Titus Andronicus is the earliest tragedy and the earliest Roman play attributed to be one of William Shakespeare's plays. Titus, a model Roman, has led 21 of his 25 sons to death in Rome's wars; he stabs another son to death for what he views as disloyalty to Rome. Yet Rome has become "a wilderness of tigers." After a death sentence is imposed on two of his three remaining sons, and his daughter is raped and mutilated, Titus turns his loyalty towards his family.
Aaron the Moor, a magnificent villain and the empress's secret lover, makes a similar transition. After the empress bears him a secret child, Aaron devotes himself to preserving the baby. Retaining his thirst for evil, he shows great tenderness to his little family, a tenderness that also characterizes Titus before the terrifying conclusion.
Titus Andronicus was first published in a 1594 quarto, which survives in a single copy at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Some scholars date the writing of the play to 1591-92; others argue for 1593-94. The play draws on Ovid's Metamorphoses and Senecan tragedy.
Productions at the Folger
Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 2003 copy 2 v.33
In popular culture
The Folger owns at least 7 stand-alone translations of Titus Andronicus in various languages (not including collected works). Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.
- Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 2005 Folger Shakespeare Library.