William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus in the complete original text.
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Titus Andronicus

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Act II. Scene III.

Scene III.—A lonely Part of the Forest.

Enter AARON, with a bag of gold.

Aar. He that had wit would think that I had
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 villany:
And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest
That have their alms out of the empress' chest.
[Hides the gold.

Tam. My lovely Aaron, wherefore look'st
thou sad,
When every thing doth make a gleeful boast?
The birds chant melody on every bush,
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun,
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,
And make a chequer'd shadow on the ground.
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
And, whilst the babbling echo mocks the
Replying shrilly to the well-tun'd horns,
As if a double hunt were heard at once,
Let us sit down and mark their yelping noise;
And after conflict, such as was suppos'd
The wandering prince and Dido once enjoy'd,
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
Be unto us as is a nurse's song
Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep.
Aar. Madam, though Venus govern your
Saturn is dominator over mine:
What signifies my deadly-standing eye,
My silence and 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
This is the day of doom for Bassianus;
His Philomel must lose her tongue to-day,
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.
Tam. Ah! my sweet Moor, sweeter to me
than life.
Aar. No more, great empress; Bassianus
Be cross with him; and I'll go fetch thy sons
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe'er they be. [Exit.

Bas. Who have we here? Rome's royal em-
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?
Tam. Saucy controller of our private steps!
Had I the power that some say Dian had,
Thy temples should be planted presently
With horns, as was Actæon's; and the hounds
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,
Unmannerly intruder as thou art!
Lav. Under your patience, gentle empress,
'Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horn-
And to be doubted that your Moor and you
Are singled forth to try experiments.
Jove shield your husband from his hounds
'Tis pity they should take him for a stag.
Bas. Believe me, queen, your swarth Cim-
Doth make your honour of his body's hue,
Spotted, detested, and abominable.
Why are you sequester'd from all your train,
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,
And wander'd hither to an obscure plot,
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
If foul desire had not conducted you?
Lav. 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-colour'd love;
This valley fits the purpose passing well.
Bas. The king my brother shall have note of
Lav. Ay, for these slips have made him noted
Good king, to be so mightily abus'd!
Tam. Why have I patience to endure all

Dem. How now, dear sovereign, and our gra-
cious mother!
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan?
Tam. Have I not reason, think you, to look
These two have 'tic'd me hither to this place:
A barren detested vale, you see, it is;
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O'ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe:
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:
And when they showed 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
Unto the body of a dismal yew,
And leave me to this miserable death:
And then they called 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.
Dem. This is a witness that I am thy son.
Chi. And this for me, struck home to show
my strength.
[Also stabs BASSIANUS, who dies.
Lav. Ay, come, Semiramis, nay, barbarous
For no name fits thy nature but thy own.
Tam. Give me thy poniard; you shall know,
my boys,
Your mother's hand shall right your mother's
Dem. 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 she braves your
And shall she carry this unto her grave?
Chi. An 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.
Tam. But when ye have the honey ye desire,
Let not this wasp outhve, us both to sting.
Chi. I warrant you, madam, we will make
that sure.
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice-preserved honesty of yours.
Lav. O Tamora! thou bear'st a woman's
Tam. I will not hear her speak; away with
Lav. Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a
Dem. Listen, fair madam: let it be your
To see her tears; but be your heart to them
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.
Lav. When did the tiger's young ones teach
the dam?O! do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee;
The milk thou suck'dst from her did turn to
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike:
[To CHIRON.] Do thou entreat her show a
woman pity.
Chi. What! wouldst thou have me prove
myself a bastard?
Lav. 'Tis true! the raven doth not hatch a
Yet have I heard, O! could I find it now,
The lion moved 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.
Tam. I know not what it means; away with
Lav. O, let me teach thee! for my father's
That gave thee life when well he might have
slain thee,
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.
Tam. Hadst thou in person ne'er offended
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
The worse to her, the better lov'd of me.
Lav. 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.
Tam. What begg'st thou then? fond woman,
let me go.
Lav. 'Tis present death I beg; and one thing
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.
Tam. So should I rob my sweet sons of their
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.
Dem. Away! for thou hast stay'd us here too
Lav. No grace! no womanhood! Ah, beastly
The blot and enemy to our general name.
Confusion fall—
Chi. 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 BAS-
SIANUS into the pit; then exeunt
DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, dragging off
Tam. 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 deflower.

