Study Guide

Titus Andronicus Act 2, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 4

Read the full text of Titus Andronicus Act 2 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Lavinia appears on stage with "her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out, and ravished."
  • Demetrius and Chiron gleefully taunt Lavinia, daring her to "tell" on them.
  • After Demetrius and Chiron run off, Marcus shows up and discovers Lavinia.
  • Marcus delivers a long, drawn-out soliloquy describing Lavinia's mutilated body in great detail while Lavinia stands bleeding and silent. First Marcus asks Lavinia to tell him who chopped off her "two branches." When Lavinia doesn't answer, Marcus notices a "crimson river of warm blood" coming from Lavinia's "rosed lips."
  • Meanwhile Lavinia is still bleeding.
  • Marcus cleverly deduces that Lavinia must have been raped and her attacker must have cut out her tongue so she couldn't expose him.
  • Marcus says that, despite all the blood Lavinia has lost, she seems to be blushing at the mention of rape.
  • Marcus then compares Lavinia to Philomel. (Philomel was an Athenian princess who was raped by Tereus, who cut out her tongue so she couldn't tell on him. Philomel managed to expose her attacker by embroidering his name on a sampler. You can read about her story in Ovid's Metamorphoses.)
  • Marcus laments that Lavinia will never get to sew again or play the lute now that her fingers are gone.
  • Meanwhile Lavinia is still bleeding.
  • Marcus announces that this is just going to kill Titus when the old man finds out what's happened to his daughter.
  • Marcus promises Lavinia that her family will be supportive of her, and they set out for home.