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Titus Andronicus - Act 5, scene 1
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Navigate this workTitus Andronicus - Act 5, scene 1
Act 5, scene 1
Aaron is captured by Lucius and his army of Goths. After Lucius swears to protect the baby, Aaron confesses to the series of horrors he has committed. When the messenger from Saturninus arrives, Lucius agrees to come to Rome to meet with the Emperor.⟨Flourish.⟩ Enter Lucius with an army of Goths, with
Drums and Soldiers.
1990 Approvèd warriors and my faithful friends,
1991 I have receivèd letters from great Rome
1992 Which signifies what hate they bear their emperor
1993 And how desirous of our sight they are.
1994 5 Therefore, great lords, be as your titles witness,
1995 Imperious, and impatient of your wrongs,
1996 And wherein Rome hath done you any scathe,
1997 Let him make treble satisfaction.
1998 Brave slip sprung from the great Andronicus,
1999 10 Whose name was once our terror, now our comfort,
2000 Whose high exploits and honorable deeds
2001 Ingrateful Rome requites with foul contempt,
2002 Be bold in us. We’ll follow where thou lead’st,
2003 Like stinging bees in hottest summer’s day
2004 15 Led by their master to the flowered fields,
2005 And be avenged on cursèd Tamora.
2006 And as he saith, so say we all with him.
2007 I humbly thank him, and I thank you all.
2008 But who comes here, led by a lusty Goth?
p. 167Enter a Goth, leading of Aaron with his child in his arms.
2009 20 Renownèd Lucius, from our troops I strayed
2010 To gaze upon a ruinous monastery,
2011 And as I earnestly did fix mine eye
2012 Upon the wasted building, suddenly
2013 I heard a child cry underneath a wall.
2014 25 I made unto the noise, when soon I heard
2015 The crying babe controlled with this discourse:
2016 “Peace, tawny slave, half me and half thy dame!
2017 Did not thy hue bewray whose brat thou art,
2018 Had nature lent thee but thy mother’s look,
2019 30 Villain, thou mightst have been an emperor.
2020 But where the bull and cow are both milk white,
2021 They never do beget a coal-black calf.
2022 Peace, villain, peace!”—even thus he rates the babe—
2023 “For I must bear thee to a trusty Goth
2024 35 Who, when he knows thou art the Empress’ babe,
2025 Will hold thee dearly for thy mother’s sake.”
2026 With this, my weapon drawn, I rushed upon him,
2027 Surprised him suddenly, and brought him hither
2028 To use as you think needful of the man.
2029 40 O worthy Goth, this is the incarnate devil
2030 That robbed Andronicus of his good hand;
2031 This is the pearl that pleased your empress’ eye;
2032 And here’s the base fruit of her burning lust.—
2033 Say, wall-eyed slave, whither wouldst thou convey
2034 45 This growing image of thy fiendlike face?
2035 Why dost not speak? What, deaf? Not a word?—
2036 A halter, soldiers! Hang him on this tree,
2037 And by his side his fruit of bastardy.
2038 Touch not the boy. He is of royal blood.
2039 50 Too like the sire for ever being good.
2040 First hang the child, that he may see it sprawl,
2041 A sight to vex the father’s soul withal.
2042 Get me a ladder.
⌜A ladder is brought, which Aaron is made to climb.⌝
AARON 2043 Lucius, save the child
2044 55 And bear it from me to the Empress.
2045 If thou do this, I’ll show thee wondrous things
2046 That highly may advantage thee to hear.
2047 If thou wilt not, befall what may befall,
2048 I’ll speak no more but “Vengeance rot you all!”
2049 60 Say on, and if it please me which thou speak’st,
2050 Thy child shall live, and I will see it nourished.
2051 And if it please thee? Why, assure thee, Lucius,
2052 ’Twill vex thy soul to hear what I shall speak;
2053 For I must talk of murders, rapes, and massacres,
2054 65 Acts of black night, abominable deeds,
2055 Complots of mischief, treason, villainies,
2056 Ruthful to hear, yet piteously performed.
2057 And this shall all be buried in my death,
2058 Unless thou swear to me my child shall live.
2059 70 Tell on thy mind. I say thy child shall live.
