Character Directory

SATURNINUS

Saturninus is the villainous Emperor. Saturninus becomes Emperor through the support of Titus Andronicus, but turns against him, fearing his popularity. He becomes a willing accessory to the plots against Titus spun by the Empress, Tamora, and her lover, Aaron. He sentences Martius and Quintus to death without a trial in 2.3, and, in a fit of temper, he has the Clown killed in 4.4. In the final scene he kills Titus and is himself killed by Lucius. Saturninus is an early depiction by Shakespeare of an evil ruler who violates the ethics of kingship, an important issue for the playwright.

BASSIANUS

Bassianus is the brother of the Emperor, Saturninus. In 1.1 Bassianus relinquishes his claim to the throne when Titus Andronicus declares in favor of his brother, but he will not surrender his fiancee, Lavinia, to him. The first victim of Aaron’s plots, Bassianus is killed by Chiron and Demetrius, prior to their rape of Lavinia in 2.3.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Titus, the title character, is a Roman general and the central figure in the cycle of vengeance that comprises the play. Titus is initially presented as an admirable patriot whose life has been spent largely in the service of his country, but his inflexible pride and overly developed sense of honor cause him to kill one of his own sons in a dispute over loyalty to the Emperor. In 1.1 Titus permits the ritual sacrifice of the son of Tamora, who consequently seeks revenge against him and his family. Tamora's vengeance (implemented primarily by her lover, Aaron) results in the false conviction of two of Titus' sons for the murder of his son-in-law Bassianus and the horrible rape and mutilation of his daughter, the newly widowed Lavinia. Further, Titus is tricked by Aaron into having one hand chopped off, and then, when his two sons have been executed, their heads are brought to him, along with his own severed hand, on a platter. His grief turns to madness, though when Tamora attempts to take advantage of his apparent lunacy, by posing as the spirit of Revenge, he shows that he has retained enough sanity to turn the tables on her. However, Titus' own revenge is anything but sane. He kills Tamora's two surviving sons, Lavinia's attackers, and bakes them into a meat pie that he serves to their mother at a banquet. First, however, he kills Lavinia herself, citing a legend in which a father kills his raped and dishonored daughter Titus then slays Tamora and is killed himself. His only surviving son, Lucius, becomes the new Emperor. 

It is thought that the name Andronicus may suggest a remote origin for the tale, although Shakespeare will not have known of it. The 12th-century Byzantine Emperor Andronicus Comnenus, famous for his cruelty, was killed by a mob after having had his right hand cut off. Perhaps the playwright's unknown source derived ultimately from medieval accounts of this ruler.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Marcus Andronicus is the brother of Titus. Marcus proposes his brother as a candidate for the vacant imperial throne in 1.1, though he accedes to Titus' determination that Saturninus should reign. He sides with Bassianus and Titus' sons in the dispute over Lavinia, but a reconciliation is soon effected. In 2.4 Marcus discovers Lavinia in her ravished state, and his seemingly incongruous response—distant and rhetorical despite the extremity of her plight—often puzzles modern readers. It is a good instance of a mode of formal discourse, intended to promote a sense of strangeness and unreality, that was highly prized in Renaissance times but is now quite unfamiliar.

In 3.2, which Shakespeare may not have written, Marcus kills a fly, provoking so manic a response in Titus that he seems unbalanced by grief. Such mania is an important theme in a Revenge Play, which Titus Andronicus is. In the rest of the play, Marcus seconds his brother's sentiments of grief and his plans for revenge and mourns Titus at the end.

LUCIUS Lucius is a son of Titus Andronicus. In 1.1 Lucius demands the ritual sacrifice of Tamora’s son, thus triggering the cycle of vengeance that drives the action. Later, he is banished from Rome and he joins the Goths. He returns in Act 5 at the head of the Gothic troops, and, in that capacity, he sentences the captured Aaron to death. Continuing to Rome, he is present at the grisly finale, as is his son, Young Lucius. Following the deaths of Saturninus and his father, he is acclaimed the new Emperor. 
QUINTUS

Quintus is a son of Titus Andronicus. Quintus, with Martius, is framed by Aaron for the murder of Bassianus in 2.3.  The two are executed, and their heads are delivered to Titus in 3.1.

MARTIUS

Martius is a son of Titus Andronicus, with Quintus, is framed by Aaron for the murder of Bassianus in 2.3.  After the two are executed, their heads are delivered to Titus, in 3.1.

MUTIUS

Mutius is a son of Titus. In 1.1 Mutius is killed by his father during the dispute with Bassianus over Lavinia.  His murder is symptomatic of a flaw in Titus, whose sense of honour can lead him to such a crime.

Young LUCIUS Young Lucius is the son of Lucius and grandson of Titus. Young Lucius attends Titus in his grief and as he plans his revenge. In 4.2 he delivers to Chiron and Demetrius a gift of weapons containing a cryptic message, the first of Titus' taunts to Tamora's family. He also participates in mourning Titus at the end of the play.
PUBLIUS

Publius is the son of Marcus. Publius participates in the seemingly mad Titus Andronicus' plan to shoot message-laden arrows to the gods in 4.3, and he helps capture Chiron and Demetrius in 5.2.

