| Quote #4
A better head her glorious body fits
When Titus refuses to be named emperor, does he become at least partially responsible for the chaos that ensues in Rome?
| Quote #5
Rome, I have been thy soldier forty years,
When Titus says he's too old and too tired to rule, he reminds us of a character Shakespeare develops about a decade after this play – King Lear, whose own retirement sets his country down the path of civil war and tears his family apart. This is clearly a concept that Shakespeare remained interested in throughout his career as a playwright.
| Quote #6
Tribunes, I thank you: and this suit I make,
Uh oh, big mistake. Titus chooses Saturninus (even though he has just threatened Titus's life) to lead Rome because he is the late emperor's eldest son. What's interesting is that Titus has chosen the emperor according to the rules of primogeniture (the system by which eldest sons inherited their fathers' titles and wealth) and not by any kind of merit-based system. Titus says he "hopes" Saturninus will be a virtuous ruler, but we all know that doesn't turn out to be true. So, the play is very interested in how rulers should be chosen.
History snack: When Shakespeare wrote Titus, primogeniture was the mode by which crowns were passed on when kings died. Obviously, in Titus's Rome, the empery is decided by election, not primogeniture. But the fact that Titus chooses Saturninus over Bassianus suggests that Titus is a traditionalist.