Defend the justice of my cause with arms,
And, countrymen, my loving followers,
Plead my successive title with your swords:
I am his first-born son, that was the last
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome;
Then let my father’s honours live in me,
Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.
If ever Bassianus, Caesar’s son,
Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,
Keep then this passage to the Capitol
And suffer not dishonour to approach
The imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,
To justice, continence and nobility;
But let desert in pure election shine,
And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.
Ambitiously for rule and empery,
Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand
A special party, have, by common voice,
In election for the Roman empery,
Chosen Andronicus, surnamed Pius
For many good and great deserts to Rome:
A nobler man, a braver warrior,
Lives not this day within the city walls:
He by the senate is accit’d home
From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;
That, with his sons, a terror to our foes,
Hath yoked a nation strong, train’d up in arms.
Ten years are spent since first he undertook
This cause of Rome and chastised with arms
Our enemies’ pride: five times he hath return’d
Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons
In coffins from the field;
And now at last, laden with horror’s spoils,
Returns the good Andronicus to Rome,
Renowned Titus, flourishing in arms.
Let us entreat, by honour of his name,
Whom worthily you would have now succeed.
And in the Capitol and senate’s right,
Whom you pretend to honour and adore,
That you withdraw you and abate your strength;
Dismiss your followers and, as suitors should,
Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.
In thy uprightness and integrity,
And so I love and honour thee and thine,
Thy noble brother Titus and his sons,
And her to whom my thoughts are humbled all,
Gracious Lavinia, Rome’s rich ornament,
That I will here dismiss my loving friends,
And to my fortunes and the people’s favor
Commit my cause in balance to be weigh’d.
Lo, as the bark, that hath discharged her fraught,
Returns with precious jading to the bay
From whence at first she weigh’d her anchorage,
Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,
To re-salute his country with his tears,
Tears of true joy for his return to Rome.
Thou great defender of this Capitol,
Stand gracious to the rites that we intend!
Romans, of five and twenty valiant sons,
Half of the number that King Priam had,
Behold the poor remains, alive and dead!
These that survive let Rome reward with love;
These that I bring unto their latest home,
With burial amongst their ancestors:
Here Goths have given me leave to sheathe my sword.
Titus, unkind and careless of thine own,
Why suffer’st thou thy sons, unburied yet,
To hover on the dreadful shore of Styx?
Make way to lay them by their brethren.
There greet in silence, as the dead are wont,
And sleep in peace, slain in your country’s wars!
O sacred receptacle of my joys,
Sweet cell of virtue and nobility,
How many sons of mine hast thou in store,
That thou wilt never render to me more!
Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,
A mother’s tears in passion for her son:
And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,
O, think my son to be as dear to me!
Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome,
To beautify thy triumphs and return,
Captive to thee and to thy Roman yoke,
But must my sons be slaughter’d in the streets,
For valiant doings in their country’s cause?
O, if to fight for king and commonweal
Were piety in thine, it is in these.
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood:
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
Draw near them then in being merciful:
Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge:
Thrice noble Titus, spare my first-born son.
Alarbus goes to rest; and we survive
To tremble under Titus’ threatening looks.
Then, madam, stand resolved, but hope withal
The self-same gods that arm’d the Queen of Troy
With opportunity of sharp revenge
Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent,
May favor Tamora, the Queen of Goths—
When Goths were Goths and Tamora was queen—
To quit the bloody wrongs upon her foes.
Make this his latest farewell to their souls.
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons;
Rome’s readiest champions, repose you here in rest,
Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!
Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,
Here grow no damned grudges; here are no storms,
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:
In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!
My noble lord and father, live in fame!
Lo, at this tomb my tributary tears
I render, for my brethren’s obsequies;
And at thy feet I kneel, with tears of joy,
Shed on the earth, for thy return to Rome:
O, bless me here with thy victorious hand,
Whose fortunes Rome’s best citizens applaud!
You that survive, and you that sleep in fame!
Fair lords, your fortunes are alike in all,
That in your country’s service drew your swords:
But safer triumph is this funeral pomp,
That hath aspired to Solon’s happiness
And triumphs over chance in honour’s bed.
Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome,
Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been,
Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust,
This palliament of white and spotless hue;
And name thee in election for the empire,
With these our late-deceased emperor’s sons:
Be candidatus then, and put it on,
And help to set a head on headless Rome.
Than his that shakes for age and feebleness:
What should I don this robe, and trouble you?
Be chosen with proclamations to-day,
To-morrow yield up rule, resign my life,
And set abroad new business for you all?
