Titus Andronicus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus | Act 4, Scene 3 | Summary



Titus and Marcus, along with several others, meet near the palace. Titus asks them to search for a place on land or sea with justice, or to go down to hell and beg for justice there. Marcus is concerned about his brother, who seems to be losing his mind, but he hopes Lucius will soon attack Rome with an army of Goths. Publius tells Titus they will have to wait for justice. Titus gives them arrows with prayers attached, addressed to the gods Jove, Apollo, Mars, Pallas (Minerva), Mercury, and Saturn. They shoot the arrows into the palace court.

A country fellow—a clown, or rustic commoner—approaches, carrying pigeons. Titus believes he has been sent by Jupiter and asks for a message. The fellow says he doesn't know a Jupiter but is on his way to watch his uncle and one of the emperor's men fight. Titus asks the fellow to deliver a message to the emperor, which he quickly writes. He also asks the fellow to gift the pigeons to the emperor. The fellow agrees. He promises to bring a reply to Titus's house.


The theme of revenge has been intertwined with characters' concept of justice before this scene. After all, taking revenge implies a wrong has been done, and the remedy for that wrong is another wrong—revenge. This has the logic and appeal of "an eye for an eye." But in this scene, the connection between justice and revenge is explicit. Publius says Revenge—admittedly from hell—is delayed, but "Justice, she is so employed ... with Jove in heaven." The suggestion is that whether Revenge is from hell or Justice from heaven, the result is the same—those who have hurt the Andronicus family will suffer. The prayers they shoot on arrows are for the gods to bring justice—punishment—to the emperor, Tamora and her sons, and Aaron: "There's no justice in Earth nor hell, / We will solicit heaven and move the gods / To send down Justice for to wreak our wrongs."

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