Titus Andronicus

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Aaron, Chiron, and Demetrius at one door; and

at the other door young Lucius and another with a

bundle of weapons and verses writ upon them


Demetrius, here's the son of Lucius;

He hath some message to deliver us.


Ay, some mad message from his mad grandfather.


My lords, with all the humbleness I may,

I greet your honours from Andronicus –

(Aside) And pray the Roman gods confound you both.


Gramercy, lovely Lucius, what's the news?


decipher (v.) 2 discover, detect, find out

That you are both deciphered, that's the news,

For villains marked with rape. (To all) May it please you,

My grandsire, well advised, hath sent by me
well-advised (adj.) 1 prudent, sensible, thoughtful

The goodliest weapons of his armoury

To gratify your honourable youth,

The hope of Rome, for so he bid me say.

Attendants give weapons

And so I do, and with his gifts present

Your lordships, that, whenever you have need,

You may be armed and appointed well.
appoint (v.) 1 arm, equip, furnish

And so I leave you both – (aside) like bloody villains.

Exit with attendant


What's here? A scroll, and written round about?

Let's see:

Integer vitae scelerisque purus,
integer... the one upright of life and unstained by crime does not need the javelins or the bow of the Moor See Topics: Latin

Non eget Mauri iaculis, nec arcu.


O, 'tis a verse in Horace, I know it well;

I read it in the grammar long ago.


Ay, just – a verse in Horace, right you have it.
just (adv.) 2 quite so, correct

(Aside) Now what a thing it is to be an ass!

Here's no sound jest. The old man hath found their guilt,

And sends them weapons wrapped about with lines

That wound beyond their feeling to the quick.
quick (n.) 1 sensitive parts [of the body], tender flesh

But were our witty Empress well afoot,
afoot (adv.) 3 astir, on the move, up and about
witty (adj.) 1 clever, quick, intelligent

She would applaud Andronicus' conceit.
conceit (n.) 6 design, ingenuity, conception

But let her rest in her unrest awhile.

(To Chiron and Demetrius)

And now, young lords, was't not a happy star

Led us to Rome, strangers, and more than so,

Captives, to be advanced to this height?
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise

It did me good before the palace gate

To brave the tribune in his brother's hearing.
brave (v.) 1 challenge, defy, confront, provoke


But me more good to see so great a lord

Basely insinuate and send us gifts.
basely (adv.) dishonourably, shamefully, ignominiously
insinuate (v.) 1 curry favour, work subtly [on], ingratiate oneself


Had he not reason, Lord Demetrius?

Did you not use his daughter very friendly?
friendly (adv.) in a friendly way


I would we had a thousand Roman dames

At such a bay, by turn to serve our lust.
bay (n.) 1 [hunting] last stand, point of capture


A charitable wish, and full of love.


Here lacks but your mother for to say amen.


And that would she, for twenty thousand more.


Come, let us go and pray to all the gods

For our beloved mother in her pains.


give over (v.) 1 desert, leave, abandon

Pray to the devils; the gods have given us over.

Trumpets sound


Why do the Emperor's trumpets flourish thus?


Belike for joy the Emperor hath a son.
belike (adv.) probably, presumably, perhaps, so it seems See Topics: Frequency count


Soft, who comes here?

Enter Nurse with a blackamoor child
blackamoor (n.) black-skinned African, negro
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


                         Good morrow, lords.

O, tell me, did you see Aaron the Moor?


Well, more or less, or ne'er a whit at all.

Here Aaron is, and what with Aaron now?


O, gentle Aaron, we are all undone.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind
undone (adj.) ruined, destroyed, brought down See Topics: Frequency count

Now help, or woe betide thee evermore!


Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep.

What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine arms?


O, that which I would hide from heaven's eye,

Our Empress' shame, and stately Rome's disgrace:

She is delivered, lords, she is delivered.


To whom?
abed / to bed, brought delivered of a child


                         I mean she is brought abed.


Well, God give her good rest. What hath he sent her?


A devil.
dam (n.) mother See Topics: Family


                         Why then, she is the devil's dam:

A joyful issue.
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count


A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue.

Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad

Amongst the fair-faced breeders of our clime.
clime (n.) land, region, realm

The Empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,

And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point.


Zounds, ye whore, is black so base a hue?
base (adj.) 3 poor, wretched, of low quality See Topics: Frequency count

(To the baby)
blowze (n.) red-faced lass

Sweete blowze, you are a beauteous blossom, sure.


Villain, what hast thou done?


That which thou canst not undo.


Thou hast undone our mother.
undo (v.) 6 destroy the reputation of


Villain, I have done thy mother.


And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone her.

Woe to her chance, and damned her loathed choice!
chance (n.) 5 fortune, lot, destiny

Accursed the offspring of so foul a fiend!


It shall not live.


                         It shall not die.


Aaron, it must, the mother wills it so.


What, must it, nurse? Then let no man but I

Do execution on my flesh and blood.


I'll broach the tadpole on my rapier's point.
broach (v.) 4 pierce, impale, spit

Nurse, give it me; my sword shall soon dispatch it.
dispatch, despatch (v.) 3 kill, put to death, make away with, finish off


(taking the child and drawing his sword)

Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels up!

Stay, murderous villains, will you kill your brother?

Now, by the burning tapers of the sky
taper (n.) candle

That shone so brightly when this boy was got,
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed

He dies upon my scimitar's sharp point

That touches this, my first-born son and heir.

