Titus Andronicus & Timon of Athens

About the Book

“These words are razors to my wounded heart.”
—Titus Andronicus
“We have seen better days.”
—Timon of Athens
Eminent Shakespearean scholars Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen provide fresh new editions of the two great tragedies: Titus Adronicus, a graphic story of revenge, and Timon of Athens, a cautionary tale about false friends and unearned loyalty.
• original Introductions to Titus Andronicus and Timon of Athens
• incisive scene-by-scene synopsis and analysis with vital facts about the work
• commentary on past and current productions based on interviews with leading directors, actors, and designers
• photographs of key RSC productions
• an overview of Shakespeare’s theatrical career and chronology of his plays
Ideal for students, theater professionals, and general readers, these modern and accessible editions from the Royal Shakespeare Company set a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.
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Praise for Titus Andronicus & Timon of Athens

“A remarkable edition, one that makes Shakespeare’s extraordinary accomplishment more vivid than ever.”—James Shapiro, professor, Columbia University, bestselling author of A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599
“A feast of literary and historical information.”—The Wall Street Journal
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Titus Andronicus & Timon of Athens

Titus Andronicus

Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1

Flourish. Enter the Tribunes and Senators, aloft. And then enter Saturninus and his followers at one door [below], and Bassianus and his followers at the other, with Drum and Colours

SATURNINUS Noble patricians, patrons of my right,

Defend the justice of my cause with arms.

And countrymen, my loving followers,

Plead my successive title with your swords.

I was the first-born son that was the last

That wore the imperial diadem of Rome:

Then let my father's honours live in me,

Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.

BASSIANUS Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my right,

If ever Bassianus, Caesar's son,

Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,

Keep then this passage to the Capitol,

And suffer not dishonour to approach

Th'imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,

To justice, continence and nobility:

But let desert in pure election shine,

And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.

Enter Marcus Andronicus, aloft, with the crown

MARCUS Princes, that strive by factions and by friends

Ambitiously for rule and empery,

Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand

A special party, have by common voice

In election for the Roman empery,

Chosen Andronicus, surnamèd Pius

For many good and great deserts to Rome:

A nobler man, a braver warrior,

Lives not this day within the city walls.

He by the senate is accited home

From weary wars against the barbarous Goths,

That with his sons, a terror to our foes,

Hath yoked a nation strong, trained up in arms.

Ten years are spent since first he undertook

This cause of Rome and chastisèd with arms

Our enemies' pride: five times he hath returned

Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons

In coffins from the field,

And now at last, laden with horror's spoils,

Returns the good Andronicus to Rome,

Renownèd Titus, flourishing in arms.

Let us entreat, by honour of his name,

Whom worthily you would have now succeed,

And in the Capitol and senate's right,

Whom you pretend to honour and adore,

That you withdraw you and abate your strength,

Dismiss your followers and, as suitors should,

Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.

SATURNINUS How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!

BASSIANUS Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy

In thy uprightness and integrity,

And so I love and honour thee and thine,

Thy noble brother Titus and his sons,

And her to whom my thoughts are humbled all,

Gracious Lavinia, Rome's rich ornament,

That I will here dismiss my loving friends,

And to my fortunes and the people's favour

Commit my cause in balance to be weighed.

Exeunt [his] Soldiers

SATURNINUS Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,

I thank you all and here dismiss you all,

And to the love and favour of my country

Commit myself, my person and the cause.

[Exeunt his Soldiers]

Rome, be as just and gracious unto me

As I am confident and kind to thee.

Open the gates and let me in.

BASSIANUS Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.

Flourish. They [Saturninus and Bassianus] go up into the senate house. Enter a Captain

CAPTAIN Romans, make way: the good Andronicus,

Patron of virtue, Rome's best champion,

Successful in the battles that he fights,

With honour and with fortune is returned

From whence he circumscribèd with his sword

And brought to yoke, the enemies of Rome.

Sound drums and trumpets, and then enter two of Titus' sons [Martius and Mutius]. After them, two men bearing a coffin covered with black, then two other sons [Lucius and Quintus]. After them, Titus Andronicus, and then Tamora, Queen of Goths, and her two sons Chiron and Demetrius, with Aaron the Moor and others, as many as can be. They set down the coffin and Titus speaks

TITUS Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!

Lo, as the bark that hath discharged his freight

Returns with precious lading to the bay

From whence at first she weighed her anchorage,

Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,

To resalute his country with his tears,

Tears of true joy for his return to Rome.

Thou great defender of this Capitol,

Stand gracious to the rites that we intend.

Romans, of five and twenty valiant sons,

Half of the number that King Priam had,

Behold the poor remains, alive and dead!

These that survive, let Rome reward with love:

These that I bring unto their latest home,

With burial amongst their ancestors.

Here Goths have given me leave to sheathe my sword.

Titus, unkind and careless of thine own,

Why suffer'st thou thy sons unburied yet

To hover on the dreadful shore of Styx?

Make way to lay them by their brethren.

They open the tomb

There greet in silence, as the dead are wont,

And sleep in peace, slain in your country's wars.

