History of Titus Andronicus
text of the chapbook printed by Cluer Dicey
The History of
The Renowned Roman General.
Who, after he had saved
Rome by his Valour from being destroyed by the
barbarous Goths, and lost two-and-twenty of his
valiant Sons in ten Years War, was, upon the Emperor's
marrying the Queen of the Goths, put to Disgrace, and
banish'd; but being recall'd, the Emperor's Son by a first
Wife was murder'd by the Empress's Sons and a bloody Moor,
and how charging it upon Andronicus's Sons, tho' he
cut off his Hand to redeem their Lives, they were murder'd
in Prison. How his fair Daughter Lavinia being
ravish'd by the Empress's Sons, they cut out her Tongue, and
Hands off, &c. How Andronicus slew them, made
Pyes of their Flesh, and presented them to the Emperor and
Empress; and then slew them also. With the miserable Death
he put the wicked Mour to; then at her Request slew
his Daughter and himself to avoid Torments.
Newly Translated from the
Italian Copy printed at Rome.
London: Printed and Sold by
C. Dicey in Bow Church-Yard, and at his
Wholesale Warehouse in Northampton.
The Tragical History of
Titus Andronicus, &c.
How Rome being
besieged by the barbarous Goths, and being at the
point to yield through famine, it was unexpectedly rescued
by Andronicus, with the utter defeat of the enemy,
for which he was received in triumph.
When the Roman Empire was
grown to its height, and the greatest part of the world was
subjected to its imperial throne, in the time of Theodosius,
a barbarous northern people out of Swedeland, Denmark, and
Gothland came into Italy in such numbers under the leading
of Tottilius, their King, that they overran it with fire and
sword, plundering churches, ripping up women with child, and
deflowering virgins in so horrid and barbarous a manner that
the people fled before them like flocks of sheep.
To oppose this destroying
torrent of the Goths, a barbarous people, strangers to
Christianity, the Emperor raised a mighty army in Greece,
Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and England, and gave battle
under the passage of the Alpine mountains, but was
overthrown with the loss of threescore thousand of his men,
and flying to Rome, was besieged in it by a numerous host of
barbarians, who pressed so hard to beat down the walls and
enter with a miserable slaughter of the citizens that such
as could get over the River Tiber fled in a fearful manner
to a distant country. The siege lasting ten months, such a
famine arose that no unclean thing was left uneaten; dogs,
cats, horses, rats, and mice were curious dainties.
Thousands died in the streets of hunger, and most of those
that were alive looked more like glass than living
creatures; so that, being brought to the last extremity, the
vulgar sort came about the Emperor's palace, and with
piteous cries implored him either to find some means to get
them food to stay their fleeting lives or make the best
terms he could, and open the gates to the enemy.
This greatly perplexed him;
the former he could not do, and the latter he knew would not
only uncrown him, if he escaped with his life, but be the
ruin of the Roman Empire; yet in the greatest of this
extremity he unexpectedly found relief.
Titus Andronicus, a Roman
senator, and a true lover of his country, hearing in
Graecia, where he was governor of the province of Achaia,
what straits Rome and his sovereign were brought into by the
barbarous nations, got together friends, and sold whatever
he had of value to hire soldiers; so that with his small
army he secretly marched away, and falling upon the mighty
army of the enemy (when they were drowned, as it were, in
security, wine, and sleep, resolved to make a general storm
the next day, in which they had undoubtedly carried the
city), he and his sons, entering their camp, and followed by
the rest, made such a slaughter that the cry and confusion
were exceeding great. Some changed sleep into death, others
vomited wine and blood mixed together through the wounds
they received; some lost heads at once, other [Emd.:
others] arms. Tottilius, in this confusion being
awakened, had his first care to convey away his queen and
two sons, who were newly come to the camp, and then laboured
to rally his flying men; but being desperately charged by
Andronicus, he was thrown from his horse and much wounded,
many lives being lost in remounting him; whereupon, seeing
the slaughter so great by the pale beams of the moon, and
not knowing the number of his adversaries, having caused the
retreat to be sounded, he fled in great confusion, and left
the rich spoils of his camp, the wealth of many plundered
nations, to Andronicus and his soldiers; who, being expert
in war, would not meddle with them that night, but stood to
their arms till the morning.
