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SCENE I, Plains near Rome.
Enter Lucius, and Goths, with drum and colours.
Luc. Approved warriors, and my faithful friends, I have received letters from great Rome, Which signify, what hate they bear their emperor, And how desirous of our sight they are. Therefore, great lords, be, as your titles witness, Imperious, and impatient of your wrongs; And, wherein Rome hath done you any scath*, Let him make treble satisfaction. 1 Goth. Brave slip, sprung from the great An
dronicus, Whose name was once our terror, now our comfort; Whose high exploits, and honourable deeds, Ingrateful Rome requites with foul contempt, Be bold in us: we'll follow where thou lead'st,Like stinging bees in hottest summer's day, Led by their master to the flower'd fields, And be aveng'd on cursed Tamora.
Goths. And, as he saith, so say we all with him.
Luc. I bumbly thank him, and I thank you all. But who comes here, led by a lasty Goth?
Enter a Goth, leading Aaron, with his child in his
2 Goth. Renowned Lucius, from our troops I
stray'd, To gaze upon a ruinous monastery; And as I earnestly did fix mine eye
Upon the wasted building, suddenly
Luc. O worthy Goth! this is the incarnate devil,
Aar. Touch not the boy, he is of royal blood.
Luc. Too like the sire for ever being good.First, hang the child, that he may see it sprawl; A sight to vex the father's soul withal. Get me a ladder. (A ladder brought, which Aaron is obliged to
Lucius, save the child;
• Alluding to the proverb, 'A black man is a pearl in a fair woman's eye,'
That highly may advantage thee to hear:
speak'st, Thy child shall live, and I will see it nourish'd. Aar. Aņ if it please thee? why, assure thee,
Lucius, 'Twill vex thy soul to hear what I shall speak: For I must talk of murders, rapes, and massacres, Acts of black vight, abominable deeds, Complots of mischief, treason; villainies Ruthful to hear, yet piteously perform’d: And this shall all be buried by my death, Unless thou swear to me, my child shall live.
Luc. Tell on thy mind; I say, thy child shall live. Aar, Swear, that he shall, and then I will begin. Luc. Who should I swear by? thou believ'st no
god; That granted, how canst thou believe an oath?
Aar. What if I do not ? as, indeed, I do not: Yet,-for I know thou art religious, And hast a thing within thee, called conscience; With twenty popish tricks and ceremonies, Which I have seen thee careful to observe, Therefore I urge thy oath ;-For that, I know, An idiot holds his bauble for a god, And keeps the oath, which by that god he swears; To that I'll urge him :-Therefore, thou shalt vow By that same god, what god soe'er it be, That thou ador'st and hast in reverence, To save my boy, to pourish, and bring him up; Or else I will discover nought to thee.
Luc. Even by my god, I swear to thee, I will. Aar. First, know thou, I begot him on the empress. Luc. O most insatiate, luxurious woman!
Aar. Tut, Luçius! this was but a deed of charity, To that which thou shalt hear of me anon. 'Twas her two sons that murder'd Bassianus:
They cut thy sister's tongue, and ravish'd her,
ming? Aar. Why, she was wash'd, and cut, and trimm'd;
and 'twas Trim sport for them that had the doing gf it.
Luc, 0, barbarous, beastly villains, like thyself!
Aar. Indeed, I was their tutor to instruct them; That codding spirit had they from their mother, As sure a card as ever won the set : That bloody mind, I think, they learn'd of me, As true a dog as ever fought at head. Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth. I train'd thy brethren to that guileful hole, Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay: I wrote the letter that thy father found, And hid the gold within the letter mention'd, Confederate with the queen, and her two sons; And what not done, that thou hast cause to rue, Wherein I had no stroke of mischief in it? I play'd the cheater for thy father's hand; And, when I had it, drew myself apart, And almost broke my heart with extreme laughter. I pry'd me through the crevice of a wall, When, for his hand, he had his two sons' heads; Beheld his tears, and laugh'd so heartily, That both mine eyes were rainy like to his; And when I told the empress of this sport, She swounded almost at my pleasing tale, And, for my tidings, gave me twenty kisses. Goth. What! canst thou say all this, and never
blush? Aar. Ay, like a black dog, as the saying is. Luc. Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds!
Aar. Ay, that I had not done a thousand more. Even now I curse the day (and yet, I think, Few come within the compass of my carse), Wherein I did not some notorious ill:
As kill a man, or else devise his death;
Luc. Bring down the devil ; for he must not die So sweet a death, as hanging presently.
Aar. If there be devils, 'would I were a devil, To live and burn in everlasting fire; So I might have your company in hell, But to torment you with my bitter tongue! Luc. Sirs, stop his mouth, and let him speak no
Enter a Goth.
Goth. My lord, there is a messenger from Rome, Desires to be admitted to your presence.
Luc. Let him come near.
Welcome, Æmilius, what's the news from Rome?
Æmil. Lord Lucius, and you princes of the Goths, The Roman emperor greets you all by me: And, for he understands you are in arms, He craves a parley at your father's house;