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Titus Andronicus Power Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.

Quote #1

Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Defend the justice of my cause with arms,
And, countrymen, my loving followers,
Plead my successive title with your swords:
I am his first-born son, that was the last
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome;
Then let my father's honours live in me,
Nor wrong mine age with this indignity. (1.1.1)

Titus Andronicus begins with the issue of dynastic succession. Here, Saturninus claims that he should be named Rome's new leader because he is the eldest son of the late emperor.

Quote #2

Romans, friends, followers, favorers of my right,
If ever Bassianus, Caesar's son,
Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,
Keep then this passage to the Capitol
And suffer not dishonour to approach
The imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,
To justice, continence and nobility;
But let desert in pure election shine,
And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice. (1.1.1)

When Bassianus announces that he, not Saturninus, should be named Roman Emperor, it becomes clear that Rome is unstable and will continue to be that way so long as these two brothers are bickering over who should be in power.

Quote #3

Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome,
Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been,
Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust,
This palliament of white and spotless hue;
And name thee in election for the empire,
With these our late-deceased emperor's sons:
Be candidatus then, and put it on,
And help to set a head on headless Rome. (1.1.3)

When Marcus announces that the people have elected Titus their new emperor, he uses a familiar political concept, known as the "body politic," to ask Titus if he will accept and "help set a head on headless Rome." For now, the idea that unstable Rome is "headless" without a leader is merely a metaphor. Later, however, when the literal bodies and dismembered body parts begin to pile up, the concept is made frighteningly literal.

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