How in ten years' war,
with the loss of two-and-twenty of his valiant sons, he won
many famous battles, slew Tottilius, King of the
Goths, and did many other brave exploits
The watch upon the walls of
Rome, having heard a confused cry and the clashing of arms,
were greatly astonished, but could not think what it should
mean; for the camps of the barbarous Goths extended in a
large circuit about the famous city; however the captains of
the guards advertised the Emperor of it, who sent out
scouts, but they, fearful of approaching too near the enemy
in the night, could get certain intelligence only that they
heard the groans and cries, as they thought, of dying men.
However, the shades of night being dispelled, and the
glorious sun casting forth a cheerful light, the porters of
the gate, espying three men coming towards it, and soon
after being come up, knocked with great earnestness, they
took the courage to demand what they were and what they
required. 'I am,' said one of them, 'Andronicus, your
friend, and desire admittance to speak with the Emperor,
since the news I bring will no doubt be pleasing to
Upon this, lifting up his
helmet, they knew him with joy, knowing him to be a very
worthy patriot, thinking he came to do them good, as he had
often done in their great distress, when the Huns and
Vandals invaded the empire some years before, and were
beaten out by him.
The Emperor no sooner heard
he was come, but he ran from his palace to meet him, and
would not suffer him to kneel, but embraced him tenderly as
a brother, saying, 'Welcome, Andronicus, in this, the time
of our greatest misery. It was thy counsel I wanted, to know
how to free us from this barbarous enemy, against whose
force the city cannot long hold out.'
'May it please your
majesty,' replied Andronicus, 'let those fears be banished.
The work is done to you unknown; I and my twenty-five sons
and what friends and soldiers I could get have this night
fallen into their quarters, cut off fifty thousand of them,
and their scattered remains with their king are
At this the Emperor was
astonished, and scarce could believe it, though he very well
knew the integrity of Andronicus, till his own captains came
and told him the siege was raised, with a miserable
slaughter, but by whom they knew not, unless the enemy had
fallen out among themselves, and the troops they could yet
see in view were but inconsiderable. Now these were those
that belonged to Andronicus, who, as soon as it was day,
were in pursuit of the enemy under the command of his
This surprising news was no
sooner spread in the city but the joy of the people was
exceeding great; and when they knew who was their deliverer
they went in procession and sung his praises. After that he
rode in a triumphant chariot through the city, crowned with
an oaken garland, the people shouting, trumpets sounding,
and all other expressions and demonstrations of joy that a
grateful people could afford their deliverer, in which he
behaved himself so humble that he gained the love of
This was no sooner over but
he desired the Emperor to join what forces he could with
those that he had brought, and speedily pursue the enemy
before he could gather new strength, that he might beat him
out of Italy and his other countries, where he yet held
strong garrisons. This was embraced as good counsel, and the
senators, by the Emperor's mandate, assembled with joy, who
chose with one consent Andronicus their general. He was not
slow in mustering his forces, nor in the speedy pursuit. He
found they had passed the Alps, and that their army was
increased by new supplies; yet he gave them battle, and,
charging through the thickest of their squadrons hand to
hand, slew Tottilius and beat down his standard; whereupon
the Goths fled, and the slaughter continued for many miles,
covering all the lanes and roads with the bodies of the
dead; and in the pursuit he took the Queen of the Goths
captive, and brought her to Rome; for which signal victory
he had a second triumph, and was styled the deliverer of his
country. But his joy was a little eclipsed by the loss of
five of his sons, who died courageously fighting in
How the Emperor,
weary of so tedious a war, contrary to the mind and
persuasions of Andronicus, married the Queen of the
Goths, and concluded a peace; how she tyrannised, and
her sons slew the Prince that was betrothed to
Andronicus' daughter, and hid him in the
The Goths having found the
pleasantness of these fruitful countries, resolved not so to
give them over, but, encouraged by Tottilius' two sons,
Alaricus and Abonus, sent for fresh forces, and made a
desolation in the Roman provinces, continuing a ten-years'
war, wherein the valiant Andronicus, captain-general of the
empire, gained many victories over them with great effusion
of blood on either side. But those barbarous people still
increasing in their numbers, the Emperor desiring peace, it
was agreed to, in consideration he should marry Attava,
Queen of the Goths, and in case he should die without issue,
her sons might succeed in the empire. Andronicus opposed
this very much, as did many other;, [Emd.: others,]
knowing, through the Emperor's weakness, that she, being an
imperious woman and of a haughty spirit, would govern him as
she pleased, and enslave the noble empire to strangers.
