicus,
And temper him with all the art I have,
To pluck proud Lucius from the warlike Goths,
And now, sweet emperor, be blithe again,
And bury all thy fear in my devices.
Then go successantly, and plead to him.