Titus Andronicus

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Saturninus Character Analysis

Saturninus is the oldest son of the recently deceased Roman emperor and thus becomes emperor at the beginning of the play. When Titus’ sons and Bassianus claim that he cannot marry Lavinia, as he wished, he becomes angry with the Andronicus family and chooses Tamora as his wife instead. He then secretly engages in acts of revenge against Titus, though does not realize that he is being lied to and manipulated by Tamora.

Saturninus Quotes in Titus Andronicus

The Titus Andronicus quotes below are all either spoken by Saturninus or refer to Saturninus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Titus Andronicus published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Traitor, if Rome have law or we have power,
Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape.

Related Characters: Saturninus (speaker), Saturninus
Page Number: 1.1.411-412
Explanation and Analysis:

After witnessing much of the family debacle described above, Saturninus decides he does not trust the Andronicus family. He decides not to marry Lavina (who has escaped with Bassanius anyway) and instead elects to wed Tamora, making the "barbarian" prisoner instantly empress of Rome. Tamora immediately accepts, and embraces her incorporation into Rome, demonstrating an easy transition into Roman speech and her newfound power.

Here Saturninus is furious with his brother and with Titus for what he sees as their "treason." He accuses them of "rape," by which he means they have forcefully taken Lavinia from him. This language foreshadows Lavinia's literal rape at the hands of Chiron and Demetrius. Saturninus seeks justice for the slights he perceives as having been perpetrated against him, and suggests he might pursue his vengeance through a legal medium, using the power he has been granted as emperor of Rome. But his new bride is quickly (and slyly) able to convince him otherwise, and he publicly forgives Titus and Bassianus in order to seek private, personal revenge against them through activities that are outside the law.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Titus Andronicus quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Kinsmen, his sorrows are past remedy.
Join with the Goths, and with revengeful war
Take wreak on Rome for this ingratitude,
And vengeance on the traitor Saturnine.

Related Characters: Marcus Andronicus (speaker), Titus Andronicus, Saturninus, Tamora, Demetrius and Chiron
Page Number: 4.3.31-35
Explanation and Analysis:

Titus, Marcus, Young Lucius, and Marcus's son Publius are gathered. They have all prepared arrows with inscriptions on them, which they will shoot into the sky in pleas for divine justice. This practice reveals that they believe their plight for justice and revenge to be entirely (and divinely) justified. When Publius suggests that they try to calm down and find some "careful remedy" to the situation, Marcus responds that Titus's "sorrows are past remedy." There is no hope for solace or a peaceful solution; they only seek revenge.

In the following lines, Marcus shows how far the drive for revenge has taken him and his complete disillusionment with Rome. He cries out that his kinsmen should "Join with the Goths," hoping that they can then wage "revengeful war" against all of Rome. Violence has caused an inversion of what is Roman, what is Gothic, and what is just. The drive for revenge is so great that the Andronicus family, quintessentially Roman at the start of the play, now hopes for revenge and war on Rome itself in order to gain the "justice," or revenge, that they themselves set in motion by killing Alarbus according to the Roman way at the beginning of the play.

Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

My lord the Emperor, resolve me this:
Was it well done of rash Virginius
To slay his daughter with his own right hand
Because she was enforced, stained, and deflowered?

Related Characters: Titus Andronicus (speaker), Saturninus
Related Symbols: The Body
Page Number: 5.3.35-38
Explanation and Analysis:

The Andronicus revenge plot is underway. Titus has tricked Tamora into leaving Chiron and Demetrius behind, and he has killed them and baked them into pies he is now serving to Saturninus and Tamora (who are visiting in hopes of dissuading Lucius and his Goths from attacking Rome). 

As Tamora and Saturninus unknowingly begin to eat the pies, Titus asks Saturninus for his opinion as emperor. Titus asks about a Roman legend concerning Virginius, who killed his daughter after she had been raped to preserve his family's honor. Titus uses this line of questioning to introduce to Saturninus the fact that Lavinia was raped, but the result is a shocking one.

There is a darkly humorous cast to this scene, as Titus asks Saturninus about the proper way to respond to familial "stains" even as he "stains" his guests by having them eat Tamora's children. The story further establishes the strange values of Rome, in which honor was placed above the lives of children, in which being a citizen of Roman civilization required the killing of one's daughter who was innocent of any crime other than being raped. The story also helps place Titus Andronicus into the tradition of bloodthirsty Senecan revenge tragedies (a genre named after a Roman writer named Seneca, and which was still popular among authors of Shakespeare's time). There is, further, a sense that, even as Shakespeare fits his own story into this tradition, he is gleefully showing other playwrights who's the boss through the incredible bloodthirsty madness of his plot. 

There’s meed for meed, death for a deadly deed.

