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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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Enter LUCIUS with an army of Goths, with drum and colours

LUCIUS

Approved warriors, and my faithful friends, I have received letters from great Rome, Which signify what hate they bear their emperor And how desirous of our sight they are. Therefore, great lords, be, as your titles witness, Imperious and impatient of your wrongs, And wherein Rome hath done you any scath, Let him make treble satisfaction.

LUCIUS

Faithful friends and proven warriors, I've received letters from Rome telling me how much they hate the emperor and how eagerly they look forward to our arrival. So, great lords who are impatient with the wrongs done to you, however Rome has hurt you, make sure you repay it threefold. 

FIRST GOTH

Brave slip, sprung from the great Andronicus, Whose name was once our terror, now our comfort; Whose high exploits and honourable deeds Ingrateful Rome requites with foul contempt, Be bold in us: we'll follow where thou lead'st, Like stinging bees in hottest summer's day Led by their master to the flowered fields, And be avenged on cursed Tamora.

FIRST GOTH

Brave son of great Andronicus—whose name once terrorized us and now comforts us, and whose honorable service to Rome has been badly repaid—you can count on us. We'll go where you lead us, like stinging bees led by the beekeeper to a field of flowers, and take revenge on cursed Tamora. 

ALL THE GOTHS

And as he saith, so say we all with him.

ALL THE GOTHS

Everything he says, we say with him. 

LUCIUS

I humbly thank him, and I thank you all.But who comes here, led by a lusty Goth?

LUCIUS

I thank him humbly, and I thank all of you, too. But who's that, led by a Goth warrior? 

Enter a Goth, leading AARON with his Child in his arms

SECOND GOTH

Renowned Lucius, from our troops I stray'd To gaze upon a ruinous monastery; And, as I earnestly did fix mine eye Upon the wasted building, suddenly I heard a child cry underneath a wall. I made unto the noise; when soon I heard The crying babe controll'd with this discourse: 'Peace, tawny slave, half me and half thy dam! Did not thy hue bewray whose brat thou art, Had nature lent thee but thy mother's look, Villain, thou mightst have been an emperor: But where the bull and cow are both milk-white, They never do beget a coal-black calf. Peace, villain, peace!'—even thus he rates the babe,— 'For I must bear thee to a trusty Goth; Who, when he knows thou art the empress' babe, Will hold thee dearly for thy mother's sake.' With this, my weapon drawn, I rush'd upon him, Surprised him suddenly, and brought him hither, To use as you think needful of the man.

SECOND GOTH

Famous Lucius, I went ahead of the army to see a ruined monastery, and as I looked at the building, I heard a baby cry underneath a wall. I followed the noise to its source, and heard someone shushing the baby by saying, "Be quiet, brown slave, half me and half your mother! The color of your skin betrayed who your father was; if nature had made you look like your mother, you might have been an emperor. But when the bull and cow are both milk-white, they don't breed a coal-black calf. Be quiet, villain, be quiet!"—so he said to the baby—"Since I have to take you to a trustworthy Goth, who, when he knows that you're the empress's child, will take good care of you for your mother's sake." When I heard this, I rushed at him with my weapon drawn, took him prisoner, and bought him here to do with as you see fit.

LUCIUS

O worthy Goth, this is the incarnate devil That robb'd Andronicus of his good hand; This is the pearl that pleased your empress' eye, And here's the base fruit of his burning lust. Say, wall-eyed slave, whither wouldst thou convey This growing image of thy fiend-like face? Why dost not speak? what, deaf? not a word? A halter, soldiers! hang him on this tree. And by his side his fruit of bastardy.

LUCIUS

Oh, many thanks, Goth, for this is the devil incarnate who robbed Andronicus of his good hand. This is the pearl that pleased the eye of your empress, and this child is the fruit of his burning lust. Tell us, slave, what should we do with this growing image of your devil-like face? Why don't you say anything? What, are you deaf? Not a word? Come on, soldiers! Hang him on this tree, and hang the fruit of his adulterous affair next to him.  

AARON

Touch not the boy; he is of royal blood.

AARON

Don't touch the boy; he is of royal blood. 

LUCIUS

Too like the sire for ever being good. First hang the child, that he may see it sprawl; A sight to vex the father's soul withal. Get me a ladder.

LUCIUS

But he's too like the father to ever be good. First hang the child so he can see it die, which is a sight that will distress a father's soul. Get me a ladder.

