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Titus Andronicus

ACT III SCENE I Rome. A street. 
[ Enter Judges, Senators and Tribunes, with MARTIUS and QUINTUS, bound, passing on to the place of execution; TITUS going before, pleading ]
TITUS ANDRONICUSHear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay!
For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent
In dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept;
For all my blood in Rome's great quarrel shed;
For all the frosty nights that I have watch'd;5
And for these bitter tears, which now you see
Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks;
Be pitiful to my condemned sons,
Whose souls are not corrupted as 'tis thought.
For two and twenty sons I never wept,10
Because they died in honour's lofty bed.
[Lieth down; the Judges, &c., pass by him, and Exeunt]
For these, these, tribunes, in the dust I write
My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears:
Let my tears stanch the earth's dry appetite;
My sons' sweet blood will make it shame and blush.15
O earth, I will befriend thee more with rain,
That shall distil from these two ancient urns,
Than youthful April shall with all his showers:
In summer's drought I'll drop upon thee still;
In winter with warm tears I'll melt the snow20
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face,
So thou refuse to drink my dear sons' blood.
[Enter LUCIUS, with his sword drawn]
O reverend tribunes! O gentle, aged men!
Unbind my sons, reverse the doom of death;
And let me say, that never wept before,25
My tears are now prevailing orators.
LUCIUSO noble father, you lament in vain:
The tribunes hear you not; no man is by;
And you recount your sorrows to a stone.
TITUS ANDRONICUSAh, Lucius, for thy brothers let me plead.30
Grave tribunes, once more I entreat of you,--
LUCIUSMy gracious lord, no tribune hears you speak.
TITUS ANDRONICUSWhy, tis no matter, man; if they did hear,
They would not mark me, or if they did mark,
They would not pity me, yet plead I must;35
And bootless unto them.
Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones;
Who, though they cannot answer my distress,
Yet in some sort they are better than the tribunes,
For that they will not intercept my tale:40
When I do weep, they humbly at my feet
Receive my tears and seem to weep with me;
And, were they but attired in grave weeds,
Rome could afford no tribune like to these.
A stone is soft as wax,--tribunes more hard than stones;45
A stone is silent, and offendeth not,
And tribunes with their tongues doom men to death.
But wherefore stand'st thou with thy weapon drawn?
LUCIUSTo rescue my two brothers from their death:
For which attempt the judges have pronounced50
My everlasting doom of banishment.
TITUS ANDRONICUSO happy man! they have befriended thee.
Why, foolish Lucius, dost thou not perceive
That Rome is but a wilderness of tigers?
Tigers must prey, and Rome affords no prey55
But me and mine: how happy art thou, then,
From these devourers to be banished!
But who comes with our brother Marcus here?
MARCUS ANDRONICUSTitus, prepare thy aged eyes to weep;
Or, if not so, thy noble heart to break:60
I bring consuming sorrow to thine age.
TITUS ANDRONICUSWill it consume me? let me see it, then.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSThis was thy daughter.
TITUS ANDRONICUSWhy, Marcus, so she is.
LUCIUSAy me, this object kills me!65
TITUS ANDRONICUSFaint-hearted boy, arise, and look upon her.
Speak, Lavinia, what accursed hand
Hath made thee handless in thy father's sight?
What fool hath added water to the sea,
Or brought a faggot to bright-burning Troy?70
My grief was at the height before thou camest,
And now like Nilus, it disdaineth bounds.
Give me a sword, I'll chop off my hands too;
For they have fought for Rome, and all in vain;
And they have nursed this woe, in feeding life;75
In bootless prayer have they been held up,
And they have served me to effectless use:
Now all the service I require of them
Is that the one will help to cut the other.
'Tis well, Lavinia, that thou hast no hands;80
For hands, to do Rome service, are but vain.
LUCIUSSpeak, gentle sister, who hath martyr'd thee?
MARCUS ANDRONICUSO, that delightful engine of her thoughts
That blabb'd them with such pleasing eloquence,
Is torn from forth that pretty hollow cage,85
Where, like a sweet melodious bird, it sung
Sweet varied notes, enchanting every ear!
LUCIUSO, say thou for her, who hath done this deed?
MARCUS ANDRONICUSO, thus I found her, straying in the park,
Seeking to hide herself, as doth the deer90
That hath received some unrecuring wound.
TITUS ANDRONICUSIt was my deer; and he that wounded her
Hath hurt me more than had he killed me dead:
For now I stand as one upon a rock
Environed with a wilderness of sea,95
Who marks the waxing tide grow wave by wave,
Expecting ever when some envious surge
Will in his brinish bowels swallow him.
This way to death my wretched sons are gone;
Here stands my other son, a banished man,100
And here my brother, weeping at my woes.