However, it was carried on with a high hand, and great
preparations were made for the royal nuptials, though with
very little rejoicing among the people; for what they
expected soon followed.
The Queen of the Goths,
being made Empress, soon began to show her disposition
according to the cruelty of her nation and temper,
persuading the easy Emperor to place the Goths in the places
of his most trusty friends, and having, above all, vowed
revenge on Andronicus, who most opposed her proceedings, she
procured him to be banished; but the people, whose deliverer
he had been in their greatest extremity, calling to mind
that and his many other good services, rose unanimously in
arms, and went clamouring to the palace, threatening to fire
it and revenge so base an indignity on the Queen if the
decree which had been passed against all reason was not
speedily revoked. This put her and the Emperor into such a
Fears [Emd. fear] that their request was granted;
and now she plotted by more private ways to bring the
effects of revenge and implacable hatred about more
She had a Moor as revengeful
as herself, whom she trusted in many great affairs, and was
usually privy to her secrets, so far that from private
dalliances she grew pregnant,and brought forth a blackamoor
child. This grieved the Emperor extremely, but she allayed
his anger by telling him it was conceived by the force of
imagination, and brought many suborned women and physicians
to testify the like had often happened. This made the
Emperor send the Moor into banishment, upon pain of death
never to return to Rome; but her lust, and confidence she
had put in him as the main engine to bring about her
devilish designs, made her plot to have that decree revoked;
when, having got the Emperor into a pleasant humour, she
feigned herself sick, telling him withal she had seen a
vision which commanded her to call back the innocent Moor
from banishment or she should never recover of that
sickness. The kind, good-natured Emperor, who could not
resist her tears and entreaties, with some difficulty
consented to it, provided he should be commanded to keep
always out of her sight, lest the like mischance might
happen as had been before. This she seemingly consented to,
and he was immediately sent for, and the former
familiarities continued between them though more
Andronicus, besides his
sons, had a very fair and beautiful daughter named Lavinia,
brought up in all singular virtues, humble, courteous, and
modest, insomuch that the Emperor's only son by a former
wife fell extremely in love with her, seeking her favour by
all virtuous and honourable ways, insomuch that, after a
long courtship, with her father and the Emperor's consent
she was betrothed to him.
The Queen of the Goths,
hearing this, was much enraged, because from such a marriage
might spring princes that might frustrate her ambitious
designs, which was to make her sons emperors jointly.