Related Characters: Lucius (speaker), Titus Andronicus, Saturninus
Related Symbols: The Body
Page Number: 5.3.67
Explanation and Analysis:

Titus reveals that Tamora "hath fed / Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred," and he stabs Tamora before she can respond to the fact that she ate the flesh of her own children, which comprises her dying thought. Part of Titus's revenge is this silencing; he didn't seek a reaction, but rather justice. Witnessing Titus slay Tamora, Saturninus curses and kills Titus. At the death of his father, Lucius says, "Can the son's eye behold his father bleed?" and kills Saturninus.

After killing Saturninus, Lucius completes his rhyimg couplet (interrupted by a death) with the line of the quote, which speaks to the cyclical patterns of revenge and violence in the play. Murder and vengeance beget more revenge; opposing families take revenge for revenge killings over and over again, without end, until one family is completely erased. The excess of blood and revenge in the play can be seen as caricatures, ridiculing the popular revenge tragedies of Shakespeare's contemporaries.

Get the entire Titus Andronicus LitChart as a printable PDF.
Titus andronicus.pdf.medium

Saturninus Character Timeline in Titus Andronicus

The timeline below shows where the character Saturninus appears in Titus Andronicus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Children Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
As the play opens, Saturninus and Bassianus, the two sons of the recently deceased emperor of Rome, are arguing over... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
...campaign against the Gauls, where 21 of his 25 sons died in battle. Bassianus and Saturninus concede and the three men exit. (full context)
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
...of him as emperor. Titus declines (he says he is too old and weak) and Saturninus responds by reasserting his claim to the throne. Bassianus asks for Titus to support him... (full context)
Children Theme Icon
As a gesture of thanks to Titus, Saturninus declares that he will take Lavinia as his wife. Titus is pleased with this, and... (full context)
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Children Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
...Bassianus's claim to Lavinia, and Titus responds by calling them traitors. Titus then calls for Saturninus to alert him and Saturninus returns. Titus’ son Mutius helps Titus’ other sons and Bassianus... (full context)
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
Angry that Lavinia has been taken from him, Saturninus says that he no longer trusts the Andronicus family and will not have Lavinia as... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
Saturninus enters with Tamora, her sons, and Aaron, while Bassianus enters with Lavinia. Saturninus tells Bassianus... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Tamora convinces Saturninus not to seek revenge, but rather to forgive Titus. However, she secretly whispers to Saturninus... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...that he and Tamora are lovers and says that Tamora will cause the downfall of Saturninus and Rome. Chiron and Demetrius enter, arguing over their desire for Lavinia, and prepare to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...and Titus’ sons prepare for the hunt. Titus tells his sons to watch out for Saturninus, as he has been “troubled in my sleep this night.” Saturninus, Tamora, Bassianus, Lavinia, and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Revenge Theme Icon
...sons will rape Lavinia and kill Bassianus. He gives Tamora a letter to show to Saturninus. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...Lavinia and Bassianus chastise Tamora for sleeping with Aaron and say that they will tell Saturninus about what they’ve seen. (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...dark and difficult to see clearly, Martius falls into the pit. Aaron goes to find Saturninus. Martius sees Bassianus’ dead body in the pit. Quintus attempts to help him get out... (full context)
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Saturninus reads the letter, which describes a plan to kill Bassianus in return for payment in... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Children Theme Icon
Aaron enters and tells Titus that Saturninus will allow Titus’ sons to be ransomed if Titus, Marcus, or Lucius will cut off... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Grief and Mourning Theme Icon
...revenge. He sends Lucius to go to the Goths and raise an army to challenge Saturninus. Lucius bids farewell to Rome, Lavinia, and his father, calling Titus “the woefull’st man that... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Children Theme Icon
...to get a fair-skinned baby to change places with his and pose as Tamora and Saturninus’ son. He asks Demetrius and Chiron to send the midwife to him (so he may... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...rustic peasant) enters and Titus writes a message that he has the clown deliver to Saturninus. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Saturninus, attended by Tamora, Chiron, and Demetrius, is annoyed by the arrows shot by the Andronicus... (full context)
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
A messenger named Aemilius arrives and tells Saturninus that Lucius is leading an army of Goths against Rome. Saturninus worries, since the Roman... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...regret is that he cannot commit more crimes. The messenger Aemilius arrives and announces that Saturninus wants to meet with Titus and Lucius at Titus’ house. Lucius agrees to the meeting. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Children Theme Icon
...over Aaron until it is time to for him to reveal Aaron's relationship with Tamora. Saturninus and Tamora arrive with their attendants and agree to a peaceful meeting with Lucius. Titus... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Children Theme Icon
Titus then reveals to Saturninus that Demetrius and Chiron raped Lavinia and mutilated her. Saturninus asks for the two sons... (full context)
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
Grief and Mourning Theme Icon
...be buried chest-deep in the earth, where he will starve to death. Lucius orders for Saturninus to be brought to his family’s tomb, and for Titus and Lavinia to be buried... (full context)