O sacred receptacle of my joys,

Sweet cell of virtue and nobility,

How many sons of mine hast thou in store,

That thou wilt never render to me more!

LUCIUS Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,

That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile

Ad manus fratrum sacrifice his flesh

Before this earthly prison of their bones,

That so the shadows be not unappeased,

Nor we disturbed with prodigies on earth.

TITUS I give him you, the noblest that survives,

The eldest son of this distressèd queen.

TAMORA Stay, Roman brethren, gracious conqueror, ØKneelsØ

Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,

A mother's tears in passion for her son:

And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,

O, think my sons to be as dear to me.

Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome

To beautify thy triumphs and return,

Captive to thee and to thy Roman yoke?

But must my sons be slaughtered in the streets

For valiant doings in their country's cause?

O, if to fight for king and commonweal

Were piety in thine, it is in these.

Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood.

Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?

Draw near them then in being merciful:

Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.

Thrice-noble Titus, spare my first-born son.

TITUS Patient yourself, madam, and pardon me.

These are the brethren whom you Goths beheld

Alive and dead, and for their brethren slain

Religiously they ask a sacrifice:

To this your son is marked, and die he must,

To appease their groaning shadows that are gone.

LUCIUS Away with him, and make a fire straight,

And with our swords, upon a pile of wood,

Let's hew his limbs till they be clean consumed.

Exeunt Sons [Lucius, Quintus,

Martius and Mutius] with Alarbus

TAMORA O cruel, irreligious piety! Rises

CHIRON Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?

DEMETRIUS Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome.

Alarbus goes to rest and we survive

To tremble under Titus' threat'ning looks.

Then, madam, stand resolved, but hope withal

The self-same gods that armed the Queen of Troy

With opportunity of sharp revenge

Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent

May favour Tamora, the Queen of Goths -

When Goths were Goths and Tamora was queen -

To quit the bloody wrongs upon her foes.

Enter the Sons of Andronicus again

LUCIUS See, lord and father, how we have performed

Our Roman rites: Alarbus' limbs are lopped,

And entrails feed the sacrificing fire,

Whose smoke like incense doth perfume the sky.

Remaineth nought but to inter our brethren

And with loud 'larums welcome them to Rome.

TITUS Let it be so, and let Andronicus

Make this his latest farewell to their souls.

Flourish. Then sound trumpets, and lay the coffins in the tomb

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons:

Rome's readiest champions, repose you here in rest,

Secure from worldly chances and mishaps.

Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,

Here grow no damnèd grudges, here are no storms,

No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons.

Enter Lavinia

LAVINIA In peace and honour live Lord Titus long:

My noble lord and father, live in fame!

Lo, at this tomb my tributary tears

I render for my brethren's obsequies,

And at thy feet I kneel with tears of joy Kneels

Shed on the earth for thy return to Rome.

O, bless me here with thy victorious hand,

Whose fortune Rome's best citizens applaud.

TITUS Kind Rome, that hast thus lovingly reserved

The cordial of mine age to glad my heart.

Lavinia, live, outlive thy father's days

And fame's eternal date, for virtue's praise. Lavinia rises

[Enter Marcus, below]

MARCUS Long live Lord Titus, my belovèd brother,

Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!

TITUS Thanks, gentle tribune, noble brother Marcus.

MARCUS And welcome, nephews, from successful wars,

You that survive and you that sleep in fame.

Fair lords, your fortunes are alike in all,

That in your country's service drew your swords:

But safer triumph is this funeral pomp

That hath aspired to Solon's happiness

And triumphs over chance in honour's bed.

Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome,

Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been,

Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust,

This palliament of white and spotless hue,

And name thee in election for the empire

With these our late-deceasèd emperor's sons:

Be candidatus then and put it on, Offers a robe

And help to set a head on headless Rome.

TITUS A better head her glorious body fits

Than his that shakes for age and feebleness.

What, should I don this robe and trouble you?

Be chosen with proclamations today,

Tomorrow yield up rule, resign my life

And set abroad new business for you all?

Rome, I have been thy soldier forty years,

And led my country's strength successfully,

And buried one and twenty valiant sons,

Knighted in field, slain manfully in arms

In right and service of their noble country:

Give me a staff of honour for mine age,

But not a sceptre to control the world.

Upright he held it, lords, that held it last.

MARCUS Titus, thou shalt obtain and ask the empery.

SATURNINUS Proud and ambitious tribune, canst thou tell?

TITUS Patience, Prince Saturninus-

SATURNINUS Romans, do me right.

Patricians, draw your swords and sheathe them not

Till Saturninus be Rome's emperor.

Andronicus, would thou wert shipped to hell,

Rather than rob me of the people's hearts.

LUCIUS Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good

That noble-minded Titus means to thee.

TITUS Content thee, prince, I will restore to thee

The people's hearts, and wean them from themselves.

BASSIANUS Andronicus, I do not flatter thee,

But honour thee, and will do till I die:

My faction if thou strengthen with thy friends,

I will most thankful be, and thanks to men

Of noble minds is honourable meed.

TITUS People of Rome, and noble tribunes here,

I ask your voices and your suffrages,

Will you bestow them friendly on Andronicus?