Wherefore she laboured all she could to frustrate it by
declaring what a disgrace it would be to the Emperor to
marry his son to the daughter of a subject, who might have a
queen with a kingdom to her dowry. But, finding the Prince
constant, she resolved to take him out of the way; so it was
plotted between her, the Moor, and her two sons that they
should invite him to hunt in the great forest on the banks
of the River Tiber, and there murder him. This was effected
by shooting him through the back with a poisoned arrow which
came out at his breast, of which wound he fell from his
horse and immediately died. Then they digged a very deep pit
in a pathway and threw him in, covering it lightly with
boughs, and sprinkling earth on it; and so, returning,
reported they had lost the Prince in the forest, and though
they had sought and called everywhere, they could not find
How the wicked Moor, who
had laid with the Empress, and got into her favour above all
others, betrayed Andronicus' three sons, and charged
the Prince's murder on them, for which they were cast into a
dungeon and, after their father had cut off his hand to save
them, were beheaded.
The fair Lavinia no sooner
heard the Prince was missing but she fell into great sorrow
and lamentation, her heart misgiving her of some treachery,
and thereupon she entreated her brothers to go in search of
him, which they did with all speed; but being dogged by the
Moor and the Queen of Goths' two sons, they unluckily coming
in the way where the pit was digged, they fell both in upon
the dead body and could not, by reason of the great depth,
get out. Their cruel enemies no sooner saw this but they
hasted to the court and sent the guards in search of the
murdered Prince, who found Andronicus' two sons with the
dead body, which they drew up and carried prisoners to the
court, where the Moor and the other two falsely swore
against them that they had often heard them threaten revenge
on the Prince, because he had put them to the foil in a
tournament at jousting. This, and the circumstances of their
being found, with the vehement aggravation, was a sufficient
ground to the Emperor to believe, who loved his son
entirely, and was much grieved for his death, and though
they denied it with all the protestations imaginable, and
pleaded their innocence, demanded the combat against their
accusers, which by the law of arms they ought to have been
allowed, they were immediately loden with irons and cast
into a deep dungeon among noisome creatures, as frogs,
toads, serpents, and the like, where, notwithstanding all
the intercessions that were made, they continued eating the
filth that they found in that place.
At last the Queen, designing
to work her revenge on Andronicus, sent the Moor in the
Emperor's name to tell him, if he designed to save his sons
from the misery and death that would ensue, he should cut
off his right hand and send it to court. This the
good-natured father scrupled not to do; no, nor had it been
his life to ransom them, he would have freely parted with
it; whereupon, laying his hand on a block, he gave the
wicked Moor his sword, who immediately struck it off, and
inwardly laughed at the villainy. Then, departing with it,
he told him his sons should be sent to him in a few hours;
but whilst he was rejoicing with the hopes of their delivery
a hearse came to his door with guards, which made his aged
heart to tremble. The first thing they presented him was his
hand, which they said would not be accepted; and the next
was his three sons beheaded. At this woeful sight, overcome
with grief, he fainted away on the dead bodies; and when he
recovered again, he tore his hoary hair, which age and his
lying in winter camps for the defence of his country had
made as white as snow, pouring out floods of tears; but
found no pity from the hardened villains, who left him with
scoffs in the midst of his woeful lamentations with his
sorrowful daughter. Yet this was not all, for soon after,
another to be deplored affliction followed, as shall in the
next chapter be shown.
How the two lustful sons
of the Empress, with the assistance of the Moor, in a
barbarous manner ravished Lavinia, Andronicus'
beautiful daughter, and cut out her tongue and cut off
her hands to prevent discovery; yet she did it by writing in
the dust with a wand, &c..
