STUFF THAT HAPPENS BEFORE THE PLAY...
- The Emperor of Rome has died, leaving behind two sons, Saturninus and Bassianus.
- The great Roman general, Titus Andronicus, is victorious in the brutal wars against the Goth armies.
STUFF THAT HAPPENS IN THE PLAY...
- Saturninus, the elder brother, and Bassianus both desire to be elected Emperor of Rome.
- Marcus Andronicus announces that the people of Rome have chosen his brother, Titus, to be the new Emperor.
- Titus arrives in Rome with four of his sons and the corpse of another, his twenty-first son to die in war.
- Titus also arrives with his prisoners, Tamora (Queen of the Goths), her three sons, and her lover, Aaron.
- To avenge the death of his son, Titus chooses Tamora’s eldest son to be sacrificed. With “a mother’s tears in passion for her son,” Tamora begs Titus for mercy. He refuses. The sacrifice will be made and “die he must.”
- Upon learning that he has been elected Emperor, Titus declines the office. “Give me a staff of honor…but not a scepter to control the world.” He asks that Saturninus become Emperor.
- Saturninus promises to make Lavinia, Titus’s daughter, his Empress. Almost immediately, however, he is charmed by Tamora and chooses her over Lavinia.
- Bassianus claims Lavinia for his wife. Marcus declares “this prince in justice seizeth but his own” and leaves with Bassianus and Lavinia.
- Titus, enraged, tries to go after Lavinia, but is stopped by his son Mutius. Titus kills Mutius.
- Now free (and the Roman Empress), Tamora publicly proclaims to “let all quarrels die” with Titus and his family. Privately, however, she vows to “find a day to massacre them all.”
- Fierce love of family and the cycles of revenge and retaliation ensue.