TRIBUNES To gratify the good Andronicus

And gratulate his safe return to Rome,

The people will accept whom he admits.

TITUS Tribunes, I thank you, and this suit I make,

That you create our emperor's eldest son,

Lord Saturnine, whose virtues will, I hope,

Reflect on Rome as Titan's rays on earth,

And ripen justice in this commonweal:

Then if you will elect by my advice,

Crown him and say, 'Long live our emperor!'

MARCUS With voices and applause of every sort,

Patricians and plebeians, we create

Lord Saturninus Rome's great emperor,

And say, 'Long live our Emperor Saturnine!'

A long flourish till they come down

SATURNINUS Titus Andronicus, for thy favours done

To us in our election this day,

I give thee thanks in part of thy deserts,

And will with deeds requite thy gentleness:

And, for an onset, Titus, to advance

Thy name and honourable family,

Lavinia will I make my emperess,

Rome's royal mistress, mistress of my heart,

And in the sacred Pantheon her espouse:

Tell me, Andronicus, doth this motion please thee?

TITUS It doth, my worthy lord, and in this match

I hold me highly honoured of your grace,

And here in sight of Rome to Saturnine,

King and commander of our commonweal,

The wide world's emperor, do I consecrate

My sword, my chariot and my prisoners,

Presents well worthy Rome's imperial lord:

Receive them then, the tribute that I owe, Titus' sword, chariot (?)

Mine honour's ensigns humbled at thy feet. and prisoners are given

SATURNINUS Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life. to Saturninus

How proud I am of thee and of thy gifts,

Rome shall record, and when I do forget

The least of these unspeakable deserts,

Romans forget your fealty to me.

TITUS Now, madam, are you prisoner to an To Tamora


To him that for your honour and your state,

Will use you nobly and your followers.

SATURNINUS A goodly lady, trust me, of the hue Aside?

That I would choose, were I to choose anew.-

Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance: To Tamora

Though chance of war hath wrought this change of cheer,

Thou com'st not to be made a scorn in Rome:

Princely shall be thy usage every way.

Rest on my word, and let not discontent

Daunt all your hopes: madam, he comforts you

Can make you greater than the queen of Goths.-

Lavinia, you are not displeased with this?

LAVINIA Not I, my lord, sith true nobility

Warrants these words in princely courtesy.

SATURNINUS Thanks, sweet Lavinia.- Romans, let us go.

Ransomless here we set our prisoners free:

Proclaim our honours, lords, with trump and Sound music;

drum. prisoners released

BASSIANUS Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine. Seizes

TITUS How, sir? Are you in earnest then, my lord? Lavinia

BASSIANUS Ay, noble Titus, and resolved withal

To do myself this reason and this right.

MARCUS 'Suum cuique' is our Roman justice:

This prince in justice seizeth but his own.

LUCIUS And that he will, and shall, if Lucius live.

TITUS Traitors, avaunt! Where is the emperor's guard?-

Treason, my lord: Lavinia is surprised!

SATURNINUS Surprised? By whom?

BASSIANUS By him that justly may

Bear his betrothed from all the world away.

MUTIUS Brothers, help to convey her hence away,

And with my sword I'll keep this door safe.

[Exeunt Bassianus, Lavinia, Marcus,

Martius, Quintus]

TITUS Follow, my lord, and I'll soon bring her back.

[Exeunt Saturninus and Goths]

MUTIUS My lord, you pass not here.

TITUS What, villain boy, barr'st me my way in Rome?

He kills him

MUTIUS Help, Lucius, help!

LUCIUS My lord, you are unjust, and, more than so:

In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.

TITUS Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine:

My sons would never so dishonour me.

Traitor, restore Lavinia to the emperor.

LUCIUS Dead, if you will, but not to be his wife

That is another's lawful promised love. [Exit]

Enter aloft the Emperor with Tamora and her two sons, and Aaron

the Moor

SATURNINUS No, Titus, no, the emperor needs her not,

Nor her, nor thee, nor any of thy stock.

I'll trust by leisure him that mocks me once,

Thee never, nor thy traitorous haughty sons,

Confederates all thus to dishonour me.

Was none in Rome to make a stale

But Saturnine? Full well, Andronicus,

Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine,

That said'st I begged the empire at thy hands.

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About the Author

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) was a poet, playwright, and actor who is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers in the history of the English language. Often referred to as the Bard of Avon, Shakespeare's vast body of work includes comedic, tragic, and historical plays; poems; and 154 sonnets. His dramatic works have been translated into every major language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. More by William Shakespeare
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About the Author

Jonathan Bate
SIR JONATHAN BATE is an academic, broadcaster, critic, novelist, and prize-winning author of biographies of Wordsworth, Keats, and John Clare. He is the Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities at Arizona State University, as well as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, where he holds the title of Professor of English Literature. Until September 2019 he was Provost of Worcester College, Oxford. He was knighted in 2015 for services to literary scholarship and higher education. More by Jonathan Bate
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Eric Rasmussen
Eric Rasmussen, a professor of English at the University of Nevada, is one of today's leading textual experts on Shakespeare. More by Eric Rasmussen
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