2060 Swear that he shall, and then I will begin.
2061 Who should I swear by? Thou believest no god.
2062 That granted, how canst thou believe an oath?
2063 What if I do not? As indeed I do not.
2064 75 Yet, for I know thou art religious
2065 And hast a thing within thee callèd conscience,
2066 With twenty popish tricks and ceremonies
p. 1712067 Which I have seen thee careful to observe,
2068 Therefore I urge thy oath; for that I know
2069 80 An idiot holds his bauble for a god
2070 And keeps the oath which by that god he swears,
2071 To that I’ll urge him. Therefore thou shalt vow
2072 By that same god, what god soe’er it be
2073 That thou adorest and hast in reverence,
2074 85 To save my boy, to nourish and bring him up,
2075 Or else I will discover naught to thee.
2076 Even by my god I swear to thee I will.
2077 First know thou, I begot him on the Empress.
2078 O, most insatiate and luxurious woman!
2079 90 Tut, Lucius, this was but a deed of charity
2080 To that which thou shalt hear of me anon.
2081 ’Twas her two sons that murdered Bassianus.
2082 They cut thy sister’s tongue, and ravished her,
2083 And cut her hands, and trimmed her as thou sawest.
2084 95 O detestable villain, call’st thou that trimming?
2085 Why, she was washed, and cut, and trimmed; and
2087 Trim sport for them which had the doing of it.
2088 O, barbarous beastly villains, like thyself!
2089 100 Indeed, I was their tutor to instruct them.
2090 That codding spirit had they from their mother,
2091 As sure a card as ever won the set;
2092 That bloody mind I think they learned of me,
2093 As true a dog as ever fought at head.
2094 105 Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth.
p. 1732095 I trained thy brethren to that guileful hole
2096 Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay.
2097 I wrote the letter that thy father found,
2098 And hid the gold within that letter mentioned,
2099 110 Confederate with the Queen and her two sons.
2100 And what not done that thou hast cause to rue,
2101 Wherein I had no stroke of mischief in it?
2102 I played the cheater for thy father’s hand,
2103 And, when I had it, drew myself apart
2104 115 And almost broke my heart with extreme laughter.
2105 I pried me through the crevice of a wall
2106 When, for his hand, he had his two sons’ heads,
2107 Beheld his tears, and laughed so heartily
2108 That both mine eyes were rainy like to his.
2109 120 And when I told the Empress of this sport,
2110 She sounded almost at my pleasing tale,
2111 And for my tidings gave me twenty kisses.
2112 What, canst thou say all this and never blush?
2113 Ay, like a black dog, as the saying is.
2114 125 Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?
2115 Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
2116 Even now I curse the day—and yet, I think,
2117 Few come within the compass of my curse—
2118 Wherein I did not some notorious ill,
2119 130 As kill a man, or else devise his death;
2120 Ravish a maid or plot the way to do it;
2121 Accuse some innocent and forswear myself;
2122 Set deadly enmity between two friends;
2123 Make poor men’s cattle break their necks;
2124 135 Set fire on barns and haystalks in the night,
2125 And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
2126 Oft have I digged up dead men from their graves
2127 And set them upright at their dear friends’ door,
p. 1752128 Even when their sorrows almost was forgot,
2129 140 And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
2130 Have with my knife carvèd in Roman letters
2131 “Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.”
2132 But I have done a thousand dreadful things
2133 As willingly as one would kill a fly,
2134 145 And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
2135 But that I cannot do ten thousand more.
2136 Bring down the devil, for he must not die
2137 So sweet a death as hanging presently.
⌜Aaron is brought down from the ladder.⌝
2138 If there be devils, would I were a devil,
2139 150 To live and burn in everlasting fire,
2140 So I might have your company in hell
2141 But to torment you with my bitter tongue.
2142 Sirs, stop his mouth, and let him speak no more.
2143 My lord, there is a messenger from Rome
2144 155 Desires to be admitted to your presence.
LUCIUS 2145 Let him come near.⌜Aemilius comes forward.⌝
2146 Welcome, Aemilius. What’s the news from Rome?
2147 Lord Lucius, and you princes of the Goths,
2148 The Roman Emperor greets you all by me;
2149 160 And, for he understands you are in arms,
2150 He craves a parley at your father’s house,
2151 Willing you to demand your hostages,
2152 And they shall be immediately delivered.
GOTH 2153 What says our general?
2154 165 Aemilius, let the Emperor give his pledges
p. 1772155 Unto my father and my uncle Marcus,
2156 And we will come. March away.