The fair and beautiful
Lavinia for the loss of her Lovers [Emd. lover] and
brothers, so basely murdered by treachery, tore her golden
hair, shed floods of tears, and with her nails offered
violence to that lovely face kings had adored and beheld
with admiration. She shunned all company, retiring to woods
and groves to utter her piteous complaints and cries to the
senseless trees, when one day, being watched thither by the
Moor, he gave notice of it to the Queen's two sons, who,
like the wicked Elders and chaste Susanna, had a long time
burned in lust, yet knew her virtues were proof against all
temptations, and therefore it could not be obtained but by
violence; so, thinking this an opportunity to serve their
turns, immediately repaired to the grove, and setting the
Moor to watch on the outborders, soon found her pensive and
sorrowful, yet comely and beautiful in tears, when unawares,
before she saw them, like two ravenous tigers, they seized
the trembling lady, who struggled all she could and cried
out piteously for help; and seeing what their wicked
intentions bent at,she offered them her throat, desiring
they would bereave her of her life, but not of her honour;
however, in a villainous manner, staking her down by the
hair of her head, and binding her hand behind her, they
turned up her nakedness, and forced their way into her
closet of chastity, taking it by turns, the elder beginning
first, and the younger seconding him as they had before
agreed on; and having tired themselves in satiating their
beastly appetites, they began to consider how they should
come off when such a villainy was discovered; whereupon,
calling the Moor to them, they asked his advice, who
wickedly counselled them to make all sure, seeing they had
gone thus far, by cutting out her tongue to hinder her
telling tales, and her hands off to prevent her writing a
discovery. This the cruel wretches did whilst she in vain
entreated 'em to take away her life, since they had bereaved
her of her honour, which was dearer to her. And in this
woeful condition they left the lady, who had expired for the
loss of blood, had not her uncle Marcus happened
accidentally, soon after, to come in search of her, who, at
the woeful sight overcome with sorrow, could hardly keep
life in himself; yet, recovering his spirits, he bound up
her wounds and conveyed her home.
Poor Andronicus' grief for
his sad disaster was so great that no pen can write or words
express. Much ado they had to restrain him from doing
violence upon himself; he cursed the day he was born to see
such miseries fall on himself and family, entreating her to
tell him, if she could any ways do it by signs, who had so
villainously abused her. At last the poor lady, with a flood
of tears gushing from her eyes, taking a wand between her
stumps, wrote these lines:
The lustful sons of the
Are doers of this hatefull wickedness. [compare
Hereupon he vowed revenge at
the hazard of his own and all their lives, comforting his
daughter with this when nothing else would do.
feigning himself mad, found means to entrap the Empress' two
sons in a forest, where, binding them to a tree, he cut
their throats, made pies of their flesh, and served them up
to the Emperor and Empress, then slew them, set the Moor
quick in the ground, and then killed his daughter and
Andronicus, upon these
calamities, feigned himself distracted, and went raving
about the city, shooting his arrows towards heaven as in
defiance, calling to hell for vengeance, which mainly
pleased the Empress and her sons, who thought themselves now
secure; and though his friends required justice of the
Emperor against the ravishers; yet they could have no
redress, he rather threatening them if they insisted on it;
so that, finding they were in a bad case, and that in all
probability their lives would be the next, they conspired
together to prevent that mischief and revenge themselves.
Lying in ambush in the forest when the two sons went
a-hunting, they surprised them, and binding them to a tree,
pitifully crying out for mercy, though they would give none
to others, Andronicus cut their throats whilst Lavinia, by
his command, held a bowl between her stumps to receive the
blood. Then conveying the bodies home to his own house
privately, he cut the flesh into fit pieces and ground the
bones to powder, and made of them two mighty pasties, and
invited the Emperor and Empress to dinner, who thinking to
make sport with his frantic humour, came; but when they had
eat of the pasties he told them what it was; and thereupon
giving the watchword to his friends, they immediately issued
out, slew the Emperor's guards, and lastly the Emperor and
his cruel wife after they had sufficiently upbraided them
with the wicked deeds they had done. Then seizing on the
wicked Moor, the fearful villain fell on his knees,
promising to discover all; but when he had told how he had
killed the Prince, betrayed the three sons of Andronicus by
false accusation, and counselled the abuse to the fair
Lavinia, they scarce knew what torments sufficient to devise
for him; but at last, digging a hole, they set him in the
ground to the middle alive, smeared him over with honey, and
so, between the stinging of bees and wasps and starving, he
miserably ended his wretched days. After this, to prevent
the torments he expected when these things came to be known,
at his daughter's request he killed her; and so, rejoicing
he had revenged himself on his enemies to the full, fell on
his own sword and died.
of Titus Andronicus
To the Tune
Johnson's The Golden Garland of Princely
Pleasures, printed in 1620.
