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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Translation Act 4, Scene 2

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Enter, from one side, AARON, DEMETRIUS, and CHIRON; from the other side, Young LUCIUS, and an Attendant, with a bundle of weapons, and verses writ upon them

CHIRON

Demetrius, here's the son of Lucius;He hath some message to deliver us.

CHIRON

Look, Demetrius, here's the son of Lucius—and he's got some message to give us. 

AARON

Ay, some mad message from his mad grandfather.

AARON

Yes, some mad message from his mad grandfather. 

YOUNG LUCIUS

My lords, with all the humbleness I may, I greet your honours from Andronicus. [Aside] And pray the Roman gods confound you both!

YOUNG LUCIUS

My lords, I bring greetings from Andronicus with all the humility I can. 

[To himself] And I pray the Roman gods punish you both!

DEMETRIUS

Gramercy, lovely Lucius: what's the news?

DEMETRIUS

Thanks, lovely Lucius; what's the news? 

YOUNG LUCIUS

[Aside] That you are both decipher'd, that's the news, For villains mark'd with rape.— May it please you, My grandsire, well advised, hath sent by me The goodliest weapons of his armoury To gratify your honourable youth, The hope of Rome; for so he bade me say; And so I do, and with his gifts present Your lordships, that, whenever you have need, You may be armed and appointed well: And so I leave you both: [Aside] like bloody villains.

YOUNG LUCIUS

[To himself] That we've found you out, that's the news, and know that you're rapists.

[To CHIRON and DEMETRIUS] With all respect, my grandfather has sent me to bring you the best weapons from his armory to amuse your honorable youth, for you are the hope of Rome. He told me to tell you that, and so I do. And I present you these gifts, your lordships, so that you can always be armed whenever you need to—and with that, I'll go. 

[To himself] Armed like murderous villains, that is.

Exeunt Young LUCIUS, and Attendant

DEMETRIUS

What's here? A scroll; and written round about? Let's see; [Reads] 'Integer vitae, scelerisque purus, Non eget Mauri jaculis, nec arcu.'

DEMETRIUS

[Looks at weapon] What's this? A scroll tied around? Let's see.
[Reads] "Integer vitae, scelerisque purus, / Non eget Mauri jaculis, nec arcu."

CHIRON

O, 'tis a verse in Horace; I know it well:I read it in the grammar long ago.

CHIRON

Oh, it's a verse by Horace, I know it well; I read it in school a long time ago. 

AARON

Ay, just; a verse in Horace; right, you have it. [Aside] Now, what a thing it is to be an ass! Here's no sound jest! the old man hath found their guilt; And sends them weapons wrapped about with lines, That wound, beyond their feeling, to the quick. But were our witty empress well afoot, She would applaud Andronicus' conceit: But let her rest in her unrest awhile. And now, young lords, was't not a happy star Led us to Rome, strangers, and more than so, Captives, to be advanced to this height? It did me good, before the palace gate To brave the tribune in his brother's hearing.

AARON

Yes, right, a verse from Horace. You've got it. 

[To himself] Ha, what an ass! This is no joke—the old man knows that they're guilty, and sends them weapons wrapped with words that wound them, although they don't pick up on it. But if our sly empress were here, she would applaud Andronicus's cleverness. But we'll leave her be for a while, since she's unwell.

[To CHIRON and DEMETRIUS] And now, young lords—wasn't it lucky that we came to Rome, since we arrived as foreigners and captives and now have so much power? It pleased me to have a go at Marcus Andronicus at the palace gate in front of his brother. 

DEMETRIUS

But me more good, to see so great a lordBasely insinuate and send us gifts.

DEMETRIUS

And I love to see this great lord bow to us and send us gifts.  

AARON

Had he not reason, Lord Demetrius?Did you not use his daughter very friendly?

AARON

Doesn't he have reason, Lord Demetrius? Didn't you treat his daughter in a very friendly way? 

DEMETRIUS

I would we had a thousand Roman damesAt such a bay, by turn to serve our lust.

