Titus Andronicus


William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus: Act 5, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Lucius prepares his army of Goths to attack Rome. A Goth enters with Aaron and Aaron’s child, having found them in hiding. Lucius decides to hang the child in front of Aaron, and then hang Aaron himself. But Aaron offers to tell him valuable information in return for sparing his child.
Lucius’ original decision to kill the baby in front of Aaron reveals his own potential for cruelty and barbarism, while Aaron prioritizes the life of his child over his and Tamora’s own safety.
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Aaron tells Lucius that Tamora is the mother of his child and that Demetrius and Chiron killed Bassianus, raped Lavinia, and cut her hands and tongue off. Aaron says that he was he was behind all the murders, goading Demetrius and Chiron on. Lucius asks if Aaron is sorry, to which Aaron answers that he has lived a life of evil deeds and his only 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.
Aaron’s lack of repentance characterizes him as driven by a love of crime and cruelty. Unlike other characters, he does not even seem to claim that his acts of violence were justified, but rather simply delights in causing harm. Some critics argue that Aaron's motivation may be that, as a black man, he is even more singled out and mistrusted and poorly treated than even the barbarians, but it is not clear that this interpretation is truly supported by the text. Aaron may just delight in causing mayhem and pain.
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