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SATURNINUS, Son to the late Emperor of Rome, and afterwards declared Emperor.
BASSIANUS, Brother to Saturninus, in love with Lavinia.
TITUS ANDRONICUS, a noble Roman, General against the Goths. MARCUS ANDRONICUS, Tribune of the People, and Brother to Titus. LUCIUS,
Goths and Romans.
TAMORA, Queen of the Goths.
LAVINIA, Daughter to Titus Andronicus.
A Nurse, and a black Child.
Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE: Rome, and the Country near it.
The Tomb of the Andronici appearing. The Tribunes and Senators aloft; and then enter SATURNINUS and his Followers at one door, and BASSIANUS and his Followers at the other, with drum and colours.
Sat. Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Defend the justice of my cause with arms;
4. successive] legitimate, in due succession to his father. Vide 2 Henry VI. III. i. 49; Hamlet, v. ii. 284. Steevens quotes a like use of it from Raleigh.
8. age] seniority, i.e. deprive me of what is due me as the elder son. A form of half-personification or synecdoche very common in Shakespeare.
9. Romans, friends, followers, etc.] 5. his first-born . . . that] A con- It is well to note how carefully the struction no longer allowable in characters of the two brothers are disEnglish I am the first-born son of tinguished from the first, and the him who was the last, etc. "That " different style of their address to their for modern "who" is frequent in followers. Bassianus speaks in that Shakespeare. strain of aristocratic republicanism
If ever Bassianus, Cæsar's son,
Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,
And suffer not dishonour to approach
The imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,
Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the crown.
Marc. Princes, that strive by factions and by friends
Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand
For many good and great deserts to Rome.
A nobler man, a braver warrior,
which we find both in Julius Cæsar
12. Keep] defend, hold.
15. continence] may either have a rather broader meaning than that we now give it = self-mastery, or may be in allusion to known defects in his brother's character. The New Eng. Dict. quotes from Elyot: "Continence is a virtue which keepeth the plesaunt appetite of man under the yoke of reason.
16. pure election] free choice, apart from the considerations of birth, which were in favour of his brother.
19. empery] rule, absolute sway, Henry V. 1. ii. 226.
21. special party] as representatives. Party in Shakespeare means cause, interest, party (in political or military sense), and never has the (vulgar) modern use = person.
22. In election, etc.] This seems to mean, not that Titus was finally elected Emperor, but was put forward as candidate by the people, as distinguished from the Patrícians, the Senate, etc. He was merely candidatus, as Marcus says in a later speech.
24. deserts] merit, good deeds, as in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 'If you retain desert of holiness," New. Eng.
27. accited] summoned. This and other slightly pedantic words in the
From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;
In coffins from the field.
And now at last, laden with honour's spoils,
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.
Sat. How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!
In thy uprightness and integrity,
And so I love and honour thee and thine,
Thy noble brother Titus and his sons,
Gracious Lavinia, Rome's rich ornament,
Sat. Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,
[Exeunt the Followers of Saturninus.
Rome, be as just and gracious unto me
Bass. Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.
[Flourish. They go up into the Senate-house.
Enter a Captain.
Cap. Romans, make way! the good Andronicus,
52. Gracious] has numerous meanings in Shakespeare (1) kind, (2) agreeable, (3) holy, (4) fortunate, (5) lovely, (6) condescending (applied to kings, etc.); but here either (3) or (5). Schmidt.
55, 59. cause] the decision, or trial of the matter, as often elsewhere in Shakespeare. Richard III. III. v. 66.
61. confident] confiding. See New Eng. Dict. "Kind” may mean kindly disposed, or it may mean near in
blood, as the eldest son of the late Emperor.
63. a poor competitor] either poor in having no wealthy or influential backing, as his brother had, or a mere touch of mock humility, in order to curry favour with the tribunes and people.
68. circumscribed] restrained, limited, as in Hamlet, 1. iii. 22. New Eng. Dict. gives Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, ix. 185 (ed. 1840), "I was alone circumscribed by the ocean."