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Titus Andronicus - Act 4, scene 2
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Navigate this workTitus Andronicus - Act 4, scene 2
Act 4, scene 2
Tamora gives birth to a baby whose black skin signals Aaron’s paternity. Aaron arranges for a white baby to take his son’s place as Saturninus’s heir. He then sets out to take his baby to safety among the Goths.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.
1564 Demetrius, here’s the son of Lucius.
1565 He hath some message to deliver us.
1566 Ay, some mad message from his mad grandfather.
1567 My lords, with all the humbleness I may,
1568 5 I greet your Honors from Andronicus—
1569 ⌜Aside.⌝ And pray the Roman gods confound you both.
1570 Gramercy, lovely Lucius. What’s the news?
YOUNG LUCIUS, ⌜aside⌝
1571 That you are both deciphered, that’s the news,
1572 For villains marked with rape.—May it please you,
1573 10 My grandsire, well advised, hath sent by me
1574 The goodliest weapons of his armory
1575 To gratify your honorable youth,
1576 The hope of Rome; for so he bid me say,
1577 And so I do, and with his gifts present
1578 15 Your Lordships, ⌜that,⌝ whenever you have need,
1579 You may be armèd and appointed well,
1580 And so I leave you both—(⌜aside⌝) like bloody villains.
He exits, ⌜with Attendant.⌝
1581 What’s here? A scroll, and written round about.
p. 1331582 Let’s see:
⌜He reads:⌝ 1583 20 “Integer vitae, scelerisque purus,
1584 Non eget Mauri iaculis, nec arcu.”
1585 O, ’tis a verse in Horace; I know it well.
1586 I read it in the grammar long ago.
1587 Ay, just; a verse in Horace; right, you have it.
1588 25 ⌜Aside.⌝ Now, what a thing it is to be an ass!
1589 Here’s no sound jest. The old man hath found their
1591 And sends them weapons wrapped about with lines
1592 That wound, beyond their feeling, to the quick.
1593 30 But were our witty empress well afoot,
1594 She would applaud Andronicus’ conceit.
1595 But let her rest in her unrest awhile.—
1596 And now, young lords, was ’t not a happy star
1597 Led us to Rome, strangers, and, more than so,
1598 35 Captives, to be advancèd to this height?
1599 It did me good before the palace gate
1600 To brave the tribune in his brother’s hearing.
1601 But me more good to see so great a lord
1602 Basely insinuate and send us gifts.
1603 40 Had he not reason, Lord Demetrius?
1604 Did you not use his daughter very friendly?
1605 I would we had a thousand Roman dames
1606 At such a bay, by turn to serve our lust.
1607 A charitable wish, and full of love!
1608 45 Here lacks but your mother for to say amen.
1609 And that would she, for twenty thousand more.
1610 Come, let us go and pray to all the gods
1611 For our belovèd mother in her pains.
1612 Pray to the devils; the gods have given us over.
Trumpets sound ⌜offstage.⌝
1613 50 Why do the Emperor’s trumpets flourish thus?
1614 Belike for joy the Emperor hath a son.
DEMETRIUS 1615 Soft, who comes here?
Enter Nurse, with a blackamoor child ⌜in her arms.⌝
NURSE 1616 Good morrow, lords.
1617 O, tell me, did you see Aaron the Moor?
1618 55 Well, more or less, or ne’er a whit at all,
1619 Here Aaron is. And what with Aaron now?
1620 O, gentle Aaron, we are all undone!
1621 Now help, or woe betide thee evermore.
1622 Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep!
1623 60 What dost thou wrap and fumble in thy arms?
1624 O, that which I would hide from heaven’s eye,
1625 Our empress’ shame and stately Rome’s disgrace.
1626 She is delivered, lords, she is delivered.
AARON 1627 To whom?
NURSE 1628 65I mean, she is brought abed.
1629 Well, God give her good rest. What hath he sent her?
NURSE 1630 A devil.
1631 Why, then she is the devil’s dam. A joyful issue!
1632 A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue!
1633 70 Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad
1634 Amongst the fair-faced breeders of our clime.
1635 The Empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,
1636 And bids thee christen it with thy dagger’s point.
1637 Zounds, you whore, is black so base a hue?
1638 75 ⌜To the baby.⌝ Sweet blowse, you are a beauteous
1639 blossom, sure.
DEMETRIUS 1640 Villain, what hast thou done?
AARON 1641 That which thou canst not undo.
CHIRON 1642 Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON 1643 80Villain, I have done thy mother.
1644 And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone her.
1645 Woe to her chance, and damned her loathèd choice!
1646 Accursed the offspring of so foul a fiend!
CHIRON 1647 It shall not live.
AARON 1648 85It shall not die.
1649 Aaron, it must. The mother wills it so.
1650 What, must it, nurse? Then let no man but I
1651 Do execution on my flesh and blood.
1652 I’ll broach the tadpole on my rapier’s point.
1653 90 Nurse, give it me. My sword shall soon dispatch it.
