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stories borrowed from classic mythology or legend and steeped in the artificial literary atmosphere of Ovid and Seneca. Ignorant as we are of the source of the story, we can hardly be wrong in assuming that the tragic fortunes of Lavinia are modelled on those of the Ovidian Philomela, and the grim vengeance of Titus on the legend of Atreus. The haunted, sunless wood where Atreus slays his nephews (Sen. Thyestes, 650 f.) has passed over into the 'barren detested vale' where Bassianus is slain and Lavinia ravished.2 In the death of Lavinia at her father's hands the memory of Virginia seems to be blended, if not confused, with that of Lucrece; and the confusion may diminish the difficulty we otherwise feel in associating the profuse classical learning of the play with Shakespeare's small Latin and less Greek. In the bloodthirsty Tamora, lastly, who so terribly avenges her slaughtered son, we may perhaps find a reminiscence of the Scythian queen Tomyris, who wreaked her son's death not less grimly upon Cyrus. A promiscuous aggregation of materials like this strikes us as un-Shakespearean. Yet it is not unlike,

in the tragic sphere, what the author of Love's Labour's Lost attempted in the sphere of comic satire. The same alert mind which there assembled oddities and extravagances from every phase of contemporary life, may have gratified the same instinct for profusion and multiplicity by weaving from its school-reminiscences this horrible fantasia of classical legends. Moreover, with all the extravagance of certain incidents, Titus Andronicus bears marks of the sanity and self-control which distinguish even the most 1 The often-repeated state- to rest on an error. There is ment (first made by Steevens) no evidence that the story existed that Painter in the Palace of in any form before the play. Pleasure (1567) mentions 'Titus Andronicus and Tamora' seems

2 Cunliffe, Influence of Seneca on Elizabethan Tragedy, p. 70.

daring work of the young Shakespeare. Though perilously full of matter, the plot is clear and compact; the immense tragic forces which are let loose contend for dominance in interest as well as for the triumph of their cause; but their encounters are adequately motived, and with all their energy of wrath they do not lose themselves in the annihilating frenzy which blurs the outlines of Marlowe's Barabas. The three great contrivers of the harms, Titus, Tamora, and Aaron, are shaped with a rude and somewhat uncertain hand; but a trait here and there suggests the future author of Richard III., of Lear, and Othello in this resolute emulator of Marlowe and Kyd.1 Titus and Tamora bear the stamp of the Kydian tragedy of Revenge. Their tragic career is provoked by a deadly, unpardonable wrong. Aaron, on the other hand, is related rather to the Marlowesque tragedy of dæmonic energy,—virtù—which dooms its victims out of pure malignancy.2 But Titus has touches of a Shakespearean magnanimity which remove him far from the blind pursuer of vengeance. His generous disclaimer of the imperial crown in the opening scene fitly preludes the nobly-imagined scene in which he hews off his hand to save his sons. The scene (iii. 2.) where the two brothers so passionately moralise the death of a fly, already heralds those apparently trivial moments of pause which the mature Shakespeare is wont to make pregnant of

1 These faint affinities have been worked out with much ingenuity by Prof. A. Schröer in his interesting study of the play Über Titus Andronicus (Marburg, 1891).

2 There are curious analogies in detail between Aaron and Richard III. He also derives a

motive for crime from his unpromising exterior :-

Let fools do good, and fair men call

for grace,

Aaron will have his soul black like his face.

Cf. also his monologue in ii. 1. with Richard's opening soliloquy. (Schröer, N.S., p. 115.)


tragic suggestion. And the tenderness for his child which so suddenly and strangely intrudes upon the fiendish malignity of Aaron, is a trait which might well escape from the pen of the future delineator of Shylock and his daughter. Most critics have recognised Shakespearean touches in the style. Certainly, the bookish allusions which are so abundantly woven into its texture are tempered with many touches caught from the open-air life of nature such as nowhere fail in the young Shakespeare. A woodland brake-a 'pleasant chase '-is the scene of the most tragic deed in the whole play, and we are not allowed to forget over the sufferings of Lavinia the morning dew upon the leaves or their chequered shadow upon the ground as they quiver in the breeze.

The data for a conclusive case on the authorship of Titus Andronicus are wholly wanting. English criticism has too peremptorily decided against Shakespeare's claim on the ground of the palpable defects of the plot, and the difficulty of bringing this grim tragedy into relation with the bright and joyous comedy which apparently occupied Shakespeare's early manhood. But we know far too little of that early manhood to be entitled to exclude from it whatever will not fall in with a particular scheme of development; and, in view of the strong external evidence, the more critical course appears to be a qualified acceptance.

1 It has been pointed out by Dr. Cunliffe in his valuable study of the Influence of Seneca on Elizabethan Tragedy, that some of the most striking of the Senecan parallels with which this play abounds occur in the more



SCENE I. Rome. Before the Capitol.

The Tomb of the ANDRONICI appearing; the Tribunes and Senators aloft.

Enter, below,

from one side, Saturninus and his Followers;
and, from the other side, BASSIANUS and his
Followers; with drum and colours.

Sat. Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Defend the justice of my cause with arms,
And, countrymen, my loving followers,
Plead my successive title with your swords:
I am his first-born son, that was the last
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome;
Then let my father's honours live in me,

Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.

Bas. Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my right,

If ever Bassianus, Cæsar's son,

Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,

Keep then this passage to the Capitol

Sc. 1. aloft, i.e. in the capitol. 4. successive title, title to


8. age, seniority.



And suffer not dishonour to approach
The imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,
To justice, continence and nobility;
But let desert in pure election shine,

And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.

Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the


Marc. Princes, that strive by factions and by friends

Ambitiously for rule and empery,

Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand 20
A special party, have, by common voice,
In election for the Roman empery,
Chosen Andronicus, surnamed Pius
For many good and great deserts to Rome:
A nobler man, a braver warrior,

Lives not this day within the city walls:
He by the senate is accited home

From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;
That, with his sons, a terror to our foes,
Hath yoked a nation strong, train'd up in arms.
Ten years are spent since first he undertook
This cause of Rome and chastised with arms
Our enemies' pride: five times he hath return'd
Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons
In coffins from the field;

And now at last, laden with honour's spoils,
Returns the good Andronicus to Rome,
Renowned Titus, flourishing in arms.
Let us entreat, by honour of his name,
Whom worthily you would have now succeed,
And in the Capitol and Senate's right,

Whom you pretend to honour and adore,
That you withdraw you

27. accited, summoned.

and abate

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