DEMETRIUS

I wish we had a thousand Roman ladies like that, to take turns serving our lust. 

CHIRON

A charitable wish and full of love.

CHIRON

A kind and loving wish. 

AARON

Here lacks but your mother for to say amen.

AARON

We just miss your mother to say "amen."

CHIRON

And that would she for twenty thousand more.

CHIRON

And she would wish we had twenty thousand more. 

DEMETRIUS

Come, let us go; and pray to all the godsFor our beloved mother in her pains.

DEMETRIUS

Come, let's go and pray to all the gods for your beloved mother in her labor pains. 

AARON

[Aside] Pray to the devils; the gods have given us over.

AARON

[To himself] Pray to the devils; the gods have given up on us.

Trumpets sound within

DEMETRIUS

Why do the emperor's trumpets flourish thus?

DEMETRIUS

Why do the emperor's trumpets make that sound?

CHIRON

Belike, for joy the emperor hath a son.

CHIRON

Probably because the emperor has a son.

DEMETRIUS

Soft! who comes here?

DEMETRIUS

Look! Who's that? 

Enter a Nurse, with a blackamoor Child in her arms

NURSE

Good morr ow, lords:O, tell me, did you see Aaron the Moor?

NURSE

Good morning, lords; oh, tell me, have you seen Aaron the Moor?

AARON

Well, more or less, or ne'er a whit at all,Here Aaron is; and what with Aaron now?

AARON

Well, they've seen me more or less, or they never saw me at all—here's Aaron. What do you want with him?

NURSE

O gentle Aaron, we are all undone!Now help, or woe betide thee evermore!

NURSE

Oh, gentle Aaron, we're all ruined! Help, or we'll be miserable forever! 

AARON

Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep!What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine arms?

AARON

Why do you scream and cry like that? What's that bundle in your arms? 

NURSE

O, that which I would hide from heaven's eye,Our empress' shame, and stately Rome's disgrace!She is deliver'd, lords; she is deliver'd.

NURSE

Oh, something that I would hide from the eye of heaven—the shame of our empress and the disgrace of noble Rome! She is delivered, lords; she's delivered.

AARON

To whom?

AARON

To whom?

NURSE

I mean, she is brought a-bed.

NURSE

I mean, she's had a child.

AARON

Well, God give her good rest! What hath he sent her?

AARON

Well, God give her a good rest afterwards! What sort of child has he given her? 

NURSE

A devil.

NURSE

A devil.

AARON

Why, then she is the devil's dam; a joyful issue.

AARON

Why, then she's the devil's mother; a happy birth. 

NURSE

A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue: Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime: The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal, And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point.

NURSE

It's a joyless, sad, and black child: here's the baby, as disgusting as a toad among the fairest ladies of our land. The empress sends it to you—for it looks exactly like you—and orders you to kill it with your dagger. 

AARON

'Zounds, ye whore! is black so base a hue?Sweet blowse, you are a beauteous blossom, sure.

AARON

By God, you whore! Is black so terrible a color?

[To the baby] Sweetheart, you are a beautiful flower, you are. 

DEMETRIUS

Villain, what hast thou done?

DEMETRIUS

Villain, what have you done?

AARON

That which thou canst not undo.

AARON

That which you can't undo. 

CHIRON

Thou hast undone our mother.

CHIRON

You have undone our mother. 

AARON

Villain, I have done thy mother.

AARON

Villain, I have done your mother. 

DEMETRIUS

And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone.Woe to her chance, and damn'd her loathed choice!Accursed the offspring of so foul a fiend!

DEMETRIUS

And in doing that, hellish dog, you've undone her. Oh, let her good luck come to an end, and damn her disgusting choice! Curses on the offspring of such a foul devil! 

CHIRON

It shall not live.

CHIRON

It shall not live. 

AARON

It shall not die.

AARON

It shall not die.

NURSE

Aaron, it must; the mother wills it so.