But that which gives my soul the greatest spurn,
Is dear Lavinia, dearer than my soul.
Had I but seen thy picture in this plight,
It would have madded me: what shall I do105
Now I behold thy lively body so?
Thou hast no hands, to wipe away thy tears:
Nor tongue, to tell me who hath martyr'd thee:
Thy husband he is dead: and for his death
Thy brothers are condemn'd, and dead by this.110
Look, Marcus! ah, son Lucius, look on her!
When I did name her brothers, then fresh tears
Stood on her cheeks, as doth the honey-dew
Upon a gather'd lily almost wither'd.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSPerchance she weeps because they kill'd her husband;115
Perchance because she knows them innocent.
TITUS ANDRONICUSIf they did kill thy husband, then be joyful
Because the law hath ta'en revenge on them.
No, no, they would not do so foul a deed;
Witness the sorrow that their sister makes.120
Gentle Lavinia, let me kiss thy lips.
Or make some sign how I may do thee ease:
Shall thy good uncle, and thy brother Lucius,
And thou, and I, sit round about some fountain,
Looking all downwards to behold our cheeks125
How they are stain'd, as meadows, yet not dry,
With miry slime left on them by a flood?
And in the fountain shall we gaze so long
Till the fresh taste be taken from that clearness,
And made a brine-pit with our bitter tears?130
Or shall we cut away our hands, like thine?
Or shall we bite our tongues, and in dumb shows
Pass the remainder of our hateful days?
What shall we do? let us, that have our tongues,
Plot some deuce of further misery,135
To make us wonder'd at in time to come.
LUCIUSSweet father, cease your tears; for, at your grief,
See how my wretched sister sobs and weeps.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSPatience, dear niece. Good Titus, dry thine eyes.
TITUS ANDRONICUSAh, Marcus, Marcus! brother, well I wot140
Thy napkin cannot drink a tear of mine,
For thou, poor man, hast drown'd it with thine own.
LUCIUSAh, my Lavinia, I will wipe thy cheeks.
TITUS ANDRONICUSMark, Marcus, mark! I understand her signs:
Had she a tongue to speak, now would she say145
That to her brother which I said to thee:
His napkin, with his true tears all bewet,
Can do no service on her sorrowful cheeks.
O, what a sympathy of woe is this,
As far from help as Limbo is from bliss!150
[Enter AARON]
AARONTitus Andronicus, my lord the emperor
Sends thee this word,--that, if thou love thy sons,
Let Marcus, Lucius, or thyself, old Titus,
Or any one of you, chop off your hand,
And send it to the king: he for the same155
Will send thee hither both thy sons alive;
And that shall be the ransom for their fault.
TITUS ANDRONICUSO gracious emperor! O gentle Aaron!
Did ever raven sing so like a lark,
That gives sweet tidings of the sun's uprise?160
With all my heart, I'll send the emperor My hand:
Good Aaron, wilt thou help to chop it off?
LUCIUSStay, father! for that noble hand of thine,
That hath thrown down so many enemies,
Shall not be sent: my hand will serve the turn:165
My youth can better spare my blood than you;
And therefore mine shall save my brothers' lives.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSWhich of your hands hath not defended Rome,
And rear'd aloft the bloody battle-axe,
Writing destruction on the enemy's castle?170
O, none of both but are of high desert:
My hand hath been but idle; let it serve
To ransom my two nephews from their death;
Then have I kept it to a worthy end.
AARONNay, come, agree whose hand shall go along,175
For fear they die before their pardon come.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSMy hand shall go.
LUCIUSBy heaven, it shall not go!
TITUS ANDRONICUSSirs, strive no more: such wither'd herbs as these
Are meet for plucking up, and therefore mine.180
LUCIUSSweet father, if I shall be thought thy son,
Let me redeem my brothers both from death.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSAnd, for our father's sake and mother's care,
Now let me show a brother's love to thee.
TITUS ANDRONICUSAgree between you; I will spare my hand.185
LUCIUSThen I'll go fetch an axe.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSBut I will use the axe.
[Exeunt LUCIUS and MARCUS]
TITUS ANDRONICUSCome hither, Aaron; I'll deceive them both:
Lend me thy hand, and I will give thee mine.
AARON[Aside] If that be call'd deceit, I will be honest, 190
And never, whilst I live, deceive men so:
But I'll deceive you in another sort,
And that you'll say, ere half an hour pass.
[Cuts off TITUS's hand]
[Re-enter LUCIUS and MARCUS]
TITUS ANDRONICUSNow stay your strife: what shall be is dispatch'd.
Good Aaron, give his majesty my hand:195
Tell him it was a hand that warded him
From thousand dangers; bid him bury it
More hath it merited; that let it have.