Aar. Come on, my lords, the better foot
Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.
Quin. My sight is very dull, whate'er it
Mart. And mine, I promise you: were't not
for shame,
Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile.
[Falls into the pit.
Quin. What! art thou fall'n? What subtle
hole is this,
Whose mouth is cover'd with rude-growing
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood
As fresh as morning's dew distill'd on flowers?
A very fatal place it seems to me.
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the
Mart. O brother! with the dismall'st object
That ever eye with sight made heart lament.
Aar. [Aside.] Now will I fetch the king to
find them here,
That he thereby may give a likely guess
How these were they that made away his bro-
ther. [Exit.
Mart. Why dost not comfort me, and help
me out
From this unhallow'd and blood-stain'd hole?
Quin. I am surprised with an uncouth fear;
A chilling sweat o'erruns my trembling joints:
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.
Mart. To prove thou hast a true-divining
Aaron and thou look down into this den,
And see a fearful sight of blood and death.
Quin. Aaron is gone; and my compassionate
Will not permit mine eyes once to behold
The thing whereat it trembles by surmise.
O! tell me how it is; for ne'er till now
Was I a child, to fear I know not what.
Mart. Lord Bassianus lies embrewed here,
All on a heap, like to a slaughter'd lamb,
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.
Quin. If it be dark, how dost thou know 'tis
Mart. Upon his bloody finger he doth wear
A precious ring, that lightens all the hole,
Which, like a taper in some monument,
Doth shine upon the dead man's earthy cheeks,
And shows the ragged entrails of the 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.
Quin. 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.
Mart. Nor I no strength to climb without thy
Quin. Thy hand once more; I will not loose
Till thou art here aloft, or I below.
Thou canst not come to me; I come to thee.
[Falls in.

Sat. Along with me: I'll see what hole is
And what he is that now is leap'd into it.
Say, who art thou that lately didst descend
Into this gaping hollow of the earth?
Mart. The unhappy son of old Andronicus;
Brought hither in a most unlucky hour,
To find thy brother Bassianus dead.
Sat. My brother dead! I know thou dost but
He and his lady both are at the lodge,
Upon the north side of this pleasant chase;
'Tis not an hour since I left him there.
Mart. We know not where you left him all
But, out alas! here have we found him dead.

Enter TAMORA, with Attendants: TITUS ANDRO-
Tam. Where is my lord, the king?
Sat. Here, Tamora; though griev'd with kill-
ing grief.
Tam. Where is thy brother Bassianus?
Sat. Now to the bottom dost thou search my
Poor Bassianus here lies murdered.
Tam. Then all too late I bring this fatal writ,
[Giving a letter.
The complot of this timeless tragedy;
And wonder greatly that man's face can fold
In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny.
Sat. And if we miss to meet him hand-
Sweet huntsman, Bassianus 'tis we mean,
Do thou so much as dig the grave for him:
Thou know'st our meaning. Look for thy
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 murder'd Bassianus here.
Aar. My gracious lord, Iiere is the bag of
Sat. [To TITUS.] 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 torturing pain for them.
Tam. What! are they in this pit? O won-
drous thing!
How easily murder is discovered!
Tit. 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,—
Sat. If it be prov'd! you see it is appa-
Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?
Tam. Andronicus himself did take it up.
Tit. I did, my lord: yet let me be their
For, by my father's reverend tomb, I vow
They shall be ready at your highness' will
To answer their suspicion with their lives.
Sat. Thou shalt not bail them: see thou
follow me.
Some bring the murder'd body, some the mur
Let them not speak a word; the guilt is plain;
For, by my soul, were there worse end than
That end upon them sliould be executed.
Tam. Andronicus, I will entreat the king:
Fear not thy sons, they shall do well enough.
Tit. Come, Lucius, come; stay not to talk
with them. [Exeunt severally.
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