NURSE

Aaron, it must; the mother orders it. 

AARON

What, must it, nurse? then let no man but IDo execution on my flesh and blood.

AARON

What, it has to die, nurse? Then let no one but me kill my own flesh and blood.

DEMETRIUS

I'll broach the tadpole on my rapier's point:Nurse, give it me; my sword shall soon dispatch it.

DEMETRIUS

I'll stab the tadpole with the point of my blade; nurse, give it to me. My sword will soon get rid of it.

AARON

Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels up.

AARON

Before you do that, this sword will tear out your bowels. 

Takes the Child from the Nurse, and draws

Stay, murderous villains! will you kill your brother? Now, by the burning tapers of the sky, That shone so brightly when this boy was got, He dies upon my scimitar's sharp point That touches this my first-born son and heir! I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus, With all his threatening band of Typhon's brood, Nor great Alcides, nor the god of war, Shall seize this prey out of his father's hands. What, what, ye sanguine, shallow-hearted boys! Ye white-limed walls! ye alehouse painted signs! Coal-black is better than another hue, In that it scorns to bear another hue; For all the water in the ocean Can never turn the swan's black legs to white, Although she lave them hourly in the flood. Tell the empress from me, I am of age To keep mine own, excuse it how she can.

Stop, murderous villains! Will you kill your brother? Now, by the light of the stars that shone so brightly when this boy was conceived, I'll kill whoever touches this child, my first-born son and heir! I tell you, boys, Enceladus and all of Typhon's offspring, or Alcides, or the god of war couldn't take this prey from his father's hands. What, what, you stupid, shallow boys! You white-washed walls! You painted alehouse signs! Coal-black is better than any other color, because it will never bear another hue: all the water in the ocean can never turn the swan's black legs to white, even if she bathed them hourly in the flood. Tell the empress from me that I'm old enough to keep my own child, whatever excuse she must make for it.

DEMETRIUS

Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus?

DEMETRIUS

Will you betray your noble mistress like this?

AARON

My mistress is my mistress; this myself, The vigour and the picture of my youth: This before all the world do I prefer; This maugre all the world will I keep safe, Or some of you shall smoke for it in Rome.

AARON

My mistress is my mistress; this child is me, the picture of how I was a child. I prefer this to all the world, and despite everything I will keep it safe—or all Rome will burn. 

DEMETRIUS

By this our mother is forever shamed.

DEMETRIUS

Our mother will be forever shamed by this.

CHIRON

Rome will despise her for this foul escape.

CHIRON

Rome will hate her if this foul thing lives. 

NURSE

The emperor, in his rage, will doom her death.

NURSE

The emperor, in his anger, will condemn her to death.

CHIRON

I blush to think upon this ignomy.

CHIRON

I can't stand to think of this humiliation.

AARON

Why, there's the privilege your beauty bears: Fie, treacherous hue, that will betray with blushing The close enacts and counsels of the heart! Here's a young lad framed of another leer: Look, how the black slave smiles upon the father, As who should say 'Old lad, I am thine own.' He is your brother, lords, sensibly fed Of that self-blood that first gave life to you, And from that womb where you imprison'd were He is enfranchised and come to light: Nay, he is your brother by the surer side, Although my seal be stamped in his face.

AARON

Why, that's because you're white: your treacherous color so easily betrays what you're thinking, since you blush so easily! But this young boy has another kind of complexion. Look how the black slave smiles on his father, as if to say "old boy, I'm yours." He's your brother, lords, fed from the same blood that first gave you life, and from the womb where you were imprisoned he has emerged, too, and come to the light. No, he is your brother, certainly, although he looks like me. 

NURSE

Aaron, what shall I say unto the empress?

NURSE

Aaron, what should I tell the empress?

DEMETRIUS

Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,And we will all subscribe to thy advice:Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.

DEMETRIUS

Advise us what we should do, Aaron, and we'll take your advice. Save the child so that we can all be safe.