Die Klage des
Deutsche Übersetzung in: Delius, Nicolaus.
Einleitung zu Titus Andronicus, in
Bodenstedt, Friedrich (Hrg.), William
Shakespeare's dramatische Werke. Leipzig,
Brockhaus: 1873. Bd. 8, S. viii-xi
You noble minds and famous martial wights,
That in defence of native country fights,
Give ear to me that ten years fought for Rome,
Yet reaped disgrace when I returnèd
In Rome I lived in fame full threescore years,
By name belovèd dear of all his peers,
Full five-and-twenty valiant sons I had,
Whose forward virtues made their father glad.
For when Rome's foes their warlike forces felt,
Against them still my sons and I were sent;
Against the Goths full ten years' weary war
We spent, receiving many a bloody scar.
Just two-and-twenty of my sons were slain,
Before we did return to Rome again;
Of five-and-twenty sons I brought but three
Alive the stately towers of Rome to see.
When wars were done I conquest home did bring,
And did present my prisoners to the King;
The Queen of Goth, her sons, and eke a Moor,
Which did much murder, like was ne'er before.
The Emperor did make this Queen his wife,
Which bred in Rome debate and deadly strife;
The Moor with her two sons did grow so proud
That none like them in Rome was then allowed.
The Moor so pleased the new-made Empress' eye
That she consented with him secretly
For to abuse her husband's marriage bed,
And so in time a blackamoor she bred.
Then she, whose thoughts to murder were
Consented with the Moor with bloody mind
Against myself, my kin, and all my friends
In cruel sort to bring them to their ends.
So when in age I thought to live in peace,
Both woe and grief began then to increase;
Amongst my sons I had one daughter bright,
Which joyed and pleasèd best my age's
My dear Lavinia was betrothed as then
To Caesar's son, a young and noble man,
Who in a hunting by the Emperor's wife
And her two sons bereavèd were of life.
He, being slain, was cast in cruel wise
Into a dismal den from light of skies;
The cruel Moor did come that way as then
With my two sons, who fell into that den.
The Moor then fetched the Emperor with speed,
For to accuse them of that murderous deed;
And then my sons within the den were found;
In wrongful prison they were cast and bound.
But now behold what wounded most my mind,
The Emperor's two sons of tiger's kind
My daughter ravishèd without remorse,
And took away her honour quite perforce.
When they had tasted of so sweet a flower
Fearing their sweet should shortly turn to
They cut her tongue, whereby she could not tell
How that dishonour unto her befell.
Then both her hands they falsely cut off quite,
Whereby their wickedness she could not write,
Nor with her needle on her sampler sew
The bloody workers of her direful woe.
My brother Marcus found her in a wood,
Staining the grassy ground with purple blood
That trickled from her stumps and handless
No tongue at all she had to tell her harms.
But when I saw her in that woeful case,
With tears of blood I wet my agèd face;
For my Lavinia I lamented more
Than for my two-and-twenty sons before.
Whenas I saw she could not write nor speak,
With grief my agèd heart began to break;
We spread a heap of sand upon the ground,
Whereby those bloody tyrants out we found.
For with a staff, without the help of hand,
She writ these words upon that plot of sand:
"The lustful sons of the proud
Are doers of this hateful wickedness."
I tare the milk-white hairs from off my head,
I cursed the hour wherein I first was bred;
I wished the hand that fought for country's
In cradle's rock had first been stroken lame.
The Moor, delighting still in villainy,
Did say, to set my sons from prison free,
I should unto the King my right hand give,
And then my two imprisoned sons should live.