I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus
youngling (n.) 1 stripling, youngster, beginner

With all his threat'ning band of Typhon's brood,

Nor great Alcides, nor the god of war,

Shall seize this prey out of his father's hands.

What, what, ye sanguine shallow-hearted boys,
sanguine (adj.) 2 red-faced, ruddy-hued

Ye white-limed walls, ye alehouse painted signs!

Coal-black is better than another hue,

In that it scorns to bear another hue:

For all the water in the ocean

Can never turn the swan's black legs to white,

Although she lave them hourly in the flood.
lave (v.) wash, bathe, soak

(To Nurse) Tell the Empress from me I am of age

To keep mine own, excuse it how she can.


Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus?


My mistress is my mistress, this myself,

The vigour and the picture of my youth.

This before all the world do I prefer;

This maugre all the world will I keep safe,
maugre (prep.) [pron: 'mawguh] in spite of

Or some of you shall smoke for it in Rome.
smoke (v.) 6 burn, suffer severely


By this our mother is forever shamed.


Rome will despise her for this foul escape.
escape (n.) 3 transgression, misdeed, moral error


The Emperor in his rage will doom her death.
doom (v.) 1 decree, decide, adjudge


I blush to think upon this ignomy.
ignomy (n.) ignominy, dishonour, shame


Why, there's the privilege your beauty bears.

Fie, treacherous hue, that will betray with blushing

The close enacts and counsels of thy heart.
close (adj.) 1 secret, concealed, hidden
enact (n.) purpose, resolve, resolution

Here's a young lad framed of another leer.
leer (n.) 1 complexion, countenance, look

Look how the black slave smiles upon the father,

As who should say, ‘ Old lad, I am thine own.’

He is your brother, lords, sensibly fed
sensibly (adv.) 1 as a feeling person, with a sensitive body

Of that self blood that first gave life to you,
self (adj.) same, selfsame, identical, exact

And from that womb where you imprisoned were

He is enfranchised and come to light.
enfranchise (v.) set free, liberate

Nay, he is your brother by the surer side,
sure (adj.) 1 certain, definite, reliable

Although my seal be stamped in his face.


Aaron, what shall I say unto the Empress?


Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,

And we will all subscribe to thy advice.
subscribe to (v.) 1 concur with, give assent to

Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.


Then sit we down and let us all consult.

My son and I will have the wind of you.
wind of, have the [hunting] stay downwind of; stay in a safe position in relation to

Keep there. (They sit)

                         Now talk at pleasure of your safety.


(to Nurse)

How many women saw this child of his?


Why, so, brave lords, when we join in league
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent

I am a lamb, but if you brave the Moor,
brave (v.) 1 challenge, defy, confront, provoke

The chafed boar, the mountain lioness,
chafed (adj.) enraged, irritated, angered

The ocean, swells not so as Aaron storms.

(To Nurse) But say again, how many saw the child?


Cornelia the midwife, and myself,

And no one else but the delivered Empress.


The Empress, the midwife, and yourself.

Two may keep counsel when the third's away.

Go to the Empress, tell her this I said:

He kills her

‘ Wheak, wheak!’ – so cries a pig prepared to the spit.

All stand up


What mean'st thou, Aaron? Wherefore didst thou this?


O Lord, sir, 'tis a deed of policy.
policy (n.) 1 statecraft, statesmanship, diplomacy

Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours?

A long-tongued, babbling gossip? No, lords, no.
gossip (n.) 3 tattler, chatterer, idle talker
long-tongued (adj.) chattering, prattling

And now be it known to you my full intent.
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

Not far, one Muly lives, my countryman:

His wife but yesternight was brought to bed;
abed / to bed, brought delivered of a child
yesternight (n.) last night

His child is like to her, fair as you are.

Go pack with him and give the mother gold,
pack (v.) 3 enter into a private arrangement, make a secret deal

And tell them both the circumstance of all,

And how by this their child shall be advanced,
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise

And be received for the Emperor's heir,

And substituted in the place of mine

To calm this tempest whirling in the court,

And let the Emperor dandle him for his own.
dandle (v.) pamper, fondle, pet

Hark ye, lords, (pointing to the Nurse)

                         you see I have given her physic,

And you must needs bestow her funeral.
bestow (v.) 1 give, provide, grant

The fields are near, and you are gallant grooms.
gallant (adj.) 1 fine, splendid, grand
groom (n.) 1 servingman, servant, male attendant

This done, see that you take no longer days,
day (n.) 4 (plural) time, delay, period of action

But send the midwife presently to me.
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

The midwife and the Nurse well made away,
make away (v.) put an end to, do away with

Then let the ladies tattle what they please.


Aaron, I see thou wilt not trust the air

With secrets.


                         For this care of Tamora,

Herself and hers are highly bound to thee.

Exeunt Chiron and Demetrius with the Nurse's body


Now to the Goths, as swift as swallow flies,

There to dispose this treasure in mine arms,
dispose (v.) 1 place, distribute, organize

And secretly to greet the Empress' friends.

Come on, you thick-lipped slave, I'll bear you hence,

For it is you that puts us to our shifts.
put (v.) 1 force, make, compel
shift (n.) 3 stratagem, contriving, trick

I'll make you feed on berries and on roots,

And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat,
curds and whey foodstuff made of curdled milk
fat (v.) fatten, feed up, nourish
suck (v.) take milk from

And cabin in a cave, and bring you up
cabin (v.) 1 dwell, lodge, take shelter in

To be a warrior and command a camp.


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