A ladder brought, which AARON is made to ascend

AARON

Lucius, save the child, And bear it from me to the empress. If thou do this, I'll show thee wondrous things, That highly may advantage thee to hear: If thou wilt not, befall what may befall, I'll speak no more but 'Vengeance rot you all!'

AARON

Lucius, save the child, and bring it to the empress from me. If you do this, I'll show you marvelous things that will be to your advantage to hear. If you don't, whatever happens, I'll say nothing more but "revenge rot you all!"

LUCIUS

Say on: an if it please me which thou speak'stThy child shall live, and I will see it nourish'd.

LUCIUS

Say what you have to say: if I'm pleased with what you say, your child will live and I'll see it taken care of.

AARON

An if it please thee! why, assure thee, Lucius, 'Twill vex thy soul to hear what I shall speak; For I must talk of murders, rapes and massacres, Acts of black night, abominable deeds, Complots of mischief, treason, villanies Ruthful to hear, yet piteously perform'd: And this shall all be buried by my death, Unless thou swear to me my child shall live.

AARON

If it please you! Why, I assure you, Lucius, you'll be enraged when you hear what I have to say, for I'll reveal murders, rapes, and massacres; acts committed under cover of night; horrible deeds; treasonous plots; and villainous deeds which would make you have pity when you hear them, but were performed without pity. And all this will be buried with me when I die, unless you promise to me that my child will live.

LUCIUS

Tell on thy mind; I say thy child shall live.

LUCIUS

Tell what you know. I promise that your child will live. 

AARON

Swear that he shall, and then I will begin.

AARON

Swear that he will, and then I'll talk.

LUCIUS

Who should I swear by? thou believest no god:That granted, how canst thou believe an oath?

LUCIUS

What can I swear? You don't believe in any gods; if that's true, then how can you believe an oath?

AARON

What if I do not? as, indeed, I do not; Yet, for I know thou art religious And hast a thing within thee called conscience, With twenty popish tricks and ceremonies, Which I have seen thee careful to observe, Therefore I urge thy oath; for that I know An idiot holds his bauble for a god And keeps the oath which by that god he swears, To that I'll urge him: therefore thou shalt vow By that same god, what god soe'er it be, That thou adorest and hast in reverence, To save my boy, to nourish and bring him up; Or else I will discover nought to thee.

AARON

So what if I don't? Indeed, I don't—but I know you're religious and have a thing called "conscience," and I've seen you perform twenty popish rituals and ceremonies, which you're always careful to observe. So that's why I make you swear, since I know that an idiot treats a toy like a god and keeps the promise he swears by that god. So you will swear by that god—whatever god it is that you worship—to save my boy, take care of him, and raise him, or else I won't tell you anything.

LUCIUS

Even by my god I swear to thee I will.

LUCIUS

By my god, I swear to you that I will. 

AARON

First know thou, I begot him on the empress.

AARON

The first thing you should know is that his mother is the empress.

LUCIUS

O most insatiate and luxurious woman!

LUCIUS

Oh, insatiable and lustful woman!

AARON

Tut, Lucius, this was but a deed of charity To that which thou shalt hear of me anon. 'Twas her two sons that murder'd Bassianus; They cut thy sister's tongue and ravish'd her And cut her hands and trimm'd her as thou saw'st.

AARON

Oh, Lucius, that was a charitable deed compared to what you'll hear from me soon. It was her sons that murdered Bassianus, and they were the ones who raped your sister, cut out her tongue, and cut her hands and trimmed her as you saw. 

LUCIUS

O detestable villain! call'st thou that trimming?

LUCIUS

Oh, horrible villain! You call that trimming?

AARON

Why, she was wash'd and cut and trimm'd, and 'twasTrim sport for them that had the doing of it.

AARON

Why, yes, she was washed and cut and trimmed, and it was good fun for those who did it. 

LUCIUS

O barbarous, beastly villains, like thyself!

LUCIUS

Oh, barbaric animals, just like you!

AARON

Indeed, I was their tutor to instruct them: That codding spirit had they from their mother, As sure a card as ever won the set; That bloody mind, I think, they learn'd of me, As true a dog as ever fought at head. Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth. I train'd thy brethren to that guileful hole Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay: I wrote the letter that thy father found And hid the gold within the letter mention'd, Confederate with the queen and her two sons: And what not done, that thou hast cause to rue, Wherein I had no stroke of mischief in it? I play'd the cheater for thy father's hand, And, when I had it, drew myself apart And almost broke my heart with extreme laughter: I pry'd me through the crevice of a wall When, for his hand, he had his two sons' heads; Beheld his tears, and laugh'd so heartily, That both mine eyes were rainy like to his : And when I told the empress of this sport, She swooned almost at my pleasing tale, And for my tidings gave me twenty kisses.

AARON

Indeed, I was the one who told them to do it—they got their cunning from their mother, like a trump card that always wins the match. But their violence, I think, they learned from me, like a dog that goes for the bull's head. Well, my deeds will show what I'm made of. Plotting with the queen and her two sons, I lured your brothers to the hole where Bassianus's dead body lay; I wrote the letter that your father found and hid the gold mentioned in the letter, in league with the queen and her sons. What has happened that made you suffer that I wasn't involved with in some way? I cheated your father out of his hand, and when I had it, I broke down with laughter as soon as I was out of your sight. When he got his two sons' heads in exchange for his hand, I saw his tears from a hiding spot in the wall and laughed so hard that I cried too. When I told the empress this funny story, she almost fainted with pleasure, and as a reward gave me twenty kisses.  

FIRST GOTH

What, canst thou say all this, and never blush?

FIRST GOTH

What, can you say all this and not blush with shame?

AARON

Ay, like a black dog, as the saying is.

AARON

Yes, like a black dog, as the saying goes. 

LUCIUS

Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?

LUCIUS

Aren't you sorry for these horrible crimes? 

AARON

Ay, that I had not done a thousand more. Even now I curse the day—and yet, I think, Few come within the compass of my curse,— Wherein I did not some notorious ill, As kill a man, or else devise his death, Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it, Accuse some innocent and forswear myself, Set deadly enmity between two friends, Make poor men's cattle break their necks; Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night, And bid the owners quench them with their tears. Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves, And set them upright at their dear friends' doors, Even when their sorrows almost were forgot; And on their skins, as on the bark of trees, Have with my knife carved in Roman letters, 'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.' Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things As willingly as one would kill a fly, And nothing grieves me heartily indeed But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

AARON

Yes, I'm sorry that I didn't do a thousand more. Even now I curse the day—although there haven't been many such days, I admit—when I didn't do some horrible thing like kill a man (or else plot his death), rape a girl (or plot some way to do it), accuse some innocent person, swear, make two friends hate each other, break the neck of poor cattle, or set barns and hay-stacks on fire and tell the owners to put out the flames with their tears. I've often dug up dead men from their graves and set them standing up at the doors of their dear friends—who had begun to get over their grief—and used my knife to write on their skins, as on the bark of trees, "Don't let your sorrow die, although I'm dead." Ha, I've done a thousand awful things as easily as one would kill a fly, and nothing makes me sadder than not being able to do ten thousand more. 

LUCIUS

Bring down the devil; for he must not dieSo sweet a death as hanging presently.

LUCIUS

Cut the devil down; he doesn't deserve such an easy death as hanging. 

AARON

If there be devils, would I were a devil, To live and burn in everlasting fire, So I might have your company in hell, But to torment you with my bitter tongue!

AARON

If there are devils, I wish I were one, and could live and burn forever in fire—so that I could see you in hell, and continue to torment you with my bitter words! 

LUCIUS

Sirs, stop his mouth, and let him speak no more.

LUCIUS

Sirs, shut him up, and don't let him say anything else.

Enter a Goth

THIRD GOTH

My lord, there is a messenger from RomeDesires to be admitted to your presence.

THIRD GOTH

My lords, a messenger from Rome is here asking to see you.

LUCIUS

Let him come near.

LUCIUS

Let him come in. 

Enter AEMILIUS

LUCIUS

Welcome, AEmilius what's the news from Rome?

LUCIUS

Welcome, Aemilius. What's happening in Rome?

AEMILIUS

Lord Lucius, and you princes of the Goths, The Roman emperor greets you all by me; And, for he understands you are in arms, He craves a parley at your father's house, Willing you to demand your hostages, And they shall be immediately deliver'd.

AEMILIUS

Lord Lucius and princes of the Goths, the Roman emperor sends his greetings. He understands that you are here with an army, and asks to meet with you at your father's house—if you ask for hostages to ensure your safety, they'll be immediately sent to you.

FIRST GOTH

What says our general?

FIRST GOTH

How does our general respond?

LUCIUS

AEmilius, let the emperor give his pledgesUnto my father and my uncle Marcus,And we will come. March away.

LUCIUS

Aemilius, if the emperor gives these promises to my father and my uncle Marcus, we'll come. Let's march away.

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.