The Moor I caused to strike it off with speed,
Whereat I grievèd not to see it bleed,
But for my sons would willingly impart
And for their ransom send my bleeding heart.
But as my life did linger thus in pain,
They sent to me my bloodless hand again,
And therewithal the heads of my two sons,
Which filled my dying heart with fresher moans.
Then past relief, I up and down did go,
And with my tears writ in the dust my woe;
I shot my arrows towards heaven high,
And for revenge to hell did sometimes cry.
The Empress then, thinking I was mad,
Like furies she and both her sons were clad,
She named Revenge, and Rape and Murder they,
To undermine and know what I would say.
I fed their foolish veins a certain space,
Until my friends and I did find a place,
Where both her sons unto a post were bound,
Where just revenge in cruel sort was found.
I cut their throats, my daughter held the pan
Betwixt the stumps, wherein their blood then
And then I ground their bones to powder small,
And made a paste for pies straight therewithal.
Then with their flesh I made two mighty pies,
And at a banquet served in stately wise
Before the Empress set this loathsome meat,
So of her sons' own flesh she well did eat.
Myself bereaved my daughter then of life;
The Empress then I slew with bloody knife,
And stabbed the Emperor immediately,
And then myself, even so did Titus die.
Then this revenge against their Moor was found:
Alive they set him half into the ground,
Whereas he stood until such time he starved;
And so God send all murderers may be served.
Ihr edlen Seelen, Herrn des Kriegerstandes,
Ihr, die ihr kämpft zum Schutz des
Hört mich, der zehn Jahr stand für Rom in
Doch Schmach erfuhr bei meiner Wiederkehr.
Ich lebt' in Rom in Ansehn sechzig Jahr,
Wo ich geliebt von den Genossen war;
Und fünfundzwanzig Söhne hatt' ich
Auf deren Tugend stolz der Vater war.
Denn wo Roms Feind sich krieg'risch mochte
Mich und die Söhne sandte man dagegen;
Zehn Jahr im Kampf wir mit den Goten rangen,
Um manche blut'ge Wunde zu empfangen.
Und zweiundzwanzig meiner Söhne
Eh wir nach Rom heimkehrten; von so vielen
Sollten nur drei lebendig mit mir gehn
Und Roms stattliche Türme wiedersehn.
So kehrt ich siegreich heim und
Dem König die Gefangen, die ich machte:
Die Gotenkön'gin, ihre Söhn und auch
Ein Mohr, ein unerhört mordlust'ger Gauch.
Als diese Königin der Kaiser freite,
Da kam's in Rom zu tödlich schlimmem
Des Mohren und der Söhne Frevelmut
In Rom tat alles, was sie dünkte gut.
Der Mohr gefiel so sehr der Kaiserin:
Sie gab sich ihm ganz im geheimen hin,
Sodass ihr ehlich Lager ward entweiht;
Ein Mohrenkind gebar sie mit der Zeit.
Mit ihr und seiner Mordlust dann verschwor
Sich gegen mich der blutgesinnte Mohr,
Dass mein Geschlecht und meine Sippen alle
Grausamerweise kämen so zu Falle.
Mein Alter, hofft' ich, brächt ich hin in
Doch Sorg' und Kummer nur ward mir beschieden:
Zu meinen Söhnen war ein Töchterlein,
Die Wonne meiner alten Tage, mein.
Meiner Lavinia ward verlobt sodann
Des Cäsars Sohn, ein junger edler Mann,
Der durch die Frau des Kaisers auf der Jagd
Und deren Söhne wurde umgebracht.
Den Toten warf man grausam dann hinein
In eine Grube fern vom Tagesschein.
Mit meinen Söhnen kam der Mohrenbube
Des Weges, und sie stürzten in die Grube.
Den Kaiser rief herbei der Mohr sogleich,
Gab ihnen schuld den mörderischen Streich.
Als man dann meine Söhn' im Loch gefunden,
Da wurden sie verhaftet und gebunden.
