Study Guide

Titus Andronicus Act 4, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 1

Read the full text of Titus Andronicus Act 4 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • The next thing we know, Young Lucius is running across the house with his storybooks under his arm while Lavinia gives chase. Lucius drops his books.
  • Young Lucius is terrified of Auntie Lavinia, but his grandfather and uncle tell him not to be afraid, because Lavinia – who is like a mother to Young Lucius – would never hurt him.
  • With her stumps, Lavinia flips through the pages of Ovid's Metamorphoses until she lands on the story of Philomel's rape.
  • Brain Snack: In Book 6 of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Philomel is raped by her brother-in-law, Tereus, who also cuts out her tongue so she can't expose him verbally. Philomel cleverly stitches the name of her rapist and Procne, Philomel's sister, gets revenge by serving their son for dinner.
  • Titus and Marcus look at the book and correctly guess that Lavinia is communicating that she was raped, just like Philomel.
  • Marcus grabs a staff (stick or cane) and uses his hands and mouth to spell out his name, showing Lavinia how to write the names of her attackers.
  • Lavinia, of course, spells out Chiron and Demetrius.
  • Marcus asks everyone to kneel down and promise to exact revenge on Chiron and Demetrius for what they've done.
  • Young Lucius declares that, if he were a man, Tamora's "bedchamber should not be safe." (Yikes!)
  • Marcus is all "atta boy," and everyone runs off to plot their revenge.