Titus Andronicus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus | Quotes


A nobler man, a braver warrior, / Lives not this day within the city walls.

Marcus, Act 1, Scene 1

Marcus Andronicus praises his brother Titus, who has been away 10 years valiantly fighting the barbaric Goths. But all of these ideas are quickly turned on their heads. Titus proves to be as barbaric as the Goths.


And if thy sons were ever dear to thee, / O think my son to be as dear to me.

Tamora, Act 1, Scene 1

Tamora appeals to Titus as a fellow parent, and refers to his love for his own sons, seeking some kind of sympathy or common ground. This may seem, on its face, to be a laughable sentiment—neither Tamora nor Titus are models of loving parenthood. But it does introduce the intertwined themes of the play, revenge and family obligations.


You are but newly planted in your throne ... / I'll find a day to massacre them all / And raze their faction and their family.

Tamora, Act 1, Scene 1

Tamora tells Saturninus to wait in taking revenge on Titus for not allowing him to have Lavinia, since he is new to the throne and can't afford to look weak. But she has her own revenge to take because she begged Titus not to sacrifice her son and her pleas were ignored. She tells Saturninus she will "raze" the entire Andronicus family to the ground.


Chiron, we hunt not, we, with horse nor hound, / But hope to pluck a dainty doe to ground.

Demetrius, Act 2, Scene 2

Demetrius tells his brother Chiron the next day's hunt will be a "hunt" in which Lavinia is the prey. Characterizing the pursuit, rape, and maiming of Lavinia as a hunt supports the sense that the actions of Tamora's family are the actions of wild predators, not humans.


Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, / Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.

Aaron, Act 2, Scene 3

When Aaron and Tamora meet in the forest the morning of the hunt, Aaron's mind is full of evil schemes—the murder of Bassianus and the rape and mutilation of Lavinia. He seems almost joyful in the way he glories in these nefarious plans.


When did the tiger's young ones teach the dam? / O, do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee.

Lavinia, Act 2, Scene 3

Lavinia refers to Chiron and Demetrius as the "tiger's young ones," suggesting Tamora is a tiger, or wild predator. Tamora and Aaron are both portrayed as predators.


Why ... dost thou not perceive / That Rome is but a wilderness of tigers? / Tigers must prey, and Rome affords no prey / But me and mine.

Titus Andronicus, Act 3, Scene 1

Titus tells his son Lucius that Rome is not a place of order and civilization, it is a wilderness full of beasts—predators who want the Andronicus family as prey. The degradation of Rome, as it becomes more like the "barbarian" people who surround it, informs the imagery of the play.


Grandsire, 'tis Ovid's Metamorphosis. / My mother gave it me.

Young Lucius, Act 4, Scene 1

The story of Philomela is the template for the rape of Lavinia—both women were raped and their tongues cut out so they could not accuse their attackers. A book in which Philomela's rape and mutilation are recounted is Ovid's Metamorphoses (here spelled Metamorphosis). The book is used as a prop in the play. Young Lucius is reading it, and Lavinia, knowing its contents, uses it to communicate what happened to her.


Here is the babe ... The Empress sends it thee ... / And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point.

Nurse, Act 4, Scene 2

The instructions Tamora gives Aaron—to kill his own child with a dagger—foreshadow one of Titus's last violent acts, which is to stab his own daughter, Lavinia.


We will solicit heaven and move the gods / To send down Justice for to wreak our wrongs.

Titus Andronicus, Act 4, Scene 3

Titus instructs his entire family to petition the gods for justice. And by justice, he means revenge against Tamora and her sons, who have done terrible things to the Andronicus family. This suggests a close tie between justice and revenge in the minds of Titus and others in the play.


I curse the day ... Wherein I did not some notorious ill ... or plot the way to do it.

Aaron, Act 5, Scene 1

Aaron is not only unrepentant, he actually regrets not being able to do more wrongs. He curses any day in which he did not kill, rape, accuse an innocent man, or cause friends to turn against one another.


I am Revenge, sent from th' infernal kingdom / To ease the gnawing vulture of thy mind.

Tamora, Act 5, Scene 2

Tamora masquerades as the spirit of Revenge in order to try to trick Titus. However, Titus is not fooled. He plays along, and in doing so tricks Tamora into leaving her sons with him. He promptly kills the sons and bakes their remains into a pie.


Die, die, Lavinia, and thy shame with thee, / And with thy shame thy father's sorrow die.

Titus Andronicus, Act 5, Scene 3

After allowing Lavinia to help with the preparation of the corpses of Chiron and Demetrius into pies, Titus unexpectedly kills her, alluding to a story in which a father kills his daughter after she is raped. Here, Titus claims he does it to kill his own shame and sorrow.


Why, there they are, both bakèd in this pie, / Whereof their mother daintily hath fed, / Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.

Titus Andronicus, Act 5, Scene 3

Just before he kills her, Titus reveals to Tamora he has murdered her sons and fed them to her baked in pies. He describes the terrible reversal that has occurred, as the mother whose body gave life to the sons takes those sons' dead bodies back into her own.


May I govern so / To heal Rome's harms and wipe away her woe!

Lucius, Act 5, Scene 3

After all the violence, Lucius is declared emperor and vows to be a different kind of ruler—one who heals rather than harms. This suggests the violence and chaos was partially a result of poor leadership. With a better ruler, Rome may become peaceful again.

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