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Shakespeare EN3535 – Fall/Winter 2011/2012 – Elizabeth Pentland Lecture 3 – Titus Andronicus – Part 2 – Sept 27 Titus Andronicus (1592-1594) - Sources o Livy’s history of Rome, book 3 (story of Appius and Verginia)  Early history of Rome; transition from Monarchy to Republic.  Corrupt magistrate (Appius) secretly arranges for a young woman (Verginia, betrothed to another man) to be abducted from her father’s house, enslaved.  When her father seeks justice, Appius rules against him.  Rather than see his daughter sent to a ‘brothel’, Verginius, a respected soldier, kills her.  Rioting ensued, and Verginius raised a rebellion, ousting of corrupt officials, restoring justice, and establishing new laws to protect rights and freedoms of the Roman people. o Ovid’s metamorphoses, book 6 (story of Tereus and Philomela)  Tereus (a king) abducts and rapes Philomela (his wife’s sister); tier her hands and cuts out her tongue.  She weaves her story into a piece of cloth, has it delivered to the queen (Procne, wife of Tereus).  Procne vows revenge; rescues her sister.  In her rage, Procne kills her son, Itys, because he looks like Tereus.  Prepares a ‘sacred feast’ for her husband, and watches as he ‘east alone and, with his own flesh, fills his belly’.  Tereus calls for his son, and only then does Procne reveal the truth, unable to conceal her ‘cruel delight’. - Shakespeare’s play set in Rome, but what kind of place is this? - A grotesque, nightmarish vision in which ‘mercy’ and ‘justice’ are withheld, the cycle of violence (revenge) spins out of control. - The kind of setting typical to Revenge Tragedy; Rome corrupted, out of touch with its founding values. - Excess: Titus’ rigid adherence to the Roman code of honour, sense of futy to the state, putting loyalty to the state (no matter how arbitrary its demands) before the needs of his family. - ‘A wilderness of Tigers’ (savagery at the heart of Rome). th 16 Century Analogues - Americas o Andre Thevet (ca. 1558), a French explorer, described the inhabitants of Brazil as a ‘marvellous strange wild and brutish people, without faith, without law, without religion, and without any civility, but living like brute beasts, as nature hath brought them out.’ - French Civil Wars (1562-1598). o Sectarian violence (Catholic vs. Protestant); ‘savagery’ accusations of cannibalism. o Michel de Montaigne (ca. 1580) questioned whether France wasn’t more savage than the ‘uncivilized’ nations of the New World. Revenge vs. Justice? - Shakespeare’s contemporary, Francis Bacon, called revenge ‘a kind of wild justice, which the more man’s nature runs to it, the more ought the law to weed it out.’ - Revenge was seen as inherently tragic by Shakespeare’s contemporaries. - The revenger’s pursuit of justice brought him into conflict with the legal system that had failed him. Piety/Pietas - Keyword in the first scene of the play. - Virgil calls his epic hero, founder of Rome, ‘pius Aeneas’. - Roman sense of ‘duty’ (to the state, empire, people of Rome), often requiring great personal sacrifice. - Titus described as ‘Andronicus surnamed Pius / For many good and great
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