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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter AARON

AARON

Now climbeth Tamora Olympus' top, Safe out of fortune's shot; and sits aloft, Secure of thunder's crack or lightning flash; Advanced above pale envy's threatening reach. As when the golden sun salutes the morn, And, having gilt the ocean with his beams, Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach, And overlooks the highest-peering hills; So Tamora: Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait, And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown. Then, Aaron, arm thy heart, and fit thy thoughts, To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress, And mount her pitch, whom thou in triumph long Hast prisoner held, fetter'd in amorous chains And faster bound to Aaron's charming eyes Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus. Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts! I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold, To wait upon this new-made empress. To wait, said I? to wanton with this queen, This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph, This siren, that will charm Rome's Saturnine, And see his shipwreck and his commonweal's. Holloa! what storm is this?

AARON

So now Tamora is as high as Olympus, safe from misfortune and jealousy. She's safe from both thunder's crack and lightning's flash, having ascended farther than envy can reach. She's like the golden sun that greets the morning, and, having crowned the ocean with its beams, gallops across the sky in a glittering coach and looks down on even the highest hills. Honorable and virtuous men wait for her words, and tremble when she frowns. Then, Aaron, arm your heart and make your thoughts fit to go to the top with your imperial mistress—since she's been your prisoner in love for a long time, bound to you with tighter chains that Prometheus was tied to that rock in the Caucasus. Cast away poor clothing and low thoughts! I will be bright, shining in pearl and gold, when I serve this new-made empress. Did I say serve? I meant that I'll play with this queen, this goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph, this siren, that will charm Rome's Saturnine, and lead him to his ruin. But what's all this noise?

Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, braving

DEMETRIUS

Chiron, thy years want wit, thy wit wants edge,And manners, to intrude where I am graced;And may, for aught thou know'st, affected be.

DEMETRIUS

Chiron, you're young and stupid, and you don't have what it takes to get in my way and intrude where I'm welcome. 

CHIRON

Demetrius, thou dost over-ween in all; And so in this, to bear me down with braves. 'Tis not the difference of a year or two Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate: I am as able and as fit as thou To serve, and to deserve my mistress' grace; And that my sword upon thee shall approve, And plead my passions for Lavinia's love.

CHIRON

Demetrius, you've always been arrogant, and it's no different in this. You're only a year or two older than me, and that doesn't make you any better. I'm as fit as you to serve my mistress and make her love me. And I'll prove it with my sword, to show how much I want Lavinia's love. 

AARON

[Aside] Clubs, clubs! these lovers will not keepthe peace.

AARON

[To himself] I'll have to call the guards; these lovers will start fighting each other soon.

DEMETRIUS

Why, boy, although our mother, unadvised, Gave you a dancing-rapier by your side, Are you so desperate grown, to threat your friends? Go to; have your lath glued within your sheath Till you know better how to handle it.

DEMETRIUS

Why, boy, ever since our mother gave you a toy sword you've been desperate to start brandishing it around. Give it to me; I'll glue it to its sheath until you know how to handle it. 

CHIRON

Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.

CHIRON

Before that, sir, I'll use the little skill I have to show you how ready I am to use it. 

DEMETRIUS

Ay, boy, grow ye so brave?

DEMETRIUS

What, boy, are you so brave now? 

They draw

AARON

[ Coming forward] Why, how now, lords! So near the emperor's palace dare you draw, And maintain such a quarrel openly? Full well I wot the ground of all this grudge: I would not for a million of gold The cause were known to them it most concerns; Nor would your noble mother for much more Be so dishonour'd in the court of Rome. For shame, put up.

AARON

[Coming forward] What's this, lords? How can you openly draw your swords so close to the emperor's palace? I know why you're fighting: I wouldn't take a million gold coins to let them know why. Your noble mother wouldn't take so much more to let you dishonor her in Rome. For God's sake, put your swords away.

DEMETRIUS

Not I, till I have sheathed My rapier in his bosom and withal Thrust these reproachful speeches down his throat That he hath breathed in my dishonour here.

DEMETRIUS

I won't, not until I've stabbed him and thrown his insulting words back down his throat. 

CHIRON

For that I am prepared and full resolved.Foul-spoken coward, that thunder'st with thy tongue,And with thy weapon nothing darest perform!

CHIRON

I'm prepared for that. You coward, talking about what you don't dare to do yourself! 

AARON

Away, I say! Now, by the gods that warlike Goths adore, This petty brabble will undo us all. Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous It is to jet upon a prince's right? What, is Lavinia then become so loose, Or Bassianus so degenerate, That for her love such quarrels may be broach'd Without controlment, justice, or revenge? Young lords, beware! and should the empress know This discord's ground, the music would not please.

AARON

Put it away, I say! This stupid fight will ruin us all. Lords, haven't you thought how dangerous it is to try to seduce a prince's wife? Is Lavinia so loose, or Bassianus so corrupt, that you can fight over her love without bringing disaster on your heads? Young lords, watch yourselves! If the empress knew about this, she wouldn't be happy. 

CHIRON

I care not, I, knew she and all the world:I love Lavinia more than all the world.

CHIRON

I don't care if she or anyone else knows it: I love Lavinia more than all the world.

DEMETRIUS

Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice:Lavinia is thine elder brother's hope.

