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Titus Andronicus - Act 2, scene 1
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Navigate this workTitus Andronicus - Act 2, scene 1
Act 2, scene 1
Aaron reveals that he is Tamora’s lover, and then stops a fight between her sons, Chiron and Demetrius, who both want Lavinia. He encourages them to join in raping her.AARON
0506 Now climbeth Tamora Olympus’ top,
0507 Safe out of Fortune’s shot, and sits aloft,
0508 Secure of thunder’s crack or lightning flash,
0509 Advanced above pale Envy’s threat’ning reach.
0510 5 As when the golden sun salutes the morn
0511 And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,
0512 Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach
0513 And overlooks the highest-peering hills,
0514 So Tamora.
0515 10 Upon her wit doth earthly honor wait,
0516 And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown.
0517 Then, Aaron, arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts
0518 To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress,
0519 And mount her pitch whom thou in triumph long
0520 15 Hast prisoner held, fettered in amorous chains
0521 And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes
0522 Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus.
0523 Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts!
0524 I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold
0525 20 To wait upon this new-made emperess.
0526 To wait, said I? To wanton with this queen,
0527 This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph,
0528 This siren that will charm Rome’s Saturnine
p. 510529 And see his shipwrack and his commonweal’s.
0530 25 Holla! What storm is this?
Enter Chiron and Demetrius, braving.
0531 Chiron, thy years wants wit, thy wits wants edge
0532 And manners, to intrude where I am graced,
0533 And may, for aught thou knowest, affected be.
0534 Demetrius, thou dost overween in all,
0535 30 And so in this, to bear me down with braves.
0536 ’Tis not the difference of a year or two
0537 Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate.
0538 I am as able and as fit as thou
0539 To serve and to deserve my mistress’ grace,
0540 35 And that my sword upon thee shall approve
0541 And plead my passions for Lavinia’s love.
0542 Clubs, clubs! These lovers will not keep the peace.
DEMETRIUS, ⌜to Chiron⌝
0543 Why, boy, although our mother, unadvised,
0544 Gave you a dancing rapier by your side,
0545 40 Are you so desperate grown to threat your friends?
0546 Go to. Have your lath glued within your sheath
0547 Till you know better how to handle it.
0548 Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,
0549 Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.
0550 45 Ay, boy, grow you so brave?They draw.
AARON 0551 Why, how now, lords?
0552 So near the Emperor’s palace dare you draw
0553 And maintain such a quarrel openly?
0554 Full well I wot the ground of all this grudge.
0555 50 I would not for a million of gold
0556 The cause were known to them it most concerns,
p. 530557 Nor would your noble mother for much more
0558 Be so dishonored in the court of Rome.
0559 For shame, put up.
DEMETRIUS 0560 55 Not I, till I have sheathed
0561 My rapier in his bosom, and withal
0562 Thrust those reproachful speeches down his throat
0563 That he hath breathed in my dishonor here.
0564 For that I am prepared and full resolved,
0565 60 Foul-spoken coward, that thund’rest with thy tongue
0566 And with thy weapon nothing dar’st perform.
AARON 0567 Away, I say!
0568 Now by the gods that warlike Goths adore,
0569 This petty brabble will undo us all.
0570 65 Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous
0571 It is to jet upon a prince’s right?
0572 What, is Lavinia then become so loose
0573 Or Bassianus so degenerate
0574 That for her love such quarrels may be broached
0575 70 Without controlment, justice, or revenge?
0576 Young lords, beware! And should the Empress know
0577 This discord’s ground, the music would not please.
0578 I care not, I, knew she and all the world.
0579 I love Lavinia more than all the world.
0580 75 Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice.
0581 Lavinia is thine elder brother’s hope.
0582 Why, are you mad? Or know you not in Rome
0583 How furious and impatient they be,
0584 And cannot brook competitors in love?
0585 80 I tell you, lords, you do but plot your deaths
0586 By this device.
CHIRON 0587 Aaron, a thousand deaths
0588 Would I propose to achieve her whom I love.
0589 To achieve her how?
DEMETRIUS 0590 85 Why makes thou it so strange?
0591 She is a woman, therefore may be wooed;
0592 She is a woman, therefore may be won;
0593 She is Lavinia, therefore must be loved.
0594 What, man, more water glideth by the mill
0595 90 Than wots the miller of, and easy it is
0596 Of a cut loaf to steal a shive, we know.
0597 Though Bassianus be the Emperor’s brother,
0598 Better than he have worn Vulcan’s badge.
0599 Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.
0600 95 Then why should he despair that knows to court it
0601 With words, fair looks, and liberality?
0602 What, hast not thou full often struck a doe
0603 And borne her cleanly by the keeper’s nose?
0604 Why, then, it seems some certain snatch or so
0605 100 Would serve your turns.
CHIRON 0606 Ay, so the turn were served.
DEMETRIUS 0607 Aaron, thou hast hit it.
AARON 0608 Would you had hit it too!
0609 Then should not we be tired with this ado.
0610 105 Why, hark you, hark you! And are you such fools
0611 To square for this? Would it offend you then
0612 That both should speed?
0613 Faith, not me.
DEMETRIUS 0614 Nor me, so I were one.
0615 110 For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar.
0616 ’Tis policy and stratagem must do
0617 That you affect, and so must you resolve
p. 570618 That what you cannot as you would achieve,
0619 You must perforce accomplish as you may.
0620 115 Take this of me: Lucrece was not more chaste
0621 Than this Lavinia, Bassianus’ love.
0622 A speedier course ⌜than⌝ ling’ring languishment
0623 Must we pursue, and I have found the path.
0624 My lords, a solemn hunting is in hand;
0625 120 There will the lovely Roman ladies troop.
0626 The forest walks are wide and spacious,
0627 And many unfrequented plots there are,
0628 Fitted by kind for rape and villainy.
0629 Single you thither then this dainty doe,
0630 125 And strike her home by force, if not by words.
0631 This way, or not at all, stand you in hope.
0632 Come, come, our empress, with her sacred wit
0633 To villainy and vengeance consecrate,
0634 Will we acquaint withal what we intend,
0635 130 And she shall file our engines with advice
0636 That will not suffer you to square yourselves,
0637 But to your wishes’ height advance you both.
0638 The Emperor’s court is like the house of Fame,
0639 The palace full of tongues, of eyes, and ears;
0640 135 The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull.
0641 There speak and strike, brave boys, and take your
0643 There serve your lust, shadowed from heaven’s eye,
0644 And revel in Lavinia’s treasury.
0645 140 Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice.
0646 Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the stream
0647 To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits,
0648 Per Stygia, per manes vehor.