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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Translation Act 4, Scene 4

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Enter SATURNINUS, TAMORA, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, Lords, and others; SATURNINUS with the arrows in his hand that TITUS shot

SATURNINUS

Why, lords, what wrongs are these! was ever seen An emperor in Rome thus overborne, Troubled, confronted thus; and, for the extent Of equal justice, used in such contempt? My lords, you know, as know the mightful gods, However these disturbers of our peace Buzz in the people's ears, there nought hath pass'd, But even with law, against the willful sons Of old Andronicus. And what an if His sorrows have so overwhelm'd his wits, Shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks, His fits, his frenzy, and his bitterness? And now he writes to heaven for his redress: See, here's to Jove, and this to Mercury; This to Apollo; this to the god of war; Sweet scrolls to fly about the streets of Rome! What's this but libelling against the senate, And blazoning our injustice every where? A goodly humour, is it not, my lords? As who would say, in Rome no justice were. But if I live, his feigned ecstasies Shall be no shelter to these outrages: But he and his shall know that justice lives In Saturninus' health, whom, if she sleep, He'll so awake as she in fury shall Cut off the proud'st conspirator that lives.

SATURNINUS

Why, lords, this is an outrage! Has there ever been a Roman emperor oppressed, disobeyed, and troubled like this—and treated with such contempt, simply for enforcing the law? My lords, you and the mighty gods know that whatever these disturbers of the peace say, buzzing like bees in the common people's ears, that what happened to old Andronicus's sons was just and legal. And so what if he's gone crazy? Do we have to deal with the consequences of his fits and bitterness? And now he writes to heaven for justice. See [shows arrows], here's to Jove, and this one's to Mercury; to Apollo, to the god of war . . . and these papers are scattered throughout the streets of Rome! Isn't this libel against the Senate, accusing us of injustice everywhere? Good ammunition, my lords, for those would say there's no justice in Rome. But if I live, his pretended madness won't protect him—he and his family will know that justice lives as long as Saturninus is here, and if she sleeps, he'll wake her and set her on them in fury. 

TAMORA

My gracious lord, my lovely Saturnine, Lord of my life, commander of my thoughts, Calm thee, and bear the faults of Titus' age, The effects of sorrow for his valiant sons, Whose loss hath pierced him deep and scarr'd his heart; And rather comfort his distressed plight Than prosecute the meanest or the best For these contempts. [Aside] Why, thus it shall become High-witted Tamora to gloze with all: But, Titus, I have touched thee to the quick, Thy life-blood out: if Aaron now be wise, Then is all safe, the anchor's in the port.

TAMORA

My gracious lord, my lovely Saturnine, lord of my life, commander of my thoughts: calm yourself. Remember that Titus is old; his grief for his sons has pierced him deeply and scarred his heart. Comfort him in his distress instead of prosecuting the greatest or least member of his family for this.  

[To herself] Well, it's clever to pretend to defend him like this. But Titus, I've got you, and I've spilled your life-blood. if Aaron's plan goes smoothly, then we're almost there. 

Enter Clown

TAMORA

How now, good fellow! wouldst thou speak with us?

TAMORA

Hello, good man! Do you want to speak with us?

CLOWN

Yea, forsooth, an your mistership be emperial.

CLOWN

Yes, indeed, if you're an imperial lady.

TAMORA

Empress I am, but yonder sits the emperor.

TAMORA

I'm the empress, but the emperor is there. 

CLOWN

'Tis he. God and Saint Stephen give you good den:I have brought you a letter and a couple of pigeons here.

CLOWN

It's him. God and Saint Stephen give you good evening; I've brought you a letter and a couple of pigeons.

SATURNINUS reads the letter

SATURNINUS

Go, take him away, and hang him presently.

SATURNINUS

[To guards] Go, take him away, and hang him immediately. 

CLOWN

How much money must I have?

CLOWN

How much money do I get?

TAMORA

Come, sirrah, you must be hanged.

TAMORA

Go on, man, you must be hanged. 

CLOWN

Hanged! by'r lady, then I have brought up a neck toa fair end.

CLOWN

Hanged! By our Lady, then I've come to a good end.

Exit, guarded

SATURNINUS

Despiteful and intolerable wrongs! Shall I endure this monstrous villany? I know from whence this same device proceeds: May this be borne?— as if his traitorous sons, That died by law for murder of our brother, Have by my means been butcher'd wrongfully! Go, drag the villain hither by the hair; Nor age nor honour shall shape privilege: For this proud mock I'll be thy slaughterman; Sly frantic wretch, that holp'st to make me great, In hope thyself should govern Rome and me.

