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Scene 1

Plains near Rome.

(Lucius; First Goth; Second Goth; Third Goth; Aaron the Moor; Black Child; Aemilius)

Lucius rallies his Goths, telling them that he has received news from Rome confirming that the people hate Saturninus and will welcome the Goths’ invasion. A Goth brings in Aaron, who is carrying his child. Recognizing him, Lucius orders him to be immediately hanged, along with the baby. Aaron tells him not to hurt the child, but this merely makes Lucius decide to kill it first, since this will hurt Aaron more. Aaron promises to tell Lucius useful things if he spares the baby, and Lucius orders him to speak. Aaron makes a general, boasting confession of all his crimes, and Lucius spares him from hanging because that death would be too easy. Aemilius brings the invitation to parley at Titus’s. (166 lines)

Flourish. Enter Lucius with an army of Goths, with Drums and Soldiers.


Approved warriors, and my faithful friends,

I have received letters from great Rome

Which signifies what hate they bear their emperor,

And how desirous of our sight they are.

Therefore, great lords, be as your titles witness,

Imperious, and impatient of your wrongs,

And wherein Rome hath done you any scath,

Let him make treble satisfaction.

1. GOTH.

Brave slip, sprung from the great Andronicus,

Whose name was once our terror, now our comfort,

Whose high exploits and honorable deeds

Ingrateful Rome requites with foul contempt,

Be bold in us, we’ll follow where thou lead’st,

Like stinging bees in hottest summer’s day,

Led by their master to the flow’red fields,

And be adveng’d on cursed Tamora.

3. GOTH.

And as he saith, so say we all with him.


I humbly thank him, and I thank you all.

But who comes here, led by a lusty Goth?

Enter a Goth leading of Aaron with his child in his arms.

2. GOTH.

Renowmed Lucius, from our troops I stray’d

To gaze upon a ruinous monastery,

And as I earnestly did fix mine eye

Upon the wasted building, suddenly

I heard a child cry underneath a wall.

I made unto the noise, when soon I heard

The crying babe controll’d with this discourse:

“Peace, tawny slave, half me and half thy dame.

Did not thy hue bewray whose brat thou art,

Had nature lent thee but thy mother’s look,

Villain, thou mightst have been an emperor.

But where the bull and cow are both milk-white,

They never do beget a coal-black calf.

Peace, villain, peace!”—even thus he rates the babe—

“For I must bear thee to a trusty Goth,

Who, when he knows thou art the Empress’ babe,

Will hold thee dearly for thy mother’s sake.”

With this, my weapon drawn, I rush’d upon him,

Surpris’d him suddenly, and brought him hither

To use as you think needful of the man.


O worthy Goth, this is the incarnate devil

That robb’d Andronicus of his good hand;

This is the pearl that pleas’d your empress’ eye,

And here’s the base fruit of her burning lust.

Say, wall-ey’d slave, whither wouldst thou convey

This growing image of thy fiend-like face?

Why dost not speak? What, deaf? Not a word?

A halter, soldiers! Hang him on this tree,

And by his side his fruit of bastardy.


Touch not the boy, he is of royal blood.


Too like the sire forever being good.

First hang the child, that he may see it sprawl—

A sight to vex the father’s soul withal.

Get me a ladder.

A ladder brought, which Aaron is made to ascend.


Lucius, save the child

And bear it from me to the Emperess.

If thou do this, I’ll show thee wondrous things,

That highly may advantage thee to hear.

If thou wilt not, befall what may befall,

I’ll speak no more but “Vengeance rot you all!”


Say on, and if it please me which thou speak’st,

Thy child shall live, and I will see it nourish’d.


And if it please thee? Why, assure thee, Lucius,

’Twill vex thy soul to hear what I shall speak:

For I must talk of murders, rapes, and massacres,

Acts of black night, abominable deeds,

Complots of mischief, treason, villainies,

Ruthful to hear, yet piteously perform’d.

And this shall all be buried in my death,

Unless thou swear to me my child shall live.


Tell on thy mind, I say thy child shall live.


Swear that he shall, and then I will begin.


Who should I swear by? Thou believest no god:

That granted, how canst thou believe an oath?


What if I do not? As indeed I do not,

Yet for I know thou art religious,

And hast a thing within thee called conscience,

With twenty popish tricks and ceremonies,

Which I have seen thee careful to observe,

Therefore I urge thy oath; for that I know

An idiot holds his bauble for a god,

And keeps the oath which by that god he swears,

To that I’ll urge him: therefore thou shalt vow

By that same god, what god soe’er it be

That thou adorest and hast in reverence,

To save my boy, to nourish and bring him up,

Or else I will discover nought to thee.


Even by my God I swear to thee I will.


First know thou, I begot him on the Empress.


O most insatiate and luxurious woman!


Tut, Lucius, this was but a deed of charity

To that which thou shalt hear of me anon.

’Twas her two sons that murdered Bassianus;

They cut thy sister’s tongue, and ravish’d her,

And cut her hands, and trimm’d her as thou sawest.


O detestable villain, call’st thou that trimming?


Why, she was wash’d, and cut, and trimm’d, and ’twas

Trim sport for them which had the doing of it.


O barbarous, beastly villains like thyself!


Indeed I was their tutor to instruct them.

That codding spirit had they from their mother,

As sure a card as ever won the set;

That bloody mind I think they learn’d of me,

As true a dog as ever fought at head.

Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth:

I train’d thy brethren to that guileful hole,

Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay;

I wrote the letter that thy father found,

And hid the gold within that letter mentioned,

Confederate with the Queen and her two sons;

And what not done, that thou hast cause to rue,

Wherein I had no stroke of mischief in it?

I play’d the cheater for thy father’s hand,

And when I had it, drew myself apart,

And almost broke my heart with extreme laughter.

I pried me through the crevice of a wall,

When, for his hand, he had his two sons’ heads,

Beheld his tears, and laugh’d so heartily

That both mine eyes were rainy like to his;

And when I told the Empress of this sport,

She sounded almost at my pleasing tale,

And for my tidings gave me twenty kisses.

1. GOTH.

What, canst thou say all this and never blush?


Ay, like a black dog, as the saying is.


Are thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?


Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.

Even now I curse the day—and yet I think

Few come within the compass of my curse—

Wherein I did not some notorious ill:

As kill a man, or else devise his death,

Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,

Accuse some innocent, and forswear myself,

Set deadly enmity between two friends,

Make poor men’s cattle break their necks,

Set fire on barns and haystalks in the night,

And bid the owners quench them with their tears.

Oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,

And set them upright at their dear friends’ door,

Even when their sorrows almost was forgot,

And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,

Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,

“Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.”

But I have done a thousand dreadful things,

As willingly as one would kill a fly,

And nothing grieves me heartily indeed,

But that I cannot do ten thousand more.


Bring down the devil, for he must not die

So sweet a death as hanging presently.


If there be devils, would I were a devil,

To live and burn in everlasting fire,

So I might have your company in hell,

But to torment you with my bitter tongue!


Sirs, stop his mouth, and let him speak no more.

Enter Aemilius.

3. GOTH.

My lord, there is a messenger from Rome

Desires to be admitted to your presence.


Let him come near.

Welcome, Aemilius, what’s the news from Rome?


Lord Lucius, and you princes of the Goths,

The Roman Emperor greets you all by me,

And for he understands you are in arms,

He craves a parley at your father’s house,

Willing you to demand your hostages,

And they shall be immediately delivered.

1. GOTH.

What says our general?


Aemilius, let the Emperor give his pledges

Unto my father and my uncle Marcus,

And we will come. March away.

Flourish. Exeunt.


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