Rome, I have been thy soldier forty years,
And led my country’s strength successfully,
And buried one and twenty valiant sons,
Knighted in field, slain manfully in arms,
In right and service of their noble country
Give me a staff of honour for mine age,
But not a sceptre to control the world:
Upright he held it, lords, that held it last.
To us in our election this day,
I give thee thanks in part of thy deserts,
And will with deeds requite thy gentleness:
And, for an onset, Titus, to advance
Thy name and honourable family,
Lavinia will I make my empress,
Rome’s royal mistress, mistress of my heart,
And in the sacred Pantheon her espouse:
Tell me, Andronicus, doth this motion please thee?
I hold me highly honour’d of your grace:
And here in sight of Rome to Saturnine,
King and commander of our commonweal,
The wide world’s emperor, do I consecrate
My sword, my chariot and my prisoners;
Presents well worthy Rome’s imperial lord:
Receive them then, the tribute that I owe,
Mine honour’s ensigns humbled at thy feet.
That I would choose, were I to choose anew.
Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance:
Though chance of war hath wrought this change of cheer,
Thou comest not to be made a scorn in Rome:
Princely shall be thy usage every way.
Rest on my word, and let not discontent
Daunt all your hopes: madam, he comforts you
Can make you greater than the Queen of Goths.
Lavinia, you are not displeased with this?
Nor her, nor thee, nor any of thy stock:
I’ll trust, by leisure, him that mocks me once;
Thee never, nor thy traitorous haughty sons,
Confederates all thus to dishonour me.
Was there none else in Rome to make a stale,
But Saturnine? Full well, Andronicus,
Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine,
That said’st I begg’d the empire at thy hands.
That like the stately Phoebe ‘mongst her nymphs
Dost overshine the gallant’st dames of Rome,
If thou be pleased with this my sudden choice,
Behold, I choose thee, Tamora, for my bride,
And will create thee empress of Rome,
Speak, Queen of Goths, dost thou applaud my choice?
And here I swear by all the Roman gods,
Sith priest and holy water are so near
And tapers burn so bright and every thing
In readiness for Hymenaeus stand,
I will not re-salute the streets of Rome,
Or climb my palace, till from forth this place
I lead espoused my bride along with me.
His noble nephew here in virtue’s nest,
That died in honour and Lavinia’s cause.
Thou art a Roman; be not barbarous:
The Greeks upon advice did bury Ajax
That slew himself; and wise Laertes’ son
Did graciously plead for his funerals:
Let not young Mutius, then, that was thy joy
Be barr’d his entrance here.
Answer I must and shall do with my life.
Only thus much I give your grace to know:
By all the duties that I owe to Rome,
This noble gentleman, Lord Titus here,
Is in opinion and in honour wrong’d;
That in the rescue of Lavinia
With his own hand did slay his youngest son,
In zeal to you and highly moved to wrath
To be controll’d in that he frankly gave:
Receive him, then, to favor, Saturnine,
That hath express’d himself in all his deeds
A father and a friend to thee and Rome.
I should be author to dishonour you!
But on mine honour dare I undertake
For good Lord Titus’ innocence in all;
Whose fury not dissembled speaks his griefs:
Then, at my suit, look graciously on him;
Lose not so noble a friend on vain suppose,
Nor with sour looks afflict his gentle heart.
My lord, be ruled by me, be won at last;
Dissemble all your griefs and discontents:
You are but newly planted in your throne;
Lest, then, the people, and patricians too,
Upon a just survey, take Titus’ part,
And so supplant you for ingratitude,
Which Rome reputes to be a heinous sin,
Yield at entreats; and then let me alone:
I’ll find a day to massacre them all
And raze their faction and their family,
The cruel father and his traitorous sons,
To whom I sued for my dear son’s life,
And make them know what ‘tis to let a queen
Kneel in the streets and beg for grace in vain.
Come, come, sweet emperor; come, Andronicus;
Take up this good old man, and cheer the heart
That dies in tempest of thy angry frown.
A Roman now adopted happily,
And must advise the emperor for his good.
This day all quarrels die, Andronicus;
And let it be mine honour, good my lord,
That I have reconciled your friends and you.
For you, Prince Bassianus, I have pass’d
My word and promise to the emperor,
That you will be more mild and tractable.
And fear not lords, and you, Lavinia;
By my advice, all humbled on your knees,
You shall ask pardon of his majesty.
And at my lovely Tamora’s entreats,
I do remit these young men’s heinous faults: Stand up.
Lavinia, though you left me like a churl,
I found a friend, and sure as death I swore
I would not part a bachelor from the priest.
Come, if the emperor’s court can feast two brides,
You are my guest, Lavinia, and your friends.
This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.