As for my sons, say I account of them
As jewels purchased at an easy price;200
And yet dear too, because I bought mine own.
AARONI go, Andronicus: and for thy hand
Look by and by to have thy sons with thee.
Their heads, I mean. O, how this villany
Doth fat me with the very thoughts of it!205
Let fools do good, and fair men call for grace.
Aaron will have his soul black like his face.
TITUS ANDRONICUSO, here I lift this one hand up to heaven,
And bow this feeble ruin to the earth:
If any power pities wretched tears,210
To that I call!
What, wilt thou kneel with me?
Do, then, dear heart; for heaven shall hear our prayers;
Or with our sighs we'll breathe the welkin dim,
And stain the sun with fog, as sometime clouds215
When they do hug him in their melting bosoms.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSO brother, speak with possibilities,
And do not break into these deep extremes.
TITUS ANDRONICUSIs not my sorrow deep, having no bottom?
Then be my passions bottomless with them.220
MARCUS ANDRONICUSBut yet let reason govern thy lament.
TITUS ANDRONICUSIf there were reason for these miseries,
Then into limits could I bind my woes:
When heaven doth weep, doth not the earth o'erflow?
If the winds rage, doth not the sea wax mad,225
Threatening the welkin with his big-swoln face?
And wilt thou have a reason for this coil?
I am the sea; hark, how her sighs do blow!
She is the weeping welkin, I the earth:
Then must my sea be moved with her sighs;230
Then must my earth with her continual tears
Become a deluge, overflow'd and drown'd;
For why my bowels cannot hide her woes,
But like a drunkard must I vomit them.
Then give me leave, for losers will have leave235
To ease their stomachs with their bitter tongues.
[Enter a Messenger, with two heads and a hand]
MessengerWorthy Andronicus, ill art thou repaid
For that good hand thou sent'st the emperor.
Here are the heads of thy two noble sons;
And here's thy hand, in scorn to thee sent back;240
Thy griefs their sports, thy resolution mock'd;
That woe is me to think upon thy woes
More than remembrance of my father's death.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSNow let hot AEtna cool in Sicily,
And be my heart an ever-burning hell!245
These miseries are more than may be borne.
To weep with them that weep doth ease some deal;
But sorrow flouted at is double death.
LUCIUSAh, that this sight should make so deep a wound,
And yet detested life not shrink thereat!250
That ever death should let life bear his name,
Where life hath no more interest but to breathe!
MARCUS ANDRONICUSAlas, poor heart, that kiss is comfortless
As frozen water to a starved snake.
TITUS ANDRONICUSWhen will this fearful slumber have an end?255
MARCUS ANDRONICUSNow, farewell, flattery: die, Andronicus;
Thou dost not slumber: see, thy two sons' heads,
Thy warlike hand, thy mangled daughter here:
Thy other banish'd son, with this dear sight
Struck pale and bloodless; and thy brother, I,260
Even like a stony image, cold and numb.
Ah, now no more will I control thy griefs:
Rend off thy silver hair, thy other hand
Gnawing with thy teeth; and be this dismal sight
The closing up of our most wretched eyes;265
Now is a time to storm; why art thou still?
MARCUS ANDRONICUSWhy dost thou laugh? it fits not with this hour.
TITUS ANDRONICUSWhy, I have not another tear to shed:
Besides, this sorrow is an enemy,270
And would usurp upon my watery eyes
And make them blind with tributary tears:
Then which way shall I find Revenge's cave?
For these two heads do seem to speak to me,
And threat me I shall never come to bliss275
Till all these mischiefs be return'd again
Even in their throats that have committed them.
Come, let me see what task I have to do.
You heavy people, circle me about,
That I may turn me to each one of you,280
And swear unto my soul to right your wrongs.
The vow is made. Come, brother, take a head;
And in this hand the other I will bear.
Lavinia, thou shalt be employ'd: these arms!
Bear thou my hand, sweet wench, between thy teeth.285
As for thee, boy, go get thee from my sight;
Thou art an exile, and thou must not stay:
Hie to the Goths, and raise an army there:
And, if you love me, as I think you do,
Let's kiss and part, for we have much to do.290
LUCIUSFarewell Andronicus, my noble father,
The wofull'st man that ever lived in Rome:
Farewell, proud Rome; till Lucius come again,
He leaves his pledges dearer than his life:
Farewell, Lavinia, my noble sister;295
O, would thou wert as thou tofore hast been!
But now nor Lucius nor Lavinia lives
But in oblivion and hateful griefs.
If Lucius live, he will requite your wrongs;
And make proud Saturnine and his empress300
Beg at the gates, like Tarquin and his queen.
Now will I to the Goths, and raise a power,
To be revenged on Rome and Saturnine.

Back to: Titus Andronicus, Act 3, Scene 2