Doch seht! Was mich verletzt mit schwerstem
Der Kaiserin grausame Söhne beide
Schändeten meine Tochter ohn' Erbarmen
Und raubten mit Gewalt die Ehr' der Armen.
Als dieses Paar so süße Blume brach,
Besorgt, es käme Bitterkeit danach,
Schnitt's ihr die Zung' aus, dass sie nicht im
Zu künden, wie ihr zustieß solche
Und beide Hände auch mit grimmen Hiebe,
Damit sie nicht die Untat niederschriebe,
Noch in ihr Tuch mit ihrer Nadel stickte
Das blut'ge Paar, das ihr solch Weh beschickte.
Mein Bruder Marcus sie im Wald entdeckte,
Wie sie das Gras mit Purpurblut befleckte,
Das aus den Stümpfen troff der armen Maid:
Die Zunge fehlt' ihr, kundzutun ihr Leid.
Als ich so jämmerlich entstellt sie sah,
Mit blut'gem Nass netzt' ich mein Antlitz da;
Und um mein Kind Lavinia klagt' ich mehr
Als um die zweiundzwanzig je vorher.
Ich sah, sie konnte schreiben nicht noch
Vom Gram begann mein altes Herz zu brechen,
Ein Häufchen Sand ausstreuten wir am
Wodurch die Wütriche uns würden kund.
Denn sie mit einem Stecken, ohne Hand,
Schrieb diese Worte in den Sand:
"Der stolzen Kaiserin wollüst'ge Knaben
Sind's die die Missetat begangen haben."
Ich raufte mir vom Haupt mein milchweiß
Der Stunde flucht' ich, da erzeugt ich war;
Die Hand, die Rom so oft verhalft zum Siege,
Wünscht' ich, sei mir gelähmt schon in
Der Mohr, der stets sich freut' an
Sprach: aus der Haft die Söhne zu
Sollt' ich die rechte Hand dem Kaiser geben,
So blieben die drei Söhne mir am Leben.
Den Mohren hieß ich sie abhauen da
Und traurte nicht, da ich sie bluten sah:
Für meine Söhne hätt' ich ohne
Als Lösegeld gesandt mein blutend Herz.
Als so in Pein dahin mein Leben schwand,
Sandte man nutzlos mir zurück die Hand
Und mit der Hand die Köpfe der drei
Da brach ich aus in neues Qualgestöhne.
Ich irrt' umher, für jeden Zuspruch taub,
Und schrieb mein Weh mit Tränen in den
Gen Himmel schoss ich meine Pfeile los
Und rief um Rache oft zum
Da hat die Kais'rin, die für toll mich
Samt ihren Söhnen Furien gespielt
(Sie nannte Rache sich, die Raub und Mord)
Mir zum Verderb zu lauschen auf mein Wort.
Ein Weilchen ließ ich ihre Narrheit gehn,
Bis meine Freunde ein Versteck ersehn;
Da band man ihre Söhn' an einen Pfosten
Und ließ mich grausam rechte Rache
Ich schnitt die Kehlen ab, Lavinia dann
Hielt das Gefäß, in das der Blutstrom
Zu Pulver ließ ich das Gebein zerhacken,
Um stracks Pastetenteig daraus zu backen.
Dann aus dem Fleisch macht' ich Pasteten zwei
Und trug zum Mahle stattlich sie herbei:
Der Kaisrin setzt' ich vor den eklen
Die von dem Fleische ihrer Söhne aß.
Lavinia bracht' ich um, und streckte hin
Mit blut'gem Messer dann die Kaiserin.
Den Kaiser flugs erstach ich gleicherweise,
Und dann mich selbst: So starb Titus der
Am Mohren tat man diese Rache kund:
Lebendig grub man halb ihn in den Grund,
So festgebannt ließ man ihn Hungers
Gott möge alle Mörder so verderben!