Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Titus Andronicus
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Titus Andronicus
Act IV. Scene IV.
The Same.  Before the Palace.
Enter SATURNINUS, TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, Lords, and Others: SATURNINUS with the arrows in his hand that TITUS shot.
  Sat.  Why, lords, what wrongs are these! Was ever seen
An emperor of Rome thus overborne,
Troubled, confronted thus; and, for the extent        5
Of egal justice, us’d in such contempt?
My lords, you know, as do the mightful gods,—
However these disturbers of our peace
Buzz in the people’s ears,—there nought hath pass’d,
But even with law, against the wilful sons        10
Of old Andronicus. And what an if
His sorrows have so overwhelm’d his wits,
Shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks,
His fits, his frenzy, and his bitterness?
And now he writes to heaven for his redress:        15
See, here’s to Jove, and this to Mercury;
This to Apollo; this to the god of war;
Sweet scrolls to fly about the streets of Rome!
What’s this but libelling against the senate,
And blazoning our injustice every where?        20
A goodly humour, is it not, my lords?
As who would say, in Rome no justice were.
But if I live, his feigned ecstasies
Shall be no shelter to these outrages;
But he and his shall know that justice lives        25
In Saturninus’ health; whom, if she sleep,
He’ll so awake, as she in fury shall
Cut off the proud’st conspirator that lives.
  Tam.  My gracious lord, my lovely Saturnine,
Lord of my life, commander of my thoughts,        30
Calm thee, and bear the faults of Titus’ age,
The effects of sorrow for his valiant sons,
Whose loss hath pierc’d him deep and scarr’d his heart;
And rather comfort his distressed plight
Than prosecute the meanest or the best        35
For these contempts.—[Aside.]  Why, thus it shall become
High-witted Tamora to gloze with all:
But, Titus, I have touch’d thee to the quick,
Thy life-blood out: if Aaron now be wise,
Then is all safe, the anchor’s in the port.        40
Enter Clown.
How now, good fellow! wouldst thou speak with us?
  Clo.  Yea, forsooth, an your mistership be emperial.
  Tam.  Empress I am, but yonder sits the emperor.
  Clo.  ’Tis he. God and Saint Stephen give you good den.        45
I have brought you a letter and a couple of pigeons here.  [SATURNINUS reads the letter.
  Sat.  Go, take him away, and hang him presently.
  Clo.  How much money must I have?
  Tam.  Come, sirrah, you must be hanged.
  Clo.  Hanged! By ’r lady, then I have brought up a neck to a fair end.  [Exit, guarded.        50
  Sat.  Despiteful and intolerable wrongs!
Shall I endure this monstrous villany?
I know from whence this same device proceeds:
May this be borne? As if his traitorous sons,
That died by law for murder of our brother,        55
Have by my means been butcher’d wrongfully!
Go, drag the villain hither by the hair;
Nor age nor honour shall shape privilege.
For this proud mock I’ll be thy slaughterman;
Sly frantic wretch, that holp’st to make me great,        60
In hope thyself should govern Rome and me.
What news with thee, Æmilius?
  Æmil.  Arm, arm, my lord! Rome never had more cause.
The Goths have gather’d head, and with a power        65
Of high-resolved men, bent to the spoil,
They hither march amain, under conduct
Of Lucius, son to old Andronicus;
Who threats, in course of this revenge, to do
As much as ever Coriolanus did.        70
  Sat.  Is war-like Lucius general of the Goths?
These tidings nip me, and I hang the head
As flowers with frost or grass beat down with storms.
Ay, now begin our sorrows to approach:
’Tis he the common people love so much;        75
Myself hath often heard them say,
When I have walked like a private man,
That Lucius’ banishment was wrongfully,
And they have wish’d that Lucius were their emperor.
  Tam.  Why should you fear? is not your city strong?        80
  Sat.  Ay, but the citizens favour Lucius,
And will revolt from me to succour him.
  Tam.  King, be thy thoughts imperious, like thy name.
Is the sun dimm’d, that gnats do fly in it?
The eagle suffers little birds to sing,        85
And is not careful what they mean thereby,
Knowing that with the shadow of his wings
He can at pleasure stint their melody;
Even so mayst thou the giddy men of Rome.
Then cheer thy spirit; for know, thou emperor,        90
I will enchant the old Andronicus
With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,
Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep,
Whenas the one is wounded with the bait,
The other rotted with delicious feed.        95
  Sat.  But he will not entreat his son for us.
  Tam.  If Tamora entreat him, then he will:
For I can smooth and fill his aged ear
With golden promises, that, were his heart
Almost impregnable, his old ears deaf,        100
Yet should both ear and heart obey my tongue.
[To ÆMILIUS.]  Go thou before, be our ambassador:
Say that the emperor requests a parley
Of war-like Lucius, and appoint the meeting,
Even at his father’s house, the old Andronicus.        105
  Sat.  Æmilius, do this message honourably:
And if he stand on hostage for his safety,
Bid him demand what pledge will please him best.
  Æmil.  Your bidding shall I do effectually.  [Exit.
  Tam.  Now will I to that old Andronicus,        110
And temper him with all the art I have,
To pluck proud Lucius from the war-like Goths.
And now, sweet emperor, be blithe again,
And bury all thy fear in my devices.
  Sat.  Then go successantly, and plead to him.  [Exeunt.        115

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