AARON

Then sit we down, and let us all consult.My son and I will have the wind of you:Keep there: now talk at pleasure of your safety.

AARON

Then let's sit down and think. My son and I will have some space—stay over there. Stay there; now feel free to make a plan.

They sit

DEMETRIUS

How many women saw this child of his?

DEMETRIUS

How many women saw his child?

AARON

Why, so, brave lords! when we join in league, I am a lamb: but if you brave the Moor, The chafed boar, the mountain lioness, The ocean swells not so as Aaron storms. But say, again; how many saw the child?

AARON

Ah, see, brave lords! When we're working together, I'm like a lamb; but when you cross me, the boar, the mountain lioness, and the ocean are not so powerful as Aaron in rage. But tell us, again; how many have seen the child?

NURSE

Cornelia the midwife and myself;And no one else but the deliver'd empress.

NURSE

Cornelia the midwife, me, and no one else but the empress.

AARON

The empress, the midwife, and yourself:Two may keep counsel when the third's away:Go to the empress, tell her this I said.

AARON

The empress, the midwife, and you: two can be silent when the third's gone. Go to the empress and tell her that.

He kills the nurse

Weke, weke! so cries a pig prepared to the spit.

Ha! She cries like a pig prepared to be roasted. 

DEMETRIUS

What mean'st thou, Aaron? wherefore didst thou this?

DEMETRIUS

What are you doing, Aaron? Why did you do this? 

AARON

O Lord, sir, 'tis a deed of policy: Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours, A long-tongued babbling gossip? no, lords, no: And now be it known to you my full intent. Not far, one Muli lives, my countryman; His wife but yesternight was brought to bed; His child is like to her, fair as you are: Go pack with him, and give the mother gold, And tell them both the circumstance of all; And how by this their child shall be advanced, And be received for the emperor's heir, And substituted in the place of mine, To calm this tempest whirling in the court; And let the emperor dandle him for his own. Hark ye, lords; ye see I have given her physic,

AARON

Oh, Lord, sir, for strategy. Should this babbling gossip live to tell the tale? No, lords, no—and now let me tell you my full plan. One of my countrymen, Muli, lives not too far from here. Yesterday night his wife gave birth to a child like her, as fair-skinned as you. Go to him, give the mother money, and tell them the situation: if they give us their child, it shall become the emperor's heir and take the place of mine, to calm this storm in the court and let the emperor have his son. Listen, lords, you see I have given her medicine—

Pointing to the nurse

And you must needs bestow her funeral; The fields are near, and you are gallant grooms: This done, see that you take no longer days, But send the midwife presently to me. The midwife and the nurse well made away, Then let the ladies tattle what they please.

And you have to take care of the funeral; bury her in the fields nearby, for you're noble gentlemen. Once you're done with that, hurry up and send the midwife to me. Once I've taken care of the midwife and the nurse, then the ladies can gossip all they want. 

CHIRON

Aaron, I see thou wilt not trust the airWith secrets.

CHIRON

Aaron, I see you wouldn't trust the air with your secrets. 

DEMETRIUS

For this care of Tamora,Herself and hers are highly bound to thee.

DEMETRIUS

For this favor to our mother, we're very grateful to you.

Exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON bearing off the Nurse's body

AARON

Now to the Goths, as swift as swallow flies; There to dispose this treasure in mine arms, And secretly to greet the empress' friends. Come on, you thick lipp'd slave, I'll bear you hence; For it is you that puts us to our shifts: I'll make you feed on berries and on roots, And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat, And cabin in a cave, and bring you up To be a warrior, and command a camp.

AARON

Now, swift as a sparrow, I'll go to the Goths, to leave this treasure in my arms and secretly greet the empress's friends.

[To the baby] Come on, you thick-lipped slave, I'll take you there, for it's you that's caused all this mess. I'll feed you with berries and roots, and curds and whey. You'll nurse from the goat, and live in a cave, and I'll bring you up to be a great warrior and command a camp.

Exit

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.