SEMPRONIUS Sempronius is present at the shooting of arrows to the gods (4.3), but he does not speak, though his name is mentioned by Titus in 4.3.10.
CAIUS

Caius is mentioned only in stage directions, does not speak.  He is present for the shooting of arrows to the gods in 4.3, and he helps to capture Chiron and Demetrius in 5.2.

VALENTINE

Valentine is a character that does not speak but is mentioned in stage directions in the scene where Chiron and Demetrius are captured.

AEMILIUS Aemilius delivers messages between Saturninus and Lucius and helps acclaim Lucius the new Emperor at the end of the play.
ALARBUS

Alarbus is the eldest son of Tamora. In 1.1, Titus Andronicus permits the ritual sacrifice of Alarbus, who is killed despite his mother's pleas for mercy. This sparks the cycle of vengeance that comprises the plot of the play.

DEMETRIUS

Demetrius is a son of Tamora. Demetrius and his brother Chiron murder Bassianus and then commit the appalling rape and mutilation of Lavinia, the daughter of Titus Andronicus; they are encouraged and abetted by Aaron.  Titus' counter revenge includes the killing of the two brothers, who are baked in a meat pie and served to their mother in the final scene.

CHIRON Chiron is the son of Tamora and brother to Demetrius who murder Bassianus and then commit the horrible rape and mutilation of Lavinia.  They are encouraged and abetted by Aaron. Titus counter-revenge includes the killing of the two brothers, who are baked in a meat pie and served to their mother in the final scene.
AARON

Aaron Character in Titus Andronicus, the chief villain a vicious criminal who loves evil for its own sake' Aaron, a Moor, is the lover of Tamora, the Queen of the Goths, and carries out her revenge on Titus Andronicus, who has permitted her son to be killed Although Aaron is in the retinue of the captured Queen in Act 1, he is silent. Only in 2.1 does he begin to reveal his character, rejoicing in the advancement of Tamora, who is to marry the Emperor, Saturninus because it will also benefit him. The rich imagery of his first soliloquy (2.1.19-24) suggests that here is a villain who looks forward to catastrophe; it has for him the allure of 'pearl and gold'. 

Tamora's two sons lust after Lavinia, Titus' daughter. Aaron plans their appalling rape and mutilation of the girl that is the centre-piece of the revenge upon her father. Aaron's plots are indeed successful Not only is Lavinia brutalized, but her new husband Bassianus, is murdered and two of Titus' sons are charged with the crime. Further, Aaron falsely tells Titus that his severed hand is required as ransom for the two sons' lives. Titus submits to the amputation only to have the sons' heads, and his own hand delivered to him on a platter. This excessive piece of brutality delights Aaron, and he gloats to himself. 

Shakespeare's day (though, as Othello demonstrates it did not have to have such a connotation). However even in this early work, Shakespeare doesn't settle for simple conventionality. Later in the play, a Nurse delivers to Aaron Tamora's new-born black infant, his child, calling it -as loathsome as a toad / Among the tair-taced breeders of our clime' (4.2.67-68) She bears Tamora's orders that Aaron is to kill it to protect her reputation. He refuses and defends the baby at sword's point against Tamora's sons. 

The black man's proud defiance of society reflects Shakespeare's awareness that villainy can have ingredients m common with heroism, regardless of race Although the irony of this extraordinarily evil man cooing over his infant son was probably intended as humorous, it is also a good instance of the playwright’s respect for the full humanity of all his characters, even one intended as a demonstration of cruelty Aaron s villainy is certainly still active, for he proceeds to kill the Nurse and send the two sons out to buy a white child for Tamora to claim as her own Aaron attempts to deliver his infant to friends among the Goths, but he is captured, and Lucius sentences both father and son to hang. Aaron offers to confess all m exchange for the baby's life. Lucius agrees, and Aaron takes the occasion to boast of his evil, declaring, while detailing his crimes, that in his delight with himself, he 'almost broke my heart with extreme laughter' (5.1.113). Lucius, incredulous, asks whether Aaron is not at all sorry for his –heinous deeds . Aaron replies: 'Ay, that I had not done a thousand more' (5 1.124). Lucius has Aaron gagged, and the Moor is taken to Rome. After the grisly banquet scene in which Titus' revenge is accomplished, Aaron is brought forth to be sentenced. He is to be buried to the neck and starved to death. This fate only provokes a last outburst: -If one good deed in all my life I did / 1 do repent it from my very soul' (5.3.189-190) Aaron is the first of Shakespeare's flamboyantly malevolent villains, foreshadowing the likes of Richard III, Edmund, Lady Macbeth, and, most spectacular of all, Iago.  

A less developed personality than the later characters, Aaron more clearly represents the conventional figure from which they all descend the Machiavel At the time when Shakespeare was writing Titus The Jew of Malta, by Christopher Marlowe ranked as one of the most successful offerings yet presented in the new world of English theatre, and it featured two very popular Machiavels—Barabas and his assistant Ithamore, racially exotic evil-doers who exult in their criminality. These characters surely influenced the young creator of Aaron. However, some historians of drama see Shakespeare as influenced here by earlier, more purely English theatrical traditions, with Aaron as a descendant of the Vice figure in the medieval Morality Play. The two propositions are not at all mutually exclusive; the idea of the Machiavel doubtless was influenced by the well-known Vice figure. It is likely that Shakespeare was aware of both and simply used a successful type.

A Captain

Captain is the officer who announces the arrival of Titus Andronicus in 1.1 and praises his virtues as a general.

Tribunes Either one of two characters who are officials of the Roman Empire.  The Tribunes present throughout much of 1.1, largely as a mute witnesses to the foolish pride of Titus. In 1.1.220-222 they speak in unison, their only lines, and declare that they will honour Titus' achievements in war and permit him to choose the successor to the deceased emperor. They represent the pomp and splendor of Rome, while at the same time demonstrating the inadequacy of the society to prevent the tragedy that Titus will unleash. The tribunes of the ancient Roman government were always two in number, though neither the text nor the stage directions of Titus Andronicus indicate this.
Messenger

The Messenger brings Titus a grisly package—the severed heads of his two sons and the general's own severed hand—that Aaron has sent in mockery. The Messenger is sympathetic, remarking on the injustice with a personal note that is rare in this play.

Clown

The clown appears in 4.3, carrying two pigeons in a basket. After some conversation, in which the Clown reveals himself to be a comically naive rustic, a traditional dramatic type, Titus offers him a fee to make the pigeons an offering to the Emperor Saturninus. Titus includes a taunting message of his own, wrapped around a dagger. When, in 4.4, the hapless Clown delivers his birds, and Titus' message, to Saturninus, the infuriated emperor orders him killed. He is led away, exclaiming, 'Hang'd, by 'r-Lady! then I have brought up a neck to a fair end' (4.4.48-49). This insignificant addition to the play's roster of victims is one of Shakespeare's earliest Clowns, and his realistic, if dim-witted, voice provides a simple, earthy moment of relief from the savagery that dominates the play.

Goth Soliders Former members of Tamora's tribe who join with the banished Lucius and bring him a captured Aaron.  Some members attend the final banquet scene.
TAMORA

Tamora is the villainous queen of the Goths. Tamora, her three sons, and her lover, Aaron the Moor, have been captured by the Roman general Titus Andronicus before the play begins. When in 1.1, her captor permits her eldest son to be ritually sacrificed despite her eloquent plea for mercy, Tamora vows revenge and the play's bloody cycle begins. Tamora find her chance for vengeance, when the new Roman emperor, Saturninus, falls in love with her and marries her. Saturninus fears Titus, who is very popular, and wishes to break with him, but Tamora advises her new husband to make peace with the general until his own hold on the throne is more secure. She will see to Titus' downfall herself, she adds. 

After this flamboyant introduction, Tamora recedes from the forefront of the play for a while. Her revenge is implemented largely by Aaron, though she helps him frame two of Titus' sons for a murder, and she is particular!/ villainous in refusing Lavinia’s pleas for mercy in 2.3. Later, in 4.4, when she and Saturninus learn of an approaching army under Titus' son, her husband is stricken with fear, but she reproves him, in a well-known speech emphasizing the power held by rulers (4.4.81-87). She goes on to boast that she will 'enchant the old Andronicus', that is, Titus, and prevail upon him to cancel his son's invasion. 

With her sons, Tamora goes to Titus in disguise, pretending to be Revenge, a spirit from within the earth come to help the mad old man achieve his vengeance. In her impersonation, she anticipates later Shakespearean witches and ghosts. She believes that Titus is mad, but he is sane enough to see through her plot and pretend to be taken in. Thinking she has won, she leaves her sons with Titus, but he kills them and serves them to her at the banquet in the last scene, before killing her as well.

LAVINIA

Lavinia is the daughter of Titus Andronicus, whose brutal rape and mutilation are the centre-piece of Aaron’s revenge against her father. After murdering Bassianus, her husband, Tamora’s sons Chiron and Demetrius rape Lavinia and then cut out her tongue and cut off her hands so that she cannot testify against them. Directed by Aaron, they have improved upon Ovid’s tale of Philomel's rape by Tereus, who removed his victim's tongue but not her hands; she wove a tapestry that told the tale and exposed her attacker. Lavinia's plight is repeatedly compared to Philomel's. In fact, Lavinia exposes Chiron and Demetrius by inducing Titus to look in a copy of Ovid's tales and find the example. She then spells out the villains' names in the sand with a wooden staff. When Titus kills the two, Lavinia is a witness and she goes with him to cook their bodies into the meat pie that is to be presented to their mother as revenge. Her father himself stabs her to death, emulating an old legend of a man who killed his raped daughter to expunge the family's dishonor.

A Nurse

In 4.2 the Nurse delivers to Aaron his infant son by Tamora.  Aaron kills the Nurse to ensure her silence about the birth.

 

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