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For more information, visit Folger.edu. After the empress bears him a child, Aaron devotes himself to preserving the baby. 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 toward his family.
Aaron the Moor, a magnificent villain and the empress's secret lover, makes a similar transition. Titus, a model Roman, has led twenty-one of his twenty-five sons to death in Rome's wars; he stabs another son to death for what he views as disloyalty to Rome. Retaining his thirst for evil, he shows great tenderness to his little familya tenderness that also characterizes Titus before the terrifying conclusion.
The authoritative edition of Titus Andronicus from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play's famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Alexander Leggatt
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. Titus Andronicus is the earliest tragedy and the earliest Roman play attributed to Shakespeare.
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About the Author
Michael Drew is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Ohio University, where he received his PhD. He received a BA in Philosophy and MA in Literature from the University of Toledo. He co-organized the 2006 Ohio University conference, “Work, Play, and Humor in English Studies,” and has presented papers at “The Shakespeare Association of America” and “The Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference.”
Read an Excerpt
INTRODUCTION to the Kittredge Edition
On January 24, 1594, Henslowe’s Diary records “Titus & Ondronicous” as a new play acted by the Earl of Sussex’s men. On February 6th “a Noble Roman Historye of Tytus Andronicus” was entered in the Stationers’ Register by John Danter, who printed the First Quarto in the same year. The title page professes to give the tragedy “As it was Plaide by the…Earle of Darbie, Earle of Pembrooke, and Earle of Sussex their Seruants.” This identifies it with that recorded by Henslowe as “new,” and would fix the date of composition as not later than 1593.
In the Induction to Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, the Articles of Agreement between the spectators and the author (dated October 31, 1614) provide that “he that will swear Jeronimo [i.e. Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy] 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 five-and-twenty or thirty years.” This would put The Spanish Tragedy back to 1584–1589; but twenty-five and thirty are obviously round numbers. It is certainly older than Titus Andronicus; and, if we date Kyd’s play about 1589, we are at liberty to put Titus Andronicus anywhere in the first half of the next decade. On the whole, it is safe to settle upon 1592 or 1593, with preference for 1592. For the text, the First Quarto (1594) is the authority. Two other quartos, which came out in 1600 and 1611, supply act 5, scene 3, lines 201–04. The second scene of act 3 appears for the first time in the Folio.
Shakespeare’s connection with Titus Andronicus has been a moot question for two centuries and a half, ever since the irresponsible minor playwright Edward Ravenscroft, in the Address prefixed to his Titus Andronicus, or the Rape of Lavinia (acted in 1678, printed in 1687), acknowledged his indebtedness to Shakespeare’s play and remarked, “I have been told by some anciently conversant with the Stage, that it was not Originally his, but brought by a private Authour to be Acted, and he only gave some Master-touches to one or two of the Principal Parts or Characters.” The idle gossip which he reports (or invents) cannot weigh against the positive assertion of Meres—made in 1598, when the play was only five or six years old—that it is one of Shakespeare’s ‘excellent’ tragedies. Nobody would have listened to Ravenscroft but for the feeling that Titus Andronicus is too horrible to be Shakespeare’s. But Shakespeare was always prone to try experiments, and it would be strange if he had not written one out-and-out tragedy of blood when Kyd had shown how powerfully such things appealed to playgoers…
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Introduction to the Kittredge Edition
- Introduction to the Focus Edition
- The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus
- How to Read The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus as Performance
- Topics for Discussion and Further Study
Appropriate for all level of Shakespeare courses, including courses on Shakespeare, or drama, or Renaissance drama as taught in departments of English, courses in Shakespeare or drama taught in departments of theater, Great Books programs where individual volumes might be used, or high school level courses.