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An embittered Roman General returns from war, having captured the Queen of the Goths and her three sons. Sacrificing the eldest, in memory of his own sons killed in battle, he provokes the queen’s unending hatred.
86 pages with a reading time of ~1.50 hours (21606 words), and first published in 1593. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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Rome. Before the Capitol.
The Tomb of the ANDRONICI appearing; the Tribunes and Senators aloft. Enter, below, from one side, SATURNINUS and his Followers; and, from the other side, BASSIANUS and his Followers; with drum and colours
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 am his 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.
Romans, friends, followers, favorers 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 The 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]
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, surnamed 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 accit’d home From weary wars against the barbarous Goths; That, with his sons, a terror to our foes, Hath yoked a nation strong, train’d up in arms. Ten years are spent since first he undertook This cause of Rome and chastised with arms Our enemies’ pride: five times he hath return’d 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, Renowned 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.
How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!
Marcus Andronicus, so I do ally 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 favor Commit my cause in balance to be weigh’d.
[Exeunt the followers of BASSIANUS]
Friends, that have been thus forward in my right, I thank you all and here dismiss you all, And to the love and favor of my country Commit myself, my person and the cause.
[Exeunt the followers of SATURNINUS]
Rome, be as just and gracious unto me As I am confident and kind to thee. Open the gates, and let me in.
Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.
Flourish. SATURNINUS and BASSIANUS go up into the Capitol
[Enter a 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 return’d From where he circumscribed with his sword, And brought to yoke, the enemies of Rome.
Drums and trumpets sounded. Enter MARTIUS and MUTIUS; After them, two Men bearing a coffin covered with black; then LUCIUS and QUINTUS. After them, TITUS ANDRONICUS; and then TAMORA, with ALARBUS, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, AARON, and other Goths, prisoners; Soldiers and people following. The Bearers set down the coffin, and TITUS speaks
Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds! Lo, as the bark, that hath discharged her fraught, Returns with precious jading to the bay From whence at first she weigh’d her anchorage, Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs, To re-salute 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.
The tomb is opened