The History of Titus Andronicus (chapbook) - The Ballad

Deutsche Version


Complete text of the chapbook printed by Cluer Dicey (1760?)


The History of Titus Andronicus,
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.

Chapter I

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.


Chapter II

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 &c.


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 him.'

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 fled.'

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 five-and-twenty sons.

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 all.

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 battle.


Chapter III

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 forest.

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 secretly.

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 privately.

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 him.


Chapter IV

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.

Chapter V

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 proud Empress
Are doers of this hatefull wickedness.
[compare ballad]

Hereupon he vowed revenge at the hazard of his own and all their lives, comforting his daughter with this when nothing else would do.


Chapter VI

How Andronicus, 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 himself.

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.



The Ballad of Titus Andronicus


Titus Andronicus' Complaint

To the Tune of Fortune

From Richard Johnson's The Golden Garland of Princely Pleasures, printed in 1620.

Die Klage des Titus Andronicus


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 home.

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 inclined,
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 sight.

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 sour,
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 arms.
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 Empress
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 fame
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 ran;
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 Vaterlandes,
Hört mich, der zehn Jahr stand für Rom in Wehr,
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 da,
Auf deren Tugend stolz der Vater war.

Denn wo Roms Feind sich krieg'risch mochte regen,
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 fielen, 
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 überbrachte
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 Streite:
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 Frieden,
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 Leide:
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 Stande
Zu künden, wie ihr zustieß solche Schande,

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 sprechen:
Vom Gram begann mein altes Herz zu brechen,
Ein Häufchen Sand ausstreuten wir am Grund,
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 Haar,
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 Wiege.

Der Mohr, der stets sich freut' an Schurkereien,
Sprach: aus der Haft die Söhne zu befreien,
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 Schmerz
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 Söhne;
Da brach ich aus in neues Qualgestöhne.

Ich irrt' umher, für jeden Zuspruch taub,
Und schrieb mein Weh mit Tränen in den Staub
Gen Himmel schoss ich meine Pfeile los
Und rief um Rache oft zum Höllenschoß.

Da hat die Kais'rin, die für toll mich hielt,
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 kosten.

Ich schnitt die Kehlen ab, Lavinia dann
Hielt das Gefäß, in das der Blutstrom rann.
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 Fraß,
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 Greise.

Am Mohren tat man diese Rache kund:
Lebendig grub man halb ihn in den Grund,
So festgebannt ließ man ihn Hungers sterben.
Gott möge alle Mörder so verderben!

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University of Basel, Switzerland
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