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W. B. CONKEY COMPANY,
General Library System Universiiy of Wisconsin - nacibort 708. Street *
Kisg LEAR, 179
(WRITTEN ABOUT 1588-90.)
The great majority of English critics either reject this play altogether, upon the ground that in style and subject it is unlike any other work of Shakespeare, or accept as true the tradition of karenscroft, who altered the play in 1687, that "it was not his (Shakespeare's),” but that he only gave “ some master-touches to one or two of the principal parts or characters.” Says que critic; Shakespeare's tragedy is never bloodily sensual; ... this play is a perfect slaughter-house, and the blood makes appeal to all the senses. It reeks blood, it smells of blood, we almost feel that we have handled blood-it is so gross.” Besides the tradition of Ravenscroft, the external evidence with reference to the authorship of Titus is the following: (1) It is mentioned by Meres (1598) among other undoubted plays of Shakespeare. (2) It is printed in the First Folio. A play ealled Titus and Vespasian was acted in 1992, and though itself lost, a translation into Germani, acted early in the 17th century by English comedians in Germany, remains in existence. It is not the play attributed to Shakespeare. Henslowe also mentions a Titus and Andronicus as a new play, acted January 23, 1591 : it is doubtful whether this was the Shakespearean play. If it be, and it was then written, the tragedy is certainly not by Shakespeare. It is impossible to believe that in 1344, when Shakespeare had written his Venus and Adonis and his Lucrece, he could have dealt so coarsely with details of outrage and unnatural cruelty as does the author of this tragedy. Ben Jonzon, in the introduction to Bartholomew Fair (1614), speaks of Titus Andronicus, with Jeronimo, 33 belonging to "twenty-fire or thirty years” previously: this would carry back the date of the play (if it be of this Titus Andronicus that Jonson speaks) to 1589, or earlier. That it was a play of that period, and was re-touched by Shakespeare, we may accept as the opinion best supported by internal evidence and by the weight ot critical authority. The importance of the tragedy lies in the fact that, if Shakespeare wrote it, we find him as a young man carried away by the ivtuence of a storm and stress " movement similar to that which urged Schiller to write his Robbers. Titus Andronicus belongs essentially to the pre-Shakespearean group of bloody tragedlies, of which Kyd's Spanish Tragedy is the most conspicuous example. If it is of Shakespearean authorship, it may be regarded as representing the years of crude and violent youth before he had found his true self ; his second tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, as representing the years of transition; and Hamlet, the period of maturity and adult power.
ACT I. 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 Fols lowers ; and, from the other side, BASSIANUS and his Followers; with drum and colors.
Sat. Noble patricians, patrons of my right, Defend the justice of my cause with arnus, 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 bonors live in me, Nor wrong mine age with this indignity. Bus. Romans, friends, followers, favorers
of my right, If ever Bassianus, Cæsar's son,
10 Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome, Keep then this passage to the Capitol And suffer not dishonor 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
And so I love and honor thee and thine,
¡Exeunt the followers of Bassianus. Sat. Friends, that have been thus forward
in my right,
(Èxeunt the followers of Saturninus.
gates, and let me in. Bas. Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor. [Flourish. Saturninus and Bassianus
go up into the Capitol,
Enter a Captain.
and MUTIUS ; after them, tuco Men bearing a coffin covered with black; then Lucius and QUINTUS. After them, Titus ANDRONICUS ; and then TAMORA, with ALARBUS, DEMETRIUS, CHIRON, AARON, and other Goths, prisoners ; Soldiers and people following: The Bearers set down the coulin, and TITUS speaks. Tit. Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!
70 Lo, as the bark, that hath discharged her
[The tomb is opened. There greet in silence, as the dead are wont, so And sleep in peace,slain in your country's war!
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, traiu'd up in
30 Ten years are spent since first he undertook This cause of Rome and chastised with arms Our enemies' pride : five times he hath re
turn'd Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons In cofins from the field ; And now at last, laden with honor's spoils, Returns the good Andronicus to Rome, Renowned Titus, flourishing in arms. Let us entreat, by honor of his name, Whom worthily you would have now succeed. And in the Capitol and senate's right, 41 Whom you pretend to honor and adore, That you withdraw you and abate your
strength ; Dismiss your followers and, as suitors should, Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness. Sat. How fair the tribune speaks to calm
my thoughts! Bas. Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy In thy uprightness and integrity,