DEMETRIUS

Young man, choose someone else: Lavinia is your elder brother's choice. 

AARON

Why, are ye mad? or know ye not, in Rome How furious and impatient they be, And cannot brook competitors in love? I tell you, lords, you do but plot your deaths By this device.

AARON

What, are you crazy? Don't you know how jealous Romans are of their competitors in love? I tell you, lords, you're going to get yourselves killed. 

CHIRON

Aaron, a thousand deathsWould I propose to achieve her whom I love.

CHIRON

Aaron, I'd die a thousand times to have her. 

AARON

To achieve her! how?

AARON

To have her! How? 

DEMETRIUS

Why makest thou it so strange? She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd; She is a woman, therefore may be won; She is Lavinia, therefore must be loved. What, man! more water glideth by the mill Than wots the miller of; and easy it is Of a cut loaf to steal a shive, we know: Though Bassianus be the emperor's brother. Better than he have worn Vulcan's badge.

DEMETRIUS

Why do you sound so surprised? She is a woman, so can be wooed; she's a woman, and so can be won; she is Lavinia, so she must be loved. You know what I mean, man: more water goes by the mill than the miller knows about, and it's a simple thing to steal a slice of a loaf of bread. Bassianus is the emperor's brother, but greater men that him have been cheated on by their wives. 

AARON

[Aside] Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.

AARON

[To himself] True—even a man as great as Saturninus can be cheated.

DEMETRIUS

Then why should he despair that knows to court it With words, fair looks and liberality? What, hast not thou full often struck a doe, And borne her cleanly by the keeper's nose?

DEMETRIUS

Then, it should be no problem for a man who knows how to flirt with a woman, seeming generous and charming. What, haven't you often killed a deer right under her owner's nose?

AARON

Why, then, it seems, some certain snatch or soWould serve your turns.

AARON

Why, then it seems a quick hunt would serve your purposes. 

CHIRON

Ay, so the turn were served.

CHIRON

Yes, if that would do it. 

DEMETRIUS

Aaron, thou hast hit it.

DEMETRIUS

Aaron, you're right on point there.

AARON

Would you had hit it too! Then should not we be tired with this ado. Why, hark ye, hark ye! and are you such fools To square for this? would it offend you, then That both should speed?

AARON

I wish you were as sharp! Then we wouldn't be making all this fuss. Why—listen to me!—are you fighting each other over her? Would you be offended if you both succeeded? 

CHIRON

Faith, not me.

CHIRON

No, not me.

DEMETRIUS

Nor me, so I were one.

DEMETRIUS

Nor I, as long as I got what I wanted. 

AARON

For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar: 'Tis policy and stratagem must do That you affect; and so must you resolve, That what you cannot as you would achieve, You must perforce accomplish as you may. Take this of me: Lucrece was not more chaste Than this Lavinia, Bassianus' love. A speedier course than lingering languishment Must we pursue, and I have found the path. My lords, a solemn hunting is in hand; There will the lovely Roman ladies troop: The forest walks are wide and spacious; And many unfrequented plots there are Fitted by kind for rape and villany: Single you thither then this dainty doe, And strike her home by force, if not by words: This way, or not at all, stand you in hope. Come, come, our empress, with her sacred wit To villany and vengeance consecrate, Will we acquaint with all that we intend; And she shall file our engines with advice, That will not suffer you to square yourselves, But to your wishes' height advance you both. The emperor's court is like the house of Fame, The palace full of tongues, of eyes, and ears: The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull; There speak, and strike, brave boys, and take your turns; There serve your lusts, shadow'd from heaven's eye, And revel in Lavinia's treasury.

AARON

Well, then why don't you work together: if you want her, you'll need a plan. You must decide that if you can't have it as you would ideally want, then you will have it however you can. Take my word for it: Lavinia, Bassianus's love, is as chaste as Lucrece. We have to find a quicker way than trying to persuade her, since that will never work, and I have just the path in mind. My lords, tomorrow we're all going hunting, and the lovely Roman ladies will come along: the forest paths are wide and spacious, and there are many isolated places fit for rape and other crimes. Bring this pretty doe there alone, and take her by force, if not by words: this is your only hope. Come on, and let's tell our empress our villainous and vengeful plans; all her energy is devoted to revenge. She will improve on our plans with her advice, and will make sure you don't mess up those plans by fighting amongst yourselves. You'll both get what you want. The emperor's palace is as full of tongues, eyes, and ears as the House of Fame; you'll have no privacy there. But the woods are pitiless, dreadful, and hear nothing; that's where you can do what you want, brave boys, and take your turns with Lavinia. There you can satisfy your lusts in the shadows, where heaven can't see, and enjoy the treasures of her body. 

CHIRON

Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice.

CHIRON

Your advice is good, friend.

DEMETRIUS

Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the streamTo cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits.Per Styga, per manes vehor.

DEMETRIUS

Whether it's right or wrong, I must have her: until I find the stream to cool my heat, or some medicine to calm me down, I live in hell. 

Exeunt

Titus andronicus
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Eve houghton
About the Translator: Eve Houghton

Eve Houghton graduated from Yale College in 2017 and is currently pursuing the MPhil in Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, she will return to Yale to begin her PhD in English. Her research interests include early modern commonplace books and note-taking practices, paratexts, reception studies, and the history of reading.