AARON, ⌜taking the baby⌝
1654 Sooner this sword shall plow thy bowels up!
1655 Stay, murderous villains, will you kill your brother?
1656 Now, by the burning tapers of the sky
1657 That shone so brightly when this boy was got,
1658 95 He dies upon my scimitar’s sharp point
1659 That touches this my firstborn son and heir.
1660 I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus
p. 1391661 With all his threat’ning band of Typhon’s brood,
1662 Nor great Alcides, nor the god of war
1663 100 Shall seize this prey out of his father’s hands.
1664 What, what, you sanguine, shallow-hearted boys,
1665 You white-limed walls, you alehouse painted signs!
1666 Coal-black is better than another hue
1667 In that it scorns to bear another hue;
1668 105 For all the water in the ocean
1669 Can never turn the swan’s black legs to white,
1670 Although she lave them hourly in the flood.
1671 Tell the Empress from me, I am of age
1672 To keep mine own, excuse it how she can.
1673 110 Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus?
1674 My mistress is my mistress, this myself,
1675 The vigor and the picture of my youth.
1676 This before all the world do I prefer;
1677 This maugre all the world will I keep safe,
1678 115 Or some of you shall smoke for it in Rome.
1679 By this our mother is forever shamed.
1680 Rome will despise her for this foul escape.
1681 The Emperor in his rage will doom her death.
1682 I blush to think upon this ignomy.
1683 120 Why, there’s the privilege your beauty bears.
1684 Fie, treacherous hue, that will betray with blushing
1685 The close enacts and counsels of thy heart.
1686 Here’s a young lad framed of another leer.
1687 Look how the black slave smiles upon the father,
1688 125 As who should say “Old lad, I am thine own.”
p. 1411689 He is your brother, lords, sensibly fed
1690 Of that self blood that first gave life to you,
1691 And from ⌜that⌝ womb where you imprisoned were
1692 He is enfranchisèd and come to light.
1693 130 Nay, he is your brother by the surer side,
1694 Although my seal be stampèd in his face.
1695 Aaron, what shall I say unto the Empress?
1696 Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,
1697 And we will all subscribe to thy advice.
1698 135 Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.
1699 Then sit we down, and let us all consult.
1700 My son and I will have the wind of you.
1701 Keep there. Now talk at pleasure of your safety.
DEMETRIUS, ⌜to the Nurse⌝
1702 How many women saw this child of his?
1703 140 Why, so, brave lords! When we join in league,
1704 I am a lamb; but if you brave the Moor,
1705 The chafèd boar, the mountain lioness,
1706 The ocean swells not so as Aaron storms.
1707 ⌜To the Nurse.⌝ But say again, how many saw the
1708 145 child?
1709 Cornelia the midwife and myself,
1710 And no one else but the delivered Empress.
1711 The Empress, the midwife, and yourself.
1712 Two may keep counsel when the third’s away.
1713 150 Go to the Empress; tell her this I said.
He kills her.
1714 “Wheak, wheak”! So cries a pig preparèd to the spit.
1715 What mean’st thou, Aaron? Wherefore didst thou this?
1716 O Lord, sir, ’tis a deed of policy.
1717 Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours,
1718 155 A long-tongued babbling gossip? No, lords, no.
1719 And now be it known to you my full intent:
1720 Not far one Muliteus my countryman
1721 His wife but yesternight was brought to bed.
1722 His child is like to her, fair as you are.
1723 160 Go pack with him, and give the mother gold,
1724 And tell them both the circumstance of all,
1725 And how by this their child shall be advanced
1726 And be receivèd for the Emperor’s heir,
1727 And substituted in the place of mine,
1728 165 To calm this tempest whirling in the court;
1729 And let the Emperor dandle him for his own.
1730 Hark you, lords, you see I have given her physic,
⌜indicating the Nurse⌝
1731 And you must needs bestow her funeral.
1732 The fields are near, and you are gallant grooms.
1733 170 This done, see that you take no longer days,
1734 But send the midwife presently to me.
1735 The midwife and the nurse well made away,
1736 Then let the ladies tattle what they please.
1737 Aaron, I see thou wilt not trust the air
1738 175 With secrets.
DEMETRIUS 1739 For this care of Tamora,
1740 Herself and hers are highly bound to thee.
⌜Demetrius and Chiron⌝ exit,
⌜carrying the Nurse’s body.⌝
1741 Now to the Goths, as swift as swallow flies,
1742 There to dispose this treasure in mine arms
1743 180 And secretly to greet the Empress’ friends.—
1744 Come on, you thick-lipped slave, I’ll bear you hence,
p. 1451745 For it is you that puts us to our shifts.
1746 I’ll make you feed on berries and on roots,
1747 And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat,
1748 185 And cabin in a cave, and bring you up
1749 To be a warrior and command a camp.
He exits ⌜with the baby.⌝