How we cite our quotes:
A nobler man, a braver warrior,
Lives not this day within the city walls:
He by the senate is accit'd home
From weary wars against the barbarous Goths (1.1.1)
Here, at the very beginning of the play, Shakespeare introduces the idea that the Goths (as opposed to "noble" Romans like Titus Andronicus) are a "barbarous" people. But, does this idea hold up throughout the play?
Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile
Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh,
Before this earthy prison of their bones;
That so the shadows be not unappeased,
Nor we disturb'd with prodigies on earth.
I give him you, the noblest that survives,
The eldest son of this distressed queen. (1.1.1)
Hmm. In the previous passage we saw how Marcus equates the Goths with barbarism. Here, however, Shakespeare makes us question whether the Romans are as civilized as they claim to be. When Lucius asks for a human sacrifice, Titus offers up a Goth warrior (the eldest son of Tamora) and refuses to be merciful, even when Tamora begs for her son's life.
Romans, do me right:
Patricians, draw your swords: and sheathe them not
Till Saturninus be Rome's emperor.
Andronicus, would thou wert shipp'd to hell,
Rather than rob me of the people's hearts! (1.1.7)
We already know that the Romans are prone to violence – they've been at war with the Goths for ten years and they're also willing to make human sacrifices. As Saturninus draws his sword and demands to be named emperor, we find out that the Romans are also willing to fight other Romans and even their own family members.