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TRAGEDY OF TITUS ANDRONICUS
In 1600 a quarto edition of Titus Andronicus was published, bearing the following title-page :
“ The most lamenta- | ble Romaine Tragedie of Titus | Andronicus. | As it hath sundry times been playde by the | Right Honourable the Earle of Pembrooke, the | Earl of Darbie, the Earle of Sussex, and the | Lorde Chamberlaine theyr | Seruants. | At LONDON, | Printed by I. R. for Edward White and are to bee solde at his shoppe, at the little | North doore of Paules, at the signe of the Gun. 1600." This is the earliest known edition, and is referred to as Quarto 1.
Another quarto, printed from the former, was brought out in 1611 :
"The most lamen- / table Tragedie | of Titus Andronicus. | As it hath sundry | times beene plaide by the Kings Maiesties Seruants. | LONDON, | Printed for Edward White, and are to be soldę lat his shoppe, nere the little North dore of | Pauls, at the signe of the Gun. 1611."
In the 1st Folio Titus Andronicus comes between Coriolanus and Romeo and Juliet; the text was somewhat carelessly printed from a copy of the Second Quarto with MS. additions. The Second Scene of the Third Act, not found in the quartos, is peculiar to the Folio version.
Date of Composition. According to Langbaine, in his account of the English Dramatick Poets, a quarto edition of Titus Andronicus was printed in 1594; but no copy has been discovered. The earliest allusion to Shakespeare's connection with the subject is Meres' mention of the play, in 1598, as one of Shakespeare's well-known tragedies. There can be little doubt that Ravenscroft, who “ about the time of the Popish Plot," revived and altered Titus Andronicus, preserved a trustworthy tradition with respect to its authorship. “I have been told by some anciently conversant with the stage, that it was not originally Shakespeare's, but brought by a private actor to be acted, and he only gave some master
couches to one or two of the principal characters.” Internal evidence seems to corroborate the tradition, and Shakespeare's additions are now generally assigned to about 1589-90. The following passages suggest Shakespearian authorship :- I. i. 9; II. i. 82, 83; I. i. 70-76, 117-119, 141, 142 ; II. ii. 1-6; II. iii. 10-15; III. i. 83-86, 91-97; IV. iv. 81-86; V. ii. 21-27; V. iii. 160-168.*
The problem is complicated by the fact that there must have been at least three plays on the subject, according to the references in the Stationers' Registers, and Henslowe's Diary. Jonson probably referred to an older play when he wrote :-"He that will swear, Jeronimo or Andronicus are the best plays yet, shall pass unexcepted at here, as a man whose judgment shows it is constant, and hath stood still these fiveand-twenty or thirty years ” (Bartholomew Fair, 1614). This would place the production in question between 1584 and 1589.
The German “tragedy of Titus Andronicus," acted abroad about the year 1600 by the English players, may contain elements of the older original on which the present play was founded : among its characters there is a “ Vespasian,” and it is noteworthy that there is a record in Henslowe's diary of a " tittus and Vespasia" acted “by Lord Strange's men” on the Isth of April, 1591. The play is marked "ne" (i.e. “new”). Similarly, a "Titus and Andronicus” is described as a new play by Henslowe under the date of January 22nd, 1593-4.
Under any circumstances, Titus Andronicus stands outside the regular early Shakespearian dramas,-the gentle “love-plays " of his first period; its value, however, in literary history, is this:--crude as it is, it certainly belongs to the same type of play, as the greater tragedy of Hamlet ; the machinery in both plays is much the same ; both are Kydian dramas of Revenge; Nemesis triumphs in the end, entangling in her meshes the innocent as well as the guilty, the perpetrators of crime as well as the agents of vengeance.
Source of the Plot. It is remarkable that popular as was the story of Titus Andronicus in the sixteenth century, no direct source of the play has yet been discovered, and nothing can be added to Theobald's commentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, nor anybody else that I can find. Nor had Rome, in the time of her emperors, any war with the Goths that I know of; not till after the translation of the Empire, I mean to Byzantium. And yet the scene is laid at Rome, and Saturninus is elected to the empire at the Capitol.”
“ The story," he observes, “we are to suppose merely fictitious. Andronicus is a surname of pure Greek derivation. Tamora is neither
*(Cp. H. B. Wheatley, New Shakespeare Soc., 1874 ; a synopsis of critical opinion is to be found in Fleay's Manual, p. 44; Knight, in his Pictorial Shakespeare, defends Shakespeare's authorship.
The fullest recent study of the subject is that of Dr M. M. Arnold Schröer. Marburg, 1891 )
The ballad given in Percy's Reliques was evidently based on the present play, though formerly considered as its source.
The Time of the Play. The period covered by the play is four days represented on the stage; with, possibly, two intervals.
Day 1, Act I.; Act II. Sc. i. Day 2, Act II. Sc. ii.-iv.; Act III. Sc. i. Interval. Day 3, Act III. Sc. ii. Interval. Day 4, Acts IV. and V. (v. P. A. Daniel's Time-Analysis, p. 190).
Cf. Roxburghe Ballads (Ballad Society), Vol. I. ; the version cannot, according to Chappell, be earlier than the reign of James I., and is more probably of that of Charles 1. The title of the ballad is “ The lamentable and tragical history of Titus Andronicus. With the fall of his Sons in the Wars with the Goths, with the manner of the Ravishment of his daughter Lavinia," etc..
SATURNINUS, son to the late Emperor of Rome, afterwards emperor.
sons to Titus Andronicus.
-sons to Tamora.
TAMORA, Queen of the Goths,
Kinsmen of Titus, Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers:
SCENE: Rome, and the country near it.