SATURNINUS

Spiteful and intolerable treatment! How can I endure this monstrous behavior? I know where this came from—can I bear this? He acts as if his traitorous sons, that died lawfully for murdering my brother, have been unjustly killed by me! Go, drag the villain here by his hair; I won't go any easier on him because he's old and honored in battle. For this proud mockery I'll kill him, the crafty, crazy bastard, who helped to give me the throne hoping he could take control of Rome and me. 

Enter AEMILIUS

SATURNINUS

What news with thee, AEmilius?

SATURNINUS

What do you have to report, Aemilius? 

AEMILIUS

Arm, arm, my lord;—Rome never had more cause. The Goths have gather'd head; and with a power high-resolved men, bent to the spoil, They hither march amain, under conduct Of Lucius, son to old Andronicus; Who threats, in course of this revenge, to do As much as ever Coriolanus did.

AEMILIUS

Raise an army, my lord—Rome has never been under attack like this before. The Goths have arrived with an army of soldiers intent on sacking the city. They come here under the command of Lucius, old Andronicus's son, who threatens to take as much revenge as Coriolanus ever did.

SATURNINUS

Is warlike Lucius general of the Goths? These tidings nip me, and I hang the head As flowers with frost or grass beat down with storms: Ay, now begin our sorrows to approach: 'Tis he the common people love so much; Myself hath often over-heard them say, When I have walked like a private man, That Lucius' banishment was wrongfully, And they have wish'd that Lucius were their emperor.

SATURNINUS

Fierce warrior Lucius is general of the Goths? This news nips me like a flower covered in frost or grass beaten down with storms. Yes, now our sorrow comes; the common people love him. When I've disguised myself and walked through the streets, I've often heard them say that Lucius was wrongfully banished, and that they wish he were their emperor. 

TAMORA

Why should you fear? is not your city strong?

TAMORA

Why should you be afraid? Doesn't the city have strong defenses?

SATURNINUS

Ay, but the citizens favor Lucius,And will revolt from me to succor him.

SATURNINUS

Yes, but the citizens prefer Lucius, and will rebel against me to support him. 

TAMORA

King, be thy thoughts imperious, like thy name. Is the sun dimm'd, that gnats do fly in it? The eagle suffers little birds to sing, And is not careful what they mean thereby, Knowing that with the shadow of his wings He can at pleasure stint their melody: Even so mayst thou the giddy men of Rome. Then cheer thy spirit : for know, thou emperor, I will enchant the old Andronicus With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous, Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep, When as the one is wounded with the bait, The other rotted with delicious feed.

TAMORA

King, your thoughts should be as imperial as your name. Is the sun dimmed when gnats fly in it? The eagle doesn't mind when little birds sing, since he knows he can shut them up whenever he wants—so can you with the silly citizens of Rome. Then cheer up, emperor. For I will enchant the old Andronicus with words sweeter and more dangerous than baits to fish or stalks of honeysuckle to sheep, when they're wounded with the bait or poisoned with delicious food. 

SATURNINUS

But he will not entreat his son for us.

SATURNINUS

But he won't beg his son to stop the attack. 

TAMORA

If Tamora entreat him, then he will: For I can smooth and fill his aged ear With golden promises; that, were his heart Almost impregnable, his old ears deaf, Yet should both ear and heart obey my tongue. [To AEMILIUS] Go thou before, be our ambassador: Say that the emperor requests a parley Of warlike Lucius, and appoint the meeting Even at his father's house, the old Andronicus.

TAMORA

If Tamora asks him, then he will. For I can smooth things over and fill his ear with golden promises. Even if his heart were hard as stone and his old ears deaf, both his heart and his ears would obey my words. 

[To AEMILIUS] You, go ahead of me and be our ambassador. Tell Lucius that the emperor requests a meeting with him at the house of his father, old Andronicus.

SATURNINUS

AEmilius, do this message honourably:And if he stand on hostage for his safety,Bid him demand what pledge will please him best.

SATURNINUS

Aemilius, take care with this message. If he asks for some proof that we won't harm him, ask him what we can do to show we're in good faith.

AEMILIUS

Your bidding shall I do effectually.

AEMILIUS

I'll deliver the message as well as I can. 

Exit

TAMORA

Now will I to that old Andronicus; And temper him with all the art I have, To pluck proud Lucius from the warlike Goths. And now, sweet emperor, be blithe again, And bury all thy fear in my devices.

TAMORA

Now I'll go to old Andronicus and deal with him with all the cunning I have, to get him to bring proud Lucius here from the warrior Goths. And now, sweet emperor, be cheerful again, and don't be afraid, since I'm taking care of it. 

SATURNINUS

Then go successantly, and plead to him.

SATURNINUS

Then go now and talk to him.

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.