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Titus Andronicus: Act 2 Scene 1
Scene I Rome. Before the Palace.
- [Enter 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?
- [Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, braving]
- 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, 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.
- [Aside] Clubs, clubs! these lovers will not keep
- the peace.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,
- Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.
- Ay, boy, grow ye so brave?
- [They draw]
- [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.
- 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.
- For that I am prepared and full resolved.
- Foul-spoken coward, that thunder'st with thy tongue,
- And with thy weapon nothing darest perform!
- 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.
- I care not, I, knew she and all the world:
- I love Lavinia more than all the world.
- Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice:
- Lavinia is thine elder brother's hope.
- 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, a thousand deaths
- Would I propose to achieve her whom I love.
- To achieve her! how?
- 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.
- [Aside] Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.
- 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?
- Why, then, it seems, some certain snatch or so
- Would serve your turns.
- Ay, so the turn were served.
- Aaron, thou hast hit it.
- 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?
- Faith, not me.
- Nor me, so I were one.
- 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.
- Thy counsel, lad, smells of no cowardice,
- Sit fas aut nefas, till I find the stream
- To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